Monday, 30 November 2009

What I bought this month...

This month I bought...

A beautiful food dehydrator,
A kilner jar to store my beautifully dehydrated apples,
Sew Hip magazine (quite necessary - I'm making my mum a 'stargazing mouse' doorstop for Christmas from a pattern in it)
Another kilner jar for moooore dried apples
Elf on DVD (I never buy DVDs, typical I would buy one now I'm keeping a record! I dooo actually need it though, I can't borrow it of anyone, couldn't find it to buy second hand, we have no DVD rental shop here!! and it's nearly Christmas!!)
4 books from the charity shop (they were 4 for £1 - couldn't resist, but they'll go back to the charity shop so I don't think they really count!)
A patchwork skirt from the charity shop (once I was in the charity shop looking at the books I couldn't resist - I knew there's a reason I avoid shopping!)
Some new face soap - my old one was drying my skin out.
Some bicarbonate of soda, to use for cleaning and maybe try as deodorant (although I'm going to have to research this - I know you can use baking power as deodorant and that they're similar but I'm not sure if they're the same thing!)

I'm actually quite shocked at the amount I bought this month, especially as an unemployedwithnomoney person! I feel like I never buy anything, but heres the proof, 12 things in a month! At least writing it down has made me realise and now I can do something about it and try to buy less next month.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Product swap, Exfloliators and Blackboard.

Here are the most recent changes I've been making to green myself up a bit!

Exfoliator - I've had this pink face brush thingy (I think it was from Boots, but I've seen more natural wooden looking ones in the body shop) for yonks, and the pink exfoliating glove came free with my epilator, now I've run out of both my face and body exfoliator I'll be using these reusable options instead and saving all the chemicals that were no doubt in my products and the plastic tubs they came in.

From notes to blackboard - me and mum like to leave each other notes everyday ('dear sooz please tidy the computer table' 'dear mum I've gone to ems for tea see you later' 'dear sooz have a nice day hope you've stopped having a runny nose' etc etc etc) and I'd been gritting my teeth about these notes, it's lovely, but I kept thinking about how much paper it was using, so I was very glad when Mum suggested using the blackboard we already have in the kitchen to write notes for each other on - I didn't have to do any of my usual mind tricks/whining! Today I have drawn a picture of a bunny on it - because I'd like a pet bunny but I'm not allowed one (now she's being environmentally friendly I can use my mind tricks to achieve other goals!).

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Getting active...

I've had four months of unemployment now, but I've tried to put my time to some good use - although I am aware that I keep having moments of huge un-motivation and I could have done so much more, I keep thinking I'll get a job so I don't want to commit myself to something then have to stop once I'm employed. But I'm trying to change that way of thinking because it's the source of me never getting anything done!

So this week I've started 3 new things! 3!!

1. I'm going to a Friends of the Earth meeting tonight - I've supported friends of the earth for years but only just got the courage to go to a meeting - I'm very excited!

2. I have a meeting with a lady from this wildlife trust about starting doing some practical conservation volunteering - like coppicing trees and clearing scrub! My meeting's on Tuesday - I can't wait!

3. And I'm doing an online diploma (it's a real course - accredited by a marking board and everything) in Environmental Sciences to show that I actually really do know stuff about the environment (and not just from a free course!) - I'm doing the paper free version which saves 280 pages of course book coming my way, and have managed to find an old notebook to repurpose for making notes - so hopefully that will counteract the fact I have the computer on more to view the course documents!

I have also been volunteering here once a week for about 3 months now - a big beautiful garden owned by a charity we have here that buys old houses and land and keeps them open for the public. I work in the gardens (mum comes too) and do all sorts of jobs that the head gardener tells me to do (he's lovely - a veggie with a VW camper van - yey!) It's really good fun and I generally need a sleep when I get home! They also have chickens there, that are lovely and fat and I like to say hello to them!

I've also started a distance learning course in Nutrition - it's a free one from this church group (I'm not religious but I do like food!) it's handy to know about nutrition - especially because I'm vegan, and because when I'm growing my own food (someday!) I'll have more information about what I need to grow to stay healthy!

And I'm still doing free Open University courses about the environment too.

I'm really excited about my new activities! YEY! I almost don't want a job then I can just carry on doing lovely things forever!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Buy nothing day...

Buy nothing day is on the 28th November this year - which is this Saturday.

Buy nothing day is an informal day of action and awareness on consumerism, should be pretty easy for me seeing as I have no money anyway! What about you? Is anyone going to a buy nothing day event. or organsing one, or giving up spending for a day? I'd love to hear about it if you are!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Clothes recycling week...days 4 & 5...Denim Skirt, Mending Pile, Griffindor Scarf...

Technology wasn't my friend this weekend - my laptop decided to stop working too so now I'm not only using mums camera but also her computer! But my sewing machine was still my friend, so I still managed to make a dent in my pile of fabric and clothes and other 'stuff', so I'll show you what I made in my final 2 days (the weekends don't count do they, they're days of rest!) of my clothes recycling week now...

I finished this skirt, made from an old pair of jeans - you rip all the inside leg seams open, then sew them back together then add a new panel of fabric to fill in the gap between the legs.
I also tackled this whooole pile of mending. I don't find mending as exciting as making new stuff but I think mending stuff before it falls apart is an important step in preserving the clothes I have so I have to buy less new. Here is said pile, containing a mended coat, hoodie, tshirt and knickers.

I've also made great progress all though the week with my Harry Potter scarf. Ok, well it's not that impressive considering I've been knitting this thing for 3 YEARS!!! But I will finish it this year and wear it! It's currently the length of one of my legs.

So I've ended up with 2 new skirts, some new hankies, 2 reusable shopping bags, a tshirt. coat, pants and hoodie that are wearable again and a beard - all without a penny spent or anything new used - not a bad weeks work I don't think!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Clothes recycling week...Day 3...How to Make a Beard out of Tights...

Ok, well this is a little specific, but if you happen to need to make a beard for a costume party, or just for your own amusement, then this is the post for you!

I'm going to someones birthday party and the theme is 'circus' - I'm going as a bearded lady, I already have enough floaty, hippy type clothes and sparkly bits to look like I might belong in the big top, but I refuse to buy a fake fur type beard from a costume shop (fake fur is made from all sorts of nasty plasticy stuff!) so I had a look in my fabric mountain and found a lot of old (clean, I might add!) tights that were about the same colour as my hair and a piece of brown corduroy and set to work.

I cut the corduroy to a beard shape and size and attached some elastic to it, to go over my ears to hold it on. I then cut the toes and crotches (urgh! I think crotch is one of the most horrible words ever!) off the tights and cut each leg into two lengthways, then folded each piece in half and cut into them so they went kind of frilly, I then pinned and sewed them onto the beard shape. I made the moustache with some more tights wrapped round wire, so I can bend it into different shapes, and attached it to the top corners of the beard. I also made a plait from some of the left over bits of tights and some embroidery thread and bells I had and attached it to the bottom of the beard.
Back tomorrow with something more normal! honest!

Clothes recycling week...Day 2...Handmade Hankies, Drawstring Bags...

I knew if I said I would post something each day it would never happen - I'm far too disorganised for such a thing!

Yesterday I made some handkerchiefs out of some old PJ bottoms that I'd kept because I liked the pattern. It was really easy - I just cut them into squares and hemmed them on my sewing machine. I also made some little drawstring bags from this purple sparkly netting that was once the top layer of a skirt I had in my more teenage-gothic years! I'm going to use these to hold loose veggies together when I'm food shopping. Also really easy - I just cut it into 2 rectangles, sewed up the sides and threaded ribbon (from the charity shop) through what used to be the hem of the skirt to make the drawstring.
I'll try to get round to posting what I'm making today later! See you then :)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Vegan Coconut and Oat Biscuits...Biscuit of the week...

We had the oven on last night for a veggie bake and garlic bread (mmm!) and so I baked some coconut and oat cookies too! Sadly the first batch got burned, but the second lot are delicious!

I got the recipe from here, but veganised it by swapping the butter for vegan margarine and the honey for golden syrup. I froze half the dough so I can have fresh cookies next time I have the oven on too!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Clothes recycling week...Day 1...Dress to Skirt Upcycling...

To keep myself amused this week I'm going to tackle the mountain that is my fabric stash - lots of it is fabric and lots more of it is clothes that need altering or something mending on them to be wearable again.

Apparently 900, 000 tonnes of clothing is thrown away in the UK each year (thanks, myzerowaste!).

I've had a big clear out of my wardrobes (yes that's a plural on the wardrobes!) and have ebayed some stuff, charity shopped the rest, collected the un-giveawayable stuff (like tights and socks and extremely holey things) to think up uses for later (maybe stuffing for something? Fairy wings from the tights stretched over some wire??!) and kept some things that I really loved but needed to be turned into something more usable - these are the things I'm going to tackle this week!

This dress/tunic thing was in the sales when I still allowed myself into establishments where the word 'sale' is displayed (always deadly) It was down from £10 to £1 so I obviously had to have it, despite it being perhaps the most unflattering item in the history of the universe.

So I'm going to turn in into a skirt. Here's how I did it...

1. cut a little hole through one layer (the layer facing inwards towards your body when you're wearing it)of the material in the hem at top (luckily this dress already had a hem at the top I could use otherwise I would have had to make one first).
2. attach a piece of elastic to a safety pin, thread it into your hole and wriggle it all the way through the hem until it comes out of the hole again. (if you were being v. environmentally friendly you could make a drawstring, maybe out of the straps to tread that through in the same way - but I had the elastic so I may as well use it)
3. figure out how tight you need the elastic then pin the elastic together and sew it.
4. try the skirt on and see how it fits, if it doesn't unpick your elastic stitches and try again, if it does then sew up the hole you made for the elastic.

5. cut off the straps, you could do this first, but I was being cautious, if I didn't like it as a skirt it may have been remodelled into a top instead.
6.If you're me, then dew up the hole you accidentally made when cutting the straps off.
7. Wait for the summer, when a lovely thin cotton skirt will be lovely to wear! As you can see I did try to take a picture of myself wearing it, which is especially difficult if you're reluctant to take off any of your clothes or let go of the blanket you're also wearing cos it's soo cold! So there's a picture of it on it's own too!

See you tomorrow for something else made from something else!

Sunday, 15 November 2009


I was doing sooooo well on my pledge to give up plastic bags and bottles - I haven't used one for ages, then this weekend I went shopping with my friend (or following him round while he tries on lots of pairs of expensive jeans as I like to call it!) and then we went to Costa coffee because he really likes it in there (I don't, I definately don't now, but I hate those big coffee shop chains but he's having a stressful time so I was being a good friend and doing activities he liked to cheer him up) I don't drink any hot drinks, except mint tea made form mint in my own garden or by beautiful morrocan boys, and EVERY SINGLE cold drink in the place was in a plastic bottle!

I even brought it home so I could be sure it went into the recycling!
I'm so cross!
I feel a letter coming on!!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

No more plastic post - continued...

I got a reply from one of my emails to companies about the plastic 'envelopes' they send their mail out in...I was quite pleased to get a reply and to know that they are aware of the issue, but I think I will email them back and ask about maybe doing an online version of the magazine, which would cut out both the plastic 'envelope' waste (which even if it was biodegradable wouldn't be great because it doesn't biodegrade properly!) and the paper, magazine waste!

'Dear Susie,
Thank you for your e-mail. I am sorry for the delayed reply.

This is an ongoing problem we are trying to resolve. It seems that most makes of polywrap can only be recycled by specialist centres. The alternative is biodegradable, but it seems that is problematic, as if a bit of biodegradable plastic gets into normal plastic recycling, it contaminates the whole batch. The cost of paper or card alternatives is also quite high. However, we are taking this seriously and costing out the options and hope we can come up with a solution soon, as it has long been a concern of our.

Our policy is to be environmentally friendly and within our office we use 100% recycled paper as well having numerous recycling facilities on site. I hope that answers your queries. '

I also managed to find an opt-out button on the website for one of the catalogues I get sent and I'm keeping check on what pops through the post box every day so I can identify more targets to eliminate!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cupcakes...

I think I missed a week of this and I'm cheating this week because 1. they're cupcakes not biscuits, and 2. I didn't make these (mum did, because we needed to celebrate her getting a pay rise at work, and because when I try to make cakes they do turn out like biscuits!). But despite that, here's our recipe for vegan cupcakes...

4 oz flour
2 oz sugar
2 oz margarine
2 'eggs' (we use this egg replacement powder)
a couple of handfuls of chocolate chips (I cut some chunks off a vegan chocolate bar - because it's impossible to get soya free vegan choc chips and I'm allergic to soya, but at least the chocolate bar comes wrapped in paper and foil, not a plastic bag like most choccy chips - so all that chopping was worth it!)

Put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix them up, add water or liquid if it's too thick, add the chocolate chips (or anything else you want to put in), put into bun cases or a cake tin and bake for about 20-30 mins, we do them in the middle of our oven on max (which is the setting above gas mark 9!) because our oven is rubbish, so mid to high heat would probably be fine.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Oh food dehydrator of joy!

I bought this with the last of my birthday money, I've wanted one for sooo long, and next year when I have my own garden (my friend's contract on her flat runs out in 5 months and then were going to rent somewhere together with room for a veggie patch! Excited!) I have plans to grow all sorts of things and then dry them to eat them when they're out of season, to reduce the amount of imported (ie. with a huuuuge carbon footprint) foods I buy/eat.

If you ever read the Brambly Hedge books when you were little, I'm aiming to have a 'store stump'!
photo from here

I like to name my appliances, so this is Daphne the Dryer! She also came with a free LED torch (if I was being truley eco-friendly I would have declined the free gift as I don't really need it, but I only thought of that after I placed my order) Anyway, the LED torch came in very useful for shining through the holes at the top during 'is it drying, is it drying? is it drying yet?' moments!
After about 8 hours I ended up with this...

This is about 8 apples!


Is the noise this garlic would have made if it could speak! Two of them suddenly turned brown and died...I know, I know, the whole family were in shock, it was so unexpected.

So, after much watering and putting in different positions around the garden and greenhouse I decided they weren't going to come back to life, and 'harvested' them - they've certainly changed from the little cloves I planted, I seem to have small bulbs now, they don't seem to have segments but I have seen garlic thats just a whole bulb rather than a bulb with cloves, so we'll see what it's like when I eat it!
My other 4 are still going strong (touch wood) so maybe I'll get some segment-y garlic out of those!