Two Weeks In…

Well we’ve been in our new house a fortnight and we’re s l o w l y getting sorted. We’ve had a quote for a new roof that would make you choke on your dinner, but thankfully the plumbing issues were (relatively) minor, as are the electrical problems. What can I say? In an old house these things are part of the ‘character’. Two weeks in and, despite there having been flooding nearby, we now have central heating, hot water and, as of a half hour ago, a brand new cooker! I like camping, but it wears a little thin trying to live the camping life in your home o_O Having said that, we have made good use of the bread-maker, slow cooker, microwave and halogen oven, skills which I’m sure will come in handy as we endeavour to lessen our energy consumption. After all, it’s a journey, not a race. The new cooker is A-rated for energy efficiency, has a double oven so we can choose the appropriate size to use and is British made, so not too bad on the environmental front (by which I mean it didn’t travel from China). We have dreams of solar panels, biomass stoves, growing our own fruit and veg, etc., but, for now… we’re ok. 

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Our new sitting room

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Earth Friendly Gift Ideas – Don’t Worry, Bee Happy!

Stuck for a gift idea? How about an eco-friendly ‘Adopt a Beehive’? I’ve just bought one of these for a family member. A great gift for the friend or relative who has enough ‘stuff’ already (don’t we all?).

 

Here’s the link to The British Beekeepers Association’s Adopt a Beehive page.

 

NB I am not connected to the BBKA in any way.

CROCHET RAINBOW AMIGURUMI UNICORN – ECO FRIENDLY?

We have a little girl in our household with a birthday this week, and this little girl has a penchant for unicorns. What does the trying-to-be eco-friendly household do when it comes to birthdays? We make things. Yay!

 

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I found a wonderful pattern for a crocheted amigurumi unicorn. I am not exactly a beginner ‘hooker’ but I am not yet proficient, so I need simple patterns. This pattern is just that. It is quite fiddly in places, particularly when stuffing, but that may be because I have only made one other stuffed toy previously, many years ago. Like many crafty types, I have a rather large stash of yarn, so I decided that instead of buying stuffing I would chop up some soft acrylic aran yarn in cream and use that as my stuffing. I made the body out of Twilleys Freedom Echo DK in ‘natural’ shade, which is manufactured in England from recycled cotton. I made the mane, tail and horn from Sirdar Smiley Stripes DK in ‘Honolulu’ shade, which is manufactured from 80% bamboo and 20% wool.

 

I am uncertain of the eco credentials of bamboo. It is a great crop in that it grows quickly and is incredibly versatile, which makes it renewable and useful, but bamboo can’t (I assume) be grown in the UK, so it must have travelled thousands of miles, if it has come from China, and accumulated a fairly substantial carbon footprint along the way. Also, I have no knowledge of the conditions in which it is grown;, for example, has rainforest been destroyed in order to grow bamboo? Is the harvesting of bamboo destructive to the surrounding ecosystem? Are pesticides or fertilisers used that disrupt the local ecosystem? There are often no easy answers when it comes to making better environmental choices. The more I learn the more I realise how complex it all is… So I presume that 80% bamboo and 20% wool is better than a man-made fibre.

 

I am also thinking of trying out this recipe for a rainbow unicorn cake (using fresh ingredients instead of cake mix). So cute!

 

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Summer Days

The summer holidays are only a week away here in England (six weeks of no school), but as we are close to moving house, we have not booked to go away. Since the beginning of our marriage we have spent a week or two camping every summer. With the purchase of a trailer last year, and with our two Quechua ‘pop-up’ tents, we have this down to a fine art.

We use a tent like this for our living area

We use a tent like this for our living area

 

Sometimes we also travel by train a few hundred miles to visit my parents, hiring a car when we get there.

...and a tent like this for our sleeping area.

…and a tent like this for our sleeping area.

 

 

This isn’t an ad for tents, but these are superb. Made by a company called Quechua they combine good engineering with practicality. They are literally ‘pop-up’ tents and take minutes to erect, which is very handy if you’re dealing with the highly unpredictable British weather!

As I write we have just heard that we may have a completion date for our house move of 1st August… Woo hoo! Anyway, we will still be holidaying at home this year and I have plenty of activities planned:

Little Chip (youngest child) is booked to do a Dance Summer School for a week and a week of Sports Camp at the sports centre. Fluff (middle child) is booked for two weeks of Sports Camp. Prince (eldest) is booked to go to his grandparents for a week or so. We’re going to have plenty of things that won’t cost a lot, too. I have quite a few craft activities lined up for the inevitable rainy days, as well as activities from the book Ripping Things to Do by Jane Brocket. My girls want to build a treehouse in our new back garden. I plan on setting up the tents and letting them sleep in the garden with some friends. We’ll have a barbecue or two.

We have English Heritage membership so we’ll visit local English Heritage sites. English Heritage membership allows us to take along up to six children at no extra cost! If we take our gorgeous picnic basket and thermos flasks we have a nearly free outing. We make very good use of this membership, plus they do a very good job of conservation. We’ll travel by train to two nearby cities for day trips. In this instance our Family and Friends Railcard will come in very handy. No doubt Chip will want to go window shopping for shoes (she’s a very girly girl), and Prince will want to go to the electricals shop for hours on end, to look at all the gadgets, especially his beloved radios… We’ll go swimming at the local pool and afterwards picnic in the adjacent park. Picnics are easy if you’re already used to making packed lunches for school. No hassle whatsoever.

Let’s see, what else? Cooking! My girls simply love cooking. And we can maybe have a go at art and craft type things to decorate our new home, especially large, outdoor projects. We’ll play hide and seek and garden games, and of course if the weather holds we’ll have the paddling pool out. We have a trip to an outdoor theatre performance booked, and we will enjoy taking Grandma to the woods for a Teddy Bears picnic. You’re never too old for a Teddy Bears picnic 😀 I am really looking forward to going to the fruit farm for ‘pick-your-own’. Mind you, with our funny little mix of dementia, dyspraxia, neurological disorder, autism, PTSD and possible-Aspergers it’s more like the fruitloops on day release… (Normal is boring 😉 )

Do you have any plans for the summer? Do you have plans that are eco-friendly or do you think your holidays are your environmental Achilles’ heel?

Have You Got Furoshiki Style?

The previous post, reblogged from My Make Do and Mend Year, reminded me of Japanese furoshiki. Furoshiki is a way to fold simple pieces of cloth to make various useful things. I used furoshiki for the first time last year to wrap Christmas presents. I now also use furoshiki in the ‘katakake fukuro’ style to to carry my crochet gear around. It works very well. The Japanese use furoshiki cloths with beautiful designs, but squares of any fabric will do. I have used ladies scarves, fabric remnants and even an old Christmas tablecloth.

Check it out:

 

You can also find instructions on various furoshiki styles on this website from the Japanese government (it is, helpfully, in English).

New Beginnings

I already have a blog. It started off being about life in general, but later it changed course and became more reflective. I also have a budget healthy eating blog.

 

Over the past six months or so, having studied with the Open University, I have begun blogging about the environment, climate change, etc., and the steps our family is taking towards a more responsible, eco-friendly lifestyle. These posts are over at multicolouredsmartypants.com, under the category ‘The Un-paving Paradise Project‘. But what started as an experiment has grown. The Un-paving Paradise Project needs a home of its own.

 

My husband and I are nearing completion on the purchase of a wonderful old house and I am thrilled at the notion of finally owning our own home after years of renting. I am jumping up and down like a frog on a pogo stick so excited by the prospect of making it as environmentally friendly as possible, and sharing that journey here, on my new blog.

 

This blog will also be more family-orientated than multicoloured smartypants, as our family figures out new ways of being together and ways to alter our lifestyle to leave less of an impact on the planet.

Funky Granny Square Jacket

 

I made lots of presents last Christmas and gave them to friends and family. In January I took on the slightly more ambitious project of crocheting a jacket for our little Fluff. It is, at long last, finished. I made so many mistakes along the way that it’s a wonder it did get finished. I got fed up with it at one point and made a couple of other (smaller) things as gifts. Nonetheless, I have hidden or snipped off the unsightly ends and crocheted a border around all the edges. I then added some large mismatched buttons from my craft box to give it an extra little je ne sais quois.

 

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The pattern came from Kitsch Bitsch and can be downloaded here for a small fee (I have no links to the site – it’s just a good pattern). I adapted it to make a jacket suitable for my daughter as the instructions were for adult sizes. For this project I bought Rowan Purelife Renew, which is made of recycled wool. I also used yarns that I already owned, including Aran weight acrylic yarns in dark green and cream, Sirdar Simply Recycled cotton in yellow, coral and tan, plus some pure British wool yarn, both dyed and undyed. My photography skills really don’t do it justice. It looks much better in real life!

 

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