Archive for the "5 fantastic reuses" category

5 fantastic things to do with old cutlery/silverware

Last week’s post about those little plastic spoons you get with children’s medicine reminded me of all the great things you can do with old metal cutlery – not the finest family silver necessarily but the stuff that manages to find its way into your cutlery drawer (or conversely – the remains that are left after everything else leaves and you get a new set!).

1. Reuse them around the home

Our cats have a dedicated old fork for their food; I have an old dessert spoon with a handle bent up at 90° for skimming misc and oil from the top of sauces; and, I have an old tablespoon in with my laundry stuff for spooning in wash boosters.

In our tool kit, we have a fork which can be used for holding nails in place while hammering, a(n admittedly more flexible than most) old butter knife for smoothing filler and several old spoons for stirring filler, paint and whatnot.

What do you reuse them for around the home?

2. Reuse them around the garden

They’re almost equally as useful in the garden too!

Forks are useful when transplanting seedlings – use them to lift the plant’s tender new roots out of their starter tray – and can also be used to temporarily pin thin runners in place if you want, for example, strawberries, to spread in a certain direction.

Knives and spoons also make fun row markers or plant labels in pots. Some people (like dkshattuck, who made the ones above) sell ready made sets for herbs , stamped with the names or otherwise labelled so they’ll last for years and years.

Do you use old cutlery in the garden? If so, what for?

3. Coat hooks and cupboard handles

Sturdy cutlery can be bent into fun coat hooks or key hooks like those pictured above. They’re by Jeremy and Jen Evensen, who sell via Etsy – such fun designs!
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Five fantastic things to do with overripe fruit

“Overripe” is a bit of a euphemism – I mean fruit that’s past its raw eating prime. Fruit that’s going off a bit, frankly. I don’t mean mouldy or otherwise rank fruit, just fruit that’s just not as fresh as it once was.

Bake fruity breads, cakes and muffins

I’m pretty sure everyone knows that overripe bananas make THE BEST banana bread, right? When they’re brown and soft, they are easier to mush, sweeter and more banana-y. There are thousands of banana bread recipes out there from the simple to the … well, not complex but slightly less simple.

Other verging-on-too-soft fruit can used for baking too – orange muffins, summer berries including strawberries can be used for an oat-topped “crisp” pudding, and of course apples can be crumbled, pie-d or stewed.

Freeze citrus fruit juice

Citrus fruits don’t follow the same sliding scale of ripeness as other fruit – they’re either good or they’re bad, no real inbetween.

If you’ve had some oranges, lemons or limes in your fruit bowl for a while and don’t think they’ll last much longer – act now! Squeeze the juice out of them and freeze it in ice cube trays for use in future cooking.

Or if that’s too much, cut them into wedges or slices and freeze them separated out on a cookie sheet (once they’re frozen, you can put them in a bag or box – but freezing them separately prevents them from sticking together so much). They can them be used in drinks – working as both fruit and ice cubes.
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Seven fantastic ways to transform rubbish into storage

I don’t know about you but I’m itching to get a start on spring cleaning this year – or rather spring decluttering – and as well as getting rid of a whole bunch of stuff, I’d like to have better, neater storage for the stuff I have.

Here are some of the ways I’ll be making recycled storage solutions from rubbish around our home:

Cereal boxes (or scrap cardboard) into magazine files

We have approximately eleventy-hundred tons of paper in the house at the moment – even if half can be thrown away, that’s a whole lot of stuff that needs filing.

Cereal boxes make quick and easy magazine holders – for magazines, notebooks or just papers. Paint them or cover them with pretty paper (or newspaper for a more modern look) to coordinate with your decor/hide your addiction to Coco Puffs.

If you need them to be a bit sturdier, it’s also easy to make your own magazine files from scratch from any scrap cardboard.

Wall mounted storage cans

Lee Meredith turned some coffee cans into fun wall mounted yarn storage – and the same principle can be applied to any cans. They can also attached in the same way but mounted vertically to store other things – like pens, paintbrushes or kitchen utensils.

(I just showed my boyfriend John’s Lee’s yarn pics and he said “phwarr!” and pointed out that if you attached the cans to the walls with stronger screws, you could use them as fun and functional brackets for shelves.)

Storage boxes made from old magazines or newspaper

Old magazines or newspaper can be transformed into storage in a number of different ways – layered up to make mini-hat boxes, coiled into open bowls, or woven into a useful open box for storing … more newspapers.
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Reducing waste after Christmas – our top tips

So the big day is nearly upon us again.

Hopefully you’ve already been busy upcycling random stuff into Christmas presents and recycled Christmas decorations – it’s easy to keep the green theme going after Christmas too.

Give away unwanted gifts & replaced items

Don’t wait until you spring clean – declutter now while all the new additions are fresh in your mind.

Give away items that you don’t want or won’t use, or old items that have been replaced by something shiny and new – the sooner you give it away, the sooner someone else will get some use out of it, and it might stop them having to buy new-new in the January sales.

Reuse wrapping paper

Don’t throw away wrapping paper – reuse it instead. The bigger pieces can be flattened out and used again (kids especially won’t notice the same paper being used year on year), or made into reusable paper gift bags.

Smaller pieces can be used to make gift tags, festive envelopes or used to revamp Christmas decorations for use next year.

Particularly creased pieces can be shredded to provide protective cushioning for gifts throughout the year – or to protect delicate Christmas decorations while in storage, which brings me neatly onto…

Be kind to your Christmas decorations

Store them away carefully and you’ll be able to use them year on year – meaning less waste going to landfill and reducing your need to buy new stuff.

As well as shredded wrapping paper, you can use packaging (such as moulded expanded polystyrene foam and formed plastic) from new toys or gadgets to protect delicate items. Wrap tinsel and strings of Christmas lights around a kitchen roll tube or a plastic bottle to avoid tangling. Label boxes so you can find them again easily.

If you don’t have any space for storage, don’t throw away decorations – pack them away neatly and offer them on Freecycle/Freegle.

Reuse or recycle your Christmas cards

Similarly, keep your favourite Christmas cards to one side – possibly tucked into a decorations box – to recycle into gift tags or recycled decorations next year. Cut others into narrow strips to use as shopping lists – the card is easier to write on than paper when you’re on the go. Keep large cards for crafts – for when you need thin but strong card. There are lots of different ways to reuse them.

If you can’t see yourself reusing them, plenty of high street shops have recycling collection bins especially for cards – typically WH Smith, Tesco and M&S – often with a donation going from the store to a related charity (such as the Woodland Trust) for every bin of cards collected. Some charity shops also collect cards for reusing/upcycling into gift tags and the like – ask around to see who is collecting them in your area.

Use up every single bit of your turkey – and other food

A lot of energy went into growing the bird, transporting it around and cooking it – so make the most of it by using up all the leftover meat and making stock from the carcass.

Use leftover veg to make soup, stews and stock.

Use leftover Christmas cake to make fruity rum truffles – or throw it outside for wild birds to eat.

If don’t think you’re going to get through all your Christmas biscuits or mince pies, be proactive about it before they go stale – freeze some for later consumption (keep the festival spirit going all January!) or give them away to someone else – they might be very grateful for free treats!

What are your favourite ways to reduce waste at Christmas?

(Photos by soultga, Tombre and Vanessa Fitzgerald)

Our five favourite ways to use up leftover turkey

It’s easy to stop yourself from, say, cooking too much pasta or rice, but it’s harder to cook just the right amount of turkey since they’re a fixed (or at least minimum) size. Leftovers are no bad thing though – they just get a bit dull if it’s turkey sandwiches every day…

Individual turkey and stilton pies

I love this idea since a lot of people have leftover stilton around at Christmas too. The already cooked turkey won’t need as long in the frying pan though – add it with the mushrooms rather than before the sweet potato.

Making individual pies are also a great idea for this time of year when people are extra busy – these guys can be frozen then defrosted and cooked as needed rather than a big pie which has to be eaten all at once.

Hearty leftover turkey broth with bacon croutons

Come on, you just drooled reading that title didn’t you? I certainly did! *wipes keyboard*

Another fab recipe because you’ll have most, if not all, of the ingredients on hand from Christmas dinner preparations – such as root veg and streaky bacon – and the croutons also use up day-old/going-stale bread. If you’re really organised you can make the stock from the turkey carcass first too (see side panel below).

Turkey stock

Make a stock from the turkey carcass for use in soups and stews. If you’re not going to use it straight away, reduce it down to get rid of a lot of the excess liquid and freeze it. If you’re feeling lazy, slow cookers are great for making stock – just pile everything in.

Leftover turkey enchiladas

After stodgy roasts and puddings (mmm stodgy food), this recipe is refreshingly light. Not at all seasonal with the courgette and peppers but still, mmm! If you haven’t quite got enough turkey, pad it out with pinto or kidney beans.

(I also like the idea of stacking them like a pie rather than in rolls.)

Turkey Jambalaya

And keep with New World flavours, this is awesome and I’m drooling again at the thought of it. Leftover turkey, rings of some sort of smoked/spicy sausage, colourful veg and spices – a surprisingly quick but delicious option.

Turkey & Chickpea (Coconut) Curry

Finally, I couldn’t do a leftover turkey round-up without including a curry – firstly, because turkey curry is a delicious cliche and secondly because I’m all about spiceness!

This recipe from the wonderful people at LoveFoodHateWaste is effectively two curries in one – yummy enough on its own but transformed into something a bit more Thai flavoured with the addition of coconut milk.

What will you do with your leftover turkey? What are your favourite recipes?