Top tips for staying warm this winter…

warm

This has been a cold, nasty week in our nations capital. On Monday morning I went into work at 10.30 and there was still frost on the gound!! Not just in the odd shady corner either. There were thick blankets of it laid out across the grass. Not. Good.

So my top tips for keeping warm?

1) Build some big woolley socks into your wardrobe. Eco-friendly, and with lots of Australian made options, socks will not only keep you warm but may also increase your chance of orgasm!!! Find out more here.

Tuff Mongrel Socks

2) Block up spaces around your windows and doors to help keep the heat in. Don’t have anything? That’s ok. Make your own door-snake with these simple instructions.

doorsnake1

3) Drink lots of tea. Comforting, delicous and warm. You’d be mad not to use the change in the weather to drink more. It’s also an opportunity to help lift people out of poverty, with 100’s of tasty fair-trade blends out there for the buying. See this post for some of my favourites.

tea

4) Make your own heatpack from things that are lying around the house when things get truly desperate.This easy little trick is a great substitute if no hot water bottles or wheat packs are on hand to soothe a sore body or add a little support to feet that are desperately trying to warm up.

So there you have it – the simplest, cheapest and most universe friendly ways I know to add a little warmth to your winter.

Now you’ll have to excuse me while I go back to Netflix and a massive cup of peppermint tea… maybe winter isn’t all bad 😉

Spread the love: the link between jam and life expectancy

IMG_1687

Ok. Bear with me.

You might not think that the sugary goodness of jam would help with life expectancy, and realistically, eating it in moderation is most likely not going to have any effect whatsoever on your life expectancy. The thing is, depending on your heritage, it might not be your life expectancy I’m talking about.

Today is National ‘Close the Gap’ Day. Something of a mouthful to say, but super important because if you compare the average life expectancy of non-Indigenous Australians to that of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people there is an unbelievably large gap. A 10-17 year gap in fact.

On it’s website Oxfam talks about some of the reasons behind the ongoing Indigenous health crisis. These include accessability to health services, particularly for remote Aboriginal communities, and a lack of cultural sensitivity in mainstream health services (turning something simple like a routine doctors visit into a confusing, maybe even distressing, ordeal). It also highlights the root cause:

More than 200 years of dispossession, racism and discrimination have left Indigenous Australians with some of the lowest levels of education, highest levels of unemployment, poorest health and most appalling housing conditions.

One amazing project that is working towards empowerment and employment for Indigenous Australians in remote communities is Outback Pride.

Enter Jam. And sauces, and spices, etc. All delicous, all incorporating Australian native ingredients, this brand works to provide training and industry within traditional Aboriginal communities. My personal favourite is the Lemon Myrtle flakes, which I love to use in place of lemon grass in Thai dishes.

Check out their full range at: http://www.outbackpride.com.au/retail-products

Have a happy (& quiet) weekend with this great game for kids…

This weekend marks the end of National Seaweek. It is also a long weekend in four states which means that a significant proportion of the nation will be tearing it’s hair out trying to keep small children occupied. Unless of course they read this blog, because I am about to share one of my favourite childhood games, that is not only appropriately themed, but also super easy to throw together with things you’ll already have (probably).

Step 1 – take your child for a walk to find the perfect stick. You might wonder what the perfect stick looks like, and I couldn’t tell you, but I can guarantee your child will know it when they see it.

Step 2 – turn your perfect stick into the perfect fishing rod. This involves cutting a piece of string to the desired length, tying a magnet to one end, and then fastening the other to the end of the stick.

Step 3 – ensure there are plenty of fish in the sea. There are multiple options creating fish. Fabric off cuts, paper, old cereal boxes. Whatever you have lying around. Noting that being able to decorate the fish keeps your child occupied for longer, so materials need to be adapted for age and skill level. See some examples of fish below.

go fish

Step 4 – release your fish into the wild. I personally used to love throwing my fish into the stairwell and then fishing through the railing. But if you’d like to keep it a bit more contained (or don’t own a stairwell, of course) then a big blue sheet or an empty paddling pool also works a charm.

The biggest advantage to this game is that putting the ‘caught’ fish in a bucket is a natural extension. Less clean up is always a big plus, as is following up a hard day of fishing with a big serve of fish and chips 🙂

Happy long weekend everyone.

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

Washing your hands [with] responsibilty

…not of responsibility.

There are all sorts of conflicting reports about how long it takes various plastic articles to break down but essentially, without very specific conditions and poisoning the environment around it – it does’t. Highlight Kids provides a short explanaition as to why (pitched at exactly my level of scientific understanding) – click here if you are interested.

The thought that my bottle of moisturiser may still be poisoning the earth long after my body has returned to it is horrifying, and made so much worse when I think of all the wildlife it might kill on the way out. According to the Queensland Government Department of Environmental and Heritage Protection an estimated 100 000 marine mammals and turtles are killed by plastic litter every year around the world. And I haven’t even started on the damage done to the environment and wildlife during the manufacturing of this bottle!!

So with all this weighing heavily on my heart I have been trying to come up with new ways to cut more and more plastic out of my daily life, and my most recent adjustment has been in the hygiene department. Don’t worry, I’m still washing, but I have discovered that the simple act of swapping one soap for another has made a huge difference to the plastic consumption in my house.

First I got rid of liquid soap in the bathroom. If you buy liquid soap because you like the anti-bacterial stuff read this article about its potential impacts on your health and the environment and stop!!! If you buy it because you have a snazzy pump dispenser that goes perfectly with your bathroom decor, perhaps you could consider treating yourself to the snazziest soap dish you can find to ease its passing.

I must admit that we are still using liquid soap (not the anti-bacterial kind) in the kitchen. I just find it so much neater in this already explosively chaotic corner of the house. And hey, if it really suits your life style to keep buying a truckload of pump packs, go ahead. Just remember to recycle.

But if you are planning to switch to good old fashioned bar soap like I have then here are my suggestions for four fantastic brands that are packaged in good old fashioned cardboard. Even less plastic!!

photo 4

Cheap and cheerful with a classic scent, Country Life Original is the perfect everyday soap.

photo 3

Velvet Beauty Bars are the perfect alternative for Dove users. Still has the moisturising benefits and not only is it made in Australia instead of Thailand, but its bulk packs aren’t wrapped in plastic film either!

 

photo 2

People with sensitive skin and a bit of extra cash to burn may like to try Natures Commonscents, which ironically has no scent, marketing itself as fragrance free.

photo 1

This soap’s fresh scent is perfect for washing off a hard day at work. It is also literally the gift that keeps giving, with funds raised from the sale of Thankyou products going into development projects in poorer countries.

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.

The best kids movies with an environmental theme

Need some inspiration to by less/used? Try:

The Lorax (2012) – ∗∗∗∗∗

I love this movie. Based on a book by the fabulous Dr Suess and beautifully animated this movie tells the story of a young man who is so busy chasing profit that he doesn’t realise the consequences of thoughtlessly using up the worlds natural resources. It points some very cute fun at our consumeristic society with my favourite moment where Ted’s mother show’s him all the buttons on the remote for their new tree, the Oak-a-matic – ‘summer, winter, autumn and… disco!!!

It also goes against Cartoon Hollywood’s standard stereotypes, with a fat old lady being instrumental in saving the day. But the most important message this movie has to impart is to empower people to take action for the things they believe in:

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.’ – Dr Suess, The Lorax

 

Wall-E (2008) – ∗∗∗

Set thousands of years in the future when humans are living in a giant shopping mall in space and the only thing on Earth is Wall-E, a somewhat romantic robot who’s directive is to compact the disgusting piles of rubbish that cover the entire Earth. Then EVE arrives , a very career oriented lady-bot who looks like a flying tampon and has an inbuilt arsenal which she is not afraid to use. Wall-E is instantly smitten.

EVE’s directive is to scan the Earth for any signs of plant-life and to return it to the mothership, signalling that Earth is ready for recolonisation. When EVE and her new shadow Wall-E arrive at the flying shopping mall hilarity ensues as their actions cause humans to slowly realise that there is more to life than social media and junk food, and that although saving the Earth may be hard work, it’s totally worth it.

 

Happy Feet (2006) – ∗∗∗∗

This is a tale that warns of the dangers of both trash and resource depletion in a much more present context. Mumbo is a penguin who is born dancing into a conservative religious species who do not approve. When Mumbo refuses to repent for his toe-tapping ways he is banished. His subsequent adventures lead him to believe that ‘aliens’ (humans) are the cause of a major food shortage and the near death of his friend Lovelace who’s magical necklace (the plastic loops from a six-pack of cans) begins to choke him.

Enraged by the thoughtless destruction that has been visited upon the Antarctic, Mumbo swims all the way to the US to try and educate people about the consequences of their actions. Funny, cute and incorporating some great mash-up musical numbers, this movie has the added bonus of the message that it doesn’t matter how much of a freak people think you are -you can still change the world.

 

Pocahontas – ∗∗∗∗

Less of a cautionary tale, and more a reminder of just how awesome our natural environment is. The main character is not white, which is a refreshing change, and what’s more is a kick-ass heroine who is not afraid of love, but is careful not to trust her heart to the wrong person. A great role model for little girls everywhere. Although horribly historically inaccurate the most powerful message of this movie is wrapped up in its most famous song – Colours of the Wind: ‘You can own this Earth and still, all you’ll own is earth until you can paint with all the colours of the wind’ (or just generally learn to appreciate nature).

 

Now I recognise the irony in suggesting you consume a movie to inspire you to consume less, so of course I encourage you to source these movies second hand, or buy digital copies wherever possible.

Los Estafadores Quesadilla

Quesadillas

The Cheats Quesadilla – a quick, easy and cheap recipe – with Chunky Avocado Salsa

According to America’s Real Simple magazine, one of the best ways to use less water is to eat a vegetarian meal once a week – or if you already eat vego occasionally – to eat one more vegetarian meal a week. It’s a big call, but they claim that giving up just over 100gm of beef a week will save more than 60,000 litres of water a year. So to inspire you to eat more veg, and to celebrate the surprising self-control I have shown by reaching 10 whole posts (!!) I am giving you the gift of an easy and delicious vego recipe that I have tried and tested many times at home.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Packet of tortillas
  • 1 Can of refried beans
  • ½ Red Onion –finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 Tomatoes – chopped
  • 1 Avocado – chopped
  • ½ Cup of coriander leaves
  • Cheese (optional)

To make chunky avocado salsa: mix the tomatoes, avocado and coriander together. Sometimes I like to add some corn to the mix too.

To make quesadillas: mix the refried beans, red onion and lime juice in a bowl. Spread over half of the tortillas and sprinkle cheese over the top if desired. Use the other half of tortillas to top them off.

Place a frypan on a medium heat, add a little olive oil if it takes your fancy, and fry your tortilla sandwiches for a minute or so on each side.

Once warmed through, cut the quesadillas into portions for serving, and top with chunky avo salsa.