Homemade Sandwich Bread


Mmmm, there’s nothing better than homemade bread! Not only is it delicious, but you know exactly what is going into your bread (and therefore your body), and there’s no plastic bag waste when you’re done! 

There are healthier recipes out there but this one is soooooooo easy I love to make it. It also makes a nice, light loaf of bread that’s great to use for sandwiches or snacking. 

Ingredients

1 cup milk

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup butter, melted

3 tbsp honey

3 3/4 cups all purpose flour

2 1/4 tsp yeast

2 tsp salt

Directions

Warm milk and water for 1 minute in microwave. Add honey and butter. 

Combine flour, yeast, and salt. 

Slowly add liquid mixture to dry ingredients, mixing with a wooden spoon until dough just comes together. 

Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. 

Place dough into oiled bowl and let rise at least 1.5 hours. 

Turn dough out onto counter and punch down. Flatten dough out into rough square. Fold dough in thirds and place seam side down in pan. Let rise another 1.5 hour. 

Bake 45 minutes at 350 deg F. 

Enjoy!

Earth Month Challenge: Day 1

Today was a very successful one, and a great start to my Earth Month Challenge. 

I started the day off making a number of things from scratch. The first item I tackled was granola, made using an adapted recipe from The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila. I highly recommend the book if you ever wanted to try your hand at making yogurt, cheese, or other common treats we tend to buy prepared from the store. 

I then whipped up some chocolate chip oatmeal black walnut cookies made with black walnuts I harvested last year. Yum!

All the baking got me hungry so I stopped for a lunch of Turkey Noodle Soup. I unfortunately don’t have a recipe for the soup as I make it from whatever I have on hand. This particular soup was made from our Christmas turkey and veggie scraps I had stored up in my freezer, as well as some fresh carrots, onions, and celery. I added in some alphabet pasta for a little whimsy. I will usually freeze a few mason jars’ worth whenever I make soup so that I don’t have to eat it for every meal until I was done. I can then put a jar in the fridge to defrost overnight and I have an easy, homemade meal waiting for me!

I also got a little sewing done today, including making a few wet bags for my cloth diaper storage from a larger wet bag I wasn’t using, and making some more baby wipes out of flannel receiving blankets which I was gifted from my Buy Nothing Facebook group. 

I was also able to gift a number of things to my Buy Nothing group

I asked a friend to teach me how to needle felt as I saw some amazing little woodland creatures she made for her son. 

I also saved a few plastic bags from the trash for future use, limited by driving today, and used my cloth bags for groceries today. 

All in all I think it was a great start!

Earth Month

As many of you know, April 22nd is Earth day and I have expanded it into Earth Month for myself. Recently, I joined a BuyNothing7 Challenge organized by Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller. These two individuals have done amazing work when it comes to connecting with your neighbours, reducing consumerism and our need for stuff, and developing an understanding of the difference between needs and wants as part of their Buy Nothing movement (including facebook groups throughout the world) and this most recent challenge. 

Over the next month I will work to give more, ask my friends and neighbours for help with various projects, make items from their basic components, fix things that need to be fixed, reflect on my needs vs. wants, try to limit my use of resources, work to bring my community together to share and help each other, and to be kind both to myself, the environment, as well as to those around me. 

If this is something that you think would work for you, please join me on this journey. I will try to post something each and every day wherein I am working towards these ideals. My ultimate goal is to not purchase anything outside of my basic groceries, fuel, and monthly bills for this month – wish me luck!. Please join me on this journey and share with me the efforts you are making to change how to move, act, and feel about yourself and the world around you. 

Homemade Foaming Hand Soap


Although the foaming soap dispensers tend to last a lot longer than the regular ones, it can still get a little pricey to buy them regularly depending on what brand. You also can generate a lot of plastic waste buying a new bottle every time, and some of the products may not be the best for your body or your health. Because of this I decided to try my hand at making my own foaming hand soap. We’ve been using this same one for 3 years now and it’s working out great. Best of all it uses the same ingredients as my household cleaning products plus an item or two from my kitchen, so the only thing I needed to get was a foaming dispenser. 

I found a porcelain/metal foaming soap dispenser at Winners, but may have been able to source one from a neighbour if I had wanted to reuse a plastic one. I only have to refill it every 3 months or so, so it takes very little work make. 

Ingredients

1 cup water

1 tbsp liquid castile soap

1/2 tsp olive oil (optional but moisturizing…may gum up your dispenser so caution!)

10-20 drops of essential oil of choice (optional)

Foaming hand soap dispenser

Directions

Add ingredients to measuring cup and whisk to combine. Pour into foaming dispenser. Use and enjoy 🙂

Clean Your House in 20 Minutes


All this sharing of cleaning products got me thinking about how I clean. We used to be a multi-hours-long-cleaning-session-on-the-weekend kind of family, but since adding to our family we decided to change it up for a few reasons. One, I didn’t like wasting our valuable weekend family time cleaning our house. Two, with a little one it’s hard to block off anywhere from 2-4 hours all at once and expect not to be interrupted or have various needs to meet (and carring a baby on your back while you clean makes the job a lot harder). 

I considered all kinds of suggestions including hiring out our cleaning, but because I’m a little picky on how things are done (and with what they are done), didn’t want to tidy up so I could pay someone else to clean, and I didn’t want to have to get out of the way at a particular time to allow someone to do it, I decided to break up the work for myself during the week. I now clean for 20-30 minutes 5 days a week and I’m able to clean my house a lot better than I was probably doing before because I’m not exhausted or rushing by the end of it. 

Here’s how I get it done:

Mondays: Tidying

I “tidy up” including picking stuff up, putting stuff away, folding blankets on the couches, putting laundry away, reorganizing one thing or another…depending on what needs doing. Basically, I get myself ready to clean for the rest of the week, similar to what I would do if I were to hire someone to clean my house. 

Tuesdays: Dusting, windows and mirrors

Ok, so I don’t do the windows every time, but probably every other time or every 3 times at the minimum, which is a lot more than I was doing before. I dust a lot better, too, because I have the time to do all the surfaces, nooks and crannies, doors, corners, ceilings…and I even have time to pick stuff up and dust under it so I don’t get the infamous line behind photos or my jewelry box to clean once a year. 

Wednesdays: Vacuuming and sweeping

I vacuum all the carpets, sweep and swiffer all the floors, get under the bed and under dressers, and even sometimes I get to vacuuming the couch!

Thursdays: Kitchen and mopping

I clean my kitchen up every day so I don’t have things like a big stack of dishes or junk laying around (tidied up on Monday!), so today I do a deep clean. I usually rotate through what needs doing because not every task needs to be done all the time. Regular tasks include deep cleaning my sink and stove, washing the handles of my fridge/dishwasher/oven/countertops. I will also alternate wiping down my cupboards, cleaning my fridge, cleaning out my drawers, cleaning the dishwasher…I find I am able to get to these other tasks much more frequently because I’ve broken the work down, and so it’s not an insurmountable task when I get to it. I also don’t stress about these tasks: if I have time, great. If not, I just do it the next time. 

I also mop my kitchen floor, bathrooms, and occasionally the hardwood depending on how things are looking. 

Fridays: Bathrooms

I separate bathrooms from everything else because, well, they’re gross. And a lot of work of scrubbing. And I don’t like cleaning the bathroom. Because I do the mirrors, dusting, and floors on other days, however, I only have to clean the shower/tub, sink, and toilet, making the work much more manageable in 20 minutes!

Saturdays and Sundays: NO CLEANING!

Sometimes I get busy or lazy or tired and I don’t clean the bathroom on Friday, so I have to do it on the weekend, but again, because it’s only those three things it’s so much easier to fit in around our fun family stuff. 

Oh yeah, and I do laundry every 2-3 days. That I haven’t figured out how to out-source 🙂

Buy Nothing T minus 4

Okay, I’m through my second day buying nothing and connecting more with those around me, and just four days off from my big April challenge. Today was another success, although I spent most of my day out and about driving around, and as I hope to also limit my use of resources, I didn’t do so well in this regard. 


Some wins for today:

  • Enjoyed a coffee at home and avoided purchasing one in a disposable cup!
  • Met a friend for a hike instead of our usual lunch at a restaurant AND packed a lunch so I didn’t have to buy one while out
  • Breastfed my 9 month old (ok, it’s free food so I had to put it here!)
  • Borrowed a dremel tool from a friend to work on some gardening projects I have coming up instead of buying one myself (THANK YOU!)
  • Donated on my Buy Nothing facebook page and had one of my asks replied to

I’m looking forward to the challenge coming up so soon, as well as the next few days to see what I’m able to do. I’m also excited to see my statements at the end of the month!

Have you joined me yet on this adventure? How have you done? Any changes you have or are thinking of making?

DIY Cleaning Products

I began making my own cleaning products because I found I was sensitive to some of the commercial cleaners out there (sniffles, headache…), I wanted to save some money while finishing school (after 9 years of post-secondary education I was soooo broke), and I didn’t like all the plastic and other waste I was generating. Seven years in and I would never go back. The time spent making them is minimal, the cleaning results are amazing, and the cost and waste production are significantly reduced.

Whatever your reason, I hope you consider making some of the products below. (These recipes have been adapted over the years through trial and error with some early sourcing of some great blogs out there – I’ve forgotten where I found my initial inspiration so I apologise for not given credit where credit is due). 

All the ingredient measurements below are rough estimates because, well, I’m lazy and tossing things together works a lot better than taking the time to measure 🙂 

**Make sure to consider your surfaces before using any of the cleaning products below. You should not use abrasives (baking soda) or acidic solutions (vinegar and lemon juice) on some surfaces. 

Homemade Citrus Vinegar

Orange Peels

Vinegar

Add orange peels to a whole bottle of vinegar (I find two medium oranges do well in the large vinegar bottles you can find at the grocery store) and leave for two weeks. Strain out the orange peels saving the vinegar. Toss the orange peels in the compost and pour the vinegar into whatever bottle you like. I use an old Mr. Clean Orange Floor Cleaner, the last containers I used to clean 7 years ago, and refill it with this “greener” agent.

I then use this citrus vinegar for my floor cleaner and to make most of my other cleaning products as you will see below.

All-Purpose Cleaner

3 cups water

1 cup citrus vinegar 

10-20 drops tea tree oil or lavender essential oil

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a spray bottle. You can make your solution a little stronger or weaker depending on what you use it for by adding more vinegar or more water, respectively. I have found that I can add a lot more water and still have great cleaning powers. You can use other essential oils but I would recommend sticking with tea tree, lavender, or citrus for the antibacterial/antimicrobial properties. Use a microfibre cloth to limit streaks and throw in the wash between uses. 

I use this to clean almost any surface (not wood or granite), and even windows and mirrors when I’m too lazy to get my window cleaner (very similar solution, below). When cleaning my sinks I’ll use it along with the All-Purpose Scrubbing Agent (below). I even clean my toilet with this (everything but inside the bowl). I’d also like to note that since switching to these natural cleaning products I haven’t had my usual seasonal illnesses/colds, and that myself, my husband, and our baby haven’t been sick more than once or twice. 

Window and Mirror Cleaner

1 cup citrus vinegar 

4 cups water

10-20 drops of essential oil of choice (I like lavender)

I use an old Windex bottle but you can use any spray bottle. There are many recipes out there that recommend adding a little castile soap, or corn starch, or otherwise, but I find I get streak-free windows and mirrors by using a microfibre cloth. The essential oils are optional but I find the lavender adds a nice scent and takes a little away from the initial vinegar smell. Don’t worry – the vinegar smell is gone very quickly!

All-Purpose Scrubbing Agent

Baking soda

Jar with lid with holes (e.g. old parmesan container or old glass jar with nail holes hammered into the metal lid)

For anything that needs a little extra scrub I will sprinkle some baking soda onto the surface and very little effort later I have a spotless surface 🙂 I will sprinkle this into my kitchen and bathroom sink paired with my all-purpose cleaner for some extra cleaning power. I also use this when cleaning pots and pans with stubborn stuck on food – it gets my corningwear white again! I even use this to sprinkle baking sode into my toilet bowl for my toilet bowl cleaner (below).Caution use with scratchable surfaces (e.g. stainless steel).

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Baking soda

Citrus Vinegar

Sprinkle a little of each into the bowl depending on how dirty the bowl is, and scrub away with your toilet brush. If your toilet bowl is really gross, you can add in a little borax for some additional cleaning power. 

Shower and Super-Cleaning Cream Scrub

2 tbsp baking soda

1 squirt dish soap

Lemon juice

Mix the above ingredients together with enough lemon juice to make a thick paste. You can use a little more baking sode and dish soap if making a larger batch depending on the amount of surface you are cleaning. I usually will wet the surface and then, using a wet sponge, scrub away. This gets your shower or tub squeeky clean as the baking soda adds some scrubbing power to the grease-fighting powers of the dish soap, and the lemon adds some antibacterial properties to the mix. You can also use this on your sink for extra cleaning power. 

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

1 cup washing soda

1/4 cup citric acid (or 1/2 cup powdered lemonade)

1/4 cup sea salt

Mix ingredients and store in a tightly sealed container. Use 2-3 tsp per load. Use with homemade citrus vinegar as rinse agent for sparkling dishes every time!

Rinse Agent


Homemade Laundry Detergent

3 cups washing soda

3 cups borax

1 cup oxygen cleaner

1 bar of laundry soap, grated

Mix above ingredients thoroughly and store in a tightly-sealed container. Use 1-2 tbsp per load (or more if particularly soiled) 
I hope you enjoy some of the recipes above, and stay tuned for my post on body care products!

Spring Cleaning and Buy Nothing: T minus 5 days

I’m getting a head start on my April challenge today with many little projects and activities to keep me busy. Stay tuned for my blog post on March 31st for the details, but for now I’ll just tell you I’m going to be celebrating an Earth Month instead of just Earth Day this year and hope you will join me on this adventure. 

This week my goal is to not buy ANYTHING (except my basic necessities of groceries and fuel…and to keep even these to a minimum). So far today I feel I’ve done pretty well! My biggest issue with spending money is buying coffee and a “treat” when I’m either out and about or for something to do, so I’ll be working on eliminating that expense or at least keeping it to a minimum. 

Here’s what I got up to today:

  1. Made yogurt from scratch (hoping to get a chance to blog about this soon!)
  2. Collected maple sap from my tree out front (as it is FINALLY warm enough)
  3. Made DIY plant markers out of recyclables and other stuff I had around the house (check out my post on that from earlier today!)
  4. Gifted items to two members of my local Buy Nothing group
  5. Put a request out on my local Buy Nothing page
  6. Dropped a bag full of stuff people from my Buy Nothing group weren’t interested in in the St. Vincent de Paul charity bin
  7. Fixed the St. Vincent de Paul charity bin which was jammed open with a Barbie Doll (Ken, to be specific) and tossed in six bags that were sitting by the bin in the rain
  8. Sold two pieces of clothing I really liked but never wore (and made $40!)
  9. Watched some of my seedlings sprout today
  10. Enjoyed some scrap beer grain banana bread I made last night (similar recipe to my Spent Grain Apple Muffins post)
  11. Went to a free baby drop in nearby for something to do on this cold rainy day
  12. Didn’t buy a coffee or snack out even though I drove past Tim Horton’s TWICE. 
  13. Made plans with a friend to go for a hike with a packed lunch tomorrow instead of our usual lunch date at a restaurant (soooo proud of this!)

I’m pretty happy with how today went and I’m looking forward to tackling more projects and habits throughout the week! 

How did you spend your Monday? What are some of your more expensive habits you could do without? How do you try and reduce  your spending and/or consumption? 

Save a Tree Today!

Okay, we’re getting a little ambitious here. But, have you ever thought about just how much toilet paper, paper towel, tissues and/or baby wipes your household goes through each and every day? 

It was a little challenging to find clear and up to date information on what goes into making toilet paper each year and what kind of impact this may have on our planet and the availability of natural resources. I did stumble across this article, which found that the US used 36.5 billion rolls of tp each year, consuming approximately 15 million trees. Doing the standard “what about Canada math” we get a 10th of that. Still. Rediculous. Add to that paper towels, tissues and baby wipes and we’re looking at an incredible number of trees consumed just to clean up after ourselves. In addition there is all the water consumed and all the greenhouse gases produced from making and shipping these products and we have a sad little picture developing. Don’t believe me that this is a problem? There are many more websites and blogs and research articles out there for you to explore before making a decision. 

Since I’ve been home all day while on maternity leave with my little one we’ve been going through toilet paper like there’s no tomorrow! In my push to save money while I’m not working and reduce my family’s waste production/carbon footprint, I decided I’d give some good ol’ family cloth a go. (For those of you new to family cloth, it is reusable/washable wipes for the whole family. Yep, you read that correctly.) Aaaaannnnd since we are already cloth diapering and using cloth wipes, I already have a handy wet bag hanging in my bathroom and a few loads of laundry I can add them to each week. I’m not ready to consider using cloth for cleanup of #2, but as the lady of the house I think I can make a pretty big impact to our budget and waste production by avoiding tp for #1. 

If this grosses you out, consider the following tutorial one about making cloth baby wipes at home. There, now that’s not so bad, is it? 

Onto the tutorial!

Step 1: Find some material. I used some old receiving blankets someone was giving away on one of my Facebook groups. You could also use old flannel pyjamas, old sheets or pillow cases, any kind of cotton fabric….

Step 2: Cut fabric into 4.5×8 inch rectangles if making family cloth, or 8×8 inch squares if making baby wipes or tissues. 


Step 3: Stitch a zig-zag stitch along the edges. You could also decide to leave as-is depending on the type of fabric you chose, or serger the edges of you have one available to you. 


Step 4: In order to save some thread and speed up the process, once I have completed one circumference of the cloth and backstitched I move my next piece right in and start sewing away. I can then trim the little bit of thread connecting the two pieces. 


Step 5: I like to store my wipes in an old disposable wipes box (which I picked up for free off someone in my local Buy Nothing group). I fold them into each other length wise and then stack into the box so that one wipe pulls the next one through. 








There you have it. A nice pile of wipes ready to go for whatever use you have for them 🙂 

Baby Pancakes

It can be challenging to create interesting, healthy meals for your little one to eat without expending a great deal of time and effort. This recipe can be used for baby led weaning as well as for when introducing more complex foods in a traditional diet. It helps keep things interesting as well as healthy and inexpensive as compared to buying pre-made baby food. Make sure you have already introduced these ingredients to your baby prior to giving them in this combination. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup baby cereal (I used oat cereal but I suspect others woud work)
  • 1/3 cup breastmilk (or formula, or milk)
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 banana (optional but adds a nice bit of sweetness)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 egg, whisked

Directions:

Combine ingredients and blend until just combined. Fry up in skillet like a traditional pancake. Serve slightly cooled whole or in little pieces depending on the age of your little one. Top with berries if desired.