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Craftiness, Green things

Plastic Bag PomPom

14 March, 2013

I have been getting my craft on with plastic bags recently, playing around with some flower and pom pom type things with a Spring / Easter vibe. Who would have thought they could be so much fun? Pom pom recyle plastic bagDespite ALWAYS refusing plastic bags at the shop, we still manage to have loads lying around. Our online grocery shop comes with them – annoyingly sometimes with 1 or 2 items in (GRRRR) and sometimes I even pick particularly pretty ones up as they float around the street.

The colours are often quite vibrant and if you are looking for thrifty decorations or child play things plastic bags are a winner. (Um. Once they are made into something. Probably not ideal to give toddlers a bunch of plastic bags to put over their heads. What is with tots wanting to do this? Ramona thinks plastic-bag-on-head it is the best thing ever…)

I have rejected the traditional pom-pom making method. I’m sorry, but YAWN! In and out of that cardboard hoopy loop- life is TOO SHORT.

Here is the lazy persons guide to pom pom making with a plastic bag.
pompomChose a brightly coloured bag and chop off the handles.
Make a huge, long ribbon out of the bag by cutting into it, 1cm wide, spiralling round and round. (As you would peel an orange when you try and get a continuous peel so you can get the initial of who you are gonna marry. You don’t do that?)

pompom1Once you have your loooong ribbon take a piece of cardboard, mine was 6 cm long, 4 cm wide, and wrap it round and round and round as evenly as possible.

pompom2Once you have wrapped it all around, hold it securely and push out the cardboard.
Tie a belt around the middle.

pompom scissorsTake your schnizzors again and snip through the looped plastic on each end.
Fluff it all out into a pompom!
It made need a few snips here and there to make it all even.
Tada!Pom Pom grocery bag spring craft

Have you got any recycled Spring crafts on the go?

PS I’d hate for you to miss a post… enter your email to get them pinged into your inbox. I won’t be spamalot, promise!


 

Craftiness, Green things, Thrifty

Homemade Lavender Body Scrub in a Teacup

4 March, 2013

I have just a handful of things in my beauty arsenal. Coconut oil, bicarbonate of soda, salt and anything foraged for free!!  I find that with those four thrifty things, almost anything can be done – cleaning, exfoliating, moisturising, conditioning, luxury vitamin intake.

*Leans in conspirationally* I’m going to let you in on a secret, handed down from generation to generation (not really) recipe that involves three of these wonder ingredients. It is a homemade body scrub that I use constantly (not really) (that would be strange, exfoliating non-stop… on the bus, in meetings)-  at least a couple of times a week AND give as a gift alot as well. Given in an old bit of crockery this simple body scrub looks well sweet and would make a SUPERB handmade Mother’s Day gift!

Homamde Body Scrub in a Teacup

A Teacup of Body Scrub

  • Fill teacup 2/3 with salt (I prefer normal table salt as I find rock salt way too harsh)
  • Pop in another bowl
  • Put 1/3 a teacup of coconut oil into the bowl too
  • Grind 3 sprigs of lavender leaves with a blender until a dust
  • Mix it all together and push into your teacup

The foraged lavender is a great way of using up the leaves this spring, they smell just as beautiful as the flowers. I collected this while Ramona and I played in the park – I love Ramona learning about how to make stuff from foraged goods.

I use this scrub – either with the lavender or foraged rosehips or other free things – all over when I shower. I am in loooove with it.

For a container I pop it into an old teacup that I mismatched up with a delicate saucer – when not being used the saucer just sits on top acting like a lid.  I am forever looking for ways of reusing old crockery. I can never resist a chipped teacup going for a song, even if it is chipped and has no handle.  I love discovering new ways of using them (have a peep at my old post Ten New Uses for Old Teacups) and as of today you can see me on Youtube scurrying about making a bird feeder (remind me to brush the back of my hair more EEEP!!!)

What are you favourite things to do with old crockery? Planning any homemade Mother’s Day antics?

PS What a bummer it’d be if you missed a post of mine, eh? Follow through Facebook or Bloglovin or even just enter your email to get them pinged into your inbox. I won’t be spamalot, promise!


Green things, Thrifty

A year without shampoo – FAQ’s answered honestly!

17 January, 2013

*UPDATE* Since writing this post I have written an ebook that covers everything you might possibly want to know EVER about giving up shampoo. And it costs less than a bottle of the good stuff!*Amazon Price- $5.56 My Price- $3.56 (2)

My last shampoo wash was exactly one year ago. I massaged the bubbles into my scalp and murmured “Fare thee well, small vial of hygienic, slightly toxic, luxurious liquid that maketh me skint, I know not when I will see you again.” And thus began my journey into No Poo.

I was on an every other day habit- sometimes stretching to 3 days but not without liberal use of God’s gift to humankind, dry shampoo. I was beginning to question the number of unknown substances coming into contact with my skin each day and I was continuing on my mission to pinch any unnecessary pennies.

I had heard of this “self cleansing” hair shenanigans several times over the last few years, and I guess I believed it, but not nearly enough to entrust my own locks into it. Does hair actually wash itself? It seemed like no one would be able to answer the question except myself, actually TRYING it.

And then, this curious part of my personality kicked in. My Ferris Beuller cells; the joy-riding, authority-defying streak that (fortunately) only rears its maverick head when someone tells me I can’t do something! The queerer and more implausible something sounds, the more I want to give it a go.

Giving up shampoo was suitably extreme, and only a dash anti-social!

And now it has been a whole year. A year of having great looking hair- with the odd mix of some greaseball days with chocolate running into my eyebrows at funerals thrown in.

I have given my suggestions for alternatives and have spoken about the highs and lows and getting started.  My one year “no poo” anniversary seems like a good chance to answer some of the questions I am often asked…
nopoo hair

Does No Poo hair smell? No. I even asked my sister who has an altogether more glamorous, less unkempt vibe than me and she said it most certainly doesn’t. However, if you were to really press your nostrils into my scalp you would smell HUMAN. We are a bit scared of that human smell I think.

What do you do instead of using shampoo? Once a week I give my head a good soaking in water, really rubbing my scalp, massaging my natural oils throughout my hair.  Once a fortnight I use a natural wash either from an egg or bicarbonate of soda or soapnuts.  (Follow this link for how to use them.) I use a tiny bit of coconut oil as a detangler (and for everything else on my body too, from moisturiser to deoderant!) And once every six weeks I do my whole head in organic Henna, to both dye my original mousey blonde and as a kind of deep cleanse.  So at least once a week it gets something, be it water, a hippy like natural wash or some Henna.

How long does No Poo hair take to get greasy now? It takes one week to get to the stage it used to get to after 2 days. However, this is still, after one year, increasing. I suspect when I am 50 my tresses will never know grease again.

Do you use conditioner? No. Every 2 weeks I rub a teaspoon of coconut oil (er, yeah, I buy it in bulk!) through the ends, this keeps it nourished. When it is knotty I use a small amount of Apple Cider Vinegar, watered down 1/5, and brush it through in the shower. But some people, particularly those with curly hair use ONLY conditioner, which is interesting…

Does No Poo get knotty? Yes. Honestly, it does. If you were diligent and brushed it every day it would be FINE. But I am lazy and the hood of my duffle coat is causing HAVOC, and I have a constant winter wrestle with an unwelcome dreadlock at the back of my head. I MUST brush more. I could up my Apple Cider Vinegar rinse, but I am content just rubbing a little coconut oil on the ends ever so often to detangle.

How long did it take to get used to No Poo? It took 6 weeks to get to 3 days without grease, 12 weeks to break 4 days no grease. However, I went cold-turkey for the first 2 weeks, and then used alternatives sparingly so I think this was quite a fast process. If you wean your hair gently onto more natural options it will take longer to get used to its natural oils and balance out its production of them.

Does No Poo make your hair grow faster? Actually yes. Genuinely. I think massaging the scalp, which is imperative for getting the oils to do their thing, really helps with growth.

What about styling products? I find my hair is a lot more pliable now, so I don’t use any. Except for when I am rocking a gigantic beehive– but the natural alternatives I use tackle hairspray perfectly well too. I am sure you could find natural styling products that could work with this way of life.

Can you use hair dye when you give up shampoo? I guess using toxic filled hair dye kind of defeats the object! But once a month I use an organic copper henna. I use it as a deep cleanse actually, as well as to get my hair this colour. I love it.

Has your hair changed doing No Poo? Yes, it is MUCH thicker. It used to be limp and thin and flat and now it has much more volume and is buoyant and even sometimes has a wave. *Waves hair around gleefully* “It’s the hair I’ve always wanted!” 

Will you do No Poo forever? Yes! I think so. I don’t see why not. I just see shampoo and conditioner as utterly superfluous now.

Is giving up shampoo cheaper? If you wean from shampoo on to some of the natural alternatives out there such as eggs and soapnuts, and continue to use them daily, or every other day, or even every three days, it is probably NOT cheaper at all! However, I use these sparingly, with water being my main Go To, so for me it is cheap as chips and as thrifty as you can get!

Is No Poo hard work? At the start, as you are finding the routine that works for you, it feels like too much bother. I almost gave up as I was thinking about my hair WAY more than I wanted to. But once you discover what works for you it becomes easy, and gives you a freedom from the tyranny of shampooing! Also, you have to massage your scalp, which can weary your fingers.

Did you have to look smart though, while you weaned off it? I actually began one week before I started my new job! What a nutter! At the beginning I wore lovely vintage scarves to disguise my damp-looking head and upped the smartness of my clothing as a distraction. But now you would honestly not think me a raving non hair-washing hippy in the boardroom.

Can anyone with any kind of hair do No Poo? Sure can.  I think it is easier for some folk.  People with thick curly hair will find this a BREEZE, I suspect. However, my lank, limp, thin hair has also been teachable. Sadly, there is no magic alternative that works for all hair. Every individual will have find the routine and the alternative that makes their happy, which is a pain, eh.

Do you know anyone else who does No Poo? At the start, no. However, over the last few months a few friends have begun and are reporting the same miracles! (After obligatory 1 month of panicked texts to me about hair that WILL NOT LEARN!)

Does No Poo make your skin break out? There is potential, if you have a fringe and you go cold turkey, so have a few weeks of grease, that it could impact your skin in a spotty kind of a way. I DEFINITELY suggest pinning your hair back off your face while you are working it out.

What other toxins have you given up? I try really hard to use vinegar and bicarb around the home, although we have a sneaky Mr Muscle for attacking stubborn stuff when we are in a hurry and someone has done a whopper in the shopper. (Lulastic: creating euphemisms since 2010)  I am still using soap as a body wash as I am working my way through a GIANT bucket I bought wholesale from the organics shop.  However, I am slowly but surely DETOXING my home. Goodbyyyyye, evil chemicals. I really buy into that phrase “If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t rub it into your skin, or sniff it, or fling it around your house.” (You know, that really catchy phrase.)

What does your mother think? For a while, when I was in my late teens, I used to have thick black dreadlocks, made up of my own hair and also a bit of a wig I had found and my mum always used to say “You’ll never get married if you don’t wash your hair, Lu.” Fortunately, she was only ever joking and despite being a beauty herself has always impressed on us the importance of our inners rather than outers. What a legend.  However, I think she sometimes does wonder about me….

I still have one question left – you can take it if you want – have a question? Go on, ask anything…

If you REALLY want to give this No Poo thing a good crack, but are a bit nervous, please consider taking my online course where I can hold your hand and give you heaps of support. Students are finding the videos, interactive worksheets and forum incredibly helpful! And there is a 30 day money back guarantee if you don’t get anything out of it! Get started right away.

PS I’d hate for you to miss a post… do pop over and like Lulastic on Facebook.
And did I mention the book? The Ultimate No Poo book?
No Poo Book

 

 

Green things, Thrifty

Thrifty foraging: fruit leathers

24 September, 2012

You know I love to save a penny (an actual genuine coin not avoiding going for a wee, yeah?) and will often go to great lengths to do so. In extreme cases I have rummaged through bins at the market and come away with a harvest festival style haul, and I make a lot of Stuff in an attempt to not buy Things. This is the Way of Paying the Mortgage and Also Spending Your Saved Pennies on Old Bits and Bobs At Car Boot Fairs.

I have dappled in foraging for food before. Whenever we pass a blackberry bush all plans are on hold while we stuff our faces, turning up at destination with purple mouths and fingers. And I will often get nettles from the local park to bung in our soups, but I’m not going to lie, whilst they ARE packed with iron, it IS primarily for the irrepressible joy of answering our guest’s question of “Yummmy, what IS this?” with “NETTLES!!! HARRHARRHAAAHA” *witchy laugh*

However, today it has been ALL GO on the foraging front. I was given “The Thrifty Forager” by Alys Fowler for my birthday last week and I spend every spare minute reading it. Honestly, that Alys is tighter than ME. She will spend the afternoon digging around for roots of things, spend an hour cleaning it and then a night infusing it and then a day making chutney out of it, with cardamom, all to save about 70p.

What an inspiration.

It was chucking it down today, but I had made up my mind to get out there and so stubbornly I went.

I was planning to get some mulberries but on my way to the mulberry tree saw a huge windfall of fruit beneath the cherry tree. We have loads of urban cherries round here, they were planted yonks ago as a budget and pollution hardy bit of foliage. I popped over the fence and only had to endure one shout of “Lost something, love?” (not said with much love) and a handful of suspicious glares.

It was a good job I got so lucky with the cherries as the mulberry tree was a she-devil. There were only about 3 ripe berries on it and every time I reached for one my hair (er, bee’s nest) got tangled in a wizened branch and I had to spend several minutes unknotting myself.

With a fairly plump bag  I scurried round the corner to another park where I had spied some crab-apples earlier. Obviously crab apples are totally rank but Alys assures me they cook up good and are a potent source of pectin- perfect for jams. Again the wind had well hooked me up as I was able to scoop handfuls of clean, freshly blown off apples into my getting- heavier bag. (You said blown off… hehehe.)

I then spent about a million years, with a lot of elbow grease, making a tiny amount of fruit leathers. They are those chewy fruity rolls, quite popular at the moment with the little ones. Ours were delicious, basically free and despite the hard labour, made me feel BRILLIANT. There is something about putting in a bit of effort in order to get a cool live-off-the-land-y result that makes it totally worthwhile.

Of course, I jest about all the work. Foraging like this is an activity in itself, a way of connecting with nature in an extremely urban setting, and a chance to spot the wild beauty amongst the housing estates and fried chicken shops. It is also an opportunity, just for an afternoon, to step out of a global food system which is pretty wrought. Where there are equal numbers of obese and malnourished people, where supermarkets throw out their waste and pour bleach on so no one can salvage it and where staple crops in poor countries are being turned into fuel for rich ones. GAH.

As I untangled my accidental dreadlocks from the vengeful mulberry tree I was able to reflect on all this. And as my fruity leathers got stuck in my cavities I pledged to GET RIGHT ON BOARD WITH THIS FORAGING MALARKEY!

FRUIT LEATHERS

  • Some foraged fruit
  • Sugar/ honey/ lemon/ spices
  • 1 cup of water to every 4 cups of fruit

Cut off the bad bits of fruit and then chuck in the pan with the water. Add any spices you like- I chose a teaspoon of cinnamon. Cook slowly until the fruit softens. Mash it all up. Have a little taste. Mine was made with unripe mulberries, sour cherries and rank crab apples so needed a fair bit of sugar to help it along. If you have found succulent pears, sweet blackberries and juicy plums you might not even need a single grain.

Push it all through the siv. (This was the bit that made my muscles groan but I didn’t want to waste a speck)

Smear it on to baking paper as thin as possible, mine was about 0.3 cm.

Put it in your dehydrater, airing cupboard or oven on loooow heat for between 4-8 hours. I got bored at 3 so ours is less leathery and more gummy-chewy. The drying process preserves it completely so it will last forevs in your fridge but ours will be gone by tomorrow lunchtime so Da Nada.

Have you tried a bit of foraging? Made anything ace?

I am linking up with a Green Blogger Meet and greet hosted here, weeee!

And also the October Festival of Food.
Please take a moment to visit the blogs of our other Festival of Food participants. The links in this list will be live by the end of the day, as participants are all in different time zones.

Stay connected! Be sure to “Like” the 
Festival of Food Carnival Facebook page.


Festival of Food Carnival

Finding things, Green things, Thrifty

Best Charity Shops London: twenty shops in three spots

23 March, 2012

If you are stuck for something to do this weekend and love bagging awesome shit check out my three top spots for the best charity shops London style. These are my favourite because they are either part of a route of charity shops or close by to some other fantastic activities. I have gone the extra mile for you, beloved reader, and have created some google maps to guide you around these routes. No one likes traipsing around with only the rumour of a vintage palace spurring you on. Trust me on these routes, they are not the ones featured in some posh newspaper by a journo who has wandered past a fancy looking charity shop with Vivienne Westwood in the window. These are the best charity shops London locals know of and love…Best Charity Shops London

Pimilico Charity Shop Circuit
Pimlico – such an easy area to get to, just a five minute walk south of the huge, central, Victoria Train Station. I know this circuit like the back of my hand- I get to do the rounds at least once a week on a lunch break. What a treat!

There are EIGHT, yes, EIGHT, shops in this tiny circuit. Fara really rule the roost here with Fara Retromania (with a fun £5 rail outside), a normal shop and a Fara Kids. The Oxfam shop is excellent for shoes, and smart clothing. The Sue Ryder is a fairly cheap one, the Trinity Hospice is great for fabric ends and wool, the Fara Kids has brilliant -if pricey- stylish kids clothes (but jawdropping sales.) I have bought lots of lovely items from the normal Fara and a few crazy bits and bobs from Retromania. I have worked in this patch for FIVE YEARS and it was only last summer that I found out about a sneaky little shop hiding one block back, where I have since found some beautiful jewelry. I felt so ripped off, imagining five years worth of bargains I had missed out on!
Here is the public Google Map of the Pimlico circuit for you.
It is easy to make a day of it by having a delicious lunch at the market by Fara Kids (check out the falafal stand) and then a wander a bit further down towards the Thames to Tate Britain, where they have a spectacular crafty kids corner. You wouldn’t know such a cultural hotspot could be five minutes from the back of the concrete jungle that is Vauxhall Bridge Road.

Blackheath
There are only two charity shops here but I count this as one of my favourite areas as thrifting fits so easily into a wonderful fun day and I have got some incredible, beautiful clothing here. There is an Oxfam here and a Cancer Research, both of which can be a tiny bit more expensive (average £7 trousers/ £4 top) but the quality tends to be quite high. We will often train into Blackheath, hop the shops, grab a delicious lunch at one of the delis, then wander over the Heath via the icecream van, into the wonders of Greenwhich park and down to the antique markets. This is a whole Saturday with something for every member of the family. I have highlighted the shops on the map here.

Central London
This is not a route for the faint of heart but for the stoic bargain hunter wearing hiking boots. If you want a real experience of central London tourism and all the best charity shops London offers up this is the route for you. You will find some swag! Begin at Goodge Street, there is a wonderful Oxfam where I never fail to buy something (often brand new stuff), a Sue Ryder and a Notting Hill (both of which are good for a browse but can be quite dear- average £8 trousers, £5-6 top). There is also a high end vintage shop on the other side of the road.

Head south west down to Oxford Circus stopping at the Salvation Army on Princes Street. It is worth the diversion this is quite a massive shop and they often have brand new designer items, alongside average shoddy (but cheap!) gear. They often have very glamorous shoes and boutique dresses. Whatever you do though, DON’T USE THE CHANGING ROOM WITHOUT ASKING. You will be embarrassed if they catch you (!!!)

If you still have wind in your sails, grab some lunch and keep heading west, but back North a little to Marylebone. This is a little area jampacked with charity shops. They are filled with designer goods and the prices do reflect this but if you are looking for some good quality shizzle, Marlybone has your name on it. It is also full of lovely little independent shops and is right on the edge of glorious Regent’s Park where you can catch some music in the bandstand, or collapse under a tree with your bags of bargains!

Check out the route here and PLEASE add more if I have missed any gems!

What do you reckon- have you visited these patches? Have you got a favourite charity shop London circuit you do or a place you could wile away a whole day?

Upcycle Bread Bin

 

Beautiful Clean Shampoo Free hair

Craftiness, Green things, Thrifty

Delicious body scrub in a fancy jar – a Mothers Day craft

16 March, 2012

I am absolutely rubbish at Mo Day usually but my New Year’s Resolution was to do something for people on their birthdays and special days. This Sunday it is my mum’s turn, the lucky devil.

I love giving gifts in pretty jars, the dual element of something cool inside but then a craftivised jar mean the receiver gets something immediately and more long term.  This time mum gets some delicious home made body scrub (it feels sooooo good on your skin, and only 3 ingredients!)  in a rose lidded jar.

Obviously, it took just absolutely days and days and days of really hard work, also, it cost LOADS of money, like, literally, gosh, probably should have just sent her to a spa in France for a week.

Yeah, well, that’s the end of this post. Yep. BYEEEE!

PSSSSST. Are you still here? That’ll be mum fooled. MWAHAHA. For real, this scrub is SO EASY! AND CHEEEEEAP!!!! HAHA! The lid, probably took  10 minutes, the scrub about 2. I reckon it cost me about £1 to make. Here’s how:

Coconut and mint Body Scrub:

1  cup salt
1/2 cup coconut oil (I buy mine from the local Nigerian shop for £3 huge jar)
Few drops peppermint oil (you can leave this out/replace with some other nice smell)

Allow the coconut oil to soften in a warm place. Let it cool but not set again and stir in the salt and peppermint. Spoon into your jar!

And for the lid….

The paper was some beautiful rose paper the Red Cross sent me as part of a stationary set. Who knows why? But I have crafted the hell out of it so I am muchly indebted to that life saving emergency organisation.

I actually also did a layer of crystal resin over the top of the lid, as a bit of waterproofing as I imagined the jar sitting in the corner of a damp shower. I have only used resin once on my bottle top magnets but I am a big fan, worth having some in your craft cupboard for this kind of thing.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!