Sunday, 31 August 2008

Friday morning soup

My Eco Self made a particularly tasty Friday morning soup this week - it was a delicious carrot and red lentil soup. With my limited soup-making expertise, I've decided that lentils taste so much better in soup than potatoes.

Technically, Food Neurotic Friend made the soup. FNF did not endear himself to me when he ignored my instructions to use the old wizened carrots from my old vegetable box, having explained to him the premise of the Friday morning soup. Instead I came back to the room to find him merrily peeling the brand new carrots, having made his executive chef decision that fresh ingredients in soup make all the difference without consulting me.

Despite this altercation, not the best start to a weekend, it was a really good soup, one of the best I've ever had. I wish I had taken a photo to document this culinary delight. We added coriander and natural yogurt, and I added a cube of cold butter when I whizzed it in the blender (a chef's tip FNF learned on a cooking course to make your soup restaurant quality.) It was one of those meals where you take each spoonful gingerly, pausing to reflect, carefully considering just which of the ingredients it is that really gives it an edge, determining a theory which is then challenged by the very next mouthful. And so you begin again. In the end, you may conclude that it was the fresh coriander that did the trick.

Greenwash #2: Children's Face Paint

I've just been looking online for children's face paint which is eco-friendly and non-toxic. The only one I can find advertises itself as eco-friendly because of the following:
  • Manufactured in compliance with Good Manufacturing Practice, governing the manufacture of cosmetic products.

  • Water-soluble make-up.

  • Skin colours are dermatologically tested.

I'm not sure this is quite enough to warrant calling it eco-friendly?

I also came across some recipes for making your own face paint with cornflour and food colouring. It sounds like a good solution if you are playing with children at home, but I'm not willing to take this on as an en masse solution - does anyone know a good brand?

Greenwash #1: Innocent drinks

My Eco Self has a friend with a theory that Innocent Smoothies will go bust sometime soon. His theory is that there will be a public backlash against smoothies after reports have shown that smoothies can have more sugar than Coke.

I'm not convinced - I just went to the Innocent Fete and it was a pretty lavish spread - not the type you'd expect if you had a mean-fisted accountant in a suit* trying to steer a troubled company back on the staight and narrow.

Still, they have suffered from some bad press recently, with The Daily Telegraph accusing them of greenwash - trying to enhance their reputation by exaggerating their green credentials. They said their fruit always travels by boat or train, and is produced in the UK, whereas in reality it is driven across Europe in tanker lorries and is blended on the Continent.

Shame on them! I'm going to boycott their products**, even though I haven't bought an Innocent smoothie this year. Although I have spent over £100 on a pair of shoes on many occasions (in my previous full-time employed existence) I'm pretty reluctant to shell out over £2 for a smoothie.

*I don't think Innocent accountants wear suits somehow. I applied for a finance job there once (didn't even get an interview - I thought I had the perfect criteria - they like people with quirky hobbies etc and I'd just taken tightrope classes.) It sounded like a great place to work.

**Until next year's Fete, when I may again try and ingratiate myself to Food Neurotic Friend in the hope he takes me to the VIP area.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Green speed dating

Inspired by My Eco Self's earlier brilliant idea of allotment dating, I am organising green speed dating for the eco fair.* Some seem reluctant to see the relationship between being green and speed dating. I have formulated some non-rebuttable solid arguments to demonstrate my point.

  • Two people living together is more energy efficient than one, and reduces food waste.
  • Meeting someone who lives locally reduces the relationship commute.
  • And the most convincing; people who are interested in sustainability issues may be more interested in sustaining a relationship?

* It's in Balham, South London, coming up soon, on 20th September.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Eco Fair

My Eco Self is organising an eco fair in my local area. I'm struggling for ideas for children's workshops - can anyone help? They need to be things which aren't too messy (not a water supply right beside the tables.) So far I have got a 'tree-pee' for them to decorate - any other original and brilliant ideas welcome.

New Cath Kidston bag

I have circumstantial advice that the new Cath Kidston bag is in the shops early. Ok, it came from Hippyshopper. Run, baby, run - they came out today.

What would Jesus buy?

At Greenbelt I also watched a Morgan Spurlock film, What would Jesus buy? It's a documentary which follows Reverend Billy, a bleached blond man with a mission and his own denomination, the Church of Stop Shopping.* Now, I don't know the doctrinal detail, but I think the idea is to make Americans think about the consequences of their consumerist society - both on themselves and on the people who make the goods.

Although there's not progression during the film, and I was a bit concerned how much his wife was 'directing' him, the film did quote some great statistics about consumer debt, and although there comedy act is unlikely to lead to widespread conversion, hopefully it will have made someone think about what they're doing before they open their purse.

*Do you think donations to this church are tax-deductible?

Greenbelt Green

Although this blog aims not to talk about religion or politics (although did I tell you I am going to New York as an election tourist?) I just want to mention a little more about Greenbelt. Greenbelt is an arts festival at Cheltenham Racecourse which has its roots in the Christian tradition. But lots of people with little or no faith go along, as there are talks about lots of things, and well-known musicians. This year we had Beth Rowley and Seth Lakeman, both of whom I really enjoyed. There is a really strong focus on social justice issues.

Festival highlights for me this year included:
  • Iain Archer, an old favourite, who won an Ivor Novello award for songwriting for Snow Patrol, and just had his track advertise Friends Reunited on tv - this is the song. I've been following his music for more than half my life...
  • Silent Light - a slow-moving but beautiful film about Mexican Mennonites which won the Jury Prize at Cannes 2007.
  • Simon Parke - an ex-vicar who has a weekly column in the Daily Mail about the characters he met while working in a supermarket for three years.

There were quite a few talks with an environmental slant; if you're interested you can order or download them online. This is one of them:

An Inconvenient Truth 2 by Andy Mellen.

"Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the car, increases in the price of food and fuel are causing concern here, and hardship around the world. How can we understand the underlying realities and face an uncertain future with hope?"

A question for all of us.

Eco achievements

My Eco Self's eco achievements this week have been quite impressive - highlights include;

  • eating leftover lying-low tomato sauce for four days straight. I made it again for a friend coming for dinner. I had good intentions of using up all my food waste too - the sauce calls for the onions to be discarded at the end of the recipe. I was making carrot and lentil soup with leftover carrots from my vegetable box, and the recipe called for tinned tomatoes and onions. So I thought I would just chuck in the onions from the sauce. This would have worked if I hadn't burned the lentils to smithereens.
  • not washing for four days. Not by choice, mind you - I have just returned from the Greenbelt Festival.

Festival food is somewhat of a challenge. My friend Ruth and I were camping, and I made an attempt at bringing my own food so that I wouldn't spend a fortune buying food from the stalls around. Well, deep in my heart I knew the call of homemade chickpeas with lemon juice and freeze-dried parmesan wouldn't resound that loudly with I looked around for more appealing options. There weren't many. My favourite festival option is the Tea and Toast Van.

They serve Fair Trade and organic food, and it's all vegetarian and locally sourced where they can. I had to draw the line at the veggie-bacon option (it looked like a rather unpleasant mortadella), but the mozzarella and red pepper tapenade toastie I had was very tasty. Oh, and they have free fruit for kids. There were a few vans which sold organic burgers and sausages direct from their farm (a great idea for a farm to diversify like that, I think) - but on the whole I think sticking to vegetarian is the way forward at these events...

My Eco Self is definitely drawn to pastel-coloured vans. Remember Lola's ice-cream van? I still think selling food from a pastel-coloured van may be my culinary calling.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Boutiko sale

My Eco Self previously wrote about an online gift company, Boutiko, which sells pretty ethical, organic and Fair Trade gifts. They are currently having a summer sale. Below are a selection of items I like: Thank you cards, reduced from £8.50 to £7.50

Floral bag, reduced from £28.99 to £23.99.

Flocked floral album, reduced from £19.95 to £14.5o.

Time to stock up I think - birthdays and new babies seem to come around despite the credit crunch.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Union Square composting

In New York, there is a composting programme, where you can drop off your compostable waste at Union Square if you don't have any composting facilities. There's some information about it here.

Etsy aspirations

My Eco Self is desperate to have a shop on Etsy. Unfortunately for me, I don't have any talent in anything which requires minute detail (to a certain extent, this also includes spreadsheets; my departure from my accountancy career may have come just in time.) The thought of threading up a sewing machine really makes me feel quite unwell. But I love so much of the stuff they have on there, and it would be a perfect way for me to make some money.

I especially love this yogurt notebook, from Photobird's shop. It has graph paper in it, which I love, and I would love to carry this around in an old, battered-up leather satchel, rescued from an unloved pile at a Parisian flea market. That's if I'd ever been to one. I'd fill it with lucid and articulate musings, all written in a dark blue ink from a fountain pen; beginnings of poetry, noting small coincidences I see, recording overheard snatches of conversations to inspire my next novel-writing project.

However, this is what is more likely to happen. I'll write a to-do list, something like the following:
  • Write a letter to the council to complain about having to pay to have my garden waste collected. This is a serious bone of contention for me - their suggestion is that people should be composting, or taking their waste to the tip. My garden is overgrown all the time from my neighbour's overhanging plants, which takes lot of maintenance. It is a tiny garden and there is no room for a composter (at some point I will take a picture to demonstrate.) Unless anyone knows where to get a small one - I tried this strategy before, and it didn't work.* A lot of my friends have councils who collect garden waste for free. Oh, and I'm being eco-friendly by not having a car, so I can't take it to the tip. Grrr.
  • Make doctor's appointment
  • Update my CV

Then I will throw the notebook in the bottom of my bag and never look at it again until some stray chocolate melts all over my bag and over the notebook.

Or something like that.**

Photobird also has a beautiful blog, Simply Breakfast. I have been inspired by it to take more care in the presentation of my food, and this morning I snipped some flowers from the overhanging neighbour's plant, and arranged them nicely in an old milk bottle. I may have a latent talent as a stylist, not yet realised.

* Please don't suggest a wormery; I can't deal with scraping out dead worms. **This may have happened already.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Make your own soy milk

Tell me, please. Is there anyone out there apart from this blogger, Wisebread, who would actually want to make your own soy milk? Anyone? Surely not.

Old woman who lives with her stew

Never mind the old woman & her shoe adage, I think I'm in danger of turning into an old woman who lives with my stew...

Lying low tomato sauce

My Eco Self has been lying low for a few days, rarely going outside, and punctuating my deadline-driven work with intermittent cooking extravaganzas. My tally of eco-sins has been minimal, wearing the same clothes for three days, not washing my hair today, and cooking with store-cupboard ingredients.
Tonight I made tomato sauce with tinned tomatoes and butter; a variation I'd never heard of - but it was the best tomato sauce I've ever tasted. I've never thought of serving tomato sauce to a guest as it seems so boring, but this recipe has revolutionised my thinking. I'm making this for my very next dinner guest - it was delicious. Also, it uses so much butter that I'm not sure I can justify having it any old day of the week.
This is the recipe:
Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce
2 cups tinned plum tomatoes (I used two tins)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium white onion, peeled and cut in half
pinch of salt

1. Combine the tomatoes, their juices, the butter, and the onion halves in a medium saucepan.
2. Add a pinch or two of salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, at a very slow but steady simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary, for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free from the tomato.
3. Stir occasionally, mashing any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and salt as needed.
4. Discard the onion.
This is not turning into a cooking blog, I promise. I have just been cooking a lot recently (I resisted the urge to post about an interesting rice, lentil and caramelised onion dish I made and ate for three days in a row.) Tomorrow, however, is Friday again and that means it is time for Friday morning soup. There are two wizened-up carrots in my kitchen which need immediate attention.

Gone, but not forgotten...

The chocolate granola has gone to a better place.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Income = outgoings?

Sunday: +£26 Ebay winnings

Monday: -£35 dictaphone for some freelance writing I'm doing (not very lucrative either.)
-£4.95 jiffy bags to send off Ebay parcels, & graph paper (will reveal more later.)

Total : -£13.95. Not sure this strategy is going to work.


Did I ever mention that after a while, My Eco Self actually gave up my job completely? I've never seen the point in staying in a job you don't like, and so I left. Except I quite enjoyed that job. But I wanted to break free from the corporate existence, and freeing it has been.

For the last few months I have been pottering around, working on my projects, and loving life. I never noticed the weather from my cluttered corner in the office, but now I know the temperature every day; whether there's rain coming which will prevent my daily walk around the common, the windows flung open at every opportunity when before I never opened them.

I don't ever want to go back. I am trying to find a way to make that happen. Oblivious for a few months, now I'm keenly aware that my source of funds will run out, and before I'm ready. In an attempt to have some income, I decided to sell some items on E-bay. I want to make my weekly spend equal to that week's proceeds - a little like Save Karyn. Ok, not technically; I'm not asking for money and I haven't any debts, but she did sell a lot of her stuff on E-bay.*
Here is something you may not know; the credit crunch has affected E-bay. This can be the only reason that my total proceeds for a used-once LK Bennett leather bag, and a never-worn blue silk Top Shop dress (£70 new, still with tags) came to a paltry £26. Yes, indeed. £26. This wasn't any half-hearted attempt to sell rubbish - this was really good stuff, carefully selected with My Eco Self's impeccable taste, and put on E-bay so the auction ended at the optimum selling time. I might as well not have bothered.
*NB Karyn Bosnak has a funny blog - Pretty in the City. Have a look.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

A London sunset

It's a beautiful sunset here - I hope it's the same where you are.

Chickpea salad and mushrooms with mozzarella

Just to provide evidence of my domestic marathon, I took some photos of my wares. I am so very proud. Both dishes took about 5 minutes each to make; here are the recipes. I've abridged them here but click on the links to get the eloquent stories and the full shebang about the recipes; but the below should do the trick if you're a hop-to-it kind of guy or gal.
Mushrooms with mozzarella (from Orangette, via Jamie Oliver.)
Fresh mushrooms, such as porcini, crimini, shiitake, or portobello
Fresh mozzarella
Olive oil
Fresh thyme, leaves removed and stem discarded
Sea salt
Cut the mushrooms in thick slices and put on a baking tray.
Arrange the other ingredients on top (I didn't have thyme the first time I made this, and I only had boring white mushrooms - it still tasted great).
Grill for 4-5 mins until the cheese bubbles.
Chickpea salad (from Orangette, via Molly's husband.)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tsp. olive oil
A pinch of salt
¼ cup loosely packed shredded Parmigiano Reggiano
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl; season to taste.
I'm not one for subtle nuances; I used about 3 times the lemon juice recommended above, and am thinking of adding a little more to the leftovers. No more boring lunch options for me; my menu has arrived.

Homemade chocolate granola

My Eco Self is in the middle of a cooking extravaganza. Since 6pm last night I've made mushrooms with mozzarella and thyme, hassleback potatoes, chickpea salad with lemon, and the chocolate granola above - my personal favourite. It is delicious. I took all of the recipes off the Orangette blog, my new obsession. I was even reading it keenly at 12.3oam this morning.
In a rare period of productivity, I also painted three walls of my living room, wrote an article, went out to meet a friend, and had a brilliant idea. It is a friend's birthday on Tuesday and I am uninspired as to what to get her - but I've decided to make this granola again and send it to her as a homemade gift. I hope she likes it. I also owe a friend a wedding present from a year and a half ago (she insisted on no presents, and was very firm about it - I'm not that negligent) so am thinking of baking something for her once a month for the next 12 months. But I must be careful not to make any huge promises, as I am sometimes not flawless in my follow-through...still, a brilliant idea nonetheless.

Cath Kidston shopping bag

I now own a Tesco Cath Kidston shopping bag.

Here's what happened. I was in Tesco with a friend Gemma and her sister. Gemma has a lovely vintage French chic kind of home, the perfect habitat for Cath Kidston.
Gemma said (slightly paraphrased), "Ooh, I'm going to get one of those."
Gemma's sister, "I'm going to get one too."
My Eco Self, "I better get one too then."

That was it, no peer pressure, not a single thought about my already prolific collection of reusable bags which never see the light of day; not even the slightest consideration of the fact that I don't own one single co-ordinating pastel item. I just bought it. It's actually quite a good size - I went to the supermarket this morning and fitted everything I bought in it; usually I have to supplement my bag with extra plastic bags because not everything fits - not really the point.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Being green is not cool

The most read article on Times Online today is one written by Alice Thomson on "Suddenly being green is not cool anymore."

She quotes Julie Burchill, who can't stand the eco-warriors, describing them as "po-faced, unsexy, public school alumni who drivel on about the end of the world because they don't want the working classes to have any fun, go on foreign holidays or buy cheap clothes."

But she cites the main reason for a cultural shift away from being green as being the credit crunch.

I have always had rather 'light green' principles, which have stopped far short of solar panels on my roof. I have tried to embrace an organic lifestyle as much as possible, mostly eating organic, Fair Trade, and seasonal food, not buying cut flowers from Africa (see previous post on flowers) and using natural beauty products (some of the time). But this probably comes more out of a concern for my health and the ethical treatment of others, rather than the environment. But yesterday I bought a tin of non-organic tomatoes for the first time in ages, because they were 44p compared to 88p for the organic ones.* I covertly ran to the till before some eco-spy saw me doing it...

A friend who studied Agriculture at university gave me a lecture recently about buying organic food, saying it is a London middle-class phenomenom (as in the Times article) but that people in developing countries were never going to be able to eat organically as the yield from an organic crop is much lower than a non-organic crop, and how we have a whole world to feed. It made me think.

*This was in Waitrose. I live equidistant from Waitrose and Lidl - I should check out if Lidl has a cheaper organic option.

Fermanagh Black Bacon

This morning I watched Jimmy Doherty's Farming Heroes on BBC i-player. This week's episode was on Northern Ireland. Watch it quick before it expires!

The bit I liked the best was at the start of the programme; he visits a butcher who bought an island to rear pigs for bacon. I've actually heard of this bacon before, Fermanagh Black Bacon. They only use natural products to cure it. Recently there have been some reports that the use of nitrates in bacon may be carcinogenic if fried at a high heat - although the link is not proven. There's another report in the Ecologist, here. I have to admit that I like bacon really crispy, so I might look out for nitrate-free bacon.

Friday morning soup

My Eco Self has a new routine of making soup every Friday morning, with the contents of the previous week's vegetable box that I haven't managed to eat. Last week's soup was a very uninspired recipe to start off with; broad beans and potatoes - but it became even more so when I forgot about it and went back an hour later to find a brown, burned sludge...

Hopefully this week's will fare better. So far it's just carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic and vegetable stock. I have some rosemary which grows in my garden, so I might add some of that in.

A better strategy altogether would be to eat everything in my organic box before the new one arrives. Food Neurotic Friend would go mad if he could see the mango I forgot to eat from last week's box. Must do better.

Thursday, 7 August 2008


Ok, just looking through the Orangette posts again, I notice that one of their friends declared himself 'destroyed' by the fennel salad - a very apt description indeed.

In an attempt to regain credibility and bring this back to the eco issue, Artichoke has written a good piece recently on his seasonal food of the week, fennel - have a look.

Orangette - the love story

On a non eco-related note, My Eco Self has just spent the afternoon reading the love story of Molly, who writes the incredibly beautiful food blog, Orangette. I clicked through every single referring link to get the whole story. I'm a sucker for romance - even that of complete strangers; a sad situation indeed. Even if you're not a sucker for romance (or maybe don't need to live it vicariously through others, like me) have a look at this food blog - I think it's like gastroporn, you will just be so hungry... (Earlier in the year a friend invited me to some art installation which involved art + food - I couldn't go as I thought it would be too much for me to take - two of my great loves.)
I've completely stolen this photo off her blog (Molly, email me and I will take it straight off if you think it's inappropriate) - but I love black and white photos and think this is beautiful. Oh, and the photo was taken by Michelle M Waite (again, Michelle, email me and I will take your picture off if you want me to.)

Ethical wedding flowers

After reading the 2007 War on Want reports on cut flowers My Eco Self feels strongly that I would like ethical wedding flowers.

Fair Flowers Fair Plants gives accreditation to florists and wholesalers who meet their ethical standards. You can type in your postcode and find a florist near where you live. Jayne Copperwaite is a London florist whose wedding bouquets have been featured on GMTV. For sending bouquets for other occasions, Arena Flowers is an online retailer who deliver all over the UK.

An eco wedding #2

“Did you know they bought second hand wedding rings to be eco-friendly?” asks Food Neurotic Friend.
I try to catch a glance when I give them the obligatory wedding kisses and congratulations, but I’m blinded by the glare of what I know to be a ten-carat Tiffany engagement ring. There’s a blinding fireworks display.
“Are fireworks environmentally friendly?” I ask FNF. “What do you think?” he replies, half-distracted by scouring the dance floor for a potential conquest.
I’m not really listening to him either, waiting patiently and nonchalantly for the bride to throw her wedding bouquet, but there’s no activity.
“Is she going to throw the bouquet?” I ask the bride’s mother.
“No, I don’t think she wants to waste the bouquet when she can dry them.”
My Eco Self doesn’t think that confirming my future destiny is a waste of a bouquet, especially when they’d only been picked five minutes before, and I’ve never known the bride to be a Martha Stewart type who’d install a framed portfolio of pressed petals in her designer apartment.
“If I’d known that I’d have picked a few more flowers for a spare,” I mumble to no-one in particular, Food Neurotic Friend appearing to be making some progress with a petite bridesmaid half his age.

Eco wedding resources

There are lots of online resources about how to have an eco and green wedding. Have a look here:

Most of the websites I can find are UK-based; if anyone knows any good US resources, let me know and I will update this list.
It's pretty unlikely I would ever have a hemp wedding dress, like this one above from Conscious Clothing (My Eco Self has very particular taste, and a tendency to like the most expensive and most unethical thing in the shop).
Check out Jade of the Jungle's recent post on ethical wedding gifts for some original and non-wedding list ideas.

An eco wedding # 1

My Eco Self has just attended my first green and eco wedding. “We’ve donated to a Climate care charity in lieu of wedding favours,” reports the card printed on recycled paper on each table. The happy couple set up a website to encourage lift-sharing to the venue in Wales. I’m impressed. The food is outstanding, with a hybrid minivan transporting us from the church to the reception. The menu is serving locally sourced, seasonal vegetables and organic Welsh lamb, with a chocolate wedding cake made from Fair Trade sugar and chocolate and with organic flour. Guests are directed to a meadow nearby to pick wildflowers for their own table displays, and there’s home-made elderflower cordial in vintage jugs on each table. There’s even a picture display in the corner showing the farm where the lamb came from, complete with names and identities that I have to tactfully steer a vegetarian friend away from.
“I prefer it when they have embarrassing childhood photos,” I whisper to Food Neurotic Friend, a mutual friend of the betrothed.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Eco-friendly children's book

My Eco Self and Food Neurotic Friend have co-written an eco-friendly children’s book, Eco Bear and the Recycled Bicycle. It wasn’t that difficult, or so we thought, to knock up 900 words or so, and we have a vision for a book printed on recycled paper with vegetable inks. FNF was warned not to circulate the idea lest someone steals it.
The next day I get an e-mail from FNF’s flatmate.
“I was introduced this morning to the idea of Eco Bear,” he wrote, “and I know lots of illustrators if you need a contact”.
I have stern words with FNF, not the first.
"That was a rough draft", I tell him, "not for public consumption".
"I only read it to Chris", he says, "and I sent it to Claire and to Jim to see what they thought. They're parents - they know more about children than you and I".
“I know more about children than you do” I retort, my social circle swamped by domestic mum friends with babies.
“You don’t seem very maternal to me”.
My Eco Self is hurt at the attack on my motherhood potential, not yet realised.

Update 27th Sept 08: My Eco Self has since discovered the brilliant children's book, Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel. Ellie just came and did an author event at an eco fair I organised. Almost as exciting is that the sequel - Litterbug Doug is coming soon!

Monday, 4 August 2008

Ikea drawers

My Eco Self is not reknowned for keeping an immaculate house. In an exasperated attempt at self-organisation, to improve my mental health and inspire me to take some of my ideas forward instead of wallowing around my flat in self-disgust, I decided it was finally time to replace the six-years old canvas student drawers for something bigger and more sturdy.

Spurred on by the urgency of my quest, I headed straight for Ikea, due to a limited budget and limited will to look around for a more inspired option. Ikea is not a totally unethical option - you can find out about their corporate policy here. They are working towards FSC certification in their forests. Eco Worrier, from the Times, writes more about the greenness of Ikea here.

Never again. I can feel my blood pressure rising even as I write. It took Food Neurotic Friend and I almost 4 hours to build the chest of drawers, and I actually felt quite sorry as I watched the increasing frustration on his face. We had leftover screws, and were missing some of the final screws we needed (I did tactfully suggest that perhaps we had used the incorrect ones earlier, but that theory was readily dismissed by the chief artisan). Some of the grey material covering the drawer insides came away during construction, leaving the drawers looking less than perfect, an irritant to someone who obsessively patrols any home improvements with a spirit level as a weapon, despite the prevailing chaos in all other areas of domestic ability.

I wish I had been more principled, and looked around for something second-hand, and not flat-packed. I still remember seeing this article in the Times several years ago, where the journalist furnished her whole house from junk shops - and very well too. She recommends Furniture Mart in Kennington. I'll be heading there next time I have a furniture requirement.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Innocent Festival in Regent's Park

Yesterday I went to the Innocent Village Fete in Regent's Park. I managed to tag along with Food Neurotic Friend and get into the VIP area. It was so much fun! There were lots of great things happening at the Festival, and I got lots of little freebies (I don't always advocate unnecessary waste, but I got a little sample of Ecover, Rude Health Muesli, and Teapigs. Mmm, I especially love Teapigs, I am always buying them as presents for people. It is tea which comes in a little mesh bag).

Little Green Radicals had a stall - I love their slogan tee-shirts for kids. My favourite is "Give Peas a Chance". They had a special fair offer - one for £9 or two for £15.

If you're free today you should check it out - there's so much going on.