Category Archives: Useful Tips

DIY kitchen compost bin

This is more a “this is what you can do” as opposed to a tutorial. And also, although firstly described as an alternative to an outdoor compost for those who do not have a garden, due to its size I find it better suited as a transitional container that you keep in one place until full, and empty on the compost heap every so often; if I lived in a flat and intended to compost, I would look t build something a bit more appropriate in a wooden crate of plastic box.

DIY Kitchen Compost Bin - Tools
What you need

The list is fairly simple:

  • an empty tub of your favourite freeze dried coffee (if you work in an office they are bound to have one there)
  • glue
  • scissors
  • newspapers
  • screwdriver

All I did was lining the outside, underneath and inside (sides only) with newspapers (use glue). Inside on the bottom I left some loose bits of newspapers, so they can be changed every so often (if they soak up any liquids). I then “drill” a few holes in the lid (simply by driving the screwdriver in).

Note that I use a degradable plastic compost bag in my bin. If you don’t I would probably put more newspapers at the bottom inside and maybe use a carbon filter that you can stick on the inside of the lid if you are worried about smell.

I find this bin fit neatly in my cupboard under the sink, there is a top shelf in there, and this happens to go right where the sink is 🙂

Take care



Denim Coasters

We all had it, this favourite pair of jeans that’s now a bit faded, or the zip’s broken, that you haven’t worn in a year, that you cannot give to charity as a “wearable item”, but you cannot bring yourself to throw away simply because it may well become handy one day.

Well that day has now arrived! let’s face it, you will never wear them again. But, and rightly so, why should you throw them away, when they can be given a new life and purpose as an underrated every day household item: the coaster.


How to upcycle an old pair of jeans – Denim Coasters


– one old/unworn pair of jeans (denim or any colour)
– one particularly stormy, rainy, horrible Saturday afternoon
– scissors
– fabric glue
– a bit of time

Fairly simple, cut the hems alongside your legs. Then use that width to cut the seams and the rest of your jeans (lengthwise). Cut out the pockets, maybe zip, and “belt” for other DIY projects (thinking of a couple).


Denim Coasters – Fabric Cuts


Roll the hems/seams/strips tightly onto themselves, gluing the end of the rolled strip onto the start of the next one, and continuing rolling until the desired size is reached.

As you roll, run your fingers around the edge the ensure a nice, straight edge. Trim any odd bits with the scissors if necessary.

Once the coaster is wrapped, apply a little glue to the end of strip, folding in it if necessary to ensure a nice, clean fold.

Let it dry for a few hours, et voila! One pair of jeans = 6 coasters (of slightly varying sizes…. I hadn’t really measured the width of my strips…). It resulted in perhaps slightly more “waste” than I would have wanted, for reason just mentioned. But they still look rather cool, are really easy to make and a great way to relax on a rainy day!


Denim Coasters – Unused Fabric (top) and Next Project! (bottom)



Healthy breakfast options

I am probably the worst person to give any advice on breakfast, as I tend to skip this very important meal and give it no recognition, credit, second thoughts, significance, nothing whatsoever.

When I eventually have my breakfast at about 12 noon (or any time by which I’m borderline fainting), I try to make it as “healthy” as possible. Mix of (ready-prepared [*cough*]) cereals, usually muesli, fresh fruits and yogurt. But I realised that usually an hour or two later, I get really hungry again (especially when I had no muesli but a mix of other breakfast cereals). When I say hungry, not just a “oh I feel a bit peckish” type thing, I mean a real mixture of thunder, earthquake and revolution going on in there! You know when you get that feeling of literally an “empty” stomach..

This is when I realised that even though I was trying to get as healthy a breakfast as possible, it probably wasn’t very nutritious, hence the lingering feeling of not being satisfied.

I therefore set myself to try to make my own breakfast cereals, out of nutritious stuff, not full of sugars and buffers. This is when I came across this article

I chose to try Teff as it seemed like the most varied in terms of nutritious content. The second on my list would have been quinoa, due to lesser calorie content and greater potassium content, however no calcium…

Quinoa is usually available in your favourite supermarket, although the price will probably let you think each grain has been individually wrapped with an edible gold leaf. I went for the novelty and bought 1 kg of Teff seeds online for I think £8. Pricey might you say, perhaps not when you consider that I only need the quarter of a cupful for breakfast. I haven’t done any weighing to be able to say how much a bowlful of this would cost (I also bought some dried fruits, nuts, shredded coconut, and seed/nut mixture), but as a comparison a £2 pack of muesli will last me four days.

What I am trying to say here is that if my teff seeds last me for over 2 weeks, there’s a winner.

Here is how to cook the teff seeds

The picture above is teff seeds (a quarter of a mug) cooked, yogurt, fresh plums, dried fruits and roasted pumpkin seeds.

Another version below:

Healthy Breakfast Options - Teff Seeds
Cooked teff seeds with pear, mixed nuts and roasted pumpkin seeds.


I have only tried this over three days, so I would say a little early to notice any health benefits. However I seem to be able not to snack as often during the afternoon.

Morale of the story, don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself. As I always say if it doesn’t do you any good, it won’t do you any harm.


Correction: the price for the seeds was in fact £6 and not £8… even tastier!

Biomass Briquettes

With my beloved announcing a couple of days ago that he would be making a woodburning stove for the winter (I love a fire!), it didn’t take me long to start collecting all sorts of paper and cardboxes, whatever was destined to either the fire or the recycling bin.

I should probably mention that the end result will still be the same, burning all that paper material, however not the way you might think. This gathering phase precedes a processing phase.

I explain, or rather this tutorial explains

Et voila! “Gottatrythis!!”

So with my biomass material, scissors and a suitable bucket, outside I sat under the beautiful sunset.

The poetry kind of stopped there, I have to say the whole shredding process got slightly boring after 10 minutes. The bits of paper half way up the bucket are somewhat much larger than the ones at the bottom! For this reason, I will probably leave it to soak for a good ten days. If you have the luxury of working in an office (yes I did just say that) that has a shredder, you have no excuse whatsoever to not try this.

Otherwise, any type of paper/cardboard that you would have otherwise burnt would do, from scrap paper, to envelops (there are some window envelops in that batch, which may be best removed (the windows, keep the paper bit of the enbvelop) as not ideal to burn), junkmail (not the glossy type ones), cardboxes, letters from the Revenue (joke!), newspapers…

In hindsight, and once I have done my first batch to see if it really works (which I do not doubt, but rather try small and add afterwards, than having too much on your plate for no result), I will operate a two-bucket system whereby when one is soaking, the other will be used to gather the paper, which will be manually shredded when thrown in. That way you can save yourself a good hour of shredding (depending on how much material you have) and all you have to do is add the water, when you feel like it/the previous batch is about to run out. Which makes the availability of briquettes pretty much on demand.

I will also stir the content of the bucket a lot (everytime I walk past more or less), to help the breaking of the fibers.

As for the pressing process, I have thought of another way instead of a chaulk gun, which not everybody may own.

I’ll trial that, and will post the results, with a couple of updates probably in between.

For the moment, it’s only been soaking for less than 24 hours, it’s still looking very papery and not very sludgy 🙂

Biomass Briquettes making. Thick sludging process
Biomass Briquettes making. Thick sludging process


But I am very excited about the end results, fingers crossed it’ll work!!





Hmm… Strawberries!

So after the rather cold month of May, and June as well actually, although it really has started to warm up the last couple of weeks, time to start eating the produce of the garden!

And the first ones to come out were the strawberries (can’t complain). Completely organic, no fertilizers, no pesticides or other chemicals (the slugs can vouch for that), they taste so good!

The crows think the same  too, and it is very much first arrived first served. Haven’t had time to put the owl out yet. In fact I haven’t really kept on the top of my gardening duties, and it looks a bit of a mess (hence the lack of pictures).

But the spinach have come out, the potatoes have grown as well (above ground anyway), I have a couple of courgette plants, and I can see a few carrot and parnsip tops. Oh the peas! They look lush actually. Maize unfortunately…

I enjoy my new hobby so much, I’d recommend it to anyone. Even if you don’t have the space, I’ll add the link to a few articles about growing in pots, vertical gardens…

And before we go… 🙂

Did you know…
…strawberries are not actually fruits as their seeds are on the outside. Strawberry plants are runners, and are not produced by seeds. They have an average of 200 seeds per fruit and are actually a member of the rose (rosaceae) family.

Nutritional highlights

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K as well as providing a good dose of fibre, folic acid, manganese and potassium. They also contain significant amounts of phytonutrients and flavanoids which makes strawberries bright red. They have been used throughout history in a medicinal context to help with digestive ailments, teeth whitening and skin irritations. Their fibre and fructose content may help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing digestion and the fibre is thought to have a satiating effect. Leaves can be eaten raw, cooked or used to make tea.

The vibrant red colour of strawberries is due to large amounts of anthocyanidin, which also means they contain powerful antioxidants and are thought to protect against inflammation, cancer and heart disease.

Can’t get enough…!