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Category Archives: Green Living

Frugal Silver Polish

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I’ve had some family heirloom baby cutlery languishing in my flatware drawer for longer that Daughter has been around, and I unfortunately never used it for her because it was so tarnished.  I’ve been decluttering a lot in the last year or so, and I finally decided to either keep that family heirloom stuff for use with visiting little ones and get rid of the natty plastic stuff or keep the natty plastic stuff and get rid of the silver.  This resolution coincided with me coming across this blog post, where Jen of My Make Do and Mend Year talks about polishing silver with a banana peel and some baking soda.  Needless to say, I felt compelled to try this before going out and buying silver polish (which, frankly, stinks and brings back some unpleasant childhood memories).

polish_before

Before I polished the baby spoons, with decades of tarnish on them

Jen’s directions involve blending a banana peel with baking soda and water to make a paste, but I’m lazy efficient by nature and cheated by just dumping baking soda on the mushy inside of the peel and massaging the peel together until I got a paste.  Then I used the banana peel to rub the paste onto the spoons, mostly so that I would not have to clean a rag, and added more baking soda.  I’ll be darned if it didn’t work like a charm!  Afterwards, I just dumped the banana peels into the compost bucket and washed the cutlery normally.

After I polished them with banana peel and baking soda

After I polished them with banana peel and baking soda

Voila!  I’m still a little stunned, because not everything works out that comes off the internet, but it certainly worked well enough that I’ll never buy silver polish again.  Bananas, people, who knew?

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Curry Stains

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Sometimes, if you’re like me, you end up with curry stains on clothing or tablecloths, particularly after a particularly lively curry take-away dinner.  The yellow stain, left behind by turmeric, is nearly impossible to get out with detergent, but I have a discovered a trick to this.  A friend from India told me that her mother leaves the stain out to bleach in the sun for a few hours and then washes out the oil stain as normal.  Eager to try this, I stuck a tablecloth with a big curry stain on it outside the next time the sun was bright and, lo and behold, the stain is gone!  An oil stain is left behind, but I can get at that with shampoo.

Apparently, the dye in turmeric is reactive with the sun, and fades if it hasn’t been set by ammonia.  Who knew?

This year’s Lambeth Country Show

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I’m up to my eyeballs in writing my dissertation, but I wanted to share the link to the programme for this year’s Lambeth Country Show.  It’s this weekend, and you can find information about it here.

If you get a chance, it is good fun.

Dig for Victory! (for free)

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I just wanted to share the updated BBC website for free gardening seeds and tips.  I’ve ordered a pack of free seeds, and Daughter and I are eager to start planting now that spring is truly here.

The website is here, but I don’t know if they will send seeds outside of the UK…

Egg dye, the old fashioned way

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I am so excited this year, I am actually going to dye eggs with natural products.  I know this sounds a bit goofy, but egg dye is a bit hard to come by over here.  Well, it used to be, and now it just seems that what is available is a vague Paas replacements (i.e. not quite right).   I had several egg dye kits packed away from previous years, but this is the first year that I don’t have any to use.

I’ll be using the method outlined by Martha Stewart here.  I thought I would mention it now because the onion skins in particular need saving up.  We always have beets and red cabbage around, not to mention coffee and tea.  I think the only thing I really have to get is the turmeric, but I might be able to borrow that one off of the neighbors…

Also, if you are wondering where eggs for dying would have come from during the War, I am willing to bet that the clever house wife actually blew her eggs out and dyed the shells.  If anyone knows, please let me know, also if anyone has any other ideas for natural dyes.

Now that the weather is warmer,

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I’ve been doing a few Homefront things on the cleaning front.  I have started a huge spring cleaning yet, and I don’t know if I will, but when the weather starts to warm, I do the following:

Hang laundry back outside to dry (one of my favourites).

Hang out bedding in the sun, even if it is not so warm, and especially winter blankets.  Even if we are still using the blankets, it is nice to have them freshened outside.

Throw open windows in rooms that aren’t being used during the day, to air them, even if the heat still comes on at night.

Air out shoes and boots, especially if they’ve seen near daily wear during the winter.

Air out heavy coats, and then pack them away.

These are just a few ideas of things to do to help with spring cleaning and summerizing the house.  They don’t cost a thing or much time at all, but they do lift the spirit.  What are you doing now that the weather is warmish?

Triumphing over waste (?)

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I just wanted to share a satisfying triumph for today that really has nothing to do with me.  I took delivery today on two new divan bases (a long, drawn out story of trying to find an ideal bed) and the month’s groceries.  In that whole process, I managed to only throw one thing away, which is what I find satisfying.

So, the beds came wrapped in big, heavy recyclable plastic bags and cardboard ends.  I will use the plastic to wrap up the old frame, which is being sold on Ebay, and the cardboard ends will be recycled after Daughter has had a chance to play with them for a while.  (I see the potential for doll beds and houses, but we’ll see what she comes up with.)  So there are two beds, unpacked, and an old frame disassembled, with nothing going into the garbage.  How is that for a closed loop?

The groceries also came today, irritatingly bagged in plastic shopping bags, which I detest.  However, I can either pass the bags on to Daughter’s school, which uses them for taking things home, or recycle them by handing them back to the deliveryman.  I usually pass them on to Daughter’s school, but recycle any Daughter brings home.  All of the bags that produce comes in are recycled in a similar manner, and the clear plastic ones I can use again get washed and rotated into our plastic bag pile.

The majority of the month’s groceries are either in recyclables like plastic bags or tins, or in tetra paks, which are recyclable in our council if you take them to specific recycling points (I have a spotty track record on doing this).  One or two things are in non-recyclable film, which was what I ended up throwing away today.  Even better, almost all of the produce was from the UK, England even, save for a bag of apples from France and a bag of peppers from Spain.  Granted, everything I ordered was more or less in season, like potatoes, cabbage, apples, pears, carrots, leeks, and swede, but that is what is tasty at this time of year too.

I decided to share this not because I want you to have a window into my obsessive little world, but because this is how I think the world can and should work.  Packaging should be minimal and recyclable (tetra paks included, Southwark Council!), food should be relatively local and in season, and waste should be easily kept to a minimum.  Imagine how much easier life would be if you only had to throw one or two things into the garbage a day.  Clearly it is possible, so why isn’t it common?