In our modern, busy world we don’t often stop for long enough to put our phones down and simply watch and listen to our feathered friends. When we do we remember how wonderful it is, and how rewarding. Perhaps you get out with your camera to a local Nature Reserve or do the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch annually. Maybe you tick off birds you’ve seen in a spotters guide with your children. Do you feed the birds in your garden or have a nest box? Perhaps the closest you get to birdwatching is on the TV during BBC’s Springwatch. However you do it Birdwatching can bring you much joy and it has many associated health benefits. So if you don't, you should.

Watch The Birdie: For Health and Happiness.

A study undertaken by the University of Exeter, The University of Queensland and the British Ornithology Trust demonstrated that birdwatching is good for your mental health; reducing anxiety, stress and depression. It is not surprising when you consider the meditative quality of the activity, sitting quietly, patiently and clearing your mind of the jibber-jabber. ‘Twitching’ can also lower blood pressure and reduce pain (probably due to subjects focusing on something else). If you get out and about to do your birdwatching all the better. Fresh air, exercise, sunshine (if you’re lucky!) giving you a healthy dose of vitamin D, spending quality family time together in the great outdoors and/or becoming part of a community of fellow birdwatchers. You hardly need this study to tell you that will improve your health and wellbeing! There is also the feeling of great satisfaction and a release of dopamine – the feel-good chemical, from spotting birds. This is especially true if you able to identify them and/or are inclined to tick them off a list as you watch them.

So, dust off those binoculars and get a good bird spotting book. Second hand bookshops and charity shops are a trove of vintage and often beautifully illustrated examples (though sometimes they can be a bit outdated). Matt Sewell’s Spotting and Jotting Guide is charmingly illustrated and relatively cheap, the I-Spy series for children has both Birds and Garden Birds and allot different points for different species. You can’t go wrong with the RSPB Pocket Guide to British Birds by Simon Harrap or, for smaller pockets, the 'Collins Gem' Garden Birds. The RSPB Guide to Birdsong With CD can be listened to at home or in the car so you can then dazzle your fellow spotters with your ability to identify birds purely by ear. Who doesn’t love a chance to show off!

Bad News For Birds.

Sadly, as much as we love our birds, their numbers are in severe decline. This is largely due to intensive farming and modern farming methods. One example of detrimental and catastrophic farming methods is the Mediterranean olive harvest. During the olive harvest millions of birds are killed annually as they are sucked into the huge vacuum machines used to harvest the olives. The harvest season runs from October to January. This is the time when many birds from across Europe, including the UK, seek the warmer weather of the Mediterranean basins and in the evenings many roost in the olive trees. Harvesting takes place at night to increase the flavour and aroma of the olives so the resting birds; surprised, confused and scared by the bright lights are unable to escape these huge machines.

Oil Love You Spain!

Spain took the lead in October 2019 in preventing this annual massacre by placing a temporary ban on night-time machine harvesting in some of the largest areas of olive oil production in the world.

This will potentially save over 2.5 million birds in just one season. Over 90,000 birds meet the same fate in Portugal. The total numbers of birds killed in other olive production areas in unknown. But it can be assumed that wherever the practice of night-time harvesting is in place, up to 100 birds per machine, per night are being killed and that this could easily run into millions over the harvest period.

Hopefully, other Olive producing countries such as Italy, France and Portugal will follow Spain in banning this horrific practice. In the meantime, you can help by buying bird-friendly Olive oil. Love and Joy Home are now stocking Organic Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil, blended with rapeseed oil so you can cook and drizzle with a clear conscience.

The impact of the olive harvesting, as well as other intensive farming methods is enormous but habitat loss and climate change and use of pesticides also impacts heavily on bird numbers. There are many things that we can all to do help our birds.

10 Ways You Can Help Birds

  1. Put up birdfeeders and keep them clean and filled year round (with some packaging free Peckamix bird food from Love and Joy Home naturally).

  2. Start Birdwatching; Ornithological organisations and charities rely on data from volunteers and amateur birdwatchers to monitor bird numbers and they all agree that awareness is key to conservation. Also the more our birds are loved the more voices speak up for them and their welfare.

  3. Put out clean, fresh water year round. This is not only for birds to drink but to bathe in. Bathing in clean water is essential for keeping feathers waterproof and for warmth throughout winter as well as cooling them down in our increasingly hot summers.

  4. Keep your garden chemical free; pesticide use is cited by scientists as a major factor in bird decline.

  5. Put up nest boxes.

  6. Increase the amount of bird friendly plants in your garden; native shrubs and trees with berries and fruits that birds can eat and plants with dense foliage that will provide places to shelter and nest.

  7. Garden less; wildlife prefers wild gardens; so give yourself and our wildlife a break and mow less, weed less and allow plenty of wild space to encourage biodiversity in your garden.

  8. Consider putting in a pond; according to many wildlife gardening experts the single biggest thing you can do to encourage wildlife is have a pond in your garden.·

  9. Lobby your local MP, local councils and the Government with emails and letters or by signing petitions in support of bird conservation and habitat protection as well as more general environmental concerns.

  10. Shop ethically and buy organic. By supporting organic farms and farmers you are not only helping to reduce the use of pesticides but also supporting more ethical methods of production in general.

For more information on birds and birdwatching have a look at or Or to learn about and see some spectacular native and non-native birds of prey visit the Hawk Conservancy Trust who are just down the road from us at Love and Joy Home in Weyhill.

#shopethically #buyorganic #holisticlifestyle #sustainableliving #birds #ilovebirds #birdwatching #feedthebirds #greenliving #ecofriendly #birdfriendlyoliveoil

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  • Pippa Hood

Well words…plural. Yes it is that time of year again. Christmas is coming. Here at Love & Joy Home we have a few more choice C words for you as well. Namely, Crackers, Cake and Carbon Footprint and how to reduce it when it comes to your Christmas dinner.

Yes Christmas is, and we all know it, a truly wasteful time of year. It’s time to make a change. Start making small changes to your festive traditions to help make your Christmas more sustainable. It is up to all of us and we’ve got some great tips to get you started.

Why do we all need to start making these changes?

Here’s why…

  • In the UK we create 30% more waste than usual at Christmas – that is about 3 million tonnes – none of us want landfill sites or massive waste plants and incinerators on our doorsteps, but the fact is that unless we are prepared to produce less waste it has to go somewhere!

  • The average number of Christmas cards sent and received is 17 – this equates to over 1 billion Christmas cards many of which are not recycled because they have glitter, foil or other unrecyclable materials on them

  • To make 1 billion Christmas cards it takes 33 million trees

  • 4.2 million Christmas dinners were wasted in the UK in 2014 – to put this into perspective if this was recycled into energy it could power an average sized home for 57 years!

  • We throw away 227, 000 miles of wrapping paper - that would stretch to the moon!

  • Around 30 million trees are cut down annually to produce Christmas wrapping paper

  • The amount of sticky tape used is estimated at 40 million rolls – that is a whole lot of non-recyclable plastic

  • About 25 million Christmas puddings will be eaten this Christmas in the UK – if everyone made their own (using ingredients from their local plastic free store) how much plastic and cardboard would that save?

Pull the Other One

…the Plastic Free One That Is

There has been a lot of attention recently in the press and on social media about the percentage of that 3 million tonnes of waste that is the result of Christmas Crackers. Some supermarkets are pledging to ditch the plastic in the crackers they sell (although not until next year) and social media and petitions and posts suggesting that Crackers should be banned have gone viral.

If you are not ready to break with the tradition of having Christmas crackers and don’t want to wait until next year to make a difference Love & Joy Home stock make your own cracker kits.

Making your own crackers is a perfect activity to do with the children and a wonderful new tradition to start. Craft activities are a lovely thing to do with children or family of any age during the run up to Christmas and these are both lots of fun and easy to do. Have fun thinking up your own jokes – sometimes the jokes that children come up with are priceless! Instead of jokes you could make up riddles or add little heartfelt messages. Add to that your own bespoke designs and these are sure to be the best crackers you’ve ever had. Please don't add foil or glitter though as that will stop them being recyclable.

Fill them with gifts that are useful and that people actually want; wax melts are a great size, lip balm or other small sized toiletries; such as the travel sized body bars or 'Make' skincare products, bottles of essential oils, keyrings, flower seeds, even lottery tickets, or for a bigger budget; jewellery. My personal favourite fillings are Whiskey or Gin miniatures!

The Carbon Footprint of Your Christmas Dinner and How to Reduce it

The vast majority of scientists agree that the most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint is to eat less meat. This means that making some changes to your traditional dinner is a sure-fire way to make your Festive Season more sustainable. As turkey has a lower carbon impact than red meats sticking to turkey (or chicken which has an even smaller carbon footprint)on your Christmas dinner plate is a greener option on your road to sustainability.

However, with the pressure on to please everyone many people don’t settle for just having turkey but include sausages, bacon, ham or beef or a selection of these meats as part of their Christmas dinner. Not only does this substantially add to the carbon cost of your festive feast but this level of excess contributes to the 4.2 million wasted dinners annually in the UK.

It is also becoming more and more likely that at least one person at your table will opt out of eating meat altogether. With more and more people converting to either a vegetarian or vegan diet a really good nut roast should be part of everyone’s cooking repertoire. Whether, you want to use it as an accompaniment or to add something different to your traditional Christmas dinner, to reduce the meat on the table or plate, or whether you are catering for the vegetarians or vegans at your table. This recipe is a winner.

Christmas Nut Loaf Recipe

The nice thing about these ingredients is (unless your knife skills and chopping speeds are way up there) the right amount of time to leave between adding the next thing is about the time it takes to chop or grate it. So, don’t prepare it all in advance but get some Christmassy tunes on, pour yourself a glass of wine, take a leisurely pace and enjoy it. There may be a lot of ingredients but there is nothing too taxing about it,

It will keep for 3 days in the fridge and freezes well so you can either make it well in advance or the day before it is required and it will still be OK for snacking on throughout Boxing day; it is delicious with crackers as well as the traditional Boxing morning bubble and squeak.

There is also flexibility on the cooking of this nut loaf, if you expect it to all get eaten in one sitting (or half of it at least) then go for the loaf tin, if not use smaller tins or dishes just be aware that this will reduce the cooking time, I use a small 9cm loaf tin for a single serving and cook it for just under half the time.

Let's Go

Pre-heat the oven to 180C (for fan assisted 160C) or Gas Mark 4

Grease and line (don't forget the sides)with baking parchment a 1.5 litre loaf tin (or smaller tins if you are using portions)

Heat 2 tbsp Rape seed oil and 15g butter (substitute for extra oil if making this a vegan loaf) in a large saucepan

Add ingredients as you prepare them making sure each has time to soften and mix well before adding the next...

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 sticks celery, thinly sliced into half moon shapes

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 carrot, grated

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

1 tsp Spanish paprika (this adds a smokey flavour – leave this out or use only ½ tsp if you prefer a more traditional Christmas Flavour or substitute with sage or a further ½ tsp of mixed herbs)

100g chestnut mushrooms, chopped

Now boil the kettle ready to make up 300ml vegetable stock

Rinse the 100g red lentils add them to the other ingredients and mix thoroughly

Add 2 tbsp tomato purée

Bring briefly to the boil then simmer for 25 minutes or until most of the moisture is soaked up and your lentil are soft

Leave to cool before adding the following...

100g breadcrumbs

150g mixed nuts

25g sunflower seeds

50g dried apricots finely chopped

2 eggs, lightly beaten - use egg replacement if making a vegan loaf

100g mature cheddar, grated - to make this a vegan recipe you can use cashews, pinenuts, chestnuts, dried chopped apricots in place of the cheese or simply leave it out

Finally add handful of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, salt and pepper.

Mix well then spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and press it down firmly; you will need to do this to get it all in.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 mins, then remove the foil and bake for a further 25 mins until firm when pressed gently.

Don’t take my word for it...check my facts:

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Love + Joy Home's Guide to a Sustainable Autumn

So, the kids are settled back into the school routine, the nights are drawing in, the days are getting chillier. We all start craving warming soups and sweet treats. The latter even more so as Halloween, in all its consumerist, sugar-coated glory, continues to grow in popularity in the UK. The back to school bugs are doing the rounds, both the viral and the lousy kind. The good news is (both for your purse and for the environment), we can help you with all of it. With chemical free remedies and plastic free recipes; Autumn's going to be Green.

#sustainableliving #environmentallyfriendly #sustainability

Soup For Starters

Instead of buying expensive and plastic packaged 'fresh' soups from the chiller aisle and adding to your carbon footprint with meat or poultry based recipes experiment with protein packed lentil and bean soups mixed with tasty seasonal vegetables and get creative with your favourite warming herbs and spices. To get you started, here is a wonderfully flexible and easy soup recipe which is both warming and nutritious; perfect for a cosy lunch after a leaf crunching, conker collecting Autumn walk.

As this soup contains red peppers which are high in vitamin C, sweet potatoes which are rich in vitamin A and lentils for a good hit of Zinc it is a welcome boost for your immune system as well as containing antimicrobial onion and garlic; ideal for keeping colds at bay.

#souprecipe #vegan #autumnrecipe #vegansoup #lovesoup

All The Reds: Autumn Soup


Small amount of oil for frying

1 red onion

2 cloves garlic

2 red peppers

1 cup red lentils

1 large sweet potato

400g tomatoes (either fresh and/or roasted, tinned or you can use passata)

fresh chilli/es (if you like it spicy)

1-2 tsp Spanish Paprika (to suit your taste for a smoky flavour)

500ml Kallo Organic Stock

Seasoning to taste


  • Fry the onion, garlic, chilli, paprika and red pepper in a little oil until soft

  • Add stock and peeled and chopped sweet potato, simmer for 20 minutes

  • Add the washed lentils, bring to the boil

  • Add tomatoes and simmer for a further 10 min.

  • Alternatively, pop it all in a roasting dish and roast for 30 minutes (minus the lentils and stock and tinned or jarred tomatoes if using them) cook the lentils in the stock for 10-15 minutes.

  • Blend to desired consistency, season, garnish and eat with delicious, crunchy, homemade bread.

Spookily Sweet

A truly scary aspect of the Spooky Season is the amount of plastic wrapped and packed Halloween treats that sneak into the shopping aisles. You might think that a sweet wrapper or plastic lollipop stick is a small thing but they all add up. In fact, according to £160 million is spent annually in the UK on Halloween confectionary. Now that is a lot of sweet wrappers. However, fear not, as this Halloween Hokey Pokey or Honeycomb, is a sustainable way to please any trick or treaters who come to your door. It is also exciting for the kids to watch you make it (rather hot for littler ones to do more than spectate though) as it doubles as a sort of science experiment. Alternatively, if you are turning the lights off and pretending no-one is at home you can enjoy it all to yourself. It also cleverly rebrands itself as Cinder Toffee if you are having it on November 5th round a blazing bonfire.

#hokeypokey #cindertoffee #honeycomb #plasticfreehalloween #plasticfreetreats

Hokey Pokey/Cinder Toffee/Honeycomb


200g caster sugar

6tbsp golden syrup

1.5tsp bicarbonate of soda


  • Pop some non stick paper in a 20cm square tin/roasting dish/baking tray (you can experiment with different sizes to see whether you prefer it thicker or thinner)

  • Measure out your bicarb and keep it to hand

  • Put the golden syrup and sugar in a saucepan and BEFORE you put it on the heat stir until they are well mixed together

  • Put the pan on the heat until the mixture completely melts, then bubbles and turns amber (all the while resisting the urge to stir. This should take about 3-4 minutes but really look for that amber colour.

  • Quickly take it off the heat and whisk in the bicarbonate of soda without knocking too much air out of it; it should froth up beautifully

  • Tip it into your tin/dish and leave to harden; this takes about an hour then enjoy smashing it into pieces (rinse the pan with boiling water for easy cleaning).

  • You can either place in a bowl for any trick or treaters to grab bits or wrap portions in little squares of tissue paper; twisting the 4 gathered corners together

The Nitty Gritty

If you are a parent of school age children you will know how often head lice make their unwelcome appearance. Although they are not dangerous nor do they carry disease they are acutely uncomfortable and annoying. They are also, despite thankfully no longer carrying the stigma they once did, a bit icky.

#headlice #chemicalfree #aromatherapy

Chemical free treatment is simple and cheap

  • Cover your child's hair in any kind of conditioner and comb from root to tip with a fine tooth 'nit comb' (remove and squish lice with each pass)

  • Repeat this process every 2-3 days for 7-10 days

Indeed, many of the over the counter chemical formulas advise you to follow the above procedure anyway as part of using their product. For those that use pyrethrins this is because their overuse has led to headlice becoming resistant to them. So why cover your child in chemicals unnecesarily!?

Add some Essential Oils

For extra peace of mind and for precautionary measures essential oils are very effective. They are not only useful for killing lice but can put them off setting up camp in the first place.

Essential Oils that are useful in battling the tiny vermin and are generally considered safe to use on children (if you use your common sense, do patch tests, follow medical/your aromatherapists advice, avoid eyes/nose/mouth/other sensitive areas) are as follows:

  • Tea Tree Oil

  • Geranium Oil

  • Lavender

To use just mix in 10 drops of each oil to every 100ml of shampoo and conditioner and use either as above, or as normal depending on whether you are using it as a precaution or a treatment . This will work better in products which contain no SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate). This is because the purpose of SLS is to create foam/de-grease so the oils won't stay on your hair.

Banishing The Other Bugs

Essential Oils are great for dealing with bugs of all kinds. Many shop bought products which help with the relief of symptoms of coughs, colds and flu contain essential oils. Most commonly these are Eucalyptus and varieties of Mint (often compounded as Menthol). However, although both these oils are wonderful at symptomatic relief and have a host of curative properties as well you can get a bit fed up of the same smell or associate it so much with feeling rotten that it becomes unpleasant. This is especially true if the family are succumbing one by one to a cold virus (rather than everyone getting it at once) so the house can end up mentholated for weeks.

There are, luckily, a host of other Essential Oils with similar properties that can be used instead of or in conjunction with good old Eucalyptus and Mint. The list below can help you find some alternatives for diffusing when you are feeling under the weather.

  • Tea Tree: powerful antiseptic, antimicrobial and antiviral great for disinfecting your home (both surfaces and the air!) helping to stop spread of viruses as well as alleviate symptoms especially of coughs

  • Lemongrass: analgesic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, deodorising and relaxing it can also help to reduce fever

  • Cinnamon: antiseptic, antimicrobial, analgesic, warming, comforting and immune support

  • Clove Leaf: antimicrobial, antiviral, antiseptic and good for alleviating chesty coughs

  • Lemon: anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, reduces fever, detoxifying, antiviral, analgesic and anti-depressant

  • Ginger: antibacterial, analgesic, decongestant, eases sore throats and helps with both the woolly headed feeling and disinclination to get out of bed that often comes with a cold

  • Lavender: antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, relaxing, anti-inflammatory and eases headaches

  • Rosemary: antibacterial, analgesic, anti-fatigue, anti-inflammatory and acts as an expectorant

  • Cedarwood: antiseptic, anti-spasmodic (good for coughs), anti-inflammatory is a sedative and expectorant

  • Oregano: very potent antiviral, antibiotic and antimicrobial, supports immune system, analgesic, anti-inflammatory

  • Frankincense: antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, comforting and warming

  • Grapefruit: antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral another great oil to help prevent the spread of viruses, stimulates lymphatic drainage to help you get better faster and is an anti-depressant

Alternatively you could try some of the lovely soy wax melts and candles, many containing the above oils, made by Emma and Amanda our neighbours at Scents of Spirit

#coldseason #fluseason #aromatherapy #chemicalfree #essentialoilsforcolds

Disclaimer: Please use oils carefully, do not put directly on skin, seek advice from a doctor or qualified aromatherapist if you are unsure, also please be aware not all of these oils are suitable for children.

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