Tag Archives: green

2013~ A Year in Review

2013 was a busy year. I didn’t blog much, but I did get a lot done.

I have a daughter that is now a senior in high school and a son that left elementary to move up to the big leagues of middle school. Hubby got (and rejected) two job offers. One was definitely not a better job. The other would have been a pay raise but would have caused a ridiculous amount of stress for Mr. Hippie. Mr. Hippie’s ulcerative colitis doesn’t do well with stress, so although I still pine for the extra income that would make our fiscal lives easier, I am grateful for his time with our family and for his health.

Will 2014 be The Year of My Blog? I don’t know the future, but I hear that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Regardless of what 2014 brings, I’m leaving 2013 with a bang!

The top posts always surprise me a little, but it helps me understand what people actually want to read! Apparently the movement toward healthier, greener cleaning hasn’t lost steam and people still love animals!

Coming in at number one:

Vinegar and oil(s)Homemade Fabric Softener

housing for two rabbits

Home to our breeding pair.

Building a Rabbit Hutch

Finished loaf cooled, sliced and ready to eat.

Freshly baked bread in five minutes?

Crusty Round Loaves of Homemade Bread

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Soap after the mold has been removed.

How I Made Homemade Soap (and Didn’t Screw it up)

Some of the finished treats.

Homemade Dog Biscuits

Supplies needed to make your own.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Sink Scrub

Homemade Scouring Powder

Chicken Tractor

Chicken Run

Pinot Jelly

Pinot Noir Jam

Thanks for sticking around to hear what I had to say even when I didn’t have much to talk about!

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Filed under green cleaning, Miscellaneous

Why Resale Shopping is Better Than Retail Shopping

I have shopped at resale stores for years. Goodwill is one of my “must stops” when I actually drive around, but there are a few others in town that I frequent and several others that I visit once in awhile.

There are lots of reasons I love resale shopping. First of all, it is much cheaper than retail shopping. Jean Jacket? $7. You can find all kinds of goodies for a fraction of their retail price. Sometimes resale shops even take “leftovers” from retail shops. I got a brand new, still-in-the-box deep fryer for $10.

But, “brand new, still-in-the-box” is not what I look for at resale stores. In fact, not having to deal with all the packaging that accompanies new merchandise is one of the things I love most about resale shopping. Have you seen all the plastic, styrofoam and even twist-ties that come on new stuff? The box is often twice the size of the coontents because of all the extra crap they cram in there. When you shop resale you don’t have to dispose of even more waste. Even though I recycle when I buy new, not everyone does. Resale reduces waste.

Haggling is acceptable. Now, you can’t get out of control with the haggling, but the staff at resale shops usually appreciates it when you let them know if a price is out of line. They want to sell their stuff and won’t if the price isn’t good. Most of my canning jars came from Goodwill. Sometimes when I go in there the jars are marked $.99 each. I won’t buy jars for that price; I can buy them new for less than that. But, if you tell the cashier what the jars retail for new, they’ll mark them down. I’ll buy quite a few jars at fifty cents apiece, but I’ll clean them out if they are a quarter each.

Lots of things that seem like a good idea but take up a lot of space can be found at resale shops for a reasonable price. I buy a LOT of housewares at resale shops. For example:

New pitcher for the ancient Osterizer blender that I dropped and broke.Blender jar (BTW, if you drop your favorite glass blender pitcher on the floor and it breaks, you can screw a standard-mouthed mason jar onto the base as a temporary fix. Screwing a canning jar to the blades also works if you want to make individual smoothies in different flavors or want to premix a bunch for storage.)
Ice cream maker
Bread machine for school
Fermenting crock
Super-deluxe, stainless-steel colander that I use for everything
Drinking glasses
Jelly/cheese straining bag (So, it’s really a cotton pillowcase, but whatever.)

Many resale shops offer you a discount on a future purchase when you donate your old stuff. Cleaned out your closet? Take the old stuff to a resale shop. Somebody will probably love your “old” outfits and you could get 10% off your next purchase.

Lots of thrift stores benefit charities. Women’s Resource Center benefits battered women and their children. Goodwill helps people find jobs. Shopping resale benefits people in your community.

Rundrand TulipToday the reason I love resale shopping is this beautiful Weck canning jar. I have been wanting to try Weck Jars for a while now, but they are quite pricey. This 1 Liter, BPA-free jar cost me $5. It was probably too much since it rivals the actual retail price of the jar and was most of the money I had left from my March allowance, but I can try it out and see how it works before I invest a fortune on more fancy-shmancy canning jars. If I don’t like it for canning, I can always store dried beans or coffee or something in it.


Filed under canning, frugality, green living

Goodbye, 2011

2011 was a difficult year both for my family and for this blog.  If you are/were a regular reader, you noticed I wasn’t around much. I hope to change that this year.  Because I didn’t write many posts last year, I wasn’t surprised that most of the top posts last year were older posts.

As a farewell to the year gone by I present:

The Top Five Posts of 2011

  1. Brined Pork Roast
  2. Homemade Fabric Softener
  3. Homemade Laundry Detergent
  4. Building A Rabbit Hutch
  5. Crusty Round Loaves of Homemade Bread

I am surprised that the Brined Pork Roast recipe was number one. Especially because in my opinion, this recipe is much tastier.

I get lots of searches for green cleaning recipes. Pinterest has been especially helpful in promoting them. I’m glad people are being greener and I’ll try to post some more green cleaning recipes this year.

I am excited to see the rabbit hutch plans make the list.  I wonder if that is because more people are interested in rabbits for meat, or if pet owners just need plans? Regardless, I hope to post more rabbit updates soon. Until then, if you’re looking for rabbit information, check out On Breeding Like Rabbits.

Happy New Year,


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Filed under Charcutepalooza, food, frugality, green cleaning, green living, meat rabbits, Miscellaneous

#52 ~ Empty the Fridge, Clean it out and Put all the Food Back in.

I’ve been working on this project since Tuesday.  I had a plan.  I started by having a “leftovers for dinner” night to help clear some of the riff-raff out.  Then I made a batch of chicken stock which used up the two picked-over chicken carcasses and a bunch of the not-so-pretty vegetables, clearing even more space.  After that I made a batch of ham stock which reduced the contents of the produce drawer further and eliminated the ham bone leftover from Christmas dinner at the in-laws’ house.  Finally, I fed some wilted produce to the chickens, composted a couple moldy things, threw out the package of spoiled cream cheese and got to work.

I started by cleaning all the right-hand shelves.  I moved everything from the top shelf, took it out, scrubbed it down with my Sink Scrub, returned it to the refrigerator and replaced all the food that belonged there in a neat and orderly fashion.  I continued working shelf-by-shelf until I got to the bottom shelf and the produce drawers. 

The bottom of the refrigerator stripped of its parts.

 This area required drastic action.  I removed both drawers, the glass panel and the frame that holds the drawers, scrubbed it all, wiped down the sides and bottom of the fridge and put all the parts back in before finishing the rest of the fridge.  I probably should’ve added “replace the bulbs in the refrigerator” to the list, but they have been burnt out so long I don’t even remember what it’s like to have lights in the refrigerator. 

Neat and organized.

I actually have enough room now to put vegetables in the left drawer and fruits in the right.  Now I’ll have to go get groceries and fill it back up.  Isn’t it pretty?  Scratched off the list!  (But I’m sure it will need to be done again before the end.)


Filed under 101 in 1001

Homemade Scouring Powder

Green cleaning is something that many companies are trying to market.  A lot of it is just “greenwashing”.  Making your own earth-friendly cleaners is cheaper, better for the environment than many of the “green” cleaners for sale, and doesn’t take very long.  This recipe is more of a non-recipe than a real recipe but I’ve decided to share my super simple Sink Scrub recipe.

While I call it “Sink Scrub”, it can be used to safely scrub most surfaces: countertops, toilets, bathtubs, the top of your stove or inside of your refrigerator.  Pretty much anywhere you would use “Comet” or other commercial scouring powders is a good place to use this scrub.

Sink Scrub

Sink Scrub


  1. Borax
  2. Baking Soda
  3. Essential oil (optional)


  1. Assemble your ingredients.
  2. Find a container with a shaker top.  An old giant-sized spice container works well.  An empty parmesan cheese container would also work.
  3. Dump or scoop equal parts baking soda and Borax into your shaker.  (I used to measure but now I just do it by eye).
  4. Add essential oil (optional) Teatree oil has antiseptic properties and makes a nice addition.  Lately I have been adding wintergreen.  It has a nice fresh, clean scent but doesn’t come off too “minty”.  A blend works too.  In my spice container shaker I add about 20 drops of oil.
  5. Cover and shake well.

That’s it.  Easy-peasy.  You may want to make one for the kitchen and one for the bath.

If you like this, you may want to check out my recipe for homemade laundry detergent as well.



Filed under frugality, green cleaning

Goodbye 2010, Hello 2011

The start of a new year is always a time for reflection on the past, and hope for the opportunities yet to come.  This year my family starts with some setbacks, but I am optimistic that the future will be bright despite the hurdles before us.

Although this blog was “born” in 2009, last year was my first full year blogging.  Sometimes I did a better job than others.  Posting regularly was a challenge for me at times but I hope to have a better go of it this year.  I’m not going to resolve to post daily or even weekly, but I think that posting more frequently is a good goal, as ambiguous as it is.  Challenges like the Spice Rack Challenge with its required monthly posts and the Dark Days Challenge with bi-monthly posts until April will help me stay motivated, but so will various things on my 101 in 1001 list (which I fully intend to complete).

But, as a farewell to the year gone by I present:

The Top Ten Posts of 2010

  1. Homemade Fabric Softener
  2. 28 Day Challenge Final Results
  3. June Can Jam~ Herbed Strawberry-Balsamic Jam
  4. Crusty Round Loaves of Homemade Bread
  5. How I Made Homemade Soap (and Didn’t Screw it up)
  6. Lavender’s Blue . . . (April Can Jam)
  7. How to Make Your Own Soap (Concluded)
  8. Homemade Laundry Detergent
  9. Everything but Apple Jacks?
  10. Can Jam Challenge Round Three ~ Jerked Onion

I was surprised that some of the posts made the list, but in general I wasn’t.  This blog is (mostly) about me getting back to slower times, cooking and cleaning in a way that is more sustainable.  So I shouldn’t be surprised that most of the posts on the list are in that vein: recipes for homemade food, instructions for preserving your harvests and recipes for cleaning in a more gentle manner. 

And, I was glad to see my three favorite canning recipes make the list!

Happy New Year,


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Filed under canning, food, green living, Miscellaneous

Stuff I Love ~ My Ecomower


Reel Mower


Ecomower is a relatively new term.  Apparently, I’ve been ecomowing for years without knowing it. 

I bought my Scott’s reel mower a long time ago. Who’da thunk, I was ahead of the band wagon on this one!  I love it.  It’s quiet.  It’s cheap and clean because it doesn’t use any gas.  I don’t have to breathe exhaust fumes or have dirt and dust blown at me.  My mower is good exercise.  I even feel safe letting the kids push it around.  (I wouldn’t let them push around those deathtrap gas mowers.) 

stringy weeds

The bunnies LOVE plantain.

Ok, so it doesn’t do a great job with long weeds like those seedy pods on the plantain or dandelion flowers, but as long as I keep up on the lawn, it does a good job.  Besides, the chickens and bunnies help keep the taller weeds in check; they love plantains and dandelions.  I can’t say that I’d use my push mower if I had a VERY large lawn, but if I had a bigger yard, I’d probably have more gardens.  Or more fruit trees.  Or, a goat.  So, I guess even if I had a VERY large lawn, I would probably still use my ecomower.

This post is a part of Simple Lives Thursday.  Hop on over to see what everyone else is up to this week and find some great ways to simplify your life!


Filed under frugality, gardening, green living


Last week I introduced you to our new doe rabbit, Fiona, and told you about my hare-brained scheme (Yeah, I really just said that.) to start raising meat rabbits.  I can’t raise cattle in town.  At present, I can’t even have a goat, but I can have rabbits because they can be raised in small, urban spaces and are considered pets by most people.  

I can, and will continue to buy sustainably raised meat products from farmers I know and trust, but raising my own meat rabbits is financially a better option for me.    Besides, rabbits are greener; they are very efficient converters of plant biomass into meat.  If you don’t believe me, read this research paper by Wayne Cook from the Warner College of Natural Resources of Colorado State University.  It’s really long and unless you’re versed in the science, probably difficult to read so I’ll just share this statement:

“Calculations for comparisons among herbivores show that rabbits can utilize the herbage biomass potential better than sheep or cattle and sheep are considered more efficient than cattle.  (The data) shows that rabbits are about 2.2 times more efficient than sheep and about 2.8 times more efficient than cattle.”

So, even though I don’t have space for sheep or cattle, I can cleanly, humanely and efficiently produce my own meat.  Rabbit meat production doesn’t require much space or equipment and the start-up costs are minimal.  I’ve done my research.  I know there are breeds of rabbits more suited to meat production based on their size, body shapes and growth patterns.  Fiona, our doe, is a Palomino rabbit.  Palominos are considered a good breed for meat production.

Young buck rabbit.

Our new buck.

This is Nibbler.  Nibbler is a 9-week old buck that we purchased at the fair last Wednesday and picked up yesterday.  The kids selected him.  I like that he looks like a wild rabbit.  My only criteria for rabbit selection other than suitability for meat production was that we couldn’t have any of those zombie-eyed albino rabbits.  I’ll be honest, they creep me out. 

Nibbler is a mutt, but he is a blend of several varieties of rabbits that are of a good size and shape for meat production.  Not all the breeds in his gene-pool were on the “preferred” list for meat production, but most of them were and his parents were of a good size (9-11 pounds).  I’m not raising pet rabbits, so I don’t need pedigrees.  By diversifying my gene pool, I will actually end up with heartier stock not prone to genetic defects common in straight-breed rabbits.

When we started with chickens I didn’t keep excellent records of our costs because saving money on eggs wasn’t my goal.  However, I want to show that rabbits are affordable, sustainable meat that anyone inclined to could raise.  We won’t have any meat from our pair for a while because they are young, but I will keep you updated on the expenses as we move forward in this venture.  Check back soon for a post about rabbit housing!


Filed under food, frugality, green living, meat rabbits


Meet Fiona. 

Palomino Rabbit

Fiona enjoying some time in the yard.

Many of you will look at this post and think, “Aw, how cute!”  That is the natural instinct when one sees a bunny.  They are fluffy and sweet.  Generally, they are gentle and quiet.  If you are a gardener, you may be thinking, “What a pest!” or “Great fertilizer.”  But, as fellow blogger Annette of Sustainable Eats writes: Bunnies are Fluffy and So Much More

Some of you will read this post and decide not to come back.  That is because Fiona is the first step in my venture towards meat independence and another step towards more sustainable food.  I started by shopping at the Farmers’ Market.  I joined a CSA.  I got chickens and planted a garden.  I ordered, paid for and received half a hog from my friend Joan at Olds Farm and signed up for a raw goat milk share. (Mr. Hippie isn’t ready to let me get a goat.  Yet.)   I make yogurt, cheese and bread.  All these things help reduce my carbon footprint and my food miles.  They increase my self-sufficiency and make me feel better about where my food is coming from.

I have a friend who is a vegetarian because she doesn’t feel right eating meat if she can’t kill it herself.  She should feel that way.  We all should.  We come from a long line of hunter-gatherers.  We are designed to hunt and kill our own meat.  Somewhere down the line agriculture was developed.  This was a good thing.   It provided food security and allowed us to settle down and form commmunities.   Homo Sapiens  has been very succesful.  We are intelligent and learn fairly quickly how to do things as efficiently as possible. We learned to work together and trade with our neighbors for the things we didn’t have.  All these innovations have made life easier although I wouldn’t argue that it is simpler.  Most of us never kill an animal for food.  Some of us, mostly children, don’t realize that a hamburger was once a living, breathing entity.  There is such a disconnect between us and our food that we don’t have to think about the unpleasantry of actually killing the animal that provides sustenance.  We even have different names for slaughtered animals than we do for livestock.  Pigs are pork, cows are beef.  Even deer become venison. 

This post is not a rant about the ugliness of industrial agriculture or the wrongs of factory farms.  This is not a post to try and convince you that you should raise your own rabbits or chickens.  I know that not everyone can or will do that.   This post is about me making a conscious choice to know where my food comes from.  When three of our four chickens turned out to be roosters, I needed to make a decision.  I could find them foster homes or I could eat them.  Like my vegetarian friend that won’t eat meat because she can’t kill it, I knew that if I couldn’t eat those roos, I had no point eating chicken at all.  How can I justify walking into a grocery store to buy a plucked, cleaned chicken and eat it when I can’t eat my own?  I’ll admit that I didn’t personally slaughter those chickens.  I wasn’t ready yet but it was a first step which brought me closer to where I am now.

 Bunnies are fluffy and cute but throughout history they have been prized as a source of meat.  According to David Taylor in his Rabbit Handbook, “By medieval times, rabbits were much valued for their meat, skin and fur.  . . .  A fine buck rabbit fetched as high a price as a suckling pig.”  I buy rabbit meat from the Farmers’ Market.  I know where it came from and that it was treated well.  I also know that it is lean, high in protein and very “green”.  Rabbits are very efficient converters of plant material to meat so they put very little strain on our already stressed out food system.  But, rabbit meat is fairly expensive to buy.  It is often considered a gourmet or specialty meat so it demands a high market price.  I can raise my own rabbits for a relatively small investment. 

Fiona is a Palomino rabbit, a variety recommended for meat production.  Fiona will probably never be eaten but she is breeding stock for future rabbit meat.  Fiona is not old enough yet to sart breeding so this venture is on hold until then, but the foundation is in place.  Until then, I do have another source of fertilizer for my ever-expanding garden.  We went to the fair yesterday and picked out a young buck.  Nibbler is a “mutt” but has nice coloring, a good shape and will grow to a good size for a meat rabbit.  We’ll pick him up on Sunday, so you can meet him soon.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday blog hop.  Hop on over and check out what everyone is doing.


Filed under food, gardening, green living

Stuff I Love

Back in April I wrote a post called “Stuff I Love” after being inspired by my friend.  I had intended for it to become a sort of regular feature.  I even had a few things in mind to write about.  And then. . .

The “Hiatus”.

So, now that I am back I have a lot of catchin’ up to do.  I still plan to write about those other things I love, but today I have a new love to share with you. 

As part of my “live simpler, get back you your roots” life plan, I have been scheming for the addition of a clothesline.  Here are the pros:

  1. Clotheslines are the ultimate environmentally-friendly laundry solution. 
    No fossil fuels are used to create the power necessary to run a clothesline. 
  2. Clotheslines are a miser’s dream.
    No fossil fuel consumption = FREE to run. 


Now for the cons:

  1. Hubby does all the laundry. 
    Hubby refuses to use a clothesline.
  2. Hubby doesn’t like his underwear publicly displayed. 
    I wanted the clothesline in the front yard near the exit nearest the laundry room.
  3. Clotheslines can create stiff towels even with the use of my homemade fabric softener.
  4. Clotheslines do not remove the lint (or dog hair) from your laundry. 
    My dog creates a lot of hair.
  5. Clotheslines are subject to the whim of Mother Nature.
    Cool cloudy days result in long drying times.
  6. Clotheslines don’t work in the rain.

See what I’m up against?  The con list is definitely longer than the pro list.  If I wanted a clothesline, some serious action needed to be taken.

OR . . .

I could just wait for the dryer to break down in the middle of a cycle with another load of wash waiting in the wings.

I opted for the latter.

Also helpful was the fact that one of my students gave me a $25 Lowe’s gift card as a teacher gift at the end of the year.

New Clothesline

My new dryer. I think I shall call it "Olan" in honor of the student who gifted me the Lowe's card.


Here is the latest and greatest thing I love.  This umbrella-style clothes line folds down for storage and holds up to three loads of laundry!  I love it and have done lots of laundry since we brought it home.  I especially love how the sheets feel after drying on the line.

Now, how do I combat the cons?  Well, I can’t control Mother Nature, but I can hang the laundry early if it is a cool or cloudy day because I am home for the summer.  If it rains I can always use the dryer.  (Yes, hubby replaced the dryer.)

Stiff and/or hairy items can be placed in the new dryer to tumble without heat for a few minutes until they are less stiff or hairy.

The clothesline is in the back yard which means I have to carry it a little bit longer, but nobody can see our underwear.  Also useful is the multi-line design which allows for personal items to be hidden in the center of the rack by larger items on the outside lines.

Hubby doesn’t use it.  I can’t overcome that.  If I want my things dried on my line cheaply and greenly, I will have to do the laundry (at least the drying) myself.


Filed under frugality, green living