For the Love of Books
A Resourceful Life

Happy World Book Day!

So I have two obsessions/passions in life – one is of course waste reduction and recycling – the other is a much more simple pleasure, and that is books!  World Book Day gets me particularly excited about life. I think some people would call me a bibliophile because the sight of a book shop or a library or even a pile of books gets my heart racing, and the likes of Waterstone’s, and even better, a dusty old independent book shop, is my idea of Shangri-La! My dream would be to have a coffee shop full of vintage upcycled furniture, and books, hundreds of them, where people could come to relax and read! One day…in the meantime, here is my Waste Not Want Not Guide to making the very most of every single tome, and every single page, and every single word of beauty!

Sadly, books cannot actually be recycled – the glue that binds them together prevents this at the moment! So here are a few ideas as to what you might want to do with your books to prolong their life!  A book, after all, should live forever!


One of the most beautiful things about a book is its ability to go on a journey!  From the moment it is bought and read, enjoyed, reflected on, to the moment the pages finally turn to dust, it will have passed from hand to hand, reader to reader – it is one product that was destined to be recycled over and over again!  So if you have a book that you have loved, pass it friends, family, on social media, wherever! Talk about it, engage people in the pleasure that you have experienced and pass it on!  That said, when I have read a book I REALLY love, I have to hide it in the depths of my bookshelf, and jealously keep it!  I did that yesterday with The Miniaturist! But for the most part, I pass my books on. I particularly love it when I find a book that people have written in saying who they are and when and where they read it! Some of those journeys can be quite remarkable!


There are several sites online where you can simply exchange your books! Great idea! A win/win for everybody! Check out Book Crossing which is lovely as it also enables you to track your book’s journey, or Book Mooch.


For whatever cause you fancy! I did it as part of a Jumble Sale for our school last year, and I got excited by every single donation.  People love book sales, it means that they can add  to their children’s libraries or pick up obscure titles, very very cheaply, and it is a fabulous way to raise money for a good cause. For more information on how I organised our Jumble Sale, here you go!


Obviously the book is a staple of the charity shop – I think the most common reason people pop into a charity shop is to have a browse of the books, so it is vital that they keep their stocks healthy, as that then leads people to spend more money while they are there.  Some charities, such as Oxfam, the Red Cross, even have specialist bookshops to make sure they make the most money they can – often people have no idea of the second hand value of their books, and this ensures that everything is sold at its appropriate value.  You will often see book banks at your local recycling facility so it is a simple job to donate them.


Now I wouldn’t normally suggest this because my first choice would always be to give your books to charity, but it is better than throwing them in the bin! If you Google recycle books, you will be met with a raft of options if you’ve got some books you would rather sell.


So the other option is to create something beautiful out of unwanted books! Here’s a great article with some lovely ideas, and of course Pinterest is awash with more!

I personally can think of about half a dozen other things I would like to do with books – supply them to schools in Africa, Asia and anywhere else they don’t have any, set up book exchanges in railway stations, hospitals, and even telephone boxes in villages, but at the moment, these are your options.

If you have any other ideas, then please do get in touch – we’d love to hear!

This article was originally written for my other blog, Waste Not Want Not, which focuses on living life resourcefully!  If you would like to find out more, check it out!


A Resourceful Life, Uncategorized

You Call it Cake, I Call it Kuchen | A Most Resourceful Fruity Traybake

So it’s my dad’s birthday this week (sadly no longer with) and it is at this time of year that my mind always turns to my childhood memories. My dad was 100% bonafide German, and he loved his food…German food, English food…his life was food! And I am pretty sure this stemmed from the exceptional introduction he had to it as a child. Because my grandmother lived the most resourceful life imaginable bringing up three small boys in a tiny village in wartime Germany.  

Along with Liesel the cow as her provider of dairy items, she grew everything she could herself.  She had an exceptional vegetable patch providing exotic delights such as white asparagus, lambs lettuce, krauts and brassicas of every variety, and gorgeous waxy potatoes which tasted like gold!  Her two cherry trees gave forth juicy fruits in almost vulgar abundance, her little garden also providing plums, apples, and apricots too – her Sauerkirschen (cherries in syrup) were the stuff of legends and an unforgettable treat when we visited. She had a cellar full of preserved treasures that Aladdin would be proud of – I can still smell the musty dankness that always meant something yummy was about to emerge!

And as for her baking – well, that was just other worldly! Upon the hour of Kaffee und Kuchen traditionally enjoyed in the afternoon in Germany, she would offer up her legendary Erdbeerkuchen (strawberry flan), Kaesekuchen (cheesecake) and on rare and joyous occasions, my absolute favourite, Zwetchkenkuchen (damson cake). How she created such things in a Kueche the size of most people’s downstairs loo I shall never know!

This probably explains why for me the perfect ‘cake’ consists of some sort of orchard fruit, a plain vanillary or even spicy base and a nice helping of crunchy Streusel or crumble on top.  This combination of sharp, sweet moist fruit and stodgy base is just the perfect accompaniment to the obligatory cup of strong hot coffee! (They don’t drink tea! And if they do, it’s got lemon in it!)

These days I seldom get back to the ‘Fatherland’, but my love of German baked goods has never diminished. Sadly my talents in the baking department were not inherited from my Oma. My attempts to recreate these favourites have usually ended with disappointment, especially as the traditional recipes are often made with a yeast base – one too many processes for me!

So it was with utter delight that I discovered this particular recipe which I am sharing with you today – my super flexible fruity traybake – far from traditional, but creating the closest experience I can manage to my idea of cake heaven.

Best of all it is super simple recipe, involving just one pan, and can be adapted to use up just about any combination of left over or luscious soft or orchard fruits! Obviously I favour a plum or a damson, but it’s wonderful with peaches, raspberries, apples, apricots and even rhubarb! And throw in some blueberries if you want a modern twist!  My secret is to always keep a whole 250g pack of butter in the fridge, because that’s where this starts! Here’s how you can do it too!


  • 250g pack of butter
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • approx 200g of any soft fruit
  • a pinch of salt
  • crunchy topping – either flaked almonds, a dusting of icing sugar or ‘traditional Streusel’ or crumble!

For the Streusel:

  • 25g flour
  • 85g demerara sugar, plus 1 tbsp
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50g cold butter
  • 3 tbsp toasted, chopped hazelnuts


  • Line and grease a tray bake tin approx 20 x 30 cm.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
  • Melt the butter in a pan. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Add the sugar and eggs stirring constantly.
  • Add the vanilla essence.
  • Add the flour and almonds, stirring constantly.
  • Throw in a pinch of salt.
  • Pour into the tin.
  • Chop your fruit into 1cm size pieces or larger if you prefer and scatter over the top.
  • Make the Streusel by rubbing together all of the ingredients either by hand or in a food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Scatter over the fruit.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, and then cover with foil. Bake for a further 30 minutes, checking along the way.

Dust with icing sugar, cut into squares and serve!