Sustainable Living April

04 May 2020

This blog has always been about living life in a mindful and intentional way, for me this means that most of the decisions we make have been thought about carefully, even if we decide to continue as we are a decision has still been made.  When we take a product from a shelf in a shop or tap a button on a screen, should we stop and think about how it has got this point before we do so?  It can be hard to make decisions over many aspects of our lives, we are often far removed from the means of production and it can be hard to find out how this operates.  Maybe we shouldn't be thinking is there a more sustainable replacement for something, rather do we really need it at all?

To help me keep on track I have come up with some words that I will be using to keep my decision making mindful and intentional, and my life in general as sustainable as I can make it.  If you you want to join me you would be most welcome, either using the same words for inspiration or your own that are more meaningful to you.  These are the words (you can read my thoughts behind some of them here) that I have been using in April:

My weekly veg box has been a treasure trove of surprises this month we have definitely moved on from a box full of root veg which is what we get all Winter.  I love that I never know what I might get, it is making me dust the recipe books off and look inside.  Do you find yourself cooking the same things over and over, or is just me? I know I have periods of doing this, perhaps it relates to when a season is really settled and the vegetables we are eating are the same from week to week, but those transition times require more thought.  Whatever the reason I am enjoying eating and cooking some different dishes.

I have also realised this month how much I rely on other sources as well as the veg box for the large volume of veg we eat in this house.  Some of the activities we used to do took us near shops where I could buy loose, locally grown veg.  I am happy that my garden is providing me with lots of kale, cabbages and purple sprouting broccoli at the moment.  I have also dug up the last of the Jerusalem artichokes which have provided us with a few meals too.  I feel like I am doing something that I should have been doing, that is being more mindful about what we already have in the house and garden before going shopping.

Keeping my family fed at the moment is absorbing large amounts of my time not least as they always seem to be hungry!  I have started making more puddings, something I don't usually do as I am not a massive fan of them.  I am happy to make them if they will be eaten though, even if not by me.  I have been glad of the three rhubarb plants in the garden, which are healthy and producing lovely fat stalks.  We have had rhubarb fool, a polenta rhubarb cake/pudding and my favourite baked rhubarb.  I cannot believe I have not made this before, it is ridiculously easy and so tasty.  I used 600g of rhubarb  with a tbsp of honey, 1 tsp ground ginger and a splash of vanilla extract, I cut the rhubarb into pieces about 2 inches long and drizzled over the honey mixed with the ginger and vanilla, covered the dish with foil and put it in the over.  I took it out a couple of times to stir all the juices over the rhubarb.  When it was soft enough to eat I took it out and we had it with cream and or ice cream.

Now that most shops are closed anything that we want to make at home has to made with things that we already have.  My husband is good at collecting things that might be useful one day, we have a garage and workshop full of such bits and whilst it makes it very full and difficult to store and get at the things we use regularly, I have to say we do often make use of this eclectic collection.

I was winding a hank of yarn using my wool winder and my husband observed that it was not very efficient which is wasn't as I don't or should I say didn't have a yarn swift to go with it.  This is a frame that holds the hank and turns as you turn the wool winder.  We found a tutorial on You Tube to make your own and by the end of the day I was the owner of home made yarn swift.  The pivot that allows it to turn was taken from an old lazy Susan and the pegs are pencils that he cut down and shaped to fit, we didn't have any dowl!  It works perfectly and makes winding my wool hanks much quicker and easier.

The warmer weather has meant that I have been in and out the polytunnel on a daily basis.  It is now nearly 17 years old and after years of battering by rain and sun the door was really warped and difficult to close.  It also didn't fit very well so there were large gaps round the sides, the temperatures are still dropping quite low at night (single figure centigrade) so it was cool in there in the mornings.  Again using bits stashed in the garage we now have a snug fitting, easy to close door.  It has made such a difference to the temperature inside, my seedlings all popped up in the days that followed it might not be due to the door but I am sure that had something to do with it.

I have also been in the garden itself a lot too, cutting back many of the plants that usually get left to their own devices.  Some had become rather unruly.  The large pile of cuttings were turned into two small wattle fences, one round our small pond and the other along one of the beds.  Alice built these with a bit of help from her dad.  She is now constantly on the look out for more cuttings and possible willow plants that she could take cuttings from when she is out on walks, she wants to build more!

I have been so grateful for the wonderful friends I have in my life this month.  It has not been an easy month for me, totally unrelated to the virus, and the friends that have been there for me on the end of the phone have been a huge support, listening and comforting me when I needed it.  I never thought it would be possible to have three hours chats and still be able to put the phone down realising there were things that you forgot to say.  I usually spend a lot of time in the company of my friends, whose children are my children's friends too, that talking to them on the phone has been an important replacement when we cannot meet face to face.  Making sense of things that are difficult to comprehend are so much easier when you share that with other people who can give you a different perspective and help you to find a way through.

I had thought that being at home all the time would mean that I had more time for making and creating.  In reality so much of what I do still needs to be done and often at specific times so my 'free' time tends to be in pockets rather than long stretches.  It took me a while to find a new rhythm that allowed time for me to fit creating in as well but it seems to be working now.  It made me realise that even though our usual rhythm keeps me really busy I always found the time to create, often thinking ahead so that I could take things with me when out and about.

I have been knitting a cardigan for Alice for her birthday, the body is complete and I am just coming to the end of the first arm.  I was worried, as I had a problem with the pattern, that I would not have the time to complete this for her birthday at the end of May.  It is definitely going to be ready on time, I just hope that I have suitable buttons in my small stash.  The socks I started in March are nearly a complete pair, I am knitting the last few rows of the foot before I shape the toe box.  I have also cast on a bowl that I will knit and the put in the washing machine to purposely full it (shrink it) to make a solid fabric.  I like to have a supply of these at all times to use and to give away as small presents.

My sewing machine has been busy this month I have made a small basket like the ones you can see in this post, I have darned several items that were getting a little holes.  I also made five scrub bags.  These were passed on to NHS workers so that they can put their uniform into them at the end of the day and take them home safely for washing at home.  I had a message from a friend that her neighbour, a nurse in a local hospital, was desperate for some of these.  I found a couple of old sheets and managed to make five bags and their drawstrings out of the fabric.  I had no cream thread so I had to make do with the various colours I had in my sewing box.  It felt like a drop in the ocean making five bags but I realised that if lots of people made four or five bags that would soon add up, I was a small part of something bigger.

I have also been having a go at some embroidery, it is something that I love doing but never think I have the time to do.  I am not drawn to doing it from a kit so I have always found it a bit difficult know where to start.  When I saw a tutorial available on this lovely blog I knew that it was what I was looking for.  I have made a start and hope to make the finished embroidering into a bag, I will share my progress on another post.  I have loved picking this up from the basket it is stored in and adding a few stitches each time I walked past and had a moment.  I definitely want to do more of this kind of embroidery.

April was such a warm and sunny month here.  The April showers which are often so common were pretty much absent, I had to water the garden on several occasions.  I have spent at least an hour every day pottering in the garden, weeding and pruning, it has never had so much attention or looked so tidy and well tended.

In the polytunnel I have had two apple trees which we hand grafted this time last year and several hazel saplings which have all be over wintering in there.  They are all growing well and I have been slowly hardening them off ready to plant outside in the coming weeks.  My seed trays are also slowly filling up, seeds have been planted up and small seedlings are starting to poke up through the soil.  I love the hope that this time of year brings, thinking of all the lovely vegetables that we hope to harvest in the coming months.

My sanctuary this month has been being able to go out for a daily walk in the beautiful countryside around my house.  One in particular takes me up to a high point from which I have a near 360° view.  I have enjoyed sitting up there and soaking up these wonderful views.  There are some big stones that make great seats, I have also enjoyed sitting and meditating up there too, on those days when I needed the calm that comes with doing that.

I have mentioned here before that one of my sibling has had an incredibly difficult time over the last few years. The last sixteen months, in particular, have been the hardest for all of us.  Things go up and down, it often feels like we take three steps forward and two back.  The last few weeks have not been easy and I had not realised the effect this was having on me until I started to feel exhausted a lot of the time and knew that it could not be physical exhaustion so I must be emotional exhausted.   I have realised that I am going through a form of grief at the change in the relationship between me and my sibling, I have also realised that I need to be gentle on myself with respect to this and allow that grief some space to be acknowledged and validated.

I couldn't choose between two things that we have all really enjoyed this month, the first is family film nights usually on a Saturday night as Cameron starts his paper round much later on a Sunday morning which gives us a longer evening.  We have no TV but we do have a projector and screen so we can create a cinema at home.  Each week one person would choose what we were going to watch, popcorn was made and we sat down all together to watch.  We have enjoyed it so much I hope we continue to do it long into the future.

The other thing that we have loved doing this month is going out for a family walk after tea just as the sun is starting to set.  The wonderful weather we have had has meant that we have has some beautiful sunsets and being outside is the best place to experience them.  Not only have the sunsets been wonderful but all going out together has been great fun too.

Thank you once again for reading through this very long post.  I realise that it may seem that I do an awful lot, I suspect you do to, if you were to write it all down like I have here.  You are most welcome to join me, either use the same words or your own which mean more to you, let me know in the comments below and I will head over and have a read.  I will post my Sustainable Living May roundup on Tuesday 2nd June.


  1. What a busy month you've had. I've never had a veg box delivery, mainly for the reason you state, you never know what you're getting, but I suppose it does make you be a bit more creative. I'm definitely one of those people who cook the same things over and over again, perhaps it would do me good to be made to jump out of my comfort zone. Your yarn swift is fabulous, I have one the same style but mine was bought. It will make winding your yarn much easier.

    1. I cannot believe it has taken me so long to ask my husband to make me a yarn swift! It makes winding your yarn so much easier and quicker you are so right.

      I was like you about getting a veg box and I worried about veg we don't really eat but you can exclude vegetables so it would be easy not to get things you don't like. Most schemes do trial boxes too so you can try for a few weeks before making a commitment to it regularly.

  2. A lovely post - it is great to be able to use what you have, or re-purpose what you have. The fencing really complements those tulips.
    I really like the embroidery idea too and I could certainly manage this, I think, so thank you for the link.
    Best wishes

    1. I being able to use what I have it feels so right and satisfactory! I hope that doesn't make me sound holier than thou. I hope you have enjoy the embroidery as much as I have, I loved it and want to do more now, this is definitely my kind of embroidery.

  3. It is wonderful to read a blog of someone who has taken to the road of sustainability and made it work. You write with such thoughtfulness, a pleasure to read.

  4. what a full life that is focused on what is important to you. I value my daily walks to get my wiggles out. Makes me feel sane!!

    1. It is Karen you are right. I am glad to hear that you are enjoying our daily walks, they are really important right now aren't they.

  5. The film projector sounds fun. Reminds me when we used to have cini film shows when I was a kid. Love rhubarb so will have to make that pudding to go with ice-cream. x

    1. We love our projector, we have had it for about 15 years now, it is great for watching things on, not just films!

      Hope you enjoy the rhubarb too!

  6. Family film nights are such fun! We all tumble and jumble up on our comfy lounge and enjoy a movie together from time to time on a Saturday night. We always have popcorn too! Our favourite films are comedies and it's so nice to share giggles and laughs together. MegXx

    1. Glad to hear there is someone else enjoying film nights, they are such fun aren't they. We had another one this weekend.

  7. My husband never "throws anything away" too!!!!!!

    Ahhh that term.... "Throw Away"... We have realized that there is no such place as *Away*!

    He makes things out of old, rather than new, when possible. -smile-

    Which is all the more wonderful of him, because of where we live. I love my Beloved Country! But cringe at all the *throwing away,* that is done here.

    Not being able to run to stores, has been a eye-opener in itself. We do not go, go, go. But it is so amazing, at how less we need. Even for us, who never had to have all the *new toys,* which so many, seem to "have to" have. Lessons! Lessons!!!! Learning!!!

    So happy I felt the need, to do "Just In Case Preparation," before this world wide pandemic really hit. And our Dear Daughter In Law next door, too. I have been amazed, at the huge number of people, who did not do this!!!!!!!!!

    Do hope that many, will learn! It is simply Wise, to keep a well stocked "Pantry"! All the time. We will use these things. Why not keep them, ahead?

    Love your Movie and Popcorn Night!!! Do hope it will continue, as a nice reminder, of a Good, which can come,out of such Horror.

    Best wishes with that which is "wearing you down", as the old saying goes. So good, that you realized, the toll it was taking on you! And dealt with it. In the same way, the people were told to put on air mask in failing airplane, first.... Then out them on children..... If we don't take care of ourselves, who will care for, those who need it...????

    Oh and those bags for health care workers, to bring clothes home in, to be washed.... Never heard of this before. And it is a wonderful task.

    Gentle hugs,

    1. I too hope that people will come to value what they have and not all run to the shops when they do start to open again. You are so right there is no such place as away, we need to remember that.

  8. Oh my goodness!! Finally done! I've put together my first sustainable post to join in here with you! Although truly it's more for me to look back and see what went on in this period of my life. I had to think hard this time though as everything has been a bit unusual and upside down - I'm hoping for a more settled May!
    I'm with your husband - I'm a collector of things that might be useful one day. Last year when we started travelling, I thought I needed to 'lighten the load' and clean out some of my treasures but just couldn't do it. This year, when we are staying home, using what we have and making the most of things, I'm very grateful that I have a stash of (everything). And my daughters are too because they have both made good use of 'Mums stuff'!!!
    Your month sounds delightful - slow yet productive. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. xx

    1. Thank you so much for joining in with me, I do hope you enjoyed writing your post it does make you think doesn't it. Please feel free to add your own headings and change them from mine if that speaks to you.

  9. How I enjoyed catching up on all your thoughts, activities and gardening. You do write beautifully. I would love to see more photo's of your garden. How do you get films on the projector?xxx

    1. Aw thank you so much, it means so much to mean when people tell me I write beautifully as it has been something I have struggled with all my life, writing that is, I was not supported very well to improve on it at school.

      You have reminded me that I have not shared any pictures of my garden for ages, I will have to rectify that one.

      Our projector is a HDMI projector like those that you might find in an office. We have it attached to a hifi system that can play DVDs - we bought it because it could do that - we can also attach it to our devices to watch things on YouTube or via TV Catchup channels. We have lots of different leads to be able to do that but it all works and we love it!

  10. May 17th

    Yes, we and family are safe, and that is what really counts!!!!

    πŸ’¨πŸ’¦ πŸ’¨πŸ’¦ πŸ’¨πŸ’¦

    1. That's good to hear, thank you for letting me know.

  11. Thank you. I do love to hear about people who are living the same or similar ways to us. I find it so inspiring and it gives me hope that the more of us that do the better the world will be.


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