School uniform and the environment

As a return to actual, physical school grows ever closer, I decided to take a look at the uniform my children will wear.

Going forward – possibly two of the words I use most on here – I won’t be buying the branded school stuff. This makes me slightly sad, because I love our little, wonderful school and I’m proud of it, and I know my children are too. But the sweatshirts and t-shirts are largely polyester, and as white cotton shirts are a viable alternative, I think I’d be wrong not to make the switch.

Meanwhile, I’ll be using my newly-purchased ‘Guppy Friend’ bag in an effort to reduce the damage done by the microfibres of the current uniform – at least until these garments wear out. Like the stingy economic parent that I am, I set aside the clothes my eldest wore to school and saved them for my youngest. This week, I took them out to check the state of them before going back…

… I’ve got to say, those t-shirts really don’t look good.

On the one hand, I know that within five minutes, whatever I put either child in will be covered in… something. On the other hand, I know that so many other children will be returning to school with lovely, brand new clothes so I don’t want my two to feel left out.

So, I thought I would attack the half-decade-old stains with some soap that was recommended in one of the lectures of the Sustainable(ish) online festival. Said soap came from a website called Chateau Du Savon and arrived plastic free in the post – bonus!

For obvious reasons, I’m not going post pictures of the school uniforms online, but suffice to say – they’re messy. For illustrative purposes, however, I did manage to find an item of clothing in a comparibly dreadful state….

This is a white shirt that my husband wore whilst chain-sawing an entire tree into small enough pieces to burn in our stove.

Let’s all have a good look at that shoulder… Take note.

So, it’s a challenge. Almost as much of a challenge as my eldest’s hideous old t-shirts…

As I said, this white shirt is masquerading as a school uniform, so from this point on, I’ll be referring to it as such.

I started by soaking the polo shirts in cool water. This actually removed a fair amount of grot. I then rubbed the bar of soap directly onto the areas which were most stained – namely the inside of the necks, and the point on the front of the shirt where the stomach meets the table.

After I’d done that, the water looked like the picture above.

So I rinsed and scrubbed a second time and got this…

Still mucky. So I filled the sink one more time, scrubbed lots, and then tossed everything into the Guppy Friend bag.

The result was actually incredible. Honestly, I wish I’d done it sooner, and it gives me hope for when I do switch to white cotton shirts – perhaps they won’t end up as destroyed as I’d feared.

And that shoulder is all clean again!

Not that you can really see from this picture, but the cuffs also came out particularly well. No-more worn-on grime.

I wish I could show you the transformation that took place on the uniforms themselves – there was only one shirt which really didn’t scrub up to the point where I could pass it off as new.

It begs the question – why do we buy new uniform every single year? Obviously if our children grow, we need to replace items, but there seems to be a mass purchasing before the start of every autumn term where back-to-school=new uniform. This really isn’t necessary. If we take care of our clothes, they will last so much longer. This involves washing cool, line-drying, and keeping them in a good state of repair. All of these things will save you money. All of these things will reduce your impact on the environment.

I’m not saying that you need to go out and buy specialist stain-removal soap, or laundry bleach, or Napisan – even using concentrated amounts of regular soap will help – but if you do make this small, environmentally sound investment, you’re likely to see big rewards.

I plan to cover the repair of a chewed sweater cuff in the coming weeks, so if you have a child that likes to eat their jumpers, it’s worth coming back!

Do you have any top tips for keeping children’s clothes free of stains? Are you a fan of the back-to-school, everything-new-for-a-new-term ‘tradition’, or are you happy to reuse things until your child outgrows them? Comment below, or on Twitter.

Beanbag Revamp

My parents bought this beanbag for my eldest child, just before we moved in with them (in order to facilitate a house move) around 6 years ago. It didn’t always look like this, though – originally, the beanbag was an amazing, vibrant orange colour, and made of pleather.

Since the initial purchase, it’s definitely been a well-loved item of furniture and I’ve refilled it more than once (using beans I picked up on Freecycle, no less). It’s now 7 years old, though, and just as loved as ever. I get the impression that it was constructed for fun and aesthetic impact, rather than longevity. I especially feel like the pleather wasn’t made to last that long. In fact, let me show you…

Isn’t it an awesome colour? You can see the white specs on the seat, though, and here’s a close up of where the layers of plastic are peeling away.

Sad times. I expect that in years gone by, this is where I’d have thrown in the towel, saved the beans and the zip, and taken the rest to the tip.

But not today!

I decided to go stash-diving and select a new fabric to cover the beanbag with.

First, I drew up a pattern. Looking at how the original shape was constructed, I made three panels – one for the back and sides, one for the front and top, and one for the base. I cut draughts for these from some old lining paper that the kids had drawn all over…

I then used this to cut out the fabric, which I proceeded to stitch together into the top and sides of the cover.

At this point, I put the beanbag in, then stitched the bottom on by hand. If I’d taken all the beans out, put the original shell into the new cover and then returned the beans, I could have finished the entire thing using the sewing machine but honestly, knowing how those annoying little beans behave, it was actually just quicker to sew this myself.

I finished by adding velcro along the back seam. This isn’t so I could extract the original shell – which I can’t see myself doing – but so I could access the zip to refill the whole thing, should this become necessary. I used velcro that I found in amongst my mother-in-law’s sewing things, which is – coincidentally – where I found the blue, floral fabric.

It was a total pain to do, I’ve got to confess. The plastic of the velcro was really tough to sew through and I would say that if you decide to give this a go on your own beanbags, you either need to learn to sew with a thimble or do the whole thing on a machine. I could not have made this, were it not for the little thimble I learned to sew with last year. Having that tiny shard or armour on my middle finger made the whole thing possible.

And this is the end result. You might notice the handle at the top of the beanbag here – I achieved this by cutting two little sections of interfacing, and leaving part of the top seam open.

I can’t actually get over how neat the handle looks.

And that’s about it really – here’s to another 6 years, at least!

Have you ever tried making a beanbag, or recovering one? Have you attempted to make covers for any of your other furniture? Would you have chosen fabric that was a little more… subtle? I’d love to hear your opinions.

 

Buy Nothing New – month 1 review

So, what I have a learned so far?

It’s only been a month, and I wasn’t a huge ‘consumer’ before I made this pledge, so I haven’t found the actual not-purchasing as difficult as I might have done, were my buying habits different. That said, books and other things I ordered online before my birthday have been coming through the post in drips, which means I haven’t felt it as acutely as I might.

What I have noticed, however, is a feeling of what can only be described as ‘overwhelm’ at the quantity of things in my house. As I’ve said before – we’re not a family overburdened with stuff. I like to aim for a quantity of items which would fit easily into two transit vans, should we ever need to move again – one for me to drive, and one for Husband. We also have no storage built into the house. As a property that was originally constructed in 1901, there just wasn’t a need for built-in wardrobes…

Even so, I’ve become acutely aware that if anything breaks, I can’t just throw it out and buy a replacement. This means that I’ve been hit with a sense of responsibilty for every single object I own. I feel that I am obligated to repair anything which needs it because I am unable to replace it in the near future.

Really, though, shouldn’t this just be usual?

Shouldn’t we feel a sense of responsibility to care for the items we’re custodians of?

Anyway, in practical terms, how have I done?

I have made purchases this month – though as specified, these are not new items. I’ve bought:

  • A second-hand set of stainless steel sieves. Two days after my birthday, our 25p-just-got-married-Sainsbury’s-Basics plastic sieve snapped in half. We tried to glue it and failed. We then tried to live without it – using a collinder instead – but failed in that too. Rice just poured through the holes. I bought second-hand commercial cookware, though, so these items should – in theory – last a domestic setting a lifetime.
  • Four Woodland Trust Guide Books. These were brand new, so I think I’ve technically broken my promise in the first month, but these aren’t for me so… does that technically count? I was caught off guard when the opportunity to meet my youngest child’s nursery teachers arose. We went foraging with the class one day and I thought it would be a nice ‘Thank You’ gift to hand over something about fungi. Because I’m fickle, I’m OK with this – it supports the Woodland Trust and shares a love of the outdoors.
  • A two-minute egg timer. Bought second-hand on eBay, this is to aid in the daily battle that is brushing teeth. It’s made of wood and glass, and is pre-loved. I think it fits the bill of ‘permitted’ purchases well.
  • Books. In addition to the guide books noted above, I bought the next comic in the series Husband is reading, and a violin music book for myself. In both instances, I bought these items used, though ironically, the violin music cost more second-hand than it did to buy new. That one stung a little, I will admit.

And that’s it! A total of just under £70 including postage.

Has there been anything I specifically wish I could buy, but didn’t?

  • Cotton wadding for the middle of a patchwork quilt. I’ve done the top layer, have the fabric for the bottom layer and just need some kind of filling. I’m sure that if I wait, a solution will present itself, but I’d love to tick another finished craft off my list, so this one’s haunting me a bit. If, by November, I haven’t found a way to complete this without making a purchase, I probably will buy some wadding and use the quilt as a gift.
  • Buy a Stranger a Book via the Big Green Bookshop. Every Wednesday, Simon at the Big Green Bookshop runs the ‘Buy a Stranger a Book‘ event on Twitter. It’s exactly what it sounds like – people can offer to purchase a copy of their favourite work for a stranger. I think I’ll make this an exception to the rule and participate in this going forward, but for June/July, I haven’t done it because I felt like I was breaking my own arbitrary rules.

Recovering my ironing board…

Some of you might have seen my recent post about beeswax wraps, and that I wrecked my ironing board cover while making them.

I’ve made covers for this baby ironing board before, but they’ve all been more than a little rubbish until now. I just couldn’t quite figure out how I should add the elastic/string to the main fabric. Then my friend posted a really clever method of doing so, and I’ve been waiting to try it ever since.

But I’m lazy, and the other cover was… mostly fine?

Maybe not.

Anyway – after I clarted everything in wax, I decided that now was the time to fix things. I grabbed an offcut of cotton from the kids’ curtains and set to work….

First off, I chose cotton because I know it’s not going to melt, and because I know I can machine wash it, if I get grease on it from making cheese toasties.

… Irons can do many things…

Anyway, first of all, I took the string out of the channel and set it to one side. Then I ripped off the horrible, amalgamated Franken-channel, formed from the deceased ironing board covers that came before it…

Which left me with a shape I could cut around.

After I’d done that, I went stash-raiding for some bias binding. This I found amongst my mother-in-laws things, in the ideal shade of turqoise.

And all I did after that, was open the binding out, fold it in half, and sew it around the edge of the old curtain, using the machine.

If you’ve got a more recent machine than mine – and being quite honest, as my machine is from 1895, chances are  you will have a more recent one – you should probably do a zig-zag stitch around the raw edge. Or use an overlocker if you have one. If you’re using an overlocker, you could do as Amelia suggests, over at Sewing Machinations, and overlock the wadding to the cover, but again – I’m lazy. And I didn’t.

After I’d finished, I tied the original string to a safety pin and passed it through the new bias binding channel.

An important point to note, at this stage. As soon as you have both ends of the string in your hands, tie a knot at the very tip. Then, as you try and even out the distribution of the string through the channel, you won’t lose one end and have to rethread the entire thing. After you’ve placed the cover on the board and tightened the string, then you can untie it and retie it in a tight bow. This will save you a lot of work if it gets lost.

All that’s left to do then is to put the cover on the board. As you can see, my ironing board is a tiny, table-top one – largely used for ironing sewing projects and toasted sandwiches (because who has space for a dedicated sandwich toaster?!) – but the principal is the same no matter what size of ironing board you have.

I really hope you’ve found this useful – I’d love to see your before/after pictures if you’ve had a go, either here or on Twitter.

Remake

I’ve been spending an increasing amount of time on Twitter since the country ground to a halt. I’m not generally a sociable human, but not seeing anyone other than my family for the last few weeks has started to take its toll and I find myself actively seeking out contact outwith my bubble.

And I’m so glad that I happened to be online when @AmyTwiggerH posted one of her incredible remade knitted garments. Her #Reknitrevolution website is absolutely stashed full of tutorials for how you can turn unloved knitwear into something you might actually get some use out of.

In my case, I’d seen an old cricket jumper in a charity shop (about a year ago now) and snaffled it up instantly because of the 100% wool fibre it was made from. I thought that even if Husband or I didn’t want to wear it, I could always felt it and either make a nappy cover for my youngest (who is due to start school this year, so that shows you how far back I’m going!) or some slippers. Fast forward and it’s been in my cupboard for about half a decade doing nothing. Time to change all that!

You can’t really tell from this picture, but parts of it are in a sorry state. There are ladders and snags, and it’s just generally an unhappy thing.

Here’s the worst ladder…

And one of many snags…

Aaaand a hole in the cuff.

But look how old! Look at that phone number! All things considered, it’s doing alright…

So, first step – repair the bits which need repairing. 

I started with the big, obvious ladder and used a crochet hook to do this. Excuse my manky nails in these pictures – I do wash, especially at the moment, but I’d just finished potting up some lettuces and apparently was lazy with the nail brush…

Anyways. What you’re seeing here is me sticking the hook through the loop closest to the body of intact knitting. Once I’ve done that, I’m going to grab the nearest ‘rung’ on the ladder and pull it through this loop….

Like so…

It’s really hard to photograph and descrbe, but if you do a quick search, you can find all sorts of better tutorials out there for how to do this.

I basically repeated these steps along every rung of the ladder until I reached the edge of the knitting.

When I got to this point, I sort of bodged it all by passing some of the cut ends through the last loop, securing them with a knot and then working the tails into the knitting.

Again, hard to describe, but this is the result.

Far from perfect, but it’s not going to unravel any time soon.

Next, I fixed the hole in the sleeve, and pulled the loop of the snag back to the inside of the sweater.

After this, I opened up the collar. It was a strip of garter stich sewn onto a strip of stocking stitch. These were joined in the centre, so I unjoined them.

Then, for ease of the cadiganising process (detailed here), I cut out the central cable. This could technically have been cut in half directly (and that’s actually what Amy recommended I did), but on trying on the sweater, it was a bit bigger than I would have liked, so with the added cardigan front it would have been even wider. This gave me the chance to get a better fit.

But here’s where I ran into difficulty. The yarn that I’d chosen to match the sweater…

… had been nibbled by moths. I bought it secondhand so I’m really hoping that the moths from it haven’t devoured any more from my stash. In any case – the yarn took a trip into the freezer to kill any residual moth eggs.

Meanwhile, I got out my good, sharp scissors and did some surgery…

In order to get a good, neat line right down the edge of the stips, I turned the sweater inside out and followed the single column of stitches between cable and stocking-stitch panel.

When the wool came out of the freezer, I started the process of picking up the stitches… This was oddly more terrifying than the cutting because it felt like the whole thing would disintegrate if I moved it around too much. Amy’s instructional videos are really reassuring, but honestly, I’ve dropped too many stitches and wrecked too many garments ot be complacent.

Anyway, onwards.

It would be entirely redundant of me to detail the next section of work as there is literally a video linked to above (where it says ‘instructional videos’) which shows you how to do the next steps.

Just to prove I did it though, here are some pictures of the cricket sweater.

Here, you can see me joining the two sides of the sandwich together and casting off at the same time with three needles…

It’s not as complicated as that makes it sound.

Anyway.

Fast forward again and you have this lovely little jacket for your cut edge. Suddenly, it’s nice and neat and tucked away inside where it can’t unravel.

On the other edge I did the same, but instead of casting off as I went along, I switched to a 3×2 rib and put in button holes. I sort of eye-balled this and sort of mathed it (‘Hey, Husband – which numbers go into 79 ish?’)

At this point, I realised I needed to make a decision about the collar. The issue I had was the fact that I’d unpicked too much of the neckline when I cut the front. I’d presumed I’d be chopping these bits off so I wasn’t careful about damaging the knit as I undid it. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

So, I sewed the blue and the garter stitch back into place. It looked like a total mess.

At this point, I was ready to cut my losses, but the sense that I couldn’t wreck this any more than I had done drove me to try and crochet along the joining edge between the blue and garter stitch.

At first, it looked crap. But again, I just kept going…

When I reached the other edge of the neckline, I still wasn’t happy with how it was looking. But again, I didn’t feel as if I could hurt this sweater any more by experimenting so I crocheted my way back along.

And it looked neat. The messy edge was nicely enclosed. I was so glad I kept working it to the end.

After that little hiccup was dealt with, I picked out some buttons from my mother-in-law’s stash. Like any box of buttons, the number of matching sets is limited so I picked out some cute little red ones.

After I’d sewn them on, I was ready to try it on.

Unfortunately, I can’t take a photo of myself wearing it, but I did snap a few shots of it on my manequin.

I don’t think it’s especially flattering in the picture, but in real life it ticks all the boxes for what I feel a squishy cardigan should look like. I really love it – really love it.

Thanks to the amazing tutorial from @AmyTwiggerH, I’ve taken an unwanted, unloved garment and turned it into something that I’ll wear almost daily. I’m super grateful for the guidance and the idea.

I think, as well, that this has changed how I’m going to knit, going forward. I’ve been working cardigans by turning the work, but this opens up the option to knit in the round – significantly quicker – and then cut the work to create the cardigan. It’s something I’ll definitely be experimenting with.

Have you tried altering knitwear? I’d love to see some examples. As ever, contact me here or on Twitter.

 

‘The 5 Rs’ – Reduce

I thought, over the next few months (or any other time I start to run low on ideas for content 😛 ) that I could look at one of the 5 Rs in more detail. This time, it’s the turn of Reduce.

I like ‘reduce’ as a concept – if I was the sort of person who picked a word as a theme for the coming year, I think ‘reduce’ would be the sort of word I’d pick. Reduce my spending, reduce my waste, reduce the time I spend online, reduce the number of things I own, reduce my worries, reduce any excess in my life… so many things I aspire to reduce. 

But realistically, what am I doing about it? I’ve written at length about reducing plastic in the bathroom and food waste in the kitchen, but not a vast amount about things like energy consumption and resource sharing.

I thought I would remedy that today.

Reducing resource use

Books are the obvious one – we get ours from the library, reducing our spending and the amount of resources we use in one fell swoop.

Clothes are another point to mention. In addition to buying second hand where possible, we use dye to make things last longer and do lots of repairing. I also try to select clothes made of natural fibres, but with school uniform, this is incredibly difficult. In future, I’ll post about the other ways in which I get the clothes which have to be new i.e. underwear.

Furniture is largely second hand, with the exception of the mattresses, pillows, and duvets for the beds.

In our room, we don’t use bedside lamps – we actually bought LED lanterns for when we go camping and use them by our bed for the rest of the year. I like items with dual purposes like this – our enamel camping plates, for example, serve as pie/crumble dishes for the rest of the year, and the solar lamps we use to highlight guide ropes to young children on toilet trips during the night double as Christmas lights in the garden. There is no sense in us having lamps by the bed in addition to the lanterns, when the lanterns can serve perfectly well.

In the bathroom, we’re down to the bare minimum of disposables. I recently wrote a long post about ways in which we’ve improved the bathroom compared to how it was in 2019, but I didn’t mention a few of the things I’m proudest of in there.

The bath mat, for example, was made from old jeans and duvet covers. I cut these up using my friend’s rotary cutter and then wove them using a peg loom. Whilst I really love this, and look forward to having another go on the loom when this rug gets too manky to use, I know that I can wait until I have the right fabric to shred by simply placing a towel on the floor. So many times, we buy things, or make things which we don’t actually need because an existing object will do.

In the photo above, you can also see an old pan-stand on which I’ve put some of my millions of spider plants. They’ve been potted in an old pyrex dish. Going forward, I really want to add some more plants with different shapes and textures so I get a lovely tower of green next to the bath… so far, though, it’s just spider plants…

In the dining room, we’ve switched to cotton napkins to reduce the amount of single-use paper towels/kitchen roll we were getting through. The napkins were made from a pack of tea-towels that we didn’t feel did their job properly. I sliced them into quarters, hemmed the raw edges and now they’ve got a new life as perfectly servicable napkins. Hooray!

I’ve spoken at some length about our kitchen before, but I think it’s worth mentioning the soap pump we use for washing-up liquid. This ensures that we’re not pouring more in than we need. The resusable brush handle, the recycled plastic brush heads and the washable knitted cotton cloths all help reduce waste here too.

Reducing energy consumption 

In order to reduce our impact throughout the house in general, we’ve done the obvious – fitted energy saving light bulbs, backed the radiators with foil and switched to a green energy supplier.

These are small acts to reduce our expenditure – both financial and carbon – but they are paying off slowly. One day, I would very much like to be able to reduce our fuel usage further by installing a different heating system, but for now, this will have to do.

In addition to the obvious things – cooking multiple things when the oven is on, hanging washing out to dry and turning off all the lights obsessively – we’ve tried a few other things to cut our electricity use. The camping/bedside lamps I mentioned above help to reduce our power usage as they run on rechargable batteries and each charge lasts for months so that’s great, but the biggest energy saving we’ve made has come from switching our NAS server for a smaller one.

When we set up our home business, we did the obvious thing and got a small-business sized NAS server as a way of backing up our data. It soon became clear, though, that this was total overkill. We were never going to fill 6 drives, doing what we do. We made the switch back to a domestic sized NAS and not only is our living room so much quieter (the ‘new’ NAS isn’t actively cooled), but we’re saving a LOT of electricity. I mean, evident-on-our-bills sort of a lot. Selling on the huge NAS earned us back a significant sum – far exceeding the cost of the ‘new’ (to us) NAS – so we’ve come out of the change more ‘cash rich’ too. It’s absolutely worth looking at your technology and its energy usage to see what you’re able to swap out. It’s just a case of gettinng the right tool for the job.

One of the more controversial swaps I’ve made, has been to do away with my smart phone. It had come to the end of its useful life (due to software updates rather than hardware issues, much to my chagrin) and as I’d deleted my facebook account, have a wonderful camera (which I clearly never use for this blog…) and a GPS for the car, I didn’t see any reason to spend horrendous quantities of money on a new one. Instead, I bought the 2017 remake of the Nokia 3310.

I absolutely loved the original Nokia and spent many a Higher Maths class playing Snake under the table. The bonus of the remake is that battery technology has improved so much since the year 2000 that I can now go seven days or more without needing to charge my phone! Whilst I haven’t seen the obvious change in my electricity bill that I saw with the NAS server, I’m sure that in a small way, this is making a difference. Going forward, I’d like to look into getting a solar-powered charger that would work with my Nokia, but for now, I’ll content myself with not having to plug in every 24 hours.

__

As I said last time, it feels as if my efforts to cut fuel consumption have reached something of a plateau, but I will continue to try. Hopefully making all of the above changes (which are either free, or save us money long term) will help us to save up for the larger ‘upgrades’ we need to make in order to be more efficient.

Do you try and reduce your fuel consumption? I woud love to hear any tips you have, either here or on Twitter. 🙂

Minimal Waste Garlic baguettes

One of the things I like to do regarding food, is to see how long I can go between meal-planned shopping trips. This results in less food waste as I’m forced to find ways to use up the odds and ends in the fridge which might otherwise go to waste.

One of the easiest, quickest, most obvious ways of using up wilting vegetables is soup and so we tend to eat a lot of it – I am a lazy cook! That said, it can get a bit samey  if you’re having it a few days in a row. For that reason, I really love to serve it with different things; oatcakes, cheese on toast, porcini bread (more on that later), and the all time favourite – a garlic baguette.

The obvious issue with these is the packaging. Some are better than others, but often you find the bread on a plastic tray within a plastic bag, or two baguettes individually wrapped within a larger bag…

As we were getting through so many of these, I decided to try and find a reduced waste alternative. Unfortunately, I can’t get butter without creating waste, but otherwise, I think I’ve got it cracked!

First, you need your baguettes. You can buy these loose at many bakery counters within the supermarkets. I can vouch for the quality of those from Lidl, Morrisons and Tesco, but haven’t tried any from other outlets. Pictured below are some reduced baguettes I bought for 11p. Yes, they came in plastic, but I’ve been keeping these sleeves after use to freeze loose baguettes so they won’t be destined for the bin for a while yet.

Plus, I’m not going to lie – I’m not going to say no to 11p bread. But that’s a discussion for another time. For now, I’m claiming that my buying them helps to reduce food waste…

In addition to the bread, you need around a third of a pack of butter, a garlic clove and a big handful of parsley. I got the parlsey from the reduced section this time, too, but when my plant outside recovers, I’ll be using homegrown again. I’ve also been known to use dried in the past and it does work though obviously you need less –  I reckon about 1tsp is a good quantity.

First of all, melt your butter. Today, I had some just-boiled water in my kettle from the cuppa I was drinking so I used a bain marie, but you could just toss the butter in a bowl in the microwave for around 20 seconds, mashing it at the 10 second mark.

After your butter has melted, mince/finnely shred your garlic and very finely chop your parsley. Mix the lot together and place this in the fridge/somewhere cool until the garlic butter has the consistency of Mr Whippy ice cream.

While you’re waiting slice across the baguette, but leave about 1cm attached the bottom. I don’t know what’s going on with the above picture, by the way. The bread looks miniature but I swear it’s just the angle…

After the butter has hardened a little, it’s just a matter or spooning it in between the slices. Slip the bread back in its plastic, or in one you’ve been saving, or another recepticle of your choice and then freeze.

To reheat these, turn the oven on to around 160C/320F and allow around 20 minutes. To make the most of the oven being on, I usually cook something else at the same time – a cake/some cupcakes/the soup in a casserole dish, for example.

If I’d purchased baguettes loose, bagged them up in my reusable bags like I normally do, and used parsley from the garden, the only non-compostable waste would have come from the butter packet.

Definitely an improvement on the pre-made baguettes, and a fraction of the price.

I would call that a win! What are your favourite ready made foods? I’d love to see if we can figure out a low waste, super-easy alternative! As ever, let me know either here, or on Twitter.

 

Mending the Oven – a Do Nation Pledge

Over the past few months, I’ve spoken about fixing my sunglasses, mending son’s trousers, and replacing the lid on daughter’s water bottle as part of Do Nation’s ‘Fix It’ Pledge.

I’d promised to mend four things during the two-month time-frame and as it draws to a close, Husband and I finally got around to doing the big fix which had inspired me to take the pledge in the first place – we mended our oven!

This is the oven which came with the house when we moved in:

Buy RANGEMASTER Classic 90 Dual Fuel Range Cooker - Cream ...

It is, by far, the nicest oven I’ve had access to since I lived at home with Mum’s coal-fired Aga. However…

The long, thin oven on the right hasn’t ever worked. The fan’s been broken since – I presume – before we moved in… five years ago.

To mend this, we searched online for the model number of the oven and found the manual, then from there, we searched for the broken part and bought a replacement. At this point, I would definitely say that you need to be careful with the listings – we searched ‘genuine Rangemaster part’, but if we had read the description better, we would have learned that we were actually buying a part for a genuine Rangemaster…

And usually, I’m all for a bargain, but in this case we got what we paid for. When we opened the package, the bolts we needed to fix the fan in place weren’t there.

We did, however, get three completely superfluous screws…

Luckily the bolts on the original fan were intact so we were able to reuse them, but honestly – they’re grimy and very worn so I’m not entirely comfortable with that. Next time I’m in town, I’ll buy new ones, but for a quick fix this is perfectly adequate.

The swap itself was easy enough and facilitated by a video online (which I won’t post a link to because a. Husband looked it up, and b. your oven is probably different to mine).

The research time for the part was probably ten minutes. Including the cleaning of the space behind the over before we dared tread there, the fitting itself took around thirty minutes. The part cost under £35 including delivery.

So ,I’ll take that as a win!

I’ve now commpleted my four Do Nation repairs, but this has definitely made me rethink a few things. As I said when I posted about Son’s trousers, I’m pretty good at repairing textiles and do so regularly, but it was really nice to learn that it’s not so hard to repair other things too – even bigger, scary, grown-up things like ovens.

Mending Son’s Trousers – a Do Nation pledge

Some of you might remember my earlier posts about repairing Daughter’s water bottle and my old sunglasses.

At the beginning of the pledge,  I promised to mend four items – which,  if you think about the amount of things in the average house,  really isn’t a lot.

As with the water bottle,  I nearly didn’t report this one.  I fix clothes fairly constantly, but then I thought the method might be of use to someone.

So,  two holes in a pair of hand-me-down 100% cotton joggers – one on each knee. For the first,  I sewed up the hole and stitched a patch over the top.  Interestingly,  the patch came from a pair of Daughter’s shoes – there is a loop on the back for the laces. We took them off to make them more suitable for school but put them aside for just this sort of thing.

For the next hole, I didn’t want to use a patch as the tear was tiny.

To start with, I secured the hole…

This is technically a fix in itself and if your child/you is happy with the hole like this,  you should definitely leave it – less work! Unfortunately,  my child wasn’t happy with this so to create a patch, I began weaving over the top with some cotton yarn I had left over from a project.  I chose cotton so that the added fibres could be washed at the same temperature without the risk of uneven shrinkage – something I can’t sew my way out of.

I’m really pleased with the finished trousers – the structural integrity is restored and Son is happy with how they look. I would call that a win.

 

 

Mending Daughter’s Waterbottle – a Do Nation Pledge

I wrote recently about fixing my sunglasses as part of Do Nation’s Fix It Pledge.

Specifically, I said I planned to mend a minimum of four things. Whilst I haven’t managed to get round to mending my quilt or oven yet, I’m already halfway there after tackling my shades and now, Daughter’s water-bottle.

We bought this SIGG flask for my now-eight-year-old when she hit the six-month mark. As a life-long chewer, the sports cap of the bottle had seen better days. I was all ready to shell out on a Klean Kanteen for her when she pointed out that if you could get replacement parts for other branded bottles, you might be able to get one for hers.

So, we did a quick search and I was really impressed by SIGG’s website and the available spares. Whilst the cap itself was far beyond the point of unhygeinic, the lid was totally fine and it was so heartening to see that you could purchase both parts seperately, allowing me to reuse the lid we already had.

The ‘repair’ was so easy that I nearly didn’t write about it. I simply screwed the old cap off, clicked the lid away, clicked it onto the new cap and then screwed that on… job done!

The bottle is now good for another seven years! Inevitably, she’s going to grow out of the beautiful animal pattern by then, but I’m not above a flask with zebras on so when that time comes, we can do a swap.

My singular complaint here is the cost of the postage. The cap was an affordable £3.49, but I didn’t get the option to select second class delivery when I ordered – something which would have made the total cost lower.

Still, two repairs down and only two to go – I wonder how many I can overshoot by, before the end of my pledge!

Have you taken part in a Do Nation pledge?