Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Wild Garden.... Wild Food!

It has been said that our garden is a complete mess......well, of course, there is a very good reason for this...we're not growing weeds, we are growing food!!

Yesterday Dave decided we would go on a little wild food hunt around our (very messy!) garden and we managed to find three ingredients to try out.. dandelion leaves, ground elder and garlic mustard.

The ground elder went into a very yummy omelette for lunch (recipe from Downsizer ) and eating this is also a good way to get rid of this invasive plant from your garden!

The Garlic Mustard leaves were shredded and put on top of a delicious homemade pizza last night, it can be used a bit like spinach, just sauteed a little to wilt it down and put on top.

The Dandelion leaves are still sitting here.... I know I should have come up with some ingenious idea to use them but they just don't appeal to me at all, probably after tasting an extremely bitter one a couple of weeks ago!!

Of course there are still nettles around (and lots of them here!) so they have been picked and left in a bucket of water to make some organic liquid feed for the veggies.

So out of mess and mayhem came some little yummy, good for you rays of sunshine!! We will definitely be using our little book of Food For Free by Richard Mabey a bit more this year.    

Friday, 25 May 2012

Now on Facebook!!

Just so you all know we've set up a lovely new Facebook page, this is a quick and easy way to pass on information we come across, so if you are a Facebooker please come and join us and share, share, share!!!
Journey To The Green Dream Facebook Page

Monday, 21 May 2012

Sunshine ...... at last!!

We have had a beautiful day in the Lakes today, gorgeous warm sunshine making the water sparkle and the well-watered greenery look lush and lovely...

Lake Windermere

Down by the ferry point

Waiting for the ferry...


and best of all, the sunshine is meant to last all week...hooray!!!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

It's the pits!!!

Yes today I will tell you all about armpits, the not so smelly, lovely fresh kind I now have without nasty chemicals! Deodorant is one area that has worried me for some time, the scare stories of aluminium and parabens contributing to breast cancer ... (read Livestrong - Health dangers of Underarm Deodorants) These are common ingredients used in most mainstream deodorants that we buy. Of course there are alternatives that can be bought or you could, like me, make your own... It really is sooooo simple, so much nicer knowing what's going on your skin and effective too.

I can't take all the credit for this recipe as I originally found it here.. Surviving the Stores - Homemade Coconut Deodorant but I'll give you a very professional rundown of what I and everything!!

Step 1 -   Find yourself some empty containers, I used some old stick deodorant tubes which my hubby had kindly finished with. Clean out any remaining nasty chemical deodorant and keep ready for the mixture to be made.If you don't have any of these just use a tub as this can be rubbed on with your fingers just as easily.

Step 2 - Gather the rest of the ingredients and equipment... will need:
5 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup of arrowroot powder
1/4 cup of Bicarbonate of Soda
15 - 20 drops of Essential oil of your choice (I used Tea Tree as it has good antiseptic properties)

A bowl to mix in and a spoon to mix with!
(All the ingredients can be bought from either the local supermarket/health food shop or even online)

Step 3 - Put all the above into your bowl and squish and mix it all thoroughly together. I've found that sometimes getting your fingers in to squish it up can help to soften the coconut oil so it mixes easily but don't leave them in too long or it all starts to melt!! It should look like a slightly sticky biscuit dough...

Step 4 - Push the mixture down into your tub or deodorant tubes, this can be a bit messy but don't worry, you can wipe down the tubes later. I always pop mine into the fridge to set for a little while and then it's ready for use. You just need a quick swipe under your arms and you're ready for anything!
If you live in a lovely hot country you many need to always keep it in a fridge. As I live in the very beautiful but very wet and not so hot NW of England we don't have the problem of melting deodorant!!

I've used this recipe for a while now and have found that pains I used to get in my armpit (possibly something to do with the Lymph nodes) have all stopped and it really does work just as well as any mainstream deodorant I've used before.

Go on, give it a try......

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

This is healthy.....right???

Dave has just done the annual Keswick to Barrow walk, 40 long miles mainly on tarmac raising money for a fantastic local charity Alices Escapes (blatant plug!) So being the ever faithful wife I went off in search of healthy, energy boosting, easy to carry foods for him to take along with him. Of course, dried fruit and nuts...perfect! In actual fact he didn't actually eat any of them along the way so we were left with this lovely big bag of reasonably healthy yumminess...
or so I thought.....

Since we started trying to eat healthier I think I've turned into the label police!! What is Sulpher Dioxide and what is it doing on my supposed healthy dried fruit???

Well according to Natural News this is used as a preservative, not only in dried fruit but jams, wine, fruit juices etc etc..... In other words we seem to eat a lot of it probably without realizing!

They also go on to quote.. ' Sulphur dioxide is a preservative that is used to make dried fruits look better by preventing fruits from going brown. It helps to keep fruit moist and extends their shelf life. However, sulphur dioxide has been linked to asthma attacks, stomach problems and lower respiratory tract symptoms. Due to its composition, sulphur dioxide is a major air pollutant and has significant impact on human health when breathed in or ingested.'

Great!! Well... this packet will get eaten in our house but I will definitely be checking out all the so called 'healthy' foods from now on!!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Tumbling Compost

Apparently it's Compost Awareness week this week, so to keep in with the theme I will show you all our lovely compost!! Mmmmm not very exciting maybe but looky we have a new compost tumbler...... These can be bought but seem to be ridiculously expensive, so in true Blue Peter style here's one we made earlier....

We have had a problem with rats in our garden and due to the fact that they are not one of my favourite things in nature (understatement!) we decided to give a tumbler a go instead of the usual compost heap.

We are fortunate enough to have a food manufacturer near to us who get ready made sauces delivered in these big blue barrels and are quite happy for people to take them off their hands once they've emptied them. These make great water butts and of course composters! Dave and the kids  drilled some air holes, put some long screws through some of them to aid the tumbling process and made a stand from an old pallet where it can be spun around like a tombola....voila!   

Every time we have something to compost,we just open the latch door, throw it in and spin the tumbler around on it's stand a couple of times to jumble it all up and in theory this will make us some lovely compost for our veggies. There is some debate whether this process works faster than compost heaps but anything is worth a try and it seems to be working quite well so far... with a little bit of help from some wee of the male variety (a good compost activator so we're told!)

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Dilemma......

Not really relevant but I love Highland cows!!

We're having a bit of a dilemma at the moment... cutting out processed food and eating healthier, more natural foods is great and going well but how far do you go? If you've read our story above you'll know we are pretty much skint at the moment so where do we draw the line between money and good food? To be honest I don't really know the answer!!

The more we read about what goes into our food and how food is produced the scarier it gets, there seems to be critics at every corner, one says to eat only organic, one says to eat only pasture-fed, one says to eat only local, one slams the whole lot and says eat anything you like because you're going to die anyway!! (ok I made that one up but you get the point!) The problem we have is that organic is just so highly priced it's mainly beyond our budget, we are living on very little really and so the dilemma begins......

We spent about ten minutes in the supermarket yesterday (yes we still have to go there sometimes!) discussing the merits and downfalls of cows milk versus goats milk, then organic versus non-organic, then onto local versus not local.....  we'd still be there if I hadn't got stressed and just went for the usual non-organic cows milk we've always drunk!!

So no real decision made yet, this is one that we'll just have to figure out as we go..........

Friday, 4 May 2012

Exciting algae!

We are a bit busy this weekend, so you probably won't hear much from us for a couple of days. Tomorrow myself and E (DD) are off to a training day at the Freshwater Biological Association to learn all about identifying algal blooms! Sounds exciting doesn't it? What do you mean No??  Well, it may not sound too exciting but anyone who lives near lake Windermere knows that every year we seem to have a real problem with blue/green algae which can cause illness to humans and even death to small animals like dogs. That means no lake swimming for the kids and dogs alike which when you're sitting by a lovely lake on a hot,sunny day can be a real challenge!! The Great North swim was cancelled last year because of suspected blue/green algae so it's something that's important and needs to be monitored. That's where we come in! We will be part of a team of volunteers who will monitor a small area along the shore of the lake through the year to collect any samples etc so the very intelligent people at the FBA can figure out whats going on with the algae. I'm actually quite looking forward to it.

Then it's off to a friends party in the evening and walking on Sunday.....have a great bank holiday weekend!

p.s. did you know that some algae can look like beautiful spiral bracelets (according to E!)  

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Peas shoots and Propagators.....

Our two raised beds
The rest of the UK seems to have had torrential rain and flood warnings today, we have had lovely sunshine! This evening we got on with some of our garden and I'll give you a sneaky peek......

The rescued fruit bushes.

It's very messy and a bit haphazard at the moment but we have two raised beds where all the veg is busy growing and lots of bags (with potatoes) and pots with various things in. We are trying to put up a kind of homemade poly tunnel over the raised beds at the moment as the weather up here is being a bit temperamental, hence the weird contraptions in the picture. We are just waiting for an offer of some covering from our local's hoping!

Pea shoots - fast food!

Chuppa chups propagator!

One of our pots has some lovely pea shoots already growing, this has to be one of the easiest things to grow (ever!!) We happened to be catching up on a whole load of programmes on i-player and came across the Edible Garden , and in one of the shows the presenter grew pea-shoots just from an ordinary packet of dried peas...... so simple. Of course we then had to try it out .... and it really is that simple, pop a load of compost in a pot, any size, shape pot will do, sprinkle on a handful of dried peas, cover with a light covering of compost and water.....then wait for a few weeks and hey presto ...pea shoots!! They can be picked and eaten as you garden, or used as a salad leaf and taste goooood!

As a bit of fun we also planted up a couple of old chuppa chup lolly holders which the kids had finished with and they have now become mini propagators with lettuce in..... I think the neighbours think we are completely strange!!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Beautiful Cumbria...

Today I thought I'd just share some pictures of a recent visit to Sizergh Castle . Spring has arrived despite the horrible wet and windy weather we're having at the moment.