Happy Oily Ragger from Mangawhai is a grateful reader: "Last year one of your columns inspired us to get some chickens. We made a nice cage for them so they are well-housed and free range through an orchard we put in recently -- also inspired by an oily rag lifestyle. It is all working so well. We designed the cage to make it easy to clean out the droppings, which we spread around the fruit trees. The only problem is that we now have lots of eggs so we are looking for ideas on how to make a great omelette. Any recipes would be appreciated."

Drop us a note if you can help Happy Oily Ragger to make the perfect omelette and to use up their wealth of eggs.

Last week, Dee from Whangarei asked for ways to use up an abundance of mandarins. Frugal lady from Whakatane replies, "If you don't have a juicer, you can use a blender to get the juice from your mandarins. Cut the mandarin in half before peeling, take out the seeds then peel and place in a blender. You might need to add a bit of water to get it going. When you're finished blending, use a strainer and then you can freeze your mandarin juice. Delicious!"

Andrea from Nelson suggested giving spare fruit to the local food bank or schools.


Tramore from Whangarei has this suggestion. "Stew peeled mandarins and serve with a light chocolate sauce or custard. This is a quick, simple and delicious winter dessert!"

One family from Northland said they made many litres of juice, which was sweet and delicious. "It's remarkable how much better it tastes than fruit juice purchased in the shops."

They have frozen most of it in 250ml bottles for school drinks.

Don't forget that winter is the time to plant fruit trees. A little bit of effort now will yield fresh fruit for many years to come.

Jane from Auckland recently asked for ideas to clean a toilet bowl that had become stained with a light rust colour.

Deb from Christchurch replies, "I have found that spraying white vinegar on it for a few weeks after you have flushed and dried off the area with toilet paper works a treat. No scrubbing is even involved."

Charmaine from Whangarei has the following advice for Jane: "If all else fails, buy CLR from Mitre 10 or Hammer Hardware. It is quite amazing."

We recently posted a query on our website from Tamzin of Auckland asking whether switching the hot water cylinder off at night would save power. MEC responded with this suggestion. "We made a huge difference to our power bill by turning our hot water cylinder off during the day. It gets turned off in the morning and back on at bedtime, and it has saved us about 20-25 per cent per month.


It does help that the cylinder is well-insulated and set to 55C (the recommended maximum). Measuring the temperature at the end of the day shows it does not get below about 45C, so not a lot of reheating is needed."

Now for a question from an oily ragger seeking help. Margaret from Invercargill asks, "Does anyone have a recipe for making soap?"

If you have had success with soap making please let us know and we will pass your suggestions on to Margaret. We're particularly interested in soap making tips using olive oil (we are hoping for a bumper olive crop next season).

Madcow from Taranaki has a mouldy problem. "I would like to find a 'friendly' way of removing damp mould from my very expensive bedroom suite. My house is damp and the mould is now on the whole suite. Also, does anyone have ideas on how to get rid of the damp smell from my rooms?"

Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. oilyrag.co.nz