Compostable shoes!

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Hey guys,

Lately I’ve been working towards a new goal of mine, to have a completely natural wardrobe….or in other words, a wardrobe where my pieces (once dead) will be completely compostable! (Another post on my progress will be coming soon)

So far I’ve converted about 85% of my wardrobe to pieces made of natural fabrics such as cotton, wool, cashmere, and hemp. All of the pieces have been thrift finds, until now.

Reasons to thrift:

  1. The clothes are already in the waste stream, and I’m giving them a second life before they become garbage. So it’s eco-friendly 🙂
  2. Less waste as opposed to normal shopping, most things only leave with a small paper tag attached, so very little in the way of new trash.
  3. It’s cheap! Easy on my budget.
  4. And I find it fun to look for new uses for old things, and thrift store shopping can be fun….like a scavenger hunt lol.

So, as a result almost 95% of my wardrobe has been thrifted over the years. I just recently started replacing my old synthetic fabric pieces with natural ones….

Why?

  1. Natural fabric is so much better for your skin. I personally don’t itch in natural fabric but can’t stop itching if I happen to sweat in a synthetic fabric shirt.
  2. Along the same lines, natural fabric is just that…Natural…no plastic weaves or nasty man-made synthetic fabrics that pollute the world not only during production and disposal, but also when you wash them (google polyester water pollution). Cotton, hemp and the like have no such problems. (as a caveat cotton is produced most of the time with pesticides, but at least the end product is compostable and nowhere near as harmful as some of the synthetics)
  3. They breathe!
  4. Do I even need another reason?

Anyway, when I was looking into switching up my wardrobe I also wanted to look into shoes and undergarments, etc. And as most of you know it is incredibly difficult to find good shoes and undergarments at a thrift store, so I knew I would have to buy new. But when buying new I have strict standards and I wanted only the best quality made in the least harmful way possible. While researching I happened upon a small company based in Canada (Rawganique) that makes and sells their own clothing, bras, etc and since I decided to order a custom made 100% organic cotton bra from them…I figured I’d try out the shoes too.

Boy am I happy I did 🙂

Check them out….made of 100% hemp fabric and a 100% natural rubber sole, these babies are cute and eco-friendly…and pretty comfy too!DSC04084DSC04082

They came with a small amount of recyclable packaging (as I requested) and the only bit of plastic is from the tape they used to seal the package, the rest will go right into recycling 🙂

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The best part is that these babies will be able to go right into my compost bin….years from now….when they finally bite the dust. Until then, I’m going to enjoy them.

It’s hard to find companies and brands that meet my ethical standards while also being within my budget and fashionable as well, but Rawganique really knocked this one out of the park. I really like the company because they are chemical-free, sweatshop-free, and make everything with sustainable fabrics. They also do a lot of products custom made (like bras), so you’re guaranteed it will fit. They even had me measure my foot to make sure they were sending me the right size 🙂

(And for those of you wondering, NO I do not get paid to sponsor them in any way, this is simply a great review from a very satisfied customer)

Have any of you tried natural shoes? Or have anything made out of hemp? As always I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Xo,

Candice

When things don’t go as planned…

This summer has been quite the lesson in how well-laid plans can go awry. I had a great plan for our garden and how I was going to get a ton of peas and squash and potatoes, etc.

Then the gopher happened…

He’s such a boob. Bigger than my fat cat and easily twice as fast, he currently lives in our neighbors yard and will crawl under the fence to trapeze through ours. He’s cute, don’t get me wrong…just a pest of the worst kind.

Here’s the problem with him. He ate ALL my peas…over 3/4 of my squash plants…the cucumber sprouts…and is now nibbling on my squash bulbs and watermelons…see those bite marks? Those were from him.win_20160925_152801

And last year he ate all my mom’s cabbage.

Thankfully he didn’t touch the potatoes, onions, lettuce, spinach, herbs, green beans, or the radishes or I really would’ve hated him.

So, long story short, my plans for an overly abundant garden fell through…mainly because he ate it. But it did inspire me to try something new…indoor gardening for the winter.

I wanted a way to have some fresh produce here in the colder months, which is pretty much half of the year here. So I improvised.

I went through our current donation box and repurposed a few things…

Like an old glass coffee pot missing the coffee maker…win_20160925_152627

Some glass cups and punch bowl we NEVER used…win_20160925_152632

And a few old surplus baking dishes…

Add a bit of potting soil, a few saved seeds from this year’s garden, and voilà! A cute indoor garden 🙂

Since these babies have been in a consistent temperature, have gotten plenty of sunlight in the window, and are watered on a regular basis, they’ve taken off beautifully. I planted the seeds a week ago and they’re already getting big 🙂

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So now I’ll have fresh leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, green beans, carrots, parsley, and onions through the winter. And when this batch runs it’s course, I’ll simply throw in a bit of compost and start again with new seeds.

It goes to show that you don’t have to have a huge backyard to garden. All you need is a box/jars of some sort, dirt, seeds, sunlight and water.

So my nice plans took a turn, but if they hadn’t I wouldn’t have come up with the idea to try indoor gardening. Wherever one door shuts, a window is opened. The only thing I wouldn’t recommend is starting a watermelon plant indoors… haha here’s how big ours is outside…poor guy’s a bit wilted from the heat but it’s supposed to rain tonight, so he should perk up by tomorrow, fingers crossed*win_20160925_152817

Do you garden indoors/outdoors? What are your favorites to plant? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

XO,

Candice

Zero-Waste/Minimalism Grocery progress

Hey hey, I can’t believe it’s been like two weeks since my last post. Life is to blame, I’ve been extra busy these past few week with a sick relative, and time just got away from me.

Besides that, it has officially been 1 year since I started my minimalist/Zero-waste journey!

Anywho, I wanted to share a big win that I had today when I went grocery shopping. I’ve blogged before about the grocery store that I normally frequent and how they won’t let me bring my own jars…but they do let me bring cloth bags. I do enjoy shopping at the Better Health Store still, mainly for organic produce and my juices. But recently I found Fresh Thyme farmers market (which is actually a brick and mortar store, with something like 30 locations in the midwest!), they do let people bring their own jars, tare them, and the biggest bonus…their bulk section is amazing! Not only do they have a few hundred dried bulk bins with everything from coffee, to beans, nuts, flours, granola, and candies. They also have liquid bulk in the form of honey, syrup, peanut butter, oils, and vinegars 🙂

Safe to say, I was extremely excited when I first checked them out. But today I finally went for a big shopping trip so I could stock up for a few weeks. Here’s what I got…

 

Between the two stores, I got:

  • Avocados
  • Potatoes
  • Raisins (in bulk)
  • Watermelon
  • A Tomato
  • Raspberry Lemonade (Glass container with deposit, so i’ll return it to the store for them to reuse)
  • Juice (from the health store, glass jars and metal lids will be recycled)
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Coconut flour and Garbanzo flour (bulk)
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Onions
  • Raw energy bars (bulk) made with dates, coconut, cocoa powder, etc.

And out of all of that I only had this much trash:

The trash was produce stickers (I try to avoid them, but sometimes it is inevitable) and a plastic tag that the spinach was bundled together with.

That’s it.

Recycling: Two glass juice jars, two metal lids, and 1 sneaky little plastic rim that came on the lemonade.

Food waste: All scraps will be composted.

 

It may not seem like such an accomplishment, but as someone who used to produce a huge garbage bag of trash each week a year ago, to now producing…

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…this much trash in over 2 weeks, it’s quite the accomplishment for me. 🙂

Every little bit helps.

The best part is that I no longer am in the rotation for taking the trash bags out at 7am, mainly because I don’t produce that much trash anymore. Not my garbage, not my walk to the curb lol

Besides the zero-waste aspect of it, my diet has now allowed me to incorporate minimalism into my shopping. I can make my grocery trips to two separate stores in less than an hour, since I know exactly what I will be buying and where it is located in the store, it minimizes the time I used to spend “perusing” the aisles looking for something tasty.

I don’t consume processed foods for the most part, and have almost entirely eliminated processed sugar from my diet….except for that jar of lemonade, dear god is it sugary! I never would have even noticed the taste of sugar in it before, but now it is almost overwhelming since I’ve cleansed my palette. It’s something I don’t see myself buying very often, and if I do it will probably last me an entire month.

So to recap, bulk is amazing, produce stickers are a pain, and I have cut down my trash to practically nothing .(except for my cats trash of course, which I will not be keeping in a bucket lol)

 

How have you cut back on waste in the kitchen?

 

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 🙂 )

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

5 Things to do with that old Bamboo toothbrush

Hey everyone, I did a previous post on how I switched out my plastic toothbrushes for bamboo ones…and this is the update.

I absolutely love bamboo toothbrushes, I have tried a few different brands in the past year and find that most work rather well. Most recently I have used both the Brush with Bamboo brand as well as Mother’s Vault.

The thing is, that eventually you are going to have to replace your toothbrush, it is inevitable whether you use a plastic one or a bamboo one. I find that it is usually time to replace my bamboo toothbrush when the bristles start naturally coming out of their little sockets. Once two of the sockets are empty I retire the toothbrush and grab a new one.WIN_20150823_084825

What I have found though, is five different uses for the bamboo toothbrush before it eventually ends up in my compost pile. Now, this list may apply to some and not to others, but for those of you looking for a way to re-purpose your toothbrush and get a new life out of it, here we go….

  1. Take the toothbrush, minus any bristles that have fallen out, and use it as a nail brush. It comes in pretty handy after gardening when my nails are full of dirt. It saves me from having to purchase a separate nail brush, which saves money, and it reuses something I already have, which is satisfyingly Eco-friendly. 🙂
  2. Once it has expired it’s life as your nail brush it is time for use #2. As a cleaning tool. I use these babies for scrubbing the grout (we have a very old tile shower that has LOTS of grout to be scrubbed). Or cleaning the floor, or just to get into hard to reach places.
  3. Once it has been a toothbrush, a nail brush, and a cleaning brush, then it has a few options. Option 1 is that it can become a marker for your garden. I like to write down the type of plant on the handle of the brush (after trashing the bristles) and then stick it in the dirt as a cute marker.
  4. Option number 2 after you rip the bristles out it can become a craft stick for some sort of art project. This is a great one if you have kids, they can make a few of them into a stick house or a picture frame….get creative.
  5. Or, if you are like me you probably have pets. I currently have 2 birds as well as 2 cats.

    The one on the left is Honey and the one on the right is Lulu. It was incredibly difficult to get them to sit still long enough for a picture…they aren’t keen on selfies 😀 My birds specifically love destroying things, they rip apart their ladders and branches with a single-mindedness that astounds me. They will tear apart popsicle sticks, cardboard, newspapers, you name it they use it to sand down their beaks. Anywho, I can always stick one of the handles in their cage and they will rip it into shreds within a few days. Then I simply take the remains and compost them. If you don’t have birds, I suppose you could always use it as a fetch stick for a smaller dog…

That’s it. My five tried and true uses for old bamboo toothbrushes. Do you have a use that I missed? If so leave it in the comments! 🙂

Getting ready for the garden :)

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

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 few  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 🙂
  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. 🙂

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

Produce bags/spice bags tutorial

Hey guys, it’s been a very interesting week. Before we get to the tutorial I wanted to share a few updates…first off on the vegan challenge…

I failed, miserably..

I think it was more a product of #1 living with other people who eat meat and just happened to offer me some leftovers, and #2 lack of meal planning for the week. I am determined to try fresh this week and see how I do…more updates to come.

On a side note I wanted to share with you that as a family of four (three of whom are not zero-waste/minimalist) we have cumulatively decreased our amount of trash from 3-4 garbage bags per week down to 1 which isn’t even 100% full. I’m pretty excited about this 🙂 The rest of the family is finally starting to get on board remembering what is recyclable/compostable, etc. Yay for baby-steps!

Now, on to the tutorial. It all started when I noticed that most of the “reusable” bags they sell at the grocery stores and such are 1. Not very sturdy 2. Made of synthetic fabrics and 3. Kind of ugly…just sayin.

Then there is always the fact that the stores I frequent do not allow you to bring your own jars…but they don’t have any problem with you bringing bags!

So, being the thrifty person I am I did what any self-respecting eco-conscious person would do…I went shopping in my basement 🙂 As a family we always tend to have things in our home that aren’t being used that I conveniently find new uses for. For example…the extra garbage can that I DIY’d into a compost bin. And now I found a few yards or so of 100% cotton as well as a spool of 100% cotton thread and a bit of scrap crocheting string that happens to also be 100% cotton. So I whipped out my home-made sewing kit and voila, reusable cotton produce and spice bags! The best part is that they are super simple and easy to make.

What you’ll need:

  1. Fabric, natural and eco-friendly is a plus such as cotton, hemp, etc. You can also get really crafty and use old towels or sheets to make your bags…even an old t-shirt will work.
  2. Needle
  3. Thread, again I used 100% cotton, none of that synthetic stuff.
  4. A string of some sort for the drawstring, I used crocheting string.
  5. Pins
  6. Scissors
  7. Sewing machine * optional, Patience is definitely needed if you are sewing by hand 🙂

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First things first I cut strips of the cotton to the size I wanted and folded them over to look like little rectangles. Then I pinned the sides together to hold them while I sewed a semi-straight line down the sides. You can use a machine if you like really straight lines, but I found it easier to hand sew them (that and my sewing machine hates me, it never works when I need it to) WIN_20160224_161903WIN_20160224_164847

Once this part is done there should be three closed sides and one that is still open. There are now a few different ways you can make closures for the opening, firstly you could simply fold over the top edge on both sides and sew it to look like a small pillow case (if you don’t need a closure) I would use this type of finishing for a bread bag or for bags that are going to be larger and hold bigger produce like potatoes, etc. The second way is to do what you would do with the first, but to add a button on one side and a opening on the other for the button to go through. I use these types of bags for lettuce or green onions, etc. Things that won’t easily fall out. 🙂

The third way, which I will show you today, is to take the final edge and make a drawstring closure. It sounds complicated, but all it takes is a little string and a hole. Take a look…WIN_20160224_170136WIN_20160224_170235WIN_20160224_170740WIN_20160224_172436

Once you finish sewing underneath the thread, make sure that both ends of the string are threaded through the little hole and then flip it right side out. You now have a snazzy produce or spice bag depending on the size you made.

Notice that I did not use a ruler or even a straight edge for that matter, I simply eyeballed it, and it turned out semi-symmetrical. It doesn’t have to be perfect since it is just a tool to hold spices and such at the store. If you want you can always be super precise and make them fancier if you like. But for me I enjoy my plain white cotton bags with cotton thread and string. Simple and easy 🙂

The best part? When they finally rip and die I can compost them and return them back to the earth!

Minimizing Food Waste

Food waste can be the king of all waste for some…I should know, I used to throw away/discard food all the time and never thought twice about it. That is, until I started becoming a minimalist and zero-waster.

Simplify. Yes, simplify, that is the key to eliminating food waste. We all have those 5-10 dishes that we make incredibly well and are our go-to meals. I have found that by keeping my shopping to those ingredients for those dishes I have generated a lot less waste.

“but Candice, isn’t eating the same thing boring?”

That’s the thing, I buy the same staple ingredients, but that doesn’t mean that I have to use them in the same way every time I cook with them.

Let me give you an example…

A staple in my diet is potatoes, whether they be purple, white, or red. But I know at least seven or eight different ways to cook the potatoes, and that way I have one ingredient but I can use it a bunch of different ways. Whether you mash, roast, fry, put them in a stew, etc. It doesn’t matter, it’s one thing that I buy that does many different things.

Another brilliant example is coconut oil. This stuff is literally a miracle, it can be used for cooking, baking, in toothpaste, as a lotion, moisturizer, conditioner, etc. It does a million things, but I am only buying one jar at the grocery store.

Basically I buy things that can do double duty 🙂

So here’s an example of a recent grocery list:

  1. Potatoes
  2. Onions
  3. Garlic
  4. Bananas
  5. Apples
  6. Oranges
  7. Mango
  8. spaghetti squash
  9. Coconut oil
  10. Vinegar
  11. Eggs (pasture raised)
  12. Lemon
  13. And usually some sort of meat (local, pasture raised and grass fed.)

This may not seem like much, but I know how to use each ingredient in a few ways.Not only does this decrease food waste (because you know you are going to use your ingredients) but it also saves you money, because you aren’t buying a bunch of things that you don’t need/won’t use/ will go bad before use.

How I use a lemon:

  1. The zest can be used in salad dressings and cooking.
  2. The juice I use for cooking and dressings.
  3. I also use the juice for cleaning and for sugaring.
  4. What’s left over after that gets nuked with some water to clean out the microwave.
  5. And lastly, anything left over hoes in the compost.

Another way I cut back on food waste is by eating at least 90% of what is in my fridge/pantry before I make my next grocery trip.

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Yep, you read that right, before.

This cuts back on waste and it makes things interesting because I end up with a few random ingredients left at the end of each week that I get to play around with to make a new dish. Hence the “it doesn’t get boring” part 🙂

Lastly, I always compost any food scraps that I have left over at the end. So 0% of my food ends up in the trash can.

 

Home-made Condiments :)

Hi everyone, I hope you’re enjoying the New Year. I wanted to update you guys on my resolutions, as well as a few other challenges I have been a part of. I also wanted to show you the Condiments that I made today in less than 15mins.

First off, I’m coming up on my six month mark of being make-up free….and I really am not missing make-up as much as I thought I would. Actually, it is much easier to get ready in the morning without it…although I do sometimes wish that I had a bit of eye-liner, I figure once July roles around that I might try my hand at making my own make-up (mostly just eye liner and maybe a bit of powder). But all is going well on that front.

Secondly, is my resolutions….have you stuck with yours? I mostly have. I am just a few days away from being completely finished with my editing of my novel. I also have been following the no-spend 2016 challenge…except for $2, I spent it on a lotto ticket. Feeling kinda guilty, but it just doubles my resolve to keep denying myself and sticking to my minimalist budget.

Besides that, I finally switched my banking to sending me emailed statements instead of paper, reducing my paper clutter 🙂 I also wanted to spend more time in nature…but given the fact that it is only 17 degrees out, that isn’t going to happen until it warms up a bit lol.

The last one, which is what I started today…was to start making more things at home. Zero-wasting by using what I already have, and minimizing the things I need to buy.

Sooo…

I tried my hand out at making my own condiments today, and it turned out pretty well. WIN_20160111_142711From left to right we have barbeque sauce, mayonnaise, and a balsamic vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was the easiest, this jar has 3 lines on it that say V, W, O. Pretty much measuring out the vinegar, water, and oil that makes up the salad dressing. I already had the balsamic vinegar and the oil, so I was using ip what I already had, without having to buy a new bottle of salad dressing.
The mayonnaise was a bit trickier, the first batch turned out badly so I nixed the lemon and just used egg yolks, vinegar, Dijon mustard, and oil. I had all of them on hand already 🙂 It’s pretty yummy and less than half the cost of what I would pay for the same amount at the store…win-win!

Barbeque sauce…I’m still playing around with the recipe for this one, but each batch turns out pretty good. Basically it’s tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, sugar, honey, and some cornstarch and water to thicken it up.

So, all in all it was a successful experiment, and now I won’t have to buy condiments anymore. (for those of you who are wondering, I don’t really use ketchup which is why I didn’t make any)

I also had some extra time so I squeezed some fresh OJ…

WIN_20160111_144625Next stop…home-made Apple cider vinegar!

Baby Steps in the kitchen

Now that it is officially 2016, I am in a minimizing/zero-wasting motivational high. These past few days alone I have gone through my things and donated an entire garbage bag full of unused items.

Most of you know that I live with three other people, which can make minimizing and zero-wasting tricky…I think of it as a challenge.

I started this journey by doing a bathroom/bedroom makeover…I donated copious amounts of clothing that no longer fit/I didn’t wear, I completely re-did my bathroom routine swapping out brand names for home-made toothpaste, deodorant, etc.

These two areas were the “safe” areas. A.K.A. the ones that no one would complain about because it only affected myself.

Now I am moving on to the kitchen, the kitchen has always been a point of contention within my family. I think that we have waaayyy to many items in the kitchen, everything from gadgets to utensils that we never use. They however think that we “need” every item although I do most of the cooking and never use them.

Safe to say that we agree to disagree on the point. Anywho, One of my family members is out of town and I am determined to prove that most of our kitchen “daily mess” is his, not mine. So I started by cleaning everything in the kitchen, and I mean Everything.

Our kitchen counter tends to be a dumping ground for dirty dishes, etc. I cleared it all up, and with permission from my mother I boxed up half of our dishes, and donated a few unused items. I kept just enough dishes for us to use, four people and we now have 6 large plates in rotation instead of 20.

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It has cut down on the counter clutter, that and a new rule that anyone who uses a dish must wash it immediately when finished. It is easier to wash one than fifty.

So far I will say that it is working beautifully. I also went through and got rid of expired pantry items, and am determined to use most of the items left in there before I go grocery shopping again.

Another part of my kitchen clean up involved shelving our toaster, it used to sit out on the counter and was only used once a day at most. It now has a home underneath the counter and can be pulled out when used then put away. It frees up enough counter space for me to have my temporary compost bin and fruit bowl on the countertop, both of which I use multiple times daily. I think it looks sort of pretty, what do you think?

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Now of course there are going to be things that I cannot change, like the giant pack of ramen noodles on the shelf in the first picture (my brothers) and the dish drain that I think is rather unnecessary but the rest of the family uses. But I think it is a nice start.

I also have been using my mason jars and the bulk section at the store for my shelf in the pantry…

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I also have done a bit of experimenting today, I ventured into making my own barbeque sauce, which was easy enough to make since we had most of the ingredients on hand already. I also made my own salad dressing.

Check out my Zero-Waste dinner:

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From left to right: 1 salad with avocado. 1 jar of home-made BBQ sauce, 1 jar of home-made vinaigrette, 3 small pieces of flank steak (grass fed), 1 glass of home-made mango/orange/apple juice, and finally 1 mashed purple potato with garlic.

It was delicious 🙂

What changes have you made in your kitchen?