Category Archives: tips

The nitty gritty

I’ve had parts of this post written since February 2008!
It is due time I finish it, especially in wake of the city strike.This is a really hard post to write because I am trying to keep this blog positive and I also don’t want to be peachy so I keep having to take out parts, and redo them. It definitley isn’t my best piece of writing, but here it is, the post about the shortfalls of recycling and industrial composting.
Recycling is completely different that reusing. I once talked to a woman who made crackers about the fact that she packaged them in plastic. I told her if I could get them without a package I would buy some. She got offended and said the plastic was recyclable so it would be the same, put it in the recycling bin and get new plastic-voila. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. The bag doesn’t get washed down and used again. It gets broken down into components and made into something else. Not all of the parts can be used, so the rest is waste. Plus you’ve got all the energy and pollution from the trucks and the recycling plants. It’s not an efficient system. I’m not saying don’t recycle, but don’t just recycle. Reduce as much as possible first and then recycle as a last resort.
The other problem with recycling is that programs accept much more than they can actually recycle just to get people to use the program. If there is too much sorting to do, many people just won’t do it, so the idea is to accept as much as possible even though many of the items accepted can’t actually be recycled.Here is the guide of what can and can’t be accepted I was surprised to see that paper can only be accepted if shredded and put in clear plastic bags. Does this mean none of the paper we’ve been putting in the bin has actually been recycled? I need to call and find out. We do use both sides of paper, and we reuse envelopes, but still once that is done, quite a bit goes in the plus bin.
Styrofoam can now be accepted, as well as plastic bags, but both items are difficult to recycle and the end product is not in much demand. For example plastic bags are made into plastic garden furniture-there are way more bags than the amount of furniture needed. In my research, I’ve discovered the #1 reason for recycling plastics is actually job creation.
The city of Toronto has made a goal to divert waste 70% by 2010. There have recently been media exposes on how they are doing that by including items they accept in compost and recycling but don’t actually divert. The city denies this, but does admit to accepting things that can’t be diverted to encourage people to use the programs.
Composting (green bins)
It really saddened me to see how many people got rid of their backyard composters when the green bin came. The green bin should really be for people who can’t have the other (better) kind of compost and maybe don’t want to deal with worms (vermicomposting). We also use it for egg shells and our flushable cat litter because the shells attract rats to our garden and the flushable litter sometimes clogs the toilet. It’s best to keep things in your own backyard, literally. Pretty much everything (food, waste disposal, household goods) is better and more efficient when done closer to home. As soon as you have to deal with transportation, factories etc, the greenness turns murky.
The other sad thing is seeing how many awesome and smart people decide to use disposable diapers instead of cloth because they are accepted in the green bin. The problem is they are not composted. They are accepted in order to up the numbers, but they get picked out in the filter. I called to ask if maybe some of the inside cotton parts get composted and they were reluctant to tell me, but the final answer was NO. The diaper is basically completely filtered out and sent to landfill. It just took a detour to get there.
Before I go, let me say, I think Toronto is putting forth a valiant effort in trying to divert waste. I just think we all need more information about exactly what is happening, and we need to remember that the first step is reducing. The idea of diverting our waste is a bit funny to me too. I think first off we should try to make less, and then divert what’s left. If I were queen of the city I would impose a big tax on garbage. Then people start leaving their packaging at the store and the stores start pressuring the producers and less packaging is made. I am not actually a genius. This is the exact model Germany used.


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Filed under environmental news, garbage laws, tips, Uncategorized

Look at the bright side

I hope I don’t get lynched for this post, but I want to talk about the positive effects of the city strike-the garbage strike in particular. The strike does affect me adversely as well (I work for the city and need the money I’m not getting right now).The idea of this blog in general is to stay positive and think about what I can change in my own life and this post is no exception.
So here is my list of good things about this bad situation.
1. I don’t have to worry about nap being interrupted once a week by the cacophony that is garbage day.
2. There are no big recycling bins and garbage bins all over the sidewalk in the way of the stroller.
3. It makes us all take a real look about the garbage we are creating-my family included. It was a good wake up call. We have not yet had to take the garbage out and before the strike we were back to a small grocery bag every 2-3 weeks and the same amount in recycling almost daily.
4.It’s summer so it’s farmer’s market season! This means it’s much easier to buy your groceries without any packaging. Tomorrow at 3-7pm is Dufferin Grove Market. You can bring your own container for Olive oil and chocolate. You can bring your own plate and get a delicious supper. You can bring all your own bags and return berry containers and egg cartons to vendors.
Now here’s a list of ways to reduce:
1. Buy less. This is not going to go on forever and it is a good time to just halt the new purchases therefore receiving less packaging
2. Compost-either set up a backyard compost or Verma composter (you can buy worms at Grassroots)or ask to use a friend’s.
3. Carry cloth grocery bags with you for shopping and small ones for produce (veggies keep better in cotton spritzed with water than plastic anyhow)
4. Carry a reuseable coffee mug if you are a coffee or tea drinker
5. If you can’t make and pack your own lunch, carry a plate and cutlery
6.Use second hand stores or internet venues like Craig’s List or SwapSity to get rid of old items and obtain new ones.
7. Try to plan ahead. We found that most packaging and waste comes from convenience items.

If you want to see me say these things in person, with a cute toddler in the background, tune into CBC TV tomorrow at 6pm. I think I will be on the news.

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Filed under starting out, tips

No Trash Week!

I recently received an email from Elise from Seattle, Washington who is going to have a No Trash Week in her Community on October 7th -13th! I think this is a fabulous idea. She asked for tips and I replied:

1. Plan Ahead!!!!
-at least a week before you start, go through your house and see if you already have packaged goods or things on the verge of breaking. Get rid of it before you start
-find stores in your area where you can get the things you need package free and stock up in bulk
-if you can’t find your favorite food or snack package free, try to make it. This project is hard enough without having to go without your favorite thing
-get food and snacks ready so you won’t be tempted to run to the convenient store

2. Pack a little garbage free kit to take with you when you go out- a hankie, a reusable cup, may be a plate or tupperware container if you think you will need to eat on the go, and at least one cloth bag.
3. Take some extra time before you leave the house in the morning to make sure you have everything you need to be garbage free that day
4.Go to businesses in slow times if possible so you have time to explain exactly what you want (don’t forget to smile) and why. Ex)” I am doing a project where I can’t make any garbage for a week. I would really like french fires and a drink, but I need you to put the fries in this (hand container) and the drink in this (hand cup) without using anything disposable. Is that possible?”
5. Don’t forget the small things-straws, price tags etc. (fruit stickers are the worst but if you buy your produce from local farmers you can avoid them, or you can pick through for sticker-less ones at the grocery store;) Get used to saying “no straw please”  every time you order a cold drink.
6. This is a lot of work, if you are doing it with a group, use each other! Eat together, go out together-take turns making things you need.
For more long term:
-buy good quality products that won’t break as quickly or have replacement parts
-find your local community outlets-recycling depots, metal workers (who will sometimes accept your beer caps and bottle lids),web forums like Free-use and craigs list where you can give away broken or old things or find someone to fix them.

She has a website that I would recommend :

And just in case you decide to do it, I want to say it’s very hard, but don’t be discouraged. I try to keep this site on the positive site, but I don’t want to give you the false impression that it is easy. The key is to just do your best, and try not to be too serious. This week at the Farmer’s Market, I was hungry, so I stopped at the pre-made food stall. I asked for a spring roll and she reached for a bag. When I said “no bag please” she grabbed a napkin. I said “no no, I don’t want anything, just the spring roll please”, and she went on a big rant that went something like ” Oh I know your type. People come here all the time wanting to save the world by rejecting all the packaging, so go ahead, just touch all the food with your dirty little fingers…” I said, in a surprisingly calm and even voice, “I don’t want to save the world, I just want that lone spring roll. I don’t have to touch anything else to reach it, and I’m going to eat it.” She continued to rant as I was saying “how much is it?” over and over. I can’t believe that I actually bought it after all that, but I did. I won’t again. The key is finding people who are supportive of the project and make you feel good! The other incident this week was at Sears-not an environmentally friendly place to shop, but it was Sears Days, which means “Big Savings” and I needed nursing bras. I got two and they each came in a cardboard box. I approached the cashier and showed her my shoulder bag and explained that I brought it to avoid getting a plastic bag. She said “OK” and proceeded to wrap the boxed bras individually in tissue paper. I said ” Oh wait, no. I don’t want that. Can you use it again?” and she said “No, it’s all crinkly now” I said ” I really didn’t want any packaging at all-they are already in a box” and she said ” OK, I’ll use it for the next people”. Probably she trashed it as soon as I left, but I hope she really did use it again. These types of things are bound to happen, but I find it best to focus on the positive experiences. In doing so though, it is important to be aware, that it is not always easy, and not everyone is supportive.

P.S. For those of you wondering, I haven’t had the baby yet, but am expecting to any day!


Filed under environmental news, shopping(not groceries), tips

Making jam at Harvest time.

Last night I made jam for the first time ever. It was a lot easier than I suspected. If you get the crystal pectin that comes in a paper package it can be composted and it is a garbage-free event. You can also make it the old fashioned way without any pectin, by boiling the crap out of the fruit. We reused old spaghetti sauce jars and sealed them with wax. I’m not sure what will happen to the wax after. I think when I make it myself, I will use real mason jars-they can be used over and over and it eliminates the wax, which may be garbage.

We made peach jam first, with local organic peaches (mmmmm) and we followed the recipe to a tee. It worked out very well. Then we decided to experiment and made plum blueberry jam (again with local fruit-the plums were organic but not the blueberries). It was a bit of a crap-shoot ( wow, I said crap twice in this post already!) because the ratio of fruit to sugar and pectin is drastically different for blueberries and plums. It turned out wonderfully! It’s a great consistency and very yummy, although it tastes like blueberry jam because the plum flavour gets lost. It’s a beautiful colour though, which is a good thing because I spilled some on Susan’s floor, so if it stains, at least it will look nice.

On a slightly different topic, if you live in Ontario, get your butt out to a farmers market now! It’s harvest season and the produce is amazing! On Thursday I went to the Dufferin Grove market and it was the best I have ever seen it. I was able to purchase my groceries for the week (except for oranges and lemons which I need for the vitamin C, but they don’t grow around here). Here are some of the highlights of my shopping trip.

-a small water melon that had yellow flesh

It tasted divine and it was possible to carry home (where as the grocery store sized ones are toooooooo heavy). My friend Blair and I closed our eyes and tried to test if it tasted different than a pink watermelon. It was hard to tell. It tasted better because it was picked that morning, just a few miles away and it was organic, but it didn’t necessarily taste yellow.

-Chard with pink and yellow stems

You can’t actually eat the stems (or at least, I don’t), but it was very pretty

-Carrots of all colours! red, orange, yellow, purple etc.

I didn’t realize carrots came in anything but orange. Apparently at some point someone from Germany decided orange carrots were best and now that’s what we get. Purple carrots look very pretty in salad-the are orange on the inside so when you grate them, you get an aesthetically pleasing orange and purple striped effect.

-delicious organic peaches and plums, which other people had tried to convince me didn’t exist. They do exist and you are far better off knowing so. Yummmmy!

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Filed under fun, recipes, tips, Uncategorized

Anonymous Tip and my comments

I got the following email in my work mail. I have no idea who sent it to me, or how they got my work e-mail address, but it is worth passing on. My comments are in italics, and I’ve added links.

No time to waste, no time for waste

With glaciers melting, temperatures rising and cancers growing, consumers are desperately seeking
convenient everyday-product alternatives to help protect the planet and preserve their health

Toronto, ON – We are officially in the throws of a ‘green renaissance’ and with it has come a flood of new product, a deluge of information and a whole lot of consumer uncertainty.
What are the bad plastics?
Most plastics are “bad”. Corn plastic that’s biodegradable is slightly better, and PVC seems to be the worst of them all, which is probably why PVC clothing looks so bad ass. I guess you can’t be an environmentally friendly punk rocker or goth, although I sort of was. I never used airplane glue to make my Mohawk stand. I always used natural hair products. What are the good candles?Beeswax Candles are good and you can get them at Grass Roots. Dollar Store candles are bad.What’s the real deal with bottled water?Bottled water is a bad idea. Most of it is just tap water anyway and think of all that plastic! If you don’t like tap water, get a filter you can attach to your tap. How can I reduce my environmental footprint? I don’t think I can tackle this is one blog post, but here’s a shot, reduce your energy use, reduce your water use, ride a bicycle, be informed, buy green products or make your own, reduce your garbage. Reduce, reuse, recycle. (in that order)
What is an environmental footprint?
Can I green my house without breaking the bank?

Yes, most provinces have little guide books with cheap and easy tips to green your house. It can start with little things like reusing your bathwater to flush the toilet, hanging your clothes to dry, closing the curtains on hot days, planting tress for shade etc.

 Where can I get organic jeans?

Grass Roots, Hemp Stores like Roacharama,, Rawganique

Eco-advocate and mother of all things fabulously green Lisa Borden can answer all these questions and more ( so can I, can I join the team?), while she and her team of eco-experts help consumers green their lives with the world’s best selection of environmentally brilliant products.
Decades of research and scouring the earth for the best in show has brought Borden to the forefront of the environmental revolution, in which weeding through the excess of new “green” product on the market is one of the biggest consumer challenges.
Check out Borden’s latest round of must-have items, uniquely designed to reduce waste, improve health and actively promote “better living.”  
Perfect for back-to-school, back-to-work and back-to-basics…

The waste-free, lead-free lunch box
Laptop Lunches <

I want one of these and have been coveting this site for some time
The healthiest alternative to plastic bottles
Klean Kanteen stainless steel bottles <>
Coffee, tea and carcinogen-free
Enviro coffee & tea presses and mugs <>
For taking the edge off naturally
Organic Aromatherapy Pleasure Pillows <>
All natural, all homemade
Make-your-own, chemical-free home, pet and body product kits <>
For truly clean clothes
Nellie’s natural laundry soda and dryer balls < 

Or go to grass roots and get ingredients to make your own laundry detergents, or buy all natural detergents in bulk-don’t forget to bring your own container.
Note: Borden Communications promotes and stocks all above mentioned lines, plus dozens more.
For high res images, product samples and more information, please contact –
Lisa Borden at 416-484-6489 or

Facts that should not be wasted

Twenty-five recycled bottles can make one fleece jacket.
If every household in Canada changed one regular incandescent light bulb to an energy-efficient light bulb, Canadians would save over $73 million in energy costs every year. It would also reduce greenhouse gasses by 397,000 tonnes per year – the same as taking 66,000 cars off of the road.
By using a reusable mug every morning for your coffee or favourite beverage rather than a disposable one, you will personally save 23 pounds of garbage from going into landfill. [not to mention the potential toxic nature of the disposable cup]. Starbucks will even give you 10 cents off as an environmental discount per beverage.
One organic cotton t-shirt [over a conventionally grown cotton one] saves 744 gallons of water.

Canadians throw away 900 million plastic chemical bottles each year – enough to circle the earth five times.
Canadians take 55 million plastic shopping bags home from the grocery store every day.
Five billion drink boxes are thrown out in North America each year.
Every year, Canadians throw away 25 billion styrofoam cups. Five hundred years from now, those cups will still be sitting in the landfill site.

Each Canadian uses up to four trees per year in paper products.
One tree can filter 60 pounds of pollutants out of the air every year.
The average Canadian household spends over $600 on chemical cleaning products per year.
Backyards are three times more poisoned with pesticides (per acre) than farmland.
Watering your lawn uses 700 litres in half an hour, which is more than the average daily water consumption of an entire household.
Plastics numbered 3, 6 and 7 can contain carcinogenic substances and can be found in such everyday products as baby bottles and shower curtains. Numbers 1, 2 and 4 are acceptable if required…5 is the safest!
If everyone on earth lived like the average Canadian, we would need four earths to sustain our lifestyle.

Borden Communications + Design a full-service design and marketing company based in Toronto. With expertise in marketing, promotional products, product management, design and print for companies of all shapes and sizes, it is equally committed to bettering the earth and the Canadian lifestyle though promoting and stocking the world’s healthiest and most innovative products and services. President Lisa Borden is a world-class eco-advocate and mother of two, whose business is a direct reflection of her commitment to better, more responsible living.

“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.” – African Proverb


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Filed under cleaning, environmental news, groceries, inspiration, personal care, tips

Dear Coke, please change your trashy ways

My apologies for not posting in so long. I have quite a bit of news though. First of all, I found a few brands of frozen desserts that only come in recyclable packaging-no extra plastic bits. Most brands of soy ice cream, including Tuffuti is safe (but not for me, as I am allergic to soy). Also, Nestle Sundaes come in #1 recyclable plastic containers, with a built in safety seal of the same plastic. I find them too sweet for my taste though. My favorite so far has been Sobey’s brand Compliments sherbert, which comes in a yogurt type container with no extra plastic seal. Yummy. Also I have been making my own smoothie-Popsicles. I don’t know why I forgot about them before. I use Pine Hedge Farms Yogurt that comes in a glass bottle I can return for a deposit and they will reuse it again, berries, and juice. I blend it all up, pour it in Popsicles holders and voila, I have my own garbage free frozen dessert (as long as the berries and the fruit didn’t have stickers or packaging). I have to admit that I have been using frozen berries lately and they do come in a bag.

I have, for the first time in my life, been frequently buying PowerAde, as it helps to prevent the nausea and puking that comes with my pregnancy. I have recently discovered that if I get the smaller bottles(591ml), there is no pure garbage-just a recyclable bottle and cap. The problem is they cost way more than the 710ml bottles that come with a strange nipple type cap and two safety seals. The small bottles are $1.95 and the larger ones are $1.59. You can get a six pack of the small ones for $4.99 but it comes with those brutal plastic holders plus a plastic wrapping. You save money by creating garbage. It baffles my mind. I have just been paying the extra to avoid the packaging, but I don’t know many people who could or would and I think it is ridiculous that I have to. Power Aid is made by Coca Cola so I don’t really feel that a letter would make a difference. I also wish I wasn’t supporting that company, but it is the only thing that I can consistently keep down. Other brands of Sports drink and Pedialite for children don’t cut it. It needs to be PowerAde (preferably blue).

Oh, I threw another bag of garbage out on April 12th, three weeks after the first bag, which was three weeks after our no garbage month, so it seems on average we throw out a grocery bag every three weeks. That’s more than I’d hoped but I blame the nausea.


Filed under groceries, project rules, tips, Uncategorized

I have to get my butt in gear and write a book!

My friend Nathan sent me this link on noimpactman. It’s pretty amazing stuff. Basically, 43 year old author-man decides to try and make absolutely no eco-footprint for a year and write a book about it. It’s way more extreme than this project was and he was way less of a hippie than I when he started. Amazing, commendable stuff! Do check it out! For a little teaser, here’s a quote from the Star article:

“Colin Beavan, 43, a writer of historical nonfiction, and Michelle Conlin, 39, a senior writer at Business Week, are four months into a yearlong lifestyle experiment they call No Impact. Its rules are evolving, as Mr. Beavan will tell you, but to date include eating only food (organically) grown within a 250-mile radius of Manhattan; (mostly) no shopping for anything except said food; producing no trash (except compost, see above); using no paper; and, most intriguingly, using no carbon-fueled transportation.”

And, they have a 2 year old daughter, oh, and a dog!!!!! HOLY CRAP!!!!! It’s so inspiring. It means, we can still be environmentally friendly when we have the baby! Every body seems to think it’s going to pop out wrapped in styrofoam and we are going to have to drop all our morals once we have the little sprout. This family proves to me that we can do it! They don’t just draw the line at garbage either-it’s everything.

He had no problem getting a publishing deal. Granted, he was already an established author, but hey I think I can do it. I’m going to write a “say no to trash” book. Yeee haw! “Inspiration, it’s what you are to me. Ih-inspiration look and see!”

On another topic, I added a few more pictures to the photos page so check it out again.


Filed under inspiration, tips

Perogi making and shopping

I have had a productive few days. Please knock on wood for me as you read this… I haven’t puked! Instead, yesterday I made pierogies with my friend Akami. It’s very time consuming. She worked very hard all day and I worked pretty hard too, but I took breaks. There were a few left over pierogies that I am eating now, but we already cooked them and they are not very good reheated. Next time I am going to invite more people and have a pierogi making party. Here’s the recipe. We used separate filling and dough recipes so the amounts don’t match up. I would suggest at least doubling the dough recipe. Also, I didn’t have any eggs so I used Kingsmill Foods Egg Replacer. Since we had so much filling left over, but no more wheat flour, I invited my gluten-free friend over and made some more dough with a combination of rice flour, chickpea flour and tapioca flour. It was much harder to work with and kept cracking. I think I should have put another “egg” in. To make garbage free pierogies, make sure you buy the ingredients at bulk food stores with your own bag. I got organic Canadian Chedder at Cheese Magic, without any packaging at all, though if you get down to the nitty gritty it probably came in plastic that they threw out at the store.

Pierogi Filling from All Recipes


  • 4 pounds mashed potatoes
  • 1 pound shredded Cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pierogi dough

(RecipeZaar)Recipe #79860

This makes the classic dough for Polish dumplings, which can be filled with potato and cheese, cabbage, or other fillings

by iguana
1¼ hours 1 hour prep


2 cups flour,1 egg , 1/2 cup warm water , 1tsp salt, 2 tbsp oil



  1. Mix all ingredients together lightly in bowl.

  2. Knead until smooth.

  3. Let rest, covered, 30 minutes.

  4. Using half of the dough at a time, roll out to 1/8 inch thickness.

  5. Cut circles with biscuit cutter or floured glass.

  6. Fill with a golf-ball sized hunk of filling (described separately), pinch to seal.

  7. Boil 5-8 minutes, until floating.

  8. Fry in butter until crisp.

We also made cookies to snack on while we cooked. I never measure when I make these cookies so I can tell you what’s in them, but not how much. It’s ground almonds, rice flour, maple syrup, oil, cinnamon, and sesame seeds (although I accidentally used flax and it turned out fine). I just mix it all together and then form round cookie shapes on an oiled baking pan. Make a little dent with a spoon in the middle of each one and put jam or apple butter in it. Bake for about 10 minutes at 250. Surprisingly they always turn out for me (I’m knocking on wood again). My friends keep telling me I should market them, but I can’t because they are basically Kristine’s Energy circles. I just looked at the ingredients list to make them. I use jam instead of apple butter, but they are basically the same.

Today I met Roy Fernandes and some of his grade seven students in Kensington Market and we did my shopping. It was fun and they had many amazing questions. At My Market Bakery, Roy bought each of us a cookie which the clerk put directly into our hands. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch her before she used a piece of waxed paper, so I brought it home to put in the Green Bin. I previously thought it wasn’t accepted, but fortunately I was wrong. Some of the girls (students) discovered that Essence of Life has Organic Yogurt in glass containers that you pay a deposit on, and get back when you return them! I’m quite excited about that, but I forget the name of the company who makes it, so I’ll find out and post it ASAP.


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Filed under groceries, recipes, tips, Uncategorized

Clean and Green

cleanEven though I am a peace loving environmentalist, I am not really a dirty hippie, because I don’t like to be dirty (so there, see I don’t fit so comfortably into that box:). I tried to have dread locks but couldn’t deal with not washing my hair. I like the house to be sparkling and as soon as I have some extra money I’m going to invest in a green cleaning service! In the meantime, we do our own cleaning with baking soda, borax, lemon, natural bleach and vinegar. Sometimes we use washing soda but I don’t like to wear rubber gloves and it burns the hands. For implements, we use old toothbrushes, cleaning brushes and rags made from old cotton t-shirts or undies. I’m not very good at following recipes but I’ve included links so you can if you want to. We get all our cleaning supplies (except the lemons) at Grass Roots including refills, as everything is in bulk If you are in Edmonton, the Earth’s General Store is the place to go. I’m hoping to gather resources for other cities too, but for now, this is all I’ve got.

We use Nature Clean natural dish detergent and a knitted cloth that my mom made. You can refill your bottle at many health and bulk stores (like the above mentioned).
We also used an old onion bag tied in knots as a scrubby.

Again, we use Nature Clean Liquid Detergent that we can refill. We’ve had the same bottle for 3 years now and I’m getting rather attached to it. Oh, how I hope it never breaks!
For stains, we use a number of things- dish soap, toothpaste, cold water and borax, hydrogen bleach-depending on what the stain is. Some day I’ll get around to making a household remedy post including amazing stain removal techniques.

Walls and Floors
Hot water and a squirt of either vinegar or natural (hydrogen) bleach does the trick. Lemon juice is nice too.

Sprinkle borax on and in the toilet, then squirt with lemon juice and vinegar. Leave it for a few minutes before wiping off with a cloth or toilet brush.
I usually use baking soda and vinegar in the tub (and sink), unless it’s really dirty, at which point I would use borax and natural bleach, with the same technique as with the toilet.

Spray with a mixture of vinegar and water (about half and half) and wipe clean with scrunched up newspaper.

Things that are rusted
Lime and salt works wonders on rust! I cleaned my whole bicycle that way. Cut a lime in half and squeeze some of the juice onto the rusty part, then put some salt on it and scrub with the peel of the lime. If it’s really bad, you should let the lime juice and salt soak for an hour before scrubbing.

I think that’s it for now, let me know if you have any questions.


Filed under cleaning, tips

Kitchen Party!

There are simple steps you can do to make your kitchen less trashy and many of them are in the shopping post (shop in bulk, reuse containers). We have a lovely elastic band collection from produce. When it gets too unruly, I take some of it into work so we don’t have to buy new elastic bands there. I think there are enough elastic bands, twist ties and plastic bags in the world that we really don’t have to make any more and could get by for years reusing the ones that are out there. If you do manage to avoid having a plastic bag collection and need to buy some, there are biodegradable plastic bags made out of corn. You can buy them at Canadian Tire.

Now comes the fun part. Food! mmmmmmmm (drool). There are some things we really like to eat, that always seem to come in packaging, so we have learned how to make them.


(Kyle won’t eat soup without them)

Crackers Recipes

4 cups flour
1 cup butter (or margarine)
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt


Work the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or fork. Next, stir the vinegar, baking soda, and salt into the milk, and add this to the butter-flour mixture.

Form the dough into a ball. Roll out very thin. Lightly score the dough in the size of the cracker you desire. (I’ve come up with an easy way to do this. I roll out the dough directly onto a flat baking sheet. Next, placing a ruler on the dough, I perforate the dough along the side of the ruler with a fork. Sometimes I make squares, sometimes diamonds. I think you could cut out the crackers with cookie cutters for special occasions, but you will have a lot of waste unless you gather up the fragments and re-roll and re-cut them.)

Now bake the crackers at 375 degrees F for about 10 to 15 minutes or until crisp. The crackers should not get too brown, just a sprinkling of brown on top.

Oat Crakers
2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup cold margarine cut into bits
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons rice milk
Preheat oven to 375 F and butter 2 large baking sheets.

Chop oats in food processor until fine. Add flour, salt, baking powder, and margarine and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Add rice milk and pulse until a dough just forms.

Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut 1 1/2 inch crackers. Bake 12 minutes (until the crackers brown a little around the edges). Cool on wire rack.

***I used butter instead of margarine because the margarine we have is soy based and I can’t eat it now! Now that I know how easy it is to make oat flour, I won’t buy it anymore. Oh also after making the oats into flour, I took it out of the blender and did everything else by hand.
Gluten-Free Diet: GF Recipes: Sunflower Soda Crackers
3/4 c white rice flour
1/4 t GF baking powder
1/4 c milo flour
1/4 c butter, cold
1 c small curd cottage cheese
1/4 c shelled sunflower seeds
pinch of xanthan gum
1/4 t salt
In a food processor, mix the rice, milo flour, sunflower seeds, salt and soda until sunflower seeds are finely chopped. Cut butter into several pieces and add to the dry mixture. Add the small curd cottage cheese. Process until combined, but do not over process. The small bits of butter and cottage cheese create flaky layers during baking. Roll into a log shape and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Divide dough into fourths. Roll into logs about 3/4-inch in diameter. Slice off rounds about 3/8-inch thick and place on a cookie sheet. Using slightly wet hands, shape to make flat rounds, prick with a fork, top with some salt or other seasoning. Bake 325 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned on the edges. After all of the crackers are baked, turn off the oven and let them dry out slowly for a half hour or so. Cool. Store in a tight container or freeze.

Soup stock

Save onion skins and ends, garlic ends, veggie peels etc. in a bag in the freezer. Once full, empty it into a big pot full of water, add some salt and boil the heck out of it. Once it’s mushy, strain, squishing the veggies with a fork (or a potato masher) to get all the liquid out. That’s it-now you can make soup ( or put the stock in the freezer for future use)!


(from Diana’s kitchen)

Flour Tortillas
Serving Size : 12

  • 4 cups Unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 4 teaspoons Baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons Vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups Warm water or more if needed

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt and baking powder. With a pastry blender, a fork or your hands, gradually work in the lard or shortening until it is all incorporated. Add enough warm water to make a soft but not sticky dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for 5 minutes.
Divide the dough into 1/4 cup (3 oz) portions and form them into balls.
Roll each ball into a flat round about 6 inches in diameter and 1/8 inches thick.
Heat a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Place the tortillas one at a time into the dry hot skillet; cook until lightly brown on one side, then turn and lightly brown the other side.
Remove from the skillet and keep warm in cloth towel.
Source: Southwest cookbook

These are quite difficult to make and I’m not very good at it, but Kyle used to be a pastry chef and he told me the secret tortilla success:don’t over cook them and put them in a sealed plastic bag as soon as they have cooled.

Rice/ Almond milk

Rice Milk
Ingredients :

* 4 cups hot/warm water
* 1 cup cooked rice (I’ve used white or brown)
* 1 tsp vanilla


Place all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Let the milk set for about 30 minutes, then strain it into a container. You can eat the mushy leftovers for breakfast.

For really creamy rice milk with little to strain out, re-cook the rice with part of the water until it’s very soft. You can add salt and sweetner at this point so they dissolve more easily; if you’re using flavorings, add them now to evaporate the alcohol they contain. Put the mushy cooked rice through the blender, food processor, or even a Champion juicer (this makes the smoothest milk), then thin with water and strain. I always add a handful of almonds to my rice milk for flavour and protein.

Or you can just make almond milk:

Soak a handful of almonds in about 3/4 of a blender full of water for an hour. Blend. Strain if you want to. Add vanilla or cinnamon if you want to.

It’s a good idea to have snacks with you when you go somewhere- cut up fruit or veggies and put them in a container, or make some not-so-healthy-but-very-delicious treats, like:

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter 1 cup sugar 2 eggs (or egg replacer)

Bake at 350 C for about 10 minutes. Sometimes I add nuts, raisins or chocolate chips. Cinnamon is nice too.

Pumpkin Brownies

1 cup pumpkin purée, canned or cooked
1-1/4 C whole wheat flour
1 C brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 C buttermilk
1/4 C vegetable oil such as canola
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs, well beaten (further reduce fat & cholesterol by substituting 1 egg + 1 egg white, or 1/2 cup Egg Beaters® egg substitute )
1/2 C walnuts, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Coat a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with vegetable spray.

Combine all ingredients and beat well.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack; cut into bars.


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