Posts Tagged ‘veganism’

ONS recipe corner: super easy cashew cream

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Make your own cashew cream!

I’ve posted a few recipes for vegan desserts here now, and hopefully you’ve tried your hand at making some of them! Since becoming vegan just over a year ago, I’ve been thrilled (REALLY) to discover just how many dessert options are still open to me and my chronic sweet tooth! However, we vegans do sometimes lose out when it comes to tasty dessert accompaniments. I miss very few foodstuffs, but one of the things I do miss is, weirdly, custard. For a good while I was desperately seeking a tasty, cruelty-free custard substitute… and then I discovered cashew cream.

The revelation happened at the wonderful Zeffirelli’s, where I ordered a vegan summer pudding (OMG) and it came with lashings of what I can only describe as “freakin’ delicious cashew goo” on the side. I have since learned that cashew cream is basically the best thing ever to go with any kind of fruity dessert — especially a good old fashioned apple pie.

So if you have vegan guests coming over and you want to make sure they don’t just have to look sad while everyone else tops their tasty dessert with ice cream or custard, TRY THIS. It is so, so easy.

Ingredients

200g of cashews (pro tip: buy cashew pieces from your local healthfood store. Cheapness!)
A 200g block of creamed coconut
400ml water
1/2 cup of agave nectar
Vanilla extract

Make your own cashew cream!
First, roughly chop your cashews. They don’t have to be evenly sized, or cut too small. Basically just make sure there are no whole cashews left.

Make your own cashew cream!
Soak ‘em in cold water for a little while. I did mine for about two hours and that was plenty. Once they’re good n’ soaked, put them into the blender or food processor, along with the creamed coconut, which you should break into small chunks. Pour in the 400ml of warm water, and whizz for a good while.

Make your own cashew cream!

You’ll end up with a mix that looks a bit like this. ^ (Warning: you will not get it to go totally smooth, ’cause yaknow, nuts. It’ll still be a little gritty. To reduce the grittiness, soak your cashews for longer.) At this stage, you can stir in your agave nectar and add vanilla extract to taste. That is LITERALLY IT.

NB: your ‘cream’ may seem a bit watery. If you want to eat it right away (as I did, obv), you can seive off some of the liquid (useful for vegan milkshake?). However, know this: the cream will firm up quite a bit in the fridge, so maybe prepare it a little ahead of time so it has a while to chill out.

Best served with pie, if you ask me! Enjoy!

Make your own cashew cream!

You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #76

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

What have I been up to…? More baking.

When it comes to toppings, MORE IS MORE

These are triple orange vegan cupcakes. Zesty orange sponge, orange fondant filling (and some on the top), not-butter-not-cream icing, made uber-yellow by Lovely Boyfriend’s fancy-ass confectioner’s food colouring. And chocolate ganache. And fresh orange. And sugar stars. I basically decided that when it came to topping these babies, more was more. They were certainly appreciated by the gaggle of hungry board-gamers who sampled them!

Vegan peanut butter cupcakes

Lovely Boyfriend requested these instead of a birthday cake. They’re vegan peanut butter cupcakes with not-butter-not-cream icing, chocolate ganache and a smidge of added peanut butter. We snuck them into the pub and enjoyed them over birthday pints with friends. The best way to spend an evening!

Vegan double chocolate cupcakes

These were another request: my lovely sister wanted DINO CAKES for her birthday. These are classic double chocolate with chocolate ganache filling, not-butter-not-cream icing, and the required dinos. They look like they’re frolicking on tiny, daisy-spotted hills.

Vegan espresso cupcakes

And these are espresso cupcakes with espresso icing and dark chocolate flowers. For when you’re really, really tired and you need a caffeine hit AND a sugar high! These were produced, again, for a bunch of ravenous board gamers, and saw them through a particularly epic session of Eclipse!

Like-your-gran-used-to-make apple pie

Aaaand as well as cupcakes, I’ve also got well into baking pies. Yet again, this is thanks to my personal GODDESS, Isa. They’re weirdly difficult to photograph, so my previous efforts (all-American cherry, and blueberry-and-maple) have gone sadly undocumented. This baby is a classic, like-your-gran-used-to-make apple pie, and I think was my best effort yet (BRAG BRAG BRAG). So good with soy whipped cream, which I have just discovered exists… and it’s so good!

Want to see what else I’m eating? I started a Flickr set for all the things that are making my belly happy. PROOF THAT BEING VEGAN IS TASTY.

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #73

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Glitterowl

Sparkle.

Scruffy presents

Festive typewriters

Cute cards (thanks!)

Best self-portrait ever?

So happy I didn't sell this.

Vegan mince pies!

2012 journal... nearly done!

What are YOU loving this week?

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #68

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Some stuff I’ve been loving lately.

Autumnscape
Autumnscapes.

Molliecat!
Cute kitty cats! (Internet, meet Mollie.)

Delish vegan carrot and coriander soup, made by Lovely Boyfriend
Delish vegan carrot and coriander soup, made by Lovely Boyfriend.

Leon making his Halloween costume
Halloween costume making nights!

Pumpkins
Pumpkin carvery!

Lovely Boyfriend is awesome
Lovely Boyfriend’s BADASS zombie-Christopher-Marlowe costume.

Insane family portrait...
Insane family portraits!

Edinburgh Vintage
Lovely new stuff about to appear at Edinburgh Vintage.

Vegan cake, always
Cups of tea and vegan cake.

Honourable mentions: coming across amazing DIY life-hack ideas like this one // Shore Poets: October. I just joined the Shore Poets committee! // Kicking through autumn leaves in the Meadows — so many on the ground now // Lovely Boyfriend taking me out to dinner at our favourite restaurant, and getting sat at “our table”, where we had our first big, nerve-wracking, super-cute date! // the incredible effort EVERYONE at my Halloween party went to with their costumes… sadly due to camera fail I could not photograph them. Sad trombones. But… memories // Getting my vegan advent calendar in the post, OMG! // Mega cute animal-themed jewellery // My sister’s brand new Etsy store! I keep going and clicking on it. Proud sis // My hot water bottle. And slippers.

What are you loving this week?

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Fiendish all-vegan pumpkin pie

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Vegan pumpkin pie!

So, my easy peasy vegan profiteroles have proven so popular with everyone I’ve made them for, that I decided to post another of my recipes here for your reading pleasure. Halloween is TOMORROW, and if you haven’t yet made yourself a pumpkin pie then U R DOIN IT WRONG. Happily, I am here to help you. I stitched together this recipe from bits and pieces of several other recipes I found online but didn’t like 100%. It results in a truly finger-lickin’ pie, even if I do say so myself.

Fiendish all-vegan pumpkin pie
(Serves 8-10.)

Pie crust base:
125g (half a pack) Lotus caramelised biscuits
A quarter of a cup of rapeseed or groundnut oil
A splash of sweetened soy milk

Pumpkin filling:
Half a cup of dark brown sugar
One third of a cup of icing (confectioner’s) sugar
Ground cinnamon
Ground nutmeg
Ground ginger
The zest of one lemon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Half a cup of sweetened soy milk
1 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp rapeseed or groundnut oil
250ml soya cream
1 tin of pumpkin puree
Half a tsp vanilla extract

Pre-heat your oven to 220°C, 425°F, or gas mark 8.

Vegan pumpkin pie!

OK, first — the base! Lotus caramelised biscuits are fantastic, because they’re totally vegan and extra super tasty. To make the base, the first thing you need to do is whizz up roughly 125 grams of these biscuits — or roughly half a pack — until they’re broken down into a fine, sandy powder.

Vegan pumpkin pie!

Tip the biscuit crumbs into a large bowl and stir in the rapeseed or groundnut oil (personally I prefer groundnut, but if you’re potentially feeding a person with a nut allergy as I often do, it’s good to have an alternative). Add your splash of soy milk and you should end up with a shiny, sticky, but not-too-wet paste. Press this into the bottom of your pie dish to form your crust base, and stick it in the fridge while you create the filling!

Vegan pumpkin pie!

In a large, clean mixing bowl, sieve and mix the brown sugar and icing sugar together, then add ground spices to taste. If you’re unsure, I’d say one teaspoon of cinnamon and one of ginger, and maybe half a teaspoon of nutmeg. But personally I like my pie spicy, so I’d up the cinnamon and nutmeg, personally! Once you’ve sorted your spices, grate in the lemon zest, and add the salt and baking powder. Mix everything thoroughly!

Vegan pumpkin pie!

OK, slightly tricky bit now: this pie is vegan, so no eggs allowed. But you can mimic the consistency of eggs! Grab your sweetened soy milk, stick it in a pan and put over a low heat. As the soy milk begins to warm, add to it the teaspoon of cornflour and continue to heat, stirring constantly. As the milk heats, it should thicken up. When it gets to roughly the consistency of beaten egg, remove from heat and pour into the dry mix. Add the tablespoon of oil and mix thoroughly. Once mixed, pour and mix in the soy cream, too.

Vegan pumpkin pie!

It’s finally time for the essential ingredient — pumpkin! Some recipes insist that you use actual hollowed-out pumpkin, and yes, if you’re hollowing a pumpkin anyway, it’s smart to make use of the flesh for this. But if, like me, you have three hours before your Halloween party starts and you need to get a move on, then reach for the canned stuff! I use Libby’s myself as it’s relatively easy to get hold of. Pour the can of pumpkin into the mix and add the dash of vanilla. Mix, mix, mix — once you have a thick, gloopy batter, your filling is done!

Vegan pumpkin pie!

To bake, pour the pumpkin batter over your refrigerated base and place in the top half of the oven at 220°C for fifteen minutes. Once that time has passed, and without opening the oven (however tempting!), turn the temperature down to 180°C and bake for another 50-60 minutes.

Vegan pumpkin pie!

Your pie should come out looking only ever-so-slightly wibbly, and golden brown right across the top. It should be allowed to refrigerate for several hours — ideally overnight — to firm up. Then you can carve up and dig in!

Happy Halloween!

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Easy peasy vegan profiteroles!

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Vegan profiteroles

So, I mentioned last week that I kind of out-of-the-blue invented my very own recipe for vegan profiteroles! I say ‘kind of’ because the process was actually this: I recalled a fancy vegetable bake with a cheesy choux-pastry-type topping that I used to make… then I successfully veganised it for a dinner party. That night I lay awake toying with the idea of making the now-vegan choux-ish pastry sweet somehow. Next day I tried it in a small quantity, baked a few small, vaguely-biscuit-shaped pieces as a test, and melted some odds and ends of dark chocolate I had around the place on top (because, you know, chocolate). Initially, still-warm and choco-melty, I thought they were tasty but slightly odd, so I shoved the remaining ones in the fridge. Next day, I took a bite and suddenly, I knew what they were. Vegan profiteroles! And what’s more, they’re SUPER EASY and don’t make a ton of washing up! Here’s the deal:

Easy peasy vegan profiteroles
(Makes 12 profiteroles)

4 level tablespoons of vegan margarine (I think Pure Sunflower is the most flavoursome one)

5 floz hot water

3.5 oz of self raising flour

2 oz soft dark brown sugar

1 level teaspoon of baking powder

Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract

Dairy-free chocolate for the topping

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C, 175°C for fan-assisted ovens, or gas mark 6.

Melt the vegan margarine in a large-ish saucepan. Once melted, add the water and allow the liquid to come to the boil. Once this happens, remove from the heat and leave to cool for a couple of minutes. Sieve in 2.5 ounces of the self-raising flour and stir slowly, allowing the mixture to thicken. You should end up with a thick, glossy paste that cleans the sides of the pan.

To make the mixture sweet, sieve in the 2 ounces of sugar and mix until the dough is an even colour. The mixture will become stickier, so to regain the original consistency, at this point add the last ounce of flour and stir in. At the same time, mix in the baking powder and vanilla.

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Grease a shallow baking tray, or line it with greaseproof paper. Break the dough in the pan into twelve even pieces, and gently pat them into ball shapes — try not to squidge them too much! Place them on the tray, leaving space between each. Place in the top part of the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes.

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The profiteroles should come out feeling crispy on the outside but still squidgy on the inside. Put them on a cooling rack and let them cool completely. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate to add as the profiterole topping. The amount is up to you — depends how chocolate-y you like your profiteroles! I used about half of one 100g bar for these babies.

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A tip: I always always melt mine the way pros do before they temper chocolate. That is, put the chocolate in a bowl and suspend it over boiling water, rather than melting it in a pan or in the microwave. This results in much smoother chocolate that won’t burn and pours easily. As for choosing your chocolate, as long as it’s vegan it doesn’t really matter. My chocolate of choice always comes from The Chocolate Tree, but I’ve also used Green and Black’s and Lindt in my baking.

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It will be SUPER TEMPTING to eat these little delights once they are chocolate-d up, but as I said before, they’re not at their best warm. Stick them in the fridge for two hours minimum to let them cool down and firm up. THEN you can scoff them any way you like!

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A final note for non-vegans: when you veganise something, it’s never quite the same as the original (often it’s better!). Therefore, the texture of these babies is not like classic profiteroles. They are not hollow or flaky — see the photo above! BUT they do taste exactly like the real deal, which I think is the main thing. Sure — there are veganised recipes out there that involve all sorts of jiggery-pokery to try and get close to the ‘real profiterole’ texture and appearance. But personally, I’d rather have less washing up, less ingredients to buy, and more time to read books. So this recipe suits me fine. Try it yourself and see what you reckon!

Om nom nom.

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #65

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

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Vegan profiteroles

Yet more vegan baking.
I know, there’s a trend developing here. But LOOK AT THOSE CINNAMON ROLLS, PEOPLE. This is about my seventh time making them, and I think I have now got them perfect. The recipe is Isa’s, but I’ve tweaked it and meddled with it and now I’ve got something that suits me and suits my old-as-time-itself oven. Woo!
The other things are VEGAN PROFITEROLES! YET MORE ALL CAPS BECAUSE OMG! I am extremely proud of myself, because I came up with the recipe for these all on my own, which is pretty much a first. They’re basically a sweet, veganised version of this choux-like pastry I used to make to go on top of a vegetable bake. I promised folk on Twitter that I’d put the recipe up here today, BUT I think I need (need!) to make them again just to make sure this wasn’t a fluke. But look for the details next week!
(Like the mug? It’s for sale at Edinburgh Vintage!)

Bed

Reading corner

Cozying up.
Lovely Boyfriend and I have been in our awesome Tollcross flat for over a year now. I love it, but I’ve always been a bit bugged about the bedroom: it’s always felt kind of impersonal and functional, and I wanted to find a way to make it cozier. So over the weekend I shifted the bed, gathered together several of our many bookshelves into one corner, and created a little reading nook. Now I love it and want to be in there all the time! Win!

Jewellery box

Remington

Splashes of colour.
I’m really getting into this classic blogger thing of taking lots and lots of macro photographs of whimsical stuff. My apologies, I am becoming a cliche. But anyway — the top photograph is of my jewellery box, which is in desperate need of a tidy-out! The bright-orange sticker I got in a radical book collective in Seattle, and it reads ABORTION ON DEMAND AND WITHOUT APOLOGY. Because um yes, obviously.
And below that is a little pink typewriter that I keep passing on my wanderings… it’s sitting in the window of Owl and Lion on West Port. I always give it a cheery smile as I pass.

<3

New tattoo!

Anniversary!
Lovely Boyfriend — aka Captain Steve — and I celebrated our two-year anniversary this week. We’re heading to Paris in about ten days to continue the celebrations and I am already going nuts with excitement. On the same day I also wandered into Red Hot + Blue Tattoo in Tollcross and had my seventh tattoo inked — a hand of protection, loosely based on a hamsa or Hand of Fatima. My tattooist was Alec, and he was great — thanks, I love it!

The Spoken Word

The Spoken Word.
The British Library were kind enough to send me this great three-CD boxed set of modern poets reading their work to feature at One Night Stanzas. It’ll be given away to one lucky reader next week, so stay tuned! If you want more info in anticipation, you can see the details at the British Library Shop page!

What are YOU loving this week?

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #64

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

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Peace One Day in association with Scottish Women’s Aid & Shakti Women’s Aid

Last Friday, I went along to the Edinburgh event for Peace One Day, which had been put together by Scottish Women’s Aid and Shakti Women’s Aid, as this year’s Peace One Day campaign had a focus on domestic violence.
It was absolutely fantastic. I joined a group of wonderful ladies, a few men and more than a few super-cute kids who gathered around the poetry tree in St Andrew’s Square Gardens. The event kicked off with a recording of survivors and allies talking about all the reasons why domestic abuse should stop. As their voices drifted out of the PA and across the garden, a beautiful, bright-pink rainbow appeared over all our heads. Pretty amazing.

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We also heard from a speaker from Shakti who read one survivor’s testimony; a policewoman who regularly deals with domestic violence call-outs, and a representative of Scottish Women’s Aid. Finally, the evening was wrapped up with music from the truly brilliant Commotion Samba.
It was fantastic to be among a group of wonderful, like-minded folk, getting together to celebrate survivors and bear witness to those still suffering. A really poignant and empowering event — well done to all involved in organising, and hooray to all those who came along.

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Nights drawing in

I always forget how much I love the autumn. For me, it’s Edinburgh’s best season by far. I am loving the dusk, all the shop windows steamy and lit up; the smoke from people’s fires; getting to swish through the first fallen leaves; digging out my super-cozy, massive chunky boots, wearing them to work and getting snarky comments from my students (WHATEVER, my feet are so cozy!); taking lots and lots of photos of cool stuff out and about; Lovely Boyfriend and I wearing our matching fingerless gloves because we are goofy (his are blue, mine are pink — double goofy. NB: we both bought these gloves before we’d met, it’s merely coincidence); doing more baking (see below) because baking is totally an autumn/winter thing; starting to buy Christmas presents (I know, I am mega organised); getting excited about Halloween; plotting a trip to beautiful, autumnal Paris in a few weeks. I love this time of year… why do I always forget?

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Vegan baking!

So, having got vegan chocolate brownies and vegan cinnamon rolls down to a fine art, a few weeks ago I decided to try scones. I used Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s recipe from her brilliant book Vegan Brunch, but modified it to add raspberries and blackberries. The resulting scones were pretty delicious, but kind of squidgy thanks to the extra moisture added by the fruit. I felt like I was just a whisker away, though, so this past weekend, I gave it another go.
This time I took Isa’s suggestion and used blueberries. As these don’t disintegrate while mixing, they worked out much better. I made the scones US style — super huge and not shaped at all, so I didn’t have to worry too much about them rising. Needless to say, they were awesome. Hooray!

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Amazing stuff in the post!

& finally, I am extremely grateful to the lovely Lewis Young, poet of my long-time acquaintance and the brains behind The Adult Teeth Recording Company. Lewis started Adult Teeth a little while back, with a view to “put[ting] records out there that aren’t already out there, providing those who truly consider themselves fans of music with interesting, vibrant, delicious, exciting and mind-altering sounds and words - in a format that is as close to art as it can be.” That means awesome, unique sounds; it means poetry fused with those sounds; best of all, it means vinyl.
I opened up my wee package from Adult Teeth and instantly “squealed is that green vinyl?!” I love my records, and I especially love coloured vinyl. My copy of Fleetwood Mac on limited edition white vinyl is one of the first things I’d save if the flat was on fire, closely followed by my cloudy-blue copy of We May Be Skinny and Wirey by the Crocketts. Coloured vinyl is so the way to my heart.
And what’s on the coloured vinyl is pretty fantastic, too. It’s described as ‘art-rock’, but it’s a kind of fusion of mellow new-wave-y sounding tunes (I thought of Elvis Costello at times) crossed with pin-sharp spoken word. You get work by two artists (unless they’re pseudonyms?) on one 7″ single, so there’s plenty of bang for your buck. Buy the record right here!
I also got some Adult Teeth info via a very colourful flyer; a cute pin badge; stickers (now adorning my turntable); and perhaps best of all, a copy of Lewis’ own experimental poetry pamphlet — a series of alternative readings of The Owl and the Pussycat. This includes concrete, musical and oulipo versions of the classic poem I loved from childhood. You can buy it at the Adult Teeth store, too!
A huge thanks to Lewis for sharing his handiwork with me. Please go and support this very deserving little indie label!

What are you loving this week?

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Five small ways to change your recycling habits and save the planet just a tiny little bit more.

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Recycling

Remember this post? I said at the end of it that I wasn’t going to make ONS All About Poetry any more… so here’s a totally-not-poetry-related post for your viewing pleasure. NB: you should still totally read it.

So… you guys all recycle, right? RIGHT? I like to assume that everyone does, to some extent, because if I did not assume that, I would probably cry and potentially slap people. But although I think most people really genuinely do recycle, it’s pretty likely that right now, most folk are doing the bare minimum they can get away with, ’cause that’s what we humans like to do. HOWEVER, there are several little teeny tiny changes you can make to your recycling habits that will totally make the planet love you more.

1. Recycle the paper off your tin cans
For ages, I used to just chuck used tin cans (that once held beans, soup, etc) into my local recycling bin. Then I read somewhere that — vexingly — sometimes a tin can’t be recycled if it still has food waste in the bottom. This led me to start washing the tins out, usually after doing my washing up — just giving them a quick rinse to make sure they’d definitely stay out of landfill.
One night I was feeling extremely lazy and could not be bothered to go through this process. Instead, after I finished haphazardly washing the dishes, I just dunked the tin cans into the remaining washing-up water and went off to do more fun things. I then forgot about them, and the next morning, got up to find that their labels had unpeeled in the night and were floating atop the now-quite-minging water.
OK, gross, I know. BUT this did mean that I could fish the paper labels out of the sink, leave them to dry off, and then put them into the paper recycling bin. I recently read Edinburgh City Council’s latest recycling handbook and it turns out they actually advise people to do this. Nowadays I always remove the paper labels from cans while washing them out. It takes about fifteen seconds and means double the recycled-ness.

2. Put your envelopes in the right bin!
DID YOU KNOW: you’re not supposed to put paper envelopes in with other paper recycling? ‘Cause I didn’t, until very very recently. Apparently, the gum used to seal envelopes is tricky stuff to get rid of, and paper that’s had the gum on it can’t be recycled as a result. Similarly, window envelopes have glue AND plastic involved. Putting them in with your other paper products means the whole lot could potentially end up in landfill, which makes small furry creatures everywhere very sad indeed.
BUT you can recycle these pesky envelopes — you just need to put them into the right bin. The gum and plastic interferes with the density and purity of recycled paper, but recycled cardboard can cope with it just fine. Therefore, you should put your envelopes in with your cardboard, tins and plastic, where they will be happily accepted into the arms of some big magical machine that turns junk products into shiny new recycled things.

3. Give unwanted stuff to small, indie charity shops.
As a wide-eyed young teenager, I used to volunteer on Saturday afternoons for a Cancer Research charity shop. Even then, before I became a hardcore vegan pain-in-the-ass greenie, I was a bit shocked by the things we apparently “had” to throw out… but as the years passed I convinced myself that times must have a-changed for charity shops. Well… yes and no. Although it does depend on the charity, I recently discovered that many of the larger charity shop chains still have ludicrously strict rules about what they can and cannot sell. Many can’t sell electronic items, or they won’t take clothing or fabrics that are marked, however faintly. Toys and furniture often need to come complete with their original safety labels in order to be accepted. And so on, and so forth.
If you’ve been taking your old togs to a big charity’s thrift store for years, panic not: they don’t just shove everything into landfill. Even in my distant volunteering days, a shadowy figure called The Rag Man used to come around every week or so and take away for recycling any fabric items unfit for sale, and this is still common practice. Also, you can improve your chances of your items being actually sold by taking them into the store during opening hours (many big charities won’t sell on items that have been left on the doorstep for health and safety reasons — a badger might have gnawed on them, or something). But an even better thing to do would be to seek out a smaller, less high-profile charity shop to send your stuff to.
Edinburgh has several such places — there are stores for the St Columba’s Hospice; two Birthlink thrift shops in the Tollcross area; and my personal favourites, the Hospices of Hope shops. Case in point: I recently bought a tablecloth from the Tollcross Hospices of Hope shop, which was priced super low because it was covered in blotches of candlewax (like, really covered). No big charity shop would have put it on sale, but hey — candlewax is super easy to get out, as the Hospices of Hope ladies clearly know. I was able to get a very cute tablecloth for a bargainous price, and they made money for their charity. Smaller charities = less picky = more and better recycling!

4. Find new ways to use old stuff.
Every so often you end up with an item to throw away that you’re not really sure what to do with. A piece of particularly weird packaging, say, or a household item that’s come to the end of a long life. What do you do when you suddenly have, say, a shipping pallet or the bladder out of a wine box sitting in your kitchen? Answer: get thee to Google and look up [item] + “alternative uses.” I promise you, you will be amazed.
Examples? How many of you have a ton of wine bottles sitting around at home? (Don’t lie!) What about vinyl records too scratched to play? An old metal strainer, maybe? Binder clips? Or even — seriously — unused condoms and tampons! THE POSSIBILITIES REALLY ARE ENDLESS!

5. Stop buying new stuff.
I’m actually properly serious. When you buy new, you are almost always:
– Endorsing sweat shop labour
– Endorsing needless animal testing
– Endorsing the use of fossil fuels
– Endorsing dodgy business practices in general
– Paying a huge mark-up on your items
Sorry to get all heavy-handed hippie on your ass, but really. Second hand stores, vintage shops and flea markets are no longer the someone-died-in-this dives they once were. In fact, they’re trendy. Some of them are like boutiques, even! And then there’s eBay. And Freecycle and Freegle, where you get things FOR FREE! Or Gumtree, where you get them for super cheap! These days, 98% of my belongings are second hand and my lifestyle really hasn’t noticed — except I’m way less poor. Win-win, amirite? Pretty much the only things I buy new now are underwear (but only ’cause charity shops don’t stock it!), occasionally books, and stuff that’s local or made by small businesses or craftspeople (hello, Etsy!). Do I sound preachy? WELL GOOD, I AM PREACHING AT YOU. Stop spending money you don’t have on shit you don’t need — the planet will love you!

Got any particularly good DIY or upcycling tips? Recycling solutions? Want to call me a smelly hippie and pelt me with tofu? Head south for the comments box!

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Things I Love Thursday #63

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

It’s been several months since I did my last TiLT, and I’ve had quite a summer! Here are just a few of the things I’ve been loving loads since I last expressed my gratitude here!

Rainbows everywhere!
Long, summery days in my sunshine-filled living room, crystals in the window throwing tiny rainbows everywhere, drinking tea, reading books, writing poems, not having to go to work.
(Like my mug? I got it from Rust Belt Threads, perhaps my favourite Etsy vintage store after Edinburgh Vintage!)

View from our living room window, Hydra.
Hydra, Greece — Lovely Boyfriend and I stayed there for a week, holed up in a tiny whitewashed-stone cottage, writing, reading, occasionally going out to swim in the sea or scratch the noses of the town donkeys. This^ was the view from our living room window!

My SUISS class of 2012
My SUISS class of 2012 — Jill, Joanna, Linda, Dan, Daniel and Sarah, thank you so much for all your hard work and inspiration!

Watsky x2 performers
I MET GEORGE WATSKY, and it was amazing! Thank you a million billion to McGuire, Ryan, Jenny, George and Paul for making One Night Stanzas presents Watsky x2 such an amazing success.

Sneak peek
A great summer for Edinburgh Vintage with tons of lovely new stuff being added to the store all the time, nearly 200 sales and some really lovely customer encounters! Thank you everyone who’s browsed, bought, clicked, liked, re-tweeted and given feedback!

Vegan pumpkin pancakes.
Yet more delicious vegan food — since my last TiLT, Lovely Boyfriend has also gone vegan! This means even more delicious vegan meals for my very happy belly. ^These are sweet potato pancakes with maple syrup, and they were UTTERLY LUSH.

Rainbows over Tollcross
Autumn arriving — my favourite time of year. I have already started taking autumnal walks, foraging for early brambles, sitting in the blustery Meadows with my boy watching cute dogs chase leaves, drinking amazing Chocolate Tree vegan hot chocolate, and planning my Halloween antics.

What are YOU loving right now?

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!