The reusable takeaway

Following on from yesterday I’m keeping to a bit of a theme.  The reusable takeaway.  We all like a good takeaway, for my husband it is a doner kebab with lots of chilli, the girls and I worship at the door of our wonderful Indian takeaway Jalsa in Ushaw Moor (their Chicken Makatoni is to die for).  BUT and there is a big but, all those plastic/styroform boxes are the pits.  At least our lovely Jalsa uses tin foil boxes so they can be recycled but still, we can do better.

I don’t drink coffee much, and when I do I like plain black from a cafetiere so all the fancy coffee shops are lost on me.  On the other hand I do like tea, I like tea a lot, I like lots of different types of tea.  I’m not a great one for buying a tea on the go, but there are times when I am out and about or waiting for a train when the only thing that I really want is a good strong cup of black tea.  But I don’t want a non-recyclable cardboard cup from Starbucks.  And they aren’t easily recyclable see here .  Those plastic coffee pods are bad, but those cardboard cups are just as nasty.

Did you know that almost every coffee shop / tea room will let you take your takeaway in your own mug/thermos so long as it has a secure lid?  This is what I take my tea away in.

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Joco glass mug with silicone lid.  It also comes in a lovely sturdy cardboard tub that I now use to store my Earl Grey!

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You met my water bottle yesterday.  I fill it up with tap water if we stop at a cafe or restaurant.  Most cold drinks come in their own bottles, but not all.  Plenty of smoothies, juices and cold coffees are made to order and are served in plastic cups.  I use my joco mug or water bottle.

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Finally food.  We have these brilliant stainless steel lunchboxes which come from the same company as the water bottle.  I’ve not yet tried them at my Jalsa (will update you when I do).  However, I have taken sandwiches, paninis, salads, pies and even a doner kebab away in it.

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Don’t be afraid to ask, the worst thing they can say is no.  I have yet to find a health and safety (the usual excuse) reason why I cannot use my own container so even if you do get a no, ask why!

 

Love Gillie x

it just gets better

I love Onya I have had their bag in a bag and their backpack in a bag for years long before anything similar appeared in the supermarkets.  There are far superior to the ones you find on the high street they were originally made of parachute silk (and felt lovely too!)  now they use recycled PET bottles (still lovely but not quite as lovely as the parachute silk!) and are amazingly strong, hold a decent amount (two bottles of milk, two bottles of vinegar, a large loaf, a magazine and two packs of tennis balls just this morning) and squash down to nothing.  Environmentally friendly, very useful and pretty colours.  They are also brilliant on holiday.  I keep two in my handbag at all times

Then today this arrived.  The Onya Weigh.  So far looks just like the regular onya bag in its pouch.

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But inside are these little lovelies.

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Five ultra light transparent tulle bags for veg shopping.  I avoid prepacked veg and the plastic bags for the loose veg.  My onions do not need to go in a plastic bag.  But sometimes I have no choice, runner beans, brussell sprouts,  I can’t really avoid a bag.  But now no more plastic.  They can go in these.

I don’t need to go and buy and veg… boo hoo, I want to take them out for a ride!

Love Gillie

decluttering with William Morris – the Pre-Raphaelite method

If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it.  Have nothing in your houses that you do  not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

Useful and beautiful (in my eyes).

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I have always loved the Pre-Raphaelites.  If I had studied history of art it would have been a one horse race.  But it is not just their artwork which I adore.  It is the whole ethos of the Arts and Craft movement; the belief that a healthy society was one which respected craft production and did not rely entirely on division of labour and machinery for the creation of products.  The use of natural and local materials in production.  And of course William Morris’ famous quote above.

Beautiful

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I know that there is much in our house that does not meet that criterion.  From where I sit to work I can see a carving of a fish.  It is pretty, but I don’t love it and I don’t know in my heart it is beautiful.  There is an incense stick holder which has been superceded by a more beautiful (actually more simple in design) and more useful one.  In my pen holder there are two marker pens which I know don’t work.  Outside in the courtyard I can see an old bird table that has been superceded by are more practical one.  There is a glass contraption that was supposed to trap wasps but never did.  All that and I didn’t even leave my seat.

Useful

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Join me today as we walk around our homes.  Look carefully at the things around you and ask yourself if they would pass Morris’ test.  If they do not, then why are you keeping them?

Neither useful nor beautiful

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raw chocolate

In my determination to reduce our waste I am reducing what we buy and looking at ways to reproduce products at home.  So today I made chocolate.  Well, I might as well practice on something I eat a lot of!

I  have a school friend Sarah Wheeler  who set up Pure Melt Chocolate in Mulumbimby.  I bumped into her whilst I was in Australia (as one does) and she inspired me to have a go at making our own chocolate.  I purchased the cacao butter, agave syrup, pure cacao powder and dried vanilla and off we went.

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First melt the cacao butter.

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Then add the cacao powder

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Then add the vanilla.

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Finally the agave syrup.  According to the instructions it would take approximately 100 stirs to incorporate.  That was about right.  It became the most beautiful shiny mixture.

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Then into the moulds and the fridge.

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Less than an hour later we had this.

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Oh my goodness, it is the most delicious chocolate I have ever tasted.  Even the Singers and the Dancer are converted.  I am never going to buy chocolate off the shelf again.  I have a head full of ideas to try.  Ginger is close to the top of the list, I may crystallise some orange peel, or add some cacao nibs for cruch,  chilli is an option.  Too many to list.

people who care

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The trip is drawing to a close.  Only ten days to go.  Am seriously considering how to emigrate, on my own if necessary.

Things I love about Australia:

  • The weather
  • The weather
  • The weather….

Everyone is so friendly.  I have no idea how Londoners (and I can say that as I was born and brought up in Notting Hill Gate) survive when they first arrive.  How do they cope when somebody makes eye contact and worse, asks them how they are?

Life is laid back.  I know I am on holiday so it’s different for me, but the Boss has been working, and at times quite hard.  Even he can feel the difference.

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The culture and attitude.  This is what really gets to me.  People here care.  There is almost no litter and I haven’t seen any graffiti.  Being ecologically sound isn’t considered a bit weird, for most people it is a way of life.

I know I have several Antipodean readers and I would love your feedback.  Why are you so far ahead of us?  Is it because you are so much more isolated so have had to use your resources more carefully?  Or is it perhaps partly to do with the weather, you spend so much more time outside that you are more in tune with the environment?  Or are you just better people than the rest of us 🙂

Oh and the other thing I love about Australia – the markets. The markets are just the best I’ve been to and believe me I am a market fiend, I have been to a lot.

 

on the final leg

Back inside again today.  Which shows piss poor planning as it is a lovely day and perfect for clearing out the outbuildings; which we opted to do in the cold and rain.

Having taken another carload of books to Amina we had a look at the heaving bookcases in the Gin Gan and started all over again.  While I sorted through hundreds of books the Boss started packing up the lots for auction.  It was a relief when Mel from the British Heart Foundation rang to arrange to come and pick up his second load.  For that means that by Tuesday evening this pile will have gone.

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And so will this one.

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My father is a bibliophile with a particular interest in wine and racing.  Consquently I have a huge collection of books going back to the early fifties, many first editions.  My job this weekend is to go through the book pile and decide which are worth going to auction and which are probably not.  This was one job I didn’t know how I would cope with.  But it was easier than I thought.  He gave them to me when he moved permanently to the States, he knows I will not read the full set of the Compleat Imbiber for example.  But somebody else will enjoy it as much as he did and it is worth quite a lot of money.  The real eye opener was a cookery book “Lady Maclean’s Cook Book”  Mine is a pristine first edition.  It has been put carefully to one side.

I think we are coming towards the end of the tunnel.  It has taken six months to get where we are now and there is still a lot more we can do.  But right now I am enjoying the space, the feeling of freedom and the great sense of relief to see so much clutter go out of our doors.

Will I ever go back to my old ways?  I think not.  I have noticed that as I move around the house I am instinctively picking things and putting them in the charity pile.  Thus went a pair of glass candlesticks, some towels, a selection of scarves and a pair of boots without even thinking.  Shopping holds little appeal unless it is something I really need or really want.  The former is now discussed and depending on severity of need bought now or put on the rolling shopping list.  The latter is put on my birthday list.  Come my birthday I am fairly sure that I won’t want half the things on there.

Finally, when you remove the clutter from your house and spend hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month packing it up and sending it away you get a pretty good sense of where you went wrong.  Things that you bought because you “thought they might be useful”, but never were.  Books you bought because they were beautiful but weren’t interesting enough for you to read or use.  Clothes that you bought because they were fantastic quality, a bargain, but you never really loved.  Knick Knacks collected from junk shops over the years.  Oh, and those infernal storage boxes that you kept having to buy to store all of the above 🙂

Now doesn’t that look good?

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Nice and simple.

the next step

All the decluttering in the world is not going to have any effect if you don’t stop the stuff coming into your life in the first place.  We’ve all been there: cleared a cupboard or a room and then six months later it has reverted back to type.

Part of the reason for this blog was to encourage transparency and to make me change my mindset.  To think before I bought, to question the actual value of an item.  It has worked to a certain extent, I am certainly far more thoughtful about most purchases whether expensive or from the charity shop.  In fact charity shops used to be one of my downfalls.  Items that I would never have bought new I would happily buy from a charity shop.  I’m not saying that I haven’t had some fantastic buys but just because a dress is only £5 I should buy it.  If I don’t need it I shouldn’t buy it just because it is cheap and/or good value.  It is only good value if I need it.  I was going to insert a picture of a dress that came to mind as I wrote that.  However, said dress went back to the charity shop in the first purge 🙂

So this year I am recording all my expenditure.  Every single last penny.  I would like to see whether the expenditure in various areas matches up to the pleasure we got in those areas.  Groceries are essential, but at the end of the month if I have spent say £200 on groceries and yet we can’t recall more than a handful of lovely  meals then it was not money well spent and we need to work out why.  Our time here on earth is limited as are our funds.  I intend to make sure I get the best out of both of them.