Sunday, 7 November 2010

Where's your money growing?

Today marks the start of the third National Ethical Investment Week (NEIW). NEIW is a campaign to raise awareness of green and ethical options for your finances. I think it's an interesting campaign for a number of reasons....firstly, finance and 'green' choices poses an interesting disconnect. Many of us who try to live in a generally sustainable and ethical way don't make the logical connection to extend this to our finances. It's great to to buy fairtrade coffee and recycle and make various other green and ethical choices but what about what we do with our money? What is our money financing and have we actually stopped and asked that question about our bank accounts, pension funds and investments. Finances may not be the most exciting topic to discuss but it's a huge issue and NEIW tries to raise awareness of this....much like Fairtrade Fortnight.
Easy ways to support the Week:
Where's your money growing? It's certainly a question worth asking!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Coveting....Northern Lights Birchwood Tray

Along with teapots and enamelware (and many other things) I have always been a big fan of's not that I use trays that often to be honest, but I just love them and am particularly loving this one which is now available at Amnesty International's online shop for the reasonable sum of £21.50. The illustration is by Finnish artist Emma Laiho. And should you be browsing the Amnesty site....I am also loving these gorgeous hand-painted cups, although I would probably want them more if the Winter wasn't closing in as they seem to me more of a Summer purchase.
On the note of Amnesty's website though, it is one of a list of online 'shops' from NGOs and other organisations that are a great source of inspiration for original Christmas shopping (aah, yes...I am joining the hordes of annoying shops that have already started pushing Christmas in our faces!).....but seriously, just thought I'd mention it now for all the super-organised out there......

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Beauty Review: Burt's Bees Pore Refining Mask

I have been a fan of Burt's Bees ever since a friend bought me one of their travel kits a few years ago while on holiday in the US. At the time, particularly living in South Africa, the range of 'natural' beauty products was rather limited and I found the lack of synthetics combined with interesting natural ingredients a refreshing approach.
I am actually now on my second jar of Burt's pore-refining mask with french green clay. I bought the first in Summer last year and have just purchased the second, which I suppose is enough of a review in itself.
The mask is 100% natural and basically contains French green clay and dried herbs and flowers. The product comes in powder form and needs to be mixed with a little water to make a thin paste which can be spread onto the face. Although I do find this a little fiddly, and occasionally messy, the advantage is that you can mix up as much as you like and the product has an excellent shelf life. For me, the reason why I like this so much is that my skin is slightly sensitive and I have found that other purifying, clay-based masks tend to irritate my skin. This one does leave my skin slightly flushed for a while, but it doesn't itch and the after effects are that my skin actually feels soothed and perfectly clean. I can't say huge pores are my major skin issue so I can't speak for those who suffer from this affliction but as a general pore-refining, deep cleansing mask this one is the best I've used.

Friday, 10 September 2010

I heart these...

I have always had a bit of a 'thing' for enamelware and I was in a bit of sulk recently as this enamel mug from John Lewis had been sold out before I could get my hands on one. But they are now back in stock and I will definitely be purchasing some. Yes, such simple things give me joy! Particularly as it is also Friday and nearly the weekend, hope you all have lovely ones...

Friday, 3 September 2010

Organic Fortnight starts today....

Organic Fortnight (3-17 September) kicks off today. I have previously blogged about my feelings on organic food and other products [Organic debate (en)rages] so I won't go into it again. Generally though I am definitely a supporter and Organic Fortnight is an excellent way of getting involved in celebrating 'all things organic', to quote the Soil Association's website.

The website gives a number of simple ways to get involved. Those of you near Bristol Habourside on the 11th and 12th of September could head to the 10th Organic Food Festival. Another idea is to visit an organic farm or host an organic dinner party. The website also has an excellent section on 'Organic on a budget' which addresses a concern that I often encounter among those who would ideally like 'go organic' but are concerned about the increase in costs.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

This, that and homemade pasta...

So my Bank Holiday weekend was as wild as anticipated! I delved into Gordon's 'Great Escape: 100 of my Favourite Indian Recipes' and made a delicious (in my humble opinion) Badami Chicken Curry and Sag Aloo. Badam translates to Almond in English but the curry had a very different flavour to a Korma, less sweet. Both recipes turned out well although I would modify the curry slightly the next time by adding some extra chillies, it was spicy but a bit mild for my taste. The book seems great so far though. There are a number of other recipes I'd like to try and many that are a bit different from what you might find in a standard Indian cookery recipe book.

The other culinary adventure of the weekend was totally instigated by the OH who bought a pasta machine (this one actually) from a charity store which we were browsing for books. I was, it has to be admitted, a little unenthusiastic. I love cooking of course but it just seems so much easier to buy pasta from the shops. But we followed (well the OH followed and I observed) the recipe in the recent Guardian article 'How to make perfect pasta' and after a bit of trial and error with the rolling and the folding it turned out wonderfully, although we made far too much. Served up tagliatelle-style with a carbonara sauce the pasta was honestly so different from shop bought that it was well worth the effort (probably not for every occasion on which I fancy pasta though). Next we are going to use home made pasta in lasagna and I have a feeling it will be a bit special.

Leaving food matters aside, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my Liz Earle shampoo and conditioner. I have pre-ordered their new haircare range which officially launches today. Finding a decent shampoo that contains no sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate can be a struggle for natural beauty product fans so I am excited to see whether the range lives up to the Liz Earle high standards which I have always found with their face and body ranges.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Wild weekend plans...

I am the proud owner of three new recipe books, and as recipe books are firmly in my list of 'favourite things' I am rather excited. Sad but true! So my crazy bank holiday weekend plans are to generally potter around my kitchen and make some yummy meals. Reviews on the below to follow:

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Time out...

My lengthy absence from these pages can be partially explained by some time off, some pressing deadlines at work and a work training course but also by sheer laziness and a bit of a time out really. I am back now though and would love to say that I feel refreshed after some wonderful days camping along the coast in North Yorkshire (a few pics below) but to be honest, I rather feel like I have had a taster when I really wanted a full course! Am craving some lengthy time away in a little cottage by the sea to write and paint and cook and read and that is a wonderful dream but alas, not possible at the moment. So back to work for me.....


Runswick Bay

One of my favourite parts of camping: toasted marshmallows!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Not buying it......

This is a particularly apt post considering what this blog is called. Having moved fairly recently I have had cause to sift through my vast piles of possessions and all I can say is.....for shame! And again....shame on me! I seem to have accumulated the most ridiculous amount of stuff. Some of it good (especially the books, I could never be ashamed of the books!) but some of it oh-so-very bad. Shoes that I had worn once and earrings I have never worn and make-up, expensive make-up, that is still it all its unused glory. And yet....I found myself still trawling the shops on a regular basis gazing lustfully at the very stuff I had languishing at home....only this was shiny, new stuff and hence very superior. I illustrate my point below:

Just some of my earrings collection

Nail polishes!

So I just thought enough! I need to stop buying for the sake of buying because not only is over-consumption harmful to the environment but somehow it's just not the type of person I am aiming to be. I have always considered myself quite a grateful person, not taking my privileged position in life for granted and yet I just seemed to be buying more and more for no reason. So July has been my 'Not buying it' month. Judith Levine has actually written a book on the subject called 'Not Buying It' way back in 2007 and the message is not new among the environmentally aware. 'Do The Green Thing' also highlight this on their website and their 'All-consuming' campaign is part of their seven steps towards a greener life.

So this month, although I have spent money on food and travel, I have not purchased any magazines, books, toiletries, clothes, accessories or anything else. This might not sound like much to some people, I know that my love of shopping is particularly pronounced and some people don't suffer with the same affliction, but I have found it quite difficult at times.....I see something in the sale and think, well now...I really do need another pair of black trousers so maybe I should just buy this....but I didn't and am remaining strong. I am not sure I could keep this going for a year, but certainly it has made me think and going forward I plan to consider whether I really need something before I buy it. The other great thing is that I am starting to actually use and appreciate the stuff I do have more. I still have another week or so to go of my 'not buying it' month but I think this is going to be something of a theme for the rest of the year....will keep you posted!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Coveting....Magno Cube Wooden Radio

The Design Museum London's Sustainable Futures exhibition is currently showing and will be until the 5th of September. Hopefully I will get there sooner rather than later (such as after the 5th of September!) and will be able to tell you more about it but in the conjunction with the exhibition their generally-fabulous-anyway Design Museum Shop has a number of gorgeous things in stock with an 'eco' aspect and I am loving the 'Magno Cube Wooden Radio' by Singgih Kartono. Not only beautifully designed and manufactured through an environmentally sustainable process; profits also support the development of the plantation surrounding the production facility. Plus it's MP3 compatible so can be used as speakers for one's iPod/MP3. It does cost £175 so this is very much admiration from afar on my part....but I can still enjoy its sheer existence! And that is what I am going to keep telling myself......

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Beauty Review: REN Moroccan Rose Otto Body Wash

I have been meaning to write a review on this for ages as it was one of my Christmas presents from the OH. And the reason why it was on the Christmas list is because, at £16, it is rather expensive for a regular shower gel purchase but I just kept reading good things about this product. And now that I have been spoilt with it I am loathe to go back to anything else! I absolutely love the smell but the main reason I rate this so much is the moisturising effect it has on my skin. Sometimes other shower gels/body washes can leave my skin feeling dry and almost a little tight but this makes my skin lovely and silky yet without an oily, sticky film which sometimes occurs with other products which contain essential oil. This won the 'Best shower gel' category in the Style Best Beauty Buys 2010 and I can understand why.

As with most REN products it contains no petrochemicals, sulfates, parabens, synthetic colours and fragrances, silicones or pegs....and the list goes on. REN's packaging is recyclable and can be returned to them using freepost. The only animal products REN use are honey and beeswax and none of their products are tested on animals. Visit for more information on REN's ingredients and environmental policies.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Pssst, 2 things you might like to know....

Oxfam Bookfest 2010 is happening from the 3rd to the 17th of July. Various events are happening around the country and books at Oxfam's Second-hand store are 2 for 1 on all £2.99 fiction.

Ethical Superstore's Summer Sale is now on with up to 70% off some items. I have my eye on this dress:

Although I am resisting as July is my 'buy nothing' month, more on which to follow. But that doesn't mean others can't indulge.....hmph.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

In a happy marketing coincidence I was contemplating the fact that we should eat more fruit and vegetables (because this is the kind of thrilling thing I sometimes contemplate) on the very day that an Abel & Cole flyer had been popped through our front door announcing that they were now operating in our area. So rather than ignore the universe I am busy trying them out. Today I received, for the third week, a 'small mixed organic box' which is apparently perfect for one person according to them but I am seeing how it does the OH and I and will upscale if necessary. So far I am enjoying the delivery and have been very impressed with the quality generally. I especially like that the box normally has a little recipe card tucked in with it so you can try something different with some of the produce you've just received. My only concern is that I have wasted a fair amount of the vegetables simply because they don't always fit into what we're having for dinner although I am getting better at making sure I incorporate what we receive. Abel & Cole have loads of information on their website (particularly in the faqs section) about the 'organicness' of their goods, their packaging and their work with small, independent if you're a 'concerned shopper' then they may be for you.

The OH said that our weekly organic box is pretentious! Which made me laugh and tcha with disdain but I did mull it over and fair enough in some respects I suppose if one was going to go round blabbing about it and how fantastically virtuous it is.....which I am soooo not doing here by the way....I just like that it is an easy way to support independent organic producers. I would love to shop exclusively at small grocers and/or farmers' markets but that is not really an option so for now I am going to go along with the pretentious organic weekly box!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Support a different way of doing business....

Co-operatives Fortnight is currently running and is aimed at raising awareness of co-operatives across the UK. Basically, a co-operative is a business that is owned and operated by a group of people for their mutual benefit. The official definition is "an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise". Co-operatives Fortnight explains further in its 'What is a Co-operative' leaflet. The Fortnight itself aims to promote co-operative organisations but also the idea of being co-operative as a whole, whether it's with your neighbours or community or whatever the case may be.

I think it's a good opportunity to find co-operative organisations in your area and support them. So many of us spend a lot of time criticising and bemoaning big businesses and here is a chance to support smaller ones or ones that might have operating values that may do more to address concerns around environmental, ethical and social issues. Check it out at

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Green Britain Day...

Tomorrow, the 17th of June, is Green Britain Day. Whatever your feelings may be about the fact that edf Energy is the sponsor (I am frankly, a little tired of debates around whether we should support initiatives sponsored by ‘the man’ ie. Big businesses....personally I think that the more we do to support positive steps by business to take sustainability issues into consideration the more likely they are to take notice and make even more of an effort because, let's face it, they aren't just all going to go away or turn into lovely little ethical co-operatives, but maybe that’s just me being optimistic....) there are a number of great ideas for simple activities you can do for sustainability and a great deal of information on the site here: By registering online you can receive a newsletter which will let you know of events happening in your area.

At a recent event I went to in a work capacity the discussion centred around which group – business, consumers or government, were the drivers of change in terms of embracing sustainability issues. As usual, there was no consensus, and as usual, the conclusion is that everyone needs to work together. An excellent point which was raised and made sense to me though, was the fact that as consumers, we don’t often have access to, in economic terms, perfect information. We can only make our decisions based on what we are told and that is not always the correct information and/or all the information. So we are forced to rely on business and the information they provide. So inevitably, the best impact we can have is to let businesses know our concerns, tell them that it is important for us to know that they are doing their best to ensure that when we purchase goods and services from them we can rely on the fact that they have done the research and they are offering us the most sustainable/ethical product they can. I know this may be a bit idealistic, but I think that rather than us, as consumers, trying to make a decision about whether, for example, loose fruit or packaged fruit, is more sustainable in terms of the joint issues of food waste, transport and packaging, that is something we need to rely on the retailers to have done their research on and then fed back to us. So speak to the businesses you use about what they are doing, as a whole, about sustainability issues....write to them/email them and let them know that you want the information. I know it may seem a waste of time as an individual but just a short email can make a big difference and needn’t be a hassle. Ok, semi-rant over.....happy Green Britain Day for tomorrow.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Kitchen Clickalong....

The OH and I have participated in few of Allegra McEvedy's kitchen clickalongs on the Guardian website. It's kind of a no-brainer that it would appeal to me, lover of food and recipe books! What makes these particularly interesting is the unknown element. You don't see the recipe as a whole so it is very different from following a recipe in a book....but it's also lots of fun.

Allegra also focuses on seasonal food and tends to use a lot of fresh produce which is great. Last night's was one of the best yet, especially because it was the first in our lovely new kitchen which has a breakfast bar counter perfect for the person on calling-out-the-instructions-from-the-laptop duty...which the OH did fabulously while also managing to make some amazing fresh raspberry and chambord based cocktails (more on them later as I think they are deserving of their own post!). We made English quiche of new season garlic, asparagus and new potatoes with lemon curd pots for pudding. I managed to use pretty much every utensil and container in the kitchen....but the end results were absolutely delicious! For anyone interested in cooking, I suggest you keep an eye out for the next one and join in....

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Make do and mend....

So the OH and I have just moved into a new house.....and without gushing (I only do that to my family and friends....a lot) I am just in love with it. We are only renting so are not in the business of making huge decor/refurbishing changes.....but we are planning on being there for a while so we are making it our own.....slowly but surely.

One of the projects I want to do in the fairly forseeable future is 'upcycle' our aged billy bookcases, of which there are 5 now in the open plan lounge/dining room area. They are currently tired-looking pine and the plan is to paint them white and wallpaper the inner back panel.

This is not a new and original idea by any means, it's been done to great effect here on design sponge and there are a number of sites that give step-by-step instructions. I think it's going to look great and to be honest, if it doesn't, we can always get some new bookcases as the ones we have at the moment are not in the prime of their lives so I'm not afraid of 'ruining' them. But I would always rather reuse what we have already, especially when doing that can mean you end up with something a little bit more original and personal than something straight from the shop.

I have ordered the wallpaper already (see below....I love it) and hopefully once that arrives I can get started so will post pics in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Beauty Review: Yes To Carrots Body Lotion and Eye Contour Cream

Yes To Carrots is a US-based skincare range now available in the UK. I have been using the 'C is Smooth - Body Moisturising Lotion' and 'Eye can C Clearly Now - Eye Contour Cream' for several weeks and although I wouldn't say they have astounded me they are good overall products.

The body lotion is non-greasy which is good. The only thing I don't like is that it just seems to disappear so I have to apply quite a lot before I feel like it's had an effect. I do like the fresh, 'baby lotion' smell as it doesn't interfere with my perfume.

The eye cream moisturises my under eye area effectively but unfortunately didn't do anything for dark circles or puffiness. So it's a nice product but not a miracle does however come in a very large jar compared to most eye products so will last for a long time and is good value for money.

The range uses Beta-Carotene from fruits and vegetables and minerals from the Dead Sea. Products do not contain parabens, phthalates and are not tested on animals. The 'Yes To' company state that they try to use as high a natural and organic content as possible....but this does vary from product to product, so it's best to do a bit of research and check the ingredient list for each one if you have particular concerns. The company aims to donate over 5% of profits towards the 'Yes To Carrots' Seed Fund, a US non-profit organisation which provides grants to schools and communities to help them build gardens and promote healthy nutrition. Visit for more information about the company and specific products.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Fairtrade Fortnight: The Big Swap is on.....

Fairtrade Fortnight starts today. This year, the focus is on swapping your ‘usual stuff’ for the fairtrade equivalent. A number of individuals, organisations and businesses have already registered their swaps at The website also has more information on what you can swap, Big Swap Events and other ways you can get involved in Fairtrade Fortnight.

The great thing about this campaign, in my humble opinion, is that it is really easy for individuals to get involved. You can embrace Fairtrade Fortnight as much as you’d like, whether all you do is register to swap your regular teabags for fairtrade ones for a few weeks or possibly take it a bit further swapping a wider range of items such as other groceries, clothing or even cleaning products.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

3 of the best.....ethical fashion sale items

Harriet Tunic now £30 (Frank & Faith)

Stweart + Brown Organic Tee now £24 (Fashion-Conscience)

Short Sleeved Cardi now £25 (Ascension)

Friday, 12 February 2010

Beauty Review: Liz Earle Cleanse, Tone and Moisturise

I had heard about Liz Earle products a number of times in the run-up to me actually purchasing them, and pretty much all the things I heard were good. The products are a favourite of the ‘The Green Beauty Bible’ and have won a raft of awards.

Liz Earle have a broadly ‘natural’ philosophy, although some of our stricter green friends may be critical of the fact that the range does use some synthetic preservatives. Liz Earle do no animal testing and use no animal ingredients, no mineral oils and no genetically engineered ingredients.

I purchased the ‘3 daily essentials’ from the website which are the famous Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, the Instant Boost Skin Tonic and the Skin Repair Moisturiser (I bought the Normal/combination version).

I have been using all three for about 4 months now and I am incredibly impressed. I am notoriously lazy when it comes to maintaining any sort of routine, especially a ‘skincare’ one. But I noticed the effects of these products from day one (seriously) and that just made me want to keep things up. The Cleanser smells gorgeous and for my occasionally sensitive, dry and flakey cheeks it has been amazing this Winter. I feel it wouldn’t be accurate to review each of these products separately as I have been using all three and would be hard pressed to say whether the improvement in my skin has come from one in particular or a combination of all of them. I went to a beautician I have been to regularly over the years for a facial a few weeks ago and she said my skin had never been so hydrated. I’m sure this is partially down to the fact that I have never before been so disciplined with actually cleansing, toning and moisturising on a regular basis but that is mainly because the products make my skin feel great. So a big thumbs up for Liz Earle and I am definitely going to try some of the other products in the range in the future.

Visit for more information on the range, to read their Environmental Policy Statement and to find out more about Liz Earle’s philosophy on natural and organic ingredients. Ordering products from the website is quick and efficient. The products were packaged beautifully when they arrived and although most of the packaging was bio-degradable there did some to be rather a lot of it, unnecessarily. I also received a free sample with my order, which is always nice.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

A new beginning....sort of...

Well it’s been a while….a long while. I have a number of excuses prepared for my long blogging absence (holiday to South Africa, hectic schedule at work etc.) but they are kind of pointless because the point is…I’m just not sure of how I am feeling about this blog at the moment and that is the real reason why I haven't been very inspired. I think I kind of went off in an unintended direction of only wanting to blog about something that ‘fitted in’ with some preconceived idea of what this blog was about….not even my own preconceived idea, just one that somehow arrived and then roosted.

I just want this blog to be about stuff…all sorts of stuff, stuff I like doing and eating and buying and wearing, mainly in London as that is where I live after all. And I want the things I blog about to be stuff I’d like to share, rather than something I have had to think about and then written about for the sake of having something to write about! So I am semi-kind-of starting things over with a slightly wider remit and we’ll just see how things go…that is the beauty of it all, nothing has to be set in stone.