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An end of year note and festive DIY
I promised myself that I would slow down towards the end of the 2018 year, and I did. Mission accomplished! It’s been possibly one of the busiest and most exciting years of my life between a new career path, further study and spending lots of time with friends and family. As the end of the year rolled in I knew it was time to slow down, hang up the litter pickers (for a little while at least) and switch off from social media as much as possible. Burn outs are real and we have to listen to our bodies when crash-and-burn starts creeping in.
I don’t really believe in New Years resolutions. A friend told me recently that she feels there is a certain time of the year that people feel particularly energised and motivated to do new things. This idea really resonated with me and we are too easily influenced by media always dictating our lifestyles; shape up pre-Christmas, indulge over Christmas, Dry January, Veganuary, Spring Clean, Plastic free July, etc, etc. It seems we are constantly prompted by alarm bells telling what to do next. Sod that!
I recognise that September, for me, is definitely when I begin to get that itchy feet feeling and starting up-routing myself from whatever lazy Summer slump I’ve been in. It’s good to follow your own energies and avoid the social fads going on around you.
The Christmas season, apart from being super fun and exciting, can be over commercial and I wanted as much as possible to avoid unnecessary waste. Below are a few simple ideas I practiced over the festive season to try reduce my waste and create a more humble experience for my family over the holiday season.
- Plastic free gift wrapping. Choose uncoated and natural paper. Hold the cellotape and tie with string.
- Apart from not really fitting a Christmas tree in my wee house, I couldn’t bear to chop a tree down this year. Instead we foraged for greenery and built wreathes and swags to decorate.
- Cork trees. Finally we have found a use for all those wine corks. Next year I aim to build a life size tree!
- I started seeding and developing house plants from shoots in early Winter to give as small gifts.
- Heirloom seeds. I’m not going to say too much about this because it’s an exciting project in progress!
- DIY cat-food! Not the most pleasant job for a vegetarian but I was delighted to reuse the Christmas dinner leftovers and Tommy certainly approves. Recipe is simple: meat scraps blitzed and chopped, gravy and gelatin.
- Bee’s Wax wrap. I’ll admit, I didn’t think this idea would be great and I hadn’t invested in them before. I was gifted two sheets of the reuse-able wrap and It’s amazing. It wraps really tightly and is easy to wipe down and reuse.
Whipped Body butter
This home made Raw Body Butter is super easy to whip up and gorgeously rich. You can experiment with different oils and solids but keep in mind to maintain a 75% solid base with 25% oils.
2.25OZ Raw organic Cocoa butter
0.75OZ Beeswax (grated)
1OZ Coconut oil
A few pieces of lemon balm
A few drops of essential oil (I’ve used lavender)
-Like melting chocolate in a tempered bowl over simmering water, melt the beeswax and cocoa butter until liquid. Note the melted weight and add the liquid oils in a 3:1 ratio. I’ve immersed lemon balm leaves in the melting mixture for fragrance.
During a cold winter, I made a similar moisturiser where it took much effort to combine the beeswax with the oils. Have patience and keep mixing until the oils bind together with the wax. Extract the leaves and remove the mixture from the heat. Add a few dashes of essential oil (it’s best not to over fragrance if you want to maintain the cocoa chocolate smell). Depending on the climate the mixture can set very quickly. It’s summer here now and I’ve had to freeze the liquid for 20 minuets to set. Remove the now solid paste and whisk with an electronic whisk. Vola! This gorgeous fluffy body butter absorbs into your skin leaving it soft and nourished.
ATLANTIC SEAWEED FOCACCIA BREAD
Focaccia is an amazingly simple and fun oil based bread to bake. You can dress it with all sorts of toppings but seaweed is a favourite of ours with a rich and salty taste.
700g strong white flour
3/4 pint of water
1/8 pint of oil (I’ve used Donegal Irish rapeseed oil)
A few pieces of dried seaweed
2 sachets of quick acting yeast
25g of sugar
Pinch of salt
Soak just a few pieces of dried seaweed in water (they expand considerably when soaked). You could use any type of seaweed but I’ve used Sea Spaghetti from Wild Irish Seaweeds. Hang it to dry while you prepare your bread mix.
Combine the yeast and sugar. Add 1/8 pint of water, stir slowly and let sit for 5 minutes.
Mix the remaining water with the Donegal Irish rapeseed oil. When the yeast and sugar mix look frothy like a Guinness head add it to the water and oil and stir well.
Prepare your flour in a large bowl adding a pinch of salt and a handful of chopped seaweed. In three parts, add the liquid mix to the dry mix and work the ingredients into a dough ball with your hands.
Sieve flour onto a clean a worktop surface and knead the dough for approx. 5 minutes adding sieved flour if the dough ball is too sticky. The dough should be smooth in texture.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and seal it airtight with cling film and allow to proof. The dough ball should double in size.
When its risen spread it onto a large baking tin and prod finger shapes into the oval shaped surface. Drizzle with more oil and oven bake at 220 degrees for 20-30 minutes until golden in colour.
Spread, dip, dress it how you like and enjoy!
RIP AND REPAIR DENIM
What you need
Chunky cotton yarn
Wide eye needle
Fabric for patching
Cut a patch of fabric and pin it into place on either the reverse side or mount it directly over the busted area. Mark out your stitch design with chalk. Get creative and apply any stitch technique from stab stitch to cross stitch to chain stitch!
SEA SALT FACE SCRUBS
Replacing cosmetic body products with home made scrubs is easy but I still needed something lighter and more suitable for the face. The gorgeous lavender and walnut face scrub uses the same base ingredients as a body scrub but just in different proportions. The mixture is dryer and can be used once to twice a week. Apply a thumb nail size scoop to your dry face and gently rub using small circular movements. Rinse and pat dry- beautiful!
Lavender + Walnut
1½ Cup sea salt
¾ cup of oil (I’ve used Donegal Irish rapeseed oil)
A handful of freshly ground walnuts
A handful of dried lavender flowers
A dash of essential oil (I’ve used lavender oil to keep it in the family!)
In an electrical grinder, blitz the walnuts for a few seconds, avoid grinding them to a powder -they need to be gritty! If you don’t have a grinder just finely chop them or bash them up. Fill a glass jar with the sea salt, add the dry ingredients and mix.
Slowly add the oil, stirring gently. The mix should be slightly dry but sticky like a paste. If your mix is too runny just add more salt. Finish off with a few dashes of essential oil.
SEA SALT BODY SCRUBS
Making your own scrubs is another solution to consuming less cosmetic packaging. Using basic natural ingredients, It’s so unbelievably cheap and easy to make beautifully luxurious salt body scrubs. Why not make a batch and gift to friends and family?
Rosemary + Citrus
1 Cup sea salt
Half a cup of oil (I’ve used Donegal Irish rapeseed oil)
1 Freshly ground rosemary branch
Zest of one lemon
A dash of essential oil (I’ve used Olbas oil)
In an electrical grinder, blitz the rosemary branch (including the twig). If you don’t have a grinder just chop the branch using a sharp knife. Fill a glass jar with the cup of sea salt and add the blitzed rosemary, the jest of one lemon and mix.
Slowly add the oil, stirring gently. If your mix is too runny just add more salt. Finish off with a dash of your favourite essential oil.