Homemade Granola Bars!

Part of this zero waste journey is learning how to MAKE things instead of buying them packaged. I really wanted to start making my own granola bars, because most often, they are the easiest thing to grab and go when we're off to school early in the morning. (Only a few more days of that though! We graduate May 5th!) I have zero experience when it comes to "granola bar making", so I was expecting this first batch to be somewhat experimental, however, I think they turned out great! My husband and puppy do too. =) 

Rice Cereal, Rolled Oats, and Crasins.
My husband pouring the mixture into the pan!
Almost done!
YUM! They were SO good!
What is your favorite granola bar recipe? I'd love for you to share! =)


A Dress Made by ME!

In 7th grade I took my very first sewing class from a woman named Mrs. O. I learned a lot from her - enough to get me this far at least. =) We learned to hand stitch and use the machines. Our big project was to make "pillow letters" that spelled our names. I remember that I picked a blue and yellow fabric with cows jumping over the moon... WHAT was I thinking??? Haha. Although I knew the basics of sewing pretty well, I wanted to know more. 

This semester of college (my last!) I needed to fill in some extra units, so I took the opportunity to join an Apparel Construction class! I'm so glad I did, because I have learned so much more than I knew before! The requirement of the class is to construct two garments - one knit and one woven. This maxi dress is my knit and I LOVE it! 

Cutting out the pieces!

Trying on the bodice and hoping it will fit!

I finished!

I LOVE that this dress has pockets!

Ready to be worn! Now the weather
just needs to warm up!

I have started work on my second garment - a high/low dress in a mustard yellow printed fabric! Wish me luck, because this one is a bit more difficult!



Making a List... Checking it Twice!

I have always been a visual person and I LOVE to make lists. For me, seeing things on paper (or computer screen) makes me feel organized and I am more likely to get things accomplished. This life change to zero waste has thrown off our normal way of doing things. We used to be able to go out and buy whatever we wanted/needed without thinking about it, but now we are choosing to be conscious about what we are putting in our shopping cart. After a couple of successful, but somewhat stressful and time consuming shopping trips, I decided to put together a list of the things we buy on a regular basis, categorizing them into how we will buy them.

*Bulk & Unpackaged items are a combination of things that will be bought in the bulk and deli sections of the store and some items, such as eggs, will need to be purchased at the farmers market in order to come unpackaged.

*Homemade items are just that - homemade from scratch!

*Glass (or) Cardboard items are things that we use often, but cannot make. I will stick to only buying these things in glass. Baking soda (which I use for cleaning) comes in cardboard.

*Questionable items are things that I might not need, but want, and don't know how to find unpackaged. I am open to help and advice!

Soy Milk - I have thought about making, but it intimidates me and might be expensive. (We do not drink regular milk) 

Half & Half - I use this in my coffee every day and I don't like coffee black. What should I do???
Butter - I can only find this packaged. I recycle the box, clean the wrappers, and compost them (as long as they are not the waxy paper).
Yeast - I need this for baking bread. Does it only come in packets???
Dog Food - Unless we make all of Olives food, which would be crazy expensive, we have to buy this packaged. I do make her treats from scratch, though!
Toilet Paper - This is our exception... enough said. However, I am looking for TP wrapped in paper instead of plastic.

I hope this visual helped you to see how we are going about this zero waste challenge. I know it helped me! Again, I would love any tips or advice that you might have! 



Zero Waste: Homemade Ice Cream!

The past couple of weeks, I have been thinking about the processed and packaged foods that I can live without... and ice cream is not one of them! This meant that I needed an alternative, and so far, this one has done the job really well! It has the exact same texture as store bought ice cream, is equally as tasty, is probably a million times healthier, and is ZERO WASTE! 

So, here's how:

Whether you are interested in going zero waste or not, I hope you'll give this homemade "ice cream" a try! I'd love to know what you think!


A New "R"

Journey to Zero Waste: Tip 3

Most of us have heard of "the 3 R's" - Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, BUT Bea Johnson, the woman who has been the inspiration for my zero waste journey, has come up with a new "R" to add to the mix. 


Before allowing ourselves to get into the position where we need to reduce, the first step is to refuse. This change was going to be hard for me - or so I thought. Being an Interior Design student, I am naturally drawn to shopping for my home. I love stores like Target, HomeGoods, Pottery Barn, and Crate & Barrel, just to name a few, and have filled my home with things that I don't need. You know... those things that you could possibly use one day, even though you haven't used them in months, maybe longer, so you hold on to them? From now on, I will begin to refuse, but right now, I needed to reduce

This was only one pile (we had a few) of "stuff" that we got rid of. Some we donated, some we just threw away. My husband had a harder time than me, letting stuff go, but when we both saw the results, we knew it was well worth it! 

For now, most of our focus has been on our kitchen, since we have discovered that the majority of our waste comes from our food. We now have a couple of empty shelves and an empty drawer! That's a HUGE improvement for us! Our countertops are also a lot less cluttered and we plan to keep them this way!

We are already working on "reducing" our closet (We have a big stack of clothes to give away) and I have begun the tedious process of going through the drawers of our storage pieces in our living room. SO MANY PAPERS/JUNK/RANDOM THINGS? How did they all get there? I am realizing now, though, that living in a space with less gives me more satisfaction than shopping, shopping, and shopping for more. *Bonus: Refusing is not only good for the environment and your home, it is also good for your wallet! You know I'm always up for that!

I encourage you to really think about the things that are cluttering up your home and your life and reduce if needed, because once you've done that, refusing is a lot easier!
Good luck!



Bring Your Own Bags!

Journey to Zero Waste: Tip #2

Once my husband and I had made the decision to reduce our waste (hopefully to the point of almost none!) I knew what I had to do - sew some cloth bags for our bulk grocery shopping! Lucky for me, I love to sew. However, if you aren’t as excited as I am about making your own bags, there are many affordable options out there! (*Or you could ask me to make some for you...? Just a thought!) 

All I know is that THIS HAS GOT TO STOP!

As I mentioned above, shopping "zero-waste-style" means shopping in bulk. There will be no more cereal boxes, cracker boxes, condiment containers, bags of rice, bags of beans, vegetables packaged in plastic, canned items, bread bagged in plastic... my list could go on and on. We are still in the process of sorting through what we currently have - deciding what to throw away and what to finish off. At this point you might be wondering how we are going to live a so-called normal life this way, but the best part is that buying in bulk doesn’t mean going without. Here are a few items that we have already found in bulk:
  • Flour
  • Sugar 
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Pasta
  • Oats
  • Granola
  • Cereal
  • Nuts
  • Oil (Olive, canola, & more)
  • Honey
  • Peanut Butter
  • Dried Fruits (Dried cranberries are my favorite!) 
  • Trail Mixes
  • Spices
  • Coffee!
  • ...even Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzels! 
Oh, yeah, I think we can do this. =)

There is something about scooping out your own food, into your own bags - really seeing what you're getting- that makes you feel more connected to it. It is also a breath of fresh air to not see logos and brand names EVERYWHERE! Basically, I am really enjoying this change so far! 

My husband and I have even WALKED to a nearby Organic Co. Op. ,
instead of driving, two weeks in a row! We are so proud of ourselves. =) 

I hope that this journey still seems achievable - because it is!  Feel free to ask me questions along the way!


A Change for the Better: 7

Zero Waste.

To state it bluntly - this is a BIG one. 
Through this “Change for the Better” series, I have been able to adjust slightly, learn a new way of doing something, and then continue living my life normally. Example: Changing the type of laundry detergent I use doesn’t alter the way I live my life. However, this one does - big time. 
Before any of you begin to roll your eyes and think to yourself that this is a complete waste of time and effort, take a moment to open your mind and reflect on ways (even if they’re small) that you can apply this concept to your home. Baby steps - that’s all I’m asking. =) 
Zero Waste will probably become a category all it’s own on this blog - there is just too much to share in one post. Plus, I want to present this idea in a way that makes it all seem doable, because it IS! These entries will map my quest to reach zero waste (or very very little waste). I am so excited for this journey and can feel my creative juices already flowing! I am excited to learn a new way of living - living with less and using all that I have. (The average household only uses 20% of it’s “stuff.” The other 80% just sits around untouched.) 
Okay, enough blabbing... here is change #1.

(Be sure your jug is BPA free!)

I feel like the first - and most basic - tip that I can give about reducing waste is to STOP using disposable plastic water bottles and switch to a reusable one. I started doing this a few months ago, not to reduce waste, but because of the harms of plastic in general. Even if you don’t care about your waste, you should care about your health, so maybe that can be a motivation? My husband and I have found this change to be a very easy one. We have a 5 gallon jug that we refill about every 2-3 weeks (for only $1.25!), a water dispenser in our fridge, and reusable glass water bottles. The best part - there is no need to go out and spend a ton of money on a fancy reusable water bottle. Simply treat yourself to a lemonade (in glass!), peel off the sticker, and viola!

I hope you, too, choose to take on this water challenge! I'd love to hear from you if you do!