Post-CNY Stuff : Five More Get Upcycled

First five here, this post shares mostly what I do with empty CNY goodie containers.

++006 P.E.T Containers, Large ++

// for infusing cheap artificial vinegar with orange peels to make great smelling all-purpose cleaner.  Compared to the dispensing spout from original vinegar bottle, the large larger mouth makes it easy to drop citrus peels into the container.  Right bottle with vinegar that has gone through just one day of rest with peels.


++ 007 P.E.T Containers, Small ++

// three of these fit the depth nicely in my pantry drawer where I keep the dry goods.

// bonus: they weigh 50 grams each without its red lid, useful for bulk grocery shopping where stall holders can do mental calculations faster without taring their weighing scales.


++ 008 Ferrero Roche Clear Box ++

// it’s too pretty, too functional to be thrown into the recycling bin,  I am sure there are areas at home or office that could do with one or two frill-less clear box like this.  If you’re crafty, you might like these ideas:  this herb planter, and this trinket box, this mini greenhouse, and this tiny aquarium.


++ 009 Tin Box No.1 ++

// Another airtight container great for buying/storing biscuits and crackers bought from the bulk snack shops at wet markets.  No: bulk shops are not limited to upscale shopping centres, and  yes: wet market in the heartlands carry many items in bulk sans packaging.  All we need to do is bring our own bags/containers and ask nicely for no plastic bags.


++ 010 Tin Box No. 2 ++

tin box recycling

//  I have no plans yet for this beautiful gift box that came with yummy pineapple tart.  When there is a creative block, I will turn to short-term hoarding as a solution.  A week of displaying this on the wall and if there are still no ideas, recycle it.  It’s progressing as you can see, the magnetic buttons were added to spur more ideas.

Post-CNY Stuff

Five upcycling ideas.

++ 001 Hamper Basket ++

// adding a very nice touch to my bike.


++ 002 Cookie Tins ++

// looking pretty AND the perfect airtight containers for ground coffee and tea dust.


++ 003 (Another) Hamper Basket ++

// as hamper packaging gets exquisite, so do my upcycled storage boxes.


++ 004 Mandarin orange gift box ++

// for storing knick-knacks.


++ 005 (yup, one more) Hamper Basket ++

// as an iron holder.

On Free Gifts

Not all free gifts with purchases are created equal; there are those that are stowed away in the cupboard for months and end up taking up space.

Then there are those that keep appearing on the kitchen counter every other day.  Here are 8 free items that I’ll absolutely use over and over again:

++ oo1 lasagna ceramic dish ++
On Free Gifts // Mono + Co

// for baking brownies,

On Free Gifts // Mono + Co

// and honey granola.


++ 002 stainless steel spoon ++
On Free Gifts // Mono + Co

// bundled free with condiment, fits nicely in my zero-waste takeaway lunchbox.


++ 003 porcelain spoon ++
On Free Gifts // Mono + Co

//  originally for jams, now for scooping everything delicious.


++004 cotton dish towel ++
On Free Gifts // Mono + Co

// workhorse in the kitchen, extra brownie points for the hanging loop.


++005 mug ++
On Free Gifts // Mono + Co

// that have been around for a long long time.


++ 006 4pc cutlery ++
On Free Gifts // Mono + Co

// because I never own a branded one before, not that the logo matters. The point is it’s free AND useful.


++ 007 plastic container ++
On Free Gifts // Mono + CoOn Free Gifts // Mono + Co

// the handle on the cover made it a handy snack carrier, minus the need for plastic bags.


++ 008 tote bag ++
On Free Gifts // Mono + Co

// simply useful, for avoiding plastic bags.


Are you equally choosy about accepting the free gifts into your house?
Have you ever ended up NOT buying something because the bundled gift was not desirable?

Simple Pleasures

over new year’s eve & new year’s day

// reusing this holder with a new calendar.

// and the metal tearing guide component from the new calendar becomes a binder for unused sheets from kids’ school exercise books.

// washed and ironed these square tenugui for wrapping lunch boxes or packing finger food takeaways without disposables etc.

// rinsed and air-dried tiny honey jars that came with our tea order, too wasteful to be recyled or discarded.  Think lipbalm containers.

// scent of the month : lime.  Infused white vinegar with leftover lime peels to make a safer all-purpose cleaner.

// 2.5 cups of rolled-oats-turned-honey-granola fit a reused 680ml pasta bottle nicely.

// stowing away this handmade Xmas wreath away with recycled log cake toppers and hamper ornaments.  Green CNY decorating ideas up soon.

Simple Pleasures

just a gather of some random shots of things that caught my eye, made my day, or meaningful enough to make me press the shutter, but just don’t seem to fit in anywhere or significant as a post.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// basil is probably the only plant I always harvest from my parapet garden.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// sterilizing, at 100 degrees celcius. Because it’s not plastic.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// school uniform: the most hardworking piece of apparel, rendered unwearable and unmendable, thank goodness she’s graduating.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// washing an empty oil bottle using the least amount of water.  My trick : teaseed powder.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// trash level report: low.  Keep trying.

Nov/Dec 2017 School Holiday Activities – Eco Edition

Nov/Dec 2017 School Holiday Activities - Eco Edition // Mono + Co

Spent the first week of the year end school holidays in the malls and can’t wait to do something different?  How about activities with an Eco/Nature-theme?  I have compiled a list in a chronological order to share.

In case there is only time for just one Eco-event, taking part in a beach clean-up as a family is highly recommended.  Nowadays, we barely give a second thought every time we drink from plastic bottled water, clean hard to reach corners with Q-tips, pack take-away meals in styrofoam /plastic boxes or pick up a straw for our drink.  But these habits have generated most of the common trash we collected when my family joined Trash Hero Singapore in one of their monthly sessions to clean up a quiet part of the beach at East Coast Park.

Armed with a pair of gloves (a must, never pick up trash with bare hands, and tell the kids to always inform an adult when they find broken glass, fish hooks, syringes, needles, or any sharp objects) and a plastic bag, the instruction from the organizer was simple: pick up as much trash as possible in 2 hours.  After 10 minutes, I found myself squatting at the same spot sorting out items that shouldn’t belong there: cigarette butts, tiny plastic sticks from Q-tips (but my kids think that these are lollipop sticks, guess they look the same after the candy and cotton buds are gone,) candy wrappers, straws of different colors and sizes, and most annoying of all, styrofoam bits that have disintegrated into impossibly tiny pieces over time.  The task of picking out these bits looked impossible and I told myself I will bring along a sieve/colander next time to separate these styrofoam pieces from the fine sand.  I moved on to picking up larger trash items like plastic bottles, drink cans, used wet wipes, snack packaging, fish nets, and plastic bags.  Others found toothbrushes and plastic combs.

Nov/Dec 2017 School Holiday Activities - Eco Edition // Mono + CoNov/Dec 2017 School Holiday Activities - Eco Edition // Mono + Co
Photo credit : Trash Hero Singapore

By the end of the session, 80kg of rubbish were collected, mostly plastic.  The single most important takeaway from this beach clean up: avoid the use of disposable plastic.  Trash Hero Singapore will be conducting another beach clean up session on 26 November (Sunday) at Sembawang Beach Park.  Check out the details here.

Can’t wait to start a greener way to spend the rest of the school holiday? Let’s start from this Saturday :

Nov 25 (Sat)

//Charismatic Primates of Malaysia – Living in Harmony with Nature and Wildlife
A second Jane Goodall Institute Singapore Lecture Series with primate experts from Malaysia.  Registration is required.
LINK

// Chek Jawa Boardwalk
Free guided nature walk at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin.  The one held later on 16th Dec has been fully booked.
When/ Where: 9.30am / Chek Jawa Information Kiosk, Pulau Ubin
Registation here.
LINK

// Bukit Brown – An Introductory Walk
Free guided walk.  Another afternoon walk is available on 26th.
When/ Where: 9am/ Bukit Brown Cemetery
Register here.

// Singapore Really Really Free Market
Set up a free booth with family or friends, share pre-loved items, enjoy some time without spending any money.
When/Where: 3pm-7pm/ Blk 137 Bedok Reservoir Road S470137
LINK

Nov 26 (Sun)

// Trash Hero Beach Clean Up
When/ Where: 8am/ Sembawang Park Beach
LINK

// Repair Kopitiam
Have broken down items at home?  Say no to a throw away society, send them for repair and learn the how-to at the same time as volunteers share their repair knowledge and skills.
When/ Where: 10am – 2pm/ 2 locations ->Blk 897A Tampines St 81,Singapore,521897AND Block 423, Jurong West Ave 1,Singapore,640423
LINK

// Bukit Brown – An Introductory Walk
Free guided walk.
When/ Where: 4pm – 6.30pm/ Bukit Brown Cemetery
Register here

Dec 1 (Fri)

// Night Critter Watch at Rainforest Boardwalk
Guided walk. $13 per participant. Free for 6 years old and below. Registration required.
When/Where: 6.30pm-8.30pm/ Singapore Botanic Gardens
LINK

Dec 2 (Sat)

++ The UP Market ++
UP refers to upcycling, my favorite way to reuse glass bottles, plastic containers and old bamboo toothbrushes.
Join this upcycling-themed market “that aims to build a community of upcyclers to share upcycling ideas, products and to promote upcycling and other sustainable lifestyles.”
LINK

// Kranji Countryside Farmers’ Market
Support local produce and locally made products at this fair held over 2 days.  While there, make some some time cover part of the Heritage Trail as well.
When/ Where: (Dec 2)12pm – 8pm/ (Dec 3)10am – 4pm/ D’Kranji Farm Resort
LINK

Dec 9 (Sat)

// Ecolife at Coney Island
Free guided walk. Registration required.
When/Where: 9am-11am/ Coney Island West Entrance
LINK

// Ecolife at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park
Free guided walk. Registration required.
When/ Where: 9am-11am/ Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park Promenade
LINK

// Photography Talk by Mr Isak Pretorius
The speaker is a BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year’s Bird Behaviour Category (2013) and will be sharing his passion for photography and nature during the free session.
When/ Where: 9.30am – 12.00pm/ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
LINK

// A walk with your neighbours: The macaques of MacRitchie
Guided walk led by experts from the Jane Goodall Institute Singapore.  Free, registration required.
When/ Where: 5pm – 6.30pm / MacRitchie Reservoir Park
LINK

Dec 10 (Sun)

//Tzu Chi Recycling Day
Every 2nd Sunday of the month, Tzu Chi set up recycling points around the island to receive recyclables.  Don’t just stop at dropping off your recyclables, try your hands at sort out them out and learn more about environmental conservation and the need to cut down on waste.
When/ Where: 9am – 12pm/ Various locations
LINK

//Forest Walk: Tengah Forest
Explore what’s still left untouched by the ongoing Tengah’s “Forest Town” development, set to be Singapore’s largest smart sustainable smart town with a car-free town center.
When: 8am
LINK

//Family Yoga In The Park
Children are welcome. Free.
When/ Where: 8am – 9am/ Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Tecoma Green
LINK

//Healthy Living with Navayugum
Free workshop to learn more about living a healthier lifestyle through a guided spice tour, healthy recipes, followed by a relaxing yoga session in the serene Fort Canning Park.  Registration required.
When/ Where: 10am – 12pm / Fort Canning Park
LINK

Dec 16 (Sat)

//What’s in my sky?
Learn to identify many amazing birds of different species that passes through or make Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve their home in this free guided walk.  Registration required.
When/ Where: 9.30am – 11am/ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
LINK

//A walk with your neighbours: The macaques of Lower Peirce
Guided walk led by experts from the Jane Goodall Institute Singapore.  Free, registration required.
When/ Where: 5pm – 6.30pm
LINK

//Marine Mangroves cum Coastal Cleanup at Ubin
Another coastal clean up activity, this time to “remove abandoned drift nets and marine debris that chokes up Ubin’s coastline.”
Registration required.
When/ Where: 3pm – 6pm / Meet at Changi Point Ferry Terminal.
LINK

Dec 19 (Tues)

// Zero Waste Living with Bea Johnson
Hear from Bea Johnson, one of the earliest zero waste lifestyle adopter, on how she and her family stick to the 5R’s: “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot, and only in that order” and inspire the rest of the world to “live simply and take a stance against needless waste.”
When/ Where: 7pm – 9.30pm/The Metro @ thebridge, Ascent, #01-07, 2 Science Park Drive
LINK

Dec 23 (Sat)

//Learning Forest Tour, Singapore Botanic Gardens
Free tour of The Learning Forest that is located in the new Tyersall-Gallop Core of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Registration for the tour starts 15 minutes before session starts at Visitor Services, Tyersall Gate.
When/ Where: 9am – 10am / The Learning Forest, Singapore Botanical Gardens
LINK

//Heritage Tour, Singapore Botanic Gardens
Free guided tour. Highlights of the tour include the Bandstand, sculptures in the Gardens, the Heritage Trees, the Main Gate, the Saraca Stream Walk.
Registration for the tour starts 15 minutes for session starts at Visitor Services Desk, Tanglin Gate.
When/Where: 9am – 10am
LINK

//Race Against Time – Science behind a Botanic Garden Tour
This 45-minute tour suitable for participants 9 years old and above introduces the research facilities at the Singapore Botanic Gardens such as the Library of Botany & Horticulture, Orchid & Micro-propagation laboratory and the Herbarium.
Registration for the tour starts 15 minutes for session starts at Visitor Services Desk, Tanglin Gate.
LINK

// What’s in my mangrove?
Free guided tour that lets you learn about the mangrove trees and plants of the forest at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
Registration required.
When/ Where: 9.30am – 11am/ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve,
LINK

//A walk with your neighbours: The macaques of Bukit Timah
Guided walk led by experts from the Jane Goodall Institute Singapore.  Free, registration required.
When/ Where: 5pm-6.30pm/ Bt Timah Nature Reserve
LINK

// What’s in my water?
Free guided tour that lets you learn about the creatures and plants that lives in and around the water edges of Sungei Buloh.
Registration required.
When/ Where: 9.30am – 11am
LINK

Soft Taro Milk Pullman Loaf

Soft Taro Milk Pullman Loaf // Mono + Co

Adapted from this recipe from almost a year ago, I have since made 2 changes to this recipe.
– using plain flour sold in bulk from the wet market
– substituting fresh milk with milk powder

With these alterations, I have done away with the need to recycle the plastic bags from bread flour as well as plastic bottles and paper cartons from fresh milk purchase.  Less time spent on rinsing and sorting recyclables, more time for a longer breakfast.


Soft Taro Milk Pullman Loaf

300g plain flour
1/2 tablespoon instant dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons organic raw sugar
2 tablespoons milk powder
135g steamed taro, mashed
1 egg **
130g water
25g cold unsalted butter, cubed

** I use egg that weighs 55g with shell

In a mixer bowl, mix well the dry ingredients: plain flour, yeast, sea salt, raw sugar, and milk powder with a hand whisk.  Add cooled mashed taro, egg, and half of the water to the dry ingredients, and knead with a dough hook attachment on the lowest speed (KA 1).  Slowly add in the remaining of the water, with the mixer running, until the ingredients come into a ball.  You might need more or less water stated in the recipe, depending on the moisture content of the taro.  Let the dough stand for 15 minutes, covered.

Start the mixer running on its lowest speed again, and knead the dough for 1 minute, before adding cubed butter, one by one.  Knead until the dough reaches window pane stage, this is when the dough becomes very smooth and elastic, and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Remove the bowl from mixer, cover and bulk rise for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

After an hour, the dough should have expanded, punch it down to release the gas, and transfer to a clean work top.  Flatten the dough to push out gas trapped inside the dough, either by hand or a rolling pin.  Shape the dough into a log and place it in a greased bread tin, seam side facing downwards.   Let this sit in a draft free place to rise for another 50-60 minutes.

Bake in a preheated oven at 170C for 30 minutes.  Remove the bread from the pan immediately after baking, and let it cool on a rack completely before slicing or serving.

Store in an airtight container if not consumed immediately, to keep the loaf soft and the crumbs from drying out.

Simple Pleasures

 

// repurpose my old bamboo toothbrush as plant pot markers, the bristles are made with horse bristles, composting them directly inside the soil.

// upcycled my raisin tub into a handy tea seed powder dispenser.

// glass bottle collection getting uncontrollable.

// another glass-bottle-turned-beaker to serve my homemade zero waste ginger black molasses tea in, more on this tea recipe later.

// when all the honey is gone, the tub turns itself into a useful container for soaking 2 cups of soy beans over night in the chiller.  Homemade soy milk!

Oat and Wholemeal Bread Loaf

Oat and Wholemeal Bread Loaf // Mono + CoOat and Wholemeal Bread Loaf // Mono + Co

The dry goods store ran out of plain flour so I went home looking for a wholemeal flour recipe to bake instead.

I ended up baking with this oat and wheat sandwich bread recipe but not before tweaking it with homemade oat flour instead of rolled oats.  Simply run the rolled oats/instant oats/oatmeal in food processor for a while until they become oat flour.  Instant, quick-cooking version or not, all works.  If you want them really fine, sift before using.  If not, simply dump everything like me into the recipe that calls for oat flour, I consider those larger bits as “additional fibre”.  I have been doing this for years, saving money and storage space for yet another pantry item.  Since it is so easy to make, I only make what I need to use up, nothing more.

Oat and Wholemeal Bread Loaf // Mono + Co

Back to the bread.  Another interesting thing I find about this recipe is that I can leave the dough to ferment in the fridge for up to 5 days.  Sounds like a good idea for Sunday breakfast.

Oat and Wholemeal Bread Loaf // Mono + Co

I knead the dough until window pane stage although the original recipe didn’t mention.  It’s my ticket to fluffy soft bread.

Oat and Wholemeal Bread Loaf // Mono + Co

I proof all my loaves in a 10 inch diameter pot with a glass cover, so I can see how much the dough has risen.  Before baking, I brushed the top with water and sprinkled some rolled oats for decoration.  But…..

Oat and Wholemeal Bread Loaf // Mono + Co

… the rolled oats topping seemed unnecessary afterall as they fell off while I sliced cooked bread.  I won’t mention this step in the recipe below.

Oat and Wholemeal Bread Loaf // Mono + Co

For some reason (low gluten flour as this article stated?) the bread slice was crumbly, but held together better significantly after popping it inside toaster for 2 minutes.  Come to think of it, I have never baked a bread without plain flour, most of my homebaked wholemeal bread is a 50/50 flour mix.  5-day fermentation is the next thing to try with this bread recipe.

Oat and Wholemeal Bread Loaf // Mono + Co


Oat and Wholewheat bread loaf

adapted from here

315g wholemeal flour
80g oat flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoon raw sugar
1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1/2 egg
1 1/4 cup water
25g chilled butter, cubed

In a mixer bowl, place these ingredients: wholemeal flour, oat flour, sea salt, raw sugar, instant yeast, egg and knead with a dough hook attachment on the lowest speed (KA 1).  Slowly add the water with the mixer running, you may need more or less of the water stated in the recipe.  Watch the dough, when the ingredients come into a ball,  stop adding and turn off the mixer.  Let the dough rest for 15-30 minutes.

After resting the dough, start the mixer running on its lowest speed again to knead the dough for 1 minute, before adding cubed butter, one by one.  Knead until the dough reaches window pane stage, this is when the dough becomes very smooth and elastic, and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Remove the bowl from mixer, cover and bulk rise for 1 hour.

After an hour, the dough should rise and increase its volume, punch it down to release the gas, and transfer to a clean work top.  Flatten the dough to push out gas trapped inside the dough, either by hand or a rolling pin. If the dough is sticky, flour hands and worktop to help with shaping.  Shape the dough into a log and place it in a greased bread tin, seam side facing downwards.  Let this sit in a draft-free place to rise for another 50-60 minutes.

Bake in a preheated oven at 170C for 30 minutes.  Remove the bread from the pan immediately after baking, and let it cool on a rack completely before slicing or serving.

Store in an airtight container if not consumed immediately, to keep the crumbly loaf from further drying out.

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