Thursday, 29 March 2018

Recipe: Buckwheat Banana Bread

Banana bread vegan plant-based gluten-free sugar-free

Happy Thursday, everybody :)  I'm just checking in today to bring you an important banana bread recipe.  Yes, important.  Really!  For this banana bread is completely free of eggs, dairy, added sugar, and added fat. How good is that?

I was sceptical about how successful this recipe would be, but I had three very ripe bananas that needed using up, so I had a go.  And I can safely say it's delicious!  The texture is great - moist and a little springy - and it is just sweet enough.  The fruit and nuts add plenty of interest.

The recipe is from the book East by West, by Jasmine Hemsley.  I changed it slightly by using spelt flour instead of buckwheat flour, and cacao powder instead of the cinnamon.  But the banana bread turned out just great.  As it's low in sugar, I've been having a couple of slices for breakfast, and it really keeps me going till lunchtime.  I know that I'll be making this recipe on a regular basis from now on.  Here's the original version:


290g buckwheat flour (I used spelt flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
4 ripe bananas, mashed & 1 ripe banana, sliced
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g raisins
30g walnuts


Preheat the oven to 180 deg C/gas mark 4. 

Mix all of the dry ingredients, plus a pinch of salt, together in a large bowl. 

Mash four bananas, 120ml of water, and the vanilla extract together, then add the dry ingredients.  Mix in the raisins, walnuts and banana slices. 

Transfer the mixture into a 750g loaf tin lined with baking parchment.  Bake for 25 minutes, then turn to ensure even cooking, and bake for a further 15 minutes until firm to the touch.  Allow to cool before slicing.


And that's it.  I've got my banana bread stored in a cake tin, and it seems to be keeping well several days later.  I hope you love it too, if you decide to give it a go...

Friday, 23 March 2018

Repurposing items to reduce waste

Repurposing reduce zero waste frugal minimalism

Hey, it's nice to be back!  I've had a good break, and I'm all ready to blog once again.  I thought I'd kick off with some items around the house that I've been able to repurpose rather than throw away.  It's always best to try and reduce the amount of stuff that's coming into the house in the first place, and I'm working on that.  However, since these things were already here, it makes sense to get as much use out of them as possible. 

1) My partner's sister-in-law is a ceramicist, and one Christmas she gave us each a couple of mugs she'd made herself.  This was a wonderful gift.  Unfortunately, I was washing one of my mugs in the sink one day, and the handle cracked off.  As it was damaged, I couldn't donate it, but I really didn't want to throw it out either.  So now, it's a lovely, artisan-made brush holder in my bathroom.


2) A coffee tin from Aldi, repurposed as a utensil holder.  I have a couple of these in the kitchen now, as I like the design.

3) Glass jars as storage jars.  I use a lot of glass jars this way as it's so much better than having food in plastic containers.  I'm afraid I don't normally spend time taking the labels off, although they would look much better if I did.  As well as dried goods, I use jars to store things like half an onion or half a lemon in the fridge, and you can also use them in the freezer too.  They are super versatile and inexpensive.

4) Rubber gloves to rubber bands.  Yes, I know I really shouldn't use rubber gloves at all, but I don't have a dishwasher, and I hate how dry my hands get after doing the dishes.  So I do still buy rubber gloves, but I make sure each pair lasts as long as possible.  When they finally spring a leak, I cut them up into rubber bands.  You can make them quite broad, so they don't dig into things the way normal rubber bands can.  I've also cut them into strips to tie plants to sticks, and other miscellaneous uses. 

5) An odd glove becomes my glove for scrapping the car.  I've moved house quite a few times over the years, and for some reason, things go missing almost every time.  This was a nice pair of gloves, but this one wound up on its own after a move, and I've never been able to find its mate.  Luckily, it's the right-hand glove (I'm right-handed), so I now keep it in the car for the sole purpose of scraping ice. 

You know how your hand freezes after only a few seconds of scrapping?  Well, I no longer have that problem as this glove is always ready and waiting.  Chances are I won't have brought any other gloves with me, no matter how cold it is, so it's great to be able to keep my hand warm whilst scrapping the ice. 

The coffee tin and the glass jars could be recycled, but it benefits the environment to keep them out of that process for as long as possible.  The other items would just have to be thrown out, so I'm glad that I've been able to find new uses for them.

Do you have any favourite things that you've repurposed or upcycled?  I'd love to hear!

Friday, 2 March 2018

Spirals takes a break & challange update & mini charity shop haul

Buy nothing new challenge charity shop thrift haul

First thing is, I'm going to take a little break from posting on the blog for a while.  Next week, I've got a work 'thing' that will take up all my time and mental energy.  After that, I've got a nice week off (will be needing it...) and I'm planning on having a good digital detox and reconnecting with the world beyond the internet.  I'll be back with some new posts towards the end of March. 

Buy Nothing New Challenge update

I confess that I have bought some brand new things.  Yep, I'm afraid I've broken the challenge, but let me explain the circumstances.  I bought:

1) A pair of winter gloves for the bike.  My partner had originally wanted to get me these for Christmas, but we had no luck finding a pair that suited.  So last weekend, he suggested going to a different shop and having a look.  I didn't have the heart to say, no, I can only have second hand ones, and we found a pair that was just right.  So we bought them. 

2) A magazine.  I managed without magazines for the whole month of February, but in a moment of weakness, I gave in and bought one.  I have made a great discovery through the challenge, though.  Susie from the lovely blog Second Hand Susie left me a comment suggesting that my local library might have magazines online. 

I checked it out, and they do, so I signed up.  It's such a good resource. They have a good range of magazines, and you can download back copies too.  So I gave in once, but hopefully I can get by with the online versions till the end of the challenge.

3) A bird feeder.  It was an emergency!  It's been pretty snowy (amber warning snowy!) here in the north-east, and I couldn't bear for the little birds not to be fed.  I don't normally put food out for them as I'm frightened of the cat getting them.  But luckily she hates the snow and hasn't been out for days, so I thought it would be OK. 

To be honest, I didn't even set out to try and find a second hand version.  I just went to the pet shop and bought a new one.  I even managed to get a metal one, which was a bonus. 

So yes, I've bought some new bits and pieces, but in the overall scheme of things, it isn't too bad.  The challenge is really about being mindful, and looking at alternatives to buying new, if it's practical. 

Small charity shop challenge

I definitely wouldn't be able to do a complete 'No Spend' challenge for any length of time, as I love my charity shopping too much. Above all, it's just so relaxing.  I can go in there, start rummaging around, and I just switch off completely from the all hassles of the day.  It really is retail therapy, but without the bankruptcy. Here are my latest finds:

1) A little orange toilet bag from Body Shop.  It came with a mango body wash and body butter but I've donated those back because I just wanted the bag.  It was £1.95 from Cancer Research.
2) Two mini-soaps from M&S.  They were 50p each at the RSPCA shop. 

3) A pair of gorgeous spotty mugs.  They're a lovely warm, deep orange, more so than the photo shows up.  I felt really lucky to find them, I love a good mug. £1 each at Cancer Research. 

4) A really delicate double necklace.  I'm not sure where it's from originally, but Accessorise often do jewellery like this.  I'm going to try and photograph it a bit better, but at least you can see the tiny charms.  £2.50 at the Mind shop. 

5) Last, a sweet rabbit brooch.  It's painted ceramic, and about 1.5 inches tall.  Again, I need to take a better photo.  It wasn't a good photo day, for some reason.  Only 50p from the Mind shop. 

That's everything for now.  I'll be back in a few weeks, and hopefully it will be spring by then.

In the meantime, keep warm!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Buy Nothing New Challenge - Update 3

When I started this challenge, I thought I'd intersperse the updates with my other posts, but it has kind of taken over the asylum.  I find that I actually spend quite a lot of time thinking about what I might need or want to buy new, and then thinking of ways to avoid it. 

So this time, it's all things laundry-related.  I mentioned before that my washing machine is on the blink.  It still works, but it doesn't go on to the spin cycle automatically any more.  I have to switch it off, leave it for 10 minutes, and then manually change the programme to the spin.  It still does the job, but it's a bit of a hassle. 

I'd hoped I'd be able get a washing machine repair man out, and he'd fix it up for a relatively small sum of money.  Fortunately, we still have somebody in the area who will repair appliances - it's a service that just isn't so much in demand these days.  Anyway, he had a look, and said that 1) the problem is with the circuit board, and 2) the drum is coming loose.  Between these two issues, he said it was not worth repairing the machine.

The washing machine came with the house when I bought it seven years ago, so it's a fair age now.  I've had good use out of it, so on balance, I accepted the expert advice of washing machine repair man.  Especially as he was prepared to do the call-out for free!

So the options: 
1) Wait till the end of the challenge and get a new washing machine - if I'm honest, I'd really like a lovely shiny brand new machine!  They aren't even all that expensive these days, and it would be good to get a more energy-efficient model.  But it's not really in the spirit of the challenge, so...

2) See what I can get second-hand.  There aren't many washing machines coming up on Freecycle at the moment, so I'll need to have a scout around and see if there are any shops selling second-hand machines.  Ideally who will deliver and install - might be pushing my luck there.

3) Go to the laundrette - there is one round the corner, but I nipped in the other day to see what it would cost, and it's £5 for a wash.  £5!!!!!  And that's before you even think of drying your laundry!  Is it any wonder people can't afford to eat if they have to pay that sort of money to wash clothes. 

As the machine still approximately works, I'll go with option 2 for now. 

With all the concern about microfibres from clothing getting into the oceans, and then into our food and water, I was really pleased to read about Guppyfriends.  These are basically laundry bags that you can use to wash synthetic fabrics in with your normal wash.  The microfibers get trapped inside the Guppyfriend, and you then presumably put them in the bin.

At £25, a Guppyfriend is quite pricey.  Ordinarily, I'd have gone ahead anyway and spent the money because of the benefits to the environment. 

But the good thing about the Buy Nothing New Challenge is that I have to stop and think, even about good, innovative products like this.  So in the meantime, I'm going to do a little research and read a few reviews to see if it is worth the investment.

And the solution is staring me in the face - stop wearing my synthetic clothing for now.

So that's all for this update.  I've bought a couple of things at charity shops, and have possibly spent slightly more than usual on food and drink, but I haven't bought anything new since the last update. Yay!

Till next time :)