A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: London

Bonus picture of a roasted vegetable and quinoa salad with the last of my fourth OddBox vegetables last week. I mixed red quinoa with some amaranth I’ve had hanging around the house for a while (both from the Source) and it was a very nice combination.

I managed to pay a visit to a local shop with a few zero waste options- Eat17 in Hammersmith. I bought some suspiciously cheap coffee beans and discovered that they have plastic-free cheese!

I don’t think I’ve tasted this variety of cheese before but it was very nice. I will definitely go back because they are closer to my house than the Source and I’m pretty sure cheaper too- I think because most of their options are not organic.

I also followed through with my pledge after watching Cowspiracy and picked up some barista-style oat milk.

I have had a vegan flat white in a cafe in Folkestone made with this brand, otherwise I would have been very upset that they had run out of barista-style Oatly. I’m happy to say that even I (an espresso noob) am able to make a serviceable flat white with it. The milk has a mild oat flavour but produces a very similar result texture-wise to dairy milk- unlike other plant-based milks that are frankly disgusting in tea and coffee.

I think my tummy has been feeling better in the last week without milk (I drink 3-4 flat whites a day, with 100ml of milk in each). I’m not intolerant to dairy but having too much makes me feel sick. I’ve heard anecdotally that a lot of people with Afro-Caribbean heritage can be sensitive to dairy. I also have a phobia of rotten milk and the whole concept of cow’s milk freaks me out a bit.

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I’ve been away a few times over the summer and mostly on holiday from blogging. It was a broken-up European tour encompassing France, Slovakia, Hungary, Finland and Spain.

Going away has made me much more aware of what being zero waste would mean giving up. It hit me when I was in a petrol station and wanted a pre-made chilled latte. The ZW option would have been to get a coffee in my keep cup and wait for it to cool down. When I’m at home, I’m happy to make an espresso frappe thing. But the idea of drinking a cold filter coffee was just too depressing to contemplate.

Apparently coffee is my main trigger because I had a similar dilemma later in the summer. ZW option: Nescafe. Preferred option: single-serve iced latte drink. I was too much of a snob to drink the instant. So many of my favourite tasty treats- crunchy Cheetos, Bugles, different kinds of chocolate and cheese- are packaged in plastic. I’m glad that my eyes were opened a bit more, even if I’m not sure how I will approach this dilemma.

I got my third OddBox the week I returned home properly. I didn’t use it for anything glamorous enough to photograph but all of it has been used a little under a week later.

Just before the summer I started having terrible sugar cravings in the afternoons. I realised it was because I had got into the habit of having a protein bar every day. Although the ones I have are ‘low sugar’ (AKA filled with horrifying chemicals that I almost certainly should not be consuming), they taste like a chocolate bar. Clearly my body had become accustomed to having its daily sugar hit. To be fair, I have always had a sweet tooth. I just don’t remember having such strong sugar cravings.

I picked up some more dates to make up some more caramel bite things to snack on instead. I bought the dates on impulse at the supermarket so they were inevitably packaged in plastic. Next time, I will get them at the Source. I added a ‘no single-use plastics’ item to my habit tracker and I haven’t been able to tick it off once. I’m quite strict and include everything like milk cartons and yoghurt tubs. Still a long, long way to go.

Weekly tilt

A disadvantage of trying to reduce waste is becoming hyper-aware of how wasteful society is. Here I share things that have bothered or worried me.

  • I can’t seem to find a plastic-free moisturiser. Neither of the shops near me with bulk options stock one. I guess one idea would be to try something from Lush because they at least reuse their tubs in a closed-loop economy.

A few weeks ago I went to the Frida Kahlo exhibition that is currently on at the V&A. Titled Making Herself Up, it displays a lot of her personal artefacts. I believe that her husband’s will requested that Kahlo’s bathroom remain sealed for a number of years after both of their deaths. The exhibition explores how she created and curated her image as well as how she presented herself in her artwork.

I thought I knew quite a lot about Kahlo before attending the exhibition. Looking back, I’m not sure why I was under that impression. I never really studied her when I was doing art at school. I was going through a phase of antifeminism at the time and for some reason picked Roy Lichtenstein as the artist I studied for my GCSE art project. Many a regret was had.

Anyway, it was really interesting to learn about her life and how it influenced her as an artist. In particular, I had no idea that she was disabled.

One of my favourite parts was seeing the display of her clothing. Her personal style evolved quite a lot over the years and she seemed to be very mindful of her image. I liked the way that she wore traditional Mexican clothing.

Many of the pieces were embellished with beautiful embroidery or beading, which must have been done by hand. It was also interesting to think about how Frida’s dress enabled her to present herself in the way she wanted in spite of her health and physical challenges.

I felt quite an affinity with Frida through the exhibition, in particular a love of colour and being inspired by flowers and animals. I had chosen an outfit especially to wear to the exhibition. Sometimes I curate my image very carefully, but there are also days where I don’t bother. I generally don’t think that I dress in a notable way until I see a picture of myself in a group and realise that I am wearing every colour of the rainbow while everyone else is monochrome!

I tried to get a selfie with the Frida earrings I couldn’t resist buying from the gift shop. I discovered that, even with a machine designed to take self-portraits in my pocket, I’m not very good at it!


Last week I got my second OddBox delivery.

You may notice that there is a kohlrabi hiding within the more ordinary British produce. I had never eaten it before but used the stir-fry recipe included with my box as a jumping-off point. I had vegetable stir-fry for breakfast four times and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I added protein most days because I am strength training

I always think of myself as hating vegetables. I never liked them as a child, partly, I believe, because they were typically served with most of the goodness boiled out. I must admit to being a convert since I was happily chomping down five different types of root and leaf in a single meal. Due to my narrative about not liking vegetables, I tend not to buy them unless I have a recipe in mind. As I had hoped, a great bonus of the OddBox is encouraging me to go beyond my food comfort zone.

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I had in mind that this pie (separate post here) would mostly come from the box, but in the end only the courgette and pak choi did. I’ll write a separate post about the aesthetically pleasing rainbow quiche.

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My adventures in experimenting with reducing the amount I waste continue. Not least of which is coming up with a name for this new feature of my blog. Since I’m planning to write on this topic weekly or, I was considering Trash Tuesday. Waste Wednesday was also an option but I already have an intermittent alliterative Wednesday feature. It’s also a worrying imperative, though I suppose trash Tuesday is too. Ideas on a postcard (or in the comments).

I did get a little sucked into the hipster lifestyle/aesthetic on my second visit to the Source, due in large part to the biggest enabler in the world aka my flat mate.

I had managed to resist this beautiful vacuum container on my first visit, but it made its way home with me on my second. Look how cute it looks though. I love this thing.

We got completely hooked by the beautiful little recipe booklets they keep by the till. I experimented with making the most hipster meal ever.

However, it turns out that I am not a huge fan of random vegan powders. This contains lucuma and mesquite (which I understand is another name for maca), neither of which I will be troubling myself with again. However, I might conduct some experiments to see if I can develop a chai-spice chia breakfast pudding. That could be delicious.

Coincidentally, I am working on cutting out tea bags. I seldom have tea since I’m more of a coffee person and I have an easy system for low-waste coffee. But I do like the occasional cup of green tea. I’m trying out a few different teas from the Source. I was so pleased that I managed to find this novelty tea infuser I bought a few years ago.

I also made a big pot of dal makhani this week. I’ve been meaning to try this recipe since returning from India in January, but I really struggled to find black lentils (urud dal). I finally managed to pick some up in a random store in Finsbury Park, in plastic of course. Source sells beluga lentils but I’m not sure if these are the same thing.

I used this recipe doubled and followed fairly closely. The dal was tasty and I would make it again.

Weekly tilt

A disadvantage of trying to reduce waste is becoming hyper-aware of how wasteful society is. Here I share things that have bothered or worried me.

  • My local council does not offer a food waste recycling scheme. Hammersmith and Fulham boasts about its low council tax rates but I feel the level of public service on offer as a result is significantly worse than in other boroughs. I would rather pay more and get more.

After my last post about exploring the zero waste lifestyle, I followed up on some of my pledges. I ordered my first OddBox.

I decided to try out the recommended recipe for the sorrel. I must say that next time I have to taste unfamiliar ingredients before cooking with them! I had no idea how lemony sorrel was, so regretted my decision to substitute the recommended lemon sole for a fillet steak.

I also made cauliflower puree for the first time.

I used up some of the tomatoes and courgettes making this healthy egg recipe I discovered when I was gardening last year.

I also went for my first zero waste shop at the Source Bulk Foods in Turnham Green. I’ve got to say I got unreasonably excited when I was shopping at the Source. It just felt like the way I want to shop. I wonder if the novelty will wear off when I’m lugging jars around west London, but for now I’m loving it.

One slight concern is the cost of all the delightful organic produce. Even though I make a comfortable living in my day job, I was raised in a proud tradition of miserdom.

I decided to do a little price comparison with supermarkets on items I am likely to purchase.

With three jars and an Illy coffee can clanking around in my tote, I finally understood why people use cloth produce bags. One of my plans for the summer is to make some using some of my fabric scraps.

It hasn’t been completely smooth sailing. One of our bottles of milk got broken in the street. I have a phobia of bad milk, so this was a challenge for me.

It’s only been a week so I am remaining cautious, but so far I am really enjoying the lifestyle changes I am making to reduce my reliance on single-use plastics.


After a very challenging summer term, which included changing jobs (which has gone horribly) and moving house (which has gone well) I decided to treat myself. I’ve had my eye on a Tatty Devine rainbow necklace for an age. I’ve always loved rainbows and I feel that this necklace really captures how beautiful and fun they are. I tried the sample on at my last workshop  and knew the necklace had to be mine.

And now she is!

I really enjoyed this workshop. Since I’ve done so many, I whizzed through the construction.

I was a little more apprehensive about adding the crystals- this element is what makes the workshop necklace unique and I can never resist a bit of sparkle. Putting them on took some serious glue.

I kept my crystal placement quite close to the sample and I’m happy with that decision.

And here is the finished item

We had a bit of a debate at the workshop about whether these necklaces are really ‘handmade’ or simply assembled (my view).

The fact that the workshop took place on pride weekend got me thinking. First, I thought that I am a sucker because I bought both rainbow doughnuts and a rainbow bagel as I walked down Brick Lane.

Secondly I started thinking about taking pride in a range of identities. As a mixed race woman, it has taken me many years to take pride in both sides of my heritage, especially spending my time predominantly in the company of white people. People tend to be black-or-white thinkers, struggling to hold on to complexity when the pull of easy stereotypes can be so irresistible. It felt pertinent to see this quotation from Harriet Tubman for the first time.