Plant fun and thrift finds

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Starting to save seeds for next year!

 

Hey guys, it’s been one crazy summer for sure. Lots and lots of craziness got in the way of blogging, but now that I’ve got more time I’m back at it. Let’s talk about my most recent zero-waste and minimalist changes.

First things first, my pet project in both zero-waste and a minimalist lifestyle…growing my own food.

I’ve had lots of fun in the garden this summer, and am already planning for how I’m going to improve things next year. This year I added a raspberry plant and a blueberry bush to my growing list of plants in the yard. They’ve taken off beautifully, the raspberry plant alone has tripled in size this summer!

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I had everything from spaghetti squashes to potatoes and herbs in my garden. I’ve gotten 22 spaghetti squashes off the vines and still have another 9 growing ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m storing these guys in the basement on metal shelves to use during winter.

I also have quite a few potato plants, some already harvested but a lot that aren’t ready yet. I think potatoes are probably the easiest things to grow since you just take the sprouty ones sitting in the kitchen uneaten and plant them in the ground, water and sun and a few months to grow and you have a bunch of new potatoes ๐Ÿ™‚

Then of course I had carrots, beans, peas, zucchini, and somehow managed to get one measly cherry tomato plant to grow.

And of course I still have my aloe plant which has almost doubled in size.

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Growing your own food is probably one of the most satisfying ways I’ve moved towards a zero-waste lifestyle. Now I know some of you are thinking that I must have a green thumb, but trust me, I don’t. Take a look at this baby, I planted a BASIL seed or two in here, but you know what ended up growing….a Tomato plant! Don’t ask me how it happened, because I have no clue.

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I also end up with random watermelon vines growing in places I definitely did NOT plant them, and seeds sprouting months after I planted them. Let’s just say my plants have a mind of their own and they refuse to work around my schedule lol But there is nothing more satisfying than biting into a bit of produce you grew yourself, like a nice ripe blueberry or even fresh crisp peas right out of the pod, yum yum.

I’ve made another trip to the thrift store, and can I just take a minute to say how much I enjoy the thrift store! I always find the coolest stuff there and not only is it cheaper than buying new, you also don’t have packaging to deal with and your saving the planet by taking something that’s already in the waste stream.

Anywho, I found a cool new jar, some old school metal measuring cups, a cool metal watering can someone painted which is adorable ๐Ÿ™‚ Easy practical things I will definitely use again and again.

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Now there are some times when you need to buy something new. Case in point, my new blender. The poor old plastic one finally bit the dust and I wanted to buy a sturdy glass one that would work and last for years to come. So I did buy new, but it was an investment in something I use daily and it will last for years. And it’ll help me in my minimalist and zero-waste journey because I make my own fruit smoothies with it with my fresh garden fruit. Bonus points for eating healthy ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you grow your own food, if so what types do you enjoy growing the most? Any thrift finds you want to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. And for those of you buying new, what have you bought and how does it help you in your minimalist or zero-waste journey?

 

Xo Candice

 

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Drum roll please….I’m going vegan.

I know I know…it’s crazy right? Me, the meat and potato enthusiast going vegan….it is an event that I thought wouldn’t happen before the apocalypse.

I did a previous post on my questioning going vegan or not…if you haven’t read that yet, you can check it out here. And then I mentioned my failure at that experiment a few weeks later. I didn’t even last twenty-four hours, and I’m sure it was a combination of lack of motivation, and not really having done tons of research into it yet. (Knowledge= power)

First let me tell you, I live in a house of die hard meat eaters. All throughout my formative years our plates consisted of the “main course” a.k.a MEAT, and “side-dishes” or more commonly known as Veggies. I know how to cook a mean meatloaf, fry chicken, bread up some pork-chops, and even how to cook venison (A.k.a. Bambi). I have been the self-proclaimed cook in our family for years, and it was always the same thing.

Up until a few months ago I had never even tried to cook an entire meal without some sort of animal product component. Eggs, cheese, milk, cream…did I mention cheese? Yogurt, ice cream, creme brules. I did it all, and I have finally gotten to the point where I am ready to give it all up…in favor of something that is still considered kind of crazy, and a little bit weird.

I’m going to attempt going vegan.

For me this means that I will not be consuming any animal products such as meat, eggs, dairy, and things of that nature. (I will however continue to eat honey, because I love it and I buy it from my local orchards who have their own bees. This is the only thing I suppose that wouldn’t necessarily be considered “vegan”)

Why? Why would any person give up something that has been such a staple of their diet for years and years?

Well as most of you know by now I am very conscious about not only what I put on my body, the trash I produce, the chemicals in my home, but I am also concerned about what my choice to put into my body is doing to the environment.

Yes, yes, it is also about saving innocent animals, but for some reason that isn’t the largest motivator for me. For me it is how having a plant based diet can decrease your carbon footprint by a couple tons of methane gas, and how they stuff antibiotics and growth hormones into these animals in production and how those hormones and such are probably in their by-products as well (Milk and cheese, etc.). These are the things that motivate me…

…well…that and the fact that these items are notoriously more expensive to buy than plant products, especially if you are only willing to buy pasture-raised and free-range (all those good terms) products.

What can I say, I’m a realist.

And as a realist I have been tracking my grocery money down to the cent and have realized that I can get a lot more produce for the same price as I would spend on a smaller amount of animal products.

So, onto being a vegan. I have officially been free of animal products for 3 days now…yep 3 days and counting. So it is really new, but I have been contemplating it for a while. I did all my homework, watching documentaries like Planeat, which is a really good short documentary on the cost of producing animal products. I have read books, visited websites, watched youtube videos, the works. (Most people probably don’t do the sheer amount of research that I do, but as my grandfather said the other day “She is a nerd for knowledge!”)

I survived yesterday, Easter, and ate only vegetables while everyone else had ham and fried chicken wings….speaking of which, the leftovers of both are sitting in my fridge, and I have not been tempted to touch either one surprisingly enough. There is also butter, cream, milk, and the like sitting in there as well. But I am determined that I can get all of my nutritional needs from plants, and that my dollar will stretch a lot farther with organic produce than with organic meats.

The biggest challenge will be learning new ways to cook vegetables and such, I have a whole new way of cooking that I have to learn about. (Which just gives me another excuse to frequent the public library ๐Ÿ™‚ )

I have been having fun trying out new vegetables, I am now a big fan of spaghetti squash, which I had never even tried or heard of until a few months ago. I also find that I really like avocados, cucumbers, spinach, and even things like flax seeds.

Since becoming a zero-waster I have been making my own salad dressings and condiments, which I also find comes in handy with being vegan since I can control exactly what goes into everything I eat. Another perk of giving up most animal products is that it makes zero-waste grocery shopping a lot easier! Why? Because most meats and eggs and dairy products come in tons of packaging.

Besides the packaging, it is difficult to compost animal by-products like fat trimmings and such. I had to throw them out because they attract critters to compost bins. But all produce is completely compostable and for the most part I haven’t had any problems with critters or the like, there are tons of bugs in there though eating the scraps and turning them back into soil.

I am very new to veganism so if any of you have tips or links to articles or blogs you think I should check out, let me know.

I could also use some inspiration for new recipes, if you have any that are zero-waste friendly, grain-free, and vegan let me know in the comments!

XO,

Candice

Getting ready for the garden :)

I can’t believe it is already March! Winter certainly has flownย by this year, though this is Michigan….so winter may make a few more appearances before it’s through ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway since today was the first really warm day of the year I decided to go out and get some sun while starting a few things in the garden.

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Now in the summer it is lush and green, like the picture above. I always get lots of leaf lettuce and herbs out of my garden along with my veggies.

Today I went out and planted a few purple potatoes that have sprouted, as well as a garlic bulb and an onion. The potatoes will sprout into plants and multiply into many potatoes, while the garlic and onion more than likely will go to seed (which I can then save for next year’s garden).

The soil is nice and damp since the snow finally melted so it was easy to dig a couple of holes and plant away…

Then I went on the hunt for a fewย  cool pictures to share with all of you and guess what I found…peppermint, catnip, and moss! I’m pretty excited. The peppermint is very hearty and lasts from march til November…even in cold weather. The catnip has lasted almost the entire year, except for a month where it was too snowy for it to grow, but it’s back and ready to go. The moss is a new addition to the yard, it wasn’t there last year…but I love how soft and fuzzy it is.

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In another week or two, once the chance of snow really decreases, I’ll probably go out to the garden and flip some of the dirt over to aerate it, and I’ll take some of my finished compost out to fertilize the rest of the seeds and such that I’ll be planting.

I absolutely adore having a garden:

  1. Fresh produce is just minutes from your door.
  2. It gives you a healthier diet, let’s face it…no matter how hard you try, you can’t grow pizza from a plant.
  3. I control exactly how the produce is grown, no pesticides or plastic bag fertilizer, and I collect rainwater in big buckets for the garden.
  4. The veggies taste so Yummy right from the garden!
  5. Half of the time I don’t need to purchase seeds, I just use kitchen scraps…then there are the perennials that come back every year on their own like my leaf lettuce , chives, peppermint, spearmint, catnip, and thyme.
  6. It makes me get out and get some fresh air every day, and besides…getting in touch with nature is the easiest when you are growing your own food.
  7. I can point to my lunch plate and proudly proclaim “I grew that!”
  8. It makes your food bill smaller, saving you money ๐Ÿ™‚
  9. It’s both a Minimalist and Zero-Waste helper between my compost and less trips to the grocery store.
  10. Everything you eat out of the garden is extremely healthy for you, chalked full of vitamins and minerals.

“But Candice, what if I don’t have a backyard big enough for a garden like yours?”

Not to worry, you don’t need a huge backyard to make your own produce, you can always cultivate a window box garden or a porch garden with different sized buckets. Some people even have a small indoor garden right in their homes, it’s kind of like having an indoor plant, but you can’t forget to water it lol.

Even if you don’t think you have the room for those, I’ll bet you have a spare cup or jar and a window sill, you can start small with your favorite herb. ๐Ÿ™‚

Do any of you garden? If so I would love to hear about your favorite thing to grow in the comments!

My sugar journey (Requested post)

This post is a continuation of my sugar free post, I got a request to detail my journey to being mostly sugar free and to address if I used any sugar substitutes, etc.

In the last post I talked about my starting point ten years ago when I quit drinking soda cold turkey. It was miserable to say the least for the first week as I dealt with headaches and intense cravings for the sugary beverage. As a substitute for soda, I allowed myself a cup of koolaid every other day…koolaid was one step up in my opinion because I directly controlled the amount of sugar in it and I tended to put a bunch of ice-cubes in my glass to water it down and make it last longer.

Right after that…I did nothing. Seriously, at that point I was in High school and was not a very conscious eater about what I was putting into my body. I actually quit pop on a dare and to prove to my mother that it could be done. ๐Ÿ™‚

About 5 years later I started thinking about what I was eating, and I became increasingly frustrated by the ingredients lists on the back of processed foods. I mean really, can youย pronounce half of the ingredients in a box of ding dongs? I can’t.

So I thought about it, and started SLOWLY incorporating more vegetables and fruits into my diet. Skip forward another year and I decided to do an experiment because I was pretty sure that I was suffering from food intolerances. So I cut dairy completely from my diet and started feeling a bit better…then I cut gluten and eventually all grains from my diet.

Again at this point it wasn’t so much my goal to be “healthier” so much so as it was just to eliminate the symptoms I was having from the intolerances. A few months after eliminating those food items, I was feeling a thousand times better. All of the bloating, cramps, skin irritations, constipation, and general lethargies was evaporating as though it had never been there.

I no longer felt that heavy feeling after I ate, I could eat a huge meal and get right up and go without having to unbutton my pants (you know what I’m talking about lol). It was great. I started making more things from scratch since there weren’t as many options at the stores in packages.

I rode on that train for another few years and then a little over a year ago I started becoming interested in minimalism and Zero-waste, as well as watching documentaries on what is actually in our food and researching the effects of food dyes and preservatives on our bodies.

At that point I had easily cut out over 50% of the packaged foods I had been eating because I was no longer consuming grains or dairy. But I still was consuming more sugar than I should have. As I started incorporating Zero-waste principles into my daily living I realized that packaged foods are a modern invention that aren’t really healthy for us at all, and then there is that pesky problem of all the garbage they produce.

Anywho, over the coarse of the last year I have cut out 95% of packaged foods out of my diet and now am eating fresh foods like fruits and vegetables for most of my meals.

My taste buds have definitely changed over the past decade, and for me it was a very slow process. I did not do this overnight by any means, and I didn’t go cold turkey on sugar except for the soda, I slowly weaned myself off of the rest of it. There are some who can go completely cold turkey without any relapses, but I am not one of those people (except for the soda, but that was sheer stubbornness to win a dare). It takes time to incorporate any serious change into your lifestyle…baby steps in the right direction.

I hope this covered all of the questions I received, if you have any others please leave them in the comments.

Life without sugar, A.k.a. as little sugar as possible

The title might be a bit misleading…my lifestyle and dietary restrictions have really opened my eyes to the amount of sugar that is in everyday food items. Now do I live without consuming sugar at all?ย Hell no. I do enjoy my 85% dark chocolate bars, and there is sugar in BBQ sauce, as well as the occasional bit of dairy free ice cream….but for the most part I have been avoiding it.

This changeย hasn’t necessarily been intentional, more a by-product of my minimalist and zero-waste lifestyle and my dietary restrictions.

It has been one of the best things I could have done for myself though…let me explain why. ๐Ÿ™‚

It started over a decade ago when I made the very brave decision to quit drinking soda. It was pure torture for almost two weeks, I had withdrawal headaches and cravings like you wouldn’t believe…I felt like a drug addict that was going through detox. Which was pretty much what I was, a sugar addict going through detox.

A month later though…I was feeling a million times better. I suddenly had more energy, and my cravings for the soda were slowly but surely disappearing. A year later I took one sip of a soda and found that it was so sickeningly sweet that I spit it out. I haven’t consumed any since then.

When I was drinking it all the time I didn’t realize how sweet it was, my taste buds were used to it. Now a decade later and my taste buds have been on the detox of a lifetime.

Where before, dark chocolate was repulsive and bitter, I now can’t eat any less than 85% dark chocolate because I find it TOO SWEET. I can taste everything in it’s pure form and it is delicious. I find that fruits can satisfy my sweet tooth amply, with the occasional chocolate bar as a treat.

I’ve gone from eating tons of processed foods with hidden sugar disguised as corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, etc…to now eating 95% whole foods (a.k.a. ones without an ingredients list) and only perhaps 5% of my food is packaged or has a bit of sugar in it.

I’ve never felt better! I haven’t been sick or ill in over two years and I find that I have tons of extra energy. I’m no longer lethargic or lagging in the middle of the day, and I don’t have sugar highs or lows.

Now does this mean that I am recommending a lifestyle sans sugar or for you to nix goodies and treats all together…absolutely not. I just think that we need to be more aware of the sheer amount of sugar we are consuming. Anything in excess can be harmful to your health, especially sugar and really less is more. Now that my taste buds have adjusted to my healthier diet, I can actually taste when anything is amiss with my food or if there is an ingredient in it that I am not used to.

Bonus points, when you cleanse your palette of the excess sugar it also means you don’t have to use as much salt and other spices in your food to actually taste it. ๐Ÿ™‚

I mean really, everyone complains that it takes too much time to make things from scratch…but it doesn’t. Did you know it takes exactly the same amount to make Mac N’ Cheese from scratch with dry pastaย and fresh cheese as it does to make the artificial one from the box? The EXACT same amount of time, but the results are sooo much better both in taste and in health.

Even if you think I’m taking things to the extreme,ย I dare you to take one thing out of your diet (whichever bit contains the most amount of sugar) and stop eating it for one month. Just one. At the end of that month, try eating or drinking it again…I’ll bet it doesn’t taste the same as it did before…and you might evenย  a bit of extra energy you didn’t have before, or your skin might get clearer, or you may even lose a few pounds, who knows? The positive possibilities are endless ๐Ÿ˜‰

Have you gone on a sugar detox? Let me know in the comments!

To vegan or not to vegan?

I’m just going to cut to the chase…I’m thinking about going vegan.

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Even six months ago, had someone even told me that I would consider it I probably would have laughed until my stomach hurt. The fact of the matter is that I do ENJOY meat.

Chicken, burgers, steak, sausage…I used to devour it all. But here I am contemplating the benefits of veganism. I started cutting down my meat consumption a few months ago simply because it is expensive to buy grass fed meats in minimal packaging. Then for some reason about two months ago the smell of red meat started turning my stomach…it literally makes me nauseous. Sooo, I cut back and ate more fish instead, but fish gets incredibly boring, and again is more expensive than organic fruits and vegetables.

I WANT to try going vegan (I already do not eat dairy products because of lactose intolerance, and I’m not such a fan of eggs anyway), but I’m slightly worried that I won’t be able to consume enough calories during the day.

Let me explain, I am 5’10” and on the skinny side of the scale. I don’t consume grains either because of intolerance (my stomach cramps for days if I eat them)…so if I go vegan my diet will only consist of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy oils and vinegars.

That’s incredibly limiting. And I really don’t want to lose any weight.

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But I think I’m going to try it, at least for a few weeks to see how my body responds to it.

My reasons for trying/perhaps adopting veganism are:

  1. Budget, let’s face it…meat and fish are expensive, especially when you will only buy grass fed/wild caught through sustainable means.
  2. I’m already halfway there anyway, so why not go all the way?
  3. The way animals are treated before they get slaughtered is not something that you can be entirely sure of, unless you raise them yourself.
  4. Meat production produces a ton of carbon/methane emissions, and in general isn’t the healthiest thing for the planet.
  5. And lastly I’m curious if I can actually adopt the lifestyle and be content with my meals.

My rules for the next few weeks are…No meat or fish. No eggs. No dairy. The only animal product I am allowing myself is honey, because I already don’t consume very much sugar and honey is amazing. ๐Ÿ™‚

Have you tried a vegan diet? Do you still enjoy it and live by it? What were your reasons for trying it? Let me know in the comments.

Minimalist/Zero-waste Grocery shopping

Okay guys, Zero-waste shopping is almost impossible where I live. Ninety-nine percent of the stores prohibit the use of your own jars and fabric bulk bags.

It can be frustrating at times.

Where I live, I still get strange looks when I bring my own reusable bag to put my groceries in.

I am determined though to minimize my harmful impact on the environment, as well as minimize my living in general.

So I proudly bring my bags to the store that I shop at every week, and even the butcher now knows me by name and knows that even though he doesn’t accept jars, he only puts my meat in paper (no little plastic lining papers, etc.)

The cashier knows me as well. I find that once people get over the initial strangeness of your bags and the fact that you refuse to use plastic produce bags, they are rather friendly.

When asked, I just say that I don’t like having plastic wrapped around my food. That’s it. I don’t go into all the zero-waste/minimalist stuff unless they ask why I don’t like plastic.

Anyways…here is the picture of my grocery haul from this week.

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Okay, so even though the store doesn’t allow jars, I did a pretty good job avoiding plastic in general.

Let’s start with the bad news first…

Waste:

  1. Paper produce stickers on all potatoes
  2. Plastic stickers on onions, spaghetti squash, shallots and oranges.
  3. Paper wrapper for meat- will be recycled
  4. Box from tea-which is actually my mothers lol
  5. Can from tuna- will be recycled
  6. Glass jars from juice, oil, and BBQ sauce- all will be recycled.
  7. Metal lids from juice and BBQ sauce- will be recycled.
  8. 1 plastic lid on the oil…I tried to avoid it, really I did. but all of the oils have plastic lids since they do not have a liquid bulk section. I use the oil for salad dressings and mayonnaise. I don’t think it can be recycled ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Now for the good news…

  • All the produce that I bought was loose, without being wrapped in those plastic mesh bag thingies.
  • The lettuce had no stickers of any kind.
  • They forgot to label all the garlic too, so I got by without any packaging at all on those.
  • All of the food is healthy, organic, and more sustainably produced than it’s conventional counterparts ๐Ÿ™‚

Why? Why bother tallying up trash and limiting my shopping to pretty much package less food?

  1. I don’t like plastic. Period. I really think that having your food wrapped in a sheet of oil is kind of gross. Don’t even get me started on how the giant grocery store near me individually wraps all of the organic produce in plastic, even the peppers and zucchini, really? Is that necessary?
  2. I don’t like having to deal with trash.
  3. I really enjoy having my cupboards filled with glass jars that do not have tons of product names and labels on them, it is so pretty without all of the visual garbage. ๐Ÿ™‚
  4. I eat healthier. What can you get without packages? Whole foods. Healthy foods. Fruits, veggies, meats, etc.
  5. My life is easier in general, I know exactly what I am getting at the store before I go, I can be in and out in less than twenty minutes. Twice a week at most and I end up spending a max of forty minutes in the store.
  6. Less food waste, because I buy less food. It is really easy to see what you have when it is in Wicker baskets sitting by the table or in glass jars in the fridge and pantry.
  7. Last but certainly not least…I know exactly what I am buying, because there is no confusing packaging or mile long ingredients list, it is just real food. A banana is a banana, the end.

Minimalism, Zero-Waste and birthdays

Cool-Happy-Birthday-HD-WallpaperHey guys, I am pretty excited because my birthday is Monday, I’m turning 23. This will be the first birthday I am celebrating as a minimalist/aspiring zero-waster.

I’m trying to find the best balance between sticking to my zero-waste and minimalist values, but also cutting loose and just having some fun. Let’s face it, you only get one life….so why not enjoy it?

On top of the minimalist/zero-waster in me I also have to deal with a Paleo diet, and finding some sort of food that I can have as my “treat” for my birthday. Birthdays have been kind of weird since my switch to a Paleo diet, because I can’t have the traditional cake and ice cream/cookies/donuts/etc that would normally be the main attraction. Most of the time I end up having my food and the rest of my family eats their normal food and treats, and they still make me blow out candles on a cake that they are going to eat, not me.

This year is going to be a bit different, because I finally am finding more paleo foods in the grocery store. I found a paleo-ish frozen pizza that I can eat, as well as pasta made from almond flour (I got it for free because they had a coupon! Hooray for free pasta!) I also am having coconut milk ice cream. None of these items are completely Zero-waste, but it is my birthday, sooo I am letting myself have it anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

For the minimalist in me, I am keeping things pretty low key this year. Dinner with family, maybe a movie…then I am kicking everyone out of the house for a few hours while I enjoy a glass of wine and a new book ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m looking forward to it.

For those of you who can actually eat grains and such, I have a few ideas to keep your birthday waste to a minimum, and satisfy your minimalist side:

  1. Make your own cake/treats, less waste and they taste waaayyy better!
  2. Resist the urge to purchase disposable dishes and cutlery, it doesn’t take that long to wash real dishes or load up the dish washer.
  3. Gifts- ask for money or giftcards or just having their presence…I don’t need any more random trinkets in my home.
  4. Nix the party favors, or opt for edible ones instead.
  5. For those of you over the age of 21, grab a few friends and just have a night in, wine, girl talk, netflix binging, the works ๐Ÿ™‚
  6. Or if you are more of an extrovert, take #5 and instead of staying in, go out on the town.

Experiences instead of stuff birthday ideas:

  1. Girl’s night in/out
  2. Go to a concert
  3. Check out a museum
  4. Movies
  5. Go dancing
  6. Take a class (cooking, dancing, etc.)
  7. Go out to the park/beach/nature
  8. Or if you need to de-stress, sleep in and stay in your pj’s all day ๐Ÿ™‚