Sunday, 30 November 2008

Taglicious Tangents

If you follow this blog for my murmurings about reducing waste, then look away now because today I'm going off on a tangent and it's a real 180 degrees one at that.

You see I've been double tagged, by the lovely ladies Just Gai and Maisie who have been waiting patiently for me to stop talking rubbish and reveal some random photos and interesting minutiae of my life.

So, the photo you see above is in response to Maisie's tag, where she asked me to select the 6th folder in My Pictures directory and then publish the 6th photo in the list. The risk...and then the relief...that it wasn't a photo of me doing something embarrassing. Who knows what I could have found. At least the one I uncovered is appropriate for the blog.

The photo might look seasonal but it isn't really. I took it in February this year, when using up the mincemeat left over from last Christmas. Little T and I had mixed it with apricot jam to make a batch of tarts, which were delicious. At the time, I bought ready-made pastry. Now, I make my own. So if you've got surplus mincemeat this Christmas, I recommend a good dose of apricot jam to add a lighter touch.

Now onto the next one, Just Gai's tag to reveal six interesting(?) facts about me. here goes....and don't say I didn't warn you.

Fact 1. I have an inexplicable dislike of Mickey Mouse and all talking animals. My mother always said if she "won the pools" she'd take my sister and I to Disneyland. I remain extremely pleased that she never did. Meeting a real life Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck would send me running to the hills.

Fact 2. I am immensely accident-prone. Recent events include setting fire to some cutlery in the kitchen, boiling the teapot instead of the kettle and falling down the steps outside a French tourist office to a cosmopolitan audience of tourists. However, the most momentous occasion was when I was nearly killed by a wardrobe. It's old oak one that fell towards me when I turned my back on it. The moral is, never turn your back on an old piece of furniture. See the full story here.

Fact 3. I have a love of nostalgia...from black and white movies to vintage jewellery. A time where ladies wore dresses and hats. I adore vintage brooches, the more sparkling the better.

Fact 4. My dad died when I was only 4. He was killed in a motorbike accident. I have never got over it and I never will. I haven't told my children because I don't want them to have the fear of losing a parent so young so I will tell them when they're older. In the meantime, my 4 year old is fascinated by motorbikes and talks about riding them when he's grown up. I live in hope that he doesn't. The anniversary of my dad's death coincided with the first day of my Zero Waste Week and my first broadcast on Woman's Hour. I hope I would have made him proud.

Fact 5. I made my "national TV debut" in 1989 when the BBC came to film the opening of Djanogly City Technology College, a new flagship school based in Nottingham. I was a library assistant pretending to check-out books to students using a lightpen, which back in those days was new technology. Margaret Thatcher came to open the college and my job was to follow her around with a camcorder...a tricky job indeed, trying to avoid filling up the film with images of her back. I would never have guessed my next national news appearance would be almost two decades later, wearing my pink wellies in landfill.

Fact 6. I once let a woman walk out of the loo with toilet roll tucked into her knickers. I know that might make me look evil, but it was in the day when I wasn't that confident, wouldn't say boo to a goose and I didn't want to embarrass her by saying "excuse me, you've got toilet roll tucked in your knickers." The shame...both hers and mine and I am truly sorry. Every time I see an Andrex advert the memory comes flooding back.


Oh, I love tags. They make take some time but they're a great way of finding out more about other bloggers. So being the nosey-parker as I am, I'm now going to tag six other people I don't get to visit as much as I'd like but have deliciously interesting blogs that you should really take a look at.

And here they are...

A Pot a thought and a smidgen of dirt
Aiming Low
Margaret's Ramblings
Millennium Housewife
One stitch at a time

Good luck folks.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Guest Post: The Clean Bin Project

I can't remember how I first came across The Clean Bin Project. It might have been through Mrs Green's site over at MyZeroWaste, but when I first hopped over at the blog, I couldn't help being impressed.

I had felt utterly stunned that I had managed to do a Zero Waste Week back in March but over at the Clean Bin Project, blogger Jen had signed up to a much bigger event, a consumer free year no less. A year of buying nothing new! Well you can see where I got my inspiration for my Buy Nothing New month can't you.

So as I put my feet up and consider all that I haven't bought this month, it's over to Jen in Vancouver to tell us about her amazing project.

The Clean Bin Project

How it all began

I had never done even a single overnight bicycle trip, but last summer my boyfriend, Grant and I decided to bicycle to Mexico. Looking back, I realize that trip was the catalyst for the Clean Bin Project, our year of living consumer free and waste free.

Doing a 2 month, self supported cycle tour, carrying only the essentials with us, made us realize that we needed a lot less stuff to be happy than we had thought. When we got back home we figured that, after 5 years of collecting outdoor gear, clothing, and material goods, surely we had enough stuff. I mean, how many tents, CDs, kitchenware, and pairs of underwear does one person really need?

Inspired by Buy Nothing Day, and joined by our room-mate Rhyannon, we started the Clean Bin Project on July 1, 2008. The goal: to live a consumer-free, waste-free lifestyle for 365 days. (we added the waste-free bit because we classify packaging as “stuff” too, and we don't really want it in our household).

The rules

Basically, we only buy food and hygiene essentials. If we have to get something packaged, then it must be a recyclable package. We have three separate garbage bins as a competitive incentive to create the least amount of true, landfill garbage by the end of the year, and we're always checking up on each other.

We bring all our waste home to be properly recycled or composted in one of the 10 bins we have set up in our kitchen. That means even the lemon wedge in our restaurant water has to brought back to our compost.

The challenges

Have you ever noticed that when something is on your mind, it appears everywhere? If you're in the market for a new car, you start noticing what everyone else is driving; if you're looking for a romantic partner, it seems like there are happy couples on every corner; if you are trying to avoid sweets, sugary treats jump out from every shop window. It is the same with me and waste.

It pops out at me, glaringly obvious everywhere I go. People buying crap they don't need, single fruits wrapped in saran wrap, plastic shopping bags. After only 4 months, I have reached a point where I can't imagine ever buying meat on a styrofoam tray or coffee in a to-go cup.

As long as I avoid the mall, I'm not tempted to buy many things. However, this being Christmas craft fair season, I've been having some struggles to hold back in the face of original art work, pottery, and handmade clothing. I also feel a fashion crisis coming on as winter hits. Even though I have a full closet, I'm starting to have that “I have nothing to wear” feeling that Grant, and men in general, seem immune to. I'm far from a fashionista, but I like to buy clothes, sometimes new, sometimes secondhand, always a “good deal”. If nothing else, I have started to value my better quality clothing more. When I know I can't just buy a new sweater, the few that I have become much more important.

Alternative Gifts

Gift giving is another hard one. It's one thing to make yourself do without, but another to impose it on your loved ones. It definitely takes a little more time, but so far I've made finger paint (for kids), knitted things, baked things, canned things, sewn things, and bought organic veggie delivery. My favorite thing to give is an experience. Everyone already has so much “stuff”, we figure it's more fun to give something they can DO: theater tickets, a snowshoeing trip, swimming passes, a pedicure, a massage, or a trip to the art gallery.

A couple years ago we got my Dad a trip to fly a plane for father's day from TryThat. Pretty cool, and more memorable than whatever the heck we gave him the year before that.

Making progress

I'm surprised by how much extra time I have now that I'm not constantly researching or shopping for new things to buy (although I have seemed to replaced much of that time with researching where the heck I can get tofu without plastic or a shampoo bar with no wrapping).

So far, we haven't taken the garbage out in four months. Being public with our project helps me a lot. If I had just told myself not to buy any stuff, I'd be inclined to cheat, but because we've told practically everyone we know and because I'm writing a blog, I feel more pressure (and encouragement) to stay on track.

I've also been really inspired by all the other “garbloggers” out there who have been living plastic free, or reducing their weekly garbage or generally living greener. I was amazed when we first started that were so many people out there doing the same thing! So here's to everyone out there trying to reduce their impact in some way, and thanks to The Rubbish Diet for letting me shamelessly promote the Clean Bin Project.

Huge thanks to Jen for sharing her inspirational story with us. I can relate to her experience in more ways than one. To find out more about her project visit: and don't forget to check out the video documentary of the cycle trip, which can be found at Also do pop back next week, when I will be releasing the moths that have been trapped in my purse and counting up everything we didn't buy this month.

And if you're inspired to do something yourself, join in Buy Nothing Day this Saturday. For more details, click on the image below.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Greening up your green fingers with Wyevale

It might not be the weather to tempt you out into the garden, but a browse around our local Wyevale store yesterday has resurrected my enthusiasm for tackling our little patch of land.

And I needed a pick-me-up having spent the last few days suffering from man-flu (yes I know, I freely admit it I am the only woman to come down with the virus and am happy to defend blokes who suffer from it).

So a trip to Wyevale was just the tonic I needed, conducting a recce for the latest chapter in my book. And when it comes to zero waste I was very impressed with what the company has to offer gardening enthusiasts across the UK. To see what I mean, here's a an insight into some of the things I discovered during my wander.

First up, on entering the store there was a huge crate welcoming customers to recycle their plastic plant pots. Given that 500 million of the critters are used across the UK, it is great news to hear that following a trial in Spring, Wyevale has now rolled out this facility to over 100 stores nationwide.

For anyone wanting to plant onions ready for next year, there was the encouraging sight of a "fill-a-pot" scheme. So as well as buying onions loose in the market, you can now do the same with your onion sets.

Then there were the tools that come with 100% FSC cardboard labels attached with a piece of string and hanging basket liners made from compressed recycled paper and others made from coconut coir as well as ground pegs made out of cornstarch

And if that hasn't already knocked your socks off, you should have seen the border edging and mulch products made from recycled tyres. Amazingly, they looked like treated hardwood products, but with none of the maintenance required. It's a product you can simply just cut, lay and leave!

This wonderful range is all part of Wyevale's Plan Apple, which not just introduces eco measures into the operation of the company but also how the business can help its customers live a more sustainable lifestyle through how they use their gardens, for example by offering more recycled products and increasing its "grow your own" range.

The name itself was chosen because apples are a symbol of the opportunity to seed, nurture and harvest a new way of thinking about the real value of gardens, wildlife and food.

The 10 commitments of Plan Apple are:

1. Rediscovering our local community
2. Connecting with the source of our food
3. Working with nature
4. Encouraging carbon positive gardening
5. Ensuring our supply chain benefits everyone
6. Protecting our endangered forests
7. Towards peat-free gardening
8. Using less water
9. Towards zero waste
10. Inspiring personal well-being and sustainable lifestyles

And here is a timeline of the measures that have been introduced so far.

  • Phasing out patio heaters (Easter 2007)
  • Trialling and then rolling out plastic flower-pot recycling facilities to all stores (Easter 2008)
  • Banning all polystyrene bedding packs from January 2009.

Other actions include hosting composting events, sourcing local food for the company's in-store restaurants, trialling farmers' markets in six stores as well as organising a tool amnesty to collect garden tools for Feed the Children and the Conservation Foundation. In its largest stores, the company has also committed to stocking at least 200 products sourced from small artisan producers in the UK.

And when it comes to packaging, Wyevale is on a Zero Waste mission which recognises that over-packaging causes unnecessary carbon emissions, wastage and costs. Consequently the company's product packaging review has meant that suppliers have had to reassess their products. One example is the the shift from polystyrene packs in January, which will see the introduction of black plastic containers that comprise more recycled materials than the white plastic alternative with greater capacity, which carries better delivery efficiency and reduced road miles. Other changes also include the introduction of a 5p charge on plastic bags.

It's great to see another example of a well-known company that is taking responsibility for waste at source, instead of passing the buck to the consumer. Top marks too for encouraging sustainability in the garden.

There was so much on offer I could have bought the shop, including the cheeky fleece blanket that proudly declared "I am not a patio heater". It's a good job I'm still on this Buy Nothing New month otherwise I'd be in big trouble, AGAIN! However, my visit has inspired me to sort out our garden in the new year, so I will be back soon to splash the cash on a few goodies.

But I couldn't leave completely empty-handed, so treated myself to a bagful of loose sweeties from the pick and mix range near the exit. Come on...after a day on my sickbed, I most definitely needed a treat and it was a cheap one at that.


Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Landshare: a growing revolution

Hugh on Landshare from River Cottage on Vimeo.

I'm not the best gardener in the world but in our small back garden we manage an apple tree, a blackberry bramble, rhubarb, leeks and tomatoes as well as some must-have herbs such as rosemary, mint and thyme.

It's more of a snacking garden really, not enough to support a family of four, but an enjoyable source of edible goodies for us to pick at.

Just imagine if we had more land, with space to share, to grow more produce and the opportunity to learn from others and share the work. Imagine what we might grow then.

But with an increase in people who want to grow their own combined with long waiting lists for allotments, the opportunities are limited, which is why projects such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Landshare have got a huge part to play. So have a gander at the video and please spread the news on what might become the next down-shifting revolution.

And if you know someone with land, send them the link. I've already done keep your fingers crossed and watch this space. If the council can't find some land to help people grow their own in my neck of the woods ...perhaps someone else can.

For more information visit


Monday, 24 November 2008

Early Learning: Zero Waste Style

It is well recognised that if you've got young kids in your life, you're guaranteed to end up with a pile of excess clutter filling their bedrooms as well as the remnants of cheap broken toys and packaging filling your bins.

So if you're lucky enough to enjoy the company of little angels, the great news is that it is becoming easier to choose a zero waste present that they will enjoy and won't impinge on the sanity of their parents. And even better, you don't have to look any further than your high street, which as far as green credentials are concerned it comes as a refreshing change.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, if you're shopping for toys this Christmas, it is well worth checking out your local Early Learning Centre.

I haven't been to our local ELC for ages but this weekend I popped in to look for an elf costume. I didn't find what I wanted but I didn't come out completely disappointed.

As I browsed the store I was cheered to see a good range of toys that didn't have packaging. Many of those that were packaged came with compostable interior card, or were in open fronted boxes with none of the usual superfluous plastic.

From a parent's perspective. the less packaging on kids' toys the better, regardless of your zero waste intentions. It means far less mess on special days such as birthdays and Christmas Day. Less time for clearing up and more time to play.

So having had a good browse around the shop, I couldn't wait to check out their website and I'm glad I did because there is some happy news...

...The Early Learning Centre, a company that is owned by Mothercare, is officially going greener....and here's the lowdown.

* 20% of their toys have no packaging

* 25% of their toys are in recyclable packaging

* All instore display signage is on recyclable material and all catalogues and leaflets are printed on FSC or recycled paper

* Their innovative 'Book Amnesty' has recycled 130,000 books

*60% of their wooden toys are now made from 'forest friendly' wood certified by the Forest Steward Council

And it doesn't stop there. The Early Learning Centre has got a cunning plan to make us even happier and the world a greener place with some major targets for 2010 to make their business even more sustainable. Here are just some of them.

*By 2010, all their wooden toys will be made from either recycled wood, bamboo, rubber wood or wood independently certified by the Forest Stewardship Council

*All packaging will be made from materials that are easy to recycle

All cardboard packaging will be made from at least 70% recycled fibre

*They will reduce the amount of packaging by 30%

*They will cut carrier bag use by at least 30%

So, with 215 stores across the UK, this company seems to be doing its bit towards sustainable retailing. If you don't have a shop near you, you might be able to find some of the company's range of toys at your local Debenhams, Sainsbury's or Boots or even order online. Visit for more details.

Things are starting to happen on the high street but we need more shops to follow suit, enabling people to make zero waste choices even if they don't know they're doing it. So I wonder who else will be standing out from the crowds this Christmas? If you spot a high street chain doing its bit for waste, do give them a shout-out.


Saturday, 22 November 2008

Elf Needed!

What's a mother to do? I've advertised on Freecycle, I've trawled the charity shops AND phoned a friend...well quite a few friends actually...and I am now running out of ideas.

The problem? I need an elf costume...well not for me but for my 7 year old defender of the bins, for his school play.

Yes, I know I can get one at Sainsbury's for just £8....yes just £8...but of course my Buy Nothing New month has put the spanner in the works as far as that's concerned. Besides, it seems that all the elves in Bury St Edmunds have bought out the local stock.

So, if anyone has any other ideas (sorry ain't got time to make one) or indeed has a spare outfit knocking around, I would really appreciate your help...especially as time is quickly running out. And to give you an idea of what I'm after... and I really can't believe I'm showing you this...check out the You Tube thingy I magicked up for my other blog last Christmas.


Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Eco Emporia: Desirable objects from discarded things

Why is it that when you've signed up to a Buy Nothing New Month, a whole array of temptations arrives at your door?

There I was minding my own business, when an email popped into my inbox last week, bringing my attention to Eco Emporia, a new business whose strapline is "desirable objects from discarded things".

No sooner had I hopped onto their website, I found myself wanting so many items, it felt like all my Christmases were coming at once. Here's a company that is not only helping to reduce waste by repurposing discarded items into something desirable, but is also helping craftspeople to earn a living. With a personal love of crafts, I could have committed my credit card to so many things, especially the funky chicken shown above that's made from plastic bags. There's something about my quirky taste that somehow finds it appealing.

So not being in a position to shop until December, I thought I'd stick the chicken on my Christmas list and instead of splashing the cash, spend some time catching up with co-founder Anna Burns to find out more about her new venture.

What inspired you to set up the company?

"Like many businesses, my husband Peter and I came up with the idea for an eco gift company by identifying a problem. We were becoming greener at home - reducing, reusing and recycling, but when it came to looking for Christmas presents in 2005, we struggled to find suitable things that were both eco-friendly and desirable too.

At that time many of the green stores offered only functional products or 'eco-gadgets' as gift ideas. For us they weren't attractive enough. So we'd identified a gap in the market for an online company specialising in desirable eco-friendly gifts. Our entrepreneurial plans had to be put on hold though, because we'd just got married and were about to embark on a year long honeymoon travelling around the world.

That year away gave us the chance to dream about our business idea and to get inspired by seeing craftspeople who reused and recycled as a way of life. We had a 'eureka' moment in Australia when we wandered into an art gallery exhibiting recycled crafts from South Africa. We were excited by the creativity and amazing stories behind the products and the people who made them, and this really helped us to focus on our niche market of handmade recycled gifts."

What is your favourite product and why?

"I really do love all of our products so it's difficult to pick a favourite, but the ones which appeal to me most are those which are ingenious yet simple in design. Like Darrell & Julia Gibbs's Rescued Paper Notebooks where each page is made from a sheet of waste paper with the printed side folded in on itself to make two sides of blank paper to write on.

I also love fun products that make me smile like Lorraine Berkshire-Roe's quirky papier-mache tea-cups which even have bubbles painted in the 'tea'."

What sustainable packaging do you use when sending gorgeous items like this to your customers?

"All of our packaging is made from recycled, reclaimed or biodegradable materials. Some of the outer cardboard packaging we use has been made by refurbishing larger, solar panel boxes and making them into smaller cartons just right for posting. We've sourced biodegradable bubble-wrap which we use sparingly when needed and all our tissue paper is 100% recycled.

Smaller items like earrings are packaged in little gift bags I've made myself using pages from old unsaleable charity shop novels. Other items are wrapped in tissue and dressed up with a decorative book page pinwheel, made by me too.

Every item comes with an information card about Eco Emporia and a card telling the recipient more about the product's past life and the craftsperson who made it. We offer an optional gift message and we've had great feedback from customers and gift recipients who love these extra handmade touches."

I've read that you manage your business affairs in an environmentally-friendly way too. What would be your top tip for any other small business wishing to reduce its waste?

"Do all your business online to help reduce the amount of paper you send out and receive. We store all our documents digitally, use an online bank and we don't print anything unless we really need to. Even then it's on 100% recycled paper and we print on both sides."

So if you're still pondering what to get your friends for Christmas, it really is worth a visit over to Eco Emporia to pick up a few ideas, with the full guarantee that you'll have a zero waste present. You might even be inspired to make something yourself using their easy-to-follow instructions.

I'd like to say a huge thank you to Anna for sharing some of her time last week. Now, I mustn't forget to tell Mr A about that chicken. For more details visit

Monday, 17 November 2008

Alara Foods - the UK's first Zero Waste food manufacturer

News from MRW has revealed that Alara Foods, based in Camden London are the first UK food manufacturer to become a Zero Waste company.

The UK's main organic muesli producer set itself the goal of Zero Waste three years ago and has now achieved this. The company now throws nothing away, illustrating that it's possible for a company, even a food producer to achieve a zero waste business and manufacturing process. Everything is recycled, composted or reused, including hard-to-recycle polystyrene, which is reused for packing.

As well as managing its in-house zero-waste processes, the company has also re-evaluated its consumer packaging and has chosen to pack all its new products in paper bags instead of using the traditional bag-in-box production.

So if you are looking for a zero waste breakfast, which not just supports slimming your own bin, but gives a thumbs up to the oft-forgotten process of sustainable manufacturing, Alara products are the way to go.

To find your local retailer, check out Alara's online directory. And if you don't have a shop nearby, the good news is that the company also has an online store.

More information on Alara's recycling policy can be found at the company's website.


Sunday, 16 November 2008

Fishy business

According to news in today's Sunday Telegraph, the Conservatives have unveiled proposals to bring an end to what they refer to as "scandalous waste" in the fishing sector, hoping to change current EU policy.

To protect fish stocks, the EU Common Fisheries Policy currently enforces a limit on the number of fish that fishermen are allowed to catch and bans crews from landing any fish outside the quotas, forcing fishermen to throw them back into the sea, even if they have died during the fishing process.

The Telegraph reports the shocking statistic revealed by Bill Wiggin, the shadow fisheries minister who is quoted as saying "For every cod we buy in our local fish and chip shop another fish is being chucked back into the sea due to a system that is immoral and environmentally wrong".


The Tories are now seeking EU support for a pilot that would enable fishing crews to actually sell "over-quota" fish with the revenue shared between fishermen and the Government, allowing the profits to be reinvested back into the fishing industry. And it looks like the Conservatives are confident that the EU will accept their proposals.

If so, it will add to the sea of change which has already seen a U-turn by the EU allowing knobbly carrots and bendy cucumbers to return to the shops.

Thank goodness. At last is seems that our very bonkers world is getting less bonkers by the day, a slow process but good news all the same.

Who knows, one day even bananas might get a reprieve.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Your very own DIY Island

With the economy in crisis, the housing market taking a dip and sales of recyclates going down the pan, thanks to a tip-off from blog reader Simon, over at UV Artist, I think I've found the solution....

Right, I'm off to raid the recycling centre....

I'll be away for a while, not building an island quite yet but working towards my looming deadlines, so please feel free to chat amongst yourselves. And don't forget Jo Beaufoix will be hosting the Carnival of Trash tomorrow, so do pop over to to say hello.


Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Do you ever stare at the broccoli?

Do you ever catch yourself staring at the broccoli, the avocado or even the melon?

You know the kind of thing... by the time you've bunged it in your trolley, carted it home and put it in the fridge you've gone off the idea altogether. If your taste buds don't play tricks on you, the social gremlins soon will, tempting you to change your plans at a drop of a hat.

And you end up staring at what was once your object of culinary desire and watch it slowly wilt and wither. You know you should eat it, but somehow you lose your appetite for something so limp and off-colour.

Well...if you live in a disorganised house like mine, with a bunch of faddy eaters, and where there are more comings and goings than the local hostelry, help is on hand... the form of a little gadget called the Fresh Pod. Here it is...all lovely and is the broccoli!

I bought that Broccoli (or Calabrese as it's known on the market - we're posh here you know) well over a week ago, hoping to have it for a Sunday lunch...but yes but no but didn't!

Now I don't normally go for gadgets, but as the Fresh Pod is sold by a local company based in Thetford and I'd heard such good things about them I thought I'd give it a try. After all, in the current economy and wanting to make every effort to reduce food waste in what is my haphazard life, who could blame me. When I rang up to find out about it it, Colin, one of the co-directors kindly offered to drop one off for me to try out. And I am so glad he did.

The pod sits in a refrigerator salad draw or in a fruit bowl and works by removing the ethylene gas given off fruit and vegetables as they ripen. By removing this gas from the environment the ageing and ripening process is slowed, keeping fruit and vegetables fresh for up to 4 times longer than normal. The Fresh Pod sachets also have the added benefit in that as well as controlling ethylene gas, research has proven it also kills bacteria, viruses, fungi and moulds found in fridges.

The sachets last six months after which time they need to be replaced. However, the contents of the sachets are recyclable and make a great fertilizer sprinkled on pot plants or in the garden when no longer of use in the fridge.

So for a gal who's not really into gadgets, that's me very much convinced. Okay, there is a small amount of packaging that can't be recycled, but I'm told they're working on that and it's neither here nor there when it comes to my veggies.

So thanks to Colin and Fresh Pod, the future looks firmly green instead of floppy yellow.

And yes, I still stare at the broccoli, but only in amazement.

And I promise I'll get round to eating it before the month is out! In fact, I'll have it for lunch THIS Sunday.

For more info about the Fresh Pod, visit


Monday, 10 November 2008

Sent to Coventry

I'm been off on my virtual travels again, this time popping up in the West Midlands at the Coventry Telegraph where the lovely Tara Cain has invited me to write a guest column for her wonderful blog From Dawn till Rusk.

You'll never guess what it's about this time...'ve got it out of me...rubbish, blogging and book deals. If you fancy a peek at the inside story, you can find the post here.

Huge thanks to Tara for sharing some of her blog space. While you're there, do have a gander at some of her other posts, her blog is an excellent read.


Friday, 7 November 2008

Carnival of Trash Time

Here's my gorgeous blog friend Jo Beaufoix who writes a very funny and often poignant blog over at I've known Jo for what seems like years but has only been a couple since I started blogging over at my other blog 21st Century Mummy. I've hardly hung around there since I've been talking rubbish over here, but we've remained good friends and I even had the pleasure of meeting her for real just recently.

Anyway, before I lapse into one of my Ronnie Corbetts you might remember Jo from when she did The Rubbish Diet challenge earlier this year and managed to get her bin Stinky Simon back on track and slim him down a bit.

Well having since enjoyed adventures with composting, Jo is now really getting into this shrinking rubbish thing and is hosting the Carnival of Trash this month.

Apologies for the late notice, but the deadline for submissions is Monday 10th (which is next week), so for all contributors it's time to get your thinking caps on and submit your favourite article over at:

And don't forget to pop over to Jo's very funny blog on the Thursday 13th to check out the entries.

....oh and before I forget, if you're up for hosting December's carnival or even an edition in the new year, then do let me know.

In the meantime, hope you all have a great weekend and I'll see you next week.

P.S. Huge thanks to everyone who left me some wonderful comments yesterday, I've put a proper thank you at the end of the last comment on yesterday's post. x


Thursday, 6 November 2008

In Remembrance

I'm finding it really hard to get going today, because yesterday was the funeral of a very special lady, Mr A's Grandma, who recently passed away only a few weeks after her 95th birthday. We travelled over to Bristol, where we gathered with family and old friends for what was a very emotional service.

So my usual topic of conversation is far from my mind. Instead I'm finding myself thinking about my elders and in particular Rose.

Grandma Rose as she was known to our children was a beautiful and gentle woman, full of kindness, consideration and spirit of fun and yesterday was a celebration of her life as well as mourning her passing.

Born in 1913, she would have reached the same age as my eldest son in 1920, almost a century ago. Sat here at my laptop in 2008, that seems such a long time ago.

I can't help wondering what life was like for a seven year old girl in those times and how it must have been to be in her shoes, witnessing all the changes that took place through the 20th Century.

After all, she spent her early years growing up through the Great War and her thirties living with the second world war and then bringing up a family through times of rationing. She also witnessed the emergence of technologies and the mass penetration of televisions, phones and cars.

With each grandchild came new developments in toys and Christmases and birthdays must have looked so different to how they once were. After the grandchildren, came the great-grandchildren, who now belong to a different age altogether, with different expectations to how things were when she was their age.

Like my own grandparents who passed away in the 90s, Grandma Rose wasn't green. Like many things back then "Green" hadn't even been invented, yet by modern standards she was as eco-friendly as they come. In the sixteen years that I knew her, she grew her own fruit and vegetables in her back garden and home-baked. She didn't have a car, wanted for very little, but had fun. Indeed she had masses and masses of fun, until a stroke sadly crippled her a few years ago.

I really wish I'd known what she thought about modern times, but I never took the opportunity to ask. It never occurred to me. Instead we would happily talk about family, her church, her friends and her love of dancing.

And as I now try to capture the spirit of old-fashioned values, I can't help feeling regretful that it's taken until now to find my feet, at a time when it all feels too late.

I feel like I've spent the last forty years partying, and running away from anything that was deemed old-fashioned. Now, I find myself turning my back on the party and grasping at the traditional, like an old comfort blanket to keep me safe, to protect our children and to keep the world from harm.

But as I try to leave the big party behind I realise I don't really want to be green. I don't want to be eco-friendly either. I just want to live lightly in a world where that's the norm, where such values aren't labelled as different. I want to be like the generations that are gradually leaving us behind.

I also want my children to follow suit and their children too. I want their actions to be our grandparents' legacy.

I want old-fashioned to be the latest trend, in a way that outshines retro.

But most of all. I want us to remember our ancestors for what they did and how they were, whether it was at war or peace.

And of course this Sunday is Remembrance Day, a day to remember all those who fought for our country through the terrible wars, a time to remember that the past wasn't all rosy.

All those people who have trod our earth and have now gone, many of whom were too young to have fathered children of their own and didn't live to see the modern days that came.

Oh dear, I apologise for these ramblings but I suppose, after all this outpour, you can probably guess I'm just an old-fashioned girl at heart. So thank you so much for listening, while I just get things off my chest.

We'll miss Grandma Rose now she's gone, but what we won't do is forget her special gifts, not things, but her smile, her kindness, her gentleness, her traditional values and her dancing.


Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Mrs Smith and her rubbish proposition

I'm afraid I'm away today, got important things to do, but while I'm off on my travels our Tracey has popped over to show her face and has a wonderful proposition for you. Do you wanna see what it is?...then click on the button and find out what's in store.



Tuesday, 4 November 2008

I'm obviously a latecomer...

This did make me smile. A beautifully packaged message.

The observant ones amongst you will have noticed that the clip was created for Buy Nothing Day 2006. If you think you've missed out on a fantastic event, then you'll be pleased to hear this is now an annual occurence and you're just in time for Buy Nothing Day 2008, which is taking place around the world on 29th November (or 28th November in the U.S. and Canada).

According to the U.K. based BND website, the rules are simple. "For 24 hours you will detox from consumerism and live without shopping. Anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending!"

What fun! I can't wait. It's a good job I'm getting in a bit of practice over the next few weeks or I might be itching to hit the shops. Synchronicity eh, it's a beautiful thing.

So if you fancy a day off from splashing your hard-earned cash, pop over to to see how you can get involved.


Monday, 3 November 2008

Green cleaning: quite literally!

"Mummy look what Little T has done!" announced my seven year old prefect, rushing up to me with photographic evidence to prove it.

I had suspected the silence was a sign of creative genius, but when I last looked, little T was sitting in a very angelic position,at the dining table ready to turn a toilet roll tube into a green train. I certainly hadn't expected green footprints and handprints to decorate our beige stair carpet.

Mr A was sleeping off a late night at a Halloween party, while I was up early to finish an article. I wasn't feeling particularly well, I had a cold coming on so I was pleased that little T was happy to occupy himself for 10 minutes while I got the job finished.

And occupy himself he did, whilst Little J took photos of him in action. But how could they have been so quiet about it, surely a snigger might have been in order, a chuckle perhaps or even a shout of horror from the prefect himself.

So there was nothing for it but to put the green paint monster in the bath and wake Mr A from his slumber to supervise. Meanwhile I rolled up my sleeves, grabbed the bottle of vinegar,the tub of bicarbonate of soda and then got scrubbing.

I wasn't quiet sure if it was manna from heaven, sending me a research opportunity for the next chapter in my book or whether it was punishment for wanting just 10 minutes to myself.

Whatever it was, it was a big job to clean up.

Anyway, the interesting news is, I attempted to clean some of the stains with the product that promises carpet stains to vanish...but even after scrubbing like a madwoman the green prints remained very much in their original form.

For the rest of the handprints, I brushed on the bicarbonate of soda, then poured on white vinegar, watched it fizz and scrubbed at it again like a madwoman. They started to lighten and gradually disappeared. I topped off with a dose of Ecover washing liquid and eh presto, most of the stains were gone.

Admittedly there is still a faint hint of green, but that's only the real hardcore stains. Thankfully, the rest have lifted.

When I'm over my cold and my inner domestic demon returns, I'll tackle it again.

In the meantime, I'll be thankful I don't need a new carpet. After all, with the challenge I've set myself this month, it would be a bit of a blow-out so soon in the first week.


Saturday, 1 November 2008


Apologies for the behaviour of that naughty Delores yesterday. Fancy packing me off to landfill with a flea in my ear just so she can sort out my cleaning affairs. Tsk - as if I haven't got anything else to think about. It is nice to have a clean bathroom though!

Now it might seem extreme but I have officially named November as my BUY NOTHING NEW MONTH, which means, apart from birthday gifts for family members, food and other household essentials, I shall not buy anything new for the next 29 days!

It all starts today!

And I can tell you, it's going to be blimmin' hard.

Not only have I got a wedding to dress up for next weekend, but I've also been invited to a Pampered Chef party this week, you know the kind, where the salesperson cooks up something really tasty before your very eyes using gadgets that promise to turn you into a domestic goddess and your resistance weakens.

However the hardest part will be avoiding buying a new teapot to replace the one that I accidentally boiled on the stove the other week.

I'd turned on the gas hob to boil the kettle, just as Mr A asked me to check something on the computer. Minutes later, he lifted his nose in the air, took a sniff and helpfully proclaimed "There's something burning!"

And yep, it was the teapot! My gorgeous blue one that I'd bought from Whittards about 10 years ago. Like a twerp, I'd turned on the wrong knob. The kettle was still as cold as a cucumber but the teapot was hot and cracked, resting in a bath of hot tea. As it happened the Twinings breakfast blend turned out to be a fantastic hob cleaner, but that was no silver lining to the black cloud that was beginning to brew.

So why am I doing this "buy nothing new" month?

I suppose over the years I've got to know my habits really well and because I've got the willpower of a cat tossing a bird, November has become a dangerous month in both the financial and clutter departments

You see it's the Christmas shopping that gets me every time.

It's like "One for for for for me", and by the time I've bought my Auntie Dilys her regular Thorntons chocolates along with a box for my Auntie Pat, I'll be heading home with a new book and a pair of boots I couldn't resist along the way!

...Which brings me back to my lovely teapot.

I only purchased it because I'd bought an equivalent one for my sister, liked it so much that I paid for an extra. Then there were the pastry forks that I decided to keep for myself and ended up buying a replacement pressie.

There you go. Surely you'll agree that some form of therapy is definitely in order!

So this year I promise to be wise, grasp the willpower and just say no.

Instead of reaching for the credit card, I will pass things by and if I still want them in December, I'll add them to my Christmas list.

It will really make a refreshing change to have things for Christmas that I've actually anticipated and longed for, even if it is just for a few weeks, instead of buying stuff there and then!

You never know, I might not even need them after all.

But I do really need a new teapot. I've missed it too much and I hate dunking teabags in cups and mugs, which is why this month might turn out to be a real challenge indeed.

I suppose the only saving grace is that I'm such a blimmin' fusspot, it'll probably take me a month to find a suitable replacement.

So why don't you join me in this mad crusade. It could save us both some cash and make December even more special. Go on...29 days isn't that it?


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