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Get Crunchier in 2014

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

As the years pass, my husband and I try to add more and more and more environmentally sound and healthy practices to our lives.  We're not where we want to be yet, but when we look back on our ten years together, we've incorporated a lot of great new habits.


This is a place to set goals, celebrate successes, ask questions and seek support.


What do you want to try?  How can you be crunchier in 2014?

post #2 of 26
Thread Starter 

And I'll start!


Recent successes:

  • We've started bringing our own containers to buy bulk foods at the store
  • I just made my first batch of yogurt yesterday


What I want to try:

  • My husband was helping my dad clean out my grandparents house, and brought home 12 VINTAGE blue Ball mason jars.  They are beautiful, and we've always wanted to learn how to can.  Now seems like the time.  He wants to make some pickled things, including beets.  We've started looking at recipes, so hopefully I'll have something to report soon.
post #3 of 26

I'll join you! We use to do something similar called the "Green Living Challenge" here a few years back but it seems to have phased out. I actually messaged the member that had been starting our month threads a week or so again about starting back up but then realized she hasn't been here in a while and I just forgot about it. 


Anyways I've been up and down the crunchy chart for years now but need to start back over now so I'm in! My first step is replacing our reusable items. The list of things wanted/needed adds up quick though so instead I've decided to purchase a serger to make the items myself. This has been added for this month's budget so I'll hopefully purchase the serger and supplies soon.


Also on the list: kombucha & kefir water! I want to cut out unhealthy drinks and hope that I can get these down and we'll like them. Gotta get supplies for this too. Also on this month's list!

post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks for joining me, @crazyms


I have very, very rudimentary sewing skills, but I can do some easy things.  I would go to a friend's house when I needed to stitch something, but recently was gifted a sewing machine from a friend at work.  That's something I'd also like to take on soon.  If I get better, a serger might a good idea.

post #5 of 26

Sewing really is just a practice thing. Once you get the hang of it it really isn't bad. The biggest thing is practice. The serger is really only an extra to make a nicer finish but its nice to have if you can. Just practice and you'll be an ol' pro at sewing in no time :)

post #6 of 26
More dumpster diving!
post #7 of 26

We're pretty green but there's always room for improvement!


Our thing this year we're focusing on is* a huge garden to sustain us through the season and grow enough for me to can to last us the winter too.

post #8 of 26
I have been gradually adding to my crunchy repetoire. Next up is starting our first veggie garden and mastering composting. Love the thought of focusing on a few projects at a time as I can try to take on everything at once and get overwhelmed.
post #9 of 26
Originally Posted by FarmerMomma View Post

More dumpster diving!


Same for us. We use to dumpster a lot before having DS and have recently started again. Also working on buying more stuff locally. And trying to make more "cosmetics" myself (have just started to make toothpaste! yay!)

post #10 of 26
Cool. Toothpaste.

We like to dumpster dive to feed our animals treats.
post #11 of 26

I'm planning a much bigger garden this year and I'm trying to add to the list of homemade products I use, cleaning products, bath & body products, etc.

post #12 of 26
Thread Starter 

So, I made my yogurt, and it tasted pretty good, but it had some papery chunks in it.  Was that skin from when the milk was heating and then cooling?  Should I skim that off before I leave it to culture?


YES to home beauty products.  My oldest DD has eczema, and her face is a mess this winter.  We need something that we feel comfortable putting on her all the time.  Petroleum Jelly works really well, but I don't want to put that on her three times a day.  We bought some beeswax a few months ago to make in to a cream with olive oil, but just haven't gotten around to doing it.

post #13 of 26
Yay Gooseberry! Homemade yogurt, yum!
post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 

OK, so I made a new batch of yogurt this week, and so far, no papery bits.  I did skim off the skin that developed on the heating milk, so maybe that was it.  I've been culturing my yogurt in a cooler with jars of hot water in it, and like that technique.  I'll admit that I haven't payed a whole lot of attention to how long I actually let it sit in the cooler.  I started it too late in the day both times, and ended up leaving it in there overnight, even though it probably should have come out earlier.


Any yogurt tips out there?  This batch tastes good, but I chalk that up to luck, not technique.

post #15 of 26
Hello everybody! I was so excited to see this thread here, thanks for starting it @Gooseberry!

My man and I just moved to St. Helens, Oregon all the way from Austin, Texas because our goal is to become as self sustainable (& healthy and environmentally friendly) as possible, step by step.. We really want to buy land in Southern Oregon as soon as possible, but for now we are living close to Portland while we save up. We are renting a cheap house out here in the mountains by Columbia River, and we intend to grow a small vegetable and herb garden, as well as keep chickens while we are here. We have grown blue oyster mushrooms before so we will probably try growing mushrooms here, for a free source of protein. We are just settling in, but I can't wait to have our little house running haha..
I've recently replaced all of our cleaners and soaps with Dr. Bronners magic soap, which works well for everything and doesn't make me paranoid about toxins. In the shower we use a cedar/citrus soap though, it's not as harsh as the Castile. I've been curious about how to make my own soaps, I hope to experiment with that.
I just inherited a singer sewing machine so I'm excited to start sewing (its in my blood, all of my grandmothers were excellent seamstresses).
Since my salary covers our needs and I work from home, Joel will be spending his time at home with the garden and chickens so we can cut costs on food, instead of working.. This way we can use less gasoline. We are able to walk or bike to anything in town, so we are trying to use the vehicle as little as possible, since I feel awful about supporting cracking by driving anywhere.

I am soooo happy to be in Oregon, though! I really do feel like more people are working toward being environmentally conscious here than where I was from.. To be fair, it never rains in Austin Texas so the environment there isn't as naturally lush and enticing.. But still smile.gif

I'm impressed you're making yogurt! I was wondering the other day abut that process.. Actually, about every process from start to finish having to do with dairy.. I probably need to find a reference on that. We'd really like to have a small farm one day, and know how to do everything from spinning thread to making butter and yogurt to keeping bees.. Haha whatever we have time to master, but one step at a time...
post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 

Welcome to Oregon @KatelynRose!  My grandparents grew up in St. Helens.


The yogurt making is pretty quickly becoming part of the routine.  I make about a quart a week right now, but might have to start making a mid-week batch as well.  I use a cooler with jars of hot water in it to keep the yogurt warm while it's culturing.


I made almond milk the other day, which was very easy, but I don't think I'll keep doing that.  DD1 has eczema, and I'm considering taking dairy out of her diet to see if it would help.  I was hoping she'd like the almond milk as a replacement, but she wasn't thrilled with it.  If anyone likes almond milk, it was super easy.  I'm not sure if it's cost effective, however.  I didn't get around to tallying it up.


We own chickens, but our two girls (one died last spring) don't lay any more, so they're just pets.  We want to add to the flock, and I promised DD2 a duck or two as well.

post #17 of 26
Thanks for the welcome! Aww that makes this town seem even more adorable.. As we were walking around the town the other day I was thinking how it reminds me of the small town back home that my own grandparents met in. It is very low-income here, I think, but that suits us well as we don't like having a lot of money- we've found we are always provided with what we actually need if we aren't worried about making money at our own or at others expense. The amount of natural forestland and hiking trails around here is awesome.. There are so many!
We also drove out to Multomah Falls a few weeks ago.. It truly did seem like the tenth wonder of the world! It was stunning, even in the cold rain after we trudged over snow along the trails up to it. We can't wait to go back in better weather.

We really like coconut milk smile.gif you might try that.. And it's easier to find non GMO, organic coconut milk than almond milk, I've found.. It's still not creamy of course, but it quenches your thirst in a way that makes you crave more, and it is thicker than almond milk so more satisfying in cereals.. Cutting dairy definitely helps my allergies and eczema.. I'm a weakling for cheese though. I'm curious about how to make cheese, eventually. Actually.. I'm really curious about the bacteria used to make different dairy products.. I need to research it I suppose, I'm very behind on my knowedge.

We can't wait to get chickens!.. However, I can't seem to find an answer online as to whether or not we are allowed to have a rooster.. Baçk in Austin, this was a no no, so I'm guessing it might be here as well. Not that I even think we would want one, I'm just curious.. It might be cool. Ducks are adorable! You're making me want to add a few ducks into the mix.. wink1.gif I had a friend back home who raised ducks and chickens side by side. We need to get a coop built and then we can order some chickens..what breed are yours? Somewhere in one of these boxes I haven't unpacked yet there is a book all about chicken keeping, and they compare each breed so you can decide which is best for your needs.
Do you know when people start planting up here? We've been trying to decode when to start our garden and what we need to plant.. Well not decide, but brainstorm.. We considered getting a 2014 almanac for the area.. Oh boy we are SUCH beginners! But it's exciting.. We're on our way..!!
post #18 of 26

I am wanting to make more healthy, homemade foods and less processed foods and eat out less.  I read a lot about nutrition and health, yet haven't been putting it to good use.  I have started drinking lots more water and less sugary drinks which is also part of what I need to be doing. We have a small farmer's that I love getting fresh veggies, but it would be really wonderful if I can get it together enough to do my own garden this summer!!

post #19 of 26
I just finished reading "real food for mother and baby" by Nina Planck, so I've become even more strict about keeping our diet healthy-- away from processed, unnatural foods, sticking to traditional foods.. We've been watching our health improve radically, and we've had more energy for hiking and exercising. Also we save a lot of money because I plan our meals strategically so that we have leftovers for a few days but we still have a variety of foods, and I make sure I plan the list so that the ingredients sort of go together and we don't buy more than we need or let things spoil. We need to look into what to plant in the garden soon, and put in good soil and get that thing going!! We're doing a small garden near the house, and I'd really like to get a couple of chickens, because we eat so many eggs and I like them fresh. We get them from our landlord occasionally for cheap, but the amount he has available for us to purchase doesn't meet our egg needs haha we eat a lot of them.
I looked into it and I'd really like to get australorps or Wyandottes (for chickens).. They are good at foraging for their own food, so they'd have plenty to eat in our backyard if we inky had a few, and they are dependable layers of big brown eggs.. Docile and cold hardy.. I just have to find a way to buy the breeds I want!!

I'm trying to rid the house of paper products but I need more rags so I'm going to cut up one of our spare beach towels and hem each side with the sewing machine for some extra cleaning rags. I need to get some sort of all natural scrubbing brush for scrubbing dishes.. We are still using the disposable sponges and making trash bothers me gahhh I'm trying to stop making so much of it! (I'm sorry world! treehugger.gif )

Gooseberry- what kind of milk do you use to make your yogurt? Where do you get it from?
post #20 of 26
I find I'm good with cloth rags when I have a diaper pail going anyways. Also good for puppy. When I don't it's hard to use enough or wash with clothes. Any ideas?
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