Archives for March 2014

The end of Eco Friendly March


So my eco friendly March challenge is now over, but hopefully I will carry on with most of my challenges and it has certainly made me think a lot more about things every day.
I don’t feel like last week was so successful though, I did end up using the dryer twice and with our current shower, it was impossible to shut off the water in-between shampooing, as it would talk forever to get hot again, wasting the same amount of water. But it has definitely made me more conscious about things, like being conscious about what water appliances we will be installing in the new bathroom, the fact that we probably should have more than one set of beddings, so when washing, it doesn’t have to be dry before having to be put back on in the evening.
I have also started looking on all of the food packaging of what is recyclable, making sure I have recycled everything I could this week. But currently we have to bring our recyclables to our supermarket, that has a recycling area, so I went online to order new recycling bins from our council, where I found out that there is a lot of help with recycling in our area, so I have put it on the agenda for our next neighbour meeting and hopefully they will all be on board with a few recycling changes. 
And for energy I actually found, that we were already doing what we can in that area. Most of our light bulbs are energy saving ones and we are quite good at shutting of unnecessary lights and appliances. 

 

All of March as a whole I think has been quite enlighten for me, there were definitely areas I feel like I have improved on and I have become a lot more conscious about being eco friendly in every day life. But some of the things I will defiantly keep doing, is using my bike more and the car less. Within a very short time, I can already feel a big change in my energy and I have gotten back to actually like taking the bike.
I have also found it extremely easy to bring my own bags to the supermarket and on the days where I have forgotten to bring, I actually get annoyed with the plastic bags after putting the groceries away.
But the biggest change I think is going organic, even my husband has really gotten on board with it and we pretty much only buy organic now. Our favourite being organic strawberries, that just have so much more flavour despite not being in season and we have been having them raw every evening as an evening snack.
The only thing that I find quite strange (and a bit difficult with my height) is that most supermarkets put their organic on the top shelf. I mean wouldn’t it make more sense to have it on the middle shelf, as they are the products that go of the fastest, so from a business side, those would be the once you would want people to grab for, not put them up where people can’t reach them!

 

I have actually really enjoyed this month and I really hope I will be able to continue with most of my changes, as this has definitely been an educational month for me, where I feel like I have learned a lot. 

 

Mia
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Natural hair dyes


Working as a hairdresser I developed a little bit of a sensitivity to a lot of products you use when working in a salon, actually a lot of hairdressers do, despite using rubber gloves and having good ventilation. 
One of my biggest problems to date, is hair colouring, which leaves my scalp itchy for a few weeks after and makes me break out in little red and dry bumps in my scalp and on my forehead. Not really something that I feel like I want to inflict on myself if possible, but since I don’t really feel like it is time for me to show off the few grey hairs I have now acquired, I have been searching to find a brand that works for me.


So far I have found two more natural brands that works for me personally and they are both shop brands. Despite being a big believer in salon hair colour, in these cases I will make an exception, as they are not colour heavy like most store brands. 
First is an English brand called Tint of nature, that uses Organic ingredients for their natural ingredients. This was the first one I started using and the one I find most gentle on my scalp, but this one isn’t as easy to get a hold off any more, since the place I used to get it from closed down. So I sometimes switch to Naturtint, which is a Spanish brand that is available at Holland and Barrets and Whole Foods. 

 

They are both very similar in the end result. Both are ammonia free and have a very gentle scent to them, though I would advice still colouring your hair where there is good ventilation and to use gloves.
With both colours you get an amazing shine to your hair after colouring and the hair feels very soft and nourished, almost like after a hair treatment.
The colour stay is a bit different than normal shop brands, in that they fade a lot quicker, but this is actually a good thing in my opinion. This means the colour isn’t colour heavy in your hair, so if you ever want to go lighter or even blond, it will be a lot easier, plus it won’t weigh down your hair.
The colour starts to fade around the four week mark, which is where most hair colourist, if getting your hair coloured in a salon, suggest that you get your hair re-coloured again anyway.
And for covering greys, I will say it covers around 98%, like most salon colours.
All in all these hair colours would get full stars from me if I was rating them in that way.

 

On more information on both brands visit:
www.tintofnature.com
www.naturesdream.co.uk/naturtint 

 

Mia
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The Organic Pharmacy Discovery Kit


Because I am doing Eco Friendly March, I wanted to try going all organic with skincare again. It has been around 14 years since I used all organic products and back then it was the Dr.Hauschka series. Despite not being that impressed then, I thought things must have changed in the last 14 years, and organic skincare products must have become a lot better since then, so gave them a go again.
I had heard quite a few people talk about The Organic Pharmacy and after looking on their website and seeing a Discovery/Travel kit, I decided to try that one out, as it gave me a chance to try out most of their products all at once.


It is quite an expensive Discovery set at £45, especially if you do the math, as product wise, you are actually paying £9 more for the products per ml all together. Plus the sizes of the products are a bit to small to really try out the products, as I am a very big believer in the 3 week rule when trying out products, but with these sizes there simply wouldn’t be enough for 3 weeks.


The Carrot Butter Cleanser, I found very difficult to wash off, it almost felt like trying to wipe off vaseline and it left to much residue for my skins liking. It only lasted me a week as well.
The Herbal Toner was wonderful and smelled really nice and fresh, I did find it a bit drying on my skin though.
The Antioxidant Face Gel, is probably the only one I would purchase again, as I really liked the way it absorbed into my skin and it had a really lovely citrusy smell but in a light and fresh way. I do however think there are a lot better antioxidants on the market that are far less expensive.
The Antioxidant Face Firming Serum I actually had to stop using after a week, as it was way to rich for my skin. It didn’t really get absorbed by my skin, just laid on top of my skin, making my skin feel very oily all day and clocking up my pores.
The Double Rose Rejuvenating Face Cream, this smelled lovely and was very nice when applying on the skin, but again, I feel like there are a lot better products on the market for that price.

 

I think a lot of the problems I have with organic products, is that they are just not formulated well enough to penetrate deep enough into the layers of the skin and to develop it so it does, would mean it would no longer be qualified as organic.

 

So all in all I wasn’t a big fan and sort of wish I had spent my money on something else, as £45 is a lot of money for not even two weeks worth of products.

 

Mia
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Eco Friendly March, week four


Week three went really well, I have definitely used my bicycle a lot more and the only times we have used the car was for my husband to go to work and a trip to the home improvement store for supplies for house renovations. There are just things you can’t bring on a bicycle, and big planks of wood would be one of them, but instead of going to the store when ever we needed some supplies, we made a list of what we would need for the whole week and bought it all in one go. This not only made us be more organised and use the car less, but it also meant that we didn’t waste time going to the store, that we could use working on the house. But doing all my errands on the bike or on foot, has also meant that I have been getting more exercise in during the day just by doing errands, a win win in my book. 

Not getting plastic bags while doing my shopping has also been going really well and we only forgot to bring our own bag once during the week. We even made a “romantic” walk, out of going grocery shopping, by putting on bag packs and walking together to the supermarket a bit further away. When you walk there isn’t really that many things to distract you, so it just seems easier to have a long talk about things you sort of forget to talk about during the day. So not only did we get some exercise, did our shopping, saved money on fuel, but we also got some quality time together, just by leaving the car at home. 

I have also found this genius eco friendly shopping bag from www.trolley-dolly.co.uk that I will be getting in the near future, just waiting for new designs to come out. As I think this will work really well to bring on the bike or when I am out for a walk.


Week four:This week I will be trying to change some of the little things at home , like becoming better at recycling, not using the tumble dryer, saving water and energy.

Mia
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Different take on a victoria sponge cake


I came up with this recipe for mothers day, for any mother who might want a bit more of a healthier cake (not in the diet fat free way though) or who may be struggling with some food intolerance’s. 

It is super easy to make and will make any mothers Mother’s Day extra special I think.

Ingredients:
300g fine spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
200ml unsweetend apple sauce (click here on how to make yourself)
100ml flavourless oil (light olive oil, vegetable oil, groundnut oil)
150ml agave or sweet freedom 
4 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla paste


Strawberry jam with no added sugar (I use St. Dalfour, click here for more info )


Fresh strawberries


125ml whipping cream (I use Lactofree, click here for more info)
1 teaspoon of vanilla paste


Preheat oven to 175C. Line cake tins with baking paper.


Separate the eggs and whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until white and fluffy, and holding their shape.
Sift all flour, baking powder and salt in a big string bowl.
Whisk together, egg yolks, apple sauce, agave or sweet freedom and vanilla paste together in a different bowl.
Then slowly pour into the flour mixture while string together, until everything is incorporated.
Slowly turn in the stiff egg whites 1/3 at a time, being careful not to beat out the air.
Divide into the two cake tins and bake for about 30-35 minutes.
Leave to cool on a cake rack. Cakes will deflate a level out while cooling, so don’t be afraid if this happens, it is quite normal.


Once cakes have cooled and you are ready to serve, whisk whipping cream and vanilla paste until wanted thickness.
Then layer a layer of strawberry jam, cut strawberries and whipping cream on one cake layer and place the other cake layer on top.


p.s. Can be made completely dairy free by substituting the whip cream with vanilla coconut yoghurt (click here for more information) or skimming a can of coconut milk (click here to see how) and whisking in some vanilla paste and a bit of sweet freedom to taste.


Enjoy.


Mia
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Shippable Mother’s Day gift ideas


In Denmark, where my mum lives, we normally just give flowers on mothers day and no gifts. But since popping by with a bouquet of flowers isn’t that easy for me, with a ocean and a few countries between us, I normally send her a little something in the mail, just to let her know I am thinking of her.
But when it comes to sending a present, you need to consider shipping cost as well, when you are looking for something special to send. I have done the mistake a few times, once ended up paying twice as much in shipping, than I had payed for the nice tin of biscuits I was sending, which meant I could have bought her a silk scarf and it would have ended up being the same price all together.

So if you are having to ship your mothers day present like me this year, here is my list of thing I have sent in the past or are considering sending this year.

 

A Silk or light weight scarf is one of the best things to send, as they don’t weigh a lot and can often be folded very compactly, making it easy to send. They don’t have to cost a fortune if they are silk, I got a really beautiful one from Uniqlo last Christmas for only £9.95 and Accessorize has some really cute ones at the moment for only £12.00. 
But for this mothers day present as we are going into spring, this light weight one from M&S is super cute and very fitting as a mothers day gift with the mum and baby elephant print. 
Price £12.50. Click Here for more information.

 

Tea and chocolate, this was actually something I sent my mum last year, with a note saying “for you to sit back and relax for a few minutes”. Individual packed tea bags, like Fortnum and Mason or Pukka teas, are great for this, as you can take them out of the outer packaging and re pack them. Together with the BeyondDark chocolates buttons, that comes in small individual bags and are high in antioxidants, works really well together next to the tea bags and makes it easy to fit into any size box.
Click Here for more information on the BeyondDark chocolates.

 

A beautiful print is an easy thing to send in a hard back envelope, as long as you don’t exceed the A4 size. Small shops or museums shops like V&A often have some great ones, also Paperchase has some really nice ones currently. But for online finds, some good places are notonthehighstreet.com and Etsy.com. The one I am considering, I am even considering getting my self, as both me and my mum have a weakness for quirky cat art, is from Etsy.
£4.32 (plus exchange rate can change if you are buying from a seller outside the UK on Etsy). Click Here, for more information.

 

My mum has a small stamp size garden and love flowers, so think these flower seeds from The Kew Collection would be a great present to send. Not only is this a fun little present to send if you live in London, but she will get some flowers in her garden she might not have been able to get anywhere else and will think of you when they flower.
£2.29-2.99. Click Here for more information.

 

The last one is more of a thoughtful present and it would require using a bit of time on it. But if you are living in a different city or country than your mum, she would probably love a little insight into you daily life, so making a little Vlog of “a day in the life of you” would probably make her really happy.
I did a similar ting for my mum 12 years ago but with pictures, when I was studying in Nottingham, showing her where I lived, the collage where I was studying, city centre, etc. 
But now a days most people are able to record video on their phone and most computers have some sort of video editing program. Then just burn on a dvd or upload to youtube with a private setting and send her a link to it.

I do however have a little bit more time to get my mothers day parcel sorted, as in Denmark, it isn’t mothers day before 11th of May.

 

Mia

Zoya Nail Polishes, Big 5 Free Formula.


I was so excited to try this, probably the thing I was most excited to try in my eco friendly march trials, but I am not sure I am a convert just yet unfortunately.
I had heard about Zoya nail products before, but I didn’t actually realise it was one of the non toxic brands, so when seeing it in whole foods, I just had to try it out for this month. The whole foods I was in didn’t have a great colour selection, so I went home and found some more colours online. 
I had purchased the base coat, a half size nail polish in the colour Neely and the nail polish remover from the brand. I was going to buy the top coat as well, but I just felt like I would end up using to much money on a brand I didn’t know that well. 


I had to try this three times before it worked somewhat.
First time using it, I applied one coat of base coat and two layers of polish and found it quite difficult to apply. It was quite late in the evening when I applied it and had gone to bed a few hours later, just to wake up the next morning with marks in all my nails from the duvet cover and examining them closely there was a few tiny chips as well.
Next day I took it off in the morning and applied the base coat and polish like the day before, but on one hand I applied a layer of my normal top coat. I was working on the computer all morning, so this time it got 4 hours of drying time, but I still felt it was a bit tacky and ended up working like a princess to not ruin my nails (but who has time for that right?!). Next morning it was the same, my nails was filled with marks on both hands and again some tiny chips.
So I tried again, this time with no base coat and no top coat, just two thin layers of the polish and it worked a lot better and was a lot easier to apply. It was dry about 30 minutes after applying, though still a tiny bit tacky for about an hour.
I have had it on now for 5 days and no chipping, but I has gotten quite a few marks in the nails (as you can see in top picture) and on two fingers some of the polish has melted a bit when the touching the side of a hot kettle.
Plus because my nails are quite ridged I found that when just using the polish on its own, the ridges stood out more.
Now I don’t know if it had been better if I had gotten the top coat, if maybe you need to use the series together?
I love the colour though, like a dusty mint colour and the fact that it doesn’t have a horrible smell, not even the nail polish remover.
Now the nail polish remover is just amazing, I don’t think I have ever used a more efficient nail polish remover, removing polish in one swipe and the packaging is just genius. Did find it a little bit drying on the nails though, but nothing major.


After trying it out and not being super happy with the result, I went online and read a few reviews and it seems like most people love it, so I don’t know if it is just my polish there is something wrong with or the formula just doesn’t work for me. Have you ever tried Zoya polishes?


Mia
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Eco Friendly March, week three


Week 2 was all about trying to get better indoor climate, click Here to read why and how week one went. But since you can’t really tell that much of a difference after just one week, I will just explain what changes I have made.
First thing I wanted to figure out was the candles, the reason why I wanted to look into getting a better indoor climate in the first place, as I had bought a bag of tea lights that made my house smell like gasoline.
From what I have gathered after reading up on the subject, it is mainly paraffin based candles and lead core wicks, that are not that good for you. So I found some Organic plant oil based tealights online to try out, though I am not sure I will buy these again, as I didn’t realise they were made from palm oil when buying them. The only difference with these from the normal tea lights I buy, is that they don’t have as big a flame, but I think that is down to wick being a pure fiber wick. They do however last a lot longer than my regular tea lights, about 2 hours longer, so I suppose what they lack in brightness they make up for in burning time. I have noticed a small difference in that I am not as tired late in the evening, but since the weather has been so much nicer this week, it can also be down to the house being more aired out from the open windows on sunny days.


Another way I found while searching for ways to improve our indoor air, is house plants. NASA actually did studies on house plans improving air quality, to use on space stations, and are shown to remove toxins in the air from chemical cleaners, paint and more. Now reading this, as I am literally living in a house we are currently renovating, definitely made me think about our current indoor air. I then contacted a friend who owns a decorating company, as I know they often work with a lot of healthier paints, and she told me that normal paint will give out fumes for up to two years of painting the walls and 5-10 years if you are using stronger paints, like oil based. 
Now how many plants you should have per square foot seems to varies from article to article, but most are saying a 6-inch size plant pot per 100 square foot living area. Plus they should be placed in areas where you spend the most time in the house, in my case around the bed, desk and sofa.
I did however find it quite funny that looking at pictures of the best plants to improve indoor air, they where all plant that I associate with elderly people, as I remember all of my grandparents having these plant all over their house….just makes you think that they might have known a bit more than we do. I am not super keen on all of the plants for my personal style, but I did find a few that seems to work in our house and I will slowly be acquiring more and more, as I find the place for them around the house. Now lets just hope I can keep them alive!
Click Here to see a list of the 15 plants that improves indoor air.


The third thing I found I could change is cleaning products, as some cleaning products will give off fumes from ingredients that aren’t that good for you to breath in. 
Now we were already using some of these products, but have now changed out all of them with non toxic ones. I don’t really feel that there is a difference in efficiency, except for maybe the toilet cleaner, but I think it is just a case of using it more often than I am used to. My favourite is definitely the Method surface cleaner, that literally dissolves any mess in 30 seconds, but without any strong smell that can make you cough or be uncomfortable to breath in when using it. 



Week three:
This is going to be a difficult one I think, but for this week I am going to challenge my self to not use the car and use my bike for errand instead. My husband has just done a spring check on my bike, making sure the wheels are keeping air and that everything is oiled up, so no excuse not to use it now. 

Second thing is not to get plastic bags when doing my grocery shopping. Now I already do that when I remember, but I do forget to bring my reusable bags quite often, or I will just get a few things on my way back from a long walk, where I didn’t bring a bag. So to set myself the challenge to not use any plastic bags for a week, will hopefully get me into a habit of not forgetting to bring my own bags when doing the grocery shopping.

Mia
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Small Lemon Drizzle Cakes


Last week when I was trying to become better at not waisting food, I made a big batch of apple sauce from some apples that wasn’t as crisp as I had expected when buying them. So instead of letting them go to waist, I just peeled, cored and cut up into smaller pieces. Put in a pot with a bit of apple juice, just so they don’t stick and burn at the bottom of the pan, covered with a lit and cook for 20-30 minutes or until they go mushy. Cool and then just blend until smooth. Store in the fridge for a couple of days or portion it up and freeze, then just take out a couple of hours before use.

So because I had this apple sauce in my freezer, I decided to make some small lemon drizzle cakes, to bring to a friends house.
Besides being a good way to use up apples, they are also processed sugar and dairy free, and super easy to make.


Makes 12


Ingredients:
250g plain flour (I used fine spelt flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
200ml apple sauce
150ml flavourless oil, like light olive oil, groundnut oil or vegetable oil
100ml agave or sweet freedom
2 eggs
zest of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon vanilla past
50ml of lemon juice


For lemon syrup:
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
5 tablespoons of agave or sweet freedom


Preheat oven to 175C
Line a cupcake tray with cupcake papers.


Mix flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a big bowl. Then whisk applesauce, oil, agave, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla past, until it is mixed well.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry slowly, while stirring it together, until it is all incorporated into a smooth batter. As a last step, when everything is ready and the oven it hot, is to stir in the lemon juice. This will activate the bicarbonate of soda in the batter and make it start to bubble, so immediately after, divide the batter in the cupcake cases and bake.
Bake for about 15-17 minutes or when turning golden on top.


While the cakes are baking, make the lemon syrup, by stirring together the lemon juice and agave in a small pan, then bring it to a boil over medium heat, letting it boil for about 3-5 minutes. Set aside to cool a bit.


When the cakes have been taken out of the oven and cooled for about 5 minutes, spoon on the syrup on top of the cake a little at a time, spreading it with the back of the spoon to cover the whole surface.
Then leave them to absorb the syrup and cool a bit more before eating.


Enjoy


Mia
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Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil


I bought this little bottle of Josie Maran 100% pure argan oil, when we were in the States at the end of last year, but since I still had some of my other facial oil left, I didn’t start using it until the beginning of this year. 
I only bought the small travel size as I had heard a few people saying that it was to rich for their skin and made them break out. I do find that some facial oils clock up my pores, but I also find that that dry oils makes me get dry patches, so I decided to just try the small size of the original version.

Firstly, which is a big plus for me, is that the oil has no scent what so ever, it even has less scent than water does, crazy! I don’t think I have ever come across an oil that didn’t have a scent, but this is so welcoming to me as I normally can’t stand a lot of scents natural oils have on my skin.
Second is that it is quite rich, yes, but my skin was fine with it if I only use very little during the day and it absorbs quite quickly, without clocking up any pores. 
I have mainly been using it in the evening instead of a night cream and after 6 weeks my skin definitely looks more hydrated and firm, even my pores look diminished.
I now regret not buying the big bottle, but isn’t that often the way it goes! 
I can only cross my fingers that Josie Maran will come to the UK at one point, as after trying this amazing oil, I now want to try the whole line out. Especially the new Pure Argan Milk Intensive Hydrating Treatment, that just sounds like skin heaven in a bottle and the Argan Daily Moisturiser with SPF 47, that seems to have just launched.
But for now, if you are living in the UK like me, you can currently get a hold of some of the products on QVC UK. Click Here to find out more.


I think this brand in general fits so well with my eco friendly March theme, as companies goes, they just tick all the boxes in regards to ingredients, ethically and humanitarienly. Click Here to read more about Josie Maran.


Mia
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