Home

Making Hand-Soap

This goes on my list Simple Switches. There are benefits to making your own soap. I could take it a step further and make my own bars if I want to get even more environmentally friendly but at this time this is what I am willing to do. For years I have been purchasing large containers of soap and refilling our pumps. I bought one of a bottle I liked and just kept refilling.

  • Dr. Brommer’s unscented pure-Castile soap: 1 part (this works out to 2 tbsp)
  • Spring or distilled water – 10 parts (1 & 1/3 cup)
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • Wild orange essential oil (or any other preference)
  • Good soap dispenser

It is that easy! A bottle of Brommer’s goes such a long way.  It is super concentrated and when diluting it myself I can play around with the ratio a bit. I also has so many other uses although I haven’t tried them yet.

In retrospect I would find a glass dispenser but I can’t bring myself to buy a new one when the plastic one that I am reusing is working fine. Until it breaks or something … a great replacement will be one of my mason jars with a replacement lid with a pump.  A note about the essential oils – they are not necessary but if you do appreciate the aroma or want to give it an extra boost during flu and cold season it’s a great way. I have found it does not bother my sensitivities.

The real reason I want to do this is because with my skin and the amount I wash my hands they have taken a beating. They’re dry and are prone to eczema breakouts. Plus the older I get the more worn my hands are starting to look. Mom was right. She always told me to look after my hands, always wear dish washing gloves and moisturize.

Many of the ready made ones in the stores are perfumed and irritated my skin. I considered searching and trying different brands but the cost and wastage (when products fail me) seemed impractical. Basic is best! Our last batch ran out and we had a small amount of what I used before left so I wanted to use it up. For a couple of weeks my hands were itchy and red and particularly dry. I developed dark spots and had a regiment of having to lather on some of my serious “wonder creams” throughout the day. I switched back to the Brommer’s a couple of days ago and do I really feel the difference!

DECLUTTERING

Counter Space

A constant source of aggravation for me is always having very little to no table space. I am continuously having to move things over to make room to work whether it is preparation for meals, eating, work or a place to set down a book.  I realized this was a problem long ago but it wasn’t until my daughter came along that I saw the real negative implications of this habit. I call it a habit because it was really just procrastination of putting things away.  Things are always just being set down to put away “later”. The problem with this is that later comes much-later, most likely during a cleaning blitz that I feel forced into and resent. Housework and maintenance should not be so negative.  I don’t want that for my family.  I want to provide an environment that is comfortable – not with the noise and chaos of clutter.

The Decluttering Plan

I tried some different approaches already.  I tried focusing on an area of the house. I tried dividing it into sections like kitchen supplies, office supplies, clothing, etc. – you get the drift. They all worked for a bit but then I lost steam.  That’s OK because I figure as long as I keep going, slow as it may be, it will gradually turn into a lifestyle. My approach these days is to keep reminding myself to be ruthless in my decision of whether a particular item stays or goes – yes or no. The yes is fine and if I am right it will find a home. The no’s are another story and post, but it must go out the door.

My biggest stumbling block is distraction.  Sometimes it is a physical interruption such as a call, text or email I need to deal with or some sort of mom duty – even letting the dog outside.  More than likely it is me getting stumped by “where do I put this”, or “should it be donated or tossed in the trash?”

And then my train of thought is off … rambling down the tracks.

This brings me to my next big block which is not to be wasteful. I have trouble carelessly filling up our landfills with things that are not broken. I am always wanting to pass things on somehow but sometimes junk is junk and other times it can be put to good use by someone else. So I have to decide whether it truly is trash or worth something to another.

And again, my train of thought is off.

Minimizing our stuff is all about discovering what we want to have around you – getting rid of all the excess. I am by no means looking to be a minimalist. I won’t get into it right now but I recognize that there is a difference. What I want is to just be thoughtful about the choices we make and the materials that buy.

I made this list of some of the reasons I have been drawn into this idea of minimizing/purging/decluttering/simplifying. They overlap and are integrated with each other. I don’t really think you can have one without the other, but for the sake of the list here it is.

  1. Healthy body
  2. Healthy mind
  3. Family
  4. Organization
  5. The environment
Recipes

An Alphaghetti Taste-alike

In my search for lunch ideas that a 7 year old would be happy to have in their lunch I have come up with this version of the infamous Heinz Alphaghetti that kids love so much. These ingredients are all items which I usually have on hand. Bonus! I will get right to it.

You will need:

  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • clove of garlic (or garlic powder)
  • oregano
  • cilantro
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • pasta
Go that extra step and use organic and fresh whole ingredients if you wish, but I am just pleased to have an alternative with less sodium, additives and without the can.
In a pot blend together all ingredients except the cheese.
Boil the broth, tomato sauce, garlic, coriander, oregano, and cheese. Simmer over medium heat to cook the garlic and thicken a bit. If your kids like their sauce thicker either use cornstarch blended with broth or water and add it to the sauce or adjust the amount of cheese. I find when you cook the pasta in the sauce it brings the starches out anyway. The cheese thickens and adds tasty creamy texture so you can always play around with how much you add.
If you are eating it right away add the pasta and cook for about 7 minutes. otherwise you can portion the sauce out in glass containers and freeze it or keep it in the fridge for the next few days.
I found because the pasta will keep absorbing the sauce even after it is cooked it works best for me if I just cook enough for that days lunch portion and add it before it goes in the soup flask.
Recipes

Veggie Bowl

I have never been a big fan of salads. I am talking about the idea of what a salad was growing up. The lettuce and tomato, bits of cucumber with croutons, bacon bits and maybe some dressing. Actually dressing seemed to be the very idea of a salad. I always would get a second look from the staff when I asked for “no dressing”, on the occasion that I did have one in a restaurant. I think the lettuce was my big turn off though. leafy pieces of romaine or head lettuce really don’t do that much for me.

I started eating sprouts occasionally about 5 or 6 years ago. I went to a vegetarian convention and one of the vendors was selling sprout kits. I bought one and have been in love with sprouts ever since! for a while it was hard to keep a consistent routine of sprouting my mung beans. I would go in spurts – have a few good weeks here and there when I could keep the batches going. And with every new spurt I would groan and vow to maintain this new routine. Last year I took a workshop from a local sprouter and afterwords subscribed to their CASE program. I get a weekly micro-green and sprout supply. My idea was to also make my own but to have it fill those big gaps and always have them around as a staple.

So my love of salads grew.

Having all sorts of salad ingredients ready to go in a bowl is key. I usually try to have chickpeas ready in the cupboard or in the fridge. Lately I have been making my own which is so much tastier and economical too. I have used navy beans too.

Here’s a list of ingredients that can be tossed in. It’s really depends on what I happen to have in the fridge ready to go.

  • Grape tomatoes
  • Green peppers
  • Chickpeas
  • Quinoa
  • Lemon
  • Sprouts and/or micro-greens

The trick is not to be stingy with your sprouts. There is a tendency to think of it as a garnish. A flavor to be added to enhance a dish.

Sprouting

Sprout Salads

How could I have not written a post about this yet. My new love of salads thanks to sprouts and micro-greens.  Crunchy, crispy, chock full of flavour and goodness. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

Organizing

Planners & Bullet Journals

Over the years I have tried many types of planners. I have looked at numerous types from dayplanners to bullet journaling but the ones that work best were the 9″ x 6″ lined blank note books where I could fill with lists and notes each day. The only problem was constantly having to flip back and forth when trying to organize a week. I loved having blocks where I could not thoughts or plug in a bit of writing. So began another search for something that would allow me to look at the whole week, write down to-do lists but also keep track of appointments. I wanted something that left me room to jot down ideas and thoughts without having to dig out a separate journal. I also have one of those for when I need to sit down and do a lot of writing. Often though I need to just quickly write a few quick notes that I can followup on later.  Hence my “Ordinary Modifiable Weekly Planner”. I know it’s a bit wordy…

It has a super simple layout that allows me to create the rambling lists that I usually have. A shopping list, daily blocks for appointments and daily notes. An idea block which can be for anything, from a quote of song title, goal or just extra space to write. The layout for me was somehow important just as important as what blocks were added.

I see people often posting that they are having a tough time finding a planner the works for them. Everyone ha different needs and different types of schedules…it only makes sense. There are so many out there but with the way my mind works it had to be basic with no distractions of fancy fonts and time slots (I am better at remembering if I handwrite the time down).