Loving them Berries

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

I’ve got dinner plans with my own mother and grandmother later, so I’ll make this a short one.

Last summer at the farmers market I bought a good five pounds of blueberries from one of the vendors there. When I got home I froze them individually and then stored them in mason jars in my freezer. Safe to say during this past winter when berry prices skyrocketed I was quite glad I bought those berries. But besides eating them whole, I’ve recently started using them in fruit smoothies…Delicious!

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Today I finally used my last jar of frozen blueberries to make a triple berry smoothie (mostly zero-waste style). I used fresh strawberries, my blueberries, raspberry sorbet, and some almond milk (which does come in a carton, but I’m okay with that since I need the calcium boost).

But the whole 5 pounds of blueberries lasted me the whole winter, and for only $25 bucks too. In the dead of winter blueberries can go for over $5 for a 6oz package. So the five pounds, safe to say was a total steal at the farmers market. And as an added boost they came package free except for a small cardboard box, and they helped support a local farmer. So win-win!

If you don’t have a farmers market, you could always garden and then preserve your own veggies and fruit, that’s my plan for this year and whatever I don’t grow myself I’ll supplement with things from the farmers market. I already have lettuce, spinach, potato plants, squash, zucchini, peas, and green beans sprouting in the garden. I can’t wait for their first harvest.

If you haven’t tried preserving or freezing food for the winter, I’d definitely recommend it, especially for things like berries and tomatoes. Speaking of which….

I just finally used my last jar of tomato sauce I made from a big batch of 30 tomatoes from the farmers market last year. They cost like $4 and made 9 mason jars worth of sauce. Tip: Ask the vendor if they have any “ugly” tomatoes they’d sell for cheap. Since they’re going in a sauce to preserved they don’t have to be pretty 🙂

One afternoon of work and cooking, and I had a whole winter’s worth of spaghetti sauce/marinara sauce. Totally worth it in my book.

Are there any foods you preserve for the colder months, if so which are your favorites? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

 

Xo

Candice

Saving seeds, Zero-waste style

Hey guys,
It’s been a crazy few weeks and it’s officially fall here. I’m a devout fan of spring and summer and usually don’t care for fall, but the colors on the trees have been quite beautiful lately as the tops of the trees are red, melding into orange and finally green still at the bottom.

Considering the declining weather, I’m pleasantly surprised that I still have things alive and growing in the garden. I have onions, potatoes, parsley, catnip, mint, green onions, and chives still alive and kicking. My poor watermelon died before maturing fully, and the gopher devoured my squash, but the rest is still good.

As you all know I’ve started an indoor garden for the winter. I planted green beans, parsley, spinach, lettuce, carrots, and a green onion. So far the beans have taken off really well, and the rest have sprouted and are getting bigger by the day.

I even took one of the green onions from the garden, used the top of it and replanted the bottom bulb, which is now regrowing (pic on the bottom right).

Tying that into today’s topic….saving seeds Zero-waste style….is super easy. Here’s what you do:

  1. Take whatever fruit/veggie you want to save the seeds from and cut the seeds out. This pic is a bunch of green and red bell pepper seeds I’m saving…and a few spinach seeds in the upper left part 🙂
  2.  Dry said seeds on a napkin/cotton cloth in a sunny window until they are completely dry. I mean, literally, 100% dry. If you put them away before they’re completely dry, they’ll mold and get yucky (believe me, you don’t want to clean that up).

3. The last step is to put them away in storage until you plan to use them. I repurposed this handy dandy old pill organizer for the job. (Of course I happened to have more seeds than pill compartments, so I put the rest in the black box.)

 

Now why should you go through all the trouble to dry your own seeds? First, because it reduces your overall waste, and saves them from randomly growing in your compost bin. Second, you won’t have to buy those little seed packets at the store if you save your own which not only saves the packaging but also saves you money. 🙂 and third, because it’s fun to start your own garden without spending a ton of cash to make it happen.

Did I also mention how fulfilling it is to be self-sufficient with growing your own food? It’s a literal representation of the “circle of life” (cue Lion King music).

If you’re just starting to venture into the idea of gardening, you can always experiment with pepper seeds, green beans (which you dry inside their shell then peel the outer green bean away to get to the seed inside), garlic (the clove is the seed), potatoes (let ’em sprout and then plant), watermelons, etc. Any seeds easy to get to are best.

So be adventurous and give it a go, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you can do with that green thumb.

Psst…the giant green bean plant I have growing, along with all of my other indoor garden plants were grown with seeds I harvested from my garden this year. 🙂

Do you save your own seeds? How about gardening? If you do, or have any questions, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

xo,

Candice

New uses for old things…

A lot of people use minimalism and Zero-waste as an easy excuse to get rid of things. Things that don’t fit their lifestyles anymore, things that aren’t useful or aesthetically pleasing, etc. They donate or sell the unwanted items, or even give them to family and friends, which is great. But what do you do with the things that can’t be donated/recycled/ or given away? I’m not against downsizing by any means, I’ve done it myself. But now that I’m at a happy equilibrium with my things, when something loses it’s usefulness I have to ask myself if it’s really “dead” or if I can save it somehow so it isn’t wasted.

A big part of my new minimalist/zero-waste approach to life is finding new uses for old things before they find their way to the trash. Making as little trash as possible necessitates getting a little creative.

For example, I found a few of my socks have gotten new holes in them. I’ve patched the holes before, but the poor things have finally bit the dust. Now, normally I would’ve thrown them straight into the trash….but, I found myself thinking if there was anything else I could use them for to extend their life.

I thought about turning them into rags, but the holes were in the way, so I came up with something else. I cut the stretchy parts off the tops and am going to save the soft fabric of the foot of the socks to stuff a pillow later. But for the stretchy parts (which would be quite uncomfortable inside of a pillow), I had to do something else.

 

For the long socks, I decided to fold the stretchy part down and turn it into wrist sweat-bands.

And for the shorter one, I folded it over on itself and did a quick hand stitch to hold it in place. Now it is a stretchy hairband/scrunchie 🙂

So, I now have new sweat bands, a hair tie, and some fabric to save for a future pillow. Not bad for a few old socks, if I do say so myself. 🙂

It might not seem like much, but it’s a small change in a way of thinking that not only helps give things a second or third life, but it also saves simple things like old socks from ending up in the waste stream before their time.

This isn’t the first time I’ve repurposed/upcycled old items. I’ve turned an old pair of shorts and an old t-shirt into handkerchiefs. I’ve turned an old t-shirt into a reusable bag. Repurposed old worn out sheets into soft cat bedding for my kitties. Used an old coffee pot, punch bowl, and baking dishes to create an indoor garden. I’ve even used old trash cans as catchers for rain water from our porch, which I then use to water my garden.

Now I know some of you are thinking “Candice, don’t you thinking you’re taking this a bit too far? I mean, socks, really? Just toss them.”

But that’s the thing, they are socks, but their not JUST socks. They are a purchase I made that I am now responsible for disposing of when they have ended their usefulness. So, instead of simply tossing them, I found a creative new way to use them. This might seem crazy, but it is how I apply my values to the way I live. I want to produce as little trash as possible, and take into account the amount of resources I’m using to minimize my harmful impact on the planet.

I’ve been called a “hippy” before, but it’s a title I wear with pride.

Have you done any upcycling lately? Reinvented an old appliance/piece of clothing, etc? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Xo,

Candice

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!