Alaina’s 8th Birthday and Party

Alaina has turned 8 years old!! Amazing how time flies!

Our day was pretty quiet. No school and dad was home from work as it was Good Friday. I must say, part of her present was a major help tidying her bedroom. Its been needing a pickup for a long while. We found some surprising items that got lost and misplaced such as gifts from Christmas. Chris spent most of the day with Alaina, such a great help! Xx

For her Birthday she wanted homemade cupcakes and the new whipped icing, this time flavoured with cocoa. She was unsure about what she wanted for her Birthday. Summertime PJ’s were mentioned (purple and gold colour) as well as a bike. She has outgrown hers and has been using Daniels’ bike last year.

We kept it simple, as it should be. She got the bike and a new hat. I could not find Pj’s that were not covered in sparkles or plastic disks. So sad! There were some summer pj tops but thick polyester shorts. Really! Ridiculously crazy!  Choices are hard, and when they are, I refuse! I will shop else where or online if I have to. She and Daniel also got an upgrade on their computers to there are no more glitches when they play online together. Perfect add on to the day!


As for the party, we had another Fiver party. She invited 15 classmates of which 7 came. We decided to stick around home and rent a movie. Much cheaper and more selection than the movie theatre. We rented The Song of the Sea.

First off, the girls and boys wanted to do their own thing. I set up Minecraft for 2 players. Set on normal difficulty and survival mode with monsters (mob). Two kids would play day and night only until morning or get defeated by a mob then give their turn to another player. Great fun the boys had! The girls did what girls do, chat! Lol.

We had snacks provided such as fruit and cheese and crackers. Alaina wanted a cake for the party, so I made a bundt cake with my homemade whipped icing. I cut the cake in half and put a layer of icing in there too. Great idea! Alaina wanted vanilla icing and chocolate icing if I could add that. 

I am still experimenting with my icing bag I got for Christmas. Maybe I need to look for tutorials! Lol!! Though, I think cupcakes are a must for parties. Too much cake goes un-eaten. I felt sad about scraping some off dish after dish. Believe me, the cake tasted awesome, I find kids are not a big fan of cake these days.

We used our own dishes and I must say, with 14 of us, we used all of our plates! Just enough too! During the movie, I made a huge bowl of popcorn, could have made more, and divided it up into 12 bowls, that was tricky!! Everyone got a chocolate egg to go with it and water to drink. I had to wash cups as they were used for cake time, but really, it only took a couple minutes while the popcorn was popping. No time wasted.

When the movie ended, the party came to a close and the kids were given a treat of Fun Dip as a thank you for coming to the party. Just a paper package. Simple, yet the kids were so happy to receive it! Jaws drop and eyes widen, every one of them! So much Better than a bag full of breakable, use once toys from the party aisle you find at the stores. 

All the gifts came plastic waste free, just $5.00 so Alaina can put that money towards something she really wants. A Great way for her to learn money management.

Happy Birthday Alaina!

Homemade Chocolate Cupcakes and Cake

Here is my Chocolate cake recipe that works for cupcakes too! I do not remember where I got this recipe online, it was a while ago. In my opinion, it is just as good as the box cake you buy at the store, without the packaging and added whatever to preserve the ingredients. From scratch is best!

Ingredients

2 cups of white sugar
1 + ¾ cup of flour
¾ cup of cocoa
1 + ½ tsp of baking powder
1 + ½ tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of salt
2 beaten eggs
1 cup of milk
½ cup of veg. oil
2 tsp of vanilla
1 cup of boiling water

Mix the dry ingredients together.
Add the wet ingredients together minus the boiling water!
Combine together until well mixed
Like this.
Add the boiling water and mix slowly until well combined.
Have a helper set up the cupcake liners in the tray
Mixed
yup, that’s a 24 muffin tray! Bake at 350 for 18 minutes!
Let cool
Decorate those cupcakes!!

For the cake, I use a bunt pan, bake at 350 for 52 minutes!
For 2, 9″ pan cakes, bake at 350 for 33 minutes!

Find my whipping cream icing on the Recipe page! So yummy!

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

I found another recipe to rid the fridge of plastic! The Zero Waste Chef is very inspirational to me. I usually go to her page if I am looking for a recipe and I follow her on a couple social sites and see lots of her blogs! This is the recipe for her Chocolate Syrup. It is amzing and so easy to make! We will never go back to store bought again! We have used it so far on ice cream and hot chocolate. I’m looking foward to using it on other desserts!

Ingredients

¼ cup water
½ cup cocoa
¾ cup white sugar
Pinch+ salt
¼ tsp vanilla

Mix 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup cocoa. Whisk and heat until dissolved. Add 3/4 cup white sugar, a pinch + of salt and bring to a boil for 3 minutes, whisking constantly.
Mix in a  1/4 tsp of vanilla and pore into a jar.
I am reusing a maple syrup jar, I have a few. I let it come to room temperature then cover and refridgerate.

 

Goodbye Dispisable K-Cups

We were never big coffee drinkers at home when Chris and I met. Actually, I did not drink coffee back then. We had a percolator (still have it in storage) which was used once a day. I think most coffee came from Tim Hortons or maybe the office where Chris worked.

Back in 2013 I think, I bought Chris our first Keurig machine. It was so convienent and there were many flavoured options to choose from. We did not think about the amount of trash we were creating. Blinders.

During my pregnancy with our 4th child, Jack who was born late in the year 2014, I started to drink coffee. Twice the amount of waste, and still did not care about the trash.

sometime in the 2 years after we bought that keurig, it suddenly stopped drawing water. I can’t remember exactly, but I’m pretty sure Chris tried to fix it with no luck.  Hooked with the convienence, we bought another Keurig without a second thought. I can remember my mom giving us a reusable pod to fill with coffee grounds, but we never did used it. It just was not something we wanted to do, lazy I guess. I really don’t know what to say about it! (I shake my head now!).

In the year 2018, July, I made the switch to the resable pods to avoid the plastic waste. My eyes were finally opened. Shortly after, the Keurig, once again stopped drawing water just like our other one. Chris managed to get it working again for a day or two but it would not go any longer. I thought about switching to a different method for coffee (A French Press was mentioned to me), but Chris was not ready for that change and I had the reusable pods. I was not interested in having two setups for coffee making either, only so much counter space. So we bought another machine.

So, today, April 14th 2019, Chris had his last disposable coffee pod! Yup! He is making the switch as I did last year and using the reusable pods! I’m so happy and impressed! I knew he would eventually and I did not pressure him into it, much. I know he has to make these decisions for himself, no forcing it on him. Last month I bought ground coffee in the flavour he likes so he could try it with the reusable pods. That is where it started, just a little nudge.

So all month, I have been taking pictures of the pods slowly disappearing. You can tell I’m excited!!

From Bulk barn, I bought him German Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Hazelnut Cream and Hazelnut Cream. These are very similar to what he used to get.

Here is a visual about how I disposed of the K-Cups. We only bought the kind that were “recyclable”. Yes they had a #5 recycling symbol, but you had to do some work to make it actually recyclable. The top of the pod had the coffee filter glued to it. One can not simply peel the top off and recycle it as the instructions on the box indicate.

Disposal directions here are incorrect. This will lead to contamination at the recycling centre. I called our Waste Watch team asking about it and they confirmed these pods are NOT recyclable. I asked if I removed the top completely, would it be recyclable then, and the answer was yes, but that they are not asking the public to do that. (I think they totally should!)
Take your pod and cut the top off with scissors
Cut on the bottom of the lid ridge as shown. This will also cut the filter along with the plastic, releasing it from the cover (the cover is the problem)
Once cut all around, empty the filter and grinds into the compost
Now the lid can go to the waste and the pod can go to the recycling bin after a quick rinse.

Isn’t that better than throwing the whole pod in the trash destined for landfill? At least now, the recyclable bit has a chance to be recycled. One can do this if switching to a reusable method is not in the picture . . . yet.

I keep a bowl by the sink to hold the used pods, so that when it is full I can clean them all at once in a bulk amount. I’ve never had any mold grow leaving them there for 5 or 6 days. But now, with the reusable pods, I can and will need to clean them dailey, which is great, less clutter on the counter!

Julia and Jack Painting Pictures

Picked up some more paint for the kids. They are so excited!

Jacks monster!
Julia is making a beautiful piece!!
Growing bigger!
Even her left arm is behind her back as she paints.
Now it is a witch!
Making her family. Not sure whom is who . . . Yet!
Spelled his name! Such a great job for a 4 year old!
From left to right, Alaina, mom, dad, Julia and Thomas. The sun is Jack. The flowers are Daniel.

Another Near Plastic Free Shopping Day

Saturday morning. The busiest day of the week I think! Up for morning coffee and wake-up. Breakfast for the household and create a shopping list. One list for The Summerside Farmer’s Market. A second list for Bulk Barn. A third for meat products at The Summerside Butcher Shop, whom I call before I leave home and pre-order our needs wrapped in butcher paper.

Next I collect whatever containers I need for my shopping trip.

  • A couple for the Farmer’s Market for bacon and kolbassa. I repack an empty egg carton go bring back to the vendor for more fresh local eggs. When I have a bunch of elastics, they come with me to be returned to another vendor at the Farmer’s Market for reuse.
  • I pack an extra container to take to Superstore to buy deli meat, plastic free. I just got permission last week! Yay!!
  • On my Bulk Barn list, I circle the items that need a container, like powders and coffee or peanut butter. My cloth bags are all ready for anything else for the trip in my Bulk Barn bag.
  • A blue thermos bag is used to pick up our meat from The Butcher Shop. If there is a mess, the bag is super easy to sanitize!

First stop is Murphy’s Pharmacy if need be for any medical supplies. Next the bank for cash then the Farmer’s Market. These 3 places are very close together, walking distance when the weather warms up for sure!

At the Farmer’s Market I first drop off the empty egg carton, I will go there last to pick up our eggs.

Next is Pleasant Pork for our plastic free bacon and kolbassa in my dishes.

Next is Clohossey Farms for plastic free carrots and turnip.

Next, The Farmer’s Wife for soaps. Hand soap, shampoo bar and Laundry soap. There are so many products to choose from and more! The laundry soap is amazing! Locally made, chemical free (the bad stuff) and you can take the container back to be reused with a discount on the next purchase of laundry soap! Yay!

I was buying local apples as well from Brady’s Farm, but they are out of season for now.

I have found local honey and maple syrup in glass too!

Last but not least, I pick up the eggs and head out.

I can not wait until harvest time and see what I can find plastic free and local! Loving it!!!

From here I go uptown and go to Superstore for deli meat. They are very happy to see me and take my container to fill! It feels so natural! If need be, Wal-Mart is next stop, but we rarely shop there anymore! Maybe once a month and only for items we can not get anywhere else.

Next is Bulk Barn. I love seeing others there shopping with their own containers! I was talking to the manager today, Bill, and he said that before, he would go days between seeing someone go in with containers for products. Now its every hour! Isn’t that amazing!! I’m so happy!

Last stop is The Summerside Butcher Shop. I go in and straight to the back door and ask for the order I called in. Its usually all ready to go and I pay at the cash. The usual is 2 whole chickens (they are small), 4 chicken breasts and 1 lb if Hamburg or 1 lb stir fry beef strips. I have not had any messes as of yet. When I am home, I transfer the meat to my own containers and refridgerate and freeze what is needed. I actually believe the meat stays fresher in these containers rather than wrapped in plastic and Styrofoam! Any uncooked meat in the fridge (beef strips) do not turn brown after a few days. Stays that red colour! I was surprised yesterday because that situation happened. I thought the bit of raw meat I had left would be gone bad, but it looked and smelled just as fresh as the day I bought it!

Now home I go with my purchases and put it all away. Greeted at the door by children wondering what it is I bought! So many surprises from Bulk Barn!

After lunch, its cuddle time with Thomas do he can nap and I can out my feet up!

Friday evenings is my grocery night at Sobey’s. I buy here what I can not anywhere else, for now. Fruit, veggies, dairy, crackers, the little amount of juice we drink. Spaghetti and sauce and some chips/pop. The family has cut back a lot on those two items! Also any other miscellaneous items. I must say, the grocery list for Sobey’s has been cut in half or more to go plastic free, but I think it is for the better as I am supporting a lot of local families.

updateRe-reading this, I realize it is more plastic free than I thought! This trip had 2 elastic bands (which will be returned for reuse) and 5 price stickers. That would be it except a trip to Wal-Mart for some rarely bought items like batteries, underwear for a child, pink eye solution (Murphy’s Pharmacies) and a Brita water filter cartridge. Pretty good I must say!

Spring Play

Beautiful day to play outside! Friday, no school day. Backyard is drying up, perfect for kicking the soccer balls around and swinging. Alaina and I played with the frisbee and Julia wanted to play soccer. The boys were busy exploring the backyard. Daniel did not come out this time round, next time I’m sure!

Cool dude Jack !
Thomas heading for the slide!

 

Alaina here to help!
Miss Julia getting ready to swing.
No more baby swing for this big fella!
A plane flew overhead and got everybody excited!
Julia has a good kick!

Homemade Vinegar With Apple Scraps

We go through a lot of vinegar in this house it seems. Cleaning the bathrooms and occasionally in the laundry washes. Every time I empty a jug or buy a new jug  I cringe. I have Been keeping the jugs from the recycling bin hoping to put them to good use like a makeshift watering can for the kids in the garden. Refill them with some product in the future.

I am hoping this apple scrap vinegar from the Zero Waste Chef will be the switch we can make to get away from the containers.

Apple Scrap Vinegar

I have been saving apple peelings and most recently apples that have not been eaten entirely by the kids. Just popped them into the freezer in a container. The large jar came from my Mother-in-law. Its the perfect size for this project. I was very much delayed in trying to make vinegar because I had no large container to use.

I started this project April 6th and it could take up to 2 weeks to finish, April 20th or so.

Recommended by Zero Waste Chef, I placed a cloth on top to let the oxygen in, otherwise I would have to open the cover periodically to let the gasses out. Don’t need an exploded jar! The cloth is held by an elastic band I am reusing from The Farmer’s Market.

For fruit fly season, my plan will be to have a separate dish next to this jar yo try and deter the flies there. If the fruit flies become to much to handle, then I may have to make this project throughout the winter and stick up then for the rest if the year. This vinegar should last a year, with periodic “burping” to let the gasses out. I will need another jar or two I think.

I will keep track how long I go through my next jug of vinegar to get a rough time frame and know how much I need to get by with homemade.

Day 1- Apple scraps + 1 Tbsp sugar + water to cover the apples (I think I put more than that, the apple scraps float, haha).

Day 2- Fizzy bubbles are present!

Day 3 and 4- no bubbles. Watching for mold now. Not sure what to expect. I did not let the water sit to for the chlorine to disapate (I did not think there is very much in our water). If this does not work out, I already have some apple cores stored for the next batch. An apple crisp would be delicious any day too! (For the apple peels).

Day 5- Fizzy bubbles are back like it was on day 2, fingers crossed

Day 6- More fizzy, yay!

Day 7- Very fizzy!

For the next several days (April 13-20)  stir once a day until bubbling has stopped.