05 April 2009

Combining blogs

I have currently been writing two blogs. This one and another which focuses more on my family and happenings surrounding the boys. After contemplating why I was seperating the issues out, I have decided to combine the blogs. Thus if you are still interested in reading about our adventures in green living please feel free to visit my other blog. This will be my last post on this one.

Tales of an EarthMama

08 March 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Well somehow another week has gone by. This week seemed to fly. As I turned off my computer on Monday (my goal for every week this Lent) every day I felt I was a day off. Anyway, the meals this last week were really good. I expcetally enjoyed the meatloaf from Frugal Recipes.com Although I only used a pound of beef while the recipe calls for 1 1/2 pounds. My husband said it could use the extra 1/2 lb in his opinion. We didn't get to the lasagna as I was sick on Friday. I've added it to this week, because I really want to try out the recipe. Plus I still have all the ingredients.

Monday:Mushroom, Spinach & Artichoke Lasagna, bread
Tuesday: Baked Chicken, Bacon & Tomato Couscous and green beans
Wednesday: Pi Day Church Potluck- bring Broccoli and Bacon Quiche
Thursday: Chicken Pot Pie, bread, fruit salad
Friday: Homemade Hamburger Helper
Saturday: leftovers
Sunday: Crepes

For more menu ideas and recipes be sure to visit I'm an Organizing Junkie.

05 March 2009

The power of soap and water

I have been doing major cleaning in my kitchen this week. I have to admit I'm horrible when it comes to deep cleaning my house. I take care of the basics (usually) but really deep cleaning just slips by me. So this week I decided my kitchen really needed some major deep cleaning. I've started with just the outside. I've cleaned off the outside of all the cabinets and walls. I moved the stove and swept and mopped behind it. My kitchen sparkles now. It feels really good. And I only used hot water and soap. Oh and lots of elbow grease. :) There was so much build up on some of the walls (like behind the stove) and cabinets. And I'm sure I could have gone to any grocery store and found ten products claiming that they would just wipe away the grim. But really, why bother. Hot water, soap and a old tooth brush in hard to remove areas did the work just as well. And without all the added chemicals. According to Green Clean website "Simple castile soap (made with olive oil) and vegetable-based soap (such as Murphy’s Oil Soap) have a neutral pH. Soap cleans by attaching to soil at the molecular level, so that the soil can be rinsed away with water." I am currently using Ecover Aloe Vera Dishwashing Liquid I have enjoyed it. Although I might try making my own once I'm done with this bottle. One of my many pet peeves with society is our constant need of antibacterial products. True there was time when I half heartily bought into that mindset. And sure there are times when I make sure to disinfect a surface. Like when handling raw meat I tend to zealously clean the surface afterward. But it is through the use of all these antibacterial products that we create strands of bacteria that can withstand such chemicals. Plus the real kicker is we kill all that good bacteria along side the bad. This all leaves our immune systems weaker not stronger. I'm not saying we shouldn't clean. I'm saying that I am constantly amazed at the power of simple cleaning products. Plain soap and water, along with baking soda, vinegar and others, do amazing jobs and both cleaning and disinfecting. And they don't pose problems toward the environment or towards creating super bacteria. So if you're not already, look into natural, alternative cleaning products. Make sure your soaps are derived from vegetable oil and not petroleum. Check out the below sites for tips on using vinegar and baking soda to help clean your house. Or check out your local library for a copy of Green Clean. Some of my favorite homemade recipes are from there. We currently use the Borax Kitchen cleaner and the dishwasher detergent. Although you have to be careful about the amount of detergent used. Too much will leave residue on your dishes.

Vinegar Tips- cleaning

GreenLivingtips- baking soda

There are lots of other resources out there. Look around, your bound to find other great information.

01 March 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Last weeks meals went very well. I ended up enjoying the Green Spaghetti all by myself. :( My husband had a stomach virus. And for what ever reason, my son decided not to eat that night. Oh well, I enjoyed it and will have to make it again. I didn't end up cooking today. We had so many leftovers that I decided we needed to eat what was in the frige. And I didn't end of making the tuna pasta for potluck this morning. I brought fruit jello instead. I was mostly just being lazy. :) Well here is this weeks meal plan.

Breakfast: cereal or oatmeal, eggs if I feel I have energy

Lunch: leftovers, pb&j, or hot dogs (have I mentioned I hate hot dogs. My husband loves them so I figure since I make him come up with his own lunch most days he can have them.)

Monday: Confetti Meatloaf, roasted potatoes, and green beans
Tuesday: Bacon Potato Chowder, with muffins or bread
Wednesday: Church meal
Thursday: Small Group meal- bring bread
Friday: Mushroom, Spinach, & Artichoke Lasagna, garlic bread
Saturday: out to eat (I'll be at a La Leche League conference till late afternoon.)
Sunday: Leftovers

Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menus and recipes this week.

25 February 2009

Local Raw milk

A few of my friends in town have recently been getting raw milk from a local farm. After hearing wonderful comments about it, deciding that the local factor was well worth it, plus seeing that the $3 per gallon was very comparable to the grocery store price, I decided to try a gallon. So I talked to my one of my friends and he pick a gallon up for me when he went to get his. Yesterday I got the milk! I used it in the spinach sauce for our dinner and had a glass to drink. I think I'm hooked. I had my husband only pour me a half glass thinking it was be really thick. My husband and I tend to drink 1% and I buy a 1/2 gallon 2% for cooking and for my 2 1/2 yr old to drink. He's skinny and I feel can probably use the extra fat (of course so could my husband, but 1% is a compromise. He grew up on skim :( ). I was pleasantly surprised to find it tasted alot like 2%. I was expecting a thick whole milk feel. Of course it's been awhile since I've had whole milk so who really knows. The important thing is I like it. The down side is that right now I don't think DH is going to drink it. So I'll have to keep some 1% on hand. I keep thinking I should at least look at the organic at our local whole foods store. Check prices and such. The down side of raw milk is that I'm told it tends to go sour by the end of one week. But really that's not a problem for us. We use a lot of milk. Another fun thing I'm hoping to try with this milk is making my own yogurt. I know you can make yogurt with pasteurized milk, but another friend who is using raw milk says that her yogurt turns out so much better using the raw. So now I just need to try. I've never been motivated to try to make my own yogurt. However I'm starting to feel some motivation coming.

22 February 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Well last weeks meal plan went very well. I ended up switching Thurs and Friday. My 2 yr old son had stomach flu and it was easier to do the pizza than what I had planned on Thurs. Of course then I had to deal with him want pizza and not really being able to eat it because he was sick. :( Poor guy. We didn't end of eating out of Sat. Instead we ate at my mother's. It was a wonderful meal. I also had to come up with a last minute Sunday supper because we didn't have enough left overs. We had a lentil chili over homemade buns that was very tasty. Plus there is enough leftovers for lunch this week. Even if we eat it everyday, we'll still probably being eating it till Wed or Thurs. Well here is this weeks plan.

Breakfasts: Cereal or oatmeal
Lily pads on Tues or Wed- spinach type pancakes found in Sesame Street Silly Snacks (very cute and fun kids cookbook that is separated into color groups that match a monster)

Lunch: leftovers, pb&j, hotdogs
Sunday lunch- church potluck- bringing Tuna pasta

Monday: Cheese Corn Chowder
Tuesday: Green Spaghetti
Wedensday: Church meal
Thursday: Italian Beef & Veggie Casserole
Friday: Baked Chicken, stuffed potatoes, peas
Saturday: leftovers
Sunday: Crustless Broccoli Quiche

If you want more ideas for meal planning this week visit Organizing Junkie

20 February 2009

DIY plant pot- milk jugs and more

I've really wanted to start growing some of my own food. But I have little motivation to start an outside garden for two reasons. One, we don't own the house or plot of land it sits on. So I know all the hard work I put into clearing a spot for a garden may not be utilized after I'm gone. Which feels sorta like a waste. Two, we may be moving this summer. And if not this summer most likely by the next. So I may nor may not even get a full growing season out of the hard work. So in hopes to both fully me desire to grow my own food while keeping the work load manageable I've decided I can plant herbs and maybe even a few vegetables or whatnot in pots. That way I can start now and when it gets warmer just take them outside. My big dilemma with this is I don't want to spend money on buying a whole ton of pots. :( Luckily I ran across this tutorial for making a planter out of a milk jug on Instructables.com. Quick and Easy self-watering garden planter. I've already tried it and I have two little sprouts that just popped up yesterday. I was so very excited!!

Well this got me thinking of other things lying around my house that I might be able to use. We don't really drink pop, so I don't have 2L bottles. But I do have other things that might work. My big idea is using a tidy cats plastic container as a planter for a tomato plant(or other larger plant). We have three we got off of freecycle to use as a diaper pail. But we really only use one right now. We keep it in the garage and take it with us on all day trips. Anyway, while I don't have cats and their for don't buy litter, I'm sure I could get more off of freecycle. And they should be just big enough for one tomato plant. :) Yeah!!!!! So now I just have to go try it. I think I'll probably wait till I finish planting the rest of my herbs. Just need to finish this next jug of milk.

15 February 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I've read for years now the benefits of making a weekly meal plan. When you plan out your meals for a whole week you can make a shopping list to go accordantly. This limits those last minute trips because you need some ingredient you forgot. It can help ensure that food is used in a timely manner and in turn limit the amount that gets thrown out because it spoiled. All and all planning ahead, like in most area of life, can save us time, money and help the environment while we're at it. Unfortunately I've never been good at make weekly meal plans. I have this great fear that come Thurs I won't want what I planned but won't have any other options. Irrational, I know. But I am who I am. :) Well yesterday I went through my pantry and made a list of the items. I've been wanting to do this for awhile. One, I tend to stick to the same few recipes. The positive is it's easy because I already know how to prepare them. And I for the most part I can try to have on hand nonperishable ingredients for those staple meals. The negative is that sometimes I forget to use other items I pick up for some meal I didn't end up cooking :(. Two, some good friends of ours are fostering a young boy who they recently found out is allergic to gluten and lactose. Not wanting to throw good food out, they gave us all their food items containing ingredients he can't have. So I have all this food that I don't normally cook with that I'm needing to incorporate into our meals. Actually I'm quite excited because I see it as an opportunity to try some new recipes. So after finding out what is in my pantry and my freezers I've decided that the best way to ensure I'm using food, and thus limit the amount that we throw out (which is more than I really want to), I need to start creating weekly menus. So here it goes, this weeks meal plan.

Breakfast- cold cereal or oatmeal

Lunches- leftovers, pb&j, hot dogs or mac & cheese

Monday- Black beans and sweet potato burritos- recipe from Simply in Season cookbook
Tuesday- Spaghetti with Tuna and Tomato Sauce found on Food Network.com
Wednesday- Church meal
Thursday- Mushroom Burger Enchiladas
Friday- personal pizzas
Saturday- eat out
Sunday- leftovers

I'm sure I'll try to do dessert for some of the meals. Just don't know what yet. Also I tend to fib alittle on recipes and don't follow exactly. But what's above will be the basic idea.

If you want more ideas for meal planning this week visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday

09 February 2009

T-shirt bags and more

We have lots of t-shirts around here. This last summer I donated a large stack to Salvation Army and still our closets seem to be overflowing with T-shirts. Weeks after I donated many of my T-shirts I ran across this website.

Now maybe you have seen this idea before. But to me the idea of turning my old t-shirts into shopping bags was genius. I was wanting a cheap way to have more cloth bags. And this was it. Luckily for me we still had tons of t-shirts around to try it out. It was so easy. I made a bunch for my brother for Christmas. My mom was so impressed she has been asking me to make her some. Unfortunately I have been working on other things.

The one thing about making these bags is that I had a ton of sleeves left over. I didn't just want to toss them out. So my original thought was to sew them together into squares to use for family cloth. If you haven't heard of this idea it is when you use cloth wipes rather than toilet paper. Well I decided it would take too much energy to actually sew them. Instead I cut of any seams and just used them as is. No sewing. They work great. I keep a basket beside my toilet for the clean wipes and an old ice cream bucket with water and BacOut on the floor with the lid on. I then throw them in the diaper wash every two days. Now I understand that for many family cloth sounds extreme. When I first heard of it I thought it was alittle crazy. But I cloth diaper my children. Why won't I consider using cloth wipes myself? And by using my t-shirt sleeves it didn't cost my anything to make myself wipes.

The other thing I am doing with the t-shirt sleeves is separate them into colored and white. The color I am using for family cloth wipes. The white I'm going to use for handkerchiefs. I haven't bought tissues for months. But that doesn't mean we don't use tissues. Rather we have just used toilet paper for tissues. As the cold season hit us I started realizing how wasteful this was. Luckily we did have a handful of large handkerchiefs that my husband used a bandannas for tennis. Now he has two or three he really like and let me have the rest to use for the kids noses. Unfortunately when both boys and myself where fighting head colds the few handkerchiefs we had just didn't seem enough. So my idea is that the white sleeves will be perfect once (or twice) use handkerchiefs and there are enough of them that even if I wash every other day I should have enough. Of course we haven't really had runny noses to test this. So we'll see.

I'm sure there are lots of other ideas for old t-shirts. These are just what I'm doing right now.

16 January 2009

Societies need of bags

So twice in the last 24 hours I've ran into issues concerning plastic bags at supermarkets. Both happened at Walmart, and yes I'm almost ashamed to say I did shop at Walmart. I'll continue to claim that in our little town it is sometimes the only option without driving 30 mins to the nearest big city. Or at least the only option my budget can afford. I do try to avoid shopping there. Anyway, last night I took my own bags with me. I get up to the cashier, pull out my bags and say that she doesn't need to bother with a plastic bag because I brought my own. The cashier takes my bag and begins fumbling with it. I thought she was trying to open it to be ready for my items. But she was looking for a tag!! Here is the thing. These bags are made out of a t-shirt. Furthermore they do not look like something you would find at Walmart! When she finally looks at me and states, "They don't have a tag?" I annoyingly respond, "Their my bags. I brought them. This is my stuff for checkout." I wanted to say "If I was buying bags from you they would have Walmart on them." So I go home thinking that was the end of it. Well the sock I bought had a hole, so I needed to return them. Today I took them in for exchange. As the woman at customer service started to pull out a bag for the new pair I tell politely tell her I don't need a bag. Her response was "Well I have to bag it, the employees at the door look for bags. If you don't have one you have to show them a receipt." I was furious. I took the bag and quickly deposited it in the recycling bin for plastic bags and walked out. I didn't even get stopped to check for a receipt. What made me mad was that she gave me a receipt. I don't care if I have to show it on the way out. I don't want the bag. One item I can carry in my hand. Even with two kids in tow. I keep thinking with the popularity of cloth bags employees will be more receptive to people opting out of plastic bags. But so far all I get is annoyance on their part. I feel that I'm actually doing the company a favor. The more people use cloth the less the company has to pay for plastic bags. It's good for everyone. Society need to kick this habit of plastic bags. While most of us who use cloth bags will continue to use cloth even if it's inconvenient and met with resistance, other will never us cloth because of societies resistance to the change. Personally, I feel that companies should start charging a small fee for bags. Dillons (know as Kroger in other states) give you 5 cents for every bag you bring. What if they just start charging 5 cents for every bag you use of theirs. Maybe then we could stop using and thus stop producing so many darn plastic (and paper for that matter) bags. My own two cents. :)

14 January 2009

Line drying clothes in winter

In attempts to keep with my goal, I lined dried my clothes last weekend. The temperature started out around 20F and I think the high was no more than 34F. It was sunny so that my have helped. We live in KS where the sun shines most days. Of course that often means that as soon as the sun goes down the temperature drops significantly. Anyway, having 5 loads of laundry I was able to line dry two. Or at least mostly line dry two. Here is what I learned.

If line drying in winter hang clothes outside as early in the day as possible. This gives them the most daylight/sunlight as possible. The clothes I hung out around 10 in the morning were dry when I brought them in that night. But the clothes I hung out in the afternoon around 2pm were partly frozen when I brought them in. My conclusion is that they did not dry enough before the temperature dropped as the sun went down. However, even with the frozen clothes I limited the time they needed in the dryer. So assuming the temperature reaches above freezing during the day, it is possible to hang clothes outside in the winter. Yeah!!!!

09 January 2009

My goals for 2009

While the term New Year's Resolution bring up some negative connotations in my mind, mostly due to everyone saying I'll break them before Feb, I do feel goals are important. And writing them down is a great way of looking back on all my accomplishments. So here are my green living goals for this year.

Goal #1 Switch from paper product to cloth product
a. eliminate the need for paper towels, paper napkins and tissues by providing an adequate about of the cloth verity
b. eliminate the use of disposable feminine product by replacing with washable/reusable products
c. switch from paper to cloth for bathroom uses

Goal #2 Eliminate all commercial cleaning products with more natural, earth friendly ones

Goal #3 Do at least one load of laundry every other day and hang outside unless raining, snowing, sleeting or the like

Goal #4 Grow at least two types of herbs and two types of vegetables. Even if just in pots

Goal #5 Reduce the use of the car for running errands by at least half by walking or biking.

Goal #6 When the farmer's market is open buy all my fruit and vegetables there rather than the supermarket.

Goal #7 That I met at least half of the above goals by the end of 2009 :)