Thursday, December 30, 2010

Keeping the candle burning in 2011

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times,
 if one only remembers to turn on the light
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Another year is coming to an end and we start afresh all over again. I look back over the year now and realise just how busy it has been and so many changes have taken place. I hear about New Years resolutions too and remember that I haven't made one in 2 or 3 years at least. I'm not sure why really as it is always good to aim for improvement somewhere in life and it never has to be advertised. It can be as personal and private as you like. So I think this year I will be making up for it and having at least 2 resolutions.
 However, as far as this blog is concerned,...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tapping into our conscience...

Pure, clean and precious

We are at last in the land of the Forty Shades of Green again and its good to be back! The rain has been falling and dare I say I've missed it and the temperatures have risen. So whats next? Well according to the weather forecast, floods! Still, we're not there yet so lets keep fingers crossed that perhaps it wont happen, but it reminds us that things are fast changing in this world of ours and maybe there is nothing we can do to stop the change. Or is there?...

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Beautiful to look at, Lovely to behold, But when the winter comes, consider it COLD!"

Winter wonderland

Its been a really cold Christmas for us Irish who are neither ready, equipped, or able to cope with 6 inches of snow and have much to learn from our North American and Canadian friends who would only laugh at us locking ourselves indoors for days on end avoiding work, school or everyday life, because of our fear of the white stuff. Well I tried to take a leaf out of their book this Christmas and got out the shovel (more like a spade actually) and brushed and cleared the driveway so that at least we could attempt to get out. I was chuffed with my human snowplough abilities. Outside sorted! Inside however was not so good...

Picture of natural beauty

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Christmas wishes to you all...

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a Goodnight!"


Thursday, December 16, 2010

A greener Christmas...


Just in the process of writing my Christmas cards. Well, typing actually because this year I am sending e-cards. No I'm not being lazy, there are several reasons for it but one important one is that I have seen where all of the cards go to after Christmas....

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's been a tough couple of weeks feeling under the weather to be honest and I haven't had the strength to put finger to keyboard. Still on the mend and not quite there yet either. So I wondered if there is anything that I can suggest with all these rotten colds around. There are the usual home remedies of course: the honey and lemon, garlic if you can stomach it and of course to help you sleep I would suggest a hot whiskey or brandy providing you will not be driving for 24 hours of course. Still it often happens that we need something stronger and even have to go to the doctor on occasion. If your sick, you shouldn't take it lightly and there comes a point when you have tried everything but must give in and trek off to see the family GP and get the big boys in to fight the infection.
Whether its a bottle of pills or a liquid medicine or a host of things there isn't much you can do here to prevent buying more plastic or whatever it is. Your too sick to really take in much more than the basic information and anything you've been given is received gratefully (even though you have paid a fortune for it probably). So at the end of it all you are feeling back to normal thank goodness! Maybe you have been told to take all of the medicine and maybe not but I'm sure you have put all the pills and bottles out of harms way and maybe after a time have forgotten them altogether. So now it's out of date. DONT throw it out. The chemist will gladly take back any medicine that is out of date, so have a look in the cabinet and get down to the chemist. I'm nearly sure  that they would take the empty bottles too. Well, where do they get them from in the first place! Would it not help them if they could reuse them? I bet it would.
Thats better!
So now, there is a way of being green here too and of course at worst any plastics might be recyclable so check out the type of plastic used on the bottle and if it's glass well then that's easily sorted. So out of the doom and gloom of being ill, your now feeling on top of the world and also getting a little boost because you've managed to avoid the landfill again. Well done you, so now all you have to do is to keep warm and well for the rest of the year!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A warm compromise

In the lead up to Christmas and the following winter months, there is nothing like the warm glow of a natural fire and I must admit that one of the requirements for us buying our house was that we wanted a coal fire which we had become accustomed to growing up. For a year or so we bought our coal bags and enjoyed sitting close to the fire after dinner and were content. Then I began to consider the environment....

Friday, November 12, 2010

Squirrelling away

I've been talking to a friend of mine this week who like me is doing everything he can to be good to the environment. The cogs are always turning in his head to see what else he might do. "Good on you" I say and "keep it up" but then there is the little disappointment that creeps into the conversation. "I cant get my family to go along with me and they do their own thing and cant be bothered with being green". This obviously niggles at him because he knows that what he is doing is right. Being green can really be a battle and if you are fighting to do your bit and the rest of the family aren't interested then it can feel like a losing battle. Your not losing! Everyone counts and can be added to the great green army that is only multiplying no matter how slowly. It will build up momentum and we will make a difference, we just have to be patient. Eventually other people will realise this difference and importance and will join in. It will just have to take it's course. It's all of those people who are doing the environment a favour right now that will ultimately lose out and if we give up. If that happens, then one day we will be living in a rubbish pit and who wins then. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and am going to keep reaching for it. I'm the lucky one because I know it's there, and so do you. So be like the little squirrel quietly working away collecting nuts for hibernation. He knows that his work will pay off in the end.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thinking ahead....

I know this is not what you want to hear right now and we are still only in October but, if I don't say it now it will be too late. On my radio show for this Saturday (Natural Instinct on 2-3 pm) I have decided to talk about gadgets and Christmas presents...Urg! ...well yes, I suppose it is too early but I have trouble finding Eco friendly pressies and last year was the first time I tried. I did manage to get a Trevor Baylis radio online for me and the parents and in laws, which was a great success. A wind up radio with infra red torch and an ordinary torch. No batteries or mains required. Lovely. Happy days but, here I am again as I need to get ordering before everything is sold out and remember I need it delivered in time. Some shops do sell Eco friendly stuff but not many and I usually end up purchasing online. Ideally from within Ireland too if possible, and I was very disappointed when I realised the the Eco shop in Dublin had closed down. So back to work I went and found a few other shops, one in England and one in Ireland. I will leave the links below. So if your looking for a good stocking filler or even something a little more expensive read on ...........

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Sweet Review...

A cheerful and welcoming Dan Linehan

What an absolute delight to find this sweet shop up in Shandon in Cork. I met Dan Linehan today who owns this shop and it has been a family tradition for years. A once very busy area near the Butter Market and the Firkin Crane. Now a lot quieter but Dan is keeping the candle burning still. I mentioned in a previous page that we all need to support our local shops and markets and once again today I was reminded of the importance of this. How lovely to enter a shop where people are interested in how you are and what you have to say. How lovely is it that they want to tell you all about the history of their shop and its workings because they are so well crafted in what they do and are delighted to spend a few moments socialising with you. Yes they are salesmen and women but being interested in their customers is just as important. Many shops these days are polite and efficient but not too many even have the time to stop and spare you a minute. This is the sort of shop where you can almost step back in time. I have already decided that I will get a few jars of sweets as Christmas presents because the people they are planned for will instantly be reminded of their childhood in a very good way. Sweets are made in this store and so you know where the produce is coming from and Dan takes a swift look behind the counter as he serves me to check that everything is in good running order. If you live in the city of Cork then you really should go and investigate Linehan's.
 Within walking distance so no car journey or costs, a lovely historical trail of buildings to see on the way and supporting your local shop. If you live outside of Cork I suggest you find your own little piece of heaven before it's too late and these little shops are lost forever and if anyone of you reading this abroad ever comes to Cork City in Ireland for a holiday then you must ask for directions or take a tour that will include Linehans.Sweets that are very well priced and you can buy your bag of Bruss (the bits of broken sweet that are left over) for 30cents. Its perfect.
All I can say is I'll be going back again so get a few bags of sweets ready for me Dan!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hubble Bubble toil and trouble....

Not one of my better pictures thats for sure but what a great night we had last year for Halloween! I hadn't dressed up in years  before this but I would highly recommend it. I couldn't get the green face paint off for days!!! But its that time again when the little ones are all excited and half terrified but love it at the same time and some of us grown ups are just as bad. So why am I writing about it here in this blog? Well we can do this with the environment in mind too and so I thought I would put a few pointers out for those of you who might be interested.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A taste of home...

The English Market, Cork, Ireland
I have had a great week this week and as part of college our class went to look around the English market in Cork City. I go to my local market every Saturday unless I am away and love getting the fresh local produce. No travelling too far to do the weekly shop and even better, the food hasn't been travelling too far either! No preservatives or any nasties put into it. Just pure food, the way it should be. I must admit I never really go into the English Market when I am in the city but our trip really made me think twice. A market full of stalls containing fresh produce, butchers who know exactly where the meat comes from and prepare it from scratch unlike at supermarkets where with some products we probably cross our fingers and hope we are getting the best we can for our stomachs, but can never be too sure. Yes I know a lot of supermarkets are great and I'm not saying otherwise, just that knowing what farmer or farm the food comes from is a huge plus.

Saturday Farmers Market in Charleville, Co.Cork
Along with all of this healthy eating and local support, it  brings us back to a time when we actually spoke to and got to know our local butcher, baker or candle stick maker! The people at the English Market really went out of their way to help and educate us about their products. It wasn't all about making a fast buck. Ultimately of course they are there to make a living but if you wanted to learn about some other type of fish that you haven't tried etc, some of them will even go as far as telling
you a great recipe to put together. How nice is that? The same thing happens at my local market but it's on a much smaller scale. Have you noticed how the little, farmers markets are cropping up everywhere? Maybe it's because of the recession and our interest in growing our own or supporting locals, but either way its a great thing and it helps the environment whether we know it or not. So the next time you are out shopping take a look around your local farmers market. You dont need to do the whole weeks shopping there but you might learn a thing or two, enjoy the fresh taste of local food and make a few friends while your at it. If you go to the English Market you will be adding your 10cents worth to its history too and helping to keep it going for generations to come.

Take a look at the Slow Food website too: Click Here

Watch this American documentary if you can get it, but it is long. Failing that watch the trailer attached. It could really open your eyes to what can happen if we allow others to think for us. Click Here

Monday, September 27, 2010

Winter Warmer Mmm..

I have just made my favorite soup which really is a meal in itself. I love making this as it really is wholesome and good but what I also love about it is that there is no real waste. Because its all vegetables the only things that gets thrown away are the peelings an the other reason it's a winner is that it easy to make and I get 2 nights out of it (or one night if feeding four people). You need a blender though. So, although this is not a recipe blog, I thought I'd share this with you as not only will it make you feel good inside, it will make your Eco conscience feel warm and cosy too.
Get stuck into this winter warmer...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Mistakes? I've made a few, but then again..."

....well perhaps not too few to mention but this is something that is going to happen along the way. You know, like when you go into a shop and see something that you really love, and without a thought, little old you goes and makes the purchase and leaves with a big satisfied grin on your face. Once your home and it's time to think about being the environments Green Friendly Giant, it dawns on you that you have made a big mistake and bought something like PVC leggings that cant be recycled or wont break down or whatever. Your heart drops and you wonder if you should give it or up and throw in the towel. Don't do it. I have made this mistake too and so have several others. The retail world does not always cater to our Eco friendly efforts and it can be tough to get it right sometimes. Here is my confession.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Simple things

It's September now and everyone is back to the usual work and school routine and thoughts of holiday's are put aside for the moment. Still my brain is working overtime with things that I can keep doing to make sure I am not wasting energy, money and time. I too am going to be back on course tomorrow as everyone is back to college I think. So for me I think that routine will need real organisation and discipline. The next few months will be a test as I am sure I will come in the door most evenings exhausted. Will I throw all my hard effort down the drain? I really hope not. So I remind myself that the little things I do will matter.
Dark evenings that arrive around 4.30pm over the coming weeks mean more lights on, and wintry days that continue through the night mean heating, hot dinners that use electricity and gas and ultimately more money!!! So what can I do to help myself and save a few pennies  which will also help the environment? Lets see....

Monday, September 13, 2010

Back to the Nitty Gritty!

Going back to my recycling post I mentioned getting used to what you throw away and becoming aware of different items that can be recycled. Still there is something else that can be done to reduce the amount of waste that gets thrown in the bin and can be a huge help to you. Composting! "Yuk!" I hear you say? No no, it really is easy so listen up. There are plenty of things that can be composted such as grass, newspaper, egg shells, all vegetable peelings, egg cartons (although I prefer to give mine back to the market for re-use) and citrus peelings (in moderation and these I find help to keep the flies away too). Lets face it I bet there's plenty in this short list that goes into the landfill isn't there? Why not compost it and then when the summer comes you wont need to buy the expensive compost.
"It's too smelly. It encourages rats and vermin. I cant be bothered..."
 ..are some of the usual reasons I hear for not composting. Really, none of these are true as I have found out.....                      

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mobile friendly or mobile trendy...

Samsung S7550 Blue Earth

I must confess that for most of my life I have been a gadget girl and a mobile phone was top of the list for some years. It was my treat to myself and every 12 months when my phone was due an upgrade, off I went to the phone company I was contracted to and upgraded to something swanky with extras that could bring me tea in bed, clean the house and let me have conference calls, all at once whether I needed those extras or not. I paid quite a price for this unnecessary luxury of extras when I could have got something much cheaper which did everything I needed. "How did we manage without mobile phones" people always say. Lets be honest, we managed perfectly well until the late 90's when, as I recall, they seemed to shoot up everywhere. Still, I am one of those people and I really do think that mobile phones or cell phones (depending where you are) are quite important and productive. We see "the latest model" every year and we go through them so fast even though, 9 times out of 10, they are still functioning perfectly when we buy the next model. What a waste you might say? What a waste indeed!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Growing my own

"The Good Life", Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal
 Have you ever watched The Good Life on the G.O.L.D. channel, which was a nice evening telly series created in the 70's for BBC 1 I think? The idea of a married couple giving up everything to have a life of self sufficiency intrigues me and watching them grow their own vegetables and practically running a mini farm in the back yard in "suburbia" with varying degrees of success (and hilarity too) makes me want to throw caution to the wind and join in! How simple it is made to look and how happy they are with their lot. Surely I could do the very same couldn't I?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On yer bike!

Cycling has to be one of my most enjoyable past times and, it seems, very trendy right now. I took it up again about 17 months ago having not cycled since I was a young teenager. I joined a local club too in order to meet a few more people and this way it is a social leisure cycle and I'm keeping fit without it feeling like a workout. I was in Berlin this summer and the amount of cyclists in that city was a real eye opener and I don't just mean during the day, there are as many cyclists biking their way through the city at 1am, 2am and so on!  How wonderful to apply that lifestyle here in Ireland or any other country for that matter. I continued to ponder on that thought and realised that we have a lot to do to catch up with certain European towns and cities. Kids love their shiny new bikes from Santa or for their birthdays and wouldn't it be great to be able to go cycling safely as a family rather than having to drive to the nearest park so kids can cycle (as a single cyclist) in safety?

The Right Bike

It's essential that you get the right bike so, you need to know whether you want to go mountain biking, just cycle to work or do leisure tours. Your cycling shop should measure you for your bike. If it's not your size then it is dangerous. If your salesman is happy to let you buy any old bike just because you like the look of it and isn't interested in or doesn't know how to measure you for a bike, Run a mile! YOU MUST HAVE:
  • The right bike for the right type of cycling
  • It must fit you correctly
Word of mouth is a great advertisement.

Never cycle without a helmet, it could save your life!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Where you do you start when you decide to go "Eco Friendly"?  Difficult I know. You can start to think that there is so much to be done that, little old (or young) you couldn't possibly change the world and therefore give up before you start. Well I started when I found a book written by Feilim Harty called "Get rid of your Bin" and I was so inspired that that is exactly what I did. I took a long hard look at recycling and gave myself 6 months to try to recycle most of my rubbish (this was also when the next "Bin man" bill was due) and went for it. (As it happened I lost my job at the same time the bin man bill was due so that helped with the decision! ) I'm delighted. Now I recycle approximately 85-90% of my rubbish by taking it to the recycling bank myself.  For €5 every 8-10 weeks I trek off to the recycling centre. Here is how to start:

Recycling Tips

Recycling should save you money as well as caring about the environment. You dont need to buy fancy recycling bins to separate your rubbish (unless you want to of course). You can use cardboard boxes stacked one on top of the other and labelled, like I do (sorry mum-she has great style and taste you know). If they fall apart after a bit then they can go into the compost. Hey presto!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Feed the Birds

Who are you looking at?

I absolutely love feeding the birds and do it every winter. Some people say you can feed them throughout the summer which will give them the extra energy to hunt for their young and others say they should fend for themselves. I don't know, but today I decided it was time to get out the peanuts and fat balls and remind them that there is always a place here for them to stuff their little feathery faces! My parents live in the country and while I was there today I put the food out and waited...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Keeping Buzy
I've spent a lot of time this summer trying to get my garden sorted. We live on a housing estate and haven't touched the garden since we moved in. I knew I wanted as many wild flowers as possible, something that will attract the insects, bees and butterflies that I would like. At a festival recently I was told that a certain type of honey bee are a dying breed, and so I thought I would try to help them along...I have a lovely pot of lavender outside my front door and they seem to love this. Whenever I go outside this summer there is a gentle buzzing and unlike wasps I am never wary of them as I know they just want to be left alone to get on with their work. I made friends with a lovely lady this year who is really green fingered and she has given me some lovely plants to help me on my way. I popped out today to take a look at how my garden is getting on and here are some photo's...

Another day at the office.
Too good to miss
I do believe that's another type of bee, all in a days work.