Tuesday, April 19, 2011

trash-free challenge

My sister-in-luv, Elizabeth, has a great blog, castironconsomme. She is posing a challenge to go trash-free with your eating for a week.  No paper napkins, individually packaged snacks, etc... I am up for the challenge, but I must confess, I am a veteran of trash-free eating out.  For a few years now we have been doing our brand of healthy, frugal, trash-free eating. My husband and I pack our breakfasts and lunches every work day.  When out with the family running errands, I almost always try to pack what amounts to a car picnic.  This prevents hungry kids from making me miserable or bankrupting me with a convenient drive-thru stop.
     We have been using an assortment of silverware, glass storage containers and re-used jars and take-out containers.  We carry our lunches in small easily laundered tote bags I have picked up for a quarter or so at thrift stores and garage sales.  We have cloth napkins that I made a few years ago from a thrifted sheet that just keep going and going and going.  I really like glass for anything that needs microwaved.  Yes, people comment when I nuke up my salsa jar full of home-brewed coffee, but I just smile and take another sip of my piping hot coffee made just the way I like it.  My tall salsa jars make great containers for other drinks and soup too because the lids are really leak-proof.
     Today we went to the Zoo because it is free every Monday. I packed a picnic for 7people and fit it in a very manageable soft-sided cooler that I easily carried throughout the zoo.  Here's what it held, but keep in mind that I REALLY need to go grocery shopping, so I had little to work with:
--  pb and j sammies on home-made wholewheat bread.  I can fit 2 sandwiches into a rectangular plastic to-go box from the local Chinese restaurant.  These are great because each container holds 2 sandwiches and one person uses the lid for their plate and the other person uses the container for a plate.  No need for plates to be packed!
--yogurt parfait made by adding frozen berries to vanilla yogurt.  Everyone got a little glass jar full with a metal spoon, no waste there!
--apples, packed whole and cut with a paring knife when ready to eat.  Apple cores brought home in the glass jars so they could go in the compost bin.
-- Dried cranberries
--Sun tea for the grown ups, apple juice for the kids, brought in salsa jars, naturally.  I poured the kids juice into some cups we got when we went out to eat at Red Robin awhile back.  They serve their kid's drinks in plastic cups with lids, so I always bring them home instead of throwing them out and reuse them many times over.
--Matt brought hot tea in a steel thermos, a STEAL of a deal, as I got it for less than $2 at a local thrift store. It had never been used!  It was exactly like the $25+ ones I had been debating buying.  It ended up being freezing (in the 30's) and rainy today so having a sip of something hot was so wonderful!

     This was a fruit heavy lunch, but I was running out of many staples and worked with what I had in hand.  It worked out though, because you spend the day looking at all the concession stand goodies and having a sweet lunch helped ease the cravings for all the treats they were selling.
     Other easy lunch items that work well for kids on the go are cheese cubes and crackers, sunflower seeds, peanuts, popcorn, grapes, cubed watermelon, fruit leather, edamame, cucumber slices and hard-boiled eggs.
     Thanks Elizabeth for posting your challenge!  Keep up the good work!  And be sure to check out her blog (castironconsomme.blogspot.com/) to see the beautiful and delish stuff she is whipping up!

Friday, April 8, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

     It is time to give a shout-out to some of my "old faithfuls"-- stuff I use every day and don't want to live without.  This list is just a quick jot, the first few things that came to mind.

1.  My Farberware Percolator
Life wouldn't be the same without it!  I love her looks, her gurgly sounds and her "perc"-y attitude.  She will hopefully last forever, sitting nearby on my stovetop.

2. Original Castile Bar Soap 
This soap has been around since 1839, is hypoallergenic (a plus with my extraordinarily fussy skin), biodegradable, has no synthetic detergents,  has no animal by-products and  has never been tested on animals. Almost no packaging to waste. I think it is about $2 a bar.  My family uses it for showering and hair washing.  It lathers like crazy and rinses easily.  We have replaced soap, body wash, and shampoo with one bar.  

3. Spectrum Organics Coconut Oil

Versatile must be it's middle name! Safe enough to eat, this is my go-to beauty product.  I use it as a facial and body moisturizer, lip balm, massage oil, scalp conditioner AND I use this to make my own all-natural deodorant!  I can buy it at the grocery store for less than $10.  I love products that replace several others.  Less packaging is thrown out, especially since this comes in a reusable/recyclable glass jar.


The Handy House Stainless Steel Drinking Straws with Cleaner

My newest find, These are reusable drinking straws.  They work great and the brush lets you get them clean, then run them through the dishwasher for good measure.  I have been searching for a reusable straw for the kids, but Matt was afraid to try the glass straws that I found.  These are perfect!  I heart them a lot!  Another disposable plastic product booted out of my life!

5.  My shredding scissors
When I had a big old shredder, I always let the shredding pile up, then inevitably when I started to shred the heap it would jam over and over again.  I have a "thing" for manual tools.  I love to use human power as much as possible.  These are small (much smaller carbon footprint) and don't jam or need to be replaced because I burned the motor out by constantly jamming it.  I shred things as I read the mail now, so no more heap!

6.  My reel mower
Why pay to workout when there is grass to be mown?  It is so quiet you can hear the birds sing while you push along.  No bags to empty, it self mulches which means no fertilizing.  No gas cans to fill, no oil except for the squirt of wd-40 I give it every fall.  Wonderful!

What are your "old-faithfuls"?