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Reposted from Muskegon Critic by Joieau

It's been a busy week.

Crazy busy. That's a good thing. I shouldn't complain.

But tonight I'm settling down to preserving some veggies I should have preserved days ago. Got some bell peppers I'm slicing up and freezing. And some tomatoes it's high time to can.

This evening I made some of that home made laundry detergent that's been all over the hippyish, urban farming blogs and posts.

Do not mock me. It's cheap!

And...great for the earth.

But mostly, it's cheap. For about $2 you can make up a ginormous 5 gallon batch of very good, very effective laundry detergent.

It works like this:

1. Shred some Fels Naptha soap, or some castille soap.
2. Little bits at a time dissolve it into a half pan of boiling water. What size? Doesn't matter...something regular sized.
3. Fill a 5 gallon bucket (can be found at Menards or Home Depot) with about 4.5 gallons of HOT water.
4. Pour 1 cup of Borax into the 5 gallon container.
5. Pour 1 cup of Arm and Hammer Super washing soda detergent booster...or something like that.
6. Pour in the dissolved soap.
7. Mix it. Mix it really, really good.
8. Fill containers with the stuff: milk jugs, old detergent bottles, whatever ya got.

NOTE: It's going to gel in a couple of hours after mixing it up. So I like to pour it into containers before it does. Makes the transfer a lot easier. Less messy.

Anyway, the detergent works great. It's about 45 cents per gallon. Use a half cup to a cup per load.


Sat Sep 17, 2011 at 09:02 AM PDT

Canning Tomatoes

by la motocycliste

If you were lucky, and got a bountiful tomato crop this year, you will want to preserve your harvest.

Canning is a food process that was invented during the Napoleonic Wars, and mushroomed in popularity afterwards. Tomatoes are probably the most commonly home canned food. It is really nice, when it is pouring freezing rain outside, to reach into the pantry for a bag of pasta and the tomato sauce you canned the previous summer. You smell the tomato sauce and for a moment it is August again.

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Reposted from cordgrass by cordgrass

I am pleased with myself; I am putting my money where my mouth is with zero waste.  For a year now I have been planning on getting a larger bed, and even though I'm watching every penny and worried about my job future, the time finally came.  As with everything zero waste, the three keys are investing some time for research, investing some time in the process, and letting go of fear of new things.

Furniture is one of the most energy-intensive purchases a person makes.  Of course buying a house is the most important.  From a climate change perspective, by far the most important part of home purchase is location, location, location.  Much better to buy where public transportation and/or short commute distances are possible--usually urban is best.  Second on the list is not building a new home.  Generally speaking it's much greener to buy an existing home than building from the ground up, even if green renovations aren't done.  Building is a hugely energy intensive, resource-depleting process, and almost always an existing home will ultimately be greener than building new, even if the new is state-of-the art techno green.  Earthships are the wonderful, economical, and zero-waste exception.  

The purchase second in importance from a green point of view is a car.  From a strictly zero waste point of view it is best to drive a car into the ground before buying another, and better to buy used than new.  But from a green standpoint, I believe it is important to help support new hybrid and plug-in technology, so in this one case I think it is better to buy new to help innovative green car manufacturers thrive.  That's why I bought a new Prius when my old beater caught fire and died as I was driving down the highway (and good luck buying a used Prius).  

Third, of course is major appliances, particularly the refrigerator.  I do think the green movement has done a good job getting the word out on this one.  Hopefully most people are aware how important buying a green refrigerator is for both saving the planet and saving money on their electricity bill.  

I would say the fourth most important major purchase when it comes to zero waste and fighting climate change is furniture.  Certainly one's day-to-day purchases have a larger impact over time, particularly one's meat purchases, but I don't think most people realize just how much energy is consumed and resources wasted with furniture.  Which brings me back to my recent bed-buying adventures.

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Reposted from Keith930 by Ezekial 23 20

I've had gardens before.  Some have even been spectacular.  Others...ehhh...just average.  To quote an old Salsa song, however, I've always contended that "de acuerdo a la semilla, asi seran los frutos que cosecheras."  That is to say...according to what you plant, so shall you harvest.  More or less.

So...I planted sweet corn.  And beans and tomatoes.  Those, I knew, would be eaten.  I planted some beets, because I'm one of those crazy people who actually love both the way they taste and the way they smell when you cook them.  Pure earth.  I planted potatoes, and cucumbers, zucchini and collards, acorn squash...arugula and onions.

I figured what the hell...I have the space, I have the knack...I get full sun.  It will put some fresh produce on the table, in the freezer and in a few canning jars.

It is doing most of those things, but the summer isn't yet over.  The harvest, at least here in the Northwest, has only been coming on for the past 4 weeks.  The tomatoes are still sitting there on the vines, playing hard to get.  "Maybe I will...maybe I won't."  Tomatoes are the most...excuse me for saying so...female of all the garden crops.  You think you know what you're doing...but you aren't really sure until you get a good crop of fruit.  And sometimes you get a great crop, and other times you get nada...and you swear to yourself..."what did I do any differently?"

But I digress.

What I've found with this garden, this that perhaps the best thing I have reaped so far from something I didn't plant, and didn't anticipate.  As much produce as it has provided so far, it has provided that much and more in terms of my own mental health.  It has soothed me and calmed my spirits, even as it feeds me.  

I don't think I'll ever NOT have a garden again, no matter what is going on in the economy.  

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Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 06:49 AM PDT

Living Simply: Zero Waste day-to-day

by cordgrass

This really is more of a diary diary, my own mundane experience with living the zero waste lifestyle as best I can.  I am late in writing this week; I've been trying hard to find community here in Boston and having fun going out.  My eye-opener this week happened last trash day.  I was in a hurry on Monday morning to get to work, so I took my usual quarter bag of trash out of the can, tied it shut and put it out front on the sidewalk, instead of dragging a whole empty trash can up from the side of the house.  Usually this is not a problem because I live in a duplex and my upstairs neighbors generate lots of trash.  This week, though, they must have been on vacation, because the trash collectors came and went and my lone mostly empty kitchen trash bag stayed there on the sidewalk.  I put it in the trash can at the side of the house and will put it out again, with can, this Monday.

I was surprised by my reaction--a trace feeling of shame at being different.  This, of course, is very silly.  It's not that the trash collectors judged me in any way, they probably just didn't see my trash, being so small.  I rapidly ran through the things I throw out.  At this point it's mostly just food packaging from the store (plastic bags and wrap), dental floss, bits of non-compostable food (with grease and/or meat), and the occasional durable broken item or worn out clothes not suitable for rags.  I was ruffled by how strong the feeling of discomfort with non-conformity hit me.

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Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 06:17 PM PDT

Tasty Bits v1.21

by ninkasi23

Reposted from Environmental Foodies by ninkasi23

Welcome once again for another week's round-up of eco-foodie news, tips, links & recipes. Each week I glean tasty bits from the various blogs & sites I follow outside of the Kos-verse and bring them together here for your perusal. If you have a good tasty bit to share let us know about it in the comments!

And here is this week's culinary curiosity!
What is this?

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Reposted from erratic by puzzled

I've been living frugally for almost a decade now, grew up in a family that was frugal even when we lived in what I now understand to be upper middle class. That was passed down from my grandparents on both sides, who were children during the hard times between WW1 and WW2, and parents during WW2, on opposite sides of the war.

My mom's family is from Alberta, and I'm just 3 generations back from farmers on that side: my grandmother grew up on a farm, and remembers her mother, smeared with blood and feathers, telling her never to learn how to clean a chicken, or she'd be cleaning chickens for the rest of her life.

My dad's family is from Vienna, Austria, and our farming roots go at least another generation back, to what's now Czechia, and was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire. During the war and after, the family would visit and summer in a rural village, working for their board. It was hard to get fresh, good food in the city, and a much nicer life in the country, so nice that one of my aunts married a local boy and lives there still, a grandmother.

I could go on, but my intended point is that I was raised frugal but urban post-agricultural, a city boy, and want to share/swap some cheap feast recipes.

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Reposted from Ezekial 23 20 by Ezekial 23 20

Given that we have Garden Blogging (ala Saturday Morning), and groups for Living Simply and Urban Homesteading onsite now, I decided to share my experiences with growing and harvesting a low maintenance, small footprint, versatile and tasty food - Garlic.  A lot of people are hesitant about their abilities to grow anything, but are feeling pinched in the pocketbook and dubious about buying foods imported from third world conditions.  Below the fleur de kos, I'll expand upon my experiences with selecting a type of garlic, buying the starter cloves, preparing them, planting them, tending them, and harvesting them.  I've also kicked in some links to other diarists' work onsite about garlic.

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Sat Jul 23, 2011 at 11:50 AM PDT

Tasty Bits v1.20

by ninkasi23

Reposted from Environmental Foodies by ninkasi23

Welcome once again for another week's round-up of eco-foodie news, tips, links & recipes. Each week I glean tasty bits from the various blogs & sites I follow outside of the Kos-verse and bring them together here for your perusal. If you have a good tasty bit to share let us know about it in the comments!

And your weekly "what is this?" for your guessing pleasure:

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Wed Jul 20, 2011 at 12:34 PM PDT

Living Simply: Zero Waste and reality

by cordgrass

I know this was already mentioned in the Hadley cell diary on the Texas drought, but I want to push it front and center.  

"24 Hours of Reality will focus the world’s attention on the full truth, scope, scale and impact of the climate crisis. To remove the doubt. Reveal the deniers. And catalyze urgency around an issue that affects every one of us."

    -Al Gore, Chairman of the Climate Reality Project

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Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 03:38 PM PDT

Tasty Bits v1.19

by ninkasi23

Reposted from Environmental Foodies by ninkasi23

Welcome once again for another week's round-up of eco-foodie news, tips, links & recipes.  I hope you all had a good holiday weekend (if you're in the US)! Each week I glean tasty bits from the various blogs & sites I follow outside of the Kos-verse and bring them together here for your perusal. If you have a good tasty bit to share let us know about it in the comments!

This week's "What is This?" is a clever one that I have actually used:

And hint: it is related to one of the tasty bits below;)

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I'm usually more focused on zero waste and recycling nitty gritty in this diary series, but today I'd like to write about the bigger picture.  It's strange how zero waste threads through almost everything in my life.  I think it's more of an overarching mindset in how I see the world.

The Saturday before last I received a mild concussion.  I did not go to the hospital, and that was partly because I don't trust doctors very much and partly because I was worried it would cause the group health insurance rate to go up at my very small company and I didn't want the increase taken out of our paychecks.  I'm handy with herbals, being a witch, so I did what I could for myself.  One thing I found after googling was that it was fine to sleep after a concussion as long as someone woke up and checked the person every couple hours.  I did not have a person available to me, and instead stayed awake for a good thirty hours.  Wanting to stay alert and mostly still, I spent much of the time online, surfing and posting.  Usually I enjoy being online very much, but this time when it was my only option, I realized how important it is to have real local people in one's life, whether they are friends or merely acquaintances.

I thought a lot about what involved me with other people face to face, and how important even trivial human interaction is for feeling connected to humanity.  And I realized that my quest for zero waste, from the mundane to the profound, was the right path to get connected back to my local community.

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