Mustard Pickles


12 cups of cucumber (peeled and seeds removed), about 8 good sized ones
6 cups diced onion
3 red peppers
3/4 cup salt
4 cups of vinegar
4 cups sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup dry mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp celery seed

When I made this recipe I used what I had. I did not have 6 cups of onions. I used a very large red onion and a medium yellow onion and also I had 1 1/2 orange pepper and a bit of red pepper. Also, I did not have the whole 1/4 cup of dry mustard powder. My mustard pickles still turned out great and yummy! Me and Thomas are the only ones who will eat it, so 7 jars should last until next year.

This recipe came from my mom.

In a large pot add 12 cups of chopped cucumber, 6 cups diced onion and 3 red peppers. Add 3/4 cup of salt. Cover with cold water for 2 hours. Drain well and do not rinse. Add 4 cups of vinegar and cook on stove top for 20 minutes, do not boil and keep veggies crunchy.
In a bowl mix 4 cups of sugar, 3/4 cup of flour, 1/4 cup dry mustard powder, 1 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1 Tbsp of celery seed. Add to cooked veggies and mix well. Cook for 10 minutes, no boil. Add to clean canning jars and seal. Makes about 8 jars.

Veggies in place
Vinegar and cooking for 20 minutes
All ingredients are in
Canned. Not so bright a yellow as I did not have all the dry mustard powder. Tastes great anyways!

Use What you Got!

Using a mason jar to contain my coffee for my trip to the park with the kids. I did not want to take time staying home to drink it (I needed one!) but I also did not need my travel mug to keep it steaming hot. Not a fan of the travel mug we have. It’s big and bulky. Good for long travels to keep the coffee hot, but this time round, I just wanted to drink the coffee right away when I got to where we were going.

The rubber bands are being reused, and will again, to keep my fingers off the hot jar. But, like I said, it does not stay hot too long.

Not fancy, but it works!


Stripping Cloth Diapers

About a month ago, I started to use up the stash of disposable diapers I had sitting around since October of last year. I figured I had better use them up (only needs diaper at night or trips out and about). There were 43 I believe, we are down to about a dozen now. One of the reasons I switched back to using them (besides we already bought them, they need to be used by someone anyways, destined to landfill either way) was because Thomas’ cloth diapers started to repel liquids. Every morning he was wet as well as all the bedding.

I had come to realize, with help from friends on other groups, that the diapers had formed a mineral buildup (from hard water) and the laundry detergents were not getting that off the inserts. If I put water on the insert, it would not soak into the pad. It actually just stayed on top, beaded water that would slide off when the pad was tipped. I will note, he has had no rashes, the inserts and everything else have been cleaned, no problems in that area.

I really did not want to switch back to using Tide. We have eliminated it and I did not want those chemicals back, or the scent that came with it! Blah!! I visited the Fluff University site online, and read the directions for stripping. Tide was the best option. But, determined, I tried what I already had.

I soaked the cloth diapers for 7 hours in hot, oxygen bleach water with Nature Clean Powdered detergent as well as Borax. Agitated the load every hour or more. I rinsed the load and let it sit in a cold load with oxygen bleach for 30 minutes, then put them on 3 wash cycles with detergent and Borax.

Sure enough . . . they were still repelling the water. What a waste! I was disappointed! So, Chris bought some Tide for me to use, Unscented though. No way could I deal with the scents! (I was in the attic the other day going through stored clothing and I could smell the Tide off them . . . so gross when one has been away from those smells).

So I did another strip wash like the above steps, but this time with the Tide unscented. The inserts came out mostly improved. Tonight I will try one on Thomas as a test, maybe they need to soak again, but there is definitely improvement, very little repelling.

Update. Thomas was dry this morning!! Yay!!!!!


Trans Planted Some Maple Trees

Our backyard is a very sunny spot. Absolutely no shade from the Summer sun. We used to have a huge tree that would block the sun and the whole backyard was shady and cool, up until about 2 years ago.

I was cleaning up the flower beds and as always, I found some young maple trees growing. I decided that they should get planted where someday, shade would be provided.  I chose 3 as I did not want to plant too many close together. I thought this is much cheaper than buying trees, and I know it will take years for them to be helpful. Better to start now than later (Should have started one or two years ago, really).

I am worried the young kids will pull them out or walk on them. They are small, 6-8 inches tall. I tied some jute around Popsicle sticks and stuck those in the ground around the trees. By one of the fences, the neighbors peble/rocks are pouring between the planks. The kids are always into those. I took some and made a circle around the trees I planted, just to give more of a visual.

I asked the kids to be careful and treat the tiny trees like babies. Babies in our backyard who someday will provide shade. I hope it works!

Repairing Some Sweaters

Daniel and Alaina each have a favourite sweater and they were both in need of some mending! Daniel’s sleeve cuff was coming undone and Alaina’s sweater came undone along the whole seam of a sleeve and body. I could not believe how much it was coming apart! Her sweater, which I can not remember where it came from, must have been hand made, knitting or something.

Anyways, Daniels was pretty easy to fix up, my sewing skills are slim, so it was not the prettiest job done, but the hole was mended. I also did not have black thread to match the colour. Oh well. lol.

Alaina’s sweater was a much bigger job and I took it to the sewing machine and fixed it right up.  It may be a little tighter than it was before and I did not match the colour patterns up very well, I did not even take notice as I mended it up. Though, I do not think it is very noticeable unless you look right at the seam, which is hidden under the arm anyways. Lesson learned for next time! Mistakes are good, they are lessons we learn from.


Shopping With My Cloth Produce Bags

I love being able to choose the produce myself rather than grabbing a bag of pre-chosen products. I made these bags from old curtains. Just a simple project that can be done in minutes with a sewing machine or half an hour (if your me, lol) sewing by hand.

On top are bananas. We go through a lot in a week and it is just easier to put them in my bag, otherwise a bag is not needed. Next up is lettuce, a larger bag is needed to get the lettuce easily in the bag. Green onions package free. Grapes, instead of choosing a plastic bag of grapes, with a pre-chosen amount, I gently grab a bunch from two or three bags, being sure I take what I touch. This way I can choose a smaller amount provided or a larger amount, depending on the coming week and what I think we can eat. Berries are really the only plastic packaged fruit we buy. I know it is out of season where we live, but the kids really enjoy them. I would love to switch our habits to buying seasonal, more discipline required.

Bottom of cart includes a bag of Naval oranges, yet again, too many to leave rolling around in the cart. Same goes for apples. Then there is the unwrapped broccoli. Sobey’s stopped wrapping them! Two thumbs up!!


Cleaning Residue Off Glassware With Homemade Apple Scrap Vinegar

I am trying out my first batch of apple scrap vinegar. I had to get a second opinion on my batch, and I had a lovely visitor, Gina Rideout, today who came all the way from St. John’s Newfoundland. She is a Certified Health Coach and doTerra Wellness Advocate at doTerra Essential Oils. She thought my batch was good. I thought it smelled like alcohol still, but she says more like apple cider vinegar. Yay!!!

So I’m geared up to try it on my residues glasses. Plastic free vinegar in the works and it is working amazing!

I just poured the vinegar in a bowl and let it sit a few minutes, turning the glass half way to coat the other side. A quick rinse and our glasses were sparkling again!

I will be putting a cup worth into the dish washer to help as the vinegar in the rinse agent dispenser is not cutting it! I put some store bought vinegar directly in the washer a few days ago and the dishes were not so residue feeling. I really did not want to buy more plastic jugs of vinegar, so I will experiment with this! Yay!

My second batch has been fermenting since April 25 and still going strong. I have apple cores stored in the freezer awaiting for this batch to finish, another week or more I think.

I had a couple bottles from Olive oil, and I will put them to good use to store the vinegar! I have been storing the first batch in a plastic juice container as I had no glass containers to hold the amount. Gina mentioned that the acid from the vinegar will ruin the container, which no knew, but, she gave me a little needed nudge to find an alternative. I did not want to go buy one and don’t have the time to go thrift shopping so I took a look to see a batch had for jars. I made up my mind that if I have to use a bunch of jars to stores the vinegar, so be it. Get away from the plastic container.

I found a Olive oil jar stashed away and luckily I had an empty one by the sink waiting to get washed. Meant to be! Thanks Gina! 

Fixing Those Cheap Kids Scool Bags

No more of these bags will be bought by myself. Time and time again, these cheap bags come apart. They are not made to last. They may be appealing to the target market, the children, but definitly not so for the environment. Even before this zero waste journey these bags were unliked. The catch to us buying them, they were cheap. Well, I am over that and will be paying more for a better quality backpack.

Meanwhile, we still need to take care of what we already have and I am determined to have this packback last Julia to the end of the school year. It has already been repaired once, here we go again!

Julia’s bag is coming apart at the top
At the side
Fixed with some fabric glue!
I had these on hand from when I was doing crocheting. I did some incorrect moves while switching colours and they were coming undone. I saved the blanket with a bit of fabric glue.


Julia’s teddy she got from Daniel for Christmas was in rough shape. The arm fell off before Julia recieved it, and after Christmas the two legs let go as well. 

Today, a no school day, Julia was fumbling through my repair basic I have set aside for sewing repairs. She found her teddy and asked if I could fix it. Right away, I pulled out my sewing kit and set to work. Two legs secured on and the other flimsy arm got adjusted too, would not be long cord that one to come off either.

Patched a hole I found on the foot too. Julia is super happy and renamed her teddy, Reindeer. How original! Lol.

Alaina’s pajama top turned into a strange disaster when the neck line started to let go. She got this one at Christmas time and held together for a couple months only. Disappointed in this one. Should have held better.

But I fixed it too. I learned the collar is a separate price of material, just folded over the main shirt material. I sandwiched them back together and secured it. Not a pretty job, I’m no professional, but it worked. No more holes.

Homemade Play-doh With Natural Dyes

Our family has been out of homemade play-doh for a little while now. The kids ask when I can make some more. Today, I decided to make some and I had a last minute inspirational idea. Natural dyes. Turmeric, coffee and berry juice. I did not research into any other ideas yet, but these items I had on hand. I would have loved to use beet juice, but I did not have any. Next shopping trip I will pick some up. I can even prepare the beets and freeze the juice. Ice cube tray will do very nicely to get a good amount.

Here is the recipe for making play-doh. Recipe #1 is my favourite. It stays soft and pliable. It is easy to wash and comes with no plastic container from the store. I have been making this play-doh for over 2 years. It is 100% better and does not have such a strong odor as the store bought.

Turmeric, small coffee from reusable keurig pod, frozen raspberries and blueberries
I put the frozen berries in the microwave on defrost for a couple minutes, they softened right up and were easy to mash.
Strained both to separate the juice. The raspberries were much harder to strain because of the particle size. Strainer and utensil to push the juice out worked.

Jack was my helper for most of the play-doh making. He was super excited! First we made the raspberry dye play-doh. The colour came out a very light pink. Could have used more juice for a darker colour. I would say we used about a tsp worth. I will add, my camera on my tablet is not so well. The colour is much better in person compared to the pictures.

about a tsp worth of raspberry juice
Jack mixing away before the heat gets turned on
constant mix with a scraper. Don’t let it burn!
Getting thick, keep mixing and scraping all around
Almost done. Lots of play-doh residue on the sides and bottom of the pot, normal. Don’t over cook it, or it will be dry and not so good! A little moist is great!
Let it cool on a cutting board for a minute, then knead by hand until smooth. Any moist spots will work itself out. I recommend the cutting board for kneading as you don’t want the dye on the counter (Natural dye or store bought dye).
Smooth and ready for fun. It is a light shade of pink. Camera is not so good. Let cool before adding to air tight container. I recommend to roll it wide and flat for the cooling process to happen quicker. The longer it is exposed to the air the dryer it will get (as it is with any play-doh).

Next came the blueberry dye. This one turned out a light purple. It could also use a larger amount of juice for the dye. I would say I used about 2 tsp. I did not measure.

about 2 tsp of blueberry juice.
Jack mixing away.
a light shade of purple
almost ready to come out
Bit of a better picture for the colour difference. pink on left, purple on the right.

Next came the coffee dye. Yes the play-doh smells like coffee! just slightly though, and the kids do not eat the play-doh. That has never been a problem. Maybe a lick here and there when pretending to make ice cream. lol. Nothing for me to worry about, really. So instead of using 1 cup of water to start, I used 1/2 a cup of water and 1/2 a cup of coffee for the dye. The colour turned out a light tan. I could have probably boiled off more water from the coffee, but I was experimenting and tried just a small brew to concentrate it that way.

Light tan colour.
Nearly there.
complete with a hand print
a picture to show the colours. Pink on top, purple on the bottom and tan on the right.

Next came the turmeric. I added a 1/2 tsp to start, but the colour was the same as the coffee, or very close. I added another 1/2 tsp, and there was not a whole lot difference. So I took some mustard powder, 1/2 tsp worth and it brightened the colour a little. by the time I had the yellow I was looking for, I used 2 tsp of turmeric and 2 tsp of mustard powder. This one is my favourite. It came out bright.

2 tsp both turmeric and mustard powder
Almost done
A little gooey, must kneading it helped so much. A little under cooked is better than over.
Do you see the flower?
Top left is pink, top right is tan, bottom left is purple and bottom right is yellow.

Last came plain old white. No dye is needed for this one.

mixing and mixing.
Love it
Top left is pink, top right is purple, bottom left is white, bottom right is yellow, and the small ball is tan. Jack an Thomas already got into these to play.

For this process, I was using two pots, a whisk and a silicone scraper. As one play-doh was finished cooking, the used pot was set aside to cool. A new pot was put on the stove with ingredients added. No heat turned on yet. The cooled pot was put in an empty sink and filled with water to loosen the dried/baked on play-doh. That would soak until the new batch of play-doh was ready, which the hot pot would be set to the side to cool and the pot in the sink ready for a wash out, dry and use. The cooled pot would get a soak and repeat until finished. The utensils would get a quick rinse in between so colours would not mix.

Jack is busy trying out the new play-doh.
Busy Thomas is from toys to play-doh, back and forth and both at the same time.
The play-doh gets stored in the reused yogurt containers.

I am hoping the natural dyes will stay well with the play-doh. Chris was wondering if the dyes would stain clothing. After handling the play-doh myself (kneading), there was not stain on my hands. So I think it will be fine. I still have store bought dyes to use up as well.

Jack was asking if I could make blue play-doh. I don’t know off hand what to use to make blue dye naturally. I ran out of cream of tartar as well, so next time blue play-doh for Jack.

I would like to find natural dyes for Red, Blue, Green, Orange and Black.
Beet juice is on my list. I want to find natural dyes without packaging as much as possible.

Raspberries = light pink (need more than a tsp)
Blueberries = purple (need more than 2 tsp)
Turmeric and mustard powder = yellow (Great with 2 tsp each)
Coffee = tan (need a more concentrated coffee)