Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Easy Speedy Tomato Sauce

My quick and easy take on a vegetarian Cannelloni dish, great for a meat-free Monday lunch or dinner for two.

Can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the fridge ready to heat up prior to serving with a fresh garden salad and some herb or garlic bread. Recipe can be easily scaled up from 2 serves to 4 or more.

To save this recipe, click on the image, right click and save to downloads.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Enjoy!

Images Credit: ©A.Miller-Davis2017  
Recipe: @A.Miller-Davis2017

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The Art of Recycling in Visual Arts

It is always great to come across local talent who are also passionate about the environment, and how they not only use art to express their love of the natural world, but also take great consideration in causing no harm to the environment while making their creations. I recently discovered one of these talented people during a chat across a lunchroom table one day with a fellow volunteer at Gecko Environment Council. Petra Hatu when she isn’t doing a great job in Gecko’s admin department, finds time to express her love for the environment while also indulging in her love of creating through visual arts.

Petra has always been passionate about art, and also does lead lighting pieces, Hebel carving, bone carving, wood turning and many other art forms. Today she spoke to me briefly about her love of mosaics, and in particular, the rewards derived from recycling when turning ‘trash into treasures’.

What got you interested in using recycled materials in your mosaic pieces?

Petra: I’m passionate about art … especially anything involving glass. From old bottles to glass windows taken out of old Queenslander houses. Some of the heritage windows have beautiful colours and textures and it would be a shame for these to end up in landfill.

What types of things do you use for your mosaics?

Petra: Recycled glass, along with stones and gems and bought materials can be transformed into wonderful works of art.

Can you tell us a little bit about the guitar piece?

Petra: This preloved Guitar went to my musician friend Derrick in Arizona in the USA. I’ve used a variety of window glass along with gems, beads and cathedral glass and some glass tiles. This guitar was given to me by a friend, but you can find old musical instruments in many places like shops and online sales groups.

Are there any considerations with the types of objects you can apply mosaics to?

Petra: Any surface that is clean and does not expand in heat can be used. Glass, terracotta, stones, wood, cement board, metal etc. Let your imagination run wild! Old crockery can be useful too. Some plates have been used on the inside of this bowl in this birdbath. They can be smashed into pieces with a hammer or cut with tile nippers. All sorts of materials can be used in mosaic work, from coins to buttons and beads, and any odd gimmick one might think of could be added to the piece. I like using stones in some of my works for the earthy look. Or cut up old mirrors and DVD’s to add special effects. Even glass bottles.

Birdbath

 

What advice do you have for sourcing objects for use?

Petra: Have a look in your own home or ask family and friends for useful items if you’re intent on pursuing this hobby. I source my materials from all kinds of places like second hand shops and some are left overs from tile places and tilers as well as from internet sites like Gumtree and eBay with old stock.

What are you working on now?  

Petra: The next project that I’m working on right now is made up from the interior of laptops. I take out the interesting parts and arrange them on a board to suit my project along with other interesting bits and pieces.

 

 

 

What other plans do you have for art pieces in the future?  

Petra: In the near future, I’m hoping to create some larger futuristic installation art pieces, as well as giving some art classes to the community.

 

Petra Hatu lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland Australia.
You can view some of her art works at PJ Mosaics at http://petrahatu1.wordpress.com/  and https://m.facebook.com/PjHatuMosaics/

 

Disclaimer: “This article is in line with Gecko’s values of connecting people with the natural world so that they may become active stewards of our unique environment. Gecko however, is neither promoting or endorsing the product/s and/or service/s mentioned in this article. It is entirely up to the individual reading the article to decide if they are interested in the commercial opportunities offered.”

Image Credits: All images ©Petra Hatu. All Rights Reserved.

*Link to Article as Published on Gecko Hills to Headlands.

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Celebrating Critters Great & Small

Social Media Promotions

 

Created for Hills to Headlands magazine.

Royalty free images sourced, except where noted as original photographs by Angela.

Concepts and layouts: Angela Miller-Davis, Less Equals More.

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Environmental Protection & Awareness

Social Media Promotions

Royalty free images sourced, except where noted as original photographs by Angela.

Concepts and layouts: Angela Miller-Davis, Less Equals More.

National Tree Day . . .

Keep Australia Beautiful Week . . .

Images: ©a.miller.davis2016
Images: ©a.millerdavis2016

Promotion of the 2-Day Climate Change for Good Conference, 1-2 July, 2016

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Environment, Habitat, Conservation, Renewables, Recycling, Sustainability etc.  . . .

 

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Thinking Outside the Gift Box

Let’s face it, gift giving is tricky.

And while it may be ‘the thought that counts’ when it comes to the recipient (and our budgets), how often do we consider longevity or the environmental impact of the gift? While some gifts make our hearts sing, many don’t. Some end up in charity bins or ‘re-gifted,’ but many eventually end up in land-fill. On special occasions we want to show our loved ones we care but how can we do this while also ensuring little environmental impact and making sure our money is well spent? Think about what surrounds gift giving. It’s the sharing, memories, stories and smiles. Without sounding too clichéd it’s about giving the gift of happiness. So, let’s look outside the gift box for some eco-friendly, sustainable and thoughtful ideas.

The gift of memorable experiences

 

 

 

The Gift of Memorable Experiences

Movie or show tickets, high teas, zoo passes, theme parks, beauty treatments and ‘time’.

 

 

 

The gift of learning

 

 

The Gift of Learning
Art, music or circus skills workshops, personal trainers, foreign language, dancing or surfing lessons, indoor rock climbing, yoga, martial
arts, cooking etc.

 

 

 

 

The Gift of Consumables

Think about what your special someone uses a lot of and make up a small reusable basket or container of supplies, and make sure you do your research for brands, sizes, model numbers etc. they use. Suggestions:

• Babies/new parents: Nappies, lotions, formula, baby food, teething rusks, gels, bath products.
• Students: Ink cartridges, printer paper, staples, label tape, USB sticks.
• Gardeners: Packets of seeds, gloves, seedlings, potting mix etc.
• New learner drivers/car enthusiasts: Car washing or detailing supplies
• Artists: favourite art supplies.
• Dancers: shoe ribbons, shoe laces, hair fixings, tights, make-up and eyelashes.
• Musicians: Guitar strings, picks or leads, drum sticks, (check which they use)
• Athletes/swimmers/sports people: reusable water bottles, energy bars, Chamoi towels, sunscreen, zinc cream, swim caps, ear plugs, flippers, golf balls, tees, tennis balls etc.
• Health fanatics who love their juice or smoothie machines may love a crate of fresh organic fruit and vegies from the markets.
• Coffee fans may like coffee filter papers and packs of freshly ground beans.
• Craft or hobby supplies for a person with a particular hobby.
• Miscellaneous: prepaid phone cards, music or App gift cards or camera SD cards.

The Gift of Time, Care and Assistance

Wrap yourself up in a bow and give someone your time

Set a time limit e.g. 1 week, 1 month, weekend, fortnightly or once a month for a year etc.

• Parents of young children: babysitting or helping parents with anything that needs doing around the house; shopping or errands on their behalf. Picking kids up after school or extracurricular activities.

• The elderly: dog walking or washing, chores, reading or playing an instrument to, play a board game or charades with them, take them out of the house or care facility for a day (if they’re able), car cleaning, lawn mowing, window cleaning, help with computers, or help with errands like shopping. Offer to drive them to doctor visits etc. Visit them with your dog,
cat or another small pet. Or just make a commitment to visit them more often for a chat.

The true meaning of Christmas is a helping hand

 

• Carers: Give them time off and take care of their special someone for them. Offer to make them dinner or lunch, shop or do some chores for them. Make them a phone a friend card so they know they can count on you for emotional support. Offer to fill in when they themselves are sick.

• Depending on your skill level or expertise: offer a manicure, hair-cut, massage, facial or do someone’s make-up for a special occasion.

• Help someone with a spring clean, declutter, renovation or other large project.

 

 

The Shared Gift – something for a couple or a family

A computer or board game, DVD, Family Pass to the movies, show, event, theme park, balloon ride, whale watching or festival. Make them a picnic hamper, with a road map, and a scavenger hunt that leads them to a great picnic site.

The Gift of Subscriptions, Memberships & Donations – of interest to the recipient

The noble gift of benevolence

To save them paying for it themselves.

Magazines, online movie or television subscriptions, podcasts or online sites of interest to the recipient. Science or sports club memberships for kids (don’t forget our Gecko Eco Explorers programs!).

If they’re struggling to make ends meet, maybe you could offer to pay a bill, or for groceries, a haircut, an outfit for a job interview or anything else you can afford to help with.

Tax deductible gift certificates in the form of donation or sponsorship to a cause suitable to the passion of the recipient. Check out sites such as Oxfam, Karma Currency, AWLQ, RSPCA, WWF, World Vision, some of your local community, wildlife or environment groups, including (drum roll please!) . . . Gecko Friend Memberships!

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and lastly if your budget is really tight this year and you need to avoid the embarrassment of being unable to purchase gifts, you can always set up an arrangement whereby you print off some of these ‘Holiday Gift Exemption Vouchers’ courtesy of adbusters.org. Right click on the image to save the image to ‘downloads’.

 

Image Credits:

  • Feature photo – Eco-friendly gift box: Condesign via Pixabay.com CC0
  • Gift of Memorable experiences – Popcorn & movie tickets: Annca via Pixabay.com CC0
  • Gift of learning – kid surfing: Jcsaenz via Pixabay.com CC0
  • Gift of consumables – SD cards: EsaRiutta via Pixabay.com CC0
  • Gift of consumables – Art Supplies: MustangJoe via Pixabay.com CC0
  • Gift of Time, Care, Assistance Helping hands: Skeeze via Pixabay.com CC0
  • Gift of Time, Care, Hand with clock face: Geralt via Pixabay.com CC0
  • Gift of shared experiences – Family on chair-o-plane carouse: ADD via Pixabay.com CC0
  • Gift of shared experiences – Board game pieces: Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay.com CC0
  • Gift of donations/subscriptions – Donation receipts, pen, USB: lcb via Pixabay.com CC0
  • Gift of donations Gecko Friends Logo: Gecko
  • Holiday Exemption Voucher: adbusters.org/

Link to original article as featured on Hills to Headlands.

 

 

 

 

Eco-Friendly Christmas Tips!

Ways to keep your festive season jolly, while looking after the planet at the same time.

Royalty free images sourced, except where noted as original photographs by Angela.

Concepts and layouts: Angela Miller-Davis, Less Equals More.

 

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Merry Christmas from all at Less Equals More!

Top 5 Australian Potted Native Christmas Trees

Time to ditch the fake plastic Christmas trees!

Fake Christmas trees, while initially they sound like a good idea (recycled from year to year), eventually they end up in landfill and don’t biodegrade. As these trees are also usually make in factories that produce unhealthy bi-products and use unsustainable resources the method of their creation is also an assault on the planet.

So what about a real but ‘cut’ tree? There are a couple of benefits to farmed native trees:

  • They are a renewable resource replanted each year.
  • They can be mulched or used as compost for the garden and thus biodegrade and help soil quality.
  • Australian native trees and shrubs are always best to attract native wildlife during other times of the year.
  • They make the house smell nice during Christmas!

The best reason with real trees however, whether cut or potted is that they help remove carbon from the atmosphere. Real native living ‘potted’ Christmas trees can be decorated for Christmas and then (depending on the type and size of tree), they can be either planted in the garden or kept in their pots on the balcony or wherever after use until next time.

Here is a run-down on some of the best ‘native’ Aussie options to choose from:

Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla)

 

 

 

 

 

Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla)

Negatives: feral invasive weed can grow to 20-35 metres tall; young trees have very sparse branches for decorating.

Positives: Restricting to a pot can keep both height and invasiveness under control. Recognised as a safe low-allergen indoor plant for asthma sufferers.

 

 

 

 

Australian Native Conifers

Varieties: Bunya PineHoop Pine and Callitris species of Cyprus Pine. Some lesser known Gymnosperm conifers may also be an option.

Positives: All suit long-term pot culture, heights controlled by pot size.

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She-oak Conifer (Gymnostoma australianum)

 

 

 

 

She-oak Conifer Trees
(Casuarinaceae and Allocasuarina)

Another less known one from the Daintree Rainforest in North Queensland is the Gymnostoma australianum.

Positives: Great food source for Black Cockatoos. Conifer like appearance.

 

 

 

 

Wollemi Pine, from Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens

 

 

Wollemi Pines
(also known as the Native Australian Conifer)

Thought to be extinct, was discovered over 10 years ago north of Sydney growing in a remote chasm in the Wollemi National Park.

Positives: Due to their traditional compact foliage they’re becoming a popular tree of choice. Keeping it in a pot slows down its growth rate.

Negatives: Not a small tree for garden; can grow up to 40 metres high in the wild with a trunk of over one metre. Needs to be kept well fertilised. More info on care of potted Wollemi Pines here.

 

 

 

 

Dressed topiary Lillypilly

 

 

 

 

 

Lillypillies (genus Syzygium and its close relatives)

Positives: Popular and inexpensive, hardy native shrubs. Can be sold as a standard or topiary or as living trees and shaped to traditional Christmas tree shape. Some varieties have attractive variegated red, cream and green leaves, as well as edible berries. Also safe indoors for asthma sufferers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potted Lillypillies

For other great native shrubs suitable for Christmas tree topiary check out this article on Gardening Australia.

References:

Image Credits:

Smaller Norfolk Island Pine branch

 

 

 

Link to article as featured on Hills to Headlands magazine.

Do the 30 Day ‘Let It Go Challenge’

I’ve just finished reading a book by Gail Blanke entitled Throw Out Fifty Things, which I can highly recommend!

Do the '30 Day Let it Go Challenge'
Do the ’30 Day Let it Go Challenge’

These 50 things can be objects, habits or anything else having a negative impact on your life and your surroundings. The catch? When it comes to objects, a cluster of worn down pencils, or a bunch of biros that won’t write any more for example is classed as a group or ‘one’ thing, so are a collection of say recipe magazines, a box of fluffy toys or a heap of emails.

Why not use this as an inspiration to help you clear the house before the visitors arrive for Christmas and get a head start on your New Year’s resolutions? In fact let’s take this up a notch and see if we can do the ’30 Day Let It Go’ challenge to let go of 465 things and find what is really meaningful?

Day 1: Let go of one thing
Day 2: Let go of two things
Day 3: Let go of three things  . . .  and keep increasing the amount of things each day right up until . . .

Day 30: Let go of 30 things by which time it will be easy!

If you’re lucky there won’t be anything to ‘let go of’ on Day 30!

De-cluttering is like exercising a muscle, the more you work at it the easier it becomes, and doing this as a daily task which increases in number reduces the over-whelming feeling.

Perhaps you could make it a family challenge as an incentive to get the kid’s rooms cleared out, as well as hubby’s shed or the garage? Maybe make it a competition with a friend, a neighbour or a relative? Or promise yourself a reward to share afterwards (as long as it’s not another ‘thing’ brought into the house). Make rewards about ‘doing quality things together’ or if you’re on your own, pamper or do something nice for yourself like picking up the phone and having a long over-due chat with a friend or make a date for a coffee catchup or a movie. Or the reward might just be the joy of more ‘space’ or less to clean or tidy up around. Do whatever it takes to keep you motivated and make it fun! Crank up the music as you go!

Another way of making yourself accountable is to make a visual or written diary every day of what you let go of. It will keep you strong, and you will have a record for yourself of things that perhaps you needed to let go of but wanted to remember (think sentimental items – old wedding dresses, baby’s shoes, nana’s vase), and in coming years when you face another difficult time or feel you need to have another ‘let it go’ moment you can show yourself what you achieved and that you can achieve anything when you put your mind to it. You could even make this a challenge on social media and get your friends to share the photos of what you’re ‘letting go’ of. You never know maybe someone will offer you cash to take it off your hands, and then you’ll know it also went to a good home.

Maybe on some days one of your items might not be a ‘physical’ item. Think along the lines of cutting down that ‘to-do’ list. Things like reducing obligations, a class you’re not getting anything out of anymore, a friendship that really ‘isn’t’, ending a toxic relationship or habit, or dealing with a difficult conversation you need to have can all count. Unpack the emotional baggage and leave it at the door.

Image: johnhain via pixabay BY-CC0
Image: johnhain via pixabay BY-CC0

So instead of making a new years’ resolution ‘after’ January first, resolve things in your life ‘before’ and make sure they don’t drag on into your new year. Really have a look at what you can do without, or what is weighing you down mentally or emotionally and ‘let it go!’.

You never know what this kind of liberation will uncover physically or mentally.

I look forward to your feedback on your progress and what you’ve discovered in the process, and don’t forget to check out Gail’s book for more inspiration when you’re done.

Draw a line under this year and ‘Let It Go!’