Category Archives: Green Parenting

Mending – a Radical Act of Value

Another Vlog post is up.

Josh (having listened to my rants on long journey’s far too often!) suggested that I talk about some of our values and philosophy behind our choices.

So I did…

 

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Continuing my Flurry of Crafting

So my energy levels have continued to stabilise – I’m still not able to bend over but luckily knitting and the projects in The Creative Family don’t really require it. It does mean I’m mostly bloggin’ crafting stuff since I don’t have the energy for gardening or other projects.

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Rainy Day Square

I read the whole of Amanda’s book as soon as it arrived. I am pacing myself but the lure of her wool felt projects was too strong. Whilst I was online popping 100% wool felt into my shopping basket for the Wild Things Birthday Crown Project, I decided that the project for a Wool Felt Block would be a perfect welcome present for the Baby.  (In addition to the 3 cardigans, the hat, the carefully chosen and painfully orange plushie fish from her big brother etc.)

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A Carrot – something I can reliably draw and it always looks right.

But sewing these felt squares is so tactile and so fun and I think 100% wool felt is my new craft crush.  I can  really appreciate the Waldorf philosophy of giving children good quality, natural crafting materials and toys.  Whilst R probably has more plastic than I’m comfortable with there is a solidity to his wooden toys which I think he enjoys and I certainly do.

It isn’t quite as portable as knitting but easy to knock a square out at 6.30am when my hips hurt too much to sleep and my brain is too tired to work on writing projects. And it uses up my stash of embroidery threads – so really it is a good thing.

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Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

Plus there is something compelling about getting artistic in such a minimalist space.

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I can even use up my button stash!

Stay tuned for the last two and the final product!

p.s. you do not want to know how long it took me to get the photos the right way round for this post. One day I’ll get a decent camera… one day.

 

Part of a nappy stash

Cloth Nappies – the Full Crunchy

I’m sure it will surprise no-one to hear that we use cloth nappies. They reduce landfill, save money and are all round more environmentally friendly options.  Here is a great article from Which? describing the circumstances under which reusable nappies are 40% better for the environment (unless you use a tumble drier, but I’ve never needed to.)

Part of a mighty nappy stash

I thought I’d pop down a few thoughts on them and how we do it in case anyone is interested.  I’m not really trying to persuade people either way though.  In fact I get sick of all the baby advice articles. Especially those titled “the top 10 baby essentials”, or “the 10 baby items I bought and never used”.  Because whilst I think cloth nappies are better for the environment I think that all parenting choices only come down to two things – does it work for your baby and does it work for you.

Since every parent and every baby is completely different I just don’t see how the top 10 anything can be so universal. My favourite baby advice articles are 1) those which teach you how to find out enough about you and your baby in order to make the right choices and 2) those which freely give hints and tips without making judgements.

We have found reusable nappies to be pretty simple and hugely money saving! But it has only been successful for our circumstances because –

1. We had a lot of practical support and advice from an experienced friend – including many hand me down nappies to get us started.

2. We could afford the start up costs for cloth nappies. We’ve spent about £250 in total on nappies from birth to potty (mostly second hand thanks to Ebay!). You can do it cheaper – we have chosen to have a lot of spare nappies in case of emergencies. I wanted to make sure we weren’t running on fumes at any point.  A significant chunk of money this was used to buy cloth night nappies as normal cloth nappies wouldn’t do it and the only nappies which were absorbent enough were not available second hand.

3.  We have a very easy going and sleepy baby (now an easy going and still pretty sleepy toddler).  Anything else and we could easily have been too frazzled to make it work.

4. We have a lot of space in our house/garden – and cloth nappies need space to dry.  In Summer this is easier than Winter and both are easier than Autumn/Spring.  Why are Autumn/Spring so bad… it is too rainy to put the nappies outside and too warm to put the central heating on.  Drying a bamboo nappy takes AGES under these conditions… that is why we have so many nappies.

5. We both work from home and we both work part time. There is always someone available to take 10 mins to hang out a washing load or put one on.

6. We have solar panels (told you we were crunchy!) and a really energy efficient washing machine.  Any increase in energy use due to the washing machine being on a lot is offset somewhat by the solar energy savings and the more efficient appliance. We only do full washing loads to save energy and it is perfectly ok to put nappies in with your other clothes.

The most important thing I discovered in over a year of doing cloth nappies… most people use far too much washing powder/liquid in their machines.  If you use too much powder in a nappy wash then bad, bad things will happen, so you only use about 1 level tablespoon per wash.  If 1 tablespoon of powder and a 40 degree wash can get poo out of a nappy, then 1 tablespoon will get sweat out of a t-shirt.  Since we started this our washing powder consumption has dropped so much that we use less than 2 boxes of Ecover powder per year.  Much less than we used before we starting washing all those nappies.

If you are still interested after all that then you can get a free consultation from the Nappy Lady here – worthwhile as one size of nappy won’t fit every child. We didn’t buy many new nappies – but thanks to her advice the ones we got were perfect.

Cloth Nappy Tree is also a very helpful community if you need any extra support and they have a great second hand sale section on the site.

A lovely break in so many ways.

We’ve been away for a few days to Sussex for a beautiful, hippy wedding and I took the opportunity to leave my laptop behind and try a few days mostly offline.  Several bloggers having been talking about taking days offline and I had a sneaking suspicion I’d really enjoy so on the spur of the moment I decided I’d join in.  It was so spur of the moment I had packed my power cable!

Here is a picture of R at the wedding, rocking his homemade tie dye T-shirt and eating a stick. MMMmm tasty stick!

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It was very refreshing and definitely something I’ll do again.  It probably would have been more refreshing if I hadn’t dealt with the slight stress of managing a 13 month old in a B&B for the first time but he was very easy going (as usual) and our B&B hostess was fantastically accommodating and so helpful.  I’d recommend the B&B to anyone staying in East Grinstead, East Sussex and here is her website: http://www.brambletyemanorbarn.co.uk/

The wedding was lovely, it was held at a Glamping site which was beautiful, the ceremony was in a woodland glade and the festivities were all informal, held in a field and barn with a big marquee and amazing views.  The weather was hot and sunny all day and there were parachute games, tug o’ war, rounders, and plenty of space for the army of little children to run around.  It was wonderful!

I’ve come back feeling a little torn between enjoying the time offline and wanting to get back to blogging and everything else.  So I think I’ll be trying to work out a sustainable way of blogging going forwards.

In the meantime I got back from Sussex to find that my Cavelo Nero (Italian Black Kale) was ready to eat.  I Love Cavelo Nero, it is my undisputed Empress of Kale and we started out having it for dinner last night and then early this morning I made a quick batch of these Kale Chips which I highly recommend.  There are some amazing tips in here that link so please do check them out.

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I must finish writing my big No Plastic July Round Up post soon!

 

The Good Things #2 – Charity Shops

There is another Good Things Linkfest thanks to MargotandBarbara. My last post on this was here but today the Good Thing I want to talk about is the Charity Shop.

I think these shops are the staple of the sustainable, frugal, green lifestyle.  They are such an important part of the whole cycle of buying and decluttering I don’t know what I’d do without them.  They are the places I send things I no longer need when I declutter, they are the places I go to get reasonably priced clothes, household items, books (and now toys) and every time I buy something there it is secondhand (so recycling) and my money goes to charity!  Win, Win, Win!  I think in America these would be called Goodwill or Thift stores?  In Australia are they the “op shops”?

Today we went to visit R’s Granny who lives in a very good charity shop area (much better than here) and I made a point of stopping by.  Granny (and on my side Grandma and Auntie V) are brilliant at getting amazing things from charity shops but today was my lucky day.

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This was my major find.

For anyone who doesn’t have children or isn’t in the UK these are the Teletubbies.  They were a huge children’s tv show in the mid ’90s and as of today a brand new series started with the same characters. This is a complete set of interactive soft toys which cost me £1.60 in total.  They are about to become really popular again with the pre-school crowd (i.e. R’s age group) and I’m so lucky I can get ahead of the curve.  No waiting around for R to pester me for a Teletubby toy.  He will already have a set (and he won’t know that they were from a charity shop – well he won’t know until he can read this.  If you’re reading this R, sorry!)

I did look up the same toys on Ebay and they were £16.99 each!

I also managed to get a 1970s style vacuum yoghurt maker (just like my Mum had) for £1.95.  This will be very important in helping me during No Plastic July as I mentioned here.

The Good Things

 

A Frugal, Green and Self-Sufficiency Round Up

How have we been Green, Frugal and Self-Sufficient this week?

1. Wellies* for R – a kind lady advertised a pair of wellies size 18-24 months on freecycle (and other assorted bits – but it was the wellies that caught my eye!) She was pregnant and about 5 days off her due date.  How that feels in a hot June is very fresh in my memory so I took over some of my homemade Black Forest Brownies as a thank you present for the wellies.

Wellington Boots for little Dinosaurs

Wellington Boots for little Dinosaurs

(*Wellies is a UK slang term for waterproof rubber boots, that is because in the UK such boots are called Wellington Boots.)

2. Gooseberry and Elderflower Jelly – I’ll do a proper write up of this later.  But inspired by Dawn of Doing it For Ourselves making Elderflower Jelly and the birds having eaten most of our Gooseberries, I decided to make up a Gooseberry and Elderflower Jelly recipe. That saved me a job of topping and tailing as well.  Doesn’t it look fabulous!

Gooseberry and Elderflower Jelly

Gooseberry and Elderflower Jelly

3. Birthday Bunting – I finished making bunting to decorate the house for R’s birthday in a couple of weeks.  It is re-useable (I’m going to keep adding to it each year until it is a huge family joke) and has no packaging and it looks bright and silly.  Perfect!

4. Comfrey – we don’t have any in our garden, but it is the best of all the Green Manures and a staple of permaculture nutrient design.  Luckily my Father Out-Law has a huge amount with pretty blue/pink flowers.  As always I only have to ask for a cutting or a bit of root and he is back with a spade and a pot before I know it, generously dividing some up for me.  That saved me from buying some seed/plug plants from a garden centre. We also took our tetrapaks over to put in their kerbside recycling scheme (they are on a different scheme to us and we can’t recycling tetrapaks easily) and I went home with some spare jam jars – which came in handy for 2 above.

5. Straw from the Pig Pen – The straw we get for our pigs is a waste product from a local farm.  After it has been used as pig bedding it goes in the hot composter and the cold composter as important dry, woody material. I am so pleased we get two uses out of something which would otherwise go to waste.