Valentines

Happy Valentines Day!

Is it possible to have too many Valentines? Because I have four.

  1. The Bearded Husband–my rock, the foundation to our family, who makes me swoon, and supports and even joins in to my eco-manacle ways.
  2. Thing One– My favorite tiny human.
  3. Thing Two– My favorite tiny human.
  4. The favorite planet, Earth.

While I’ll be showing my affection to each of my Valentines, I thought I would quickly share a low-waste Valentine project that #2 and #3 could share at school, but also treads lightly on #4.  Continue reading

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?

IMG_7631 Continue reading

Laundry Soap

Laundry Soap

1 bar of grated bar soap

1 cup of washing soda

1 cup of borax

20 drops of essential oils of choice. I used a citrus and tea tree oils.

1/2 cup vinegar 

Grate the soap using a hand grater or food processor. Carefully mix with the washing soda and borax. Add essential oils and stir. Store in an airtight glass jar. Repurpose a scoop and use approximately 2 rounded Tablespoons per load. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washing machine. 

Giving plastic the boot is hard enough, but plastic-free and palm oil-free when it comes to certain household cleaners put me in a pickle.

Actually, wait. Back up. Most of that stuff does not/will not/cannot/ain’t gonna/no way/no how list ingredients on their magical proprietary blend of suspicious chemicals.

But don’t they just work so well??? Whaaaaah.

My warehouse-sized box of detergent was rapidly dwindling and I was dragging my feet about what to do to clean my laundry. It was a great excuse to ignore those pesky piles, actually.

img_0237Muddy clothes, potty training accidents, and ceviche fishy fish prep with dining for 9 unplugged quickly snapped me back to reality as those napkins quickly became odiferous.

What were my options:

  • Continue with my cardboard brick of mystery powder. It does come in cardboard after all. But even if the ingredients were transparent and actually nontoxic, the packaging still comes with that strip of plastic for tearing open the lid and a cracked and utterly useless plastic scoop.
  • Bulk laundry soap is available at a natural foods store, but it is so off the beaten path for me that it just didn’t seem practical to keep up with pace of our laundry needs. It also wasn’t the most effective in getting clothes clean. So even if I could make the drive worth it and get over mediocre efficacy, the ingredients aren’t listed and can’t really rule out palm oil. Lame.
  • A plastic jug isn’t really an “option.” It’s plastic and therefore off the table completely.
  • Make my own. img_0238

Fortunately, I’m a late bloomer when it comes to blogging and this subject is not unchartered territory to other mommies before me considering the same consequences of household products and packaging on their family and the environment. They all said that it was cheap, easy, and effective. Having made my own, I now agree.

Most recipes called for Castile soap, and the most ubiquitous natural brand in most of the blogs contains palm oil. Doh! Ultimately, I used the recipe I found on wellnessmama.com. but with a different bar soap.

Here are my notes.

I used this recipe in my HE washer without any issue whatsoever.

img_0240Soap: I don’t get paid to endorse this brand or anything, but I looked through every damn bar of soap at the grocery and hardware store and THIS was the only bar soap without palm oil not wrapped in plastic I could find. $2.19 a bar wasn’t a dealbreaker for me, so I picked it up a few. After I tried it a few times, I went back and bought all I could. To grate it, I used my food processor and it was super fast. Bottom line: grate a bar of soap.

Washing Soda: NOT to be confused with baking soda because it kicks much more of a cleaning punch because the pH is higher. You can buy it in a cardboard box, or you can oh so easily make your own from baking soda in a big batch and have it on hand for other household concoctions and cleaning duties. When my plastic bag of baking soda runs out, I plan to buy it in bulk and make my own washing soda.

Borax: a naturally occurring mineral. Arsenic is also “natural” and its not good for you so I poked around a couple of sites about its safety and decided borax is okay for use in our household. Comes in a cardboard box. They also have a borax museum in Death Valley National Park!!

Essential oils: I happened to have on hand an essential oil blend with the antiseptic properties of citrus and melaluca (tea tree). I dripped some in for a refreshing scent to please tantalize and delight my senses. These are optional, but lots of fun to experiment with!

So how does it work? I was excited to answer this question and experimented with a few loads. I was also very skeptical! I don’t know what I was expecting when I opened the door to my washer… there weren’t any singing angels. But my clothes were clean, smelled fresh, and didn’t irritate anyone’s skin. I personally sniffed each and every cloth napkin that was used during ceviche night. I cross my heart there was not a whiff of fishy fish. It was… the same!img_0236

Better than the bulk stuff, less questionable than warehouse-purchased, economical, plastic and palm-oil free.

 What’s in your washer??

 

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???

A Simple Beginning

Intention set, now to begin.

I harkened a book that was influential to me early in my localvore-eating days. The book Plenty by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon which inspired me to eat locally, which lead me to greater awareness of the impact humans are ultimately having on our planet. I reopened it to find just what I was looking for…

“Herb Tea

1 leaf sage

1 leaf mint

Hot water

Place the fresh-picked leaves in a mug. Add water at a rolling boil. Steep for 6 minutes. A simple beginning.”

Sometimes my mind goes really swirly and I get overwhelmed by thoughts I cannot control, that bounce from one thing to the next and eventually result in me throwing my hands in the air and doing nothing, or procrastinating, or eating a bunch of marshmallows. That’s often what happens when I think about global warming. I don’t even know what I don’t even know and the problem is so big you can’t even find the edge of it, so where do we start or how can I even try and will it even matter?? Is it 5 o’clock wine time yet??

What seems to silence these overwhelming thoughts filled with self-doubt lies in the wisdom of this recipe: “A simple beginning.”

These first few days of 2017 in the Bay Area have brought us copious amounts of rain. Now normally I would have plunked my kids into wellies and snapped on their raincoats and embraced this glorious end to the drought with a puddle stomping splash fest! Buuuuut there were live power lines going down around us and their boots were literally FALLING APART into strips of rubber and our garage was taking on water that needed to be frequently pumped SO this mama opted for tamer indoor activities. We started painting with watercolors, and in this task, emerged my simple beginning.

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In the days leading up to the start of the New Year, I had pondered our house’s recycling/compost/garbage/donate/chicken/worm situation. The way your household discards the unwanted and unneeded will undoubtedly differ from mine, but these are my categories. I wanted to change things around so that it would be easier to divert the most waste from the landfill as possible, and create more thought in every single thing that needed to be sent there. By refusing plastic, much of our garbage would be avoided and therefore less “central” to our disposal needs. While recycling and compost have always been a way of disposal in our home, I wanted to step this up and make it easier for everyone to do.

As it was, our garbage can was under the sink and our recycling bin was in the garage and not as readily accessible being through a door and down three stairs (stairs are a big deal to a 2 year old, and she recycles too!).

I switched them.

That’s it.

And then I painted two cute little signs to communicate the change the hubby and guests, and also because that was the rainy day activity at hand.

Under our sink, you can now easily recycle and compost, and if either of these bins will not suit your disposal needs, you need to bring it to the garage.

 

My simple beginning.