Live LAGOM 3

Time for the final blog and is this the end of the journey? No, I don’t think so. Doing the Live LAGOM challenge has brought new insight into things I can do to live more sustainably. I said at the beginning that I thought I already “did my bit”; but nevertheless I’ve learnt stuff and made changes.

Energy – mild winter or not, the addition of extra rugs and blinds on the windows has made a difference. Definitely cut the draughts from single glazed (grade 2 listed) windows and gaps in floorboards. Furry housemates have greatly approved too.

Cat on a rug

Cat approval given

New LED lights, replacing of bulbs and reusable batteries for fairy lights dotted about the place have also helped the cosy effect. And there’s been some energy saving – I’ve just renewed my plan with Ovo (green tariff, natch) and my direct debit has dropped by £11 per month due to reduction in use. So that’s £132 saved.

 

Tidying – seems an odd one, but being a bit more organised by using the KORKEN glass jars in my cupboards has meant it’s a whole lot easier to do a stock take on what I actually have and therefore don’t need to buy again. I’ve also been inspired by the Live LAGOM philosophy of having just enough to review my home in general. I joined a Facebook group – Living with Less – as a way to share the triumphs and challenges of tackling the hoarding instinct I’ve inherited from my parents. Not quite there yet, but I’ve shed rather a lot of books, excess kitchenalia, old clothes and my favourite thing, hoarded paper. Over 300 magazines and five boxes of newspaper clippings have been recycled and I’ve got into the habit of putting read magazines by the front door, ready to pass on to hospitals and doctors’ waiting rooms. I’ve also stopped two subscriptions, never having the time to read them so that’s another £72 a year saved. On the list to do next? Sort out the linen cupboard and attic.

I’m also embracing William Morris’s maxim, “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. Because I don’t like waste, I also hang onto things a little too long, so the beautiful reference is especially apt. Torn? Stained? Chipped? Recycled. I’m also trying very hard to stop “saving for best” – life is short, so we need to use the best china, light the expensive candles and wear the good shoes. Mind you, it is a bugger when you then break something nice…

herb and tomato plants

Herb and tomato plants

Gardening – I’ve always enjoyed a potter but haven’t done much seed sowing before. My little VINDRUVA greenhouses have enabled me to grow tomato plants from scratch, so much so, that they are slightly taking over the house. Annoyingly, I managed to drop one greenhouse cover – and unfortunately, they don’t bounce on a stone floor. So that’s on the list for replacement. I also had a go at the herb pots – success for parsley & basil, not so much for the mint. A couple of things from my list haven’t quite found their niche yet the BITTERGURKA hanging planters are a little too big for indoor use in my home and because they have no drainage holes, they’re not so useful outside, filling up rapidly with rainwater – although that’s useful in itself! The outdoor SKRUV lights on a timer have also made my little courtyard area safer (no more tripping over plant pots on the way to the bin); and more useable after dark.

Whom would I recommend taking part in this challenge? Everyone really. It’s a good opportunity to reflect on your everyday activity, the habits we all get into and the chance to make a few small changes that can have a big impact.

Live LAGOM. Not just an excuse to go shopping.

IKEA goodies

IKEA goodies

Small niece being a bee.

Small niece being a bee.

Live LAGOM 2

Bit of a serious post this. It’s time for my second blog about the journey I’ve embarked upon as a member of the live LAGOM community. And it is a journey. To recap, live LAGOM is a project by IKEA, encouraging a group of us to think about living more simply and with “just enough”. We’ve all been given access to a wide range of IKEA products to help us in this goal. Home visits were made by the IKEA team and recommendations were offered based on current living. As I mentioned in a previous post, I like to think I already “do my bit”: I recycle, monitor my energy usage, buy organic meat and vegetables, bake my own bread, preserve fruit etc. BUT. I also use a car, almost daily; I hoard food – my store cupboards bulge; and my particular besetting sin is the retention of stuff.

I live in a grade 2 Georgian cottage in Liverpool. Sandstone walls, stone floors, draughty single glazed windows that don’t let in much light, and planning required to make significant changes such as installing double glazing. From a practical point of view I needed to cosy things up, and add more light. My IKEA booty included 5 rugs, 3 blinds, 3 lamps and a whole load of battery operated LED fairy lights to use in dark corners. It’s been a mild winter but nevertheless it does get chilly, adding rugs & a blind to my bedroom means I’ve not actually switched on the radiator at all in there as the white fabric blinds block draughts from the window but don’t cut the light.

Morning light.

Morning light.

And I love that they are magnetic! The new rugs keep my feet warm on the cold floors and have been very popular with my furry housemates…

I’ve also been rearranging my cupboards, with the help of a LOT of Ikea glassware. Not perfect yet, but the systematic use of jars large enough to hold all my spices is meaning that at least I can see what I need before I go to the shops.

I mentioned this was a serious post at the start, so I should explain why. My Dad passed away 6 years ago, leaving me as executor of his will and sorter out of his estate. This was no small task. He resided in an 8 bedroomed house, plus garage and cellars. It was the family home for 40 years and I’d moved in with him in his last year, mostly to try to help him sort it out and aim to down size into something more manageable for a gentleman in his later years who wasn’t in the best of health. Sadly he died before we could achieve this, but I’d begun the truly Herculean task of going through the house. If I tell you that it took me TWO years to clear the house, and during that time I found myself dealing with much of my deceased mother AND grandmother’s personal items, you may have an inkling over what changes I want to make within my own home.  My own attic contains boxes of “items” left over from this period. Stuff I just couldn’t deal with, have no clue what to do with but struggle to throw out.

I really, really don’t want to end up like my Dad, filling rooms with “stuff” rather than throwing it out. I’m already spotting an alarming tendency to hoard paper – newspaper clippings, magazines, birthday cards etc.  So, not only did I join the Live LAGOM project, with an aim to be more sustainable, I also really want to take the message of “just enough” seriously.  I found a group on Facebook – it’s a closed one but you can apply to join – called Living With Less – basically it’s an online cheerleader for those of us who are trying really hard to reduce the clutter and live simpler lives. We post about the difficulty of letting stuff go, cheer on each other when we manage it and console each other when we just can’t deal with it any more. Since January 2016 I have got rid of: 5 boxes of magazines; 3 boxes of newspaper clippings; 28 books; 4 bags of “nope, you’re really not EVER going to wear that again” clothes; 2 boxes of random knick knacks (mostly weird presents, sorry); and 2 lamps that “just needed a little work”. I have a long way to go yet, haven’t even started on the stuff in the attic, but it’s a start. I want clutter free space where I can display the things I really DO want to keep.  Still trying to Live LAGOM…

Cat on a rug

Cat approval given

Celebrating the Harvest

The weather has turned slightly cooler, the fruit is ripening and the trees are starting to lose the odd lazy leaf. Autumn’s whispering in summer’s ear as the blackberries ripen and the harvest of the allotment is in full swing. I love visiting allotments –it’s a chance to peek into a secret world usually only open to those luck enough to rent a space. Every plot is different, yet somehow the same. The shape is broadly rectangular; there’s usually at least one structure – shed/ greenhouse/ fruit cage; and there’s a marvellous indiscriminate use of recycled materials to form fences and raised beds.

Sunday 18th August saw the gates of the Sefton Park allotments swung wide to welcome visitors to their open day.

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It’s a lovely space that’s provided a community resource for over 80 years to local residents. Plot holders were on site to talk about their gardens, inspire and advise about growing your own food. Live music, a Turkish BBQ, fresh ice cream and a series of tables selling produce, cakes, jams and bric a brac added a festive air.  Funds were being raised to help save Farm Terrace allotments in Watford, currently under threat of redevelopment. I made a donation and received a hand-tied bunch of fresh herbs in return. It was a great example of the community spirit allotments are famous for – a group of passionate people doing their best for another group of people at the other end of the country, who just want to keep growing. You can read more about their story here: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2013/jul/24/farm-terrace-allotments

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As the Sefton Park plot holders pointed out, what happens elsewhere, can easily happen here. The current fight to keep the Sefton Park meadows out of developers’ hands is a case in point.

Choosing an ice cream (supplied by Archers) from the Fellici cart, I set off in a light drizzle – I’m British, ice cream and days out go together, irrespective of what the weather’s doing – for a meander up and down the neatly mown paths.  The main thing that struck me was the sheer variety of edibles on offer. I spotted the feathery ferns of asparagus beds; ripening plums, pears and apples; greenhouses literally stuffed with tomatoes; artichokes; courgettes; pumpkins; salad leaves; herbs; wigwams of purple, red and green beans; raspberries & blackberries tangling along a fence; and in between, a feast for the pollinators – nasturtiums, tansy, marigolds and foxgloves.  A bed of flowering mint was abuzz with bees, and butterflies chased each other amongst the sweet peas.

 

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I spent a happy hour pottering up and down the plots, stopping to chat and admire. I came home clutching pots of purple beans, verbena and courgettes to create my own little edible space. The juxtaposition of fruit, vegetables and flowers I saw today is exactly what I’d like to have in my own garden.  Job done Sefton Park Allotments, I’m inspired.  Thank you.

 

 

Hello world!

So, three years on from first thinking about writing a blog about the food I love and the cuisines and ingredients that inspire me… here I am! Little bit about me. I’m a half Hungarian, half Scot all Liverpool girl who’s been fortunate enough to travel a bit and enjoy fabulous food.

Being in the kitchen makes me happy, feeding people makes me even happier. I’m not the most precise of cooks – no Michelin style presentation here, but I do work hard at making sure it tastes good. I love Hungarian and Italian food and have an irrational hatred of both melon and beetroot (no, I can’t explain it). Apart from that, I’ll pretty much eat anything.

I’m particularly keen on NOT WASTING food – yes, I am the person saving old bread for breadcrumbs, boiling carcasses for stock and re-using leftovers. I only use free range eggs, try to buy organic or at least freedom raised meat, use seasonal vegetables and fruit as much as possible and usually cook everything from scratch.

Things I like making:

Cakes – old school ones like Lemon Drizzle, Hungarian Apple, Rhubarb & Orange, Banana Bread, Carrot Cake and a proper New York baked cheesecake.

Soups – from hearty one pot meals such as a ‘proper’ gulyas, to more delicate ones to show off a seasonal vegetable or herb like watercress.

Chutneys, relishes & jams – from foraged wild garlic pesto to Moroccan spiced pear & date chutney to rhubarb & vanilla jam.

I’m looking forward to sharing recipes and food stories with you.

Bye for now

Lucy xxx

Hello World!