Making your household eco-friendly – kitchen

It sounds like such a cliche – once you have a child you start caring more about the future. But I’ve found it to be true! I’ve always been quite passionate about recycling and eco-friendly alternatives thanks to growing up in Germany, where these things are quite big. But I have really upped my efforts in the last few months. I spoke about it briefly here, but I want to go into some more detail about the changes we have made. I’ll start with the kitchen!

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  1. Laundry detergent

I’ve been using the EcoEgg Laundry Egg for six weeks now instead of detergent and I love it! I chose the scent-free option and clothes come out clean – that’s it. No smell, nothing. Stubborn stains need some extra stain remover treatment beforehand, but that’s the same as it was with detergent. Extra bonus: because there is no detergent, I don’t need a rinse cycle, shortening the wash significantly! I’ll be getting the EcoEgg stain remover in my next order too, to try and phase out my Vanish (although that stuff works wonders on baby poo stains…)

2. Bamboo kitchen roll

Instead of one-use paper towels I ordered these bamboo towels, also from EcoEgg. They can be washed and re-used. They have been really useful; the only downside is storing them once you’ve ripped them off the roll. We just have them in a pile at the moment, but I might have to devise a box of some sorts

3. Glass food containers

This was a change I made while I was still pregnant – I was getting fed up with how stained plastic containers got and without a dishwasher there was no chance of getting them properly clean. The glass containers are great and fridge-, oven- and microwave safe. What more could you want?

4. Reuseable beeswax food wraps

I love these wraps from Abeego – I ordered the variety pack just to see and will definitely be getting more! They smell divine and are a fantastic alternative to cling film.

5. Bulk-buying washing up liquid

We’ve used Ecover Washing up Liquid for a while, but I couldn’t find anywhere close that would do refills. Luckily I could order 15l of refill online! Poor postman…

6. Reusable shopping bags

Scotland introduced a 5p charge on plastic bags in shops in , following Wales’ example. It has been hugely successful and almost everyone now brings their own bags to the shops. It can be annoying to forget, but I do my best to keep some in the car.

7. Local veg box

We have been getting a weekly box of locally grown vegetables for a while now. It can be a challenge to cook with things you are unfamiliar with and, the box being seasonal, in winter in Scotland you get a *lot* of Kale (which I don’t like…), but it has really reduced the amount of over-packaged, hot-housed veggies from all over the world we eat.

 

In the future:

  • biodegradable bin liners – for the next order of stuff online
  • recycled aluminium foil – as above
  • try to find a bulk shop for grains etc – Locavore is opening a new, bigger store soon and I am hoping to see the opportunity to buy packaging-free grains and pasta there!

 

When things aren’t like you thought they would be

Our beautiful son graced us with his presence on the 28th of March under much more dramatic circumstances than we would have liked. He was an undiagnosed breech and I had to have an emergency caesarean.

The longest lasting impact was the fact he was born with DDH – developmental dysplasia of the hip. This means his hip sockets were too shallow and the joint would easily become dislocated. This is a common complication of breech babies, but it meant we had to go to the children’s hospital when he was only a week old to have an ultrasound. The ultrasound confirmed that his hips were far too shallow and he got a Pavlik harness, which looks like this:

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When they put it on my little boy, I cried. Of course that seems ridiculous in context; after all it’s only some cotton and velcro, he wasn’t in pain and it was only for 12 weeks. But it meant weekly hospital visits, not being able to bathe our baby at home, a lot of his clothes not fitting him, difficult nappy changes and most of all we lost the ability to snuggle skin to skin and hold our soft little squishy boy. I won’t say it wasn’t tough. the staff at the Royal Hospital for Children were amazing though and very supportive and I eventually began looking forward to our weekly visit with these wonderful nurses. We had to shorten our planned holiday in Germany so we’d only miss one appointment, we had to go to hospital once to get a new harness due to a nappy explosion and Frank spent a lot of time being too warm when we had glorious summer days, but on the 21st of June the harness was finally taken off! It took a few nights for him to get used to his new freedom of movement and a few days for us to get to grips (literally!) with how wriggly and soft our little boy now is. We’re thankful we live in a time and a place where a problem like this, which would cause immense suffering if untreated, can be easily and swiftly remedied without surgery. But I’m happy I now have a harness-free child!

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The first and last harness

Garden things

There is only so much time with a baby around, but I am still trying to do things around the house to make it nicer. At the moment we’re growing some tomatoes inside and we got a herb bed for the back garden. My grandmother brought the herbs over from Germany and we bought the bed at a discount price in a garden centre – they gave us 25% off because one of the boards was loose! When we first planted the herbs they were still recovering from their trip overseas:

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But six weeks of sunshine and rain have really helped them flourish!

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The back garden is currently totally overgrown, which needs to be addressed, but means I can get flowers for my own bouquet easily:

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We got this cute little bench from friends who are moving away to New Zealand. I love it in our hallway!

 

I am starting to plan a makeover of the front garden. It’s functional and boring at the moment – I want more of a cottage garden feel. Sadly I have zero gardening experience, so this will be an adventure! Any ideas? This is the current look:

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The garden faces South and has sun from about 5am until 5pm at least during the summer, so plants have to love the sun! I don’t yet know what kind of soil we’ve got. We’re also at the top of a hill, so it’s often windy.

Baby impact!

Having a child really takes up all your time! It doesn’t help our computer’s hard drive packed it in too…

Frank’s first 13 weeks were quite eventful, as he needed a harness for his hip joints. More on that in a different post though.

Now that we have more of a routine I find myself re-evaluating a lot of the ways I’ve run this household. Don’t get me wrong, I did it well – but I did it for two working adults. Now I am home all the time and we have a baby. That means less time and more washing, among other things. Add to that the need to save money and a strong desire to leave a better world for my boy and I’ve ended up with my first major order from ethicalsuperstore.com. I initially just looked for ecover washing up  liquid refills and went a bit mad. The product I am most excited to try is the Ecoegg laundry egg. Apparently it’ll last me 210 washes, has no harsh chemicals and no fragrance! I’ll let you know how well it works (or not…)

Fighting the overdue blues – with baking!

Baby is now officially overdue and I am getting really bored. Today I decided to combat this by baking cheesecake – the German kind.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the anglophone version of cheesecake – non-baked, biscuit base, nice and creamy. But there are many fond childhood memories associated with the traditional baked Bavarian cheesecake. Some people put fruit in it – those people are wrong and you should shun their cake-based opinions. It really works best with Vanillepuddingpulver. You can use something like Dream Topping or Angel Delight, but it’s not the same. German “pudding” is boiled milk with flavourings and starch; there is no gelatine involved and usually no eggs – it’s like milk jelly and absolutely delicious.

If you are lactose intolerant or vegan I’m sorry to say this recipe is definitely not for you – it uses four different types of dairy!

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (fan oven).

Dough:

200g plain flour

75g butter

45g sugar

1 egg

1 tsp baking powder

Mix together. This is very crumbly – that’s okay. Press it into a prepared 26cm springform.

 

Filling:

500g quark (fromage blanc or skyr could work too if you can’t find quark)

125g sour cream

250ml milk

140g sugar

110ml oil

2 eggs

1 pack vanilla pudding powder / similar

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Blend together. This is entirely liquid, so assemble your cake as close to the oven as you can – you don’t want to carry this around!

Pour the filling into the form and pop into the oven. It takes about 45min or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Be careful when you take it out – it will still be wobbly and needs to cool down to set.

And there you have it! One delicious German cheesecake.

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Baby update – 37 weeks and term!

It’s now term time and I’m about ready for baby to come out! Since it is half German, I’ve informed baby that there are two options: being early or being on time. I’m not sure the message got through though… so we play the waiting game!

37w

How far along?
37 weeks 1 day
Baby is now:
about 3kg and about 33cm
Total weight gain:
8kg
Sleep:
Good when I can get it, but it’s difficult to find a comfortable position to fall asleep in.
Exercise:
Personal trainer once a week and the occasional walk.
Mood:
Excited.
Cravings/Aversions:
Not really – it’s been a fairly boring pregnancy regarding cravings.
Symptoms:
Sore back, sore belly – just all round soreness now.
Missing:
Sleeping on my stomach and getting out of the tub easily.
Movement:
Lots and lots – but always hiding as soon as I get the camera out.
 Maternity Clothes:
All the time.
 Worst Moment of the week:
Washing machine vibrations throwing a glass off the sink, causing it to break.
Best Moment of the week:
Finishing the “must do before baby” list.
Looking Forward to:
Baby!