The Impossible Dream?

Last weekend brought D’s 4th birthday. Now let’s just take a minute to wonder how on earth my baby could be 4?? Argh! Time moves so fast! 

Anyway moving on. So D turned 4 and he decided he wanted a party. With a bouncy castle naturally!  So I booked a hall and the bouncy castle but then my mind turned to the waste side of things. How little waste could I produce at the party? I knew I couldn’t go Zero Waste as it’s quite difficult to get ingredients without packaging here but I could at least try to reduce unnecessary waste. 

The main culprit at parties are party bags. Plastic bags filled with plastic tat that break and/or gets thrown away the same day. I decided to make my own party bags out of fabric I already had.   

The bags were all different sizes depending on how much of that particular fabric I had. D wanted a dinosaur party and I did have some dinosaur fabric from a few years ago. Each child also got a toy dinosaur in their bag which seemed to go down well. 

Food wise we tried to keep waste to a minimum and I made the birthday cake using items we already had to decorate it   

Cakes were made in reusable cases  

And all the food was placed on proper plates instead of disposable ones  

 Drinks were served in plastic beakers we had borrowed from church so no cartons to throw out afterwards.   

Despite all this we fell down in a lot of places. I had surgery the week before the party and was quite poorly afterwards meaning I didn’t  concentrate fully on the zero waste aspect. I panic bought crisps and other party foods that have a lot of packaging at the last minute. We also used tea bags instead of loose tea as I wasn’t well enough to concentrate on a lot of things at the same time. I also panic bought sweets and surprise eggs to go in the party bags. 

Next year I plan to start preparing early and make reusable napkins to wrap the birthday cake in for the party bags (we used paper napkins) I would also like to make more of the food myself. 

Although my surgery didn’t help our zero waste quest we still only took away one small bag of rubbish at the end of the party. Which I was quite pleased about, considering. 

My one sadness though is the one thing I cannot control and that is other people. Any tips on cutting down the mountain of wrapping paper we were left with? 

Or is a Zero waste party an impossible dream?

Wiping up waste

We are slowly settling in to a bit of a school routine now, and thankfully I have had time to get some sewing done while the kids are in school. I have been trying to take a look at our lives and our routines to see where we can improve waste and environmentally wise. 

With 2 young (ish) children we have a lot of spills in this house and the easiest way to wipe them up is with kitchen towels. I also use kitchen paper to clean the worktops. I know it’s paper so it can technically be recycled/composted but I’m still using it once then throwing it out. What a waste. 

While decluttering the bathroom I found a lot of baby towels that are really no good anymore as they barely fit around my “babies” anymore but are too big for hand towels. So, one afternoon while D was in school I cut the towel into squares and overlocked the raw edges. I could have neatened the edges with a sewing machine or by binding them but I went for the quick and easy option of my overlocker. 

I folded them and put them in a pretty basket which sits on top of the worktop in the kitchen. They are then to hand when I need to wipe up a spill etc. Once used they go in the washing machine with my normal washing. No more paper towels in this house. Nice one!   

Zero Waste Giveaway


Zero Waste Week seems ages ago now but when I wrote my pledge I promised a giveaway. Being a bad blogger ;) and also extremely busy with the start of the new school year, I am only now getting around to it! Oops!

In keeping with the Zero Waste theme, I am giving away 5 handmade, reusable make-up remover wipes. 

These wipes can be washed in your machine at 40* and reused. By using and reusing these wipes you can cut your dependency on cotton wool pads and/or balls. 

These reusable wipes have been handmade by me and can be purchased over on my crafty Facebook page. However, if you would like to win your very own set of 5 complete with a knitted basket to store them in, all you have to do is comment below telling me whether or not you took part in Zero Waste week this year. The names of everyone that comments will go into a hat and a winner will be randomly chosen by either myself or Little Lady who loves being in charge of picking giveaway winners :) 

The competition opens as soon as I press the publish button on this post and ends on Sunday 27th September 2015 at 5pm BST.

Please feel free to share the giveaway with all your friends :)

Gift Wrapping

Making handmade gifts is such a lovely feeling. The thought and time that has gone into each one. Knowing that you haven’t just gone out and bought “something nice”. But once you have made it, it needs to be wrapped and gifted.

After all the time you have taken to handmake a present, rushing out to buy supermarket wrapping paper isn’t really going to do your handiwork justice. So how do you wrap your handmade items using items you already have and not create excess waste?

You could wrap your gift in leftover fabric

alternative gift wrapping with fabric

Image from here

Or you could use newspaperalternative wrapping newspaper

Or old books

Alternative wrapping paper

Brown paper works well as you only have to buy one roll and then personalise it for each occassion.

alternative wrapping

And let’s not forget those yummy hobnobs from yesterday. Why not use a paper plate to wrap those?

paper plate wrapping

If you’ve been inspired by these, why not check out my Pinterest Gift Wrapping board for more ideas?


Homemade Hobnobs

Yesterday I shared some of my favourite upcycled gift ideas. However, I think there’s nothing quite like receiving some nice biscuits at Christmas. Maybe that’s because I’m too tight frugal to buy nice biscuits very often during the year? If there’s nothing quite like receiving nice biscuits then homemade biscuits goes one step further.

This is not my recipe and I could never claim it to be. This recipe came from a poster on the MSE forums. It’s quick, it’s easy, you’ll have most of the ingredients already and most of all it’s yummy! I’m sure you can already think of a few people who would appreciate homemade hobnobs for Christmas. So let’s get to it


8oz Self Raising Flour
8oz Sugar
8oz porridge oats
8oz Margarine
1tbsp golden syrup
1tbsp hot water
1/2tsp Bicarbonate of Soda


Mix the flour, oats and sugar.
Melt the margarine, syrup and water in a pan.
Stir in bicarbonate of soda and add to the dry mix
Mix well

Take some of the mixture and make into a smallish ball
Put the balls of mixture onto a greased baking tray and flatten slightly with a fork.
Bake in the oven at 180*C for 15mins or until golden brown in colour.
Allow to cool on the tray
homemade biscuits
Whenever I make a batch of these I have to hide some so that they don’t all get eaten in one go. Everyone in my family loves these. I keep them in the biscuit tin (a promoted chocolate selection tin) but to be honest they don’t last more than 3 days in my house.
Homemade hobnobs
When giving as a present (if you manage not to eat them!), wrap them in greaseproof paper and tie with raffia or ribbon, whichever you have handy. You’ll be the most popular visitor all Christmas.

Hobnobs wrapped as gifts

Upcycled gift ideas

Day 2 of Zero Waste Week. How are we doing?

As I mentioned in my pledge post our christmas this year will be mostly handmade and/or upcycled. An easy enough concept but coming up with good ideas for gifts is actually pretty hard. As you can imagine I have spent a lot of time searching the internet (Pinterest is a favourite) looking for ideas. I can’t share actual gift shortlists here as I obviously want them to be a surprise but I can share with you some of my favourite upcycled gift ideas.

I have tried to chose gifts that use items that most of us have or can get easily enough. So here goes.

Rock plant labels. A perfect gift for the gardener of the familyHandmade garden labels

Homemade crayons for the Lego enthusiast – big or small ;)Lego crayons

Coat/key hooksDinosaur coat hooks

Dinosaur coat hooks from here but of course you could use anything to make hooks. Lego pieces, old keys, spoons, forks

Upcycled fork hooks

How about a cake stand made out of mismatched tea cups and plates? Upcycled cake stand

I love this idea and suspect that most of us will have a few mismatched cups and plates. I know I do. If not, why not have a browse around local charity shops?

So there we have a round up of my favourite upcycled gifts, however, both Jen Gale and Rae Strauss have lots more ideas for upcycling on Pinterest. So why not pop over to their boards and be inspired?


Tomorrow sees the kiddies go back to school. Little Lady goes into juniors and D starts afternoons in the school’s nursery class. I will miss them. A lot. Yes they are pains in the bum sometimes but they are MY pains in the bum and I love spending time with them. Little Lady can’t wait to go back tomorrow and see all her friends. D on the other hand, doesn’t like change. The new classroom, new teacher and new routine is a bit overwhelming for him so I’m sure we will have a few tears tomorrow (and not just from me!).

I hope the extra time for me means I can get a few things done, tick a few things off a never ending list. There are doors to be painted, rooms to be re-painted, fabric to be made into gorgeous items. :D

But that’s not what I came here to write about. Tomorrow also sees the start of a year long “buy no new clothes” challenge for me. I have been half heartedly decluttering the house for over a year now. I am getting there, albeit slowly. Then I read this post. Since working at a local hospice, this subject has been weighing on my mind. When I die (and with God’s grace that won’t be for many, many years yet) someone will have to sort through my things. This thought has helped me while decluttering but it’s still not enough. We as people, buy so much stuff. So much unneccessary stuff! Because we can. Because we are taught to believe that we need all the stuff.

I then saw this article on facebook and it got me thinking again about clothes. All four of us here have wardrobes that are fit to bursting and yet we all tend to wear the same handful of items more than others.

We have spent this week sorting out school uniforms. Our school has the same polo shirts and jumpers for girls and boys so D has Little Lady’s polo shirts as she grows out of them. The trousers we bought him last year still fit him though and Little Lady still has one winter dress and two summer dresses that still fit her. We were also gifted some skirts that we have put away as they were a bit big for her. The dresses that were too small have been passed on to a friend who has a little girl a few years younger. So for this coming school year all we have needed to buy was school shoes.

Jen Gale who was looking for a new challenge, 3 years after having spending a year buying nothing new, suggested a buy no new clothes challenge and I was very keen to get on board with this. Starting tomorrow I will buy no new clothes for me, hubby or the kids. There are exceptions and rules however, and these are as follows:

  • underwear does not count. I will not buy secondhand underwear for any of my family. I am, however, planning to make some of my own underwear again.
  • Running clothes and shoes. My current running shoes should last me until early next year but when they do need replacing I will be buying new. I won’t risk injury by buying secong hand. Running clothes, I will try to make do with what I have or buy second hand if I can.
  • Uniform/work wear. I wear my own clothes to work and therefore can get away with this but hubby can’t. He is provided with a polo shirt but some of the other kit he needs may need to be new due to safety reasons. We will shop around and try to buy second hand if we can but I will not compromise his safety. School uniforms will be second hand as much as possible, however, due to the school logo, if it poses difficulty in buying second hand then at the last resort we will buy new.
  • Shoes. I won’t buy second hand shoes especially for the kids. They have both recently had new shoes so should be fine for quite a while.
  • I am allowed to make new clothes and buy second hand. I cannot however, buy a lot of new fabric in order to make new clothes.

So that’s my new challenge. It would be great if anyone else wants to join me and Jen in this year long challenge. You can set your own rules to suit you and your family. Could you do it?