Bath Bomb making

As part of a drive here to get our bathroom completely plastic free this year, I bought some bath bomb making ingredients.

I have an awesome friend who used to run workshops for children, so my two have had plenty of experience making bath bombs before.

I, however, don’t! But how hard can it be? Right? If kids can do it, then I certainly can! Pfft!

So we gathered the ingredients and pulled up the recipe given on the website.

We measured and weighed all the ingredients

Then emptied them into a mixing bowl.

We added dried rose petals and some honey powder.

Now the recipe called for fragrance oil but said that it could be substituted for water which we did as we didn’t have any fragrance oil. And that’s where it all went wrong. It was too much water and it started to fizz and expand out of the moulds.

A whole batch ruined and had to be thrown away!

We re made them as the kids were very disappointed but used a lot less water than was suggested, and this time we had lovely round bath bombs ready to use.

One plastic wrapped item we no longer need to buy. Woohoo!

Do you use plastic free alternatives in the bathroom? Please let me know in the comments if you do.

EDITED If you’d like to see the recipe we used to make the second lot of bath bombs please see here

Reusable Cups

In my last post I told you about our trip to Berlin.

As a family we do try to be as environmentally friendly as we can. We have cut down on a lot of our plastic use over the past few years and are conscious of where we can improve.

Knowing we had a big train journey ahead of us we packed sandwiches, home made snacks and drinks. But I have to admit I did succumb to a cuppa on the last ICE train and when hubby went to buy it he treated us to a bar of chocolate each too.

Neither the drink nor the chocolate was really needed but I wanted a hot drink and the cafe on board was only too accessible.

The drink came in the usual one use takeaway cup with a plastic lid. I felt guilty that I hadn’t brought my own cup to put the tea in.

Since we’ve been home I have been researching collapsing reusable cups to carry in my handbag in case I fancy a cup of tea while out and about again. Something like this

Or something like this maybe….

We did have one of these and I lost it oops! Please don’t tell Hubby!

But there is so much choice. Does the plastic in a reusable cup outweigh the plastic in a single use cup? Is it small enough to fit in my handbag so that it can go everywhere with me? I don’t want to end up buying something that doesn’t fit the purpose.

I’d love to know if you have any recommendations before I buy anything.

Do you use a portable reusable cup already?

Berlin

We have just got back from a last minute family holiday to Berlin. And by family I mean pretty much all of us – me, hubby, the kids, my mum, my stepdad and my sister. Seven of us spending the week together. Recipe for trouble right?

Actually it wasn’t. We had a fantastic time. Although I do think my sister has seen enough of her niece and nephew for a while now 😉

My stepdad isn’t allowed to fly due to medical issues so we looked into other options and found we could go by train. The Eurostar took us from London to Brussels, an ICE train from Brussels to Köln and a second ICE train from Köln to Berlin. 9 hours altogether which sounded like a nightmare.

I was genuinely surprised by how easy it all was. Each train was on time, clean, comfortable and the journey was just so easy. I would definitely consider doing it this way again.

We did a lot of sightseeing and even went on a Hop on Hop off tour bus around the city. This was probably the warmest way to do it as temperatures were in minus figures the whole time we were there. We even had snow!

Both myself and my step dad have been to Berlin before. Him, as part of his time in the army 40 years ago, and me, as part of a school history trip 20 years ago (that makes me sound so old!) The city has changed so much and we barely recognised it. On the plus side, it was clean, easy to navigate and the people were really friendly and tolerant of my basic German skills.

The only negative thing for me was the amount of beggars there were. I found it hard that (1) there were so many of them and (2) they were quite pushy asking for money. I know that it’s not their fault, that homelessness is a major problem and all countries (and individuals) could probably do more to help the situation. It just made me very sad to see it.

Since coming back we are all still talking about it and I think we would definitely go back again should the opportunity arise.

Have you ever been to Berlin? Or the Germany?

2018

2018? Another year gone. Time certainly does fly as you get older!

I’ve seen so many “New Year, New Me” posts across the whole of social media over the past week and while it is nice to see people setting goals for the year ahead, how many of them are realistic?

I know I’m guilty of it. It’s easy to get swept away with the glamour of new diaries and blank calendars and think “this is the year I….. <whatever>” But then the real world kicks back in, the mundane day to day stuff and it’s easy to get sidetracked. To put things off til tomorrow, til Monday, til… well any day that isn’t today.

I’ve tried to keep that in mind while setting myself goals for 2018. I like having targets to aim for but I can get downhearted if they turn out to be unachievable. So I’ve dialled it back this year. No big sweeping status, no grandiose plans. Just a list of things I’d like to do in the house, things I’d like to do with the kids and things I’d like to work on personally.

I hope to write here a lot more often and I’d like to share with you both the work we are doing in the house and the steps we are taking to live a more sustainable life. And I’d love it if you would join us as we negotiate the unknown that is 2018.

I wish you all a healthy and happy new year.

Turning 10

Little Lady recently turned 10. She was so excited! Double figures is a massive milestone when you are 9 1/2 😉

We wanted to make it special as you only turn double figures once but we found it very hard to help her celebrate. We asked her what she wanted to do and there was nothing she could think of.

Same went for presents. She’s really good in that she’s perfectly content with what she has, and that’s amazing. I love that she is like that. However, it’s extremely difficult at the time of year with both her birthday and Christmas coming so close together.

So what could we do? I surprised her with a unicorn cake which thankfully she loved.



It’s not perfect but I was quite impressed by the finished result actually. Thanks YouTube!

Hubby then arranged a rafting party for her. She loves the water and went indoor surfing last year. She was so excited. She invited her friends and started a countdown on her calendar.

They all had a whale of a time. They got very wet, both accidentally and on purpose, but every single one of them was smiling at the end.

Once they had warmed up in the shower and changed into dry clothes we had cake.


Think they enjoyed it, don’t you?

A Pair of Giraffes

Back in the summer my baby cousin turned 1. His mum organised a jungle themed party and invited everyone to come in fancy dress. Little Lady and I love dressing up and decided to go as giraffes. Okay, so maybe not technically a jungle animal but they are my favourite animal so they won!

We had yellow t shirts but I did buy yellow leggings due to being pressed for time. Using masking tape I marked off lines on both the t shirts and the leggings and then painted the spaces brown.

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I put a piece of cardboard up inside the t shirt to ensure the paint didn’t bleed through.

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Once it had all been painted I peeled off the masking tape and left the paint to dry.

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It’s so simple yet so effective. Little Lady and I had a lot of lovely comments on our matching outfits.

By the Bar

In my dream kitchen I have a breakfast bar that the kids can sit at doing their homework while I prepare tea. Pfft! Yes I know I live in a dream world but that’s the way it’s always been.

A while ago, possibly even a year ago now, we were given a bar stool. It needed a lot of TLC. The top fabric was stained, marked and scratched. The paint on the wooden legs was looking pretty shabby too.

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We are currently in the (very long) process of redoing the kitchen and we wanted a red theme. As it happened I had an offcut of red leather in my fabric stash which was a perfect size for the seat.

Hubby did a great job repainting the legs and recovering the top. He did go out and buy new studs as the old ones he pulled out wouldn’t stay back in.

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To be fair the stool gets used a lot. Mainly by D who thinks it’s a great step to stand on to reach the higher cupboards *rolls eyes*

All I need now was the bigger kitchen, the breakfast bar and kids who will sit down quietly!!!!

Trashless Tuesday

On Day 2 of this year’s Zero Waste Week I was challenged to see how much (or how little) waste I created in just one day. So here goes:


For full disclosure this picture is me and the two kids only. Hubby took his lunch to work in a reusable container and has cutlery in his locker but once he’s there I don’t know if he created any other waste.

There were also 2 dunker pots but Little Lady didn’t bring her empty one home. Now I do see the irony of the string cheese wrapper after I posted about using block cheese but it was requested and bought the night before they were due to go back to school from the corner shop that didn’t have block cheese. Once the packet is finished we won’t be buying them again.

The main two slip ups by me were due to lack of organisation. We usually use loose leaf tea in a tea pot but struggle to get it sometimes so we had bought tea bags the last time we went shopping. The pot noodle was also due to poor planning. It was quick and easy to prepare after a lunch meeting.

The crisps? Well I love crisps and haven’t really found an alternative that can be stored just yet. I’d be happy to hear your suggestions if you have any?

Tea was made with veg that came in our vegbox and pasta that had been decanted into a large glass jar last time we went shopping.

Overall I don’t think we did too badly. Yes there is room for improvement and yes on other days we will create waste that was not shown here (the empty pasta bag for instance). How did you get on? Do you produce more/less waste than me on an average day?

Waste

Today is day 2 of this year’s Zero Waste Week. The theme today is all about reducing waste. I wrote this post 4 years ago showing how I cut down on lunch box waste. Looking back now I can’t believe I wrapped her sandwiches in foil and bought pre packaged cheese! But just goes to show how little changes now can become lifetime habits. Hope you enjoy

Waste

Lately the issue of waste and the environment has been at the forefront of my mind. I have slowly been taking stock of our lives and living habits to see where we can cut back on waste.

One morning while doing the mundane (and mostly thankless) task of making packed lunches I realised that I could cut a lot of waste here and I was quite shocked.

This is what little lady’s lunches normally look like (with some variations).

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Little lady also takes fruit separately, which she eats at break time.

Where can I make changes? Straight away I can lose the foil. I mean her sandwiches are in a lunch box, in a bag! Seems a bit ridiculous to wrap them in foil too!

So foil gone. What’s next? Little lady’s treat. Her treat varies depending what niceties are on offer when we go shopping. These particular treats are individually wrapped but come in a box, in a plastic wrapper. Lots of packaging, and therefore waste there. With a bit of forethought and 20 minutes spent in the kitchen while baby D was having his nap and she now has home made (freezable) treats. I cut the welshcakes into little stars rather than the traditional circles so that they fit in her lunch box. We also stumbled across these fine(!) gadgets 2 for £1 in the pound shop, which makes her sandwiches a little bit nicer now they are naked (well we think so)

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I do like her lunch to be relatively good for her so I always try to add a cheese stick. There are again individually wrapped (easy for lunches) but in a packet. The individual wrapper goes in the bin at school so technically it doesn’t affect my waste but that’s not really the point here. We are still producing waste no matter where it is disposed of. This was the item that made me feel a little bit silly. I thought about how to reduce the packaging for a while before realising IT IS CHEESE!!!! I honestly can’t believe I have been buying these as well as the block of cheese that is a staple in our shopping. Just goes to show that marketing works. The individually wrapped cheeses “perfect for lunch boxes” fooled me for quite a while. Well no more. Today I cut my own cheese sticks from the block in the fridge. Less packaging and a slightly sheepish mammy!

So what does little lady’s lunch box look like now?

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Some naked homemade jam sandwiches, a home made treat, cheese cut from the block and a yoghurt.

Any ideas on what to do about the yoghurt? I am still quite stuck on that one so for now the long yoghurts will stay.

Hello

Well hello! The first post on my new site. It feels like the first page of a new diary or notebook. The pressure not to spoil it is huge! I think I’ll start simply and introduce you to me and my family.

I’m Nicola, I live with Hubby and our two children – Little Lady who is almost 10 and D who is almost 6. I have been blogging over at a lifetime of diy for a number of years but recently I have been wondering where the blog is going. It seems to have lost it’s way and I like to have a focus. That’s where this shiny new blog comes in. I will focus here on the little steps my family and I are taking to reduce our carbon footprint and to live more sustainably. I do like to run and I may veer off topic every now and again but I will try to keep mostly on topic.

I would be very happy if you wanted to join us on our journey.

You can find me on twitter as @mehubbyandkids and a Facebook page dedicated to this blog is in the works.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to documenting my journey.