Sunday, 10 July 2016

5 years of Eco Thrifty Living!

This day 5 years ago Eco Thrifty Living was born! I'm feeling very Victor Meldrew about the whole thing i.e. 'I can't believe it' and I know it is a total cliche, but I really can't believe I've been blogging for 5 years now. I can believe it because obviously I knew I've been doing it for a while and I've enjoyed blogging so much and had such great adventures along the way, so it makes sense that I have kept going with it, but somehow I'm still surprised.

To celebrate this momentous occasion (well momentous to me!), I'm going to share some of my memories from each year of my blog

Year 1 - 2011/12

This was the year that it all started and that I went back to work after maternity leave with the aim of saving enough money in eco friendly ways to quit my job!

This year I discovered the joys of second hand furniture. I went from being a lipsalve addict to never needing a tube of the stuff again! I invested in a menstrual cup, gave daffodils from my garden as a gift rather than walking past them and buying some from a shop! I started thinking about food waste and came up with some ideas for what to do with bananas that are past their best

Year 2 - 2012/13

In November 2012 I quit my job. It was a bit of a scary decision to make but I'm glad I did! I wrote about all kinds of things this year, constantly on the look out for how to save and make money in eco-friendly ways.

I discovered Freegle and Freecycle and realised that not only could I get things cheaper secondhand, I could also sometimes get them for free via these site. We got given the scooters pictured above for free, which my children are still using now! They are also a great help when decluttering and I found lots of good reasons to declutter. To start off with I was pretty into baking and started adding the crumbs from baking I had made to yoghurt and found various other ways to save money on baking. Then I quit sugar and my baking efforts became sugar free! I rethought wrapping paper and wrapped up gifts in fabric and I upcycled some broken toddler books into wall art.

Year 3 - 2013/14

When I quit my job I knew there were lots of ways I could save money, but I wanted to have a bit of an income as well. Year 3 was the year that we had our first foreign student come to stay with us. We have continued to rent to students and currently have two staying with us! In this year I had my first cup of home grown camomile tea, I saw the the Clean Bin Project and took part in Zero Waste Week , which both massively inspired me in a zero waste direction. We grew our own garlic, waved goodbye to our microwaveditched clingfilm and started visiting our local toy library. This was also the year that I started My Year of Eco Challenges.

Year 4 - 2014/15

I continued with My Year of Eco Challenges and finished it! I blogged about how we buy onions each year from a local farm and usually last us until we can pick more/ grow our own! We did our first (and only so far :)) house swap in a beautiful area of Southern France. I spent a day gleaning in some corn fields, made some upcycled dish cloths and had my first interview on the radio! I started up the Sustainable Book Club and challenged myself to earn £10,000 in a year without getting a job.

Year 5 - 2015/16

Earning £10,000 in a year without getting a job didn't work out and for various reasons I quit that challenge. I had lots of other fun this year including learning how to make lavender wandslooking out for hedgehogs in my garden and saving over £500 by avoiding waste on an overseas trip. This year my blog hit national and global news and I had a tv interview for the first time! My blog was also deemed worthy of the Rubbish Hot 100, I met up with some real life people into zero waste and was introduced to the joys of sugar free banana icecream. I will also never be wasting cold chips again!

What does the future hold? Honestly I have absolutely no idea! Will I still be blogging in 5 years time? It is very possible! I am still extremely slowly writing a book and my hope is that when I do get around to publishing it that I manage to sell a few copies!

No momentous occasion is complete without a few thank you's so thank you to my husband, my mum, my dad and my friends who have supported me along the way! I couldn't have done it without you guys!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

How to transform wrinkly kiwis and mushy avocado's into a delicious dessert!

I don't know about you, but I struggle to work out when kiwis and avocados are ripe. To stay on the safe side I leave them out in the fruit bowl until the kiwis have gone wrinkly and the avocados are a bit squishy. Unfortunately by this time they may have gone too far the other way and become over ripe. Luckily this isn't a disaster as wrinkly kiwis and mushy avocados make a perfect pair!

The first time I made this dessert I happened to find both an over ripe kiwi and avocado at the same time. I blitzed them together with a hand blender and then froze the mixture, forgetting to take it out and stir it every so often as it froze to stop it from going rock hard. It was less than ideal, but tasted really good.

The next time I made it I chopped up an over ripe avocado, froze the chopped up pieces and left it there until an over ripe kiwi came along. It worked out much better as when I blitzed the two together I had an immediate sugar free, zero waste, plastic free, vegan sorbet! It is also a great way to get fussy people to try avocado if they haven't before!

My kids have become so used to my experiments now that they have begun suggesting a few of their own, but I have to say mixing a small amount of honey with raw grated and then blitzed carrot is not something I will be doing again!

If you like this sorbet you might also like my other avocado sorbet recipe!

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Yummy uses for cold chips!

I try to not buy takeaways because they can be expensive compared to home made meals, are rarely as healthy and usually come in packaging (although I have been known to take my own reusable containers). Most of the time I try to take my own advice here for alternatives to takeaways but there are always times when it just doesn't work out and we get one!

The other day we needed something really quick for dinner, but we had already had a big lunch so didn't need much and we bought some chips with the plan of grating a bit of cheese over them when got home (not the healthiest dinner we have ever eaten!). I over estimated the number of chips we could eat though and bought way too many. In fact I bought a whole portion too many!

Happily the chips came in paper which I recycled and I brought them home in a reusable bag I had on me, so at least nothing went in the bin!

Portions of chips are often bigger than I think they will be and we always end up eating more chips than we need. I usually end up dumping any excess we can't get through in the compost bin as it never occurred to me that anything could be done with cold chips, but I couldn't bring myself to chuck a whole portion of chips and turned to google. It turns out there is no good reason to chuck cold cooked chips and there is lots that can be done with them! Essentially they are just cold cooked potato and aside from simply reheating there are lots of recipes that use pre-cooked potatoes!

I decided to use mine up in a Spanish frittata! I chopped up the chips, put them in the fridge until the next day. Then I reheated them in a pan, put in some chopped up bits of steamed courgette, poured over some egg and topped with slices of cheese. I cooked it until it was solid to the touch (except for the cheese, which was nicely melted) on top and served it! Ideally it would have been better to firm up the top by putting the pan in the oven as my one was a little crispy on the bottom by the time I was done, but I wasn't sure I could do that with my pan.

The frittata was really delicious (although a little well done) and was a quick and easy way to use up those leftover chips.

Other potential uses for cold chips include chip 'potato' salad, patatas bravas, leek and chip soup and more! Now I know there are so many uses for cold chips, I'll never chuck them again! How about you - what do you do with cold chips - have you ever used them up and how did it turn out for you?

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Monday, 30 May 2016

It's time to stop wasting food!

I've been thinking about food waste a lot recently and also vlogging. I've had a quick go and put a video together about food waste. Let me know what you think and whether you think I should make more of these or not!?!?!

On the food waste front, I'm sure I'm preaching to the converted, but food waste is not cool, in fact it might be contributing to climate change! For more info other than this video, I also wrote an article for The Money Principle on food waste recently and have written loads of posts on the blog - search under the label food waste!

I have several posts on avoiding wasting various types of food coming up too so look out for them!

Thanks for taking the time to watch my video and if you have a moment spare I would really appreciate any feedback. Thanks!