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

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Farmer’s Market love :)

Last year a farmer’s market finally opened close enough to make it convenient to visit every week during the summer when it’s open. Safe to say I was exceptionally excited about it 🙂 They continued this year and even have a few new vendors.

This past week I went and checked out the different stands with everything from fruits, veggies, honey, and other home-made goodies. I made out like a bandit!

Normally at the regular grocery stores or even the health stores tomatoes are easily 50 cents or more per tomato. At the farmers market I spent about $10 on tomatoes and ended up with more than 25 tomatoes of various shapes and sizes. I also got five pounds of fresh blueberries and a bucket of potatoes.

With the tomatoes I made some home-made spaghetti sauce. Tomatoes, onions from the garden, oregano from the bulk section, salt, and almost a whole head of garlic and voilà, a whole pot of sauce. With all the tomatoes combined I ended up with 8 jars of sauce (there are 9 in the picture because I still have one left over from a smaller test batch I made a few weeks ago), easily enough to last the whole winter 🙂 The best part is they’re delicious and I made them for about a dollar a jar, which is less than store bought jars.

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*helpful hint- tell the vendor/farmer that you’re canning the tomatoes, and they might just have a bucket to the side of “uglier” tomatoes they’ll sell you for cheap. Usually they’re just a bit riper and have a few discolored skin spots, but if you’re canning the skins come off anyway, so win-win!

Now with the blueberries I went ahead and rinsed them before letting them dry off a bit. I then laid them out in a single layer on a glass baking dish in batches and froze them just enough they wouldn’t stick when I switched them to the mason jars. Once I knew they wouldn’t stick to each other I scooped them out and put them in the jars and back into the freezer. Five pounds ended up giving me a bit over 10 jars of berries which I can defrost as I need/want them and add them to smoothies or even just eat them plain as a tasty snack.

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The potatoes were the easiest, going straight from my reusable bag to my potato bowl.

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All in all I now have enough blueberries and tomato sauce to last most if not all of the winter, and it took only a few hours of prep and cooking the sauce to make it happen.

If you haven’t checked out your local farmer’s market I recommend you go, you never know you might find a hidden gem or two. Bonus- you get to meet local farmers and support their business in your own community. (It always tastes better when your food has travelled a shorter distance and has been picked within only a day or two of getting to you)

Extra bonus- no produce stickers 🙂

P.s. Don’t forget your reusable bags!

Have any of you scored at the Farmer’s market? What’s your favorite thing to get fresh from the market? What’s your favorite thing about the farmer’s markets near you?

 

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?

 

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?

10 things to purge to kickstart decluttering

Today I wanted to try a different approach to my post. I like reading posts where the author gives specifics on exactly what to do/try, so I decided to give it a whirl.

Here are 10 things to get rid of that will kick start your move into decluttering and minimalism…

1.Old formal/prom/wedding dresses….if you are anything like me you kept your prom dress thinking that maybe, someday, you would wear it for Halloween or something. When I finally went through my wardrobe I found a dress from the 8th grade, only wore it once. A special note on wedding dresses, it takes up a ton of space, it will not be in style once your future daughter is of age, and someone else could use that dress for their own wedding, and think of how much it will make a bride’s day to find a wedding dress under budget in a consignment shop or donation center…….let it go 🙂

2.Fancy shoes only worn once (probably with the aforementioned dress)…Same goes for the shoes that have been worn once. I kept my prom shoes for 5 years, when they were so uncomfortable that I didn’t even wear them the whole night at prom, but opted to go barefoot. If they aren’t comfortable, or are some obnoxious color that goes with nothing that you own, let them move on to a better home with someone who will love them.

3.Old perfumes, lotions, and all around smelly stuff… Yes it might be in a pretty bottle, yes it might have been a gift. But honestly, do you wear it? If the answer is no, then off it goes. You can always give it to that one friend who goes through about 10 bottles of perfume a year. And really, who enjoys dusting those things?

4. Half used bathroom salts/scrubs/washes/wipes/etc… If you don’t like it or use it, let it go and take back some of your closet space 🙂

5.Expired medicine/first-aid stuff… If it expired, then it is no longer for you to use. Minimize your first-aid kit to the essentials yo avoid having things expire before you use them.

6. Expired food items…You probably don’t think you have any, and if you are an organizing genius you probably don’t, but for the rest of us mere mortals, chances are that there is something back in the deep dark corners of your pantry or fridge that just need to go. Find them and set them free, your health will thank you. Make note of what it is too, so you don’t waste money buying too much of it again. Win, win 🙂

7.Kids toys/stuffed animsla/barbies, etc…especially if you are an adult, who doesn’t have kids, but has boxes of stuff from childhood. They would be better off being somehwere with kids where they will be used and enjoyed. I had a giant barbie house that I kept and I eventually gave it to a church where a bunch of kids can play with it every weekend. I did keep 1 stuffed animal as a memento, but the others I let go, and I feel good that other kids will be able to play with them.

8. Old pet stuff.. I recently went through parts of our basement and found dog stuff that we don’t use. Our dog died years ago, and yet for some reason we kept the cage, brushes, dishes, toys, etc. We don’t plan on getting another dog, at least not for a few years, so there is no point in keeping these things. I use this rule “If it is less than $20 to replace, and you are not going to use it for the foreseeable future, let it go”.

9.Kitchen duplicates…No one is ever going to use 3 spatulas or 7 ice-cube trays or 8 baking dishes at a time. Pick your favorites, and let the rest be useful to someone else.

10. 1 hit wonder gadgets… you know what I am talking about, all of the apple corers, grilled cheese machines, head massagers, bump-its, and random gifts that people buy but never use on a regular basis. most of them are usually gifts that somehow make their way into the junk drawer or back corners of your cabinets. If they are not regularly used, or too bulky to clean, let it go.

Think of it this way…all of the things in your homes are renting space, if they aren’t being useful then in essence they are not paying their rent and should be justly evicted. Don’t let those unused items mooch off of your space for free!

Now that all of those items are out of the way you should feel a little bit lighter, a little bit cleaner, and ready to tackle harder decluttering projects. Good luck!

Baby-Step #20- Glass Jars

Hi everyone, it has been a really busy week, I just started my own you tube channel 🙂 I wanted another platform to be able to share about zero-waste and minimalism, so I finally took the plunge.

This baby step is all about Glass jars. Glass is a very durable material that can withstand the cold and hot temperatures, such as in the microwave or freezer, even better than Ziploc baggies.I use jars for just about all of my food needs now, they have replaced cling wrap, plastic zip bags, plastic Tupperware, plastic water bottles, and plastic to-go containers. Glass is also easily recyclable and reusable, plastic options are not very recyclable or reusable. Glass can be melted and turned into another piece of glass, it does not loose its quality, where plastic is always downcycled.

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I have 2 separate colors of mason jars, the purple ones are for dry snacks, and the blue ones I use in the fridge and freezer to hold meats. I also have small ones to hold sauces and such.

What is awesome about the mason jars is that all of the lids are interchangeable, so I do not have to go searching for matching lids for each size jar.

I talk about jars more in my youtube video…check it out 🙂