Washing without detergent

For many years I have been allergic to most washing detergents. I have narrowed down to about 1 brand that I can just about tolerate without breaking out in hives. Whilst reviewing the family’s single use plastic intake I realised that the plastic boxes that this particular brand of washing detergent ‘pods’ comes in are a big part of that. I also realise that the amount of washing detergent going into our water system, with all the chemicals they contain, is not good for anyone. However, my household generates at least 2 washing loads a day and much of this is sports kit which is (a) sweaty (b) muddy or both and so I need something that’s going to wash properly.

I have always been slightly skeptical of alternatives to detergent as I am wary as to their effectiveness. However, this year, with my renewed impetus to try and do what I can for the environment I decided to try out an alternative and so, after some research, I purchased an EcoEgg . When I bought it just after Christmas there was an offer for a Complete EcoEgg Laundry Kit which comprised an EcoEgg Laundry Egg, Dryer Balls, and Instant Stain Remover.

The whole package cost around £30. The Egg has refills which mean it is good for 720 washes, I have been buying Fairy Non Bio Pods at £22.80 for 114 washes so I would have to spend £144 on those to get 720 washes and that’s without the dryer balls and the stain remover.

I have been using the Egg for about 2 weeks now and have been really impressed with the results. All my washing has come out clean and the dryer balls have cut dryer time by at least a third.

The ultimate test of the Egg came today – my middle daughter plays as Goalkeeper for an Under 15s girls football team and this morning they trained in our local park. It was raining and the ground was very muddy. When she came home her kit was absolutely filthy –

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I put her shirt and padded goalie trousers, both covered in mud and grass, on a 40 degree synthetics programme with the the EcoEgg and waited to see how it would come out – I was impressed as you can see –

 

Not only has the mud and grass gone but her shirt smells clean – no sweat, no mud just clean clothes.

So how does it work? Well, you fill the egg with two different types of pellets. White mineral pellets and dark tourmaline pellets. According to the leaflet with the Egg the tourmaline pellets ‘weaken the adhesive forces between the dirt and fabric’ and the mineral pellets ‘naturally ionize the oxygen molecules in the water which then penetrate deep into the fabric lifting away the dirs and grime’

I did some more digging online and found some research that was done into the EcoEgg which seemed to conclude that the tourmaline did in fact raise the pH of the water giving the water a greater natural ability to dissolve and remove organic matter from clothing. In conjunction with the mineral pellets this then increases the washing effectiveness.

As I write this I am thinking I need to run a control for my experiment and wash dirty football kit without anything in the washing machine at all – I’ll let you know how it goes….

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First week of a new regime…

So, one week in to my plastic reduction/eco shopping regime and all is looking good. I kept to my meal plan and didn’t have to do any top-up shops so this week we were all fed on my one shop on 4th Jan which cost £55 plus delivery of a pint of milk and a pint of orange juice on Monday, Wednesday and Friday by the milkman – everything else we ate was already in the cupboard, fridge or freezer.

My meal plan for the week – breakfast is either toast or cereal for everyone and we all have packed lunches every day. My lunch is invariably whatever was left over from the previous night’s dinner. The girls have sandwiches, wraps and this week homemade pastry cheese slices, nutella turnovers and fairy cakes made by D1 and D2

  • Thursday – spaghetti bolognese
  • Friday – homemade pizza
  • Saturday – Kidney bean fajitas
  • Sunday – roast dinner (chicken for the carnivores, quorn sausages for the vegetarians)
  • Monday – Chicken curry & vegetable curry both made with homemade curry base sauce from a Jamie Oliver recipe here. There was loads left so I’ve bottled it and frozen it for curry another day.
  • Tuesday – Veggie Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Mash very quick as D2 has to be out to rugby and D3 to dance at 5.30 and I made a second smaller one for hubby to heat up when he got in from collecting D3.
  • Wednesday – Warm lentil salad with Buttnernut Squash. This is a recipe I got when I used to have Hello Fresh deliveries and one I’ve made a few times.
  • Thursday – I was out on my work’s Christmas meal so just did baked potatoes with cheese, baked beans, bacon, salad and whatever else was left in the fridge!

I’m pretty pleased that we managed the whole week. The amount of waste that has gone in our kitchen bin that is non-recyclable is way less than usual. We haven’t even filled one binful in the week and usually there would have been at least 2 bin bags full. I have also done away with the bin bag in the kitchen bin and so we can only put ‘clean’ waste in there.

The food recycling bin was about 3/4 full and that was mostly vegetable peelings. Our mixed recycling bin is very empty and is mostly cans and glass bottles.

I have just written my shopping list for the coming week and today was going past our local farm shop so stopped in to get my vegetables. Slightly disappointing that even in there salad is still wrapped in plastic – cucumber in a shrink wrapped skin of plastic, rocket in a plastic tray inside a plastic bag, lettuce in a plastic bag. Did get carrots, avocado, onions, potatoes, tomatoes and a nice loaf of bread all without any pacakaging though. Managed to leave my shopping list in there so when I got to the supermarket later I had no idea what I still needed to buy so just got the bits for tonight’s homemade pizzas and will have to go out again!!

My menu plan for this week has been done after taking a stocktake of my cupboards and making an effort to cook things that will use up what is there –

  • Friday – homemade pizza; already have flour,yeast etc to make dough & passatta and cheddar. Bought mozarella & pepperoni
  • Saturday – soup for lunch; Beetroot & Feta falafel for tea.
  • Sunday – taking D2 & D3 to London to see Annie (their Christmas present) so will eat lunch in London. Tea will probably just be cheese on toast when we get home. Will leave D1 and hubby something from the freezer to heat up!
  • Monday – Chickpea, tomato & spinach curry – I have 3 tins of chickpeas in the cupboard and a bag of spinach in the fridge so need to use them up!
  • Tuesday – Mexican Black Bean bake. Again seem to have loads of tins of black beans. This recipe uses buckwheat which I use a lot in place of bulgur wheat as it’s gluten free. It also cooks in 35 minutes which is great on Tuesday when we are all pressed for time.
  • Wednesday – Chickpea & nut burgers with sweet potato chips (I got delivered a huge quantity of sweet potatoes at Christmas when I got someone elses fruit and veg as well as my own so using them up as well as the chickpeas…and we all love sweet potato chips)
  • Thursday – Macaroni cauliflower cheese.

So far I’ve spent about £36 on food, I know I still have some shopping to do after I lost the list but probably only another £15 or so. We are one less next week as hubby is away with work so that is one less person to feed! Will see if they all notice that our menu for the week is completely meat free……

Leftovers

One of the big single use plastic items that gets used in this house is clingfilm. We almost always have a couple of bowls/plates covered in cling film in our fridge – a bowl of tuna & mayonaise from D1 making herself a tuna sandwich, one tin of tuna is alway too much for one sandwich; a half onion left from making dinner; leftover pizza from Friday pizza night.

Even though we try, as much as possible, to store leftovers in reusable plastic tubs inevitably there are occasions when you can’t find a suitable tub so the cling film comes out. So this week I looked into alternatives and came across ‘Cling Cloth‘ so I ordered some. I bought a Variety pack, 3 cloths in various sizes , and a Bread Wrap. They arrived this week, packaged in a cardboard envelope package and I’ve been using them for the last couple of days.

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Cling Cloths are organic cotton cloths infused with beeswax, jojoba and pine resin. They are natural, re-usable and, at the end of their life, compostable. I have found them incredibly easy to use – in comparison to cling film which is, nearly always, a nightmare clinging to itself and nothing else! The cloth moulds around anything and sticks to itself in place. I have used it so far to cover bowls full of leftover guacamole and salsa from Saturday night’s fajitas (saved dirtying another container by transferring them from the bowls they were made and served in to plastic container thus reducing washing up!) and to wrap half an onion which was left from making the salsa.

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All these stayed wonderfully fresh, the cloth does not seemed to have retained any lingering onion odour from the half onion, they were easy to wash afterwards and folded neatly to pack away and use for next time.

I will report again later in the year as to how they have held up to repeated use.

 

 

 

Weekend Waste update

First weekend and end of my first week of my plastic free challenge and I’m feeling I’m doing ok. The amount of waste in our kitchen bin is significantly less than usual and the amount in our recycling bins is also less.

Dinner last night was bean fajitas,   We love fajitas and I often make meat and veggie versions but today decided everyone was going to have bean fajitas to make life easier. I did use gluten free and wheat tortillas though. D3 helped me make dinner, she made the salsa: 2 tomatoes, remove seeds & chop, 1/2 red onion chopped, lime juice;  and we also made some guacamole – 2 avocados, bit of lime juice, shake of cumin, mash it all together with a fork.

The fajita filling we made by frying a chopped onion with a couple of cloves of garlic and some fajita seasoning. We then added three tins of red kidney beans (drained) and cooked for about 10 minutes. Then about 100ml of vegetable stock and cook until the liquid is almost gone and mash a little.

Pics of our dinner –

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Sunday is rugby day – D2 was playing this afternoon so we were all out most of the day. Dinner tonight was roast chicken (Quorn sausages for the vegetarians).

Also made some puff pastry pizza slices for lunchboxes as promised to D2, and had pastry left so we made some chocolate spread turnovers as well. So that’s lunches sorted!

Waste this weekend –

Landfill waste – 2 plastic packets from tortillas, 5 tassimo pods, plastic wrap from ready made pastry, plastic wrap from chicken

Recycling – 3 cans from kidney beans, 2 cans from soup (Sunday lunchtime before rugby), vegetable peelings (potato, onion, avocado, brocolli), cardboard from puff pastry & quorn sausages, plastic trays from chicken & quorn sausages.

 

 

 

 

Day 3 waste update

Packed lunches made = 4 (I ate leftover spaghetti bolognese from yesterday evening as D2 didn’t want dinner)

Dinner = homemade pizzas. Garlic bread from freezer.

My family love pizza – me I could live without them, I really don’t see what the fuss is. Let’s face it, basically it’s cheese on toast isn’t it? Whatever, if they could they would have Dominos every day  or at the very least frozen pizza from the supermarket. I, on the other hand, want them to eat slightly more healthily (and cheaply) and so somehow, sometime ago, Friday night became ‘Homemade Pizza Night’. I’m not sure how this happened but now it is expected and if Friday evening comes along and there are no pizzas then the cries of disappointment are loud and long.

Of course, pizza making in our family is not that simple with our various dietary requirements. I have tried various recipes for gluten free pizza bases over the years and D1 has given feedback on them all. In the end we have come to use a recipe which is on the back of the Doves Farm Bread Flour packet which is quick, easy and (she reports) tasty.

Dough for the rest of the family is made in the breadmaker. This takes some time so I stick all the ingredients (1 cup of water, 4 cups of bread flour, 3 tbsps olive oil, 2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp salt, 2 tsp yeast)  in as soon as I get in from school at 4 and then I can go off and do over things. By 5.30/6pm the dough has mixed and proved and is ready to shape, top and cook.

Toppings of choice are passata, mozarella, grated cheddar and pepperami or chorizo for the carnivores among us.

Give it a go – it’s a lot easier than you think. Much tastier than frozen, ready made pizza, way cheaper than take away and no carboard boxes, plastic wrap or polystyrene trays to dispose of!

 

Todays waste

Landfill waste – 2 plastic bags from mozarella, plastic bag from garlic bread, 2 tassimo pods (hubby had one coffee this morning and one this evening)

Recycling – tetra carton from passata (put in our mixed recycling bin), paper bag  from flour (put in paper recycling)

Bratz, Baking and Battling Hats

So – another round-up of what I’ve been up to since my last communication….I actually started writing this nearly 2 weeks ago, around the time of my eldest daughter’s birthday and the kick off for Hat Attack but then someone came and asked me to switch the tv on/tell their sister to stop it/get them a drink please (choose any one of these or a combination), the post got kicked into draft and has remained there.

So first, Bratz. Now, anyone out there who does not have children (or more specifically girls) may not be aware of these evil voodoo dolls (think Barbie with a serious Paris Hilton fixation) but my eldest thinks they are the best thing since sliced bread so we have them everywhere….I find them and their “accessories” under the sofa, in the kitchen, on the bathroom floor…so when her birthday was approaching and we asked what sort of party she wanted the answer was inevitably “Bratz!”

After a few days of thinking she came back to amend this to “a Bratz makeover party” – oooookkaaaay……..after questioning a few other parents and toying (very briefly) with the idea of painting nails and applying lip gloss to a group of 8 year olds myself I found a wonderful beauty therapist who organises such parties for little girls. All I had to do was provide them with some food, put up some decorations …. oh yes, and bake a cake.

My eldest has coeliac disease so no chance of just walking into Tesco and buying a Bratz cake – oh no – mum has to make a gluten free sponge then ice and decorate it. So for a week this is what I was doing –

here is the cake fresh from the oven

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and here is Yasmin (her favourite Bratz) in construction

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This was all cut from regal ice in various colours (after a trial run with the kids play-doh!!!). I then covered the cake with white regal ice and decorated it with spray-on food colouring in blue, purple and gold lustre to get this –

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– I was quite pleased with the overall effect and the party and the cake were a big hit!

Right in the middle of this week of Bratz Baking, blowing up balloons, wrapping presents etc etc Hat Attack kicked off. Having done no swaps/competitions/kal’s in about a year I was doing a very rare spot of browsing around on the net a month or so ago and came across Hat Attack….a bit like Sock Wars except your weapon of choice in this particular battle is a hat…so in a moment of madness I signed up….to then discover the pattern was coming out a couple of days before the Big Party…oh well, I thought, at least I’ll get a nice hat.

I actually managed to get a fair bit of knitting in that week and found the pattern fairly easy so got the hat completed in about 3 days and it was posted off by the weekend.

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One kill in at least I thought. I then waited for either a WIP from my target or a bullet through the head from my assassin….both of which arrived on the same day. Which is probably why I realised there was something a bit off about the weapon fired at me.

This is the two hats together, bear in mind that all the way through the game, and for several weeks before, the organisers have been banging on and on about gauge and how important it is and how we are only allowed to be off by, at most, an inch either way in size….

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The smaller one was the WIP (yes, I know it’s a finished hat – it was agreed to be a misfire on account of one row of pattern being missing) the larger is the hat destined for me….a little large? Well, this is me wearing it and I didn’t pull it down hard or anything

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and this is my hubby wearing it….

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now, he’s 6’4″ and has a notoriously large head. We never find hats that fit him. His head is so large that when he was born the doctors thought he had encephalitis and told his mum that he might not live, they performed tests for a week – including a spinal tap – before his granny came to see him and just mentioned to one of the nurses “Of course I had the same problem when his dad was born, his head was really big, we couldn’t get baby hats to fit him” at which point they decided there was nothing wrong with him….apart from the freakishly large head of course. Actually, this fact is the one thing that I console myself with when thinking about not being able to give birth to my own children…at least by adopting I avoided having those large headed babies……ouuuchhh!

So, to get back to Hat Attack – the powers that be agreed it was a misfire so it ricochets right back to my assassin and I live some more. I unpicked and reworked the other hat and sent that off last weekend. Kill no 2 done.

I am now awaiting the arrival of hat no 3 which should be here tomorrow however I know that my new assassin is working on my hat as we speak….I don’t know what stage it is at but I do know the hat I’m getting is already at the decreases near the top so has only a few rows left to do. I then discovered that my new assassin (Ravelry name purps) goes to the same knitting group in Birmingham as RooKnits so if you see her there could you just accidentally unravel the hat or stab her in the hand with your needles or something? Ta!!!

In the Pink

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month a worldwide campaign started in 1993 by Evelyn Lauder to

  • increase awareness of breast cancer
  • raise funds for research into the disease
  • support people affected by the disease

Readers of my blog will know that I’ve been raising money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer for some time but this month is more about raising awareness than raising money. So my blog is going pink for the month (this is a temporary pink theme at the moment whilst my lovely hubby designs me a proper Pink Ribbon theme – I’ll make this available to anyone who wants it as soon as it’s here)

In the UK over 44,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, that’s more than 100 every day, and around 300 men are diagnosed each year. Worldwide more than a million women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. This means that around 1 in 10 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, just think about that for a moment….out of every 10 women you know 1 will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some time in her life. Next time you’re at your stitch ‘n’ bitch group just look around and think about that.

In the UK more than 12,000 women and 100 men will die from the disease every year. This means, however, that many more will have successful treatment, around 8 in 10 survive beyond 5 years of being diagnosed. One of the most important factors in successful treatment is early detection.

For me the most important message of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is for every woman out there to become “breast aware

Most of us know that finding a lump is a possible sign of breast cancer but there are many other early symptoms which we are not aware of. Thes include changes in

  • size or shape of the breast
  • skin texture
  • appearance or direction of a nipple

Also, discharge, rash or a lump in breast or armpit.

All of us women should become familiar with our bodies and, in particular, our breasts so that we are aware of any changes in them – give your breasts some “TLC”. That is “Touch, Look, Check”

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  • Touch your breasts. Feel for anything unusual
  • Look for changes. Be aware of their shape and texture
  • Check anything unusual with your doctor. Chat with your friends if you are worried

We don’t have to follow a fancy routine, just look and feel wherever feels comfortable for you – in the shower or bath, as you get dressed in front of your bedroom mirror, lying in bed before you get up in the morning.

To find out how much you know, Breakthrough have a Breast Cancer Awareness Quiz you can take

If you want to get involved in Breast Cancer Awareness Month then there are lots of ways you can do so, many cancer charities are running fundraising and awareness campaigns with organised events, special items on sale with high street shops, and ideas for fundraising. Perhaps your knitting group could do something – everyone knits something pink and raffles them off? Have a sponsored knit-in?

Check out some of these links

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UK-

Breakthrough Breast Cancer

Cancer Research UK

Breast Cancer Care

In the USA check out the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month site. For information on events near you.

I’ll add some more links to Breast Cancer sites in the blogroll so if you know of a good one let me know!

The most important thing is to make sure that we and our friends become breast aware – pass on the TLC message to every woman you know – NOW!

Approved!

Just a very, very quick post to say thanks to everyone for their kind wishes – all those good vibes must have worked because the adoption panel have approved us!

Slightly scary to think we may soon find ourselves with an instant family…..:)

Off to open a bottle of wine with J and celebrate now…catch you later

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Swap!

I’m hosting a swap on Swap-bot, if you haven’t heard of this site and love swaps then go check it out. My swap is for knitting accessories/notions – so if you fancy receiving some new stitch-markers, row-counters, tape-measures etc then come and sign up. Full details –

As knitters we know that you can never have too many notions/accessories and we are probably all seduced by cute stitch-markers and tape measures. So this swap is designed to feed that addiction.

# Minimum Requirements

Each person is assigned one partner and must send at least 2 knitting accessories/notions totalling at least £10 (that’s about $20) not including postage.

If you want to send more than 2 then that’s fine but the minimum requirement is 2 items.

If you feel you cannot spend £10 then this isn’t the swap for you.

# The Swap

After signing up you can, if you wish, list the accessories you would like to received in the comments. If you want to leave if up to your partner to pick then that’s fine.

Items to send can be anything from stitch-markers to scissors, row-counters to tape-measures, needle cases to stitch-holders.

You can also specify whether or not you’re happy to receive handmade items. I know lots of us love to make stitch-markers and I’ve seen some wonderful beaded stitch/row counter bracelets. Obviously hand-made items should be of a quality you would be happy to receive yourself and the minimum £10 spend requirement still holds so good materials please!

If there is something you would particularly NOT want to get, for instance if you have tape measures falling out of every drawer and project bag already, then mention that in the comments too.

There will be 2 weeks from sign-up to send your items so that should be plenty of time even if you need to buy things online.

Enjoy! Any questions just contact me.

As well as hosting this swap I have just signed up for a Christmas (yes Christmas!!!) knitting swap and there are still a few places left on it – go visit the Christmas Around the World Knitters Swap – to find out more. If you love Christmas, love knitting and like finding out about different traditions around the world this is the swap for you.

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Catch up

Sorry for the break…been on hols in Cornwall so here is a catch up post.

Before we went away my chicken ark arrived and had to be put together

and painted

Then we packed up the car and headed for Cornwall on Saturday morning. We were staying with Js parents in Talland Bay but on Saturday night we were invited to a party being thrown by a friend of our pal Tracey (FairyCross). It was a “tent party” – meaning we were all staying over in tents in Steve’s garden on the night of the party. There are plenty of embarrassing photos on flickr and here are some of my favourites

The host himself –

Some rather drunk people –

Some VERY drunk people dancing (I’m told) to Grandma’s Feather Bed by John Denver – don’t ask it’s safer not to know –

Katy playing DS the next morning –

Pretty pictures of Cornish scenery


I did some reading –

and I did some knitting –


I am in a prayer-shawl swap and started my shawl whilst in Cornwall as I was in a lovely relaxing setting where I could meditate on the shawl. Here I’m knitting in the swing seat at my in-laws looking at this view  –

that’s the sea at Talland Bay.

Arrived back home this afternoon having visited Tracey on the way to collect the chickens which her hubby was letting me have (he breeds them) so when we got home we showed them their new home

and introduced Simpson to his new family members

this is Morwenna – she is a white leghorn and is already proving to be the bossiest and the bravest of the three. The other two are Tegen and Demelza.

Will write a proper post tomorrow

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