Monthly Archives: October 2013

Winter is coming and it’s time to batten down the hatches.  In order to make winter more bearable, we have made curtains to cover our open plan stair case to try and minimise the heat escaping from the living room to the upstairs (I will post photos). 

Handmade draught excluder – take an old pair of jeans, cut off one leg, stuff with old clothes and sew up the ends J.

Knitted/Crocheted Gloves/Scarf

Cardboard with thermal blanket (The thin silver kind) glued to it and placed behind radiators so that the heat radiates into the room not the wall. 

Curtains stay closed on very cold days.

Heating adjusted so that used room get more heat and un used rooms do not.

I will update with photos later and update with any other tips as I think of them. 

We obviously adopt the jumpers and blankets option rather than cranking up the heating.  

Just got our self sufficiency books, they’re really good, we have Foraging, Cheese Making, Household Cleaning, Herbs and Spices, Grow Your Own, Hen Keeping, Bee Keeping, Dying and Spinning, Home Brewing, Natural Remedies, Preserving and Soap Making, cracking set. Should have been £7.99 each, got them for £10 from the Book People.  As I go through and use tips, I shall post my reviews on my blog.  They all have different authors but what is listed are the titles of the books. 

Why say NO to Monsanto?

A Multinational Agricultural and Biotechnology corporation.  The leading producer of Genetically Engineered Seeds and Roundup pesticide (and of the herbicide Glyphosate which is a component of roundup).  Started in 1901 it originally began producing plastics and synthetic fibres.  They are behind the insecticides, DDT, PCBs and agent orange.  They are also responsible for bovine growth hormones.

They began genetically modifying plant cells in the 1980’s and have since become the greatest supplier of GMO produce in the US.

Monsanto produce a number of GMO seeds and products with one being terminator seeds, seeds that will produce plants but sterile seeds, ensuring that purchases MUST be made from Monsanto.  I believe these were the seeds that were sent to Africa to “help” surely helping would have been to send non GMO seeds and allow farmers to collect the seeds at harvest and re use them.

Should a farmer attempt to save seeds (from varieties that will produce seeds) instead of buying them can look forward to a law suit that Monsanto is most likely to win since they patent their seeds.  Some farmers have even been imprisoned.  The problem is, the seeds in question could carry like normal seed does in nature.    Seed cleaning has also been under scrutiny by Monsanto, seeing to it that seeds cannot be cleaned and re used.

Numerous court cases have been brought against Monsanto in relation to health.   Although the law in the US now protects them from such law suits.  Fox news were threatened by Monsanto during 1997 when reporters wanted to do a story on the negative effects of Posilac the bovine growth hormone.  Needless to say the reporters were fired.

In 1996 Monsanto tried to say it’s Roundup brand was non toxic and was advised to cease due to it being misleading.

Glyphosate, Roundups main ingredient is classed as dangerous for the environment and toxic for aquatic organisms.  Monsanto however advertise their products as being biodegradable and were convicted of false advertising in 2007.  In August 2012 they were ordered to pay $250.000 for the same misrepresentation in Brazil from 2004.

Monsanto test their genetically engineered products for 3 months before release, the FDA does not conduct independent testing.  Recently scientists in Europe conducted testing on both the GMO seed and roundup, continuing after the 3 month cut off and found that month 4 is where things start to go wrong.  An increase in mortality rates infertility and tumours in rats.  Recent research completed by the friends of the earth has shown that roundup ingredients have been found in the urine of Europeans despite GMO being relatively new there.  The evidence suggests that roundup is linked to a series of health problems including Parkinsons, Infertility and Cancers (Published in the Scientific Journal Entropy)

Research in Argentina found that from 2000 to 20009 following the expansion of GMO soy and rice crops in the region that the childhood cancer rate tripled.

Agent Orange is a herbicide used by the US in Vietnam and is accountable for over 1 million deaths, deformities and health issues.

Watching documentaries and reading articles has shown me that people link Monsanto to a number of diseases including chiari malformations, many farmers have said they have been put under pressure to use Monsanto seeds and those that have refused have had their entire crops burned due to accusations of Monsanto seed growing there.  People have grown GMO corn and natural corn and found that animals will not eat the GMO corn.  Evolution has provided natures fauna with the ability to know what is good to eat and what is not, the birds say no to Monsanto.

In 2011 Monsanto spent $6.3,000,000 on lobbying the US congress.  In 2013 the Farmer Assurance Provision Act was part of a bill to provide continued funding to the federal government, which the President signed into law.  Protecting Monsanto and their seed even if a judge deems it unapproved.

In conclusion to this I would like to say that firstly 3 months of testing is not sufficient by any standards.  There has been no research conducted by Monsanto on the long term effects of their produce on humans, wildlife or the ecosystem.  In any other industry this would not be acceptable.  I wrote to the UK Health and Food Minister about my concerns over Monsanto in that they have been linked to numerous health defects and their crops have destroyed natural crops and their response was they are not worried about one crop.

I find this irresponsible on the part of our government, we should be concerned about the extinction of any item in our world, be it animal or plant.  The unheard of protection from the US government, the misleading advertising on numerous occasions and the plight of farmers.  When farmers are committing suicide due to the acts of a corporation and no one asks any questions that is surely a warning sign.   I am not against biotech, science holds a multitude of benefits for humanity and the planet, but I do object to poor testing, protection by governments and monopolies.

The majority of the food in the US is controlled by a few companies, Monsanto included, the detrimental effects to health and environment are being reported all over the states.  Campaigning for GMO labelling has been underway for some time.   Sadly on writing to the Embassies of several countries I have been informed that GMO foods are welcomed into most countries subject to legislation and yet these products have not been sufficiently tested.

Personally I will not buy anything from any company affiliated with Monsanto and I constantly try to raise awareness and get some moral responsibility accepted by officials.  I urge you all to say NO to Monsanto who put profits before people.  To conclude I have a list from Wikipedia, the list of people who have held positions in government, Monsanto and the FDA, EPA and Supreme Court

Mr. Earle H. Harbison, Jr. served with the Central Intelligence Agency for 18 years, rising to the rank of Deputy Director, after which he had a career at Monsanto, rising to the roles of President, Chief Operating Officer, and Director of Monsanto, which he held from 1986 to 1993.[45]

  • Michael A. Friedman, MD, was Senior Vice President of Research and Development, Medical and Public Policy for Pharmacia, and later served as an FDA deputy commissioner.[325][326]
  • Linda J. Fisher was an assistant administrator at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before she was a vice president at Monsanto from 1995 to 2000. In 2001, Fisher became the deputy administrator of the EPA.[140]
  • Michael R. Taylor was an assistant to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner before working as an attorney for King & Spalding, a private-sector law firm that represented Monsanto among other clients.[327][328] He later served as deputy commissioner for policy to the FDA on food safety between 1991 and 1994 during which time the FDA approved rBST.[140] He was accused of a conflict of interest, but a federal investigation cleared him. Following his tenure at the FDA, Taylor returned to Monsanto as Vice President for Public Policy.[285][286][287] On July 7, 2009, Taylor entered government as Senior Advisor to the Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration for the Obama administration.[288][289]
  • United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas worked as an attorney for Monsanto in the 1970s. Thomas wrote the majority opinion in the 2001 Supreme Court decision J. E. M. Ag Supply, Inc. v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.[329] which found that “newly developed plant breeds are patentable under the general utility patent laws of the United States.”[140][329][330]
  • Mickey Kantor served on Monsanto’s board after serving in government as a trade representative.[140]
  • William D. Ruckelshaus served as the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) in 1970, was subsequently acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and then Deputy Attorney General of the United States. From 1983 to 1985, he returned as EPA administrator. After leaving government he joined the Board of Directors of Monsanto; he is currently retired from that board.[331]
  • Between serving for Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was chairman and chief executive officer of G. D. Searle & Company, a pharmaceutical company which produced aspartame apparently while working on an ulcer drug. Monsanto bought the company in 1985, and re-branded aspartame as NutraSweet. Rumsfeld’s stock and options in Searle were $12 million USD at the time of the transaction.[140]

Further reading:


I make these a lot and anything goes as long as you have an equal amount of dry to wet ingredients.

I used large serving spoons to measure these quantities.

4 tbsp plain flour

1 tsp baking power

1/2 tbsp dark brown sugar

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp vegan hot shot chocolate or chocolate spread

1 tbsp mixed fruit, I used raisins, cherries and cranberries

1/2 tbsp mixed seeds

1/2 tbsp chopped walnuts

1 sachet of plain oats

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla essence

Kneed together until you have a dough, it’s quite sticky, take small chunks and roll in your hands, place it on a tray and flattening it out, bake on 170 degrees for 15 minutes.  If you are vegan and don’t want to use honey you could use sugar and add a little sunflower oil if more moisture is needed. 



Some herbs, inspired by James Wong and taken from

 Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) – soothes indigestion and colic, eases tension, and is good for skin irritations.

Echinacea – boosts the immune system, and lessens the severity of colds and flu

Lavender – calms and relaxes, eases pain and is antiseptic for cuts and bruises.

Lemon balm – soothes nervous tension and anxiety, promotes sleep, and is good for cold sores.

Marigold (Calendula officinalis) – good for sunburn, and for acne and spots, soothes ulcers and digestive problems.

Peppermint – good for digestion, wind and headaches.

Rosemary – helps memory and concentration, improves mood, sweetens breath.

Sage – for coughs, colds and congestion, hot flushes.

St John’s Wort – anti-depressant and promotes skin healing

Viola (Viola tricolor) – anti-inflammatory, good for eczema and skin eruptions, and 

These are only the oils I have and use personally.  Always check with your doctor if you have any medical conditions, always do a test patch and please be aware if you use this information you do so at your own risk.  I realised I forgot Tea Tree, antiseptic, anti viral, we all know it’s good 🙂 

Aromatherapy Oils
Oil Uses Warnings
Benzoin I use this neat on burns, I think it works wonders, however it has many uses and is often found in prescription medecines, you can use it for sores, cuts, swollen gums etc.  You need to ensure you have the right benzoin from the styrax family.
Bergamot analgesic, antidepressant, antiseptic, antibiotic, anti-spasmodic, deodorising. Can cause sensitivity to sunlight, use caution in skin preparations. 
Black Pepper I use this for muscle aches, other uses are pain relief, rheumatism, chills, flu, colds, increase circulation,  increases the flow of saliva, stimulates appetite, aids digestion. Can cause skin allergies, should not be used when pregnant. 
Camphor Pain relief, increased blood flow I tend to not use this often, you need to be very careful with camphor and the quantities used need to be researched very well.
Carrot Seed Oil Antiseptic, calming, natural sun screen (low factor, I combine it with shea butter and raspberry seed oil) Do not use when pregnant
Cardamom It works as a laxative and soothes colic, wind, dyspepsia, coughs and nausea It’s fairly safe, it is also safe to use for morning sickness. 
Chamomile  analgesic, anti-spasmodic, antiseptic, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-infectious, anti-viral, anti-neuralgic,  antiseptic, antispasmodic, bactericidal,  sedative and digestive.  I use it in facial products. Do not use when pregnant
Citronella Bug repellant (I don’t really like this, but neither do bugs) Can cause skin irritation.
Clary Sage Anti depressant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, eases headaches, dizziness, night sweats and anxiety.   Do not use with alcohol.
Coriander analgesic, aphrodisiac, antispasmodic, deodorant, calming and some say lowers glucose levels.  Do not use large doses
Eucalyptus Cooling, deodorising,  helps with fevers, migraine,coughs, asthma, throat infections, sinusitis and catarrhal conditions. It soothes inflammation and eases mucus, is excellent in a bathroom deodorising spray.   People with high blood pressure and epilepsy should avoid this.
Lemon  Lemon is antifungal, antibacterial, cleansing, anti anemic and anti microbial, making it an excellent addition to cleaning products Can cause photo sensitivity to skin, use caution using in skin preparations. 
Lemongrass analgesic, anti-depressant, antimicrobial. antipyretic, antiseptic, astringent, bactericidal,  deodorant, diuretic,  fungicidal, insecticidal,  nervous system sedative and tonic. Can cause skin irritation.
Mandarin Sleep aid,   
Myrrh gum disorders, mouth ulcers, sore throats, skin ulcers, bed sores, athletes foot, eczema, diarrhea, flatulence, hemorrhoids, colds, catarrh and coughs. Large doses are toxic, use with caution.
Niaouli uplifting, clears sinuses, analgesic, anti-rheumatic and antiseptic Safe, always test first though. 
Orange (Sweet) antiseptic, anti-depressant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and cleansing. Can cause photo sensitivity to skin, use caution using in skin preparations. 
Patchouli antidepressant, antiphlogistic, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, astringent can cause loss of appetite in some
Peppermint anitseptic, antibacterial, good for headaches, colds, healthy hair, gallbladder, aches and pains and asthma. Can cause skin irritation.
Pine Needle antiseptic, anti-viral, can ease muscle pain, sinus pain and respiratory issues.   Can cause skin irritation.
Raspberry Seed Oil Natural SPF, high levels of vitamin E, eczema, rashes, anti oxidant, good for lip balms and sun creams Considered safe
Rose  antidepressant, antiseptic, reduces wrinkles in skin preparations, moisturising. Not to be used during pregnancy
Rosemary analgesic, antidepressant, astringent, headaches, migraines, good for hair Not suitable for people with high blood pressure or epilepsy.  
Sandalwood antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, sedative and calming Considered safe