Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cheap Sweet Treat.

Every now and then I get a craving for something sweet and start to think that I need lollies.  If I am near a shop I might buy some but during July while doing the plastic free challenge it needed a bit more thought and I admit to having 1 or 2 failures.
What I need is a list of stuff that I can make at home so I don't spend money and buy wrapped crap.  I need a list of unwrapped crap, to go with my wannabe waste free ideals.
I have come up with a few things and might add to the list in the future.   I don't want a huge list though as I tend to be greedy so a small amount of whatever to overcome the craving is all I need.

Lemon Meringue.  This can be made when we have eggs and there have been times when I have whipped up an eggwhite, added a bit of sugar and just had that.  It's quick, easy, sweet as I want to make it.  No fat too but we wont mention the sugar content as that is what this is all about.

Oat Balls.  No idea if this is a real thing or not but if it's not it should be.  I mix up some of my oatmix with honey and peanut paste, make into balls and eat.  They can be put in the fridge or freezer and are nice when they are harder from that but just made and soft and squishy is also good.

Lollie Popcorn.  Homemade popcorn with a sugar and honey coating.   I don't use measurement as it's about the sweet thing not the perfect recipe thing.  I add a small amount of sugar and honey to a pot and bring it to the boil then put some popped popcorn into this mix and stir until the popcorn s coated.  Sometimes it is crunchy hard, others softer and chewier.  It depends on how much sugar and honey is added or how long it's boiled for.  Doesn't matter though as it gives me the sweet kick that I need want.

Chocolate Oatmix.   If there is cooking chocolate in the freezer I melt a small amout in the microwave and pour that over some oatmix.  It's spread over some of the baking paper that I reuse then put in the freezer for a few minutes, until it is hard.   I get a chocolate fix but the goodness of my oatmix.  Yep folks, this is how I kid myself that my sweet inventions are not all that bad for me.  Clever aren't I.

Pikelets.  Made with my oatmix and fruit added, Chia seeds as well, I have these with a drizzle of honey.  What's not to like here and if I only make a small amount and don't eat them all in one go they're not too bad for me.

All the above are cheap and easy, some with more sugar than others but some have added goodness so better than anything that I would buy and I reckon that if it only happens every now and then then it's not that bad.   In my ideal world I would crave carrots or lentils but for me these things made in small amounts prevent me fom buying big bags of lollies and eating them all in one go so I see that as a positive.

When I get a lollie craving I always have fruit first, if it doesn't banish the wanting and if after 2 Oranges and some sultanas I still want something sweet then I will resort to one of these things.  It's all a mind thing and something that I sometimes think I should work more on...but not this week.

Do you sometimes have a craving for something that you really *shouldn't* eat?  How do you overcome that in a cheap and waste-free way?

It's Wet.

Very wet.  It has been raining since Thursday and hasn't stopped for more than a short time and doesn't look like it will let up anytime soon.  It is good as we need the rain, all the dams in the area are VERY low and this might get them up a bit.  Our yard is underwater so no garden work is being done.  I did plant out a couple of dozen seedlings last week but luckily they are in the tank gardens as if they were in the ground they would be drowned by now.  The chooks are walking in mud and I might need to change them over to a dryer pen if the rain keeps up.

We may need to go out later on so hopefully there will be a bit of a break in the weather or we will have a hairy drive and probably get wet as well but it all adds to the fun I suppose and come lunchtime when we are home and warm inside without having to go outside for anything again it will be all good.

What's the weather like where you are?   Do you like it hot, cold or otherwise?   What do you like doing on wet and cold days like today is here?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Plastic Bottles Or Cans.

My husband drinks Coke, lots of it and that is not going to change.  I hate it as the 2 litre bottles are now over $4. each unless on special for $3ish.  He drinks quite a few each week.  He is paying out good money for flavoured sugar water and has no intention of stopping.  Are cans better?  I know they can be recycled but the bottles the Coke come in can be too.  I don't think it matters too much, they both end up littering he world and are not something anyone needs.   At the start of the PFJ challenge he bought a couple of cartons of coke in cans, so 3 or 4 dozen cans.  This Coke cost more per litre than the Coke in bottles and there ended up being more stuff on the floor inside.  Six or seven cans instead of 1 bottle...

And I am tight and decided that it wasn't worth paying the extra money for cans that were only bagged up and added to the pile and saved for some unknown time when they will be taken to a recycling place and cashed in.  So he went back to bying it in bottles.  Plastic bottles.

Last weekend we re-used 6 x 2 litre and 3 x 1.25 litre plastic bottles.   Husband has *pruned* our Bush Lemon tree and from the thousands of lemons saved from destruction and giveaways we now have litres and litres of lemon juice, stored in these bottles and frozen for whenever we need lemon juice like Summer time and cordial making to save a bit on all the Coke drinking.

Is that ironic?  Drink Coke to get the bottles to put Lemon juice in to make cordial so he wont have to drink so much Coke...

I have stock that needs freezing and the Coke bottles are good for that too.

I think we are getting better value from the bottles even though they are plastic but I could be kidding myself so I don't feel so bad about using them.   

The bottles that I dont re-use are sent away in the recycling bin but I don't know if they are really recycled or just dumped at the dump/tip.    What do you think is better?   The plastic bottles that I sometimes re-use or the dearer cans that might one day be recycled?

Monday, July 22, 2013

PFJ. Week 3 Gone.

The last week has not been a good one for my  no use one use plastic challenge.  I think I am an abject failure and should hang my head in shame...But I wont, I will take more care and not be so lazy this coming week but I can't change last week at all. 

Biggest fail was last Thursday.  It was school holidays and I knew that we would be going out with the daughter and grandaughter at some point.  I know she is a junk food buyer.  I did plan on putting some food together for us all but thought that we might also just call into Coles on the way and buy some rolls and a cooked chook or something.   For some reason though I didn't put anything together, we left later than planned, husband came with us, daughter needed to call in for blood tests on the way...Lots of reason but I am the one that didn't pack a picnic for us to take.   By the time we got to Mandurah it was after 12, everyone was hungry, they decided that Hungry Jacks would be good.  In my favour I didn't actually order anything so does that get me a few points back?   I knew that there would be *stuff* left over from each of them so if I wanted to I could eat their extra.  I was right too and I do like the softserve icecream from these types of places...And chips are good from anywhere....There was rubbish that needed to be binned afterwards though and some of it was plastic...

Then on the weekend son brought out a box of meat from his work.  Packaged up on foam trays and plastic wrapped.    I cooked up all the meat so at least that was saved from landfill.  Yep, the near use-by date meat is quite often binned.  Not put out cheaper for the customer but binned.  Son quite often takes it home for his dogs but we get a lot of it too.  But there is foam trays and plastic to get rid of.   Some of this meat was sausage meat...Puff pastry was bought so more plastic and rubbish there.  Next time I will make pastry, not puff but it will be better than buying and binning.

Coke bottles were re-used by us instead of going in the recycle bin so that's a kinda win...

How did you go this week?  Much plastic that could have been avoided? Ideas for next week?   Or are you not concerned about the one use type of products and use what you always use?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Lemon Meringue.

I have been feeling like eating sweet stuff for the last week or so.  Lots of sweet stuff, maybe lollies...There isn't anything here though and though the husband keeps suggesting that I go into town and buy something I have resisted.  There aren't many lollies in our small town that come in a non plastic bag.  Husband says I gave him the urge too so I made him some Honeycomb.   It was OK.  Tasted alright but is kinda powdery and crumbly.  He hasn't eaten it though so I'll not be making him anything like that again.  I have had some but it hasn't settled my lollie craving so today I made some Lemon Meringue.  Not a pie as I don't have it on a pastry base, I just have lemon with meringue on top. I made my normal mixture, put some in two cups and the rest in a pyrex dish that went into the oven.  Daughter and grandaughter came out just as I finished so they had a cup and I had a cup, not been in the oven.  Raw meringue still taste good.  Though it is probably not called meringue then just beaten eggwhite...  Anyway it was good and I no longer want lollies.   Could have been more lemony but I say that every time I make it and still don't add enough zest.

The cooked one is out of the oven and we will have the rest of that after tea tonight...if there is any left.

This is not todays but they usually look similar to this.  Yum.

I Made Bags...From T-Shirts and Singlets.

And will make lots more.  Why?  Because I can.  I know, I'm just so clever.

The bags are so easy and I thought that when I first saw them done a couple of years ago but it has taken me this long to actually get the machine down and do it.  I have even been saving T-Shirts and singlets since then and have quite a pile.  At least 2 plastic bag fulls.  Shhh, don't tell the husband, he hates me saving stuff and not using it it.  Oh, that's right, I am and will be using them now so it's OK for him to know.

The instructions are on YouTube.  Different people have different ways and even the ones I am doing are not all the same.    So YouTube it.  The instuctions will be better.  Maybe.  Yes, yes they will be.

So how do you make a bag from a T-Shirt.  First get yourself a shirt that no longer fits, that has a mark or stain, that has a pretty picture on or is a nice colour.   Turn inside out and sew across the bottom.  I do across then back and maybe again as I don't want it pulling apart and having everything fall out and having people think it's not a great idea.  Then cut the neck out to make it even and look like bag handles.   Turn right way in and there you go.  Take it outside and fill it with Oranges to send home with the daughter.  It is such a great bag that you will never get it back so maybe use a not so loved by you shirt for this one.   I have even made a few where I haven't cut the neckline because I like the look of the neck and it opened up plenty big enough without cutting.    AND!!, yep there is more...YouTube will prove it...If you have it inside out you can sew across the bottom corners so that you end up with a box bottom and who doesn't want one of those!

Here are a few that I did earlier...


But wait, there's more.  You can make one of these bags without any sewing at all so if you don't have a machine or needle and thread you can still have the greatness of making your own T-Shirt or singlet bag.  You will need scissors and it does take longer and may not be quite as strong...try it anyway and let me know how you go with it.   If all your Oranges fall out please don't blame me...maybe your knots weren't tight enough!   Oh yeah, with this one you cut up from the bottom of the shirt an inch or 2, not too close together but close enough so you have a tight bottom and I know we all want one of those!  Pull to stretch the strands then knot the front and matching back strand together.  Double knot it, Oranges can get heavy.  Cut the neckline if you are that way inclined then go show the world how clever you are.

PFJ. Two Weeks Down.


We're 2 weeks in with this challenge and not much is changing.  Husband likes Dim Sims, bought in 1kilo bags from the supermarket.  Last night he had the last few so there is a plastic bag to be thrown out as I don't re-use these ones.  These DimSims were bought before the challenge but I know they will be bought again so this challenge is not changing things we he buys.   Coke has been bought in bottles again, not the smaller and more expensive cans and it was my idea.  Hmmm.

There are a few reasons why we wont become completely plastic free and while I don't like that it is what it is.   But one use throwaway plastics, I did think I was better than I am.  I don't like disposable in whatever form and this month is becoming an eye opener.

This past week I had the grandaughter out here and her mother brought out some food to help us out.  Appreciated very much but! throwaway plastic bag and alfoil dish with the hot cooked chook.  I will re-use the bag the rolls came in though.   And we went to the Harvey Markets yesterday and had a Freddo Frog each so 3, yep 3, bits of throwaway stuff there.  Grandaughter had a juice box that was thrown away.  We all need to stop buying stuff, yes we do.   The 2 of them had sausage sizzle for lunch, throwaway paper serviette each while I in my goodness bought bananas for my lunch and instead of the man putting them in a plastic bag I got him to put them in my cloth bag that I had made the week before.  Good, looks like I am not all bad and Earth killing.

One thing that keeps coming to mind is why just plastic, why not have a month of cutting down on or giving up on all one use products.  That is what I want for us and while there are lots of ways that we do this there is still too much stuff that needs throwing away.   I understand the plastic thing though, it doesn't break down and it is killing our animals and marine life.  But a lot of those deaths could be avoided if people were a lot more thoughtful with how they get rid of stuff.   It still leaves it not breaking down...and that is not good.   Lots of things don't break down though and I think there are worse things to be thrown away than plastic bags.  Maybe...Anyway, that is a whinge for another day.

The above makes me sound a bit heartless and uncaring, I'm not.  I know plastic can kill and after seeing our dog get tangled up in a plastic bag many years ago I always knot any plastic that I do throw away, to stop animals getting their head or body parts tangled.   But I also like plastic bags, for lots of reasons...and I do use them way more than only once.

Ha, just remembered something that made me real cranky...Awhile ago, a couple of years back, we bought something from Bunnings, they put it into a plastic bag for me but before I left the shop I realised it was the wrong sort so took it back to the checkout and asked to exchange it.  The woman took the item from the bag she had just put this thing into and threw it into the bin.. I was shocked and asked for it back but she said she couldn't give it to me as it was in the bin and they weren't allowed to retrieve stuff from there.    Our Bunnings doesn't  give out plastic bags any more but how stupid was that!!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Plastic Free July. Week 1.

I've not had a computer for the last week so haven't been able to post.  Back on track now though and below is how we went during the first week.

Day 1.  Nothing bought so no single use plastic brought into the house, none used.

Day 2.  Nothing bought so no single use plastic brought into the house, none used.

Day 3.  I bought a 1.5 litre bottle of Coke for Husband to have when he gets home from work in a few days time.   Hmmm.
At my work the mother used clingwrap to wrap up a banana the kid didn't eat after 1 bite...that plastic was thrown out by me after the kid ate the banana.   Double Hmmm.

Day 4.  I had a ChooChoo Bar so plasticy wrapper there.

Day 5. Another ChooChoo Bar so more rubbish plastic.  I opened a bag of milk powder, plastic, but the bag has been saved as I reuse them.

Day 6. No single use plastic brought into the house or used.

Day 7.   I went to our local Farmes Market and the Biggest Morning Tea for Cancer fundraiser.  At the morning tea they were selling tea and coffee in disposable foam cups.  Not happy with that so we walked around the markets to see if anyone was selling proper mugs.  No-one was so back to the morning tea, told them that I wanted a coffee but in real cup and they brought out a real cup from the hall kitchen.  Did use 2 plastic plates for the cakes though and daughter *wouldn't let me* bring them home so they were binned.  Daughter bought some fruit and veg and that was put in a plastic bag that will be reused.
Husband came home so Coke was drunk, the plastic bottle was put in the recycle bin but still, one use plastic bottle.

Husband bought Coke in cans to take away to work with him instead of bottles like he ususlly does.  He has also been drinking these cans while home.  That means that we end up with 4 - 6 empty cans on the floor instead of 1 plastic bottle.  Most nights.  The cans cost more than the bottles, they are squashed and bagged up ready for recycling but there will be a lot of them by the end of the month.
I do sometimes re-use the bottles, not all of them but more than I use the cans.  In a perfect world he wouldn't drink Coke or any bought drinks but this is not a perfect world and there will always be empty drink containers.  Is a box of cans that cost more better than plastic bottles that I could reuse...

We are now well into the second week and the husband has been home since Sunday.  We have been eating meat from the freezer so most nights there has been, and will be, plastic thrown away.  Not sure how to overcome this as we kill our own meat and chooks so containers wouldn't work, I wouldn't have anywhere to store them as they were used and awaiting the next kill.  Will think on this but if you have some reusable way to freeze a dozen chooks, a whole cow and kilos of fish, all in the freezer at the same time, then please let me know.
There is also a bread bag been emptied but saved for re-use and a flatbread bag, the same deal. A margarine container was emptied but I saved it from the bin and made up some garlic batter and put it in this container.  Not sure what to do with the next one as husband hates me saving these sorts of things but he wont give up this spread.   I could buy butter...should buy butter...but he likes the spreadability of the marg, I don't eat either but the marg is cheaper...

OK, I/we use a lot of throwaway plastic.   I will fix what I can and work on the areas that are harder.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

PFJ. Some Thoughts.


How easy will it be to not use any single use items this month?  I was thinking that for me it shouldn't be too hard, if I fail it would be because I am too tight to buy a plastic free alternative but now I'm not so sure.

I do use plasic, I reuse plastic containers, drink bottles, bags...I even rinse and reuse plastic straws if the grandchild wants one.  I have an assortment of reusable bags for shopping but quite often forget to take them into the shop so sometimes I do accept a plastic bag when at the checkout.  If I don't go shopping this month then these wont be needed and I do keep the reusable bags in the car so there is no reason except lazyness to take a plastic one.  I have put a couple of scrunched up bags in my handbag so that I have no excuse if I need to buy a few things.  If it's just a couple of things then of course no bag is needed anyway. 

At home I use plastic containers for storing stuff in the fridge or freezer but I have been thinking about this challenge and there is a lot of meat and fish in the freezer in plastic bags that will be thrown out when we eat the food.  But we can't not eat any of it so there will be bags that need throwing away.   If husband wasn't home it would be easier as I would eat less meat and more lentils from the glass canisters but he is home and I will need to feed him and he wont want lentils every night...Or at all...

I always take a bottle of water with me when I leave the house, never buy bottled water or other drinks.  We rarely buy takeaway food, occasionally hot chips and they are wrapped in paper.  We don't buy a lot of processed foods so there wont be much plastic from that and we grow most of our fruit and veg so don't need plastic bags there.  I don't buy takeaway coffee.  We grow and kill our own meat and chicken and catch fish but it is all bagged up in plastic before it is put in the freezer.  

Husband uses quite a lot of one-use plastic.  Coke bottles, plastic wrapping on his smokes, he buys screws and stuff that is wrapped in plastic.  After talking about this challenge he has agreed to try and choose an alternative if he remembers and there is one.  Coke can be bought in cans instead of plastic bottles...this will cost more though as the 2 litre bottles of coke are a lot cheaper and he drinks a lot of coke.

It is going to be an interesting experiment.  I think we do OK already, great compared to most people we know but it seems that there is plenty of room for improvement.

Volunteering at Vinnies.

After my great upset of not being respected as a Vinnie Vollie I think it has been resolved.   I spoke to the manager by phone on Sunday and saw her when I went in on my regular Monday afternoon shift.  The old manager was there talking with the new manager and the Monday morning vollie was there.   The manager spoke to me, said she was sorry she hadn't let any of us know but the sign was put up on Wednesday and taken down the next day so no problem.  Wrong!  Big problem as us 3 vollies were not happy about it being put up before speaking with us and didn't like the way it was worded at all.

Up to yesterday, on a regular Monday there would be the manager, morning vollie, me in the afternoon and another woman that came in when she could, most weeks.  That one hadn't been in for a few weeks due to an injured back but was due back this week.    For the manager to put up a **Closed on Mondays due to lack of volunteers**  was wrong. 

The manager left just after I arrived yesterday, shortly after that the bad back vollie showed up and not long after that the morning vollie left.  So there were 2 of us there for the afternoon.  Neither of us knew the opening and closing routines though so the Thursday lady came in at 3 to show us how to do the till and the closing procedure.  She is going to write up charts with anything anyone needs to know about the days workings.   This is something that I have suggested to the manager a couple of times since I started, it's just sense that someone else knows how to open and shut the place up.  It shouldn't be up to another volunteer to do it but at least it will now be done.

I am there again Friday morning, with the manager so hoping that it wont be too awkward but don't care if it is.  It shouldn't be.   I know for a fact that the Friday afternoon vollie quite often doesn't show up, she is an 80 year old so understandable, I have stayed all day on a couple of occasions because of this but know that the manager is sometimes there by herself.   I am told by her that the Wednesday vollies are not very reliable either.   They need more vollies and do have a sign up in the shop to this effect.  But Monday was covered! 

I like being there and will continue to go down there.  The work is interesting, I feel that I am doing my bit for the community and it gives me some decent adult conversation.

The work involves sorting, steaming clothing, pricing donations, serving customers, dusting and cleaning when it needs it.  None of it is hard, most of it is fun.  When I finish my childcare work in a few weeks time I may offer my services for Friday afternoons as well.   I will see how I feel when the time comes.  Maybe I will just stay when the other Friday vollie doesn't show up if I have nothing better to do...

Monday, July 1, 2013

Am I real or do I not exist?

I am starting to worry that I no longer exist.  Over the last few days there has been a couple of times that I am not reconized as an actual person... so maybe I am not...

I volunteer on Monday afternoons and Friday mornings at our local Vinnies op-shop.  I was there last Monday but on Thursday there was a sign on the opshop door saying that it would be closed on Mondays due to no volunteers.  I don't know how the morning vollie felt but I think I/we should have been told that we weren't considered as being there before the sign proclaimed it to the town.   It will now be open but I don't know if I am on the roster and the manager couldn't say for sure either.  I will find out this afternoon when I show up anyway.

This morning I turn the computer on but can not log on as I don't exist on this computer.  Now computers are smart aren't they so if my computer says that I don't exist then maybe I don't.

And I actually know a couple of people that think that we as a race are not actually here but that we imagine what we do and who we are...or some such thing, I found it all too confusing.

Do you sometimes feel less that you're worth because of the unthinking behaviour of other people?  I have spoken to the manager that put the sign up and she said not to take it personaly but I did, I do, she now knows that...I will see what happens down there this afternoon.  And will see if I come back on the computer after another restart.   Hopefully I'll be back as Me before too long.