Thursday, 26 February 2009

Eat well and help save the planet

A meeting about a new local food initiative. It sounded just up my street so I went along.

It was my first experience of a Chamber of Commerce meeting, and I really should have remembered that when it got to the questions and answers part...

However, the speakers were really good:

  • Sally Bendall from Hollow Trees farm shop (and recent chairman of FARMA),

  • Stella Burton, from Beaumont school (an eco-school, also taking part in a european sustainable food project),

  • Karen Kenney, area rep of the National Society of Allotment Holders and Leisure Gardeners, (who was my favourite speaker of the evening for her enthusiam and impeccably varnished nails!), and

  • Mark David from a local cookery course company (who decided that his talk was about promoting his business - rather than local food!!, but was entertaining nonetheless).

Then came the Q&A.

I was quite surprised, we were told by someone who admitted he was a local food producer that it can cost more to grow your own food! No vested interests there then!!

Then someone else tried to knowingly pass Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's land share idea off as his own. I suspect this because after he had described the project perfectly (without mentioning the national campaign) and that perhaps we should have somewhere, perhaps a website, where people could sign up to the idea, I naively stood up and spoke about Hugh's landshare project and website and how it's a national campaign and people in the area might already be signed up for it. The chap was smiling knowingly before I'd finished saying "Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall" - I guess he was a web designer.

Nevermind. The evening was generally postive. The idea of making our small town a centre for fresh, organic, local food is just fab and very "transitional". The meeting ended with a show of hands supporting the Local Food Initiative, based on the Fife diet. I hadn't heard of the fife diet, and no-one mentioned it during the evening, but basically people in an area sign up to eat food produced in that area for a year and therefore eating well and saving the planet.

The Transition HandbookFor more information about transition towns see The Transition Handbook (I'm on page 61) or the Transition Towns wiki.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Greening the desert

Don't forget permaculture on BBC 2 tomorrow night at 8pm!!!

If you're wondering what all the fuss is about, here is one of my favourite YouTube videos. It shows how working with nature really does work even in the most extreme conditions.

You can find out more about Geoff Lawton and The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia at (the UK site is and the USA site:

Sunday, 15 February 2009

The Age of Stupid at a cinema near you in ...

The age of stupid is an independent film that has been crowd funded.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Sticky backed plastic

baby girl card
A text. A friend has just given birth to a baby girl.

Now obviously I had plenty of time to buy an appropriate card, but you know time - it has a way of disappearing.

But "buy"? What am I thinking? What could be nicer than a lovingly hand-made card? Well pretty much nothing according to my new bible The Thrift book by India Knight. Let hope she's right.

A quick tour of the house and I'd found everything I needed including the sticky backed plastic (I keep absolutely all wrapping paper and interesting cards). A few Blue Peter moments of cutting, glueing and sticking later and the card was created, I hope she likes it.

A hand-made card for the cost of a stamp, bargain. Now who's next? Ah yes, Valentine's day.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

A bag is just a folded scarf

Knitted bag
Following on from the "Hate plastic, love plarn" post. The bin didn't contain enough plastic to make a ball of plarn. So, while I build up my supplies, I found some wool to practice on.

I thought I had some ordinary wool in the house, but if I do I couldn't find it. I found instead some ridiculously fluffy yarn that is very pretty, but, as I soon discovered, not very easy to see what you are doing with.

1) Casting on using the learn 2 knit instructions was easy. Then I knitted and purled rows of between 30 and 33 stitches (depending on how many I dropped and accidentally created - don't ask me how, I couldn't work what I'd done because of the fluff!) until it was long enough to create a decent sized bag. After all a scarf is just a bag that hasn't been folded and the edges sewn together, right?

2) Feeling confident about casting on, casting off looked like a doddle. So I curved the end. The shoulder strap I managed to keep at 8 stitches wide all the way along (I think I was getting the hang of it) and had enough wool left over to make a decorative pompom.

I had an old pillow case that was part of a set that has long since gone. I decided to use the material to line the bag so that the knitting doesn't stretch when I fill it.

3) Et voila! The fluffy wool hides a multitude of errors, so that turned out to be a good choice :)

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Whoohoo! Christmas again!!

My Christmas present from my mum and dad has arrived!!


and yes, I can be that excited about seeds, you see these are not just any old seeds, they are seeds for vegetables that are particularly suited for growing on a patio. Which is brilliant because my I intend my vegetable garden to overflowing this year. If I can make use of the patio as well, all the better.

The larders will be full of chutney in no time. I've got pretty much everything from aubergine to zucchini (okay so it says courgette on the packet - but that didn't have the impact I was after), including potatoes (which I've never grown before).

So thank you mum and dad, I can't wait to get sowing.

PS. There's a great programme about permaculture on BBC 2 on the 20th of Feb, watch it if you can.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Hate plastic, love plarn

We recently had our first rubbish weigh-in. I suppose, compared to some, it wasn't a great deal of rubbish (mainly plastic) heading for landfill, but given the objectives of this experiment we need to do better. We have since discovered that we can recycle some of the plastics at the local waste and recycling centre (or "tip" as they used to be called), but that's a journey we don't make very often. In anycase "re-use" is better than recycling. So in my new found creative thriftyness I am going to make the plastic into something fabulous. Well, that's the plan.

I've discovered "plarn", plastic yarn or plastic bags turned into something that can easily be woven, knitted or used to crochet.

The only problem is...

although I used to knit as a child, it turns out I can only do the middle bit (knit one, purl one etc). My aunt, gran or mum would cast on and off for me (or for those of you not knitting minded, that means start and finish, what was usually, a scarf). So my first step is to learn how to knit, properly this time. Thank goodness for the web, the library books were way too advanced. I'll follow the instructions on learn 2 knit and see how I get on. I think I'll practice with some old wool first though.

Charity shops are always great

I popped into a nearby St Elizabeth Hospice shop and picked up three pairs of knitting needles for just 30 pence!! Plus a load of advice about what size needle would be best to learn with. Fab. They had an entire draw full of knitting needles, so I know where to go for more.

Now to rescue that plastic from the bin ...

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Thrifty and frugal thoughts

On the run up to Christmas 2008 my husband, Craig, was using the words "thrifty" and "frugal" a lot. That wasn't usual. Something was definately up. Peak oil, climate change and the credit crunch were all playing their part.

Here are some of the books I received that Christmas;

The thing is, I love these kind of books.

Was my husband coming around to my way of thinking? Will I be able to store bits of old "junk" on the off-chance that it will be useful at some point without having to go through that dreaded "clear out"? Will he no-longer complain about the smell of clothes from second-hand shops? Only time will tell.

On a more serious note, this is a year long experiment to see how much we can reduce our footprint on the planet. It's going to be fun.