Tag Archives: Simple Living

Home made eco friendly cleaning spray

I dumped the Mr Sheen years ago and I have been using a mixture of vinegar and water to clean surfaces and furniture. It is very cheap and effective. I  have also on occasion used bicarbonate of soda to scrub the bathroom. However, until now I haven’t really explored any recipes for  a home made eco friendly cleaner such as this one.

home made eco friendly cleaning spray

Home made eco friendly cleaning spray

A home made eco friendly cleaning spray

I hate the idea of living in a house filled with chemicals and the damage that they do to the environment, but I can’t afford the expensive eco-friendly cleaning products you find in the supermarket or health food shop. Over the years a mixture of being very busy and laziness has meant that my cleaning cupboard has started to fill up with standard cleaners. I have bathroom cleaners, bleach, window cleaners, carpet cleaners, oven cleaners….what happened to my green credentials?! My cupboard is full of chemical cocktails in a sea of plastic bottles. Enough is enough!

As I run out of each cleaner I am going to experiment with a cheaper, greener home made alternative. The first has been a general purpose spray cleaner that I have so far used successfully in the kitchen and bathroom as well as the kitchen work surfaces.

This is extremely cheap and easy to make. I put it in an old spray bottle so less plastic waste too! I reckon it cost about 60p for a litre and I have loads of borax substitute left that should last ages.

Orange general household cleaner

An old spray bottle, washed out
2 heaped tsp borax substitute
4 or 5 drops of orange essential oil
100ml white vinegar
warm water

Use a large jug as this fizzes when you add the vinegar to the borax substitute. Start by mixing them together as much as you can. Add your orange oil and top up to the litre mark with warm water. Keep stirring until the borax substitute is dissolved, pour into your spray bottle and get cleaning!

I got my white vinegar from Asda for about 39p and the oil and borax substitute came from Summer Naturals.

Does anyone have some tried and tested eco friendly cleaning spray recipes they would like to share?

A little bit of kindness

I have pretty much missed it, but this was Random Acts of Kindness week (find out more here.) I love the concept of a random act of kindness; dropping some money into a homeless person’s begging bowl, paying for someone’s shopping when they are standing at the till and realise they don’t have enough, making a neighbour a casserole when they have been in hospital maybe, or anonymously buying all the chocolate in a cancer hospital vending machine and leaving it for staff and patients with a note to help themselves. It makes you feel good about yourself as well as the person or people you are being kind to. 

I once embarrassed my kids by buying a sandwich for an old guy who was rifling through the bins for food. They initially thought it was none of my business but in the end they were quite proud of me 😀. I also slipped a tenner in an envelope and sent it anonymously to a dad I has been speaking to on the phone at work who had no money to buy food for his family. It wouldn’t buy much or be life changing but I thought it would get them a couple of meals.

At the moment the world seems like a hard, uncaring place. People and politicians want to shut the doors on refugees from war torn countries, build a wall to keep out immigrants, cut disability benefits and look after their own interests. They say others should learn to stand on their own two feet, even it they have no shoes to wear on those feet. This pervasive lack of kindness can easily become the norm. I hope the tide starts to turn back the other way. 

Small random acts of kindness don’t have to cost anything. Noticing that someone is lost and showing them where they need to go, spending time on the phone to a bereaved friend, helping a lady off the floor when she has tripped, dusting her off and giving her a bit of moral support, just being thoughtful rather than turning your back and walking away can only serve to make the world a better place.

It reminds me also that it is important to be kind to ourselves. How many times a day do we tell ourselves and others that we are silly? I have resolved to be a bit kinder to myself and everyone else starting now 😀.

Have you carried out or witnessed any heartwarming acts of kindness  lately? Share the love!

That Monday feeling

After a week off I have a mere 285 emails. A lot of them can be deleted but there are a fair few that require some kind of action. I still say emails are a curse!! Some of them are conversations between 4 or 5 people who all work in the same office!! This has strengthened my resolve to only send an email at work if it is strictly necessary. A phone or face to face conversation can actually save time I find. 

I definitely have that Monday feeling. This is the problem with holidays – you have to come back!!

Credit: SimonDale.net

As a diversion, I have been looking back at Simon Dale’s hobbit house, a fabulous eco home built in the Welsh countryside. Can you imagine living in such a totally perfect house? It was built by hand for just a few thousand pounds, so mortgage free as well. I would love to quit the rat race and build my own place like this. Have a look on his website to see what it looks like inside: www.simondale.net.

Simon and his family have since moved on to Lammas, an eco village in North Pembrokeshire. A whole community of like-minded souls living a simple low impact lifestyle. It looks wonderful! Have a look: http://lammas.org.uk. 

I can but dream…in the meantime my PC beckons and probably a few more emails!

Trying out my birthday presents: Lush by name and Lush by nature

I have been trying the Lush products I got for my birthday and I am pretty impressed so far. I was given Godiva solid shampoo, Jungle solid conditioner and T’eo Krysztal deodorant. 
  The deodorant feels like a solid lump of what I suspect is bicarbonate of soda with a wax bottom holding it all together. It smells lemony and herby and I really like it. I wasn’t convinced it could really work though and I have been pleasantly surprised at how effective it is – I am even using it on my feet! Ok, I am not a manual worker and am office based so I guess I don’t sweat that much. Still,  I will buy it again. Don’t use it straight after shaving though as I did as it stings!

The shampoo bar was also nice. I only needed a bit on my hands and it lathered up really well and smelt divine. The conditioner I  still have reservations about. I am used to a big blob on my hands that is easy to distribute throughout my hair. The instructions say to run it down the hair shaft which I did but it felt more difficult to get it all over. I thought my hair would be full of tangles after but actually it wasn’t, so I will persevere. 

My hair felt really nice when it was dry. Lots of liquid products make my hair feel heavy and coated and my scalp itch. None of that with these products so far. I will need to use them for a while to see whether they are a good choice long term.

I hope I don’t have to revert back to the old products in plastic bottles! Can anyone recommend any other good products that are plastic free and cost effective?

(This is not a sponsored post and the views expressed are my own honest opinions).
 

Love Christmas, Hate Waste

 

A Christmas wreath made from old magazines

 
I was exploring the Essex County Council website today and ended up on the Recycle for Essex site: http://www.recycleforessex.com/christmas, which has some excellent advice on reducing waste and lots of ideas on how to be creative with waste generally rather than dumping it.There are some brilliant Christmas craft ideas. I like these gift bows made from old magazines:
 

You can also make gift bags from newspapers, a wreath from sweet wrappers or magazines, loads of decorations from CDs plus there are useful links to other wastes for more inspiration.

An old CD becomes Santa

There is a link to the Love a Food Hate Waste website too, which is a great site. There are lots of ideas for using up your Christmas leftovers, from Christmas pudding ice cream to Stilton, ham and Brussels sprout tart! I bet that is nicer than it sounds 😊.

You don’t need to live in Essex to find some inspiration for reducing your waste this Christmas. Check it out!

I have been enjoying a blog called mymakedoandmendlife.com recently. Jen Gale has an interesting perspective on using less and wasting less which I agree with. She has had a lot of attention from the media of late too, with a piece in the dreaded Daily Mail about avoiding the rampant consumerism of Christmas and making it more simple. You can read it here. She and her family spent a whole year buying nothing and making do, and carried on when the year was over. She is a very inspiring person with a refreshing view on life.

What are your tips for reducing, reusing and recycling this Christmas? Are you trying to make it more simple and meaningful?

Out with the old! Decluttering for the New Year

I know that for many people the holidays are all about spending money in the sales but for us they also seem like the perfect time to have a clear out. Because we have two big sheds at the end of the garden they tend to get filled with a lot of clutter. They had got so bad you couldn’t get to anything. I don’t need clutter! I want my house to be scaled back and well organised.

imageToday was a lovely bright day; perfect for the job. We rolled up our sleeves and prepared to get covered in cobwebs. We had items in there we had forgotten about: an old TV cabinet, a double mattress, ancient portable TVs, various Freeview and DVD players that don’t work but were inexplicably kept just in case, a lawnmower purchased from eBay that never really did the job … You get the picture. Most of it the charity shops wouldn’t even want, so we filled up the car and had two trips to the tip. Luckily it wasn’t busy – sometimes cars are queuing out the door.

imageIt was hugely cathartic even if we were both filthy and starving at the end of it all!

Keep it simple and save your wallet

So, you have eaten the turkey and probably have mounds of leftovers. Hopefully, being frugal in your habits, you will be freezing them or creating new meals (turkey and veg soup anyone? Curry?) rather than consigning them to the bin. We didn’t have too many leftovers, apart from meat and salad, so that’s what we will be eating for the next few days. I don’t mind the same thing, but will vary it by chopping up the ham in a creamy sauce with pasta and salad, making a vegetable gratin and serving that with some of the 5 bird roast (which was delicious by the way with its cranberry glaze).

As I feared, the gluten free Christmas pudding was not a success. Fortunately I bought a mini one from the Coop’s Free From range and it was lovely with a Tesco gluten free mince pie.

Still, it was, as ever, an expensive time. The belt needs tightening, although I can barely fit it round my middle at the moment with all the food I have eaten! I will be buying only what we need and nothing more.

I want to simplify my life and buy as little as possible; to use up everything I have in the way of food, toiletries and cleaning products before I buy any more and then only buy what I need and will use.

imageOn this train of thought, I was having a chat with  my daughters about the products people buy that they don’t really need and were only invented in the last few years by marketing folk to make a quick buck. Our grannies managed perfectly well without most of them. A lot of them seem to have appeared in the last 20 years. This is what we came up with. If it was down to me I wouldn’t buy any of them, but my daughters have other ideas…

Beauty products:

Face wipes
Handwash (what’s wrong with a bar of soap?)
Shave cream/gel (see comment above)
Shower gel (ditto the handwash comment)
Face primer (what?)
Moisturiser containing real gold (uh?) or sold using dubious pseudo scientific claims
Cellulite creams/body firmers – for the seriously optimistic
Skin toner (a bit of water on a cloth does the trick)
Eye/neck cream (skin is skin, surely?)
Bubble bath
Baby wipes

Household products
Cleaning wipes
Fabric softener (a cup of white vinegar does the trick)
Ironing water
Air fresheners, especially the plug in variety (how do a load of chemicals bring you fresh air?)
Tumble dryer sheets
Washing machine/dishwasher cleaners (how dirty can they get? I just flush mine through on a hot wash with a couple of cups of white vinegar every now and again)
8 different cleaners for different rooms in the house. Surely a spray that cleans the bathroom sink could also clean the kitchen sink?)

So a resolution: to keep things simple and buy only what I need and will use. It’s early for New Year resolutions, but why wait until then? What are yours, and what are you doing with your Christmas leftovers?

Keeping it Simple

As usual, but more so, I am having to watch my budget. I have a bit of credit card debt and I want to pay it all off so that I can start to save money towards the electrical work that needs doing in the house, installing a woodburner, and having a nice cheap camping holiday somewhere next year, possibly in France. I hope I don’t have any more major unexpected expenses – the car repairs cost enough to clear me out for a while!!

Garden (2)I need to produce cheap and nutritious meals that the family will all enjoy, keep the household utility bills to a minimum, and not fritter money on non essentials. I also like to get out and about and see friends but, as I have said before, having a social life and not spending money don’t really mix. On top of this, and I hate to break the news to you, for those who care and celebrate it there are 78 days until Christmas!! I have actually budgeted and saved up for this for once – it finally dawned on me that the successful tightwad understands that these things happen regularly and plans and saves for them rather than maxing out the credit card!!

What I would like to do though is spend just part of the money I have put aside and keep as much as possible to kick off my savings for 2015. I am putting money aside for car tax, MOT and insurance, birthdays, plus the aforementioned electrical work, woodburner and holiday. If the budget won’t allow for anything else the holiday might be a few weekends camping in the UK, as and when the weather allows. I need to do something though – I work full time in a very busy job, and have a busy home life too. It is really important to me to get away and unwind from time to time, and to visit other places.

Keep it simpleI was thinking about all the things that I enjoy doing that cost hardly anything. Walking or cycling, reading, watching movies on the TV or DVD player, visiting friends and family, inviting them over, spending time in the garden and growing some of my own food, having a glass of wine at home with Mr S, having days out with a picnic, doing my yoga practice. These all cost hardly anything. I also find that as I get older, I am more and more content with simple things. I don’t want to paint the town red. I don’t need to spend a fortune on new clothes and things for the house. I am not bothered that I don’t own a fancy car. I am happy to spend time with my family. In truth, I am boring as hell, but the great thing about getting older is that I don’t care!!

And here is another of my favourite things that costs very little. Lola the cat, in my work bag, which is her new place to cosy up!

lola

Simple Pleasures

image

The courgettes are coming!

The courgettes are coming!

I have said this before, but it doesn’t take much to make me happy. The older I have got, the more I appreciate the simple things. I don’t want lots of stuff. I would hate a party lifestyle. What I would like is more time to spend with Mr S and the girls, to cook and garden and travel, and enough money not to worry about day to day bills.

imageI went out early to put out the washing and it was so quiet and peaceful. Everything was blooming and growing, the birds were singing, the cat was slinking around my legs and it was heavenly. Shame I had to come in and go to work!!

But it was a good start to my day and I even picked a handful of raspberries to go on my porridge.