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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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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

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 ๐Ÿ™‚
  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 evenย 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)ย that makes and sells their own clothing, bras, etc and since Iย decided toย orderย a custom made 100% organic cotton bra from them…I figured I’d try out the shoes too.

Boy am I happy I did ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

(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

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 ๐Ÿ™‚
  2. ย 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 haveย 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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

Life lessons from my cats…

This week has been super busy as I have started my little seedlings that will be transplanted into my garden in about a month, I also have been doing some spring cleaning and a bit of furniture rearranging that is always good for the soul.

As I scooped up the dirt into my little biodegradable planter pots my cats hopped up onto the kitchen table in their curious way and started sniffing at the dirt. They are super curious creatures, and extremely smart (I routinely have to find ways to outsmart them when they are determined about something ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Anyway, I got to thinking about my cat’s lives and how they are so care free. I mean honestly, they sleep a lot, stretch and poke their noses into anything new or interesting, they watch the birds and squirrels outside, and they even take a part in protecting our home from invaders (both of the pest variety as well as the mysterious “invading” stray cats that meow outside our windows at night).

They have stress-free lives that are simple and I believe are a good example of what I might like my life to be like….

I decided to compile a list of advice that I’m sure my two cats would lecture me/advise me on if they could speak English. As well as a few life lessons that they have already learned…

  1. Sleep is a good thing, no, a great thing! It is rejuvenating and an important part of your overall health. I personally try to get 8 hours a night, if I get any less I end up a very crabby person in the mornings. Now if only my cats would leave me alone at night so that sleep could be uninterrupted, then I would be totally set! ๐Ÿ™‚WIN_20150523_213218
  2. Food is important as well, and when you are hungry, EAT…but don’t overeat. My cats are of the opinion that they like to eat smaller meals throughout the day as opposed to larger meals. They eat 4 times a day-ish, which is pretty similar to my eating habits. I tend to graze as I get hungry throughout the day, not having “meals” necessarily, more of small plates of stuff frequently to keep my energy levels steady.
  3. Nature is awesome, and getting in touch with it is a great way to maintain your energy levels and to decrease your stress. We have a very tall fence surrounding our backyard and I like to bathe my cats when they need it, usually once a month at most, and so they get 3 days or so during the summer where I let them out into the backyard for a few hours right before bath time. They LOVE it! They roll around in the grass, eat some random bits of the taller grass near the fence, roll around in the dirt, investigate the garden…my one cat Tiger chased a bee once to his own detriment, safe to say he learned his lesson about chasing certain bugs, though he does chase squirrels out of the yard at every opportunity. They always go out and nibble on the catnip in the garden and they even just chill out on the patio and sunbathe. As a minimalist and outdoor enthusiast I try to get outside every chance I get in the warmer months, which is about 3 months of the year here in Michigan. ๐Ÿ™‚
  4. Have a hobby that you love, whether that be a craft or writing or gardening, find something you enjoy and do it! Tiger loves chasing our two birds around, napping, getting into small spaces, his stuffed rat, and finding ways to drive me insane…especially when I am trying to sleep. (for some reason that is the only time of day that he is determined to play and meow incessantly haha) Cheetah on the other hand loves napping, chasing his own tail, getting rubbed from head to toe, and laying on people’s laps. I personally like gardening, being outdoors, painting, drawing, writing, and of course talking to all of you.
  5. Stretch yourself, both mentally and physically. Tiger does this by finding new ways to try and outsmart me (we have a mental war going on). It all started with the conundrum of how to get me awake during the night when he randomly decides that he is hungry, it went from knocking my blinds against the window to slamming my bedroom door into the closet door…I knocked his butt off the bed to solve the first one and placed a small pillow between the doors for the second one. He knows how to open side door handles as well as how to get into the cupboards. He has found ways to jump onto the very top of my large dresser and then leaps grandly from it to land gracefully on my bed. Cheetah on the other hand is a lazy bum and is kinda a fatty in the wintertime, though he is exceptionally adorable. To keep in shape I work out doing dance videos as well as biking, and I read books and watch documentaries to keep my mind in shape.
  6. Life is what you make of it, if you want something then make it happen instead of waiting around for someone to do it for you. Tiger takes this one to heart, if he wants fresh water in his dish he makes a point of trying to drink out of my cup to get the message across. If he wants into the bathroom, he opens the door and strolls right in. If he wants food he will literally get in your face and meow right at you to let you know that he is hungry.
  7. Don’t sweat the small stuff, so what if you accidentally-cough-on purpose knock over an entire shelf of books? Or spill a bit of juice on the counter? At the end of the day the small stuff isn’t that big of a deal, having both of my cats has taught me this. Like when your hair ties go missing and you walk by the bathroom one day to find your cat opening the drawer with his paw, taking a scrunchie, and then shutting the drawer before walking out with his stolen goods….you sigh and do a small face-palm before taking those scrunchies and moving them to a safer location ๐Ÿ™‚
  8. Always make a point to be cleanly. Good hygiene is a major part of good health. Tiger makes sure that his toys are clean by dropping them in his water dish and swishing them about, he makes sure he is clean as well for the most part, he even helps Cheetah by washing his face with his tongue.
  9. Never underestimate how much a good rubdown can do for your mood and health. My cats know this, in face they demand to be rubbed quite frequently. They do all sorts of cute poses and faces to get you to give them a massage, and quite frankly I like getting one occasionally too. If you can’t afford a professional massage, or don’t even have a friend or partner to do it for you, you can always do it yourself. I just learned how to do an acupressure massage on yourself, and I will say that it was incredibly relaxing. I plan on incorporating it into my weekly routine.
  10. Last but most certainly not least, don’t be afraid to be your incredibly unique and goofy self. Sometimes we have to put our true personalities in the backseat, like at a professional job or meeting, but you need to be yourself sometimes, even if it is just around family who are equally as unique and goofy as you. It is almost therapeutic to just laugh and be merry, dance ridiculously to a song on the radio or belt it out at the top of your lungs, make silly faces and impersonate different accents from around the world….10556224_10152333546021725_8818237981572519943_n

Life is too short to waste it on things that aren’t so important, so take a few pieces of advice from my cats and enjoy your life….you only get one after all ๐Ÿ™‚