Friday, 21 October 2016

6 top tips to make your winter coat last for years!

Winter coats are only in use for a few short months of the year, they are usually made of pretty sturdy fabric and although fashions change a good quality classic winter coat should last for years. I say should because I used to be pretty good at ruining them, but I've learned from my mistakes! Here are my 6 top tips for making your winter coat last! 

  1. Buy a coat that isn't a dirt magnet! It could be blue, red, brown, pink, black - any colour or a combination of them (although it is probably worth asking yourself if you want to be seen out the house in it in 10 years time) but one that will hide a multitude of sins. I made a pretty basic mistake a few years ago and bought a white coat. It looked lovely for a while, but eventually even dry cleaning couldn't save it. Even if it is washable, a white coat won't stay white for long. 
  2. Only put things in your coat pockets that fit and that won't catch on the fabric! Do not put keys or oversized items in them. I ruined a good few coat pockets that way as the key ring caught on the delicate fabric in the pocket and poked holes in it or the oversized item put strain on the pocket fabric.
  3. Always hang your coat on a hanger. If there isn't one available hang it on the back of a chair or if it is somewhere you go regularly like work, take a hanger in with you to hang it up on. I used to hang my coat on a peg and I found that over time it damaged the collar of the coat on the inside, creating rips or holes eventually. 
  4. Repair ripped seams, sew buttons back on that fall off and replace lost buttons. These are easy fixes that won't take long. If you don't have the skills or equipment find out if anyone you know can help.
  5. Make sure the cupboard your store your coat in is damp and moth proof. If you know your home suffers from a damp problem hang a dehumidifier in your cupboard and you can add inexpensive eco friendly moth repellents to your hangers.
  6. Freshen up your coat from time to time - bicarbonate of soda or even just a good airing will get rid of any musty smells after it has been stored a while. Depending on the fabric you could also steam clean it!   

This blog post contains affiliate links and anything you buy through them will help to support the blog as I will get a small commission. Thanks!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

How to eat an entire squash or pumpkin with nothing wasted!

The season of gourds, ghouls, pumpkins, squashes and ghosts is upon us and there is so much you can do with these colourful fruits other than carving scary faces into them  (I want to call them vegetables, but apparently they are technically fruits)

There are loads of recipes out there for how to use them up, but did you know that every part of them is edible. That includes the skin, the seeds, the shells of the seeds and the soft sometimes stringy flesh otherwise known as pulp surrounding the seeds.  You don't even need to cook them - they are edible raw too!

I didn't used to know that and I would first gut and chuck the innards of my squash or pumpkin  as well as peeling it before making it into soup or roasting it (or if I did roast it with skin on I didn't eat it) - what a waste! 

Now when I make pumpkin or squash soup I do this:

Zero Waste Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Ingredients - serves 6-8

  • 1 medium sized pumpkin or two small squashes with seeds removed but skin left on and pulp retained
  • 3 large onions (or more smaller ones)
  • A large sprig of rosemary 
  • A few bay leaves
  • Two soft carrots (don't peel!) 
  • 1 large bulb of garlic
  • Pepper (of the seasoning variety)
  • 1 litre of vegetable or chicken stock either homemade or shop bought if you don't have any homemade stock available (or you are rubbish at making it like I am!) 
You can increase or decrease the level of zero wasteness (if that's a thing) of this recipe and cost of making depending on how the ingredients are sourced.

Yesterday I made soup that contains squash and onions that we picked at a local pick your own farm - we took our own reusable bags so no packaging there. You don't need to go to a farm to do this, you could just take your own bag to the shops and put your pumpkin directly in it. The herbs and garlic were or are being grown in my garden (plant some garlic cloves now and you can have your own garlic harvest next year!) and the carrot was shop bought but needed using up before it went mouldy. You don't have to wait for a carrot to go soft before adding it to your soup, but the softer they go the sweeter they make the soup, so don't even think about chucking out soft carrots! We buy pepper in bulk which is not plastic free, but reduces packaging overall and it is more cost effective than buying a little at a time. My stock was not homemade, but if you make your own stock you can take it a step further than me in the zero waste stakes!

  1. Get out a large stock pot or saucepan. I use my Le Creuset 3-Ply Stainless Steel Pan, which I love. I chose it because although it is expensive it will last for years and years and it is stainless steel on the outside which is non-reactive and aluminium on the inside, which is a brilliant conductor of heat - a much better conductor of heat than stainless steel. (You could also use a slow cooker, but I don't have one, so this recipe assumes you have a pan)
  2. Give your pumpkin or squash a wash.
  3. Gut the pumpkin or squash, separate out the seeds from the pulp and then chop up the pumpkin or squash with the skin on and put it along with the pulp into your pan.
  4. Chop up the onions - I like to finely chop them, but if you are short on time just chop them into chunks and add to the pan
  5. Crush the garlic into the pan
  6. Finely chop or food process your rosemary and add into the pan along with the bay leaves which are left whole
  7. Chop up the carrots into coins (make sure you leave the skin on!) either with knife or a pair of kitchen scissors. 
  8. Add your stock either homemade or shop bought-  make sure all the ingredients are more than covered in liquid and add extra stock if needed.
  9. Season with a little pepper to taste - I don't like to add salt because there is already salt in the stock, but you may want to.
  10. Put the lid on the pan (very important to retain the heat in the pan and keep the cooking process as efficient as possible) and bring the soup mixture to the boil
  11. Once boiling turn the heat right down, move to a smaller heat source e.g. a smaller gas ring if you have a gas hob and simmer for at least an hour.
  12. Once cooked take out the bay leaves and either blitz the ingredients together with a hand blender or leave lumpy! 
  13. Serve immediately or leave to cool and once entirely cooled down freeze or refrigerate for later use.
While your soup is simmering you can sort out the seeds. You can save some for planting in your garden next year if you want or you can roast them and eat them whole with the skins on! I'm still not sure if I like them or not, but they are strangely moreish and they make a satisfying crunch when you bite into them!

Roasted sea salted pumpkin seed recipe


  • Pumpkin or squash seeds fresh from a pumpkin or squash with shells on, but separated from the pulp
  • Sea salt
  1. Spread your pumpkin seeds out on a naturally non-stick oven tray (I use this baking tray)
  2. Sprinkle with a little sea salt. You can buy salt in cardboard boxes in some stores - be careful to make sure it doesn't get damp in storage though as otherwise you will end up with soggy salt!
  3. Put in the oven at 180 degrees C for 5 minutes
  4. After 5 minutes turn over the seeds and put back in for another 5 minutes
  5. Check/ turn the seeds again and then put them back in for a final few minutes. Keep a close eye on them to make sure they don't burn. 
  6. Eat them straight away or when they have cooled down!

There are loads more twists and turns you can take pumpkins and squashes in, so next time you feel inspired to cook one remember that you can eat pumpkin and squash seeds, you can eat pumpkin and squash seed shells, you can eat pumpkin and squash pulp and you can eat pumpkin and squash skin! When they are growing the leaves, stems and flowers are edible too! The only bit you don't want to eat is the dead stalk!

This blog post contains affiliate links and anything you buy through them will help to support the blog as I will get a small commission. Thanks!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

An Eco Thrifty Update!

Some of our garden harvest last month!

The summer was really busy, with our trip to France and a lovely medieval day out and then September was full throttle! It kicked off with Zero Waste Week, quickly followed by the Shomos and then the MAD Blog Awards! The same weekend as the MAD Blog Awards, I went to a fancy dress party (for adults) and created a batgirl outfit out of some stuff we already had with a bit of embellishment!

I didn't win anything at the MAD Blog Awards, but thank you to everyone who voted for me and for your support! Since all that madness, I have been taking things a bit easy, but have been getting addicted to Instagram , posting about being batgirl for the day, our annual visit to our local pick your own farm where we got a years supply of onions for about £9, a few homegrown salad pictures and that kind of thing - take a look at my Instagram feed and you will see! I decided to plait some of the onions and absolutely love having my kitchen filled with plaited onions and garlic (we grew the garlic in our garden and harvested it recently too)! We have also been lent a hedgehog tunnel again, which I need to put out in the garden!

Greenmatch recently included me in their list of top environmental influencers which was nice of them - go and check out the list - I found some new blogs to read on there!

I have been trying to write a book for a very long time, but this time I am actually getting somewhere with it - woohoo, which is why it's been a bit quiet on the blog, as I'm trying to focus on the book!

Over to you lovely readers - what eco friendly thrifty activities have you been up to recently?

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Microbeads are being banned in the UK!

It was announced on the 5th September that the government is going to ban Microbeads in 2017, which is just great! I wrote about the petition to get microbeads banned back in December 2015 and the government has listened after the combined weight of the petition and a report from the Environmental Audit Committee! Well done to all you guys for adding your voices in the campaign against plastic filled oceans!

I got an email this morning regarding the petition (they always send you an email to let you know what has happened when you sign a government petition) you can take a look here at the message sent out. One bit that stands out for me is this, quoted from the Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Mary Creagh MP

"Getting a change in Government policy is not easy. Public campaigning, including petitions, helps to highlight an issue amongst the wider public and within Parliament. I'd like to thank everyone who signed the petition. Your action helped pile the pressure on Government to ban microbeads."

Signing a petition might seem like a small act, but it can help make a difference! Feeling good about this? Why not make a few more small changes like these suggestions for helping to halt climate change!