Make a Magnetic Blackboard in your Kitchen

This is a cheats guide to making your own magnetic blackboard for your kitchen. Perfect for all sizes of kitchen! The cost will come in at under a tenner as well! Something to make everyone happy about! Low budget and wont take more than an evening or two to complete.

DIY magnetic chalkboard blackboard
This is our secondhand fridge that we have hidden behind countless magnets and papers

You will need:

You are going to paint directly to your fridge freezer. This is the scary bit. Ours was secondhand and really chipped and horrible. Like most people we covered it with magnets and paperwork. Mainly it was an effort to hide the very tired look of it. If you have just spent a few hundred on a new fridge freezer, you may not wish to use blackboard paint on it at all! The DIY blackboard paint project works as an upcycling project. It helped us to avoid taking the fridge freezer to landfill.

By not doing this is would have meant spending a lot more money on a new item for our kitchen! If you have already subscribed you will know about our No Spend Year and how we are looking to stop any new purchases. Perfect for a Zero Waste No Spend Kitchen Win!

Continue reading “Make a Magnetic Blackboard in your Kitchen”

runner beans seeds for next year
Garden Progress

Harvesting Runner Beans Seeds for Next Year


We have had a bumper crop of runner beans this year and want to carry it on for the next year with no additional cost. As you know we are trying out techniques which will be useful when we move to our Smallholding. So this fits in very well with our No Spend Year and should be adopted by any aspiring gardener. Why pay for your seeds each year?

Here is our quick how to guide for you as well. dried runner beans

  1. Wait until the beans themselves have dried on the plant. We were hit hard by a massive storm and the beans we had were uprooted. This meant that I had a large crop which needed to be harvested to eat slightly prematurely, but I also made the decision to leave a few on the vine. Future planning is key to success in the garden, but so is flexibility to the British Summertime.
  2.  All you need to do then is gently press along the side to pop them out. Clear off the chaff and pieces of pod that may be stuck to them. runner beans ready to store Each one of these beans can produce a plant with dozens of runner beans, so make sure you don’t get carried away storing for next year and not eating this year!
  3.  Make sure that the beans you take are dry to the touch. This will ensure that no mould is introduced. You will need to store them for around nine months until they are ready to plant out again.

Storing Runner Beans Seeds for Next Year

We keep all of our old plastic containers from things like butter. They are relatively air tight and can be stored in a cool place. Make sure to write on the tub what the seeds are! This year I mixed my giant runners with a normal sized variety and it did me no favours when it came to harvesting. shiny beans

Once your crop has finished for the year, make sure to clean down your canes and bring in any Cane toppers that you may have used. We are then turning the area over to our ex-battery hens to clear the area.

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Why not try a few no or low cost ideas for your garden?



ex-battery hens

Rehoming ex-battery hens – are we ready?

The time has come and our ex-battery hens will be ready for collection in a few weeks time. We are waiting patiently and have really been looking forward to this moment. However this is a massive responsibility and one we have researched thoroughly. I still feel those nerves in the pit of my stomach, but we want to have a fox proof happy home for our hens to roam around.

Do ex-battery hens lay eggs?

Yes they do, we will be collecting them when they are already around 18 months old. This means that in the world of battery chickens they have reached their usefulness and will no longer be laying consistently. We will be taking on four girls and hope to have a few eggs a day from them. Things like giving them plenty of protein in their diets will help, so a tasty example would be DRIED MEALWORMS which we will add in to their feed. In fun ways – obviously.

Once they are free roaming they will find their own sustenance and that is why we have been using natural pesticides only in our garden.


How long do battery hens live?

In the world of commerce they would be used for pet food or chicken paste at 18 months. In reality once they have arrived with you, they could live happily for many more years to come, laying for the majority of that time.

Where can I find ex-battery hens for rehoming?

By using a charity like British Hen Welfare Trust you can extend their lives and give them real happiness. Once you register you are put in contact with the hen rehoming team and it is all very much geared around their welfare and looking after them! Just the way we like it.

What do I need in terms of a chicken coop or run?

Think fox and think fox again. You need a coop of sturdy construction that will prevent Mr fox from wriggling under and attacking your rehomed hens. a palace for ex battery hens  Chicken Coop, this is the model we are going for. There is easy access to the rear to clean out and it has a bit of roaming space for the hens. Alongside this we will be allowing them to free range the rest of the garden.

How many hens should we rehome?

We have thought long and hard about this as our garden space is so big. However the hens we rehome will be our first and we want to get it right. So we have gone for four initially. Hoping that the pecking order will not push one out to be on her own. Also the above coop is big enough for up to 6 hens so it should mean plenty of space to roost and bed down each night.

What else do I need for my ex-battery hens?

I am buying these ex-battery hens 3 Litre Economy Drinker and 3kg Economy Feeder Red and White Set as we want to go to work in the day and trust that they will be okay. They may come across as being bird brained but they are intelligent animals so I will be making lots of fun toys for them to peck their way through. Not being particularly fussy eaters will help a lot with this! I can imagine that whatever has been eating my courgette will stop once the chickens are free ranging, only for the chickens to start.

We are so excited and will be finding our way throughout this journey, please do subscribe and find out more. Small steps to our bigger dream of a smallholding. I hope that we can show you how to raise battery hens in your own back garden too.



Reuseable Sanitary Pads – The Truth

We are going to have to have some real talk here and at times this is going to be an open and frank reality check. Periods are the least favourite part of being a woman and sometimes all you want is to feel less horrible and uncomfortable.

Let’s talk a bit about the reasons why you would change over first of all.

  • Environmental effects of each months waste products. Disposable sanitary pads get thrown away and end up in landfill. They are also full of plastics to begin with and don’t get me started with the packaging. With reuseable sanitary pads we can reuse what we have purchased with no plastics touching our delicate skin.
  • Cost effective nature of a one off purchase. We are on a family budgeting challenge and using disposables can cost a lot of money each month. Now I am able to cut that cost to zero on a month to month basis. I think that large set up cost can be prohibitive, but how much does your period cost you each month? £10-£15? Maybe more if you are caught short in work and have to use the machine in the ladies toilets.
  • I can’t be the only one who finds it unhygienic to have the plastic disposable pads so close to my skin? In the height of summer it can really start to gross me out, however cotton is far softer and less sweaty.
  • Rustling, plastic scrunching sound. I hate changing my towel in a public toilet and the ripping sound when you pull off the plastic backing. I prefer to be discrete and as ladylike as possible!
zero waste = zero spend
Who is interested to avoid the so called tampon tax in the UK?

If all this is true, what is holding us back?

So financially, environmentally and for our health and comfort it is on balance better to use reusable pads. I think of myself as an intelligent woman, so why have I not made the change? I’m going to go through my list of reasons why I was hesitant below, I will be as honest as possible and try to cover ever aspect, no matter how small.

Are our concerns around reuseable sanitary pads justified?

What is stopping you from having a more eco-friendly period?

I really do not like the idea of the cup type of protection and have shied away from featuring that in this article. Instead I have focused on the old-fashioned cotton sanitary pads. Ones which are washable and reuseable.

I have a heavy flow will reuseable sanitary pads be able to cope?

What most companies have worked out is that we all have heavy days and then hopefully the lighter days towards the end of our period. Rather cleverly they have mostly invented packs for a flow for a period. So by buying Heavy flow / night time pads alongside medium flow / panty liners it can make for the right balance.
You know your period better than anyone else. I have a nightmare in the first few days and can hate how often i need to change my pads when out and about. Each of the kits mentioned above come with wet/dry zip bags. I will come to that in a minute as it is a lot less gross than you might be thinking.

Do reuseable sanitary pads make a good fit into my underwear?

Well you do not have keep to your period pants like normal. So I find that they fit in really easily with adjustable poppers. Much easier to get the right fit than the plastic type with sticky backing. When using the old fashioned type you can’t adjust the fit once you have stuck, with these you can. For me these are even better than the mass produced disposable ones. I don’t find I have too much movement once they are in place. The movement that I do have seems to go with my natural movement rather than against it.

The other benefit is that I am silent for the day. No more rustling when I turn or even walk. So a good fit, with no leakages and a more breathable experience from the natural cotton. I was really relieved the first time as it really plays into my worst nightmare of periods. I hate the idea of being in the middle of work and needing to change my clothes because of an accident. These do manage to give me a better level of discretion and I feel confident with them already. reuseable sanitary pads, love them or hate them?

Is there a large cost to buying the pads to begin with?

I like to think that I am frugal in most areas and we certainly take it seriously with things like our No Spend Challenge and how we are looking to make real changes.
If I buy all of my sanitary pads from the cheapest places I still think each month would cost around £10-£15 depending on how shocked I was to find myself caught short. A pack of ten like these ones Women Hygiene Sanitary Pad, Feminine Reusable Panty Liner,Bamboo Cloth Mama Menstrual Sanitary Nappy Towel Pad (25.5 x 18cm) (10PCS) will cost less than £20. So I think I will need two of these for a full months period. This means I was a bit clever and bought one pack and mixed it up with the odds and sods I had left over. This also served to remind me how much I hated the scrunchy, crunchy, plastic, sweaty ones.
Three months in to the new way of doing things and you will have broken even. They will last around five years if hand washed. I intend to machine wash as I am not lazy, just realistic. But if I waned to hand wash each month I have information on that below as well.

How do you clean your reuseable sanitary pads?

It is not as gross as you may think, and now that I have done it a few times I do not know how I used to use the communal sanitary bin in works toilet. Totally unhygienic to get involved with others periods.

The reuseable sanitary pads are really made of cotton or bamboo cloth, so need treating like any other cloth items. Please see my step by step guide below for how to wash your reuseable sanitary pads.

Are reuseable sanitary pads a bit gross?

I needed time to get my head around this one. Basically I have had times when I have had to soak and wash bed sheets or pants, only when I have been taken by surprise but I have just got on with it. So what would be the difference here? Not to sound too much like a militant feminist but, who told us we had to spend all this money each month just to have a period? In the recent past, like my own mother’s time, we all used old cotton rags. Hence the rather lovely term ‘on the rag’. If we used to just deal with it then, why not now?

Three steps to clean your reuseable sanitary pads:

  1. A little water proof pouch. I have two, one for ready to use pads and one for used pads. Just fold the used ones in four and pop in to the pouch until I get home. Far more discrete than the ripping the loud plastic pads and opening up the grim and frankly unclean sanitary bin in a public toilet. This reminds me to say that just because we have become accustom to something does not make it alright! No matter how you control the communal sanitary bin with your foot, you still have to pop the towel into it and run the risk of touching someone else’s period. Don’t get me started about blood born viruses!
  2. I have a little water tight bin with a lid in my bathroom. This allows me to rinse the reusable pads and then leave to soak in cold water for at least 6 hours before washing. You can change the water as many times as you like. As I mentioned earlier the heavier the period you are having the more you will need in terms of protection. Be prepared to rinse away the main blood before soaking. It isn’t that horrible and as you do it as you go, even when you are out you bring it home and rinse immediately. It is easier and less off putting than you might think.
  3. Cold Process Soap. This allows me to get all of the stains out each time. You can also add the pads to your usual wash load. The main thing to remember is hand wash is easier, but always in cold water. If you do want to put them through the washing machine, remember to put them into the hand wash cycle on the coldest setting. This will help with removing stains. The soaking process will also help a lot! What I do is wait until the end of my period before doing any laundry then put them all in together. You can then pop some cute gloves on and do it all in one.

So I don’t think it is too gross and I would rather deal with my own reusable pads than have to use a communal sanitary bin ever again! Once they are washed out you just need to make sure that you have dried them thoroughly. Hang dry for the best results. I would not try tumble drying as it may stretch the fabric in unpredictable ways.

Are cotton sanitary pads more comfortable?

100 per cent yes! Like they move with you and there is no wedge or crinkle. They keep you less sweaty and that means you do not produce as much bacteria.

However some people claim that the cotton or bamboo type results in less cramping. I cannot claim to have found the same to be true. I am no medical practitioner and this could be a really obvious link, but I can only speak from my own experience. Just because I do not see any change in the levels of discomfort from my own body. Weirdly though, if I had not read an article stating that this was a link I would not have expected it at all!! So no hard feelings here, my sanitary pads provide me with confidence and allow me to get on with my day!

Why would you change to reuseable sanitary pads?

For me the main motivator was the fact that the plastic ones are not disposable. They do not just disappear once they have left my house. Some people used to flush them and I remember all sorts of horror stories about our oceans. Obviously now we know the real life crises we are all living through.

My thought process went “well if I have to suffer to save the Planet, so be it” then I tried them and now I want to use them. I tried and have been very happy with them. I may even try making more of my own in the future. You know life can surprise you, but I am glad to say that I have a much more affordable period each month now and can only imagine how much I will save across my lifetime.

Still counting the days to menopause though!


You may wish to learn more about different ways to live an environmentally friendly life and we have plenty to offer in terms of  Zero Waste Bathroom Essentials or having a closer look at Zero Waste No Spend Kitchen Wins as we want to save our wallet as well as the planet!

Sunshine Blogger Top UK Bloggers

Sunshine Blogger – Top UK Bloggers

The Sunshine Blogger Awards involves some of the Top UK Bloggers. I have been very honoured to have been nominated by littletinkablee who has a fab blog around lifestyle and mental health. Well worth popping over to her site!


What you have to do…


  • Thank the person who nominated you and don’t forget to link back to their site
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by your nominators
  • Nominate at least 11 more bloggers for the award
  • Write 11 new, creative questions for your nominees to answer
  • Notify your nominees via social media or by commenting on their blog
  • Lastly, List the rules and display The SunShine Blogger Award logo on your site or in your post – I have created my own!


So the questions that the lovely @tinkableeblog has asked me to answer are below.

  1. What Personality trait has gotten you the most in trouble? It has to be my stubbornness. Like I will not let something go if I know it is wrong. Hence my posts around no spend and zero waste. I hate people thinking that going green has to cost the earth, so I show people how to get around it in a frugal way!


2. If you had to pick a new name for yourself, what would you pick? I love my middle name – Elizabeth as my first name is Alex I can be mistaken for a man. Especially as I am an electrician by trade and, sadly this is still rare.

3. What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done? I used to think training to be an electrician was pretty courageous but now I realise that starting my blog was the hardest thing. It is tough to keep your head up and compete with some of the top UK bloggers we have, but I am happy to just be in the same sphere as some of the guys I will link to below!

4. Would you rather be laughing uncontrollably for the rest of your life or uncontrollably crying? I think when I am not feeling depressed I am pretty much laughing all day anyway! So I will go with laughing uncontrollably!!

5. If you could ask your pet 3 questions, what would they be? We have five Degus. We started with two boys, but Pinky gave birth one Christmas, much to the shock and disgust of The Brain. Both of them turned out to be girls and we have now got an extra two boys and one daughter. So I would ask why was The Brain so upset when Pinky gave birth? I would ask Gillian why she mistook my finger for a pecan in its shell the other day. Then I would ask them why they have to flick their poop so far!!

6. What’s a great book you’ve read recently? This is a tough one, but rather geekily it is the IET Guidance Notes for Electric Vehicles. I have just qualified to install and see this as the new technology of our generation.

7. If your life was a movie, what songs would be on the sound track? I love Hakuna Matata from The Lion King. It sums me up a lot and we loved our time in Tanzania so it reminds us of that as well!

8. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up? I used to want to write books on craft and clever little ideas. So now my blog is my childhood dream come true!

9. Which is better – A novel or a movie? Not as easy a question as you might think as I love Discworld and am really looking forward to the adaptation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens. However if they do not talk in the exact way I imagine they should it will kill me!

10. If Mars was liveable, would you accept a one-way ticket there? No, I get seasick just sitting on a boat in the harbour so I think that a trip to Mars would make me so ill!

11. What’s one pet peeve of yours that you wish that you could get rid of – because it hampers your enjoyment of life? The idea that small steps don’t make a difference. Plant that tree, walk the one mile journey, avoid the single use plastic, say no to chemical pesticides. I wish people would stop feeling so powerless!


Top UK Bloggers

This is the tough bit as I think there are so many bloggers I have linked with and benefitted from during my first year. So picking top UK bloggers only would limit my range too much! The blogging community is international!

I would like to nominate;

Amy over at FamilyEdventures for her relentless enthusiasm and generosity to her subscribers.

I also love the great work over at f00dventures – great recipes with easy to follow nutritional advice, it pays to listen to a registered dietitian.

I would also like to thank AbsolutelyTrueConfessions for all of her support from the very beginning, I am in no doubt that she is one of the kindest bloggers out there!

If you are looking for an inspiring role model let me introduce you to Jenni from HousewifeHustle !

If you love sustainable and affordable pop on over to LittleMillHouse

For more gorgeous garden ideas I would recommend CrazyOrganicMama

I cover a little section about finances, however TheFrugalFellow has so many more ideas and tricks! Or you could also check out TheRayJourney who is equally fab and inspiring!

For some seriously interesting articles on all things green you will enjoy SmartMoneyGreenPlanet and all the work she does.

I am a sucker for this wonderful lady – ThePreppingWife as she has great recipes with easy to follow instructions as well as good practical advice along the way!

For a slightly different blog check out Frantasmagoria lots of gruesome and ghostly reviews and stories!

Questions for my bloggers

  1. what animal would you like to be?
  2. where would you like to visit again from any past trips?
  3. Who influenced your career decisions?
  4. what has been your biggest fear conquered?
  5. What is your favourite thing that ‘money can’t buy’?
  6. how would you describe your blog?
  7. what would you do differently on reflection?
  8. What is the best wish you have for the future generations?
  9. when did you decide to give blogging a go?
  10. How do you stay focused on your blogging goals?
  11. Where do you see your blog in five years time?


So a big thank you to LittleTinkablee for the nomination and please do all follow the fabulous accounts above!