Lotion Bars

It’s been mentioned a couple of times but I’m on a quest to reduce my rubbish, I’ve switched to soap but one of the places that I can make a change with is moisturiser and hand cream. I have really dry skin and my use of both things is high.

Sarah at Sustainable Cooks, has a recipe for hard lotion bars, which she swears by and she’s never steered me wrong before! I was prepared to give it a go but I’m not that keen on coconut oil, I’ve used it before but it’s not my favourite. So I used the same basic recipe but subbed in cocoa butter. I’ve also done another replacing the coconut oil with shea butter and both work fine.

The bars work well and I have an old mint tin that I’m using for storing it and it works really well. It’s also worth noting that you don’t need a fancy mould, I had one and thought that it would work really well if I was making them for presents but a silicone muffin cup would work as well (actually I have a silicone madeleine mould which I think would be perfect for hand lotion bars!)

This is a case where I’m reducing not giving up entirely, I still love my Altruist moisturiser, it’s a brilliant all in one cream that works for body, hands and feet, so while I have these bars for body and hands, I will continue to use it for my feet, but it’s using maybe three tubes a year versus more than 24 as I go through about 12 tubes of hand cream a year and about the same of moisturiser. Like I said, I’m not aiming for perfect but in this instance, less is more!

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Friday Links: John Lewis Nightmare

Happy Friday!

I have today off work because I wanted to have a long, long weekend. Right this minute, I’m mooching around the kitchen finishing my coffee. Then I’m going to wash up the breakfast things, do some house stuff and do weekend things I usually do on Sunday. Then come Sunday, I can read books…

Here are this week’s links….

The new rom-com Together Together explores the romance of platonic friendship

The ‘John Lewis nightmare’ shows just how out of touch Boris Johnson is

Primal rage at PMQs as Boris the joker is unmasked

India Is What Happens When Rich People Do Nothing

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Good things

This is a sort of what I ate but only the really good stand out stuff of the last week or so.

Roasted veg and mozzarella (or why I will never be a vegan). An easy throw it in the oven lunch (carrot, cauliflower, sqaush, onion and sweet potato), if I’d had salad leaves, I’d have thrown them in as well but we can’t have everything..

Hot Stew. This in very adaptable, I need to can some more black beans and chickpeas, this used a 10 bean mix and the last jar of chickpeas. The dumplings were perfect, fluffy balls of gorgeousness.

Pain au Raisin. Saturday morning breakfast

Roasted Veg Soup. Using the same mix of veg as above, added to stock with some red lentils. Soup is an easy way of using up vegetables and an easy lunch.

Chard and Goats Cheese Pasties. When we pulled up all the chard a while back, I made two batches of these, I made the pasties a bit smaller and froze them so that Ma could have some. In future, I’m going to do it this way all the time, the bake really well from frozen and it’s always good to have something like this for quick, hands off lunches at home or eventually for office packed lunches.

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Allotment Adventures: Dry

This week, the perennials and occupied beds got a watering twice and I refilled the pond! It’s dry, we didn’t have as much rain as we usually do this winter and it’s been a while. There is light rain predicted for Thursday but I’m not sure that it’s going to be enough. So the flowers, perennials and potatoes are getting a soak once and week and the beds (onions, shallots, garlic, peas, broad beans, carrots, beetroot, newly sown salsify, parsnip and salad beds) will be watered at least twice and more if it gets any warmer. It’s earlier that I’d like for watering but it has to happen, my poor blueberry bushes are not looking well.

So this week there was epic watering, pond re-filling and filling up the bird feeders. I tidied up the back of the plot and got the water bins cleaned and filled. Ma lined some of the empty beds with cardboard which had the added bonus of clearing it out of the shed so that Ma could have a small tidy. There is a ‘take everything out of the shed, clean it and put it all back in a more orderly fashion’ session in my future, my partner in crime is going to insist on it.

Rhubarb, rhubarb

We picked the first rhubarb of the year, which made me very happy

Every year, Ma and I try to grow something we’ve never grown before, last year it was sweet potatoes. This year Ma wanted to grow salsify and I agreed but only if I could try parsnips, sow we’ve got half a bed each and sowed them this weekend. We were going to sow celeriac but there was some debate about whether it was the right time to sow outside, so instead we sowed salad, spinach and radishes, we’ll see how they get on. We also sowed a second set of peas in the pea bed. I really would like to get around to trying fennel this year but I have until June to think about that!

The allotment tasks for next week are painting the shed and strimming the paths (me) and weeding (Ma). This week, I need to buy more wood and compost and get the summer and winter squash seeds sown. It’s going to be interesting as last year I was working in the kitchen and growing in the living room. This year the seedlings and I are going to be in the same room!

It’s fine, there is plenty of time and we will find a way to source all the compost we need.

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Fix One Thing

I’ve been working from home for a year and I’m stuck in something of a rut, I have absolutely lost my mojo and I need to get it back. One of my friends had the brilliant idea of tackling one thing a day that I’d been putting off, the idea is that I’ll regain my mojo because I’ll look around the flat and see all the things I can do, and I’ll want to do more.

These are not big things, it’s not painting the living room (so needs to be done) or replacing a kitchen, it’s the little things that need doing that you never get around to, like the shirt that needs handwashing or hanging a picture. You know the niggling things that you put off and put off because the idea of them is exhausting (like how I feel about hoovering!) but that once you do them only take five minutes or so hands on time.

So in the last couple of weeks, these are the things I’ve done:

  • Cleaned all the limescale off the loo (Harpic Power Plus to the rescue)
  • Cleaned the cooker hood;
  • Fixed the wobbly knife rack, so it doesn’t wobble any more;
  • Refixed the hook in the kitchen that had come off the wall;
  • Re-habbed all the house plants, giving haircuts where necessary, adding perlite to the tops to try and prevent fungus gnats, and adding plant feeders to them;
  • Cleaned and re-organised the cupboard under the sink;
  • Hoovered (twice in two weeks, which is a miracle because I loathe hoovering);
  • Put all the used and cleaned jars away in the cupboard of doom;
  • Cleaned the glass on the living room door;
  • Ironed and put laundry away as soon as it was dry; and
  • Started off a new batch of vanilla extract.

There is a bunch of other stuff to do (oven cleaning and freezer defrosting spring to mind) but it’s helping me feel more in control of my life. So I would recommend it as a strategy if you’re feeling a little blah..

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Monday Miscellany: Away with the Fairies

Happy Monday!

Tulips

It’s the last week of April (2021 seems to be whizzing by), next Monday is a Bank Holiday and if all things go to plan, May and early June have some very good things in them. We’ll see the boys and Ben and Laura, with any luck the weird weather will improve and the allotment will be abundant, I’ll get a haircut (right now the split ends have split ends!). I’m a fairly boring person, I don’t need restaurants and pubs to be open but I would like to see the people I care about which hopefully we’ll be ok to do soon.

Last week, I was a space cadet and not in the ‘clever person preparing to do important things in space’ but more the completely unable to settle down and concentrate and totally away with the fairies sort of way. I’ve always had that tendency but have more or less grown out of it, however, as peri menopause marches on it’s really noticeable during parts of my cycle. Apparently, it might be a thing. So I did try to knuckle down and I mostly got out for a walk every day and kept on top of the housework.

This week, I need a distraction free couple of days to work my little socks off. I also need at least one trip to Wickes for wood and screws – the excitement of allotmenting!

Other than that, everything here is pretty much the same and I’m not complaining about it!

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Recommended: L’Oreal True Match Foundation

Up until 2019, I’d been happily using my Bourjois Healthy Mix foundation which was great, and then Bourjois withdrew from the UK market. I bought enough that I didn’t have to think about a new foundation until April last year.

I struggle to find foundation that matches my pale skin at all, doing that in the middle of a pandemic when I couldn’t test anything, wasn’t fun. But the nice lady at Superdrug, suggested the L’Oreal True Match in 2C Rose Vanilla.

I’m happy to report that the lady in Superdrug was a genius because it matches really well and it’s less drying that the Bourjois was. I know that foundation can be a fraught issue for people with darker skins and while I have no idea whether this is good for darker skins, but that this one comes in 40 shades is a sign of improvement and I hope to see more products for a range of shades and more shops stocking them..

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Friday Links: Bunny Hugger

Happy Friday!

It’s been quite the week. There was the rise and fall of the Super League, Boris Johnson’s woeful performance yesterday (Britain and Australia have been fighting it out for the ‘Most Terrible Leader in the World’ since America gave the trophy back in January!). Here are this week’s links..

On canonical hours, comfort, and daylight savings. This is absolutely wonderful. Full of knowledge and grumpiness!

3,000-year-old ‘lost golden city’ of ancient Egypt discovered

‘It’s his turf’: why London’s mayoral race is personal for Boris Johnson. Could it be that Johnson helped Sadiq Khan by being a terrible mayor, could it be that the Tories attitude towards TfL (Johnson spaffed money up the wall for an imaginary garden bridge to say nothing of the fucking cable car, but currently refuses to fix Hammersmith Bridge) and Londoner’s that don’t work in the City might be helping Sadiq Khan win votes. The Tories in general and Johnson in particular have been pissing on ordinary Londoners and telling us it’s raining, which might work in your red wall constituencies but he’s been the Mayor, we know who he is and it won’t work here…

If Boris Johnson has his way, a woman’s work will truly never be done

David Cameron and the Greensill scandal is just the tip of the fatberg

‘I wash my hands and genitals – the rest I gave up’: how the pandemic changed our hygiene habits. I only washed my hair weekly before lockdown, and my hygiene is pretty much the same as it was, I have noticed that my skin is better since I started using soap again.

Soccer fans destroyed the Super League. Because I like to see what Americans think about a move that everyone thought was ‘american’ in conception.

How America Ruined Soccer. See…

Four steps this Earth Day to avert environmental catastrophe. I’m (as you may have noticed) on a bit of a sustainability kickk

The Sun Never Set on the British Empire’s Oppression. Britain absolutely needs to own how terrible the Empire was for the colonies, there aren’t enough railways in the world to make up for the damage that was done and we also need to be accountable for the bad calls we’ve made since. There’s such hypocrisy from us on this, Hong Kong is a mess because it was only when we realised that we were going to have to give it back to China that we decided that democracy was important. If we’d actually applied the principles we said that believed in then China could not have done what it’s doing now. But the truth is that with the exception of Hong Kong, it’s been at least 40 years since we had colonies (Zimbabwe was the last one and that was complicated) so how responsible is Britain for the state of those countries and how they make and unmake law? It’s a question we need to think about because we need a better structure than, ‘it’s all their fault’ and ‘we gave you law and railways’.

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Allotment Adventures: All the work

Easter weekend was not as plot heavy as I planned. Ma and I finished the row of bed building. We had to re-arrange the top of the plot a bit to make that last bed fit and that row of beds is not at all straight but as Ma said, “it doesn’t have to be perfect to grow food”. Left on this year’s work list is the other squash bed and two more in the middle of the old half and then we are done for the year. For right now we are out of wood so I need to buy that and I think about another 4000 litres of compost to get them all filled and we have a deadline for the middle of May.

Behold the completely not straight row of beds

That was about it for work at the weekend. I’m hoping to give the shed another layer of paint, I was going to strim the paths but it occurs to me that the battery is at the plot and uncharged.

Plum blossom

The rest of the plot is looking pretty good, the plum tree is in blossom and the tulips are flowering.

White tulips

The water has been switched on because it’s been so dry, so I watered at the weekend. Nothing much is going on because it’s been cold and dry, the tomatoes are underway and when I’ve potted them up, I’ll sow the squash. It just feels like I’m on hold at the moment but May and June are always busy, so I’m going to enjoy the rest!

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Small Changes Redux

Remember last year in January, I wanted to make some small changes that would improve my life/make it slightly more sustainable? Then two months later, we went into lockdown and I sort of abandoned the whole enterprise..

While we are not back to normal and I’m not entirely convinced we’re out of the woods yet, the work from home life, hardly seeing any of my friends and only one of my family members is pretty normal so it’s time to think about this again.

Being at home practically all the time has lead to some changes in the flat and how I live in it. I bought an instant pot and that has been fabulous for making yoghurt as well as all it’s other uses.

Over the summer, I re-arranged the cupboard of doom to make it slightly more organised and to give me room to store the things I preserved this year. I completely rearranged the living room to accommodate having a desk and that meant some rearranging of the bedroom and new bedroom curtains (finally – it only took 11 and half years!).

Necessity meant I had to buy a new hoover and I bought a very cosy mattress protector but think that’s it for things in the flat.

None of that is particularly sustainable though, and there is an argument that the most sustainable thing you can do is stop buying things, which isn’t wrong but these things have helped how I live but I’m making best efforts.

Compost

On the plot, we set up a composting system, one of my Christmas presents was a bokashi bin system that means I can compost all of my food waste at home without exciting the foxes at the allotment. I also replaced the broken shredder at home with one that works and now all that paper waste goes into the compost too.

The elephant in the room here is peat, I’ve bought a lot of compost in the last five years and it’s not going to change this year. Wickes (my compost supplier of choice) has committed to reducing its use in their products to zero by 2025, but that’s a way off and I have about 4000 litres of compost to buy this year. Increasing the use of my own compost should help reduce and we will look at buying compost without peat in it next year. However, peat free compost is hard to get hold of in bulk and expensive so this year, I’m going to make the less environmentally friendly choice because I can’t afford to buy the amount I need in peat free compost (yes, it’s all wrong, products with peat should be cost more than those without but they don’t). It’s something I’m working on but I don’t have a solution for this year. Last year, we decided not to buy any more plastic pots and we haven’t so that’s all working ok.

Reducing waste at home is still a work in progress, my rubbish and recycling bins are collected every other week and they are never full but I’m still slightly horrified by the amount of recycling that I put out each week. Most of the cardboard goes to the plot to help improve soil and compost there, food and paper too, I’ve used less tins this year because all beans and tomatoes I preserved myself in jars, I do save some jars for other things but most of my recycling is glass and plastic.

I’m trying to think a bit more about plastic waste as I think that glass and metal are pretty easy recycling options (that may be wrong and it may be that I’ll learn differently). I’ve stopped using clingfilm and started using soap instead of shower gel and handwash (which has been much better for my skin). I’ve also stopped buying kitchen roll, when my face flannels get worn, I move them to housework so for cleaning, dusting and mopping up. I also stopped using baby wipes (it’s stupid but I didn’t realise that they have plastic in them and so don’t decompose), instead I have another set of flannels that I keep damp in a plastic box and use for the stuff I used to use baby wipes for. Finally, I haven’t replaced my body puff thing for washing with and have gone back to using a flannel. Everything gets washed on a hot wash and the whole system is working well with an added wash every week.

Laundry day

One of the things that didn’t entirely work for me, was the washable sanitary towels. (Look away now if you’re funny about this stuff). They were really comfortable but the leaking was insane and while I didn’t leave the house much this year, there is a hard limit on how many times I want to change my clothes each day and the bedding in the course of a week. So I’ve reached a comprise position, I use them towards the end of my period when things have slowed down and stick with my other ones for the beginning. (No I’m still not going to use a mooncup, I’m sure they are fantastic but I can’t make tampons work so I’m not the best person for a mooncup)

What else? This month, I’ve signed up for smol laundry detergent fabric conditioner and housecleaning sprays because that should reduce my plastic usage. I’ve also stopped buying washing up sponges because they have plastic in them, at the moment I’m using a silicone thingie, which I don’t love but will probably last for a while, so I’ll use them until I can’t and they go to recycling, then I’ll look at the compostable loofah ones. If I ever get around to a greenhouse on the plot, I’ll try growing a luffa plant and see if I can grow my own!

There’s still a lot of plastic in my life (handcream, shampoos and conditioners, lip balm, deodorant, toothpaste, toilet roll, face and make up collections to name a few) but I need to use the things I have and then I’ll look at things that use less plastic or are more recyclable it’s a work in progress.

Finally, this year I made a change to how I eat, there were lots of reasons for this, but this Lent, I gave up eating meat during the week. It wasn’t as difficult as I was expecting, so while I’ll never be vegan, I am eating less and better raised meat so that’s a change that I’m planning to continue.

Dorset Meats Box

None of this is perfection and I’m aware that all of it is a drop in the ocean of what needs to happen. If we are going to stop the damage that climate change and pollution is causing it’s going to take more than the tiny things I’m doing. It’s going to take governments and industry, a mindset change about what we are ‘entitled’ to and deep systemic change. It’s also really important to note that some of the things I’m doing are rooted in privilege, of living in the first world and being able to afford to do this. I’m not saying everyone can do it or that it’s easy or cheap, I’m just saying that I’m trying to do something about it in how I live.

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