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 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.


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?


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.


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

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.



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.


Eco Friendly March, week two

The first week of Eco Friendly march has gone surprisingly well and buying organic and fair-trade has been easier than I thought. Read first eco friendly march post by clicking Here.
My first concerns with this was how much more I would use buying only organic and fair-trade when possible, but since we sort of have a weekly food budget, I found it quite easy to just cut back on a few other things making me not go over our budget.

The thing I found had the biggest price difference is Chicken, we actually used 7 pounds more on chicken this week. Where as with beef there wasn’t that big of a difference in price than what we normally buy and there was a deal on diced beef this week, so we actually ended up saving money on that one.
The area I was really surprised by after gathering up the difference, was vegetables, where we actually only ended up using around 5 more than buying non organic vegetables and that is including all the vegetables we use for making juice and smoothies. Some things, like bottled tomatoes actually ended up being cheaper if you got the organic brand and some things didn’t even have that big of a price difference, like spinach that was only £0.10 more and is on the list of the fruit and veg you should eat organic, click Here to read more about about that.
Things I had a hard time finding was organic frozen berries, only place I found them was Whole Foods, but it doesn’t actually say organic on the packaging, but googling organic frozen berries the same brand comes up, so still a bit confused about that one.
The way we make our food budget work, was to buy less expensive meat and some days have a vegetarian dinner or have things like eggs that are a cheaper than meat as our protein at meals. Plus using up all your groceries and not waisting has also helped with the budget.

For the not waisting part I also think it went really well and only thing that got waisted was a tiny bit of spinach and kale that had gone bad over night.
Some food preparation that I was already doing, just meant a bit of re-thinking, because normally I was buying things to make them specifically instead of waiting until I had over ripe bananas or apples, for frozen bananas and apple sauce. We eat a lot of bananas at our house but they do have a tendency to become overly ripe over night, so when ever they do, I peel, cut into pieces and freeze. Great for healthy banana milk shake or in smoothies.
With apples that are past the eating stage, I just peel, cut into smaller pieces and cook with a bit of apple juice. When cooked and starting go mushy, then just blend, pour into small containers and freeze. Great for baking, in deserts or in yoghurt for breakfast, just take out of freezer a few hours before use to thaw.
But the best way of using up vegetables, I actually came up with one evening, while only having a few things in the fridge and didn’t want to go to the shops, was pasta sauce with vegetables. I only had a few mushrooms that was starting to go soft and a courgette that was a bit bruised, but together with some tomato passata in a jar, a bit of garlic and chilli, this made a really yummy tomato sauce. I think pretty much any vegetable will do, so a great way to use up vegetables. You can also blend it if you are not a big chunky vegetable fan, have kids who are just not vegetable fans in general or just make and freeze for a lazy day when you don’t feel like cooking. 

All in all I think this week was a success and I found it very enlightening, especially with which supermarkets that are best when buying organic, which in my case was Tesco Ekstra and the worst actually being my local Waitrose, that doesn’t have that many organic vegetables as I would have thought they would.
But it has definitely made me want to continue buying as much organic (preferably UK grown) as I can and I am even currently looking into getting an organic vegetable box subscription. Not only because buying organic doesn’t cost as much as I thought, but I have also found that the products have a lot more flavours and smell, than regular fruit and vegetables, so all around a convert.

Week two:
So for the next challenge I am going to set myself, is going to be to get a better indoor climate. Recently I kept being able to smell a gass/petroleum smell in the evening and after three days, I figured out that it was coming from our tea lights. When googling it, it turns out regular candles aren’t that good for your indoor climate. But this google search also led me to a some other articles on indoor climate, so for this week, I will reed up on what I can do to improve my indoor climate and try some of them out.

So stay tuned for next week if you want to know how I got on.


Whole Foods Market Haul

A Whole Foods Market have recently opened a shop a bit closer to where I live, so I no longer have to go all they way into centre of London to get my Whole Foods shopping fix, which is great for me, but maybe not so great for my wallet to have one closer!
Now I will say that I wish that they would have more of the amazing products that they have in the american stores, I am still dreaming of Justin’s nut butters, but I suppose there goes a lot of work into bringing a product over to the UK.
But here are some of the things I go to Whole Foods for. I did also pick up a few other things on this trip, like oranges and coconut water, but those you can get from any supermarket now a days, so didn’t include them. 

  • Teapigs popcorn tea – Now I know you can get Teapigs in a lot of shops now, I just hadn’t seen this flavour before. After tasting though, I am not sure I would buy again, taste like roasted green tea.
  • Amisa organic spelt, onion and linseed crispbread – These are soooo yummy, the perfect snack for when you are feeling a bit peckish. Great with or without topping.
  • Tropical Whole Foods fair-trade organic dried Mango and Banana – These for me are a life saver when I crave sweets, as they are a great substitute. They do have just as much sugar in them as normal sweets, these just containing fruit sugar, so I literally see them as I would sweets and try and control myself with them.
  • Chia Seeds – I use about a tablespoon of these in my green smoothies as a great way to get more fibre and omega 3.
  • The Food Doctor Cacao and Tangerine granola – Eating this stuff makes me feel like being a child again, but it is sweetened with agave instead of refined sugar. Great in yoghurt or the Vanilla CoYo I also got.
  • Organic Spelt Penne – For some reason wheat pasta seem to be quite heavy in my stomach, but after finding spelt pasta, I no longer get that overly full feeling when eating pasta. Only note with these is that you have to be careful not to overcook them, as that seem to happen quite quickly.
  • CoYo coconut milk yoghurt with vanilla – I am normally not into flavoured yoghurts and since I am lactose intolerant, I haven’t had natural yoghurt since Lactofree stopped making their natural yoghurt. But this little, quite expensive though, pot of coconut yoghurt is what food heaving must be like, because it literally taste heavenly, especially with The Food Doctor granola.
  • Organic Kale – this is actually the main reason why I go to Whole Foods, as this seems to be the only place I can get whole organic kale for my green juices and smoothies.

I do know that it can get quite expensive shopping in Whole Foods, but I normally only buy what I can’t get in other supermarkets and try and be sensible with my choices, as I could easily go on a shopping spree in there every time. But I do think a few good food items can make a huge difference in your daily diet, so this is more than enough to tie me over for a weeks time, together with my normal supermarket shopping.


Eco Friendly March, week one

As I wrote about, in a post last month, click to read Here, I am going to try and be a bit more eco friendly in the month of March.
So for my first week of challenging myself to be a bit more eco friendly, I am going to:

  • Buying organic and fairtrade
  • No food wastage 

Buying organic is something I have wanted to do for a long time. I used to be quite good at buying organic, but for some reason I don’t do it as much any more. But organic is not only good for the environment and the people growing them, but they are also a lot better for me as you won’t be getting all the chemicals from spraying, but they are also suppose to have a lot more nutrients in them.
Fair trade because it is just better for the people of the world.
And no food wastage, because I am a bit tired of find fruit and veg that have gone past eating stage and end up throwing it out. Firstly because I have paid good money for it and second because there are just being waisted way to much food on the planet every year.

So for this week I am going to buy organic and fair-trade groceries when possible and to calculate how much more it has cost me that week to do it. 
And I will come up with solutions to cut food wasting.

Stay tuned for my update next Monday 

The month of March

So in January I did post mostly with the tag Healthy January, click Here to see, and in February my post have mainly been focused on Valentine, click Here to see
So continuing in the theme of themes and because this is something I have been thinking about as a personal thing to do for a long time, I thought I would make March Eco friendliness, natural month or something….if you have a good name, please let me now.
Not waisting and mending instead of buying something new, has always been a part of my childhood and some of the things I was brought up with still sticks to this day. But I also think that now a days things are very disposable and it is very easy to fall in to that way of life, I know I do that all the time. So lately I have been thinking a lot about how I could make some small changes in my life to be more eco friendly and natural, so what better way than to blog about it to keep me motivated.

I have a few products I have been wanting to make a review about that is more eco friendly and natural, and I want to try out more in the month of March, to review and see how they stand up to other products.
But I also want to set myself some challenges during the month, like small or big things I can do in my every day life to be more environmentally aware. My plan is, that I will try out things for a week, then do a “review” on how I got on and if it was something I would easily be able to continue with.

Now this isn’t an idea to convert others or a way to force people to be more eco friendly, this is simply me thinking “I should really find out what else I should recycle other than glass and cannes” or “I wonder if this is good for me” way to many times without doing anything about it. So thought if I find this interesting, the people who are reading my blog might also?

So if you know of ways to help the environment with everyday things and you want me to try it out, please let me know and I will try my best to try them out for one of the weeks……if they are not to crazy! Also if you know of any products that fits into this category that you want me to try, then also, please let me know.

Write any suggestions in the comments down below or send me a tweet @mia_olander