Recipe post: herby cheese scones

This is one of my simplest and most satisfying recipes: homemade herby cheese scones.

I’m a sucker for a cheese scone anyway, but adding rosemary makes such a difference.

 I first cut the dough using a teeny tiny cutter but for my second attempt I just shaped the dough myself into large scone-shaped balls and doubled the quantities. And sprinkled lots of cheese on the top. And herbs. Did I mention herbs? You really must include herbs.

  • 175g self raising flour
  • 1 medium egg
  • 3 tablespoon milk (1 for dusting)
  • 70g grated cheese (or as much as your heart desires)
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary
  • black pepper (as much as you want to season).

Mix the dry stuff, add the egg and milk, mix it into a crumbly dough, roll it out, cut it into shapes, sprinkle a mini mountain of cheese and rosemary on top and bake for 20-25 mins.

Voila. Your house will smell delicious.  

 

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On the importance of house plants

I have a minor obsession with house plants. I’ve got spider plants, rubber plants, ivy trailing everywhere around my home. I frequently run out of pots to put them in and have to buy more pots; this frees up the smaller pots, and I buy more plants.

Vicious cycle.

But I really do think they improve my day, and there’s lots of evidence to suggest that they improve your health as well. I like seeing greenery indoors, I enjoy watching them grow, and the cat likes to chew the leaves.

So what are the benefits?

  1. Purify the air: plants can absorb harmful toxins from the air, break them down, and release the harmless by products.
  2. Remove carbon dioxide: it has been suggested that plants can remove up to 10% of carbon dioxide from the air. (So’s it’s really concerning when trees are cut down when we have a global problem with carbon…)
  3. Increase the humidity: this is much healthier than dry or dusty air, which causes throat, nose, and eye irritation.
  4. Improve relationships: caring for nature increases compassion and boosts our mood, making us just a bit better at putting up with each other.
  5. Help us to think: plants increase our capacity for memory, increase productivity and creativity.
  6. Help us to heal: patients recovering from surgery heal better when they can see plants – they have lower blood pressure, and less pain and fatigue.
  7. Reduce noise pollution: this probably helps more with outdoor plants, as you can plant a large hedge between your house and the road to block out the traffic noise.

Which plants should you choose if you want to improve the air quality in your home?

NASA went to great lengths to thoroughly study which plants could be used to purify the air in space facilities, so we have a pretty good idea of which plants to buy if we want to improve the air quality in our homes.

Snake plants – otherwise known as ‘mother-in-law’s tongue’ (because they are sharp.) They give out oxygen at night, unlike most plants, so they work best in the bedroom.

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Broadleaf lady palm – to be honest, I had never heard of this one. Apparently it can extract ammonia from the air so is really helpful at detoxifying the air after using cleaning products.

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Aloe vera – a spiky succulent that fights benzene, which is found in plastics and detergents.

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Spider plant – combats carbon monoxide. What a beauty!

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Chinese evergreen – likes humidity, thrives in bathrooms where it can tackle the formaldehyde from cosmetics.

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Ficus/ weeping fig – cleans the air of fireplace smoke so perfect for rustic living rooms.

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English ivy – removes airborne fecal matter!

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Orchids – another one that gives off oxygen at night time so perfect for bedrooms. Also tackles the chemicals found in shoe polish. (So fill your shoe polishing room with orchids.)

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Looks like I need to plan a trip to a garden centre soon…….

Is it too late for my May Favourites

I’ve never done one of these monthly favourite blog posts before so I thought I’d join in and see how it goes. These are some of the things I’ve been enjoying in the last month (I know I’m a few days late but hey…)

New Toms

Toms are some of my favourite summer shoes, though I certainly don’t limit their use to one season as they are so comfortable. Now, I know they are not the most durable item of footwear – they’re made from linen, but that’s one of the reasons I like them so much as it means they’re often vegan. Some of their designs do include leather insoles, so you have to do your research.

I bought the below pair recently – the Birch Critters – and I’m so in love with the pattern and enjoying the usual comfort they provide my poor, misshapen and tired feet.


Charcoal face mask

I’ve been trying to find an affordable and effective mud face mask ever since Superdrug apparently stopped doing their own version and I have finally found this Quick Fix Facial Charcoal Mask in Boots. They’re currently on 3 for 2 and include the charcoal mask, brightening peel mask, collagen lift mask, vitamin C mask, and an exfoliating scrub.

It left my skin feeling so fresh and so clean (sing it).

New wheels

If you read my recent post, you’ll know I bought a new bike last month. And it’s beautiful, and it’s lovely and vintage, and gets me around when I don’t want to drive/find somewhere to park. What I’ve learnt is that is really helps to set your bike to the right position for you – my memory of bikes is that I was too tall for them, that I was always hunched over on the handlebar and had constant back pain. When actually I just needed an allen key to move things about a bit (what a fool.)

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It’s a Pendleton Somerby and so far I’ve been cycling into town a few times, by the river, and along the local cycle path that used to be an old railway track.

That’s that then. Guess I’ll have to start buying new stuff for June!

 

 

 

GE17: Manifestos on the Environment

Less than a week to go until the “snap” General Election 2017 that nobody wanted but what are the parties promising on the environment?

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Here’s a quick summary:

Green Party

  • preserve all EU environmental laws and principles after Brexit
  • introduce Environment Protection Act to preserve wildlife and habitats and ensure all have right to access green space
  • work towards global temperature rise of below 1.5 degrees
  • ban fracking
  • end fossil-fuel use
  • support onshore wind and solar power
  • all new homes to be zero carbon by 2020 and improve energy efficiency of old homes
  • remove diesel cars through scrappage
  • £2 million for cycle and walking schemes
  • redirect farmer subsidies towards sustainable land management
  • marine protection network around the UK, maintaining sustainable fish stocks

Labour

  • will meet international climate targets and transition to low carbon economy
  • protect current EU environmental standards and principles
  • nationalise the energy market
  • ban fracking
  • interest free loans for landlords to improve energy sufficiency of their properties, as well as improving insulation in 4 million homes
  • introduce a Clean Air Act
  • invest in electric vehicle manufacture and use
  • targets to reduce plastic bottle waste
  • plant 1 million trees to help natural flood management
  • protect land and sea habitats

Liberal Democrats

  • maintain EU environmental standards
  • create governmental office for sustainability
  • create blue belt for marine life
  • introduce a Zero Carbon Britain Act, Green Buildings Act, Zero Waste Act, and an Air Quality Act
  • expand renewables by 60% by 2030
  • diesel scrappage scheme
  • plant a tree per citizen
  • maintain Paris climate obligations
  • £2 million for flood prevention
  • redirect farmers’ subsidies towards healthy food and effective land management

Conservatives

  • continue to meet the international goal of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050
  • £600 million investment to make every car have zero emissions by 2050
  • upgrading poor fuel homes by 2030 to EPC band C
  • possible offshore wind technology, particular in the Scottish isles (if they are still within the UK….)
  • subsidies for farmers guaranteed until 2022 (new schemes to come into play after that)
  • improving water courses with landowners to manage natural flood defenses
  • commercial fishing to preserve fish stocks
  • free vote on the Hunting Act

 

Hope this helps you come to the right decision for the environment this Thursday!

My cat’s a murderer

It’s an ethical dilemma for conservation – you take in a rescue cat but it kills birds and mammals. Now there’s no way I’m getting rid of my baby girl Lyra and I’m not suggesting anyone does, but we should acknowledge that our domestic cats are predators and they kill birds.

The Mammal Society reports that cats kill around 275 million animals a year. There are around 8 million domestic cats in the UK, along with a further 1 million feral cats, and their kills break down as such:

  • 200 million mammals
  • 55 million birds
  • 10 million reptiles and amphibians

That’s an animal every 10 days per cat.

Don’t forget that this is just the number of dead creatures the cats brought home to their owners or were discovered within their patrol during the time the survey took place; the figures could be higher. However, judging by my cat’s attitude I doubt it’s much higher – she wants me to see her prize kills. She shows off about it.

It’s not all as bad as it sounds; the RSPB suggest that there is some evidence that cats tackle weak or sickly birds who would not survive another breeding season, and many other birds die through predation by other animals or from other causes, including starvation and disease. The RSPB says there is no evidence to prove that cats killing birds is having a significant effect on bird populations in the UK.

We can, however, make sure we manage things better. The advice:

  • don’t let your cat out at dusk or dawn
  • place bird feeders in high positions that your cat can’t reach
  • get your cat neutered so it doesn’t contribute to the stray cat population
  • place your nesting boxes out of the way of cats
  • keep your cat’s instincts active and satisfied through play with toys
  • attach a collar with a bell to your cat (they won’t be impressed by they won’t mind it and it will warn birds of their presence)

But what about when all your preventative measures fail and your cat’s just too good a hunter and catches a baby bird and tries to bring it indoors as mine did today?

Some advice taken from Help Wildlife:

Tick If the bird has been caught by a cat.
Any bird which has been bitten by a cat, regardless of its age, will need rescue and treatment. There are bacteria on cat’s teeth which will pass into the bird’s bloodstream when it is bitten. Without antibiotics within a few hours of the attack the bird may develop fatal septacaemia. Urgent action is required here.

If, however, it’s a baby you manage to rescue and it doesn’t seem too badly hurt or bitten, hide it away in a bush and keep your cat inside – the baby’s parents will be nearby watching and will keep an eye on it so it can rejoin them when it has recovered from the shock.

 

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