Minimising waste and reading more books!

2018 has been a great year, filled with so many wonderful books sent for reviews and bought for home or our school library.

I don’t have the time right now to list all of my favourites and I don’t know if I can choose either!! But here are a few Recent ones:

Another great thing that has happened this year is our movement towards creating less waste in landfill this year.

We’ve kept on composting and worm farming,

Reducing our food waste by making banana peel cake

Making our own dishwashing detergent, dishwasher powder and other sprays around the house!

And trying to use less packaging where we can.

I’m hoping to share more tips and tricks for parents to create less landfill waste in their homes without stressing about being zero waste – which I am sure turns many people off as it is quite unattainable for many who work full or part time, live in the suburbs, have kids, care for others .

If you know anyone who would like to join me and learn from my mistakes and my successes then pass on my blog.

See you in 2019!

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Stock made from scraps!

Over the last week rather than composting all of our vegetable scraps, I have been keeping some of it in the freezer.

I then roasted an organic chook and some chicken drumsticks and kept all the bones and leftover meaty bits we didn’t want to eat.

Now, this will often go into our compost but I have given it one more life and turned it into

Chicken Stock!

Now we can add extra flavour to our meals throughout the weeks and months without it costing a single cent!

Recipe taken from
I Quit Sugar: Simplicious

Ash dresses her friends by Fu Wenzheng

Have you ever made something  from scratch?

And then been able to give that object to someone else?

Ash dresses her friends by Fu Wenzheng is a wonderful story about friendship, sharing, kindness and the beauty of being able to make things yourself.

Ash is a shy little bird and she doesn’t have many friends until she starts to use her wonderful gift – her ability to create clothing and objects from a beautiful piece of red material.

Ash creates many things including a shirt, arm chair cover, a dress and a scarf! She spreads her ability and love all over the neighbourhood and brings joy to so many through the simple act of kindness.

Ash could have kept the red material all to herself and made so many wonderful things from it but she chose to share and make other animals lives happier.

Ash dresses her friends is a wonderful story about how we can be kind to others, how we can share our gifts to make others happy and how we can make things on our own.

Many of us resort to the shops to buy things for friends – perhaps this book will inspire you to make something of your own next time a friend needs a present, a pick me up or just a reminder of how important they are in your life.

The illustrations really highlight the friendships being developed, the happiness each gift brings and the vibrancy of the material Ash uses in each creation.

I loved the red material Ash used and hopefully one day I might just find something made out of it!

So what else can you do at home?

SELF ESTEEM

  • Explore the gifts your child has. Talk to them about what they can do to make others happy and to show them how special they both are.
  • Look at how Ash felt shy and sad and explore times your child has felt like this.
  • How do friends make us feel good?

SUSTAINABILITY

  •  Ash made things herself out of one piece of material. Where do your clothes come from and who made them? Can you make the effort to buy more clothes from locally and ethically made sources?
  • Explore the Fashion revolution to see how you can be more aware of how your clothes were made, what they are made of and where they go once you have finished with them.

ART

  • Explore the techniques used by Fu (contrast between red and black/grey) and how this impacted the story. Create your own artwork using two contrasting colours.
  • Create your own print like the red material.

COMMUNITY

  • How can you play a bigger role in your community? Explore different groups or community days and how you can be a part of them so you know more people around you.

BUY FROM FISHPOND NOW – CLICK BELOW

Ash Dresses Her Friends

JOIN MY FACEBOOK GROUP FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS WHERE WE EXPLORE BIG ISSUES AND HOW TO BEST TALK ABOUT THEM WITH KIDS.

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One small step

Worried that your vegetable patch isn’t growing too well and perhaps isn’t making a difference to the world?

Or perhaps when you only walk once a week instead of driving you wonder if it is really worth it?

And how about the times when you are given a plastic bag because you forgot your reusable bags and you really need to carry something home in it?

All the small steps add up to big steps and every small step will inspire someone else to make a difference. Check out these books and the characters who made a small step to inspire others. ?

Leaf by Stephen Michael King       

Amelia Ellicott’s Garden

The Last tree in the City

The Seagull 

Ada’s Violin

A bag and a bird

What small steps are you going to take today so you can make a difference in some one else’s life

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How to inspire yourself to change

At the end of the year we reflect on how we have gone this year and how we can change for the better.

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We think about the great things we achieved for ourselves and for others and the not so great things.

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It is a great time of year to inspire our children to reflect on the wonderful things they have done throughout the year too.

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However, many of you reading this blog live in the western world where life is easier than most. We don’t live in war, many of you will have enough money to eat healthy food, have safe accomodation and access to education.

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And for children the concept of how lucky they are is difficult to realise when they have never seen what life is like on the other side.

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I have come across some wonderful books this year that will show your children what life is like elsewhere and hopefully inspire them to make small changes in their lives to help those less fortunate.

This could be

 – Buy local products so children are not exploited. 

 – Buy organic or spray free products so families who live near farms are not harmed.

 – Invest in small businesses rather than large multi national companies.

 – Create less waste by making your own food, buying less toys and sharing products.

 – Send money to organisations who directly help those in need – not spend it all on advertising! 

And of course, read these books:

Feathers by Phil Cummings

The Thank you dish by Trace Balla

Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood.

Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin

Under the same sky by Britta Teckentrup 

Can you add any more books to this list?

The thank you dish by Trace Balla

What are you thankful for?

Do you stop during the day and reflect on how lucky you are?

The Thank you dish by Trace Balla might help you and your child think about being grateful for all the little things we take for granted.


It’s dinner time at Grace’s place and together with her mother they are giving thanks for the many ways their meal has made it to their plate. They are grateful for the simple things like rain, soil and sunshine but then Grace moves onto other ideas such as road workers (who make sure the roads are safe for the bikes to travel along), kangaroos (for not eating the food before they picked it), alpacas (for their wool that keeps us warm) and friends (who help grow and catch food).

Trace Balla has written this celebratory book to show young children that there is more to their meal apart from the supermarket and the packages. They are shown that being a part of a community is part of the growth of food and it also shows that taking the time to slow down, be grateful and learn about where your food comes from is really important.

Grace and her mum also show the slow movement towards sustainable food gathering – a movement which is slowly building momentum as people start to realise the importance of supporting those who grow food and make things from hand.

Australian life is reflected through Trace Balla’s illustrations. You can feel the spring time glow and the smell of winter evenings on the water.

The Thank you dish is one to share with all young families and one that will hopefully initiate your own evening meal conversations of gratitude.

So what else can you do with this book? 

 

Download these tips now: thethankyoudish

Millie-Mae and the Lemon Tree by Natalie Marshall

Need to inspire and educate your child into how we can make our own food and rely less on the big brands and supermarkets?


Millie-Mae and the Lemon tree by Natalie Marshall is a beautifully illustrated touch and learn book that teaches children how they can make their own lemonade out of three simple ingredients!

Mille-Mae is a series of books published by Five Mile Press and each are about a small girl who explores the world around her through seasons, play and the natural world.

As we read Mille-Mae and the Lemon tree we too were inspired to make our own lemonade for our home party! Books can inspire great change and through this we were able to avoid buying juice and soft drinks – therefore avoiding plastic waste.

Millie-Mae and the Lemon Tree has a touch and feel aspect as well as lovely shiny pieces which add to the magic of learning to this story.

Mille-Mae and the Lemon Tree is a lovely sweet story and we will be keeping an eye out for more Millie-Mae books!

So what can you do?

 – Make your own lemonade! We used the following recipe 

– Explore other food you can make from scratch and through buying food in bulk so to avoid single use plastic.

– Explore Mille-Mae and and find out why she wanted to make lemonade and how she shared it. What could you do? There is often a lemonade stand in our street once or twice a year!

– Empower yourself and your child to rely on the supermarket less and less. There are many things we can do. It does take a little bit of extra time but in the long run it is worth it.

Down the drain

I’m talking the talk so I’d better walk the walk.

I’ve read and blogged about many books that inspire us to take better care of our rivers, lakes and oceans and the creatures within.

So here is a recipe to make your own toilet bombs.

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Simply pop them in the bowl, scrub whilst they fizz and your bowl will not only be clean but will also smell lovely!

  •  1 cup of bicarbonate soda
  •   1/4 cup of citric acid
  •  3 tablespoons of castile soap.
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon essential oil
  • 1 teaspoon of eucalyptus oil. (feel free to change these oils around as you please)

Mix dry ingredients then add wet ingredients.

Push into ice cube moulds and let set for 3 hours.

The mixture may fizz and rise a bit in the moulds so just press down until it settles down.

Enjoy the smell!!

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An eco easter.

Another Easter rolls around and all we seem to see in the shops are hot cross buns and easter eggs! Not that this is a bad thing but it is starting to become more and more consumer driven rather than about the meaning behind Easter. Whether you are christian or not – Easter shouldn’t be about the foil covered, plastic boxed easter eggs. It should be a celebration of new life.


There are many ways we can start to change our habits and not make Easter another environmental disaster – AND still have fun! Most Easter eggs are covered in foil which isn’t recyclable and also boxed in plastic which is also not recyclable.

So what can you do? Perhaps try these swaps this year to make your Easter a little bit more eco-friendly!

  • We all love chocolate so keep the chocolate! But can you source locally made or fair trade chocolate?
  • Buy an Easter book! A book is a gift that keeps on giving.
  • Make your own Homemade chocolates! Melt some bulk bought chocolate (if you buy in bulk there is little or no packaging from whole food stores) into moulds. The children can wake up to a jar of homemade chocolates instead of store bought eggs.
  • Use bunny prints instead of an Easter egg trail.
  • Buy seeds or flowers – these represent new life and many seeds planted now will be stunning flowers in Spring!
  • Replace plastic eggs with felt or knitted eggs (many of these can be sourced online).
  • Donate to the Bilby foundation instead of buying Easter eggs for the Adults in your life.
  • Make your own Homemade Hot Cross Buns!

Reading snacks: Chocolate and popcorn? Who knew?

 

We all read reading snacks and if the snacks are healthy then we can eat more and read for longer…right?

Here is a wonderful recipe that is homemade, nut free and mostly Australian grown. They are also packaging free which is not only great for the environment but great for you as it means one less trip to the bin!

1 1/2 cups of cooked popcorn.

1 cup of coconut – desiccated works better but shredded is fine.

1 cup of melted coconut oil.

1/4 cup of cacao powder.

1 cup of sultanas

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup of pepitas.

Method.

  1. Whizz up the sultanas – they are tricky to whiz so at least make them as mushy as possible!
  2. Whizz up the sunflower seeds and pepitas.
  3. Mix all of the dry ingredients together then add the coconut oil.
  4. Set in the fridge for at least 4 hours before eating.

 (excuse my poor food photography!)

Home made Advent Calendars

Temptation abounds in supermarkets with the chocolate advent calendars in store!

BUT – you can avoid these additive fuelled, sugar infused and terrible tasting calendars for your own, homemade thoughtful one!

The one pictured above was made by my 5 year old. She copied the numbers down onto each envelope and clipped them to a piece of string.

We then wrote one activity down on a piece of scrap paper and placed it into each envelope.

These included:

  •  Go for a bushwalk
  • Made a seed bell for the backyard chooks
  • Have a dance off
  • donate a present to a giving tree
  • Plant some summer seeds
  • Write someone a letter and post it.
  • Bake a cake
  • Go and visit your next door neighbours with a Christmas card.
  • Create a new game to play outside.

There are so many options here – so have fun creating your own!

We also created our own chocolates which will be kept in the fridge and eaten each day!

Simple ingredients

  •  One block of dark chocolate
  • One bowl of Sprinkles
  1. Melt the chocolate using the double boiler method.
  2. Spoon the chocolate into moulds
  3. Place sprinkles over the top!
  4. Place in fridge over night.


 

Home made Bath bombs

Christmas is a time of giving and there are so many ‘things’ to give people that involve plastic and waste.

We decided that instead of buying our friends different presents, we could make our own.

Bath bombs were high on the list after being given some last year and we found out that they are quite easy to make.


There are many different recipes out there so I tweaked what I found and here is my recipe:

HOMEMADE BATH BOMBS

  • 1 1/2 cups bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 cup citric acid powder (We bought ours from Aussie Soap Supplies)
  • Food colouring
  • Lavender oil
  • Sparkles, potpurri (anything to add some surprise to the bath!)
  • Coconut oil
  • Silicon moulds.

  1. Line silicon moulds with small amount of coconut oil.
  2. Mix Bicarb soda and citric acid powder in a separate bowl.
  3. In another bowl add your food colouring.
  4. Use half a cup of the powder mixture and add to the food colouring – make sure you stir quickly so it does not fizz!
  5. Add a couple of drops of lavender oil
  6. Add a large teaspoon of coconut oil.
  7. Mix together with your hands until you can scrunch the mixture and it sticks together.
  8. Add sparkles etc.
  9. Place the mixture into a mould and leave for 36 hours.

Pig the Elf by Aaron Blabey

Pig the Elf is another humorous tale written by Aaron Blabey of a pug called pig and his misguided ways.

Pig is very self centred and only thinks of himself and the wonderful gifts he will be getting from Santa. There is no Christmas spirit in Pig and his wish list is metres long! (and quite entertaining). Luckily for the reader, Pig’s selfish ways are dealt with in a humorous fashion with the word BUM getting a good laugh at!

Now Pig the Elf is by no means a book about sustainability or eco living BUT it made me think about how we can get very caught up in what we want for Christmas!

We need to encourage children not to get caught up in the material side of Christmas and this can be tricky with advertisements ramping up, toy catalogues in letterboxes and other children talking about what they want.

Rather than not giving presents (which is quite harsh at this time of year!) try to discuss how we can have a more waste free christmas. There are so many fun ways in which you can create gifts that have a lot more meaning.

  •  Make your own advent calendar
  •  Make your own bath bombs
  • Make your own christmas cards
  • Buy activities rather than gifts (movie tickets, theatre, museums etc)
  • Plant some living gifts
  • Give a book! 
  • Make your own wrapping paper out of scrap paper.
  • Give an eco gift – backyard chooks, worm farm or compost bin!
  • Donate to a charity which helps others or the environment.

 

A change in mindset is possible and I am sure even Pig the Elf could change his mindset if someone sat down with him and helped him to reflect on himself……but then we wouldn’t have anymore humorous tales from Aaron Blabey for next year, would we?

Banana flour pancakes! 

I’ve posted some books recently on the topic of bees and honey AND I have many more to come. However, today’s blog post is on the best way you can use honey and that is on pancakes!

We love pancakes and I especially love homemade, waste free and gluten free pancakes!

Today we made Banana flour pancakes.

My Banana flour is made in Australia by some ingenious banana farmers who needed to use up some green bananas rather than letting them go to waste. Banana flour is a great prebiotic and is fantastic to bake with. It is a great alternative to flour and is nut free so great for lunch boxes.

Banana flour is great for the environment as it reduces the waste of the green bananas just ending up in the compost, it lessens the reliance on wheat flour and is better for your health!

Here is a great recipe, I hope you enjoy it!

1 cup of Banana Flour

3 tablespoons honey

3 eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

150 ml coconut milk. You could also use almond milk – or a combination!

 

 

Banana pancakes! 


Taking care of the planet is important to me so trying to make small changes with my family is really important. 

One step is to make our own healthy food bought from bulk food sources rather than just the supermarket. 

Not only do you save money buying in bulk, you reduce unnecessary plastic waste and trips to the supermarket! 

We made these great pancakes today and here is my recipe: 

1 cup besan flour 

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup coconut cream 

1 banana 

3 tablespoons of coconut oil

Vanilla or honey or cinnamon to taste 
Mash banana then add the rest

Fry in coconut or macadamia oil

Eat hot! 

Home made Sauerkraut

This is a great recipe from the book Heal you Gut by Lee Holmes.

Many people are talking about the benefits of probiotic food at the moment so it is everywhere in the health food shops but you can make it at home!

This is so easy to make  – cabbage is cheap and all you need is a glass jar, some herbs and a dark cupboard!

I find the taste of this one quite subtle so perhaps you will too (especially if you are new to eating it). I eat it  when I have eggs and vegetables for breakfast!

Sauerkraut – Use 2 x 1 litre jar.

1/2 green cabbage

2 litres of filtered water

1 tablespoon of Australian sea salt (much more eco friendly)

1 garlic clove – crushed

1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.

  1. place cabbage in jars and press down until 3/4 full.
  2. Stir other ingredients together so the salt dissolves then fill the jars with the mixture.
  3. Place a tight lid on the jars and place in a dark cupboard for 4 days or until bubbles start to form (This depends on the time of the year you make it!)

 

 

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Coconut carrot cake

Time for a cuppa a slice of carrot cake!

carrotcake

 

4 eggs (from the backyard chooks)

1 cup shredded coconut

2/3 cup coconut oil

1 Tbs honey

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup coconut flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 cup grated carrot (about one big one)

1/4 cup almond meal

1/4 cup finely chopped dates.

Bake for 20 mins!           At 180 degrees