Monday, November 12, 2012

Bag up a bargain!

LBB = Little Black Bargain!

You will forgive me gents if I have a girly moment although if you stay tuned this may be just as beneficial for you. That credit crunch is crunching louder than if I were eating cornflakes and along with the weather today it is more than a little depressing, especially as I have gone into Gok Wan fashion craze at the moment. To start at the beginning, I like Gok because he talks sense but still has a huge love for fashion. As it is I sway in and out of my love for fashion but at present I'm in, so it is annoying that I can't splash out on new style because I haven't got the cash. I have borrowed 2 of his books from the library and love what he is doing with ordinary high street clothes.  The clothes roadshow he does, showing us how to add bits and bobs very cheaply onto cheap clothes is a total are the outfits. So today I went out to see what I could get but decided to go into 2nd hand shops which to be fair has been the inspiration of Xpose on RTE last week. Its easy to forget about recycling clothes so, to be reminded of it and to be able to help charities  at the same time (often to do with these shops) gets full marks in my book.

So there I was rummaging around the Irish Cancer Society shop today (close to many of our hearts I'm sure) and hey presto a lovely little cotton dress called out to me. Just my size, a style I always wanted but couldn't get and ....wait for it...a mere €4.10!!! I exaggerate not! Two seconds later a lovely gold bolero winked at me and it  also led me to the counter. It was only €3.50! Bargain bagged. All it takes to winter the dress up is tights and cardi and the bolero is perfect for dressing up jeans or for Christmas.

So now I have promised to go into 2nd hand shops whenever I am in town. Not everything in there is a winner but I appreciated the couple of items I found and loved their price and as well as that I am happy that my few pennies went to a good cause. I also have the satisfaction of getting a new outfit.

The other side of the coin is that if you buy in these shops and want to jazz the outfits up a bit when you get home then you can be adventurous knowing that you only spent a couple of pounds. Change a few buttons or sewing on a few bits here and there and you too can say I've been Gokked...well who's going to know otherwise?

Let me know where you get your bargains from....I'll race you to the counter.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Refreshingly good

I know its been forever since I last wrote on here and I have so much to tell you about. I really need to boost myself and to get blogging asap and get out of this slightly stale (or perhaps lazy) rut. So where better for me to start than at a Green Campus meeting at University. Already the head is down and the mind is on overtime with assignment deadlines. Last year I missed 95% of the campus meetings due to lectures and clashes so when I received an email informing me of this get together I decided that I needed to make the effort and try again. As it turned out I really enjoyed it as we starting brainstorming ideas for the coming year and I'm delighted to say that we are involved in the Green Flag with An Taisce, applying to renew our flag (initially achieved in 2010) for spring 2013. So many activities we need to work on in order to do this and a revival of enthusiasm from the group is needed in order to relight the spark that has undoubtedly dimmed over the past year, probably with the arrival of summer exams.
It gives me that little kick to get back into the "Green buzz" that I had before but its also a reminder that we all slack off from time to time and lose sight of what we are trying to achieve. Also there is the feel that we are already doing everything we can so what more could we be possibly do? Tonight was great because I wasn't on my own but with an enthusiastic group putting our heads together and coming up with great ideas. They may be ideas to improve the campus but we mustn't forget that being Eco friendly isn't all about minding our own pockets or looking after our own lives and houses but spreading outside so that what ever we do makes a difference to the world we live in. If we can give a good presentation at the end of the year to show what we have done to make the campus greener and achieve that flag renewal then I will be proud, as the world will be a better place....even if it is only a little. It all adds up.

Put your thinking cap on and get thinking about what you can do to improve what you have already done. If you have slackened off then hopefully this will get you set up for the rest of the year.

Would love to get any ideas you may have to help with our campus and of course when you post them other people will see them and maybe include them in their goals. All ideas are welcome :) Get commenting!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A natural retreat

National Botanical Gardens, Dublin

It's been a while since I wrote about places to visit with the environment in mind but last week I was blown away by a visit to the National Botanical Gardens, Glasnevin in Dublin. I have seen the odd programme about them but there was nothing to compare with the real thing. The day was dry which of course made a difference but there are beautiful glass houses to wander around even if it rains with a cafe to pop in to as well. The rose garden was perfect and mu parents and I spent time sniffing many roses to see which were the best. Squirrels pranced about the paths not worrying about visitors at all and were happy to come very close to us. In fact we were reminded by signs that these confident rodents would bite and to be careful but they didn't bother us. The kitchen garden was my favorite with all sorts of mouth watering delicacies on show and I was comparing many of them to my own at home wondering how I had done. Of course I have long way to go yet!

Getting there may be an issue as it is not really walking distance from say, Heuston Station and perhaps a taxi is the best option but  no doubt if you ring up before hand you may get a handy bus number to hop on to.

Entrance is free and there is a car park, should you wish to drive, with a fee of €2.00 only for the day I believe  and should you wish to you could stay from the moment it opens until closing time, for as long as the weather is on your side I cant imagine why you would want to leave. To find out about opening times just click here and to ring them just dial + 353 1 804 0300

Here are some of our highlights from the day.

Mum and dad enjoying the sensory garden

The sensory garden with all its shapes, colours and patterns

Beautiful Glass houses containing some plants that have been around
 since the time of the Jurassic period!

Nothing like a water feature.

Monday, August 20, 2012

My own Olympic champions

A little chef for pollinators

I'm always wishing the weather was better here and we do seem to get such a lot of rain. This year of course has beaten the rest with some rotten weather and I have done my fair share of complaining. However, I have heard of some real disasters regarding the garden and on farms with many people suffering complete failures of potatoes from blight as well as other problems which must be so disheartening especially if you are only starting out. Our family did small amounts, mostly because of lack of space and it being our first time but as I type this I am reminded that when we went to get garden bits and bobs at our local centre this is exactly what the lady at the counter suggested. Too many people go mad and plant so much that when things go wrong they give up altogether.

Anyway I am rambling away from what I really wanted to say. All in all I am very proud of our efforts and have had some real successes in the veg patch even though the produce was in limited supply. In fact its been so rewarding that I am definitely going to try and grow produce over the winter months to keep some snack or two on the plate. It will take some real planning as I dont know where I will get seed at this time of year in Ireland as most people seem to grow summer veg as a novelty so I need to check this out.

For anyone who is like me and wants to start out on the path to sustainability (of some degree anyway) then I must recommend the "Grow it" magazine. Forgive me for name dropping but if something works for me then I believe in passing it on and apologies if I have mentioned it before (i dont remember doing it). This magazine is a little pricey at €5.98 but with 5 packets of seeds to try each time it really works out quite well and I would have been lost without it.

Here are quite a few pictures of what has been going on in our garden over the summer months despite the bad weather and what I believe were slug conferences on many occasions!
The Squash  Patty Pan having been put out in the soil
was looking well..
..and it continued to flower ..

Result! our first squash. The slugs attacked another plant
but this one held on and is now quite big

Our cold frame was adapted to protect the strawberries form birds and it worked . We now have trailers to get more strawberries next year.

Tomatoes looking divine on the chopping board

Tomatoes looking divine on the vine

Peas, mums favourite veg to grow
Mange tout size here but we have since picked a couple of full ones

Tasty little carrots 

Fabulously delicious potatoes which have since been eaten
Something for the wildlife

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Saving a few pounds...or losing them

One of the things I like about being green is when I can do it and save money. As if we needed reminding we are going through a spot of trouble on the economical front and many cut backs have to be made. For example, when I had a job I loved going to the gym and taking a swim and a sauna not even stopping to think of the price I was paying per year and certainly not considering the electricity being

used (or perhaps wasted on the many occasions I was too lazy to go). I've loved seeing these outdoor gyms popping up all around the country. Yes they require more material that wont naturally break down but the only energy required is the energy that we put in manually. Not only that but we can get fit and take in the fresh air (when its not raining of course but who is to say that you cant train even then?). My hubby and I went to the next town to check out the outdoor gym for ourselves and although we didn't stay long as we were just taking a look, we will definitely be going back. No fees, instructions on how to use the equipment written up, fresh air and ...hopefully...a fit me by the end of it all.

Are you familiar with these Outdoor Gyms? Let me know what you think of them

A berry welcome present!

Its fair to say that so far this summer in Ireland it's been a toughy in the garden. So much bad weather hindering crop growth and the slugs appear to be in heaven as they chomp away on cabbage leaves and lettuce, marigold and ...well absolutely everything if i'm honest. Its been disheartening. However there have been some triumphs and as small as some of them were they were indeed quite satisfying. Popping out to the garden to pull fresh cabbage and be munching away on it 30 minutes later would put the happiest smile on your face. Last night as many of you may already know was horrific with torrential rain, thunder and lightening and floods in many of our well loved towns. Even more disappointing was to find that one of our trees on our estate had been vandalised and pulled to the ground putting me into a temper not so dissimilar to someone suffering very badly from PMT!!! Calming myself down and (slightly bitterly) telling myself that it was "their" loss as they destroyed a means to their own fresh air I thought I had better pop out to the garden and water some of the tomato plants in the green house who are also struggling due to lack of sun poor things. Lo and behold there was a little suprise waiting for me to renew the smile on my face and let me know that all was not bad. The berries are ripening and I was able to pick just a few that appear to be ready. Whenever a door is closed someone opens a window! :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Its a kind of magic

We have been hard at work yesterday and today getting back into the garden and veggie growing. Exams and Uni have taken over my life this year and now I can concentrate on what I want to do and when I want to do it. Getting all the news that England are well under way with their growing season we are usually a little behind with ours here in Ireland and the same is true this year. However things are looking good and its very exciting. The peas we set haven't worked and I think we will try again over the next couple of days but overall I am delighted and look forward to some scrummy food in the near future.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

BEAUTY-fully earth friendly

Breath of fresh air, almost literally.

Here's something refreshingly beautiful. A friend of mine found this little number in Boots chemist last week and I'm and delighted to get this picture that she took (Thanks Viv!). So nice to see that there are people working in the world of fashion and beauty who are also dedicated followers of the earth. I have just been checking out their website and they have a blog too. Their brushes consist of Bamboo and recycled aluminium and the bristles on the brushes are soft synthetic taklon. Its not just brushes though, they have cotton and hemp cosmetic bags and they try to make all their packaging reusable and their bath lotions and potions are all made with natural ingredients to look after you and the environment. OK OK so this is a bit of a girly blog then is it? Bored boys are you? Well you could always try and get something to impress a girlfriend by getting her a nice present of brushes or loofahs and bath pampering bits and pieces. Check out Boots if there is one near you and see what they have or better still check out their website for yourself. I know I will!
Click on the link to see for yourselves; Eco tools

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Just giving you an update on my previous post : Room with a view. Nothing could make me happier than to see these little chaps chomping away on seeds and fat ball. I am sure they are pretty satisfied too and as promised (and because a few little fights over food was beginning to take place) I hooked up some more bird feeders to the shed.

Yum Yum

Who are you looking at?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Earth Day 22 April 2012

Its Earth Day tomorrow, 22nd April 2012 and each year it seems to be advertised a little less which is worrying. So I am asking you to do your bit tomorrow for the earth and I will give you some options so that if you cant manage one you have a choice.

  • Turn off your house lights from 8-9pm tomorrow night 
  • Turn down the thermostat 1 degree and if its chilly put on an extra layer of clothing
  • If you have to go to work, church, visit a friend can you walk, cycle or car share?
  • Instead of taking a bath tomorrow take a shower instead. If you always take a shower cut down the amount of time you take and save water.
These are easy options to choose for the day, none of them will cost you money, all of them will save you money and all of them will contribute to the earth we live on.

Please choose at least one of them if not all of them and make a small contribution. The more people participate, the larger the contribution in total.

Thank you

If you participate by doing any of the above please comment and let me know. If you dont want to log into a Google account then just remain anonymous. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Room with a view.

Room with a view
 and it even accommodates a fall ball which you can just see.

Mary Poppins would be proud as I purchased this little number at the garden centre the other day. I must admit after my initial delight with it I realised that I had just purchased more plastic, Doh! Oh well, you cant get it right all the time but that aside I must say I think its great. I have fed the birds from my cherry tree on the front lawn but crows also feed from the feeders which is alright as they need to survive too and I do get a fair share of finches and tits. Unfortunately, the larger birds do break all of the lower smaller growing branches which is always disappointing. I dont like putting seed on the ground as it encourages rats and neither I nor the neighbours would appreciate that. I must put a nail on the shed in the back garden as that would be much more suitable for hanging feeders but if I can encourage birds to this new feeder then I will have the best seat in the house...for free!

Cherry blossom from the front garden, now crow free

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The apple of my eye.

Pruned and proud 
Meet Elsie-Kate. Yes, Elsie-Kate. I'm afraid I have grown this attached to her already. I've wanted an apple tree for some time now and thought that I would have to get two for my back garden as I have been told that two is vital for pollination but then I realised that my neighbours had apple trees and started investigating. They have eating apples and I wanted the same (cooking apples not being a favorite of mine), so I ventured off to a good gardening centre and after a lot of advise and a crash course in tree care I arrived home with my prize. I had wanted to put it in a different location in the garden  as my summer bench usually sits here but needs must as this is the sunniest spot. Before long I was out with spade and trowl but as with many estates I and my young neighbour of 6 years of age, spent most of the time removing the 1000's of stones which are quite often a large portion of the new estates of Ireland's gardens. Still my own compost and some well rotted manure (neither personally belonging to me you understand!?) were added to welcome my new tree to its new resting place and so now its fingers crossed.

Anyway, the main reason I am adding this to my blog is that there are too few trees around new estates these days. I didn't realise for the first year that I was here that only the houses at the front of our estate included a cherry tree (non fruiting of course). I felt bad that we only had one tree on our plot and beautiful as it is it only blossoms for a couple of weeks every year but most of the houses had no trees at all. This is an issue I feel for the environment and us. As living, breathing human beings we need trees in order to give us oxygen. So this is one of my reasons for adding another to the small enough green areas of our planet. The other reason is home produce. So I'm slightly obsessed with it. I wont be sorry to pick a few fresh apples from my own back garden in a few years, maybe even one or two this year. Not having to go to the shop, fork out money for them and then wonder what they may have been sprayed with in order to keep them "fresh"....I'll take some of that thank you very much.

 This tree cost me €22. It didnt break the bank and if I take care of it, it will take care of me.

What is your opinion? Are there enough trees in your area giving you beautiful flowers, fragrance, produce or shade. Have you ever taken notice before and if not what do you think now?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Make your bed and plant in it

The first bed completed and netted.

So nice to have a bit of time to get out in the garden. I am taking leap forward this year and hoping to get my hand on an allotment but while I am waiting my parents and I are in the process of putting together 3 beds to grow veggies in. A kind neighbour has given us some topsoil so we have added some of our own compost that we have been making over the past year and some well rotted horse manure (thanks to another friendly neighbour) in order to pack in some nutrients. Its been back breaking stuff just trying to sort that out so that we can get planting. So far though we have potatoes and cabbage in one of the beds and this evening dad and I prepared the 2nd bed. No we wont get jobs on Gardner's World but we'll keep our fingers crossed that the effort we put in wont go to waste.
The precious cabbages protected (we hope) from invading slugs.
I wont say that it was altogether cheap as we spent a bit on netting, bamboo, tomato feed and an amount of other things but then we got the knack of being 'vernacular' (my old lecturer would be proud) by using old sticks to hold up the netting rather than using the bamboo which we wanted to keep for staking up plants as they grow and we may even see how an old net curtain might do when we need netting the next time. 
Ultimately our goal is fresh home grown and organic produce to enjoy but if nothing else we are out in the fresh air and getting plenty of exercise, not to mention spending time with the ones you love! ( I dont mean the veggies :)
Bed no 2 ready for more edible delights.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Th'Ink well before purchase

I've been getting through alot of writing pads this year as I try to organise my lecture notes and I've taken care to buy as much recycled paper as possible etc. However, I have also gone through my fair share of pens too and its not so easy to find the right pen which in the end will be safe for the environment. I imagine the very best pens are the fountain pens with refillable ink and even better are the ones that dont require you to change the cartridge each time but simply fill the built in ink reserve. In reality though these can be messy and leak all over your work and other belongings so you want a good throw away pen that will last. Now I like my stationary as I may have mentioned in the past and a pen has to feel good when I write with it. I thought I had found it in one of those roller ball types so I made my purchase. You can also rub this ink out too with a special lid so I thought it really was the bees knees and it wrote like a dream....for 3 days...and then was empty! So I took it back and told the shop assistant my problem and she replaced it. It was empty in...3 days! Back I trotted a third time and it was once again replaced and I made sure to check that I got one with a full amount of ink in it. 3 days later it was gone. I hadn't written an excessive amount with it and I had much cheaper throw away pens that had lasted for months. What a waste of money and a terrible job for the environment. That was 3 pens over 9 days that possibly would head off to the landfill. 2 pens thrown out per week essentially. Business is business and I expect companies to make a profit but isn't this kind of wastefulness costing us excessive amounts (to purchase and clean up the waste) both in the shop and landfill and that's before we consider the environmental damage inflicted.

Do you know of any good pens that have done their fair share for the environment, advertise the plastic number symbol on them so that you know you can recycle them or simply a good pen that lasts a decent amount of time? Share your thoughts here.