Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Thank goodness for fire alarms and vodka!

Thank goodness for fire alarms!

Recently I put some popcorn in a pan on the hob, went out the room for a few minutes, got sidetracked and the next thing I knew the fire alarm was going off. I immediately remembered the popcorn and went straight to the kitchen which was filled with smoke. My three year old followed me and we both breathed in the smoke, which wasn't great to say the least.

Very luckily the popcorn wasn't on fire and I immediately turned off the hob, opened the door to the garden and put the popcorn outside, where it continued to let off smoke.  I went back through the house opening outside doors and windows to let air in and the smoke out and the house was cleared of smoke within a few minutes.  

The smell stayed though.  The house absolutely stank and I had a sore throat for days afterwards, as probably did my three year old.  Smoke inhalation is one of the key killers in a fire and even without the popcorn being on fire we could have been seriously harmed if we hadn't got away from the smoke quickly, so we were pretty lucky.

Non-toxic ways to get rid of the smell of smoke

The only cleaning products I usually use are water, lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Articles on the internet about getting rid of the smell of smoke talked about having to air the house for days, potentially replace carpets, cooker hood filters and soft furnishings e.g. curtains, as well as scrubbing every inch of the walls and cupboards clean after a house has been filled with smoke. When I read that I got pretty stressed, but decided to give the non-toxic cleaning techniques a go anyway before I started throwing things out. Also luckily for us most of the smoke had been contained in the kitchen and hallway, which have wood floors and not much in the way of soft furnishings.

I did the following:

  • I aired the house as much as possible for around 3 days.  
  • I sprayed and wiped the kitchen floor and cupboards inside and out and some walls alternately with vinegar and vodka (the vodka was a tip I picked up on the internet!) as well as just spraying them into the air as an air freshener.  
  • I washed the saucepan the popcorn burned in thoroughly with bicarbonate of soda and I gave the extractor fan filters the same treatment.  
After a few days the smoke smell from the house was gone and although it took a little longer for the smell to fully go from the saucepan and extractor fan filters, they are just fine now!

No sore throat sweets for me

To be honest if I had found some in the cupboard I probably would have had some, but we didn't have any and I would prefer not to take them, because really they are just sweets.  Even the sugar free versions aren't great as they are full of sweeteners.  What I did do was drink lots of hot lemon with a little honey (I don't usually have honey because I am sugar free, but I decided to make an exception in this case).  Sometimes I also added cloves and chamomile flowers.  I tried to give some cooled down tea to my son, but he wasn't having any of it. I did give him a little honey though.

Lessons learned

Before this happened I hadn't given much thought to a fire drill in the house.  My natural reaction was to go straight to the kitchen and of course my 3 year old followed. If that kind of thing ever happens again, I would put my son in a safe place first and get a fire blanket ready before I go anywhere near a potential fire.  We have one in our kitchen which is near the door to the room. In this situation it probably would have been better to have one in the hallway, but we keep it in the kitchen as it seems more likely there would be a problem while we are in the kitchen.  We have mains wired fire alarms in our house and I'm very glad we do and that they work!  Otherwise it could have been a very different story.  I also won't be leaving the room while making popcorn again!

Although I wasn't too happy that my house stank of smoke for days and that my son and I had sore throats, I was really pleased and relieved that I didn't have to throw anything away and that the non-toxic cleaning products and methods worked so well.  Also I have had a mostly unused bottle of vodka in my cupboard for years and it was good to be able to find a use for it!  My son and I are fine now and all I can say is thank goodness for fire alarms and vodka!

I am currently undertaking a Year of Eco Challenges . If you have a moment I would really appreciate it if you would consider sponsoring me with an ACTION (no money involved) on my DoNation page. Also if you liked this post please click like on Facebook and follow on Twitter - thanks so much!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Raspberry avocado sorbet recipe - a delicious sugar and dairy free dessert!

Although blitzing avocado with frozen raspberries may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of eating dessert, actually it tastes great (to my sugar free taste buds) and the taste of the avocado is hidden behind the raspberry flavour.  

The result is something which looks a bit like raspberry sorbet, but better (I think) as it is sugar free, packaging free (the way I did it) and great for anyone avoiding dairy like me! 

Frozen raspberry avocado sorbet recipe - Serves 2


1 avocado
Frozen raspberries (to match the weight/ amount of avocado)


  1. Put the avocado into your food processor (or in a beaker to blitz with a hand blender)
  2. Next add the frozen raspberries (in a food processor it is easier to put the avocado in first but in beaker using a hand blender it makes the blending process easier if you add the frozen raspberries in first)
  3. Blend them together and keep blitzing until you can't see any green bits or any bits of raspberry - it should be a smooth mixture.
  4. Eat and enjoy!

There are lots of possible variations on this recipe.  Bananas can replace avocados, and the berries could be replaced with almost any kind of fruit.  It is also not essential which element of the ingredients is frozen, just as long as some of it is (e.g. the banana could be frozen and the berries not - it would still work, just make sure you blitz the softer ingredients first.  Also the banana would probably have to have been chopped up before being frozen.)  

I have tried using bananas instead of avocado and you can taste the banana, whereas as the avocado has a more neutral taste. I haven't tried too many other variations yet but I will be at some point soon!

I am currently undertaking a Year of Eco Challenges . If you have a moment I would really appreciate it if you would consider sponsoring me with an action (no money involved) on my DoNation page. Also if you liked this post please click like on Facebook and follow on Twitter - thanks so much!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

The Guardian Sustainable Blogger of the week and other news!

Over the last few weeks I have written two guest posts and been interviewed four times!  I have decided that it is time to do a round up of what's been going on and to thank everyone for having me!

1. TheFIREstarter 

It all kicked off with an interview by theFIREstarter. I have written about him before, but in case you haven't met, he writes a very interesting blog about his journey towards his goal of achieving financial independence and retiring early. He asked me questions like 'You are living an extraordinary life compared to the mainstream, have you received much negativity from friends and family and how do you deal with that?' and you can read my responses here.  

2. Nigels Eco Store 

Next I wrote a guest post for the blog on Nigels Eco Store (a site selling all kinds of eco products) on how to make up to £10,000 a year by renting out your stuff. Tips include clearing out your garage or spare room and renting them out.  Plus there are quite a few ways you can make money while you drive and you could even rent out your wedding dress (if you have one).  Read more here.

3. Money Superstar

The people at Money Superstar who write a blog all about dealing with debt, money making opportunities and being thrifty, got in touch and asked me a few questions such as 'What is your favourite money saving tip'  - a question I found tricky to answer, but I did and you can find out what I had to say here.

4. Thrift Week

Recently there was a Thrift Week up in Warwickshire which sounded great - hopefully it will be repeated next year.  They have a website and they asked me to write a guest post for them before the week started (I really should have written about this sooner - sorry Thrift Week people) . I told them a bit about myself, why I had started the blog and how I am getting on with My Year of Eco Challenges which you can read all about here.

5. The Guardian

My final interview which has been published so far was with the Guardian online. They are running a 7 month project called Live Better.  Each month during the project will have a different theme and a different reader challenge which people can sign up to.  Last month it was all about food waste and this month it is all about reducing energy. There are loads of interesting articles going up there all the time and it is well worth reading and following.  They are also featuring a different sustainable blogger of the week each week and last week it happened to be me.  I was just a little bit excited about this (ok a lot excited) and you can read my third recent interview here (if you aren't bored of finding out about me yet :) )

6. Shhh it's a secret

It's not really a secret, but I have also been interviewed by a magazine which will be in print in a few days time.  As it isn't out yet, I'm not sure I should say which magazine just yet.  I'll update this blog post (if I have time/ remember/ anyone is interested) with the relevant magazine in a few days time...

So thanks to everyone that has interviewed me and published a guest post by me over the last few weeks - it is much appreciated!

In other news, regular readers of the blog may have noticed that I haven't blogged in a while and that I didn't publish an I Quit Blog Fiesta this month.  I've decided for the time being I'm going to quit :) writing the I Quit Blog Fiesta as I am just taking on too much. Also as I mentioned in my recent blog post about feeling the strain I haven't been feeling 100% lately and I have been trying to focus on doing the things I need to do in real life to address that and that has meant less time for blogging (don't worry it is nothing serious, just time consuming).  I do have loads of blog posts brewing though so watch this space!

I am currently undertaking a Year of Eco Challenges . If you have a moment I would really appreciate it if you would consider sponsoring me with an action on my DoNation page. Also if you liked this post please click like on Facebook and follow on Twitter - thanks so much!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Over £11,000 of savings made!

When I started this blog, my aim was to drastically cut my expenditure so that I could afford to quit my job to become a stay at home mum/ blogger and for my family of four to not just survive, but thrive on one salary! I also didn't want to compromise on buying eco-friendly foods and products. So the idea of being ecothrifty was born (eco-friendly on a budget) and the way I viewed everything changed. 

I questioned everything  and stopped buying things just because they said eco or natural on them. Instead of buying expensive eco-friendly shampoos, I have experimented with going shampoo free! Instead of using disposables I have switched to reusables in many cases e.g. cleaning cloths instead of disposable wipes or kitchen paper.

I have also made lots of gradual changes to the way I do things e.g. hanging the washing out instead of tumble drying it, turning things off when I'm not using them, trying not to waste any food if possible, taking packed lunches every where with us and much more!

I quit my job back in November 2012 and over a year later I am so pleased to report that I have made massive yearly savings - over £11,000 (this figure is an estimate) in fact and we earned an extra £3500 ish from students, solar panels and renting out part of our garage over the last year. That's around £14500 in total last year - a fantastic result which I'm really pleased about!

To find out more about how I have made all these savings read here and if you think I've missed a trick and could be saving even more money, please let me know - I'd love to hear from you!

I am currently undertaking a Year of Eco Challenges . If you have a moment I would really appreciate it if you would consider sponsoring me with an action on my DoNation page. Also if you liked this post please click like on Facebook and follow on Twitter (I'm @ecothrifty) - thanks so much!

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