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Category Archives: Green things

Ten Alternatives to Shampoo

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At the start of this year I began an experiment with my hair.  The purist in me was tired of putting toxins into my body, the spendthrift in me was weary of pouring so much money away on these toxins and the optimist in me was persuaded by our bodies ability to cope without reliance on products! I was in a wash-every-other-day-routine and was a slave to dry-shampoo. I knew there had to be a better way.

In a typically extreme move  I totally gave up shampoo and have in the last 10 months put everything from a homemade nettle brew to mustard powder on my hair! It has gone quite wrong at times but ultimately my hair is a million times more healthy, voluminous, and grows much faster. Plus I can go away for weeks at a time and need nothing for my hair but a good bristle brush. This really appeals to my hopes of living more simply and with less impact on this beautiful earth (even though I am rubbish at this in lots of ways.)

Here are TEN options I have played with- and sometimes made a lot of mess with! Most are the BEE’S KNEE’s for me and the rest are the dog’s whatchya’s for others…

One- Water! Oh groan, I know, I’m sorry.  What kind of an alternative is this?! I hear you cry. The best, truly. It took me 9 months to realise it was all my hair needed – and now it has been one month since anything has been on my hair at all. The key is in the massage- as you soak your hair, get your fingers stuck in, pushing away at your scalp and any particularly grease-o bits. I do a five minute massage every five days. My hair is thick and voluminous and does whatever I want it to do. Whooppiiee for H20!!

Two- Bicarbonate of Soda/ Baking Soda. This gets your hair SQUEAKY clean. I make a little paste with a spoonful and a few drops of water and rub it into my scalp.  I leave it for a few minutes before rinsing.The only reason it isn’t number one is because it isn’t free and I’m a cheapskate – and also my hair gets a bit bicarb weary after too many times in a row, brittle and waxy and needs a bit of Number Three Action:

Three- Egg. I use the whole egg, whisked in a cup. I pour over my head and massage in. I leave for a few minutes and rinse well.  It leaves my hair SO clean and SO soft and shiny. However, the water must be cool! I have had a couple of scrambled disasters venturing into too warm territory….

Four- Soapnuts. These are a natural cleaner and work incredibly well. My hair is like silk after- certainly the closest to shampoo I have found. I heat them in water on the stove for 10 minutes, whiz them with my hand blender and use the liquid. I am too lazy to make this my Go To alternative, but use it if my hair has become filthy. Buy them here and use them for cleaning a million and one things!

FiveRhassoul Clay. This is LOVELY stuff. For skin and hair.  It not only cleans but also conditions. I make a paste with two spoonfuls and boiling water. Once cool I smooth it into hair, after a few minutes I brush it through hair and rinse off. It is truly divine but a little on the expensive side for my thrifty self. (But doesn’t come close to the expense of good shampoo.) Buy it here!

Six- Henna. This is my once-every-six-weeks deep treatment! I mix up about ten spoons of it with hot water to make a paste. Once cool I apply it all over and leave it for two hours. (Epic I know, I use a plastic bag and grips to keep it all in place.) It needs a SERIOUS rinse, and a good brush, but my hair after is brighter, cleaner, softer.

Seven- Tea. This relies very much on the massage bit too, and the result is the same as water except you get a nice smell! Some people swear that the different aspects of the tea change your hair – chamomile adding a special softness, for example.

Eight- Lemon. Lemon has some seriously potent anti-bacterial properties and can work as a lightener for people wanting to be blonder.  Squeeze the lemon straight on to your greasy roots, massage well and leave for a few moments. I found it to be slightly drying.

Nine- Tea Tree Oil. Full of incredible properties! You would probably need a little bit too much of this to work solely as an effective shampoo. However added to the bicarb paste, the lemon or the water only wash, this makes a lovely difference. Tea tree oil is perfect for people with scalp issues, dandruff etc. In fact, one person I am VERY close to but who shalt remain nameless has had a life-long scalp issue fixed with this method!

Ten- Mustard Powder. Nettles. Mayonaise. Ketchup! These were all possible contenders that simply didn’t cut it for me! In theory they should work- they have the right mix of either anti-bacterialness or emulsifier/ acid shizzle and the internet is jampacked with people on whom these work. It just ALL depends on your hair.

A note on conditioner- Nearly all of these, bar the clay and the egg need a rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar. I use a splash in half a cup of water and throw it over the ends of my hair, leave for a few minutes then rinse out. It’s a WINNER.

The biggest lesson in all of this is to not give up  and be a brave old soul – trawl through this community until you find your hair type and give things a crack! Often different hair just needs different proportions of things. Would love to hear what your routine is and if there is some magical thing I haven’t tried!

PS ‘Scuse the well posey picture! It is seriously the only shot without a beehive from the last six months! It was when I was 5 months No Poo and taken by Jenny Harding when Pretty Nostalgic mag popped over.

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Thrifty foraging: fruit leathers

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

Eggs are for life not just for Easter: weird alternatives to shampoo

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It’s been 3 months since I washed my hair (to the tune of Barenaked Ladies, obvs)- and I have finally decided my days of shampoo are gone forever.

Of course, I haven’t  given up washing it all together  – I have just let go of the shampoo element; my latest move in the name of eco-thrift.

My last update revealed me to be in a bit of a pickle about it – all that vinegar (geddit), all that bicarb, was stripping out my gingeryness. So I have been doing some eggsperimenting. (You’ll have to just excuse/ admire all these ace puns for a while I’m afraid.)

By way of introduction, can we just have a moment to focus on eggs on the whole? Fried eggs, poached eggs. Key ingredient in cakes and other baking. What about a quiche? Man alive, I love a quiche.  What a completely underrated thing an egg is.

But how about eggs and hair? For real. They are the cats whiskers for your locks. I know! Total disbelief eh? I, too, couldn’t believe it. Never one to rest in my skepticism I cracked on with it. I mixed one in a little bowl and applied to my wet hair whilst in the shower, working it into my scalp and ends. I left it on for a few minutes then rinsed it off with luke warm water. It felt lush! A bit wrong too, like I was having some kind of intimate food fight. But my hair felt like silk with all that egg dripping off it. (Bahaha, I just know this making some of you vomit a tiny bit.)

Image

This is after 4 days since the egg wash. CHeck out Ramona in the background, she has just learnt to blow her nose. Way too cute.

I dried my hair as I normally do, brushing it through as with my blow drier and I was instantly impressed with the results. Shiny, thick, soft. Since leaving behind my shampoo days my hair has never been so volumous, and it is growing at Rapunzel rates – things that suggest to me the natural way is the healthiest way.

I got 5 days of nice clean hair (including one water only wash a couple of days after) and then had to wear a scarf for the last two days, which were just a little too oily for me. This is the pattern for all my shampoo alternatives – 5 days of good, 2 days of bad. But I am really trying to get into a once a week habit, my hair WILL submit eventually I am sure. Having two days where you are motivated to wear a scarf is an excellent thing I reckon, I do love a nice scarf. And 5 days of clean hair is miles more then pre-experiment. I really only had 48 hours of nice hair, max.

At 35p a pop (yeah, we get the super happy, free range, organic as you can get variety) eggs as an alternative are a little eggspensive, but the sunny side (Up) is that you will likely have them in your kitchen so they’ll make a fab emergency shampoo.

This Easter, why not give it a crack? I’d love to hear about it. Even if you are in love with your shampoo, I do recommend giving this a go, just to help your esteem of eggs along a bit. And to give your hair a bit of a natural treatment. (Of course, all hair is different- it might totally fail on you. Don’t be ashamed, or take it too personally.)

PS I am also testing out a bit of clay as another alternative. I will update about that soon too. Sorry these updates aren’t more regular, I know you are fascinated, but when you only wash it once a week it is quite slow progress.

Hippyshake

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In some ways I am your typical modern hippy. I am a cosleeping, babywearing, breastfeeding mama with a nappy free baby, I reckon my parenting probably belongs in a cave with a tribe. I am in love with the earth, trees and flowers and wild swimming and that, and want to live in a way that loves it. Which has kind of meant I have stopped washing my hair and am creating a home out of recycled leftovers. I am addicted to jumble with a stubbornness that means I can’t buy anything new and RELISH revealing my latest thrifted swag. I love to craft; I think making stuff puts you in touch with your soul and generally feel that being eco-thrifty (as opposed to pound shop thrifty) is a beautiful, subversive political act. I have had hate mail, accusing me of communism. I was proud. Like a coming of age.  I am a ranty liberal, bicarbonate of soda loving, organic- obsessed telly-spurning, sometimes a leetle bit too dirty, hippy. (I hope none of this sounds smug? You can’t be smug when confessing to being a bit dirty can you?)

But. Alas.

It’s my eyeballs, you see.

THEY LOVE TO BE PLEASED.

They like style. They enjoy the absurdities of fashion. They want the whole world to look like the Mad Men set. They are 1950’s eyeballs embedded in a 1982 body.

I spend way too long combing my quiff, toying with clothes, admiring interiors. These blinking eyeballs really don’t like earthy. Browns, greens, a hempy vibe just won’t satisfy them.

I really think I COULD live in a yurt, I really do, but only with my Midwinter Crockery and some stylishly framed tea towels.

So, sorry, world. You only get hippy with a twist, a shaky hippy, one prone to wobble when faced with another unnecessary vintage dress.

And unless I cast out these rapscallision eyeballs of mine, it will simply have to do. 

 

My daughter, Ramona, on the other hand, now SHE is The Buisness. Proper bonafide hippy. Check her out in her knitted technicolour dreamcoat.

How hippy are you? Would loooove to hear about your most hippy or most unhippy practices!

PS I am also in the thralls of the internets, way, way, waaaaay to much. Gosh darn you Twitter, tarnishing my hippydom some more.

Charity Shopping in London: three spots for making a day of it

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If you are stuck for something to do this weekend and love a good thrift check out my three top spots for making a day of your charity shopping. These aren’t necessarily the VERY BEST shops (another post in the pipeline) but 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. No one likes traipsing around with only the rumour of a vintage palace spurring you on.

Pimilico Charity Shop Circuit
Pimlico – such an easy area to get to, just a five minute walk south of Victoria. 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 and then a wander a bit further down towards the Thames to Tate Britain, where they have a spectacular crafty kids corner.

Blackheath
There are only two shops here but I count this as one of my favourite areas as thrifting fits so easily into a wonderful fun day. 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. But I guarantee 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 circuit you do or a place you could wile away a whole day?

PS: If you like my thrifty ways, would you be able to nominate me in the THRIFTY category of the MAD blog awards? Love you forevs 🙂

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

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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!!!

Secondhand- how low can you go?

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We have found some totally schwing things around the streets in the last week or so. Stuff we have uncannily been in need of.

I kid you not, the day Tim found this haul below, including massive enamel bowls, we had just bitten the bullet about having to buy a new washing up bowl from Pounduniverse. Then we got three cool looking ones for the price of one! (Which was free.)

It also included a couple of giant heavy based pots (perfect for our old gass cooker) . Someone was just clearing out their house and had stuck it all in the skip.

The morning we found this long runner for our corridor  Tim had just commented to young Ramona “We really need to get a better mat for this entrance.” Then, tada! Outside the estate around the corner. Pristine too. Weird, eh.

(Sorry that I am so Instagram happy, the thing is, without this retro filter these are just crap photos of a rug and a pot. But now, cos of the wonders of Instagram, they look like old crap photos of a rug and a pot.)

But anyway, with this secondhand cookingware, it could have been used for all sorts of business. As sick bowls for the frail and infirm. Chamberpots. Boiling up neighbourhood cats.  Yet now they have pride of place in our kitchen; we use them for our pasta and noodles and potatoes.  It has made me wonder about the oddest second hand thing you have ever bought/found/used?

Personally, second hand saucepans barely scratch the surface.

My worst?

Earplugs.

(But hey, I got a GREAT sleep in an airport as a result and what’s a bit of earwax between, um,  strangers? It was posh earwax too, very clean I ‘spect, as I pinched them out of First Class on my way out the plane.)

Tell me. Anyone wearing any charity shop pants?