Hello Everyone


We’re home, and doing well. Talk to you soon… ūüôā

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The Land of Basil

At least something is happy in this crap-tastic summer gardening season we’ve had…

How does your garden grow?

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I’m Still Here!

Just wanted to check in and say hey, I’m still here!¬† Not much of blog-worthiness has been going on lately though, and life’s getting a little hectic now that kid #2 is so close to getting here.¬† I do have a bit of lettuce under lights – trying to get the jump on fall planting.¬† Not many though, so if they fail to transplant in the heat I won’t be out much.

Clockwise from top: Red Velvet leaf lettuce, Tom Thumb butterhead lettuce, Nobel Giant Spinach, and Rocket Arugula.¬† Over on the left is some cilantro – it’s been completely impossible to start it outdoors in this heat.¬† The seeds come up and immediately wither.¬† We love our cilantro though so I thought I’d give it a shot inside!

Stick with me folks, I’ll be back before you know it!

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Green Clean Week: Dishes

All this week I’m featuring my “alternative” cleaning methods, in depth, with recipes, processes, and failures.¬† I’m laying it all out there, folks.

There has been a lot of talk out there about what’s more efficient, hand washing or your dishwasher, and the latest buzz is that dishwashers are probably more efficient in most cases.¬† The reality of my household is that if I did not use my dishwasher, I would do nothing but wash dishes all day.¬† Did I mention I hate cleaning the kitchen, absolutely, positively loathe it?¬† If I was a superhero I don’t know what my name would be, but I know my arch-nemesis would be The Kitchenator….

I digress.¬† Seriously though, I run everything I can through the dishwasher and only hand wash things that can’t go through, or possibly hand wash a little when things get too backed up.¬† For the longest time I used Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent, which is eco-friendly and works great, but I had a hard time stomaching the price, so I started researching homemade dishwasher detergents.¬† I actually talked about this recently, so I’m going to point you to this post for the full recipe and scoop, but I’d like to add a few points since I’ve been using this for a few weeks.¬† First of all, it’s very important you use the precise amount each load.¬† What’s the right amount?¬† Well, you’ll have to figure this out for your dishwasher.¬† I know for me it’s about 2/3 to 3/4 full.¬† If you put too much you’ll get residue, put too little and your dishes won’t come clean.¬† I also want to reiterate that at least for me, I have to keep my rinse aid reservoir completely full of vinegar, to the point of topping it off almost every time.¬† I might have to wash one dish here or there to get some residue off, which I consider worth the incredibly decreased cost.

My next step is to replace my hand washing liquid (Seventh Generation) but I’m waiting on the current bottle to run out first.¬† I love my foaming soap pump so it will have to be something that will work with it, diluted or not.

Feel free to share your green/frugal dish washing tips below.  Happy cleaning! (Happy cleaning??)

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Green Clean Week: Laundry

It’s Monday everybody!¬† Yay!¬† (smirks)

I thought I’d do something a little different this week, and stick to a theme.¬† This week is officially

Each day, I’ll be talking about one of the “alternative” ways that I clean, be it the house or myself.¬† I’m going to try to make this more than just a regurgitation of recipes, since you can get those anywhere on the internet.¬† I’m going to give you a little more of my personal experience with each cleaning method, so hopefully you don’t have to go through as much trial and error as I did.

Day One: Laundry

My homemade laundry detergent recipe is the pretty standard version floating around the internet:

2 parts grated soap
1 part washing soda
1 part borax

For regular laundry, I used Fels Naptha, which can be picked up pretty cheap at most grocery stores.¬† For more delicate laundry or things I don’t want anything extra touching, like cloth diapers or very new baby laundry, I use an unscented 100% vegetable oil soap (I’ve used Sappo Hill and it’s cost effective and works great).

I know a lot of people use this recipe and dissolve it in water, but I haven’t found that’s necessary.¬† The key is to grate your soap very finely.¬† I find that most bars of Fels Naptha will grate up finely if I break them up with a fork and then run them through my super duper food processor.¬† If you have a soap that feels more oily, you will probably have to grate it by hand and also put it through the food processor.¬† This also gives you a chance to mix it with your other ingredients.¬† I usually put the borax in first, the soap in second, and the washing soda on top, and then blend until you can hardly see the soap anymore.¬† Just wait a minute or so before opening the processor because otherwise you’ll breathe in some borax and that’s not very good for you.¬† My recipe and process dissolves well in my top loader, even in cold water.

Many people also add their essential oil to their detergent, but I found this does very little to make your clothing smell like anything, especially if you use a dryer (which I do at least half the time).  I suggest instead getting wool dryer balls and putting several drops of your favorite oil on them.  We use lemongrass and the smell lasts through quite a few loads.  If you never use a dryer, then by all means, scent your detergent.

Which brings me to the second stage of laundry, the drying.¬† I have clotheslines, and I do use them quite a bit.¬† However, I don’t always have the time to hang clothes out, so I do use the dryer frequently.¬† I highly recommend the wool dryer balls – they seem to do just as good of a job as dryer sheets at reducing static, and they actually help you dryer work more efficiently.¬† Dryer sheets leave a film on your lint screen that will eventually keep anything from going through it, so even if you scrape the lint out of it, it’s not really working.¬† Here’s a test – go get your lint screen, scrape out any lint, and then go run it under your sink for a few seconds.¬† Does the water pass through or does it run right off?¬† If it beads and runs off, your screen is not working anymore.¬† Give it a scrub with your dish washing liquid and try again.¬† This time the water should pass right through.¬† Let it dry and put it back in your dryer, and watch your clothes dry remarkably faster.

Feel free to add your green/frugal laundry tips in the comments – I’d love to hear what everyone has to say!¬† Especially if someone has an HE (front loading) washing machine – I’m curious to see if the homemade concoctions work just as well in those, because when my current machine gives up for good I plan to look into them.

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Saturday, Uh, Sunday Links

Jos√©e Landry and Michel Beauchamp’s illegal eyesore??

Hello everyone!

Saturday was crazy so the normal blogging time didn’t happen.¬† Today’s a little more calm, but we still have some major changes going on around these parts.¬† The outside world is still sopping wet, but today’s forecast is “mostly sunny” so maybe we can actually wring ourselves out and get some work done around here!

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Food Waste Friday – Not Much

FoodWasteFriday Every Friday, Kristen over at The Frugal Girl posts a picture of her food waste. She invites other bloggers to join in her effort to save money and reduce the amount of food that gets thrown away in our country every day.

This week’s waste: a little bit of hash brown casserole we saved from a BBQ expedition.¬† It was the hubs’ portion so I saved it for him to eat.¬† I was diligent, put it in another container, put it in the front of the fridge, and, well, he didn’t recognize what it was.¬† I guess I should have pushed it.¬† Sigh.

I’ve got some wilted kale that would be perfectly good in a smoothie, so I’m going to do my best to use that today.¬† In other food waste news, it’s probably time for a pantry reorganization, which is almost inevitably going to cause waste, so I’m hoping next week’s photo won’t be too bad.

How did you do this week?

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It’s Time to Make Some Change

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The Value of Clothing

Our master closet, newly cleaned and organized

I cleaned our master closet this weekend.¬† Everything in its place, floors and baseboards cleaned.¬† The hubs got to go through all his clothing and edit out what he doesn’t wear anymore – I was not so lucky.¬† Your third trimester is really not a good time to judge whether you want to keep a shirt or pair of pants, so I resigned myself to going through my socks and underpants. ūüėČ

So it was fitting this morning when I came across a study by WRAP called “Valuing our Clothes“.¬† Some highlights from the study:

  • the average UK household owns around ¬£4,000 ($6200) worth of clothes ‚Äď and around 30% of clothing in wardrobes has not been worn for at least a year;
  • the cost of this unused clothing is around ¬£30 billion ($46.6 billion);
  • extending the average life of clothes by just three months of active use would lead to a 5-10% reduction in each of the carbon, water and waste footprints; and
  • an estimated ¬£140 million ($217.5 million) worth (around 350,000 tonnes) of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year.

Now, I’ve mentioned before that I buy almost my entire wardrobe from thrift and consignment stores.¬† And that this allows me to purchase quality regardless of the price.¬† But it really goes farther than that.¬† Once an article of clothing comes into this house, it is loved…

Can you spot the baby bump (mountain) caught in the picture??

I bought this blouse off a mall clearance rack.¬† I’ve worn it every fall since.¬† I even handwash it to make sure it stays in good condition.

I bought this blouse in the early 2000s.¬† Yes, that could easily mean that it is 10 years old.¬† And it came from one of the mall shops that churns out lower quality clothing, so I feel pretty proud of myself for keeping it in good shape as long as I have.¬† Will I wear it this year?¬† I’m actually not sure.¬† I might have finally outgrown the style – still on the fence.¬† But the point is that this shirt was valued.¬† And it’s not the only one.¬† Sure, it might be the oldest (barring some t-shirts and bumming clothes) but I know I can point out quite a few more pieces that have seen their 5 year anniversary pass and are still in active rotation.

So if you’re looking to save money in the long run, or just simplify a little bit – the next time you pull a piece of clothing off the shelf, consider whether it’s an item you can really love – for years even.¬† I know it’s made me feel much better about what’s in my closet.

Posted in Cleaning, Downsizing, Environment, Frugal, Simple, Thrift, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saturday Links

Happy Saturday!!¬† The weather’s certainly nice for working in the garden this weekend, but it’s so so wet! I’d love to amend beds, pull out finished plants and get ready for fall, but I’m afraid I’d drown in the process…

For more, how about you follow me on Twitter?

Posted in Chickens, Environment, Farming, Gardening, Self-Sufficiency, Simple | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments