(zero waste) Lunch / picnic

So far lunch has been the most difficult thing about this decision!

Not the kind of lunch that we cook and eat at home, but the other, the one we pack and eat out. Where before I relied on rice crackers, oat cakes and pasta for quick fixes, now I don’t have that to fall on… Crackers always come wrapped in plastic, even the ones coming from a carbon neutral company I don’t think they are recyclable, at least I had a look and didn’t see the sign.

Besides this conundrum I’m also very lucky to have a fussy child to feed! Well, he is fussier that the other two, so I’m assuming that he is a fussy eater…

So, what to do? First I brainstormed with the children; what do they think we could take for lunch when we’re out? We now have a list of acceptable foods, but the most difficult part is that I have to get in the habit of preparing food the night before, and as we know habits, especially the ones that are good for us, are difficult to implement!  Is not that the food is hard to prepare or cook, is just that is one more thing to do, to plan, to think about…

Anyway, next week is a new week, let’s see how we do with this list and a commitment for new habits.


Até agora o almoço tem sido a coisa mais dificil sobre esta decisão!

Não o tipo de almoços que cozinhamos e comemos em casa, mas o outro, aquele que levámos para comer lá fora. Antes quando não tinha muito tempo para preparar o lanche, valia-me as bolachas de arroz, aveia e massas, mas agora não tenho nada dessas coisas porque até mesmo os pacotes de massa de arroz integral ou a bolachas de arroz de uma companhia “carbon neutral” não são reciclaveis, pelo menos eu tentei ver e não vi o sinal.

É que para além disto tudo, eu ainda sou sortuda de ter um filho esquisito com a comida! Bem, ele é mais esquisito do que os outros dois, por isso eu imagino que seja esquisito…

Então o que fazer? Primeiro perguntei às crianças o que é que eles gostam de comer quando fazemos um picnic e agora tenho uma lista de comida aceitavel, mas o mais dificil é que eu tenho que criar o habito de preparar a comida no dia anterior, e como nós sabemos, habitos, especialmente os que são bons para nós, são dificeis de implementar! Não é que a comida seja dificil de preparar ou cozinhar, mas é mais uma coisa para fazer, planear, pensar…

Mas pronto, a próxima semana é uma semana nova e com a tal list de comida e o compromisso de criar um novo habito, vamos a ver como é que corre.


reusable produce bags

It has been at least a month since I started using these reusable cotton bags (from my etsy shop) and I haven’t had a negative reaction to it, the  people working at the shops, even in the supermarket, just weight them and go about as if using these is the most conventional thing! It has been a truly positive change all around!

Since we started seriously reducing our waste, I have also been using a drawstring bag to buy bread and other things, and again, people just look inside or ask. I am thankful for people not making a big deal about it and just let me use them. Just imagine if this type of thing became the norm, how much more plastic we could stop from being produced and wasted!


Já há cerca de um mês que eu começei a usar estes sacos de algodão (à venda na minha loja etsy) e ainda não tive uma reação negativa por parte das pessoas que trabalham nas lojas, até mesmo dos hipermercados; elas pesam os sacos com as coisas lá dentro como se fosse a coisa mais normal! Tem sido uma mudança bem positiva em todos os aspectos! 

E desde que começamos a reduzir o nosso lixo  a serio, também começei a usar os sacos de pano para comprar pão e outras coisas, e também com esses as pessoas ou olham o que está la dentro ou perguntam. Eu fico agradecida por as pessoas não fazerem disto um bicho de sete cabeças e deixarem-me  usar os sacos. Imaginem só se este tipo de coisa fosse o normal fosse o que toda agente faz, quanto plastico que deixaria de ser produzido e desperdiçado!


little happy things in the kitchen

A few things that have been making me happy in the kitchen this week:

A vegetarian cookbook for children is a rare thing. This one is beautiful, not full of baking stuff, instead it has a small collection of dishes that can actually be meals not just desert. Only thing I would say is that I would like to see more recipes…

The warmer days are upon us, and with it more frequent trips to the allotment which also means herbs regularly, especially now that I’m not buying them in a package.

The frequent trips to the garden also means more weeding, so the volunteer dandelions that come up where they shouldn’t I just pick them, bring them home and eat them. Eventually  the plant will weaken and stop producing, until another grows somewhere else… so is the nature of weeding…

Sprouting seeds has made an appearance again after a long time…

Well, this one didn’t actually made me happy to finish,but it makes me happy that I made it and used it up. Not to fear, there’s more  flavored vinegar coming, this time with ground ivy that I picked today.

(aiming for) Zero Waste

Zero Waste

Last year I did my Permaculture PDC at Urban Roots with Lusi Alderslowe. As part of our training the group was asked to chose between a few themes and one day Lusi took us out to Linn Park… I remember an exercise from the work Joanna Macy, the council of all beings but this particular exercise I don’t remember where it’s from.We sat in pairsand answered three questions: If you had a superpower to help the Earth what would you do? The second question was,  what do you think you could do in a year (or was it a month?), and the third what could we do by next week?

My superpower would be to stop the production  every chemical or anything that doesn’t breakdown, for example plastic. Then the second and third question came and I don’t really remember what I said, but I kind of felt that there wasn’t much I could do. I think I only came up with the solution of recycling more and maybe choose to vote for a political party that would endorse policies to reduce toxic waste. I don’t use any chemicals to clean the house and all my hygiene products were natural and simple. Trying to recycle more felt too vague and not enough either. I kind of felt helpless!

Fast forward to a couple of months ago I came across the book Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson (a library copy); something in me shifted and I took action! Sometimes we get so stuck in the normal busyness of life that we don’t see the simple steps we could take until somebody points out to you and this family example gave me the tangible inspiration I needed!

After I read the book, I finally made some muslin bags to use instead of the thin plastic ones and I set out to reduce our recycling and regular bin. For this to work though, I needed to educate my children about it too! I wanted them to understand why I didn’t want to buy some of the things they would ask me to, I wasn’t being mean… So I decided to show them some documentaries on the subject and we started with the Story of Stuff, after we watched all the clips we came to an agreement that we wouldn’t buy anything that could not be recycled or compostable, just to start small… They are so supportive and cooperative! I’m surprised on how well they took this on board, checking everything we buy and asking so many good questions!

Once I started to look, I found an inspiring movement of people reducing their rubbish:  one, two, plus the instagram hashtag.

weekly shopping

Above you can see our shopping for the week. It’s likely that I’ll have to buy more fruit but this is it, more or less:

A large box of vegetables from Locavore; there are quite a lot of packaging this week (top right corner), and though they can all go in the compost, I just send it back in the box, hopefully they’ll reuse it. As soon as we receive the box I put the vegetables in the big plastic box that I have been using for years to store them in the fridge, and the salad leaves wrap it in wet muslin cloth to keep them fresh, and I also store them in the fridge.

This week I don’t really need a lot of dry goods, what I did wanted to buy I couldn’t find at the Harvest Co-op, so I’ll have to take a trip to Wholefoods where the bulk selection is bigger.

I did hesitated to buy those two packs of fruit for smoothies (left), but I’m just about to start (again!) an elimination diet, so I decided not to complicate things too much for myself… besides, the packaging fits our family criteria as it’s recyclable.

I have yet to convince the children and my husband to switch to my powdered toothpaste so I can’t take that off the list, but I think I’ll try this recipe to see if they like that better.

In some ways this change has actually made my life easier! Besides the fact that we’ve reduced our regular and recycling bin a lot, now I actually have a plausible excuse, one that the children understand and agree with, not to buy processed food! That and not having to go to the supermarket is some of the best outcomes.







Since my last post we are no longer looking for signs of Spring, instead we’ve been admiring the yellow daffodils for a couple of weeks, plenty of wild garlic, though not big enough to pick, yet, and too many shoots to name.

We celebrated the equinox by planting seeds, made wax egg candles, dyed some eggs and attempted to reach the top of Conic Hill, but only got to about a third. The day before Easter I made a wee willow basket to serve as a nest, you tube is amazing!

half way Conic Hill

a nice friendly Giant



After New Years eve we felt a shift, well,  me and Paul did. Before December 31st, whenever people asked me “when are you going?”, the answer would be: next year! But after Hogmanay I realized, it IS this year! In nine, eight, seven months… not that I’m counting!

Sometimes it’s so hard to explain, I’m mean, IT IS hard to explain, this yearning, desire, but mostly, need for a simpler life, more connected to the outdoors, to nature… so much to be said, one day I will write it all down, for now it’s all bubbling inside.

Anyway, so after that realization that it is happening this year, we have been getting ready; giving away or selling things we no longer use or need, and things that we are kind of essential but we don’t really need, like drawers for example. the children’s clothes are now stored in plastic tubs and next it’ll be ours. It is still a few months away but the idea is to get us all used to this system, so that this will become the familiar to make for a easier transition, or so I hope that it’ll help.

Before I was just excited, now I’m a bit scared too, which curiously I think is a good thing! I think it means I’m not just being a romantic, but more realistic.




Signs of Spring

Today is Imbolc day, and so we left the house with a mission: to find signs of Spring.

Sure enough we found some, but also made me realize if we do decide to stay in Portugal or somewhere else, this might just be the last time we experience Spring this way! And of course, when you live in a place for ten years, raised a family and connected with the natural world in a deep way, there is something magical, definite and sad about it!

After the park we went to the shops, hail stones fell, my hands were freezing from being exposed to the elements, the wind was bitterly; and at that moment I didn’t feel that sad anymore… But that is Scotland.


First shoots of Daffodils

signs of spring

Daffodils and Jack-by-hedge

signs of spring


signs of spring

It always impresses me the way daffodils use their mighty strength lift the dead leaves to make it throw

signs of spring


Snow drops and I think ground elder

signs of spring

Wherever my daughter goes, she finds something wild to eat, and it was her who first spotted this first shoots of wild garlic; before we know it we’ll be eating wild garlic pesto!

signs of spring

Playing “don’t step on the snow drops”

signs of spring

signs of spring

Joining in the wonder!

signs of spring

I think this might be blue bells; the flowers come in around May but this is a spot where we’ve seen them in previous years

signs of spring