Halloween Scones

Food waste is a big contributor to global warming. Waste can occur anywhere from on the farm, whilst in transit, at the supermarket or in the home. In the home we should aim to  use all the food we buy. So here is a recipe for using up raw pumpkin – or squash. It is also cooked in a frying pan rather than in the oven which will use less energy. It is also plant-based  – another plus for the environment. 

250g self raising flour

60g vegan butter

1 tbsp of chia or camelina seeds

150g raw pumpkin/ squash

4 cardamom pods

Oat milk

Mix the seeds with 3 tbsp of warm water. Mix in the seeds from the cardamon pods. 

Cut the butter into,cubes and rub into the flour.

Chop the pumpkin into small pieces.

Mix everything together, adding enough milk to create a soft dough. 

Heat a frying pan with a little oil in the bottom.

Roll out the dough and cut into rounds or triangles. Place these in the pan. 

Cook for 5-10 minutes or until browning on the bottom. Turn over and cook on the other side.

Enjoy plain or with jam. 

Lantern with a Message

Speaking out about the climate crisis and what we could and should be doing to avert an even worse crisis is important. We need to encourage and motivate change in the way we live our lives and in the way businesses and governments make use of resources.

Along with all the pumpkins lanterns this jam jar might spark a conversation with friends and neighbours.

For this activity you will need a jam jar, tissue paper, PVA glue and a night light. Cut strips of different coloured tissue paper that are long enough to wrap around your jam jar. Write some short simple messages on the paper.  

Apply glue to the outside of the glass jar. Stick on the strips of tissue paper allowing them to overlap a little. Coat all the tissue paper covering with a layer of PVA. This will create a translucent appearance.   

You can add an optional handle to your lantern using string or a length of thin wire. Place a nightlight in the bottom of your jar and then place it outside so that passers by can see your message.

Growing Mustard Leaves

What we eat and what we waste all contributes to the size of our carbon footprint. Locally grown food usually has a lower carbon footprint, even more so if we have grown it ourselves! And we are most until unlikely to waste food that we have grown. Today’s project is growing some food that we can eat.

You will need a waterproof container such as a bowl or am empty margarine tub, some absorbent material – I’m using some clean paper serviettes that cafes so often give out with pieces of cake, and some mustard seeds.  

Place the absorbent paper in the bottom of the bowl. Pour enough water over the paper so that is all wet.  

Sprinkle some mustards seeds over the top. Place in a warm bright place. Each day gently water your seeds.

If you want to grow mustard and cress, sow the cress seeds 2 or 3 days before the mustard seeds as they grow a little more slowly.

Hand Warmer

One of the largest sources of carbon dioxide that contributes to our domestic carbon footprint comes from heating our homes. We can reduce this part of our carbon footprint by turning down the heating in our homes and/or reducing the number of hours we have the heating on. Of course it is important that we don’t get cold. We can keep warm by wearing extra layer of clothes and by taking regular exercise. Today’s activity is a nice extra – a hand warmer.

For this you will need a piece of cotton fabric – about 14x28cm.  Fold this in half with the pattern on the inside. Sew the fabric together alone two sides.

Turn the fabric right side out so that the rough edges are inside what is now a pocket.  

Fill the pocket with uncooked rice. Use a sheet of paper to make a funnel so that you can more easily pour in the rice. Fill about half full. 

Tuck the unseen edges inside and stitch the sides together. Use small stitches so that the rice can’t escape.  

To use the hand-warmer, place in a microwave and heat for a minute. It should be warm to hold. 

You can reuse the hand-warmer several times but do be careful: over time the rice will bake and might eventually burn and scorch the hand-warmer.

Cycle Tag

All of have to find ways of reducing our carbon footprints. One area of life which can have a large footprint is transport. Diesel, petrol and aviation fuel all produce large amounts of carbon dioxide. On the other hand walking and cycling have a zero carbon footprint. If you – like me -enjoy cycling, you might want to encourage other people to cycle too. 

Today’s project is to make a tag to go on the back of your bicycle.

For this you will need the wooden lid from a empty box of Camembert cheese. Carefully remove the staples that fasten it to its sides.  

Choose two of these holes that are opposite each other and mark them with a pen. Imagine a horizontal line between these two spots so that you can orientate your tag. 

Use the lid to draw a circle on a piece of paper. On this piece of paper draw a design for your tag.

Once your are happy with your design, use permanent felt tip-pens  to draw your design onto the wooden circle. 

Thread to paper clips through each of the holes and then hook the paper clips around the metal supports under your cycle saddle.  

Every time you go for a ride, people will see your tag and will think, Cycling is a good way to travel!

Bug Hotel

Caring for our future is about caring for all different sorts of creatures. We are continually learning how important so many large and small creatures are for keeping the environment healthy – be that worms who keep the soil fertile, ladybirds that keep aphids under control, ants that eat parasites, geese that stop lakes silting up, pigs that loosen and fertiliser soil under trees.

Today’s project is making a bug hotel. It is a place where small beetles and insects can overwinter ready to resume their activities in the spring. For this you will need a tin.

Using a skewer make two holds at top and bottom on one side of the tin. You might like adult help. 

Thread a paper clip through each of the holes.  

Collect from your garden bits of dead twigs and plant stalks. Choose ones of different thicknesses. Cut these into equal lengths, just  long enough to stand upright in the tin.

Dear Dear

Fill the tin with these twigs and stalks. Ensure they are well packed so that none can fall out. The little gaps will provide the hiding places that insects seek.  

Take a piece of string and thread it through the paper clips and tie the ends together. Hang the bug hotel outside in your garden. Find somewhere sheltered from the wind and rain so that your bug hotel won’t become flooded or blown away in a storm. 

Autumn Collage

Having a concern for the environment is also about taking note and taking care of it. For today’s activity I have made a collage with leaves and seeds. There are so many lovely colours and shapes of leaves at this time of year, and so many different types of seeds: conkers and acorns, thistledown and apple pips. Taking time to notice and admire what is around us in the natural world is important – and what we see and love, we are far more likely to protect. 

Having made my collection of leaves and seeds, I took a sheet of coloured paper. Then  I arranged the leaves on the paper … looked at them … moved them around … until at last I had a pattern I liked. Then I used some glue to hold them in place.  

I also took a photo as the leaves will not last for ever. 

I like the idea of making something without having to buy lots of things. The less we have to buy, the less damage we do to the environment. 

Why don’t you have a go and make a collage too?

A Marble Run: a race to zero

The dangers of the climate crisis are real, but we can all be part of the solution. The single most important thing we can do is to reduce our carbon footprint to net zero. 

Today’s activity is about things go down. In this case a marble – but hopefully it will also be your carbon footprint too!

For this activity you will need a cereal packet, some thin card – eg another food packet – a stapler, scissors and glue. To finish you will need a flat board such as a cork table mat or chopping board, and some tape. 

Cut the thin card (mine is a cake packet) into three strips that are a little longer than the width of the cereal packet and about 6cm wide. This you bend into box-shaped gutter. The side of my packet comes ready folded into this shape. 

Fold and staple the flaps at one end of the gutter. 

At the other cut a gap in the base of the gutter and then fold and staple the end flaps.  

Once all three gutters have been made, glue these to the side of the cereal packet. Angle the gutters so that they slope downhill with the gap/ hole at the lower end. 

It may help if you unstick the bottom of the cereal packet so that you can lay it flat.

Cut out triangles of plain paper to fill the gaps between the gutters. On these you draw some pictures or write a message – as I chose to do. Glue these onto the cereal packet.

To make the marble run stable,  we are going to fix it to a flat board – I used an old chopping board. If you haven’t already, unstick the bottom flaps of the cereal packet and spread them out. Place the cereal packet on the board and tape the flaps down. Now your marble run should be stable. If it still a bit wobbly put a packet of sugar or a tin of baked beans inside the cereal packet to weigh it down.

Have fun!