5 things in your kitchen you really need to stop throwing away…

Coffee cubes

1. Unused coffee

Got leftovers at the bottom of your percolator or plunger? Not a problem!

We keep a jar of leftovers in the fridge for iced coffees. But if you don’t go through caffeine, glorious caffeine, as quickly as we do then pour into your ice cube tray and freeze. Then you can add them to your iced coffees (and espresso martinis!!) to get extra chill without watering down your drink.

Be sure to transfer your coffee cubes to an airtight container or ziplock bag once frozen though. Noone likes that freezer taster in their beverage!

Dish brush 1

2. Old dish brushes

When your dish brush gets a little bent and dirty, don’t throw it away. These are great for cleaning the shower, or anywhere else you might ordinarily use a traditional scrubbing brush.

I love that the handle allows you some extra distance from some of life’s more unpleasant cleaning jobs – like this little doosey in our backyard.

Dish brush 2

3. Empty glass jars

Why pay big money for BPA free lunchboxes when you have glass jars in the house?

Not only do my old honey jars hold in a cold soup for transport better than any airtight sealed plastic number I’ve ever had, but these old coffee jars are the perfect size for packing salads – seen here with a quinoa and cranberry salad (yum!!).

See this article for a great guide on how to pack the perfect salad in a jar.

Salad Jar 3

4. Rubber bands

You know those little purple things that come around every bunch of herbs you buy?

These puppies are actually suprisingly useful for repairing broken zips.

Rubber bands

5. Orange bags:

Ok, so now I’m really stretching. But if you have no better option your mesh citrus bags can be used in the laundry as a wash bag for your delicates. Or things you need to keep together: socks, bikinis, lego (no kidding – I saw someone wash their lego in the machine Pinterest!!).

Hooray for more money, and less landfill. Have a great week guys.

Presentation is everything

I had promised myself I wouldn’t post about second-hand books (my one true love) for a while given my recent post on the great book swap but I was in the op-shop (again) today, and I overheard the Salvo’s turning away a box of books because they just can’t move them out fast enough. I hate to think of those books rotting in landfill and the family that Salvo’s can’t help because they can’t sell the books they have in stock. But I understand that many people prefer to watch movies, listen to music, and play on their phones than curl up with a good book, and that even many readers have converted entirely to eBooks. So what would most people do with a second hand book anyway?

Well, thanks to Pinterest and an old encyclopedia I picked up this arvo in just one episode of House of Cards I can tell you they can make them in to super-cute bows to wrap pending birthday presents with!! And if I can do it, you know anyone can. No hilarious ‘nailed it’ pictures here.

The classic bow

1. The easiest of all the bows to make, for the classic bow you need to start with 2 pieces of paper that look like glasses:

Classic Bow 1

2) Fold the ends of each into the middle like so:

Classic Bow 2

3) Put one on top of the other and wrap a skinny slip of paper around them to hold together. Done.

Classic Bow 3

 

The star-of-wonder bow:

1) Possibly the most common style in newsagents and dollar-shops these days, the star-of-wonder bow is both labour and sticky tape intensive when compared with the classic bow. First cut out 3 strips of paper, 3 strips of slightly shorter paper, 2 strips that are slightly shorter again, and one more shorter strip – ensuring that the difference between each size is the same:

SOW Bow 1

2:) Fold the ends of each strip around and secure to the back of the strip:

SOW Bow 2

3) Arrange on top of each other with the larger strips at the bottom. Voila:

SOW Bow 3

The wiggly worm bow:

1) This one only works for waxier papers, but I was suprised to see that it actually really works. Cut a sheet of paper into strips, leaving approx. 2cms at the bottom uncut. Then use the edge of your scissors to curl the strips just as you would curling ribbon:

WW Bow 1

2) Fold along the bottom so that the curls are closer together:

WW Bow 2

3) Once you have reached optimum curl-density, attach:

WW Bow 3

A-door-able: stay warm with this super easy, eco-friendly DIY project

Over the last two weeks I have talked about staying warm with less (using the Bogan Heat Pack, or BHP) and with the amazing Tasmanian made Mongrel Socks. Moving on to the next part of the LLUF philosophy (less; local; used; fair), I want to talk about how you can stay warm using second hand clothing. Not to wear – so don’t freak out if you are a person who prefers to avoid second-hand clothing – but to sew into a super cheap door snake…

The advantages of making your own door snakes from second hand clothing or material are many and include:

  • You can choose a material that matches your décor, as opposed to choosing between the bright red and the brown striped options at the supermarket.
  • They are very easy to sew – a good way to practice your skills.
  • In the words of Napoleon Dynamite ‘girls love guys with great skills’. That’s right men. Sewing your own door snake will make you more attractive to women.
  • You are can choose to use all recycled and/or biodegradable materials, reducing your impact on the planet.
  • You can save your wallet too, by drastically reducing your heating bills.

Oh the list goes on.

I personally, struggle to cut up second hand clothing that isn’t either ruined or truly hideous. I prefer to wear them. And if you are so inclined, I would encourage you to shop-up at your local Vinnies/Salvos/whatever. I have bought some awesome jumpers, jackets and cardis from various op-shops and my star winter-find has been a bright pink snow suit with matching hat which I intend to give a run in the mountains this weekend. Too. Much. Fun.

So I have chosen an old shirt of Mr LLUFs that is well beyond saving to make into my door snake. If you are choosing an item to destroy I would probably recommend using pants or dresses – for the length – and avoiding stretchy materials because they are harder to sew with. This second tip applies if you have decided to use new material as well.

doorsnake2

As you can see, I have decided to stuff my doorsnake with plastic bags lying around the house, but for best results I suggest you use a grain such as rice or wheat. See instructions below:

how to sew a doorsnake

P.S – This is my first time putting together sewing instructions so let me know if they don’t make sense and I shall revise accordingly :-S

The BHP – the weirdest trick for staying warm this winter

warm

My first winter in Canberra I cried in public three times because I just didn’t want to be that cold anymore. After four years here I still desperately long for the mild winters of my beloved Brisbane, but I’ve stopped crying. Needless to say, the subject of staying warm is close to my heart, so now that we are in the middle of winter I thought I’d do a series of articles to help you through the worst of it using each element of the LLUF mantra (less, local, used, fair) – starting with less.

Now I don’t usually associate winter with less. I associate winter with more clothing, more emotional breakdowns, and as I outlined in the ‘No Sweat’ article, more food and a whole lot more red wine. However, one sneaky trick, imparted to me by my first housemate and childhood friend (love you babe), allows you some extra toasty warmth by repurposing things you are almost guaranteed to have around the house. I call it the bogan heat pack or BHP.

The BHP requires three things. A wet tea towel, a plastic bag, and a microwave. Just hear me out.

  • Firstly, fold the wet tea towel – and I mean saturated – to the desired size, keeping in mind that the more times it is folded the less of you it will cover, but the longer it will stay warm (I prefer to fold it twice), and place inside plastic bag. Fold plastic bag around tea towel.
  • Secondly. Place the plastic bag inside the microwave with the opening to the plastic bag on top. This will reduce any water running out onto the microwave plate or onto you when you pull it out.
  • Microwave for 1-2 minutes. Be super careful when removing from the microwave as this baby will be very, very hot. This is no sweet and simple store bought wheat bag we are talking about.
  • Finally, wrap it up in another tea towel – preferably one of the fluffy ones for a bit of added luxury – and cuddle/place on your cold or aching body part.
  • You might also like to grab your laptop and start researching how to change your name to Shazza -your call.

The BHP has many advantages over the traditional hot water bottle or heat pack, as it not only doesn’t need to be stored anywhere, does not get lost down the back of the cupboard during summer, and costs nothing.

As long as you heed the very, very hot warning, you can’t go wrong with the BHP.

Saving the world one staple at a time…

 

I like to be environmentally responsible whenever I can, and when I heard the internet rumour that if every office worker in the UK alone used one less staple per day 120,000kg of steel would be saved every year, I thought – that’s great, I look forward to saving the world one staple at a time.

All the feel-good eco-stores have paperless staplers available which, apart from having dreadful reviews where more than 4 sheets of paper are concerned, are also made in China. I enquired with one of these stores, who were very prompt in responding, but unfortunately were unable to confirm that the people who manufacture these stapleless staplers are paid a fair wage, and allowed to do so under safe conditions.

Unable to identify any Australian or fair-trade alternative, I started to wonder if you could get reusable staples. It wasn’t long before I realised, with some embarrassment, that I have used such a thing before. They call them paper clips.

After a long Google search I was unable to find any Australian made paper clips, and, unless I wanted to pay $19.95 for a set of 3 giant paperclips – which I did not – I was unable to find a suitable fair trade option either.

In one last desperate attempt I decided to visit Officeworks. I should probably have wandered the aisles of a mum-and-dad office supplies shop, but I don’t know of any – and Officeworks is so very close to my work.

I never said I was perfect.

Anyway.

paper bindersOfficeworks provided me with a range of clip styles made in China. This included paper and bulldog clips by Celco, who in spite of marketing itself with a little black Australia, has most of its products manufactured offshore. The single exception appears to be paper binders which Celco actually has manufactured in the country it so proudly displays on its boxes.

Paper binders have a few clear drawbacks as a staple replacement – they are a bit exxy at $15.74 for 200 19mm binders; they are a bit large, with 19mm being the smallest option available; and they are a bit sharp, with a paper piercing point capable of giving you a nasty scratch. They are however reusable, very stable and capable of holding a large quantity of paper together if required.

If this is still too much metal for you, my final recommendation is to try out some different paper-binding folding techniques such as:

http://www.bloomize.com/how-to-bind-papers-without-staples-or-clips/

http://www.bloomize.com/how-to-bind-papers-without-staples-or-clips-4/

Let us know which ones work for you!!

 

Just add water

So I said I would save you money. And I feel this is a promise I need to come good on pretty quickly. And what better place to start than with a good old fashioned trash to treasure story – in this particular instance: veggie scraps.

A ridiculous number of veggies can be grown from scraps. I was super excited to discover this for a number of reasons, not the least of which is it could save me hundreds of dollars a year in grocery bills. There are other advantages including less packaging, less food waste and, of course, less money to the supermarkets, which are essentially pure evil, and yet such a convenient evil that I give far more money to them than I care to admit. But that’s another story.

There are many articles on many websites that will tell you all about what veggies you can grow from scraps, and how, but more often than not I find that liberally applying ‘the just add water’ technique does the trick. So lately I have taken to just adding water to all my food scraps and seeing what grows.

My first experiment was with sweet potato (mmmm, sweet potato). I cut off the tapered ends – about 5cms – of my sweet potato and submerged them halfway in a bowl of water. It took them a good 2 weeks to start sprouting, but once they started there was no stopping them. Unlike potato, sweet potato leaves are edible, which is great because this is all you get out of your sweet potato for a loooong time. It was 6 months after I planted my SP top before I was able to harvest some tiny tubers from this plant (seen below on a saucer).

Sweet Potato

Beetroot is another vegetable that just starts sprouting new and totally edible leaves if you soak the top in water. The leaves of beetroot grow quicker than sweet potato but I have only recently potted my beetroot tops, so I can’t tell you whether the root grows back. Feel free to school me if you know.

Beetroot

My favourite vegetable to re-grow however is green onions, which seem to only ever need water, although I generally plant mine just the same. I’ve seen them grow more than 1cm a day (!!), so the biggest problem I have with growing them is that I can never use enough (!!). The pic below was taken 26hours after I cut the top off these ones and popped them in a water glass…

Spring onions

Linking up with Thrifty Thursday

Thrifty Thursday