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Life without Plastic

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Birthday Plants and Hullabaloo

This week has been crazy! Over the weekend we bought four more tomato plants, two cucumber plants, and three more pepper plants for my birthday. One baby bell pepper, and two small purple bell peppers. Praying for a fantastic harvest year, crazy busy work weeks for Mr. Greenie, and loads of free jars to get us fully through next winter.

Made bread and Carob Chip Cookies by hand this week, which is oddly relaxing. Also prepared padsicles for postpartum care. Check out my tutorial here.

Cleaned and organized over a hundred free jars we found on a local classified ad. Check out our stash! Just have to buy more lids for the Ball/Kerr jars.



Found another pressure canner for $20 on another local classified ad, probably needs a new rubber seal, but I'll test it with just water this week.

I've also been working on my guest post on how to prepare for a zero waste/plastic-free birth for http://myplasticfreelife.com/, which is super exciting!

Borrowed the dehydrator from my local grandmother (yep, it's plastic, but at least it is used plastic and will help us avoid much more new plastic packaging and eat more local) and have been dehydrating onions and garlic to make homemade onion and garlic powder for a homemade ranch mix.

Went to Whole Foods to fill up our peanut butter, and they let me use a photo on my phone instead of the plastic tag for the PLU bulk number! Score for zero-waste living, and I'm planning on trying this again!

Let a few chickens out to graze down some weeds. They loved it!


My parents are in town for the weekend and brought both gifts for UG1 and myself's birthdays this past month. Very plastic coated, but they don't really support plastic-free or zero-waste, so what are you going to do? Luckily they bought 6 beautiful Weck Tulip jelly jars and a cloth bulk bag off my wish list, so still help towards plastic-free living.

Here's to a more zero-waste and plastic-free summer!

Little Urban Greenie

Plastic-Free Padsicles for Postpartum Care

How to make plastic-free "padsicles" for postpartum discomfort relief and healing-

Lay herbal pad of Postpartum Bath Herbs (or DIY Postpartum Sitz Bath herbs in a tea ball) in a container. Cover with boiling water, enough to dribble over the amount of pads wanted. Steep for 5 minutes.
Dribble liquid onto cloth pad with a spoon.
Layer pads on their side, in a large container to curve, then freeze, while keeping them curved.
When frozen, pop padsicles into a container to keep clean. To avoid adherence to tender areas, work the pad in hands a bit before placing between two absorbing pads layers on shield on undies.

Here's to happier and healthier postpartum pain/discomfort relief, the plastic-free way.

Little Urban Greenie

Friday, May 20, 2016

Humans Down to Compost, Zero Waste Circle of Life

We went to a community plant sale last weekend, but it wasn't advertised as cash or check only...so we ended up not buying anything. Word to the wise (from the foolish/tired), always carry cash when working with local farmer's markets, plant sales, or any community organized event. They often don't take cards and you may end up missing out on smaller vendors.

The red potatoes and sweet potatoes are growing roots and should be ready to plant soon. I'm now trying to grow some yellow onions from organic root half/bottoms I cut off for a recipe. The onions are just starting to develop roots. Normally these are discarded, but in the name of frugality and zero waste, I'm trying to regrow anything we eat that can be easily regrown. Here is the progress:
Spending some time with my local grandparents this week and using their computer for work training for Mr. Greenie, provided some nice time away from the house. My grandmother also offered to let us borrow her food dehydrator for the season, which is great since we can't afford the solar oven/dehydrator combo for this year and she won't need it until Fall. She's an awesome thrift shopper and will be on the lookout for a used one for us.

Our water bath canner came the other day and was only in cardboard with some tape to close it. I found a used Presto pressure canner for free, but can't seem to get it open. The givers didn't know much about it and seem to have sealed it closed by putting the lid on wrong after showing the inside to me. One of the handles is broken from trying to open it (it was already cracked) and will need to be replaced. Hoping I will find someone who knows more about canning and can help direct me on fixing/opening it.
Water Bath Canner:
Pressure Canner:

I made some rose water in my water bath canner as a distiller and strained my vanilla extract after about 6 weeks of waiting. (See Recipes page on how to make rosewater and vanilla extract) I also started some more vanilla extract and some mint extract using the vanilla extract recipe and crushed fresh mint leaves.
I've been enjoying harvesting and drying herbs and will be probably finish up with everything but mint, chamomile, and red raspberry leaf which I will be harvesting over the next several weeks.
All from Our Garden, Zero Waste and Plastic-Free Reused Glass Jars:
The dill is so prolific that I will have to keep pulling it up and feeding it to the chicks. They are thrilled to eat anything, including weeds, which makes them a perfect compliment to a zero waste homestead! In our house the people get food first; dog gets crumbs, spills, dog food, and bones from beef bone broth; guinea pig and chicks get squishy produce, weeds, and pellet foods; worms get produce that's too bad for guinea pig, and compost pile gets the rest.

Here's to Zero Waste Living!
Little Urban Greenie

Friday, May 13, 2016

Why Are All the Quail Gone? (And vacuum/3 movies)

I started my weekend morning by quickly plucking the last three quail my husband just killed. It wasn't that bad! They were headless and legless and not moving, but still warm. That was a little weird for me. Our now preschooler woke up while I plucked and snuck a couple of peeks from the top of the basement stairs. She wasn't bothered at all.

I would suggest always doing a kill one bird and pluck, then repeat rather than a mass kill and pluck as you want to cool the meat down fast as possible and hand plucking can take a few minutes. My husband had to jump in with the plucking to finish the job. I love not wasting the feathers and look forward to using them to restuff our feather pillows as needed (after boiling them first), a feather mattress as we find one, or a down comforter we either make or find.

My husband finished the butchering and we cooled them in the fridge. We also went on a hike with dog F and had a picnic lunch after Food Not Bombs. It was a great family day. The next day we ate slow cooker sweet and sour quail! It was great!

Unfortunately, dog F also chewed up our charger for the vacuum cleaner, so the Roomba is no more. I donated it to our homeschooling swap since we're due for replacing the battery again soon, as well as the broken cord. So we are vacuum cleaner free a little earlier than planned.

The annual homeschool exchange(swap) saved us quite a bit on clothes for next three sizes as well as many books. Since we found copies of "The Secret Garden", Disney's "Peter Pan", and Disney's "Cinderella", I have put those three movies away until I have big load to donate.

As part of my parenting/nonelectric use/plastic-free/educational philosophy, I plan slowly getting rid of most of our movies, and replacing them with books, piano sheet music, and old records with a crank record player (No new plastic and much more durable). This way our kids would be more engaged in their entertainment,encouraged in musical education, expand their horizons, develop their reading and critical thinking abilities, avoid new plastic waste, and use less electricity.

I finally visited one of the ladies I've been asked to fellowship at church with another lady from church as my companion. Not only was the visit nice, but I found an unexpected kindred spirit in my companion. So grateful to see another person who at least understands some of the lifestyle choices we've made and doesn't just find me weird.

Middle of the week, and we made bread completely by hand with a wooden slotted spoon. UG1 went first, then I jumped in, and my husband helped quite a bit as well. Kneaded and shaped it, then baked it in the oven. Harvested one dandelion root, chopped and dehydrated it for tea as well.

Called three companies to get off their mailing list yesterday. One was a charter school that uses the U.S. Postal Service to distribute their flyers to a zip code so they deferred to the USPS, one was CenturyLink which the customer service rep had no access to find out who their 3rd party marketing service is, and the third was a statewide gym that had me on hold for awhile with corporate and then promptly agreed to let their marketing department know.

So next time I run errands this week, I'm getting a few copies of the USPS Form 1500 for opting out of mail I find offensive (or pornographic) to fill out and stop those that just aren't available to otherwise opt-out. Here is some information on how to get rid of junk mail in a more active way. I have already gone on DMA ChoiceCatalog Choiceopted out of prescreened credit offers, and use the free PaperKarma app
to try to minimize our junk mail.

Here's to living more sustainably,
Little Urban Greenie

Friday, May 6, 2016

Spring is Here in Utah!

Our chicks have been moved to the coop this last week, but they're exclusively inside the nesting part for the next few days to attach to it as their new home. Here are some pictures of them a week ago in the brooder:


And here they are unseen in the coop: 
We're super stoked to have them settling into their permanent home. 

In the garden, we've been busy harvesting herbs including several volunteer chamomile plants! So far we've harvested parsley, cilantro, chamomile flowers, red raspberry leaves, thyme, sage, lemon balm, dill weed, and mint. We also have some beets and lettuce growing that volunteered as well, but we aren't eating them just yet. Here are the herbs drying inside (chamomile flowers in the bags): 

While they have been drying, our dog has dug up two of my pepper plants, one which is completely gone and the other replanted. He has also dug some other areas, but so far left my other edibles alone. We're still training him to prevent digging, chewing, and other puppy behaviors. Fortunately potty training wasn't too hard, he figured out to wait near the door. 

One of my cucumbers died, but there were two in the same container that I separated, so I half expected it. One of the chard plants looks pretty bad as well. Sowed some Sweet Spanish Onion seeds, calendula seeds, and a patch of yarrow, so hopefully they all take off for more crops this year. 

I am trying start some sprouted red potatoes and one organic sweet potato into slips with roots, since they just sprouted in my pantry. If it works out, they'll have been completely free since we got them from Food Not Bombs. I'd then try to save some of the harvest for more slips next year. Take a look:

In zero waste news, I contacted Trader Joe's for their fearless flyer, Costco Wholesale for a previous owner, and a local Plumbing company to get off their mailing lists. I unsubscribed from Trader Joe's at http://www.traderjoes.com/subscribe with a first name as Resident, mailed Costco to unsubscribe the resident who moved and as the current resident at their customer service address: Customer Service, P.O. Box 34622, Seattle, WA 98124 (more information at http://m.costco.com/privacy-policy.htm , and just called the number on the plumbing company's flyer and asked to be taken off their mailing list. This cuts out more junk mail than you would think. 

Happy Spring!
Little Urban Greenie

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