how to make a wormery

Em Português um pouco mais abaixo, depois das fotografias.

We moved into this flat two years ago, in attempt to reduce the waste that we send to landfill we made a little wormery.

Ours is a small two bedroom, and we are a family of six, with no exterior space; I think it is safe to say: If we can do it, so can you! I will be honest, it does not take all our food scraps, but it helps! We also save some in the freezer, in paper bags and take them to the educational project where I volunteer once a week, as a permaculture facilitator. This size it would probably be perfect for a couple, I wish I could also have a bokashi but I literally have no space!

Here’s what we did, in case you want to make one or two:

-2 stack-able bins

(We bought two Ikea black bins. It is important that the bins are dark because worms like the darkness, however you could wrap paper around a transparent bin etc, first use what you have. It is also important that one bin fits inside the other; you will need to make holes in one bin so that the excess liquid can get out, and the “outside” bin will collect that extra liquid.)

– cardboard, waste paper or newspaper

– worms (we bought ours on the internet, but if you know someone with a compost bin ask for some)

– because our inside bin nearly touches the bottom of the outside one, I use a scrap of wood at the bottom to lift the bin a bit more, so that the liquid can really drop off the first one.

As I said above, you will have to make holes in one bin, we used a screw and heated it on stove to make the holes on the bottom, lid and some on the side as well. Then we added a bit of soil, some paper strips, and with a spray bottle got the whole thing moist, and in with the worms. We keep adding paper and food waste to the bin, when it gets full we give it a couple of days, and see how it goes.

I have emptied the bins twice and I gave this black gold to a friend with a garden; I won’t lie, it is a messy job to sort it out, but I feel a bit better in our contribution a tiny it to reduce our waste.

 

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Nós mudamo-nos para este apartamento há dois anos, na tentativa de reduzir os resíduos que enviamos para o aterro fizemos um pequeno vermicompostor.

Vivemos num pequeno T2, e somos uma família de seis pessoas, sem espaço exterior; Penso que  é seguro dizer: Se nós podemos fazer isso, você também pode! Eu vou ser honesta, não consigo compostar nestes baldes todos os nossos restos de comida, mas já é uma grande ajuda! O resto guardamos no congelador, em sacos de papel e levamos para o projeto educacional onde eu trabalho como voluntário uma vez por semana, como facilitador de permacultura. Esse tamanho provavelmente seria perfeito para um casal. Eu também gostaria de ter um bokashi, mas não temos mesmo espaço!
Aqui está o que fizemos, caso você queira fazer um ou dois:

-2 caixas que caibam uma dentro da outra empilhadas

(Compramos duas caixas pretas da Ikea. É importante que as caixas sejam escuras, porque as minhocas gostam do escuro, no entanto pode colocar papel à volta de uma caixa transparente, se é isso que tem à mão. Também é importante que uma caixa encaixe dentro da outra, pois uma caixa vai ser onde a compostagem é feita, e a outra para onde vai cair o excesso de liquido que é feito da compostagem.

– cartão, papel usado ou folhas de jornal

– minhocas (compramos na internet, mas se conhece alguém com um compostor, peça um pouco)

– Como a nossa caixa de cima quase que  toca no fundo da cixa de fora, eu uso um pedaço de madeira dentro da caixa de fora para levantar um pouco mais a caixa de dentro, para que o líquido possa realmente cair da primeira.

Como eu disse acima, terá que fazer furos só numa caixa. Nós usamos um parafuso e aquecemos-o no fogão para fazer os furos na parte de baixo, na tampa e alguns na lateral também. Em seguida, adicionamos um pouco de terra, algumas tiras de papel e, com um borrifador, deixamos a coisa toda humida e por fim adicionamos as minhoca. No dia a dia adicionamos papel e restos de comida ao compostor, quando fica cheio, deixamos passar uns dias e vamos vendo como está, e assim adicionar mais consoante o trabalho das minhocas.

Eu já esvaziei as caixas duas vezes e dei este ouro preto a uma amiga com uma horta; Eu não vou mentir, dá um pouco de trabalho estar a separar o composto das minhocas, mas eu me sinto um pouco melhor em contribuir para a redução do nosso lixo.

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Salads that keep well

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Em português, um pouco mais abaixo.

 

Salads are one thing that I would often omit from our meals. I mean, sometimes is a struggle just to cook a meal let alone a salad that will mostly be me eating it… Especially the green leaves variety…

Is not just that though, it’s very hard to find green leaf salad package free, additionally, once they have the dressing you need to eat them straight way and the leaves don’t keep very well in the fridge. I have had good results by wrapping them in a damp cloth, so if you’re better than me at remembering to make a salad, I would advice that.

Earlier in the year I found a solution much more to my liking! The kind of salad that one can make a big bowl of, drizzle the dressing over and it’ll keep in the fridge for the next few days, if it lasts that long… Because once your salad is done, dressing and all, its very easy to add it to any meal; the salad itself could and sometimes is a meal in itself, add some brown rice or roasted sweet potatoes and we’re done.

This red cabbage salad is the one I have been making more often, with some variations, but today it had:

Red cabbage, beetroot, carrot, coriander, raisins, mint, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Sometimes I add apple or white cabbage and I don’t always make it with all the ingredients. The dressing was olive oil, cider vinegar, honey, garlic, ginger and soy sauce, again, sometimes I don’t use all the above.

I’m not one to make separate food for my children, but I know they’ll eat some of these if it’s not all tossed together, so usually I grate carrot and beetroot with just olive oil and vinegar, and another bowl with the toasted seeds. It also keeps well, covered, in the fridge.

Other salads that I have made, and follow the same idea:

Yesterday I came across this cauliflower salad that looks delicious, and this one I haven’t tried yet, but it too looks like it might keep well.

 

Saladas é uma das comidas que muitas vezes faltava à minha mesa. Ás vezes já é dificil de cozinhar uma refeição, quanto mais arranjar uma salada que quase só eu é que como… Especialmente se fôr de alface ou outras folhas verdes.

Mas não é só isso, é muito dificil encontrar folhas verdes que não venham num saco de plástico, e depois da salada feita, tem que se comer toda numa refeição porque com o tempero a salada não dura nenhum tempo no frigorifico, para além de tudo isto, as folhas, mesmo sem serem temperadas, não duram muito tempo no frigorifico. Eu tenho tido bons resultados em enrola-las num pano humido, por isso se você se lembrar mais vezes do que eu a fazer uma salada, é essa a maneira que eu aconcelho a guardá-las no frigorifico.

Desde o inicio do ano que encontrei uma soluçaõ mais ao meu gosto! O tipo de salada que se faz em grande quantidade, tempera-se e aguenta-se bem no frigorifico uns quantos dias, isto é se durar assim tanto… pois uma vez que temos salada feita, temperada e tudo, é muito facil de adiciona-la a qualquer refeição, a própria salada é por vezes uma refeição, adicionando arroz integral ou batata doce assada e está feito.

Esta de couve roxa é que tenho feito mais vezes, com algumas variações, mas a de hoje tinha:

Couve roxa, beterraba, cenoura, coentros, hortelã, sultanas, sementes de girassol e abóbora. Ás vezes também adiciono maçã ou couve branca e quando não tenho um ingrediente ou outro falo à mesma. O tempero foi com azeite, vinagre de cidra, mel, alho, gengibre e molho de soja.

Eu até nem sou pessoa de fazer comida separada para as minhas crianças, mas como sei que alguns deles come um ingrediente ou outro desde que não esteja tudo misturado, normalmente junto a beterraba e cenoura ralada só com azeite e vinagre, e numa outra tigela as sementes tostadas, e se não se comer tudo, também dura uns dias no frigorifico.

Outras saladas que gosto de fazer, dentro da mesma ideia:

Ontem, encontrei esta salada de couve-flôr que me parece deliciosa, e esta ainda não experimentei ainda mas parece-me que também se mantenha fresquinha durante uns dias.

 

 

 

trees and stones

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What a breath of fresh air, literally, it is to get out of the city and head to the mountain! We left, with a bag packed with snacks and not much of a plan, only to head to the woods. We all miss it, not just me.

Ever since we moved to Lisbon, I want to move out, and I think, we all do. In fact the only reason we decided to rent this flat is my lack of driving license, which is frustrating me a lot! I did try, but failed my test and with a few unfortunate events, couldn’t set the exam again, and now I must start all over again in Portugal…

I have been wanting to write about Lisbon, but it’s hard to talk about it “publicly”, mainly because it hasn’t been a very positive experience. It’s not been really that bad, but  when your heart is not in it and what you want is a another kind of life, it just gets a bit difficult, especially as our days would look a bit different if only I had passed that bloody driving test!

The first month was very good, we had friends and family visiting and we had just moved; then Paul started work, and things went bad and some days I feel quite sad for being “stuck” in the city, with not even a garden to get my hands dirty… other days we really enjoy! Making new friends, finding the wilder spaces in a not so wild city, making use of the culture available and getting out as much as possible. There has been plenty of hot beach days too, which is very good indeed!

Back to today, we picked wild carrot (I hope Cat was with us so that she could tell us for sure), as it’s for dyeing I’m not terribly bothered about it’s identification, but it would be nice to know! I’ve been seeing this plant a lot when we go out of the city and was glad to gather some today. Also spotted the first Saint Jonh’s wort since leaving Lousã. The picture is not properly focused, but the battery of my camera died after this one taking this photo, but I wanted to document it anyway. Unfortunately we didn’t gather any, not even for my daughter’s “bouquet”  as there was only one plant, I will keep my eyes peeled for more.

 

Orange trees

spring (3)Before I took this picture, I was made to stop by the smell of springtime of my childhood! I grew up in the Algarve, in a house surrounded by orange trees. As you probably can imagine the smell of a flowering orange tree is quite intense, even if it’s only a few trees in the center of a big city! I could smelled them before I realized what kind of tree I was passing by.

How does one explains the smell of a flowering orange tree, or the feeling of a warm summer night looking at the stars? On these moments I feel the wonder, that after so many years of planning, we’re really living here! Sometimes, well, maybe most of the time, the daily routine takes over and I just go along with it… cooking, doing the laundry, bed times, etc, in many ways these are the same as they were: we still need nourishing food, sleep and washed clothes to wear. But then on these apparently, small moments, it downs on me that we made a dream come true, well, at least part of it, the other part will soon come!

a gathered holiday tree

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On Sunday we went for a walk to gather materials for our Christmas tree. Last year we made it like this and the children wanted to do the same this year, but there are no holes in the house from which to hang it like that. While looking at a craft book we came across the idea of a pyramid made with sticks for a table center piece, and we all agreed if we made it bigger it would make a great holiday tree.To me It’s a beautiful tradition we are creating, the making of our tree, and it warms my heart to know that, they too, prefer to make one than to buy.

The tree itself is made with fallen sticks, mainly of acacia (there are loads of acacias here, it’s nearly or maybe worse than eucalyptus), and then we picked a few other bits to wind around the main sticks. It has ivy, maple, pine, cypress, more acacia and other bits that I can’t identify. I really like that is made from a variety of plants around us rather than just one specie.

We also made a new advent calendar. I usually come up with the ideas myself, but this year we all contributed to it. We mixed the papers (except special days like Solstice or Christmas eve), and then hang them up, that way no one knows exactly what the activity for the day is and is a surprise for us all.

these days

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It’s nearly three months since we left Scotland. We had a rough plan for the following months, but things aren’t going accordingly to plan, of course they aren’t!

So much has happen in this time that it has been hard to sit down, wrap my head around it all and write about it. We planned to do much more travel around Portugal, we planned to live in a 5 mt tent (with a wood-stove) for a few months, build an outdoor kitchen and a compost toilet, meanwhile we would research and even maybe start making a living with a food trailer. Instead, we’re living in a wee rented house, we’ve bought a car and have a full time job.Ah!

To write it like that makes it all sound so simple… But it doesn’t describe the help we’ve had from new friends and strangers, the head banging against Portuguese bureaucracy, the despair of being stolen money and our only working bank card and to have a broken car all in the same weekend, plus other things that I won’t bore you with… So even if things aren’t going the way we planned, life is good. The way I see it, is that this situation is a stepping stone, ever so close to that vision we have to the way we want to live. Is a slow crossing to get there, but mostly I’m ok with that.

This time spent so close as a family, has also been very good to learn a lot about ourselves, what we value as a whole and as individuals, and I believe these lessons will inform the kind of life we’ll create in the next few months and live in the next few years.

P.S.: For our friends and family in Scotland, YOU haven’t been forgotten! I think of you everyday and we often talk about all the loved ones we miss so very much!

P.S.S.: I feel that some of you might want to know if I’m still complaining about the cold.. and the short answer is sometimes! I know… But nights here can be very cold, especially in this old wee house. During the day is warmer outside, as you might guess, is where we spend most of the day.

I don’t know when or what got me interested in “slow fashion”, ten years ago when I bought my first organic fabrics, the term didn’t even existed, it’s been a gradual process I suppose.

I have fond memories of the clothes my mum sewed for me, from childhood to my twenties; in fact I just remembered that my mum made the two pairs of work trousers I brought when I first arrived in Scotland, eleven years ago . In my teens i attempted to make clothes for myself, sometimes with my mum’s help, sometimes not,  but sewing, crochet and knitting is something that has always been present in my life.

I also asked my mum to teach me to knit, she only knows the Portuguese way, and if you know anything at all about that method is that purling is easier than the knit stitch, so I only learnt that. I made a big huge red scarf and that was that. I was always much more confident with crochet but I prefer the knitting fabric, besides Portugal is quite a hot country, so making clothes from wool it was something I started only eight years ago When I became pregnant with my first born. I must have commented to my partner that I must make things for our baby and one day he brought home a present for me, it was a book with baby patterns! Since for him knitting and crochet must look like the same thing, the book he bought was knitting, not crochet, I decided then that this time I would learn to knit, and so i did! At the time I didn’t know about the different styles of knitting so I struggled a little with the instructions, and somehow found a way to do knit stitch with a style I now believe to be “flicking” and to purl the Portuguese way, nowadays I still knit this way, but I have also learnt to knit and purl in both styles!

Of course that at the same time my mum was making me clothes I also bought a few things in the shops, but I hate shopping,  even more than my mums sessions in trying clothes, she is a perfectionist, so she would measure things over and over, and to me at the time it seemed such a burden, now however I understand how much time that must have saved her! I asked my mum to make me clothes because I valued the handmade items and because she could do exactly the styles I wanted, not because of a conscious decision against the social implications of the “fast” fashion.

Today my wardrobe consists mostly of clothes that I have bought at the charity shops, with which I have a love/hate relationships, something for another post perhaps. When I can’t find what I need at the charity shops, or don’t have time to wait, I try to find items on sale from brands that I want to buy from, like People Tree and of course, some old clothes too. I’m afraid that I don’t have as many handmade items as I used to…

As a full time home-educating mother of children aged seven and under, on a low income and saving for a big dream, what I find the most difficult is to find a balance on the children’s clothes. When they were little it was easy to find clothes in the charity shops, or hand me downs, but as they grow older it’s increasingly difficult to buy them clothes in second hand, and so the dilemma starts.

On one hand we are saving for a big life change, on the other there are all the environment and social costs that comes with cheap clothes. Besides there is another thing to balance, between the never ending to do list , the stress and pressure that comes with trying to make clothes for the children, they grow so fast that is hard to keep up; When I think that I have nailed it, they grow a bit more, clothes no longer fit, and so it starts all over again… I would like to take time this month to give more thought to this issues. So probably this month I will be focusing more on their wardrobe rather than mine, I might start by posting a realistic (not!) to do list, since the last time I did that, it helped a lot!