Thursday, 18 June 2020

Trying to Live Sustainably

How are your efforts to live more sustainably going, or have they been lost amongst worries over the pandemic and other concerns? Here is a review of where I’m at, which might encourage you, or at least spark some thought and conversation.

It seems a lifetime away now (just last year) when climate change and sustainability came onto my radar. As often happens, I threw myself into it wholeheartedly to begin with and, while I am still enthusiastic, it has settled down to a more practical routine and pace, for my lifestyle.

It’s a job to know how to begin changing a lifetime of behaviours, so I began by looking at what came in and out of our home, and asking some basic questions about food and household items:

Is it necessary?
Is there a better eco-friendly (and perhaps cheaper) alternative?
How far has it travelled?
Was it produced ethically (materials used, who made it and in what conditions)?
Does it involve unnecessary plastic packaging?

I’ve always tried to shop ethically but lots of things changed straight away and others have evolved gradually. As far as possible, our produce is now UK grown and in season. For example, if strawberries have come from abroad I go without and just wait for UK ones in June. I’m fortunate to have access to farm shops and the like, so buy produce locally grown where I can, often surprisingly reasonably. This also means we can support local and UK business. Where possible, we look for fair trade and free range, even if they cost a little more. It all takes a bit more thought and effort but is worth it. I gave up my allotment recently, but still produce soft fruits which are easy to grow but usually expensive, beans, tomatoes and the like, in the garden.
Our recycling bin is a lot emptier these days, with paper and card torn up and put in the compost bin as ‘browns’ to balance the ‘greens’ or sometimes used in craft projects.

Cleaning products also came under scrutiny. While using up all the spare bottles and packets I whittled down my ‘needs’ by reading lots online and started making some of my own, with basic ingredients, and with varying degrees of success. They are all surprisingly quick and straightforward to make, and all my knowledge and recipes came from the internet. 

My new best friend is coconut oil which is cheap and I use it in toothpaste, as a hair conditioner, hand cream and for itchy skin. It has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. My other best friend is vinegar – used neat for window cleaning with newspaper, or as a fabric conditioner (no, our clothes don’t smell like chips!)

I have a love hate relationship with bicarbonate of soda as it is effective but too harsh for my skin. I stopped using it in toothpaste as it seemed to affect my gums (now just coconut oil and peppermint essential oil). But it works fine as an ingredient in my soap powder which is quick and easy to make.

Essential oils (lavender, peppermint etc) can be expensive but I buy from Holland & Barrett when they have an offer on, and they last for ages. 20 drops of oil in a spray bottle filled with water makes a good fresh air spray.

I make and use bars of soap, rather than buying plastic bottles of shower gel.

We now have lots of home-made washing cloths for household cleaning and mopping spills, rather than kitchen roll or wipes.

What hasn't worked so well -

I went back to buying deodorant as the bicarb ingredient was too abrasive and caused a rash, and I couldn’t find a suitable alternative.

I’ve only tried a couple of shampoo bars but haven’t found one that works for me, so now use a squeeze of my husband’s shower gel, which works fine so far.

I made a couple of different washing up liquids but they didn’t cut through the grease, and home-made cream cleaner wasn’t very effective either. Maybe I should try more recipes but that seems wasteful if they don’t work, so I’ve compromised by buying both from our local waste less shop, so cutting down on use of plastics, etc.

Overall, we’ve hopefully reduced our carbon footprint whilst saving quite a bit of cash as my home-made items are definitely cheaper than shop bought. I’ve still got a lot to learn and some way to go, and would love to hear of your experiences and what you've learned.

Love for now, Chris x

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Long Time No See

Hi, I'm back (she whispers sheepishly!)

I'm sorry it's taken a worldwide epidemic to pin me back down to blogging again. Media like Facebook and Twitter are fine but bite-size and I need a roomier vehicle for my rambles, crafty and otherwise. Blogger has changed a lot since I was last here, so please forgive me if I fumble my way around, at least for now. So, today's rambling ...

Sabbath Rest

We might wonder if this is needed since lockdown can seem like one long rest but I think a Sabbath one is more necessary than ever just now. God introduced it as a day set apart from the activity of the other six, to spend with Him, re-focus and rest whilst drawing strength and direction for the week ahead. It is also an ideal time to spend with those dear to us. 

Lockdown has blurred the edges of days for many, where we've lost the usual markers of regular activities, work and physical social interaction and I sometimes have to check my phone to ensure I haven't missed bin day! Life seems one long round of housework, gardening and dog walking, broken only by periods of sleep. and, I hate to admit, a little daytime TV. And as daily briefings and news reports grind on, I've stopped following them for the sake of my mental health, retreating further into my shell. We all need time out from the everyday - even if our new everyday is very different - to spiritually, physically and emotionally refresh and renew, re-calibrating for the challenges of the week ahead.

So how can I make my Sabbath rest different and meaningful just now? While the weather is so lovely, I've been taking my early morning cuppa into the garden for an hour, rather than indoors as I do the rest of the week. The quiet and birdsong, the warmth of the early morning sun help me quickly settle into prayer. Later in the day, there's an opportunity to share in our church Zoom service though, as some of you know, I struggle with this and usually turn my camera off. If I'm feeling particularly stressed, I might miss it altogether and follow the YouTube service from my daughter's church or one from Worcester Cathedral, always a welcome liturgical oasis whose predictability encourages calm and peace. 

Little differences throughout the day help make it special - family catch up phone calls, a game of Scrabble with my husband rather than watching TV, or a jigsaw that only comes out on Sundays to be continued while listening to music or the radio, a couple more chapters of a book - currently Tom Wright - and so on. So, at the end of the day, when I join others in lighting my candle and praying for the world, I do feel better for having set the day apart.

Sabbath shalom, when it comes xx

(Next instalment - Sustainable living progress - or not!)

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

On the Third Day of Christmas ...

... came the next new journal.

This was a gift for my sis-in-law. She's a crafty girlie, too, and we swap home made gifts at Christmas.

It started with a file folder, covered with a sheet of DP that I cut in two, to get the roses in the right place on the front, and enough spare to cover the back. A piece of lace down the spine covered the join.

Luckily, there was a sheet of DP for inside the cover, in the stash,
that coordinated well with the outside.

The book is made up of three signatures sewn in, and the ends finished off with a bead dangle.

The pages and most tags and journal cards are coffee-dyed.

The blue additions are napkin decoupage snippets.

There are doilies

and stamping

and pretty vintage DP pages

and pockets and tucks aplenty

Lines were added on some pages, stamped with corrugated cardboard.

Book pages were a welcome addition, for tucks and pockets.

and belly bands

I hear she loved it, and is already planning what to put in.

I'll detail some other goodies later.

Happy Wednesday,

Chris xx

A Crafting Year in the Life of a Flutterby

Hi - now that all the gifts have gone, I can post about them. I started with all good intentions, back in January, with these baubles for my brothers and sister. The decorations had hung on Mum & Dad's tree, and I thought making bead covers would turn them into cute keepsakes. Once I got the hang of them, they were easy and fun to do.

However, in true flutterby style, the attention then wandered, and during the summer, I attended a workshop run by Debra, aka Miss Clementine. I'd fallen in love with the fabric pictures on her stall at the NEC a year back, so couldn't wait to have a go. I love this one; it's hanging in our sitting room, and I hope to make more as gifts, later.

In Autumn, I discovered junk journaling, and it was love at first sight. I set to work on a journal for a friend's special birthday, and learned lots of new techniques. I've always loved card making and other paper crafts, so was able to use lots of rubbish kit I've hoarded collected over the years. 

This one has a soft cover, using fabric left over from a baby's dress (she's now 37 lol!) and lace.

I covered inside the front and back covers with paper from my stash, and adding a lace tuck spot in the front, with a couple of journaling cards to write on and a ribbon tie.

In order to get a vintage look, I coffee-dyed the papers for the inside, and made one large signature, which was sewn in with pamphlet stitch. It was all a steep learning curve, and I've made changes in books since this one.

There were blank pages to write on, with pockets and tuck spots and hidey holes for notes or squirreling things away.

There were pages with napkin decoupage

and pretty vintage-looking papers from my stash.

There were envelopes

and doilies

and hand made envelopes with more napkin decoupage (I love this effect).

Some of the dye-ing made interesting patterns

and I added larger journaling cards, too.

I really enjoyed this project in particular, and couldn't wait to try some more ... but having bored you enough, it will have to wait for the next instalment.

I hope you've all been enjoying a lovely Christmas break.

God bless you all for the new year,

Chris xx

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Days of Mellow Fruitfulness

Mornings like today are very precious at weekends, this time of the year - a quiet Sunday when Basil and I could sit and enjoy the warm sunshine, listening to the breeze and little  birds, with a coffee (me) and watching for squirrel intruders (him).

The garden's settling down for the winter, but there's still quite a bit of colour tucked away. I'm so glad I didn't dig this out as a weed earlier in the year - the bright white brings a lovely sparkle, flowering its socks off, while the faithful catmint is still producing food to nourish the bees.

A demure fuschia is still producing blossom and a rose I was given in memory of Mum still has a couple of blooms.
Haha - excuse my thumb!

After five years, the pond is looking really established now, with all the shrubs bulking up nicely. The addition of frogs has been a godsend. Although they're rarely to be seen, we haven't had any slugs or snails this year, and previously we've been overrun with them.

Again - sorry for the rogue finger - the sun was so bright, I didn't notice it.

The last of the colour comes courtesy of the lemony evening primrose, round the pear tree. I don't know how they first arrived, but happily seed themselves freely. The little primulas (courtesy of Lidl a couple of years ago) certainly earn their keep, too, popping up all over the beds, and still busy flowering.

Indoors, I've been using up old/donated stash on cards to sell for charity. It's slow and laborious, trying to match in-matched stuff, but good fun.

I've been making embellishments and clusters to add to cards later - this actually does save time and head-scratching, when you have the pieces already to hand.

Happy Sunday and a great new week, all xx