Oops – Cheers to 2018

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How does one hit publish and have an entire post disappear? Of course this would happen to me. Especially considering getting here has been a struggle given the chaos of the holidays with a big dollop of new baby who prefers to sleep attached to me. I’ve called it my “maternity leave” and am finally coming out of the smog since our journey to see the giant sequoias filled me with fresh air and a fresh perspective.

The holiday hangover was real this year. Theodore arrived early November and then the chaos of the holidays hit. I was bound and determined to not let it get to me, but a mix of hormonal uncertainty and holiday anxiety is not really a recipe for success. I absolutely voted with my dollars, but issues like wrapping paper, battling the awful plastic fight with those horrific gifts from family that refuse to respect our lifestyle, resisting the urge to buy more things because it has been ingrained in my head since I was a wee tot, and making sure that that capitalist Santa guy was bringing my kids enough “stuff” haunted me.  I did manage to find everything on the big guys list used and no one new the difference. For the 26 kiddos on my list I purchased books from our local bookstore and opted for some jammies made of soft organic cotton and not made in China. For wrapping paper I made reusable fabric bags from scraps of fabric left over from old projects, this was a bit ambitious and I’m not sure I can recommend this for a new mom next year.  We also hosted a vegetarian nearly gift-less Christmas Eve and it was quite lovely. We didn’t master the art of refusing, still having a hard time convincing my husband on that one, so in our bathtub you will find a peeing plastic baby doll and a plastic singing tea cart in the box in our living room (I keep trying to trade that one for something less hideous). How do people avoid these things? I can’t imagine Jess Brown, Simone LeBlanc or  Erica Tanov deal with singing plastic hideousness, what is your secret???? (these are my lifestyle crushes in you are unfamiliar 🙂 )

2018 Started out better than 2017 ended though. We had to cancel our vegetarian new years brunch due to a kid with a horrifically high fever, but soon after we jumped in the car and found ourselves in an amazing coniferous forest filled with emerald moss, eggplant bark, rusty needles, and the most amazing trees I’d ever seen. I didn’t realize this was a bucket list item for me, but it totally was. If you haven’t been, go, go now!  The kids loved it too. Don’t get me wrong there was a fair share of four-year old complaining, but once we discovered the trees and gave them the space to actually play amongst them Missy’s daughter screamed out “there’s so much to do here!” while running in and out of a hollowed tree. We might be doing something right after all. Fingers crossed.

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I felt incredibly small standing next to these ginormous beings. Standing there looking up I couldn’t help but be perplexed that my small self could have a greater and devastating impact on the environment to the point of harm of these spectacles. That hardly seems right and fair. It really put into perspective how important it is to change. I’ve gotten so many questions about whether or not I will continue on this journey and honestly there is no way I could ever go back. I will never shop the same, or eat without consideration of the journey but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I learned so much last year and feel I can only go forward from here. We plan to continue our 2017 resolutions but take them a bit farther and continue to add to them. For example  instead of just giving up beef I am becoming a ceremonial omnivore. I am only eating meat on special occasions and exploring the world of vegan cuisine. The native people didn’t eat meat everyday and neither should we.

More items to tackle in 2018:

Finally build that curated closet, once my waistline goes back to normal of course 🙂

Putting all the investment research to play, and donating to more organizations that are truly doing their part in action and education.

Getting more political. This I am least excited about, but last year I learned this is the most important one, so alas here I come.

Continue to instill these values in my kids. This may be the most important one.

Hold my community accountable. Why are the public schools not composting? Why are there only trash receptacles at the park? Why are some places still giving out plastic bags? Come on, we call ourselves a “green city” but really??

Shop less, but when I do shop shop small. Period.

Make this process more beautiful. Being more ecologically minded doesn’t have to be granola and frankly it won’t appeal to the masses if it is. How can I make these everyday small steps be Pinterest ready? If its beautiful more people will join in. #jarporn

And the list will keep growing and growing. In 2018 we must keep moving, time is running out. Will you makes some changes for the better this year? Will you join us? You don’t have to make your own laundry soap, but maybe instead of buying Tide in plastic you can change to something eco-friendly in cardboard? Or even better hit up the bulk section? If we all make small changes it makes a big difference, don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything. Please.

A Post about Popcorn

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This is my first blog post in a very long time. Not that you’ve noticed because my comadres Lily and Missy have been keeping Love, Laugh & Make Lemonade going strong during my unexcused absence.

I could write a book (let alone a blog post) about how and why I’ve been slacking in my zero-waste pursuits: summer vacation, laziness, unprecedented heat, traveling, houseguests, summer-time ear infections, ER visits, broken wrist, surgery…

But instead, I’m going to write about popcorn. Continue reading

How to Make Zero Waste Pudding Cups

For Marilyn’s 4th birthday she was adamant about having a camping birthday before she was even 3 1/2. As the time got closer she did not waiver on her choice so we planned a wonderful weekend of camping with friends including a big fireside party. While we were flipping through some of my old Martha Stewart magazines for summer inspiration she came across an ad with pudding cups and asked if she could have those, she’s a huge chocolate fan. I fondly remember pudding cups as a kid. Pulling back the plastic-y foil tops and using my spoon to attack every nook for the chocolatey goodness. Looking back the pudding was really not that great, and I hang my head in shame thinking of all the waste they created. So it got me thinking, how could I recreate that childhood favorite for my own child without leaving a huge footprint?

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Make it Yourself: Yogurt

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One side effect of avoiding plastic packaging is that sometimes you have to make things from scratch.  I enjoy cooking and creating so I really don’t mind making things from scratch, if I can possibly find the time (which is rare these days because my two little guys keep me pretty busy).

We typically go through a lot of yogurt. Yogurt with fruit or granola, in smoothies and sauces. But yogurt is really hard to find not in plastic. There is one local brand of yogurt that is sold in glass quart jars. It’s delicious and organic, but SO pricey. So I thought, it can’t be that hard to make yogurt, can it??? It turns out it’s not very hard at all.

There is a lot of info out there about yogurt science, cultures, timing, temperature, etc. But ultimately, it’s pretty simple: heat some milk, add a little bit of yogurt, let it sit in a warm place, and voila – you’ve got yogurt!

I did some research and reading, but ultimately used the technique described on one of my favorite cooking websites, The Kitchn.

My notes:

  • I used local organic non-homogenized 2% milk (plus a ½ cup of plain organic yogurt)
  • I used a probe thermometer with a long cord (like this one), so I could monitor the temperature periodically without opening the oven (but, to be honest, the temperature was a little off and it still came out great!)
  • My yogurt sat for about 6 hours (which produced a thick yet pourable consistency and mildly tangy taste)
  • Don’t forget to save a bit of your yogurt for the next batch!

What have you made from scratch lately???