I keep seeing so many pallets floating around that I ended up doing a quick search for what to do with them – and there are some great people out there doing some amazing stuff. I’ve been inspired to come up with our own project, which I’ll tell you more about as soon as I’ve got the plans sorted. In the meantime, how about this for an inspirational thing to do – a fast-build emergency or semi-permanent house where the entire structure is made from pallets.

I love the whole thing, but particularly the furniture and the sleeping deck!

The carp have arrived, and seem to be enjoying their new home. It was slightly surreal coming home to a box of live fish, but after a gentle introduction to our tanks they all swam off happily, showing no ill effects.

We got a couple of kilos of carp food delivered with the fish, but as they’re far more omnivorous than the trout we’re keen to try something a bit more home-grown.

Some of our sumps are doing well at growing duckweed so I thought that would be a good start and added a net-full of duckweed to their tank.

They’re much gentler feeders than the trout, so I haven’t seen them aggressively attacking clumps of weed, but it is steadily disappearing.

At this stage, with tiny digestive systems, they need to be able to “graze” through the day, and I think the duckweed helps with that between their main feedtimes.

As they grow we’ll try to expand their diet further to see if we can eventually produce all their feed in-house – ideally from waste, or areas we’re not using for our food.

This is a really interesting range of insulation solutions. It covers the classic (loft) the intensive (internal wall insulation) and the budget options available for a retrofit.

Well worth a read to get you thinking about what you can do – particularly as the cold weather returns…

Green Cottage

I was recently working out the carbon footprint of Green Cottage, and came up with a very favourable figure of less than one tonne of CO2 a year – this being associated with the grid electricity I use. I’m with Good Energy who use 100% renewable energy, but for the purposes of counting I take the figure for normal grid electricity as that’s what comes to my meter.

I was quite pleased with this – but the figure doesn’t tell the whole story. My heating in the winter is wood fuel, and in a cold winter I tend to use a LOT of it – maybe 6 tonnes or more during one of the bitterly cold winters we had a couple of years back. I don’t really feel comfortable with this – for a terraced house it seems excessive, and unsustainable.

The way to get fuel consumption down is of…

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At some point I’ll manage to document the roller-coaster ride that was our first go at Aquaponics. Suffice to say it was a mixed success – we got to eat lots of delicious trout, but lost quite a few on the way too.

After a major redesign to get the fish out
of the polytunnel we are finally ready to go again – the system has been split to allow for different sizes, and different species, so we’re now eagerly awaiting our first Carp delivery ….

Viva Vegan Cookbook

We’ve got far too many cookbooks, but there’s always room for one that changes everything! We know we need to eat less meat, but never seem to get around to it . . .

Sticking Viva Vegan on my Christmas list was a bit out of left field, but it has turned out to be fantastic. The recipes are really delicious Latin American staples with great Vegan twists, and there are some really interesting meat-substitutes that I can’t wait to try. As a bonus, most of the recipes can be made from store-cupboard ingredients – perfect for our collection of Resilient Recipes.

Now all that’s standing between me and some Seitan Chorizo sausages is finding some Vital Wheat Gluten!

I’ve got some Black Beans and Cashews soaking now for tomorrow’s dinner – I’ll let you know how we go.

I got it from Amazon, so if you can’t find it locally, here is the link –Viva Vegan, and the Trafford Eco House will get some money from your purchase (it won’t cost you any more).

cheese-waxI’ve been reading a bit more on waxing cheeses, so I thought it would be a good idea to re-invigorate this one of my early posts, It seems well preserved, but could do with some more links!

A little snippet here piqued my interest. I’m having a good think about food storage at the moment, to ensure year-round produce, and this is one of the classic methods of preservation. Not seen so much nowadays as everything is plastic-wrapped, but waxing a hard cheese allows you to keep it – unrefrigerated -for some time, possibly even years. The wax coating, when done properly, hermetically seals the cheese, preventing mould and retaining its moisture.

For more details on how to wax cheese (and why to do it), here are some great resources:

And some new links with more detail on how to coat the cheese with wax, and then how to store it:

I love this video – it makes such wonderful, simple points. And then I go out to cycle in Trafford.