Ditching Store Yogurt Drinks

These are the last yogurt drinks to be washed and recycled in our home. We go through about 4 per day adding up to approximately 130 per month! That is a lot of single use plastic!

Not only does the bottle/package go for recycling, but the wrapper and caps are waste. 130 bottles, 130 caps, 130 wrappers and 21 plastic packaging pieces (comes in a 6 pack).

I asked a few groups of people for help on choosing recipes and how to make smoothies. I thought smoothies would be a great alternative, though I never made them before. I was worried too that the kids would not like them. My sister in law came to the rescue too! Offering lots of suggestions and recipes. Someone else also mentioned to just add some milk to yogurt to make a yogurt drink. Very simple!

So I got my blender and food together and started to try making some smoothies.

1/2 cup yogurt and 1 cup milk.
Fruit such as bananas, strawberries, peanut butter. It was just a no go taste wise. I felt I was wasting a lot of food. Pretty sure my mixtures were not balanced right; too much milk. We found the peanut butter was not pleasing either.

So that day I had to stop and re think what I was doing. Plus buy more product! My next grocery trip I did not buy any yogurt drinks! Skipped them completely!! I was determined to make this work.

The next morning I was all over it! Tried to keep everything simple. I decided to just start with yogurt drinks. Alaina wanted to call them smoothies still, so that is what we are doing! They love the sound of “smoothies”.

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 frozen banana
Alaina liked this one.

1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1 cup blueberries
Alaina liked this one.

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1 Tbsp Nutella
1/2 frozen banana
Thomas liked this one.

1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1 cup strawberries (also with 1/2 banana)
Alaina liked this one.

1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1 cup raspberries
Alaina liked this one.

1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
Daniel and Jack liked this one.

These recipes of mine are basically single servings.

Julia is not a fan of these drinks. I am not sure why. She really is not a fussy eater! She has taken a dislike to white milk lately. I am hoping she will come around. She does like yogurt. We buy the vanilla kind and sometimes the raspberry kind. Source, Yoplait.

Lately, Alaina like the raspberry yogurt with milk blended. She says it tastes like strawbrry ice cream.

I froze some berries and bananas, as the cold makes the drinks better for consuming. Otherwise it seems they are kind of warm. If there is no frozen fruit added, I simply just drop in an ice cube to cool it right down.

I freeze the bananas just as they are in the peel. Just let it sit on the counter for about 5 minutes and the peel comes right off.

I would like to add more to these drinks soon. Like Chai seeds for example. Also I so wish I had a frozen stash of berries! Next year we will be doing lots of berry picking and freezing. I will be needing a bigger freezer and  containers to freeze the produce in. Not using bags. I got lots of time to figure that one out.

I am so happy with the turn out! Next, homemade yogurt! I am more worried about this one! I myself am not a fan of yogurt, but Source Yoplait is the only one I found I liked. I hope the kids are not as fussy as I am about it!

Advent Calander, 2018

Every year to start the Advent season, we always bought the chocolate advent calender. Everybody got one. This year, with our family that would have been 7! We don’t buy the cheap ones. The chocolate is not very good. So we opted for the more pricy ones. $10.00-$12.00 each. That adds up! And the waste!! Wrapping on each calender and the trays holding the chocolate.

This year is different! Me and Alaina got together and came up with some ideas to make our own. I thought at first I would make a calender for everybody, but it does take a lot of space to Store 7 calanders. So one big one it is.

To start, a large piece of cardboard. I need it big enough to house the envelopes which will contain the treats.

Here, Alaina is spreading our homemade glue on the board and I will stick some colourful sheets of construction paper to it, also covered with glue.

Ta-da!! Now to let it dry overnight. The board did end up curling on the bottom, so I would recommend setting something heavy on the corners to keep it flat. I stored mine in the laundry room, on top of a picture frame and balanced on a shower curtain rod. Haha!! Up out of reach of little hands!!

Daniel wanted to come and help me and Alaina! No problem!! We folded some scrapbook card stock in half, 8″ x 8″ sheets.

I cut off about 3 inches and was left with a folded 4″ x 5″ card.

On one half I cut about an inch so it will fold down to seal the card as shown.

Next, homemade glue was painted on the edges. I really wanted to see it together. It would allow for more pocket space as the glue needed more space taken to a cheat properly. But I was not able to borrow a sewing machine. My fault, as I left it to the last minute.

After they were glued, one by one I stuck them in a big book for pressure to help them dry and seal. I stacked something heavy on top of the book as well to add the extra pressure.

They sat overnight, and about 6 of them did not seal all the way. I just re-applied some glue and let them dry a little longer.

Together me and Alaina hooked the cards to the board with metal fasteners. My go to was to use a glue gun and clothes pins, but I had no glue. So instead, went with this more friendly option. It worked so well!!

Alaina decorated the board with some felt stickers I had on hand for scrapbooking. Better to use them than let them go to waste.

When the card is taken off the board, underneath is a verse from the Bible (kind of like using a Jesse Tree). We read the verse when we have the treat. Each card has 7 treats.

This is the link to the Bible verses I am using behind each envelope.

Me and Chris decided (mostly Chris) that we would add treats to the cards a little at a time so they don’t get stale.

Since there are 5 columns and 5 kids, they get to open one to share every 5 days.

We went with 25 days on our advent calendar, as Jack’s Birthday is on Christmas!!!! Also, 25 cards worked out so well on the board.

Plans for next year include festive cloth and making sacks to hold the treats. Just did not have the time or material this time round. Also, I probably should have chosen a white background. Would probably look nicer! But oh well! Lots of colour!!

Homemade Cleaner

I’m dropping chemical cleaners at home. I have been cleaning our home with 10% vinegar for a few weeks now. Awesome! Mostly I would wash surfaces with soap and water, then spray with vinegar and let it sit.

All I do is take an old spray bottle, mix together equal parts water and vinegar. Ta-da!

Do not add baking soda while cleaning with vinegar. Together they will become neutralized, an not work as they are supposed to separate.

Less Waste Party

Today we celebrated Thomas’s 2nd Birthday!! Our norm for decorations include balloons, streamers, plastic “Happy Birthday” signs, and all that hung up with tape. Presents usually wrapped or put into gift bags packed with tissue paper.

Though, I have not bought a gift bag for years! The amount we get from family and friends is enough to keep reusing for years!! Two or three years ago I took all the gift bags and split them up between family, just to get rid of them. So many!! I am almost at that point again!

Tissue paper is bought every couple of years, we also save those from family and friends to reuse.

Plastic or paper cups and utensils were commonly purchased. Sometimes a plastic table cloth was used too, once, then thrown out.

Streamers are always used for Birthdays.

Balloons are an all time favourite! The kids love them! Have to admit, they are fun to bounce around!! Enjoyment for hours and days!

Though, this year is different! Our family is on a new journey. Less waste! Or zero waste. I Have a hard time using the phrase “zero waste”! We are not a zero waste family, but a less waste one!

To replace the balloons, I made paper fans from construction paper. I found a recipe for homemade glue (thanks for the tip from a friend in a group I follow). This is the recipe. Though, I take some cold water and mix the dry ingredients in first before adding to the boiling water. No lumps! I store it in a jar and use a paintbrush to apply.

My process includes taking a sheet of paper, what ever size, and make your first fold for the fan. Unfold and add a bit of glue and press it firmly back down.

  • Flip the paper over as you would to continue the fan and add glue to where the paper folds down. Continue until the whole paper is folded.
  • Note: put the glue in the centre, not all along the strip.
  • Next, add glue all along one whole side and fold in half.
  • I like to slightly sit on this piece to make sure it holds together good! Optional.
  • Repeat 2 more times until you have 3 fans.
  • Glue each fan to one another, firmly pressing them together.
  • Once they are together you will have a circular decoration!
  • I sewed some thread to secure a line to hand up. I hung mine on curtain rods.



Yes, streamers are compostable, but they still come wrapped in plastic. I want and can avoid that by making my own kind. FYI, the construction paper I am using came without any wrapping and is the biggest stack I could find. 250 sheets I believe. I also have too many scrap book paper that could get used. Some nice prints there to add some flare!

  • My process for my streamers is to take a number and colours of paper stacked together. I liked using all the colours. But any choice is good for any theme!
  • Once the paper is stacked, cut a circle keeping the papers together.
  • Next, cut a continuous circular line starting outide and work your way in.
  • The bigger the circle and thinner cutting, the longer and more twisty the streamer.
  • A small circle will result in a short streamer.
  • Next, I take the ends that were started with and added some glue to them.
  • I put some glue on the wall/door frame/cupboards and stick the streamer ends to it.
  • With the paint brush I added some more glue to make sure they got coated good!
  • Press with your finger so there is good contact between the surface and paper.
  • Continue until house is decorated!!

Our plastic “Happy Birthday” signs are not going to waste. They are still in good condition even though they are almost 10 years old! I thought there must be another way to put them up besides tape. I already knew what to do! Homemade glue!

I cut off the edges that held 9 years worth of tape (pretty thick!). I added a thin layer of glue to the back two sides and they stuck to wall without a problem!! I was pleased!!

Again, we reused gift bags and tissue paper, though the paper was coming to the end of its use. Thats okay compostable (I just checked!).

I did not give myself time to look for good used toys or clothes. He really already has everything he needs! We did buy some of those items. I’m not too worried about it though! Small steps forward.

I did make the birthday cake. Most times I do. Though, for some reason, I cannot get the icing right. The Betty Crocker pre-maid store bought icing is hard to beat!! This time round, I tried the Bulk Barn kind. Pretty good. Rich. Maybe too much. I will continue looking for the right recipe! Also, I bought a can of decorating icing. Not plastic tube, can! I need to get a good icing decorating kit. Not a cheap plasticky one. Been there, done that. Two uses and it broke.

Our 3 year old, soon to be 4, requested the cake to be decorated like this! Quite the planner!!

Also, no plastic or paper plates, nor cups. Just our home items. Usually parties have those items, but not this weekend coming. Yes, we got a family party to get ready for, and I will be aiming for a less waste one again! Though, I do have some paper plates that could get used, I’m not sure if I have enough plates for everyone. I guess time will tell! Also cloth table cloths will be used! No more plastic ones!

Thomas’s Birthday waste included this. Also a couple plastic links from clothing, and a plastic ring. 8 waste items total.

I already did a test the other day and confirmed it again this evening concerning the homemade glue on the walls and such. Yes it does wash off. Hot soapy water. No problem at all!!

We have 4 more kids Birthdays coming between now and April, and parties. I’m looking forward to finding more DIY decorations ! I would like to find something that will last longer than the paper. Construction paper will rip and tangle and loose colour overtime, quickly. Small steps!

Thinking for the future: cloth wrapping.

Update

Red and black paper, stain white background when glue was applied. A simple rub with bleach cleaned it.

First Trip To Bulk Barn With Cloth Bags

Yesterday I learned how to operate a sewing machine! My neighbor allowed me to borrow it as well! Between last night and today I made 18 sacks! I did not make drawstrings yet. That will come later!

I loaded up one bag with my cloth ones, and found it really light!! No clanging of tubs and jars. Not 2 or 3 bags. Just one light one!

Got to Bulk Barn and the cashier weighed by cloth bag. I marked on the bottom the weight (0.020) in kg with permanent marker. My bags are now set to be used over and over and I don’t have to weigh them again unless I add something on the bag. (Drawstring).

It was super easy to fill my bags with product. Because I did not have a drawstring to shut the bag, I simply just twisted the top end a little and made sure the bag sat upright in the cart. They didn’t move much anyways so no problem at all!

Because my bags were not labeled like my containers with the product name and number, it was tricky for the cashier to know what was in the bags. I will be assigning each bag to a product soon. I want to be as efficient as possible and make it easy for everyone! I can take the bags I need for products and I will have some blank ones as well for surprise products I buy. It’s a good idea to have a couple spares.

When I got home, I unloaded my light weighted 2 bags of products. (Yes I divided my purchases in a couple bags). 

Chocolate chips, party mix, Cheerios, shreddies graham crackers, pretzels, almonds, pistachios, salt, rolled oats, beef bullion, chicken gravy, ground coffee and peanut butter.

There was a lot more mess than I thought there would be. The bags were fine, they did not leak or anything. But dumping them into my cupboard containers/jars prooved a little tricky. Mostly products such as beef bullion and gravy. The ground coffee too. I am sure with practice and time I will learn how to do it cleaner. Also, I need to re-learn how much product to take as I took too many nuts and pretzels. Its all a learning curve!

After the bag was emptied, over the sink I pulled it inside-out and shook off any leftover particles. They are now sitting in the laundry room waiting for a wash.

Overall, I loved the cloth bags! A definite switch up from using containers!! Good bye to my yogurt containers. They served me well!

This many and more! One trip I had 27 containers! Hard to fit that in the cart let alone having to weigh them first!!

 

Bathroom Replacements

This bar soap, made in Nova Scotia is the one I have been searching for!  I’m not sure about its purity at the moment, but my hands are not cracking this cool damp weather and my face does not feel so dry! I have been using this soap for 6 days and it is the best one of all I tried a neck tried 4 others that were plastic wrap free. 5th one is a charm. I’m pretty sure its the shea butter that helps, I found it always does and the other 4 kinds I tried did not have shea butter. I will be buying more of this brand for other places in the home (Bathrooms and kitchen) once the liquid soap dispencers are gone. Soon!


I started out using virgin coconut oil I got from the Bulk Barn, on one of my hands to see if it would help my skin heal from the cool damp weather. The soap above is helping lots so it is hard to tell which hand was treated and not treated, but I have to say the first two days I was using the oil, I did see a difference. This was 4 days ago. My treated hand was not so red looking. I will continue using this product for hand lotion.

Also, doing some reading and research, coconut oil us good for many things! I’m going to use it on the kids as they get eczema this time of year too. I will use it for bum irritations on baby. This could potentially wipe out the containers for lotion, Vaseline and bum creams. Apparently it is great for shaving too. But I will leave that up to my husband to decide. I don’t force it.

More to come.

DIY Tomato Paste.

I found another recipe to try. Honeyed Tomato Paste, from The Zero-Waste Chef.

I made a half recipe (or tried).

I weighed 4 lbs of tomatoes, sliced an X and blanched them for 30 seconds. Peeled the skin and removed the seeds.

Put the cleaned tomatoes in a pot with olive oil and cooked on medium heat for 40 minutes. I added the tomatoes juice from the peelings and seeds. Of course, Jack wanted to watch and help if he could!

Once they cooked down, I put them through my food processor. Looked very much like tomato sauce at this point!

Here is where I went wrong. Instead of adding half of the ingredients, I added the full amounts. Salt, honey and bay leaves. I did not realize it until it was simmering for 45 minutes.

After it was done simmering, I put the sauce in a shallow pan. Set the timer for 3 hours and stirred every 20 minutes. This picture is 90 minutes in.

Done baking! Yahoo! Looks good!

My batch made .75 cup of tomato paste.

Had I put in the half amount of salt, honey and bay leaf, this would have been absolutely yummy!!! Even with the extra honey and bay leaf. BUT the extra salt ruined it! I can taste the flavour besides the salt and it is delicious! Too bad!

Maybe I can make a new batch and not add any of those ingredients, then mix that one and this one together?

Today was so worth it, I will be making more! Now, I need to find tomatoes locally!