Life without Plastic

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Smoothies Without a Blender and Preserving like a Boss

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This week has flown by! I've been experimenting with making smoothies with a potato masher as our blender broke, and I've been craving one like a pregnant lady. I'm not sure if I'll replace it with a crank blender, as it is all plastic, like all blenders you'll run into, so this may be a permanent solution. 

Here's how I potato mash a smoothie (photos coming): 

  1. Cut all greens (for green smoothies) and fruits, etc. as small as you can.
  2. Mash all greens in a big bowl (for a green smoothie) first, as mushy as you can.
  3. Then mash fruits next, mushy as you can.
  4. Add in yogurt or other liquids at this point and mix well. I like to use frozen yogurt I chopped up in small pieces for more of an ice cream texture.
  5. Enjoy your lumpy, plastic-free and nonelectric smoothie! (I still like it, but may not be for everyone.)

Back up to dehydrating apricots 24/7 from two ladies in my ward.
Also canned a jar of blackberries from our yard, and a quart and a pint jar of blueberries from the farmer's market.
Visited my grandma while UG1 played with my much younger cousins. She sent me home with a bag of 12 or so yellow crookneck squash from Grandpa's garden. I got one of our pressure canners fixed. I canned the squash with the help of Mr. Greenie who took turns with UG3 that night. Here are the six beautiful sealed jars from my first pressure canning session and the first vegetables for winter! 
The girls and I also had lunch with one of my aunts this week. 

Last night I made pizza from scratch with no cheese (we're out) and cooked beans as a partial substitute for flour in the crust, and baked snickerdoodles with more beans as a partial flour substitute and applesauce as a partial oil substitute since we're low on coconut oil. To finish the house heating session off, we oven canned the dried cantaloupe and apricots while Mr. Greenie and I budgeted for the week. 

We're really plowing through our debt, and are already almost halfway done with paying off our second debt. Our emergency fund is still untouched and full. Not bad for starting Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps a month ago!

We don't have our swamp cooler working (needs full replacement since we bought the house a year ago, so we've been enjoying the weather all summer long), so it was in the lower nineties inside on the main floor! 

Next time your spouse or kids complains that you keep your thermostat too high, just tell them that Little Urban Greenie has it in the upper eighties and low nineties and hides down in her basement to keep cool.

Here's to more plastic-free, nonelectric food preparation and less plastic, local food-
Little Urban Greenie

Monday, July 18, 2016

Planting and Pottying Babies

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I finally found a break in dehydrating after the raisins, excess organic bananas, the last of the currants, and a few mushy raspberries and strawberries finished drying. Then we baked some brownies using pinto beans instead of flour, then oven canned the dried fruit in jars, while making honey blueberry jam from a local farm; what a crazy preserving session!

There has been a bit of a break since then, but now the blackberries are ripening, so it's going to be another canning session soon!

I also found out that two families in my ward (church) are desperately trying to get their apricots picked, so I will be trying to help them out and dehydrate again this week. I will also bring extras to Food Not Bombs. I guess my preserving break is over this next week.

Planted a half row of seeds with the last of my green beans, some peas, some cabbage, and some cucumbers for a later harvest. I hope they all make it and provide beautiful canned green beans, dried peas, sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles respectively.

In parenting news, I've been working on Natural Infant Hygiene with our now 1 month old and she's doing well. She now uses my signal to tell me when she has to go numero dos and I've been learning her signal for numero uno. We're starting off part time and keeping it relaxed, but I'm excited to see her not have to spend so much time in a dirty diaper.

We paid off our smallest debt this last week and have been selling off things we don't use on our local classifieds to help with this. One of the things we sold was a bunch of VHS and DVDs, which I hope to continue paring down and replace with used books for a more wholesome, plastic-free, and nonelectric source of entertainment. We'll see as Mr. Greenie is not a fan of the idea of not owning movies.

Here's to a more local, debt-free, plastic-free, and nonelectric life!
Little Urban Greenie

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Zero Waste/Plastic Free Family Planning

The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

I only endorse natural methods of prevention and conception, so I won't cover all of the options available in detail. I stick with natural options and using creating less waste and plastic. I am aware of:

  1. the diaphragm and cervical cap with spermicide (spermicide creates packaging waste and is toxic)
  2. hysterectomy/vasectomy/tubal ligation (surgeries that affect hormones and aren't always reversible)
  3.  hormonal birth control (blood clots, messing with hormones, and lots of packaging waste)
  4. withdrawal (ineffective and mean)
  5. Herbs (some to prevent/abort, some to conceive, but even bulk herbs come in plastic unless you grow yourself from paper seed packets)

Tools to Naturally Plan Your Family with Less Plastic and Waste:
  • All natural lubricant: Coconut oil seems to be the go to for most naturally minded people, just buy it in a large glass jar (if you use it a lot for multiple purposes, totally worth it) or a plastic one that's recyclable in your area. I would recommend using other food oils such as canola oil if you are allergic to coconut. Oils aren't recommended for latex condom use, but not a problem if you are actively trying to conceive. (You will end up with those ridiculous and non-recyclable foil/paper wrappings if you choose coconut oil or no plastic if you refill glass bottles of other kinds of oil in the bulk section of your store. No bulk refill option for coconut oil currently.)
  • Diet: Read this wonderful article by Wellness Mama for a very detailed post about fertility preparation
  • Fertility Awareness Method: Covered in detail in "Taking Charge of Your Fertility", but you can take your temperature on a glass non-mercury basal thermometer (plastic free and no batteries to replace) and/or chart cervical mucus and other signs to see ideal times to conceive, prevent, understand your menopause, and be more aware of overall gynecological health. 
  • Ovulation Microscope: Fertile Focus has a small microscope for testing saliva for signs of impending ovulation. You will be able to detect ovulation with about five days notice, so you can know when to actively try or prevent. I would recommend using this method in conjunction with Fertility Awareness methods throughout non-pregnancy cycles for optimal gynecological health understanding and lower chances of prevention/conception failure. (Update 10/25/16- this microscope is almost completely made of plastic, but the packaging isn't. Great zero-waste & reusable option, but not plastic-free.)

  • Paraguard IUD/Copper Coil: This option is hormone-free and lasts up to 12 years. The only waste generated would be from the packaging and sterile gloves from the removal and insertation process. Good for those not planning a family for a long period of time, or those who are done having children. Apparently, adjustment to insertion/removal is painful, so think long-term with this option.
  • Condoms: Not a zero-waste or plastic-free option, but necessary in preventing STDs. There are sustainable, natural latex options out there that you can compost after use. The packaging is still unrecyclable and the product is a one-time use though.
You may also enjoy Zero Waste Plastic Free Pregnancy Detection and "Baking" as a Couple with Less Waste

Here's to a zero-waste and plastic-free family planning experience!

Little Urban Greenie

Monday, July 4, 2016

Confessions of a Recovering Plastic User and Catching up

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The last three weeks have been a bit of a blur, to say the least! My husband took a week off of work when UG3 was born and I just rested. Then I went right back to trying to manage the yard and can. Our garden took a hit from Mr. Greenie trying to take over while I was down, poor man. My cucumber seedlings died.

I'm halfway to earning a $25 Amazon gift card for more Weck jars through Swagbucks. Can't wait to get more 1/2 liter tulip jars, I'm almost out of pints! If you're interested in joining Swagbucks to earn gift cards for your online time too, check out my referral link!

I have picked apricots from a church member's yard and received a bunch of grapes from my parents who came to visit this weekend. So, I have been dehydrating apricots, red currants, and raisins, and canned apricots, apricot jam, grapes, and a pineapple from Food Not Bombs. All free! Winter looks better and better every day.

Here's our canned goods so far:
And our dehydrated foods waiting for a big enough load to be oven canned (probably after the grapes are raisins):
Confession time: We have recently read Dave Ramsey's "The Total Money Makeover" and have decided to reduce our budget to get out of debt completely. Our food budget took a hit and the plastic-free options from Phase One have gone to the wayside. We are now buying eggs from the grocery store again and milk in a plastic jug. Luckily our chickens should start laying within about month and a half, so no more egg cartons at that point.

We've been getting a lot of stuff from Food Not Bombs which is heavily packaged. Is it hypocritical to benefit from this organization and increase our amount of recycling? We reduce waste by eating food that would otherwise be thrown away, recycle the packaging, and since we aren't buying the food, we aren't contributing to the demand of more packaged food, right? Or am I justifying just to save on our food bill?

Here's to a fruitful harvest and becoming debt-free!

Little Urban Greenie

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