Archive for April 4, 2008

Photo-fest

Just pictures of plants, pretty much!

These are my seeds. And the chilli plant. (Not pictured, scraps for the compost heap.)

This is the parsley that’s been growing on my kitchen work surface. It’s by far the most appetising thing I’ve grown from seed yet!

Note the last ever plastic milk bottle to be seen in my kitchen. Got proper old-fashioned ones now, please rinse and return…. (Not pictured, huge pile of washing up.)

These are the garlic cloves I just shoved in a spare pot. They seem to have shot up. Weird.
Note the tasteful pot. Classy, me!

These are my blueberry plants which arrived this morning.

Look what I got off Freecycle! A window box! From a lovely, lovely man who had a friendly dog and a garden that gave me a glimpse of what mine could be like if I was allowed to do anything exciting with it. Productive and attractive, with lots of bird feeders. *dreams*

He also gave me lots and lots of small plastic pots, which I’m going to start some other things off in. Except I haven’t got a round tuit yet.

The window box is planted up with valerian (smelly insomnia tea), salad burnet and soapwort. I anticipate the soapwort with glee. It sounds intriguing.

Also non-plant pictures:
my cushion, my latest attempt at yoghurt (which has actually turned into something other than milk, but I think it might be ricotta) and the lime schnapps I’ve started, after finding this wonderful website: www.danish-schnapps-recipes.com. I want to do almond schnapps now. Mmm. Need cheap vodka. Trip to France, anyone? =)

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April 4, 2008 at 3:55 pm 2 comments

De-chemicalising the house, part two: cleaning products

Spring, ladies and gentlemen, has sprung.

How do I know? Because I’m not wearing any shoes!

I gather the weather tomorrow (when I’m going to be outside waving cardboard planes around in the market place to convince Gordon Brown to include aviation in the Climate Change Bill) is going to be mingy, but for today, I have dug out my flip-flops and flung open the windows and am trying to forget that I only had three hours’ sleep last night. Blimmin’ work. And sourdough. I just flopped into bed and remembered it needed more flour and water stirring into it so had to get up. Quite why I felt it was so urgent when I was getting up in three hours is beyond me, but I suppose it stopped the jargon swimming around in my head.

So, appropriately enough for spring, here is the long-awaited post about my cleaning habits.

It should be quite short, we have a small house and we’re lazy, so cleaning is pretty minimal.

Here is my kitchen cleaning cupboard:


Again, there are many mainstream, petrochemical-filled products, largely inherited from the bf’s old student house. Yep, the other housemates moved out, leaving a box full of unfinished cleaning products, because, obviously, just buying new ones in their new place was easier.* So we swiped them! Then I decided I didn’t want them, I wanted vinegar instead.

Vinegar is fab stuff. As well as stopping me smelling on a daily basis and (more or less) sorting out my hair after the unfortunate avocado oil debacle last week, it can also be used as fabric softener and as surface cleaner.

And in salad dressing.

I have a little spray bottle which I bought in the hardware shop and have now invested in a huuuuge bottle from Summer Naturals (bulk buying = less packaging and fewer pennies).

Lemons are also good. The bf will be nagged until August to get me a lemon tree for my birthday, when I will be able to grow my own in the sitting room. Self-sufficient in lemons. Awesome. So, lemons, as well as being good for (blonde) hair and salad dressing (and cheesecakes and and making lemonade), can be used to descale your kettle, and I scrub any particularly persistent stains on the hob or work surfaces with them too. They have a myriad of other uses too, I’m sure.

Bicarb is another good cleaning product, and has successfully got some red wine out of our carpet.

The only products specifically bought in bottles for cleaning that I use regularly are toilet cleaner, washing-up liquid and washing powder. As we use up the stuff we have, we’ve been replacing them with Ecover or Bio-D products, although I’m not entirely happy with Ecover’s rolling five-year rule on animal testing, and there is still the packaging issue, as I can’t find anywhere nearby that does refills. Grr.** The washing up liquid, floor cleaner and toilet cleaner have all worked fine, but there was a small quality control issue with the laundry liquid didn’t get things clean.***

On the basis that using solid soap, flakes or powders is better than liquid (doesn’t require so many preservatives) and I wanted something that actually worked, we went for some Bio-D powder. It seems to get things cleaner, but left some white powder marks on the bf’s black shirt, and he sulked and wants something else. (However, he still doesn’t get to choose the next lot, as I refuse to take advice on laundry from someone who doesn’t separate whites from colours unless you stand over him and threaten to move to a bedsit in London if he ruins your white bra.)

I also bought some borax, but I don’t know what to do with it. I’d just read about it and thought it sounded useful.

Anyway, I have to toddle off and pick up some plant pots from someone on Freecycle. Maybe I should have thought of this before I eased open the ancient, creaky sash windows. Hmm.

Ooh, and GTM nominated me for an award, which made me feel very grown up, and I will come back later once I’ve had a proper think about who to pass it onto.

* One of his housemates was a nut, though, and properly anal about cleanliness. She’d tidy the
sitting room up and leave all your things in an outraged pile outside your door, and then you’d be taking an important phone message for her and couldn’t even find a pen. I shudder to think how she’d have reacted if we’d wanted to clean things with lemons.

** The ever-wonderful Wiggly Wigglers offer refills. I think you have to buy from them in the first place, though.

*** Let’s just say, I’ve never had a problem before with stains from that time of the month, but since I’ve been using Ecover, I’ve ruined quite a lot of underwear, a pair of pyjamas and a pair of jeans.

April 4, 2008 at 11:24 am 2 comments


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The Heritage Crafts Network

Rob Hopkins, Transition Handbook

“Environmentalists have often been guilty of presenting people with a mental image of the world’s least desirable holiday destination – some seedy bed and breakfast near Torquay, with nylon sheets, cold tea and soggy toast – and expecting them to get excited about the prospect of NOT going there. The logic and the psychology are all wrong.”

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

"Food is that rare moral arena in which the ethical choice is generally the one more likely to make you groan with pleasure."

Carlo Petrini

"A gastronome who is not also an environmentalist is an idiot. An environmentalist who is not also a gastronome is, well, sad."

Sharon Astyk

"I am, of course, firmly opposed to consumerism and corporatism in all its forms, and I believe that we are deeply confused about material needs and wants. Now let me explain how books and yarn are totally different than the material things that other people want ;-)…."

Raj Patel, at Slow Food Nation

"Biofuels, which is the preposterous policy that we should grow food not to eat it but to set it on fire."