Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Feeling creatively Christmassy

What can I say...I love Christmas! The cold nights, the log fire, Christmas carols, mince pies, mulled wine, walks in the frosty weather, wrapping presents. Seriously, and much to the husband's disdain, I can't get enough of it.

My dad has been making his Christmas wreath for years and it is now a bit of a Christmas tradition in the Jackson household!  Secretly wishing Christmas was already here, I decided to start preparations and make my own Christmas wreath for our door.

I didn't want to spend a lot of money though and keeping in mind the 're-use' mantra, I dug into my accumulating craft pile. After a quick look on Pinterest and Google, I went out into the garden to see what I could drum up.

So here it is:
  • an old garlic plait once the bulbs have all been used, 
  • some wire left over from when my Dad made a Christmas wreath here about four years ago
  • some greenery from the garden
  • pine cones collected on a mountain picnic out with the boys in June
  • chillies from my chilli plant that have recently matured (just for a splash of colour!)
  • ribbon recycled from a gift given to us a couple of years ago

I actually found it fairly easy and would definitely recommend giving it a go to anyone who wants Christmassify their doors. 

I added a few of our drying cayenne chilli peppers for an extra splash of colour (but forgot to take a photo) and hey presto, there it was finished!!

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Reducing our waste - Reid family 0 waste week!

I was recently teaching a lesson to a student which involved an interview with film director Candida Brady about her documentary film 'Trashed' starring Jeremy Irons. If you haven't heard of the film, it is about how the waste the human race is producing is devastating locations all over the world.

Despite being a 'keen green' I am only human too, I also have my F-it moments when I just want my kitchen tidy and start throwing things in the bin that could effectively be recycled. Then comes the guilt...

The interviews with Candida Brady and the trailer for the film (well worth a watch even if you don't watch the whole film) got me thinking though. How could we, as a family, reduce our environmental impact even further. In particular, how can we further reduce the amount of waste that we produce that goes in to landfill.

As a family of four we don't do too badly. Our general waste bin, which is maybe a third to a quarter of the size of a standard UK wheelie bin,
is never full for the weekly collection. It often only goes out with one small supermarket shopping bag full in it once every two weeks.

BUT, I am shocked by how much plastic and paper recycling we produce. There must be some way of rethinking our shopping habits and our way of living so that we are not creating things that need to be recycled. So my mission is on.

Objective 1: Can a normal family of four reduce its waste to such an extent that we don't put put anything in landfill for at least one week?

Objective 2: Can we reduce our card, paper and in particular our plastic usage to the point that we only have a half full bin each collection day?

I think we can do it, with some canny thinking. Here, are my ideas so far:

1) Instead of buying supermarket packaged meat I will be buying from the butcher - who is only 100m from the supermarket. He wraps in waxed paper instead of polystyrene cartons and the packaging is much less. Needless to say, the quality of the meat is also much better and the price is not really any different.

2) I am stopping drinking fizzy water. I like fizzy water, but when I can get unlimited fresh water from my tap without adding to the consumption of plastic bottles then why not. Bubbles are overrated anyway!!

3) We already use a giant handsoap refill pack. Can I find the same thing for shampoo and shower gel?

4) I don't know if this even exists, but I've noticed we consume a fair amount of fruit juice. I wonder if there is anywhere I can buy fresh juice filled into bottles that I already have.

If you have any ideas of your own, tips, hints, suggestions please, please comment. Look out for the next progress report.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

A monumental day!

Those of you that know me well will also know that I have a passionate dislike for disused pylons strewn across beautiful landscapes. I still find it incredulous that local and regional governments don't class this as industrial pollution or destruction of a natural landscape. I'm also amazed that electricity companies are not compelled to invest in removing the structures that they have abandoned throughout the world. So, one Saturday (a few weeks ago) a monumental moment arrived. With a nudge, ahem, from a neighbour's tractor and a tug with an old climbing rope the pylon that irritated me the most - the one nearest to our house - found it's way to the ground!

What to do with it now is the next issue to tackle...we have so far come up with pillars for a car port or pergola, planters, irrigation tubes, hardcore for filling in an unused drainage ditch... oh what to do - decisions, decisions. In the meantime, I think I will just enjoy the fact that it is no longer standing up!


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

A bit of creativity...

I can't believe it is nearly three years since we moved here, give or take a couple of weeks. Wow, where has that time gone?

Today the boys have started their 3 month summer holidays and I have finally finished my pin board project inspired by a lilyjean blog post that I spied a couple of years ago. Just a couple of hours work if you have all the materials to hand...or, like me, you can drag it out for several months and have all the bits lying around your kitchen if you need another piece of polystyrene and never quite make it to the D.I.Y. shop!!

Anyway, I can finally say it is finished...hoorah. Bringing a bit of colour into an otherwise rather white kitchen it is already serving its purpose...

To make the pin board I used PVA glue to glue the polystyrene to a piece of plywood to make a sturdy backing. I then cut out the fabric, pulled it tight around the polystyrene and, using a staple gun, stapled the fabric into place. Then I put two small screws into the back of the board and stretched a piece of wire between them. Then all that is left is to hang it in place on a picture hook or screw. Voila!

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

My super duper Italwin Cruiser electric bike!

Last summer I had rather a big birthday! For my present my lovely husband bought me an Italwin Cruiser electric bike so that I could get to work in style! I just want to say I LOVE IT!!

It was a bit of a lifestyle choice: dragging my bum up the steep hill at Arabona (just outside Sulmona) every night on the way home from work didn't seem to be getting any easier despite the number of times I had done it and some days when I really didn't feel like I could face the hill, I sometimes found myself taking the easy option of taking the car instead, even though it went against my ideals of sustainable travel...funny how quickly ideals can get replaced by comfort.

So, the cruiser arrived and my mother in law bought me the ultimate girlie accessory in the Basil Purple Blossom bike panniers, so I no longer have to squash all my teaching material into a rucksack.


No petrol and no tax, this is our family's eco friendly, cost effective alternative to a second car. I absolutely love getting on it and whizzing to work - so much so I'm sure I look like a grinning maniac as I pass people in town. They always looked petrified as I zoom up behind them and they haven't heard me which gives me an extra chuckle! Now I just have to get my PV solar panels in place to recharge the battery and this will be the ultimate stylish eco commuting-machine. And here it is at the comune...

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Windmills in the Sun

For eight years we sat at the bottom of our mountains looking up at the wind turbines and promising every summer to go up and have a closer look. Well, it may have taken 8 years, but we finally made it up there last autumn and what a pile of fun we had! At the top of the mountains, by the pine forest we had a great time climbing, exploring and playing hide and seek.

Some people love 'em, some people hate 'em but whatever you're opinion, up close they are huge imposing feats of super, sleek engineering and I suppose, I just like the way they look. Plus they are creating sustainable energy...what more does a green girl need?! ...Well, the restaurant lunch and glass of wine on the way down didn't go amiss I suppose...hope you like the phots!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

White wine progress report!

For those of you that read my Wine Time post a few months ago will know that we have dabbled in white wine for the first time this year.

Progress report: Official verdict is 'Not bad at all!!'