Saturday, 31 October 2009

What I bought next month...

I already buy a LOT less than I used to when my favorite weekend activity was shopping (was that really me??! now it's guitar playing and sewing stuff and reading and watching films and gardening and general faffing about), but in order to REALLY think about what I'm buying, if I REALLY need it or will be very, very, very sad without it (please note - I'm not one for making myself (or anyone else) feel guilty about buying things that are necessary or completely beautiful and unliveablewithout) and if it's an ethical choice, I'm going to start posting a list each month of what I've bought so I can keep an eye on myself. I'm not going to include food shopping or spending on food, drinks or general merriment while I'm out on adventures. It's more of a 'things' thing, I have enough things, there is no room in my room for more things, what are these things made of and where are they coming from, where will they end up!!!??!?! I refuse to buy unneccassary things!! Starting from this month, every month at the end of the month (ish) I'll be posting a picture and list of any things I've bought and shaming/analysing myself to see if I could be doing better!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Baby Name Book and Fleece Bunny...Home Made Presents...

I'm S.T.I.L.L unemployed! But this week I've been using my time creatively and made some presents for two of the smallest, cutest people in my life. Both were made with things I already had, so although I don't think felt and fleece are the most eco-friendly fabrics out there, at least I was using up stuff I had rather than buying something brand new.

I sewed this little felt book for my cousin's little girl, Grace, who is being Christened this weekend. It was a bit of a rush job and it's a bit wonky and weird but I think I'll just about be able to give it to her without feeling too embarrassed!
Giraffe, Rabbit, Apple, Caterpillar, Elephant...spells Grace!

I also made this bunny for my school friend's new baby, Heidi (she's sooo beautiful!), out of some fleece and other bits I had lying around - I've already given it to Heidi and her mummy thought I'd bought it rather than made it, which made me super-proud!
He even has a fluffy bunny tail!!

Made from this free online pattern.
So do you think hand making things better for the environment, because you're not running a big factory that uses lots of power, and you can buy or re-use things that are eco friendly, and you're not giving your money to big businesses that you're never quite sure about (depending of course on where you get your supplies from!)?

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Book Review - Vegetable Growing Month by Month...

This month I've mostly been reading 'Vegetable Growing Month by Month' by John Harrison, which according to the cover is 'The down to earth guide that takes you through the vegetable year'. I officially Lurve this book!
I liked...
1. It answers all my stupid questions - like how do I water something, how much water, how often???! (I have watering issues! I always, always either water too much or too little - this book has a whole chapter on watering! Winner!)
2. It's really thorough and has chapters on 'why grow your own vegetables', 'where to grow and preparing to grow', 'planning the gardening year', 'getting the most from your land', 'weeds and what to do about them', 'tools', 'compost, manure and fertilizers', 'watering', 'greenhouses and poly tunnels', 'pests, problems and protection', 'the vegetable year', 'brief guide to the vegetables', which pretty much cover anything you'd want to know about anything to do with growing your own veggies.
3. It has good clear diagrams to help you understand what he's talking about.
4. It has lots of information about gardening organically, even though the book isn't specifically about organic gardening.
5. It enabled me to identify a funny shaped hoe at the garden I volunteer at - why it's a swoe!
6. It's written by a guy who actually grows his own veggies, has lots of experience and knows what he's talking about.
7. It pretty much tells you everything you'd need to know if you suddenly had a garden that needed veggies growing in it and had no experience.

I can't find any negatives! This book is perfect!

Next month I shall be reading and reviewing 'How to Grow Fresh Air' by Dr B C Wolverton.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

No more plastic post....

I spent a happy couple of hours this morning venting my frustration about the amount of mail we get in this house that arrives wrapped up in plastic. It's driving me crazy!! I've opted out of all the junk mail as much as possible, but this is post I want, and it's covered in plastic! So I've written to all the organisations that I can recall being annoyed by their plastic 'envelopes', and I'll be keeping an eye on the postbox so I can have my revenge on any more letters that dare to arrive in a plastic bag!

Here's an example of one of my letters (to Amnesty International, who I think really should know better!) in case anyone's interested.


I enjoy reading the Amnesty Magazine that I, as a supporter, receive from you. However, I would enjoy it even more if the type of packaging used for the magazine was reconsidered. Each time I receive the magazine I have the frustrating problem of what to do with the plastic bag it arrives in. These bags currently cannot be recycled in my area, and even if I reuse them they ultimately end up in landfill.

I am writing, therefore, to ask you to reconsider the type of packaging you use for the magazines you post out. I support Friends of the Earth and the Dr Hadwen Trust and both of these organisations send out their magazines in paper envelopes. I have also seen magazines sent out in cardboard sleeves. A change in the packaging of your magazine, perhaps to one of the types I have mentioned, would enhance my satisfaction in supporting your important work.

Please will you pass on my comments to the relevant people.

I look forward to hearing back from you concerning this matter.

Yours Sincerely,

Miss Susie Biscuit."

Has anyone else tried doing this? Did you have any success? What can we do about these naughty plastic posters??

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


I've only just become aware of 350, an international day of action on saturday 24th October to stop climate change, which can only be a good thing, right?!
You can sign a petition on their site and search for events where you live, unfortunately I've missed out this year and the only thing happening near me is a parents protest with children - do you think theres time for me to steal a baby before saturday!?

Monday, 19 October 2009

Vegan Lemon Shortbread...Biscuit of the week...

My blog is called the last biscuit, and it's about being eco friendly and reducing my waste and consumption - so surely it would be shameful to continue to eat shop bought plastic wrapped biscuits, wouldn't it?!

To avoid the unrecyclable plastic wrap around those delicious biscuits of goodness I'm going to start baking my own, using ingredients in recyclable packaging and made at times when I already have the oven on cooking something else so I'm not heating it up just for biscuit making (does anyone know if this is the most energy efficient way of doing this? My logic says it is, but it's possible I'm wrong!)

This week I made vegan lemon shortbread biscuits, which I slightly altered from a recipe for orange vegan shortbread which is in the 'Vegan' recipe book by Nicola Graimes, available from T.J. Hughes about 6 months ago. Not sure I can put the recipe up here for fear of being sued for copy write, but there's an almost identical recipe available online here if you scroll down a bit!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Garden update...

My garlics have had to be moved into the greenhouse as it's got a bit chilly - now I've actually read a gardening book I know that I planted them in the wrong season and should have bought garlic seeds from a gardening shop, not used the supermarket garlic, which was probably grown in a different climate and won't do so well here. Despite what the interwebs told me (it liiiied!! Well, probably it was just giving me information for somewhere with a different climate!) It's still growing though, and under the soil they have definite garlic looking bits!

We still have lettuce growing and tomatoes (mum's - no photo though! It has blight and is too unphotogenic!) and I have one or two radishes left that have gone over and are now doing pretty convincing turnip impressions!

I also have two different types of mint growing in pots, one I cut back a couple of months ago and is making new sprouts, and one new one that was a present and is called 'mint Moroccan' and is yummy! Mummybiscuit says mint is hardy so it can stay outside and enjoy the winter weather without shrivelling up and dying!
And because we've still got all this produce in our garden, Fluffy (resident Giant Land Snail - made a burrow and went to sleep - didn't want his photo taken today apparently!) is still eating home grown food. Tomato and lettuce from our garden, apple from a friends tree, cuttle fish bone found on the beach in Cornwall by my Mum's friend (Fluffy needs to eat egg shells or cuttle fish to keep his shell strong - making him the only non-veggie in the house, but we forgive him!)

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Vegan Potato Cakes...Recipe...Product swap....

On my quest to reduce non-recyclable plastic from my life I have seen heaven - and it's potato cake shaped! Seriously, these are soooo good I am never ever eating another shop bought, plastic wrapped potato cake again! Do potato cakes seem like a funny thing to need to reduce in ones life? Well, I seem to eat a lot of them, cos they're vegan and yummy and warm and, well, I like potatoey things!

So anyway, this recipe makes 20 2inch potatty cakes (supposedly - I made about 24 but I think I rolled them out too thin)

1 pound of potatoes - peeled
4 oz of plain flour
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp snipped chives (from mums garden! woop woop!)
salt and pepper

*cook potatoes - boil for about 20 mins then drain and return to pan and mash them!
*Add the flour, oil, chives and salt and pepper (I put the flour and oil in mine then split my mixture in half, and left half plain and then mixed the chives into the other half), mix it into a soft dough.
*Put flour everywhere (maybe no everywhere - but that seems to be the result when I get my hands on the flour!), roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch (says the recipe, I'm going to do mine thicker next time) and cut out with a 2inch cutter (I did not use a 2 inch cutter either - what can I say, I'm a potato cake rebel!).
*Cook in a griddle or heavy frying pan, on a low heat for about 10 minutes, turning once after about 5 mins, until both sides are golden and irresistible looking! Put some spread or jam or something on them and eeeaaat!

I made loads and put them on baking trays into the freezer, when they're frozen I'm going to take them off the trays (freezing them like that is supposed to stop them all sticking together!)and put them into boxes in the freezer.

The flower shaped ones are plain and the round ones are chive (chive ones are yummier!)

And here they are cooked, these are weird shaped ones that I made with the left over bits that were too small for the cutters, I did cook some more so I could take a picture of the pretty ones for here, but became distracted by the deliciousness and ate them before I remembered I'd cooked them for the specific purpose of photographing them! Oh dear!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Product swap...

I've been thinking about ways to reduce my waste and at the moment I'm trying to find alternatives to some of the high waste products I the last couple of weeks I've made these changes...

I've stopped using prepacked pizza bases wrapped in plastic and with a polystyrene bit and started making my own using a recipe given to me by a friend. You can even make a big batch and freeze some for later, so pizza is still a quick tea.

Luckily we have several friends with apple trees who have a glut of fruit at the moment and need me to help eat them all up! (an apple tree is definitely on my 'when I have a garden...' list) So we haven't bought any apples for about a month.

My face wash in a squeezy tube ran out, to be replaced by a nice, vegan, biodegradable bar of soap which came packed in a cardboard box - which ticks all of my categories!

I've been using almond oil for ages, but wanted to mention it because it replaces so much of the stuff I used to use, it has no synthetic chemicals in it, comes in a glass bottle and is cheeap (that bit bottle cost me £2.99 and will last me about a year). I use it everyday as a moisturiser instead of body lotion, I use it to moisturise my face if I'm not going outside in the sun (otherwise I use moisturiser with a sunscreen), as a night cream, on a reusable make-up remover pad to take off my make up (on the rare occasion I put some on!), I use a tiny drop on my hair after I've washed it, or if it goes fluffy, instead of frizz ease, and I use it instead of intensive hair conditioner (I put a load on my hair while it's dry, tie it up to let the oil soak in for half and hour, then shampoo it out). Almond oil, I love you!

I've been using hankies for a while now, but now I've run out of paper tissues the swap will be permanent because I'm never buying disposable tissues again!

Charity shop treasure...

Thank you charity shop gods and goddesses for bestowing these second hand treasures upon me!
Book, 20pHedgehog plant pot holder (I Looooove hedgehogs!), £1

Dress, £2.50 (now I've given all my clothes away I found I had nothing to wear! This is my new dress of joy!) (also, isn't it a beautiful day in my garden today!)

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

National Zero Waste Week...One month on...

A month ago I took part in My Zero Waste's National Zero Waste Week and decided to use the challenge to finally kick the habit of using pastic bottles and plastic bags for good.

In the last month I haven't used a plastic bag once - fabric bags have been with me at all times!

I used one plastic bottle :( This was when I was staying at a friends and had had nothing to drink all day, it was a fairtrade orange juice from the co-op (which makes it a smidge better I think) and I did carry the bottle around with me till we got to my friends, friends house and asked her to put it in her recyling (I know how to make a first impression lol!). Apart from that one incident, Hello Kitty flask has been my constant companion!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Open University Open Learn - Learn Stuff for Freeeee!

So, the unemployment drags on (really had enough now!) and to stop my brain turning into mush I've been taking some of the free online courses that the Open University offers on it's Open Learn website:

I've been studying the module 'Global Warming' which so far has told me some of the ways scientists have used to work out that the temperature is rising - information which I imagine will be helpful when talking to those irritating people who insist that climate change doesn't exist! I'll be nice to be armed with some facts and knowledge. I think next I'm going to the modules on 'Health and Environment' and 'Ecology and Ecosystems'.

I liked....
1. It's freee!
2. There are lots of topics to choose from (languages, art, maths, law, history, science and lots more) and courses at different levels, from introductory to advanced.
3. It's online so there's no paper waste.
4. I'm on an introductory course and it's quite simple, I'm not very familiar with sciency terms (I haven't studied science since secondary school) and although I felt a bit offended at being instructed on how to read a graph that was only temporary, because some people might not remember how to read graphs.
5. It's a good way to get information for free, I can't afford the time or money to go back to uni and study (again!), and although these online courses aren't accredited to anything it's nice to gain some knowledge in areas I'm interested in.

I don't like that it's quite a boring way to learn - I'm not so good at the sitting and reading stuff on screen for so long, but I can cope if I try to do 20 minutes or so every few days, and there is a discussion forum (which I haven't used) if you want to make it more interactive. But overall I think it's a really good way to motivate yourself to learn new things (You register and then sign up for courses, you can take as long as you like to complete them, but for me the fact that I've started something means I'm more likely to finish it!) and a nice free resource.