What I Ate 2/20/19

This was a pretty typical of eating for me. And it was a pretty typical day for documenting in that it started off strong, but kinda petered off.

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Everyday, always, forever starts off with coffee.

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But I’ve also been smitten with ginger tea. So simple, so good! Usually this is just ginger slices in hot water. Sometimes I add honey.

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For breakfast/lunch/first meal of the day I had a salad with romaine, homemade crunchy croutons, Quorn chicken nuggets, and store bought caesar dressing. And lots of fresh ground black pepper!
Fake chicken doesn’t always agree with me, but a chicken caesar salad is one of my all time favorite meals and I was craving it! I love getting this brand and type bc it comes only in cardboard (no plastic!) and I can heat just a few nuggs up at a time, so there is less waste. Store bought dressing is one things I want to give up and start making myself, but I haven’t motivated to do it quite yet.

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On this day I went grocery shopping and couldn’t resist snacking on some pistachios in the car. We go on various nut kicks and pistachios have been a hot for a while now. I usually by them in a plastic bag, unfortunately. But we take that bag to be recycled at some of our local shops.

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Grocery shopping usually leads to unhealthy snacking for me! I have been digging these self-serve mochi lately. No plastic!

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My husband prefers the self-serve donuts. If they are around, I’ll take a bite.

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As usual, my dinner pics are a little lacking! We had one of our favorite vegan meals this night: tofu, rice, broccoli, peanuts, sesame seeds, and chili garlic sauce. I wish this meal were a little more zero waste, but the tofu and chili garlic sauce only come in plastic near us.

On many nights, I would also eat something sweet at the end of my meals, but since I snacked on so many sweets today I didn’t feel like eating anything else sweet.

I was happy to eat a lot of my favorite foods today but this could have easily been a vegan day of eating, as well. I find myself trying to assess my meals and see where they can become more vegan and more sustainable.

What did you eat today?

6 Month of Zero Waste: Trash Audit Review

In January, I wrote about some things to do each month leading up to Plastic Free July. Are you following along?

Last month, we separated and audited our trash. What did you learn? Here are some questions to ask your self:
How much was trash?
How much was food waste?
How much of your trash was recyclable?
What part of each contained plastic?

Now that you know what your trash really looks like, where can you reduce it?
Go ahead and answer these in the comments below so we can share in your observations!!

You may want to keep separating and auditing your trash for another month, or for several month to see how your waste changes now that you are more mindful of what you throw away.

Now that we are making our way to mid February it’s time to start decluttering things, if you haven’t already. All the things. The decluttering craze is upon us so you can find a lot of resources and ideas out there. I suggest paying special attention to duplicates, paper clutter, clothing, as well as little or never used items and appliances. The goal here is to get rid of lots, but also to organize what’s left.

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Do as much as you can do until we talk again!

Chagrin Valley Soap And Salve Company Review

Disclaimer: My product reviews are completely unsponsored and unsolicited. The opinions are my own from my own experiences.

Last year, while spending time in Cleveland, I came across the Chagrin Valley Soap shop. I brought home one of their shampoo bars and very much enjoyed it! Since then, I’ve tried several different shampoo bars but none were as nice. Last month, I ordered a few more bars from them.

From start to finish, I had a great experience!
I chose the Citrus Chamomile Shampoo Bar, the Citrus Soapnuts Shampoo Bar, and the Cocoa Butter Hair Balm. Ordering from the site is very easy, and shipping was shockingly fast.

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I was so pleased to see that all the packaging was plastic free! One never knows what to expect with packaging, and it made me thankful to that I didn’t have to worry. The first bar that we opened was the citrus chamomile and so far we love it. We’ve used the hair balm a few times, and it’s also quite nice. The soap bars are large and judging from the one I got over the Summer, it will last a long time.

I look forward to using these products more. The plastic free packaging pretty much guarantees I’ll be purchasing from Chagrin Valley Soap again. I can definitely recommend these soaps if you’re looking for a reliable shampoo bar!

Zero Waste Fail for Xmas

Each year at my work we have a holiday party. For 2017 I implemented ditching plastic straws at work, moving to paper straws and only giving them out upon request. At the holidays I thought it would be fitting to give everyone on staff a metal straw.

To keep the tradition of zero waste gifts up in 2018 I decided to get everyone some bamboo utensils. I found some super cute little sporks. I tried to make sure they were sustainably made, a good company, the right fit for what I wanted to convey with the gift. I felt at least mostly satisfied and made my purchase. 50 bamboo sporks.

And then they arrived.

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Yes, every single one of the 50 sustainable zero waste-use items I had bought was wrapped in it’s own plastic bag, and each 10 in turn were wrapped in another plastic bag.

The horror.

The absolute horror of it when I opened the mailer (also plastic, BTW). Even though I tried to be as zero waste as possible I was wasn’t at all. But it happens. You can only do your best, and work with what you have.

As I unwrapped every single spork, I thought about how my coworkers would like them and how it might save them from using disposable utensils. I thought about how more people know about or ask questions about zero waste bc they work with me. And I thought about how I would have to drop all these tiny plastic bags off at recycling.

Even though the was a fail, I will learn from it. What fail have you had recently?

Goals, Habits, Routines

In this series I explain low impact terms, lifestyle terms, and other verbiage that I use on my blog and in my daily life, simply, in case they are new to readers. In some cases, I have done some research on them, but these definitions are mostly what I understand them to be and how I use them.

My readers have heard me talk a lot about goals, habits and routines. For these simple everyday terms I have written the dictionary definition below and then gone into detail about how I use them.

Goal
”The object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.”
Goals for me are anything I am striving to do. This can include creating a new habit, or building a new routine. It can also be saving money, traveling, or being productive. See some recent posts on goals here:

Habit
”A settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.”
I try to create habits for things I want to be better at or practice. I want to have habits for productivity, learning, wellness and

Routine
”A sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.”
I love to have routines! Utilizing routines help me keep my habits and meet my goals. Some routines I have are long and take hours to complete, some are short (like a leaving the house/checking the cats routine), some are rigid and some are more loose.

Are these the definitions you would use?

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My Favorite Thrifted Items from 2018

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about people best thrifted items from 2018. I started to think about what I would include in my own. 2018 was the year that I really rekindled my love of thrifting, even opening an online vintage clothing shop. Looking back these were the thrifted items that really stuck out to me.

Black Wool Coat
I love this coat!! It’s almost a bat wing coat in black wool with suede details on the shoulders. It’s cozy and warm and makes me feel very scandanavian chic.I got this coat for $10 at a local thrfit shop.

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Oversized Chair
We knew for a long time that we wanted a big puffy chair to cozy up together in. Something bigger than a chair, but smaller than a loveseat. We found the perfect chair at our local ReStore shop. We paid $49 for this chair and every single person in the house loves and uses it.

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Rainbow Mugs
In 2018, I decided that I wanted more rainbow mugs and kept an eye out for them throughout the year. I use them every day and they make me happy! I like that they have become a collection and they lend themselves to the curated living feel that I want to achieve.

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Spiderman Notebook
I’ve talked about this one a lot already bc I use it as my bullet journal, but I love it!! I love using a thrifted bok, I love the size, I love that someone else lived this book and there are drawings scattered throughout.

As you can see all my favorites this year are very useful or utilitarian but also my personal style definitely shows through. What have been some of your favorite or most used thrifted items from 2018?

6 Things To Do This Year to Become More Zero Waste

In 2017 I started my zero waste journey. Zero Waste is the goal, mindful practice is the action. When I use the term Zero Waste, that is my ultimate goal, but Less Waste would be a more accurate description of my evolving lifestyle.

One of my 2019 goals is to be come better at being Zero Waste and Plastic Free. I made huge strides in this effort in 2018. If this is your goal too, here are 6 ideas, one for each month in 2019 until Plastic Free July, of things to do to generate less waste.

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January - Trash Audit
Since we are mid way thru the month, this is a perfect time to take the next few weeks and observe what trash you are generating. This is a very easy way to see areas where you might reduce your waste. Use paper grocery bags to separate your trash into at least 4 categories: plastic trash, other trash, plastic recycling, other recycling. At the end of January, share your thoughts and results here in the comments!

February - Declutter Everything
The beginning of the year is always a good time to clean and declutter your space. Feb is the perfect month for this bc it’s short! Use whatever method you most like and works for you. Go crazy Marie Kondo style, or just your usual cleaning and declutter routine. When the month is over, give yourself a break, whether you’ve finished or not! Make sure you let us know any insights or tips you might have at the end of this month! What was wasted, what was essential?

March - Switch to Paper
An easy beginner switch to make is to ask for paper bags at the grocery or for your take-out lunch. Asking for paper is a good start to prime you to bringing your own reusable bags. Paper bags can be reused and recycled or composted. These paper bags are great to use as your trash bags. Now you’re choosing to use paper over plastic for trash bags, too! (See how many paper grocery bags you reuse and fill for the month. Was it less or more than your January trash audit?)

April - Compost
I know this one is scary for a lot of people, but composting is super easy. You can compost anywhere and there are more resources than ever before. All you really need to start is a bucket or a bowl and a place to take your compost. This can be your back yard, your balcony, your local dump, your local farmers market, a community garden, or one of many more options. How much food waste do you collect in a day, week, month, year? In April, we’ll talk about what we can do with the compost we are creating.

May - Meatless Monday
The meat, fish and dairy industries are notoriously wasteful. A great way to make an impact is to lessen your participation with them. A lot of people transitioning to a meat free diet will start with one set day a week where they avoid meat. Variations on this could be going dairy free or vegan one day a week, going raw one day, or raw before four, or eating only local, etc… The beginning of Summer (in the US) is a great time to work on this bc there are so many fresh food options. Share what you might give up or some recipes below!

June - No Bottled Water
The month before Plastic Free July can be all about giving something up. If you are still buying bottled water it’s time to give it up!! If you’ve already given up bottled water, try giving up disposable coffee cups, say no to plastic straws, stop using plastic utensils or plastic food wrap. There’s a ton of things that can be given up this month and it will prep you for a month of plastic free living. What will you stop using this month?


I hope these simple zero waste tips help you in the months to come. I will post more about each of these ideas in the month they take place. Would people be interested in a link up for each month?

Remember, going zero waste, low impact isn’t easy. We can only start where we are and do what we can. Every little bit helps.

Recipe | Zero Waste Vegan Baked Oatmeal

I usually like my oats pretty simple. Hot water, fruit, sweetener. The other day I made this baked oatmeal for a brunch and it was a huge hit! It requires slightly more work, but it’s still really easy and can be made very low waste! This recipe is easily adaptable, you can swap out your favorite flavors and change it up often, make as little or as much as you want, and eat hot or cold!

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Ingredients
Quick oats
Dried spices. I used nutmeg and ginger.
Lemon Zest
Sugar
Frozen berries. I used bluebs and cherries.
Plant milk. I used cashew.

Equipment
Oven safe dish
Micro plane or zester
Spoon for mixing

Put your oats into your baking dish. I used about a cup of oats, but you can add more or less depending on who your feeding. Add dried spices, lemon zest, sugar to taste, and mix. Add frozen berries and twice the amount of milk as oats, mix well and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Mix again and pop in a 375 degree oven until oats are cooked and the top starts to brown a little. for the amount I made it took about 20 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or cooled. This would be great served with some warmed milk poured over it or with yogurt.

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A few notes:
- The lemon zest is key!! used about half a lemon’s worth of zest But I could have done the whole lemon. if you don’t have a zester or micro plane, you can slice off the skin and fine chop.
- I used white sugar bc that’s what I wanted to use up, but this recipe would be great with brown sugar, maple syrup or any other sweetener you like. You can also change up the spices and fruit added.
- To be extra fancy, sprinkle some brown sugar on top and pop in the broiler to brown and crystalize the top of your oatmeal.
- My oatmeal came out a little dry this time bc I didn’t add quite enough milk. It was still good.

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To make this recipe low waste, I used bulk oats and spices. I also used up some of my spices, which feels so good! I used pre packaged frozen fruit; I like the fruit from Whole Foods bc you can rinse out and recycle the plastic bags they come in. To make even more low waste, use fresh fruit or fruit that you have frozen yourself.

I didn’t plate mine up very beautifully, but it was still delicious!

This is an easy meal to make in advance. What are some of your favorite easy breakfast foods?

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Mad Cat Capsule: Wardrobe Goals

I’ve had a capsule wardrobe for about a year and a half now and I love it, My style of capsule wardrobe and how I put it together had evolved a lot in that time. That makes sense bc my lifestyle has changed a lot, too! I still have a lot to learn and a lot to do towards having the perfect, for me, capsule wardrobe.

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Here are some of my goals:

Move to an all slow fashion wardrobe
This one is an easy goal to achieve, all it takes is time!! I have completely stoped buying fast fashion, so all I have to do is wait until everything that I had bought before doing so is 10 years plus. After that, everything will be bought from ethical companies, thrifted, or 10 years plus.

Move to an all plastic free wardrobe (mostly)
Right now I still have a lot of clothes that are made with plastic. I’m not sure my closet will ever be completely plastic free. Some of the items are from when I shopped fast fashion, but more of them are vintage. I love to thrift vintage cotton, linen, silk, leather, and other natural fibers but every once in a while there is a fantastic poly or blended piece that I can’t resist. I’d like to get close enough to plastic free that all those items can be washed in a micro plastic capturing laundry bag.

Reduce the over all amount of clothes I have by… a lot.
I have so. many. clothes. Every time I make up my seasonal capsule, I try to pare down and get rid of items that I don’t wear or that don’t fit. But there are more and more clothes, and now that I am thrifting again, there are “new” clothes, too! Before I started thrifting regularly again, I was making a dent. I hope to one day either have a small enough over all wardrobe that I don’t feel that it’s exsessive. Perhaps when I can fit all my clothes into the one closet that now houses my seasonal capsule? I’m not sure how many items that will be, but I think I’ll know it when it happens. That leads me to…

Not buy “new” clothes unless I need them!
I would love to be satisfied with my wardrobe and not feel the need to buy more. I am not a minimalist and don’t plan to become one, but I do want to lessen the over all amount of stuff that I have. Perhaps Instead of not buying I simply rotate out items for “new” ones. A one in, one out wardrobe would be hard for me but may be possible. I love the idea of passing items on to new owners who will love them as much as I did.

These are the big four goals I have. I have some other goals related to my capsule wardrobe but not directly for my wardrobe. What are you goals for the future of your wardrobe?

What Plant Based Means to Me and How We Eat

My mom was a vegetarian while I was growing up. I was used to having tofu, tempeh, fresh veg, lots of legumes, fruits and homemade foods. Bc I grew up with it, it never occurred to me that other kids didn’t live that way. My father was always a healthy eater and great cook, but he ate meat. As I see it, I had the best of both worlds.

When I met my husband, he was vegetarian and had been on and off for most of his life. I ate meat then, but I never had any issues eating less or no meat during our meals together. Eating less meat made me realize that when I did eat meat, I didn’t feel as good as when I ate more fruits and veggies.

By the time we moved to New Jersey, we were eating fish, but little to no land meat. We wavered back and forth some (my husband even ate chicken for a while) but it was mostly ovo lacto vegetarian for us. Some events in the Summer of 2018 lead us both to come to the conclusion that we would give up all meat, from land and sea, in a serious manner.

Personally, I think humans are supposed to eat animals. We, ourselves, are animals and omnivores as far as I can tell from the evidence I know. But I think the way most people currently eat animals is unsustainable and inhumane, wasteful and unnecessary. In an attempt to lead a more sustainable and less wasteful life, eating plant based is an easy and obvious choice.

I’ve been trying to eat more rice, as it is a great staple. This is a good example of a fresh whole foods meal. Rice, carrots, onions, celery, sweet potato, squash, apple cider vin, soy sauce, pepper.

I’ve been trying to eat more rice, as it is a great staple. This is a good example of a fresh whole foods meal. Rice, carrots, onions, celery, sweet potato, squash, apple cider vin, soy sauce, pepper.

Now we eat what I like to call a vegetarian, plant based, whole food diet. That’s a mouth full and what does it even mean? We stopped eating any fish and sea creatures. We do eat dairy like cheese and butter and sour cream. We try to eat mostly fruits and veggies and eat whole foods that have not been overly processed. We eat fermented foods like miso, pickles and vinegar.

We try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Some with every meal! The term Plant Based really refers to a diet that is only plants but I use it to mean a diet that is based on plants, which we definitely do.

We also try to keep local stores, growers, producers in mind when we eat. This year was the first one where we grew our some of our own food and it was a game changer. It’s important to us to eat this way so that we are conscious of the environment, animals, our home and our health.

There are, of course, some ways we could improve our current diet. An example would be to make our own cheeses, sour cream, and yogurt, or only buy local cheese and dairy. But right now this diet works for us.

Some of our typical and most eaten meals are:

Quesadillas with black beans, corn, olives, fresh veggies, sour cream and hot sauce.

Cheese, crackers, veggies, mustard, pickles, olives, and mustard.

Miso soup with veggies and noodles.

Pasta with red sauce or pesto or cheese or garlic oil.

Sides meal with potatoes, veggies, grains, and various other “sides”.

Salads with home made croutons, veggies, sometimes we add fake chicken patties, and dressings.

Tofu, rice and broccoli with soy sauce, peanuts and chili garlic sauce.

Peanut butter and jelly (and sometimes hot sauce) sandwiches.

Bean and rice bowls.

Grilled cheese sandwiches with red onions and hot sauce.

Pierogies with onions, sour cream and veggies.

Smoothie bowls with various toppings.

Oatmeal with fruits, nuts and nut milks.

Beans on toast.

Chickpea salad sandwiches with carrots, onions, celery, and mayo.

This is an example of a more processed meal I might eat. The cheese bread is made fresh daily at our local grocery store and the beans are vegetarian. Beans on toast is a favorite breakfast of mine but I only eat it once in a while.

This is an example of a more processed meal I might eat. The cheese bread is made fresh daily at our local grocery store and the beans are vegetarian. Beans on toast is a favorite breakfast of mine but I only eat it once in a while.

Let me know in the comments if you also eat meals like this! Or if you would like recipes or more info on any of the meals listed above. What kind of diet do you eat? What role does your diet play in your lifestyle?

Garden Tour | Summer 2018

Since first moving to New Jersey and into our own house, we have wanted to start gardening. It took about 3 years, but this Summer was the first year we seriously started growing vegetables. 

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We started small, but this was a great introduction to gardening at home! We started basically everything from plants, except our radishes which we started from seeds. For us, starting from plants was less intimidating and we thought we would have more success. We had lot of success with just about everything we planted.

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Our main bed, and the biggest producer, is in our front yard. My dream is to have more and more beds in our front yard since we don’t really utilize that space. We planted four or five different tomatoes, basil, orange thyme, and shishito peppers. We also planted items in pots that were scattered between front and back.

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In the back we already had blueberry bushes and we also put a raised bed with kale, hot peppers and radishes from seed. We plan to devote one whole side of the yard to our garden next year, have some space in the middle and eventually plant fruit trees on the opposite side.

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This summer was mild but we had lots of sun and lots of rain and the garden loved it! Our tomatoes exploded. We ate one of our favorite meals, tomatoes and mozz, all year and never bought any tomatoes from the store!!

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Mostly for my own records here is a list of what we grew in 2018 and how it did:

4 small tomato varieties - these were bananas! Next year I hope we label/mark/ remember what we plant. That would have been nice this year.

1 large tomato variety - these got completely over shadowed, literally, by the small ones so they didn’t produce much. What we did have was delicious! We like the smalls better, but it seems worth it to have one large each year.

Shishitos - this was my favorite thing we grew this year. I want to have like a million of these next year!

Hot peppers - I’m not sure if we even ate any of these.

Kale - Next year we have to get better about harvesting and eating our own kale!

Radishes - Why did we even grow these? We tried pickling them but they turned out pretty bad. Next year, if we plant them, we will only do a few at a time.

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Basil and purple basil - what we planted in beds did really well, the ones in pots not so much. I hope to plant again next year but be better about picking and using what we grow.

Orange thyme - probably my husbands favorite thing we grew, we will def be planting this again.

Assorted herbs - some of these I’ve had for ears and they just keep coming back, some are new this year. I want to get better and maintaining and using herbs next year.

Blueberries - our bluebs did really well this year. Over the winter we hope to protect them better bc they took quite a beating in heavy snows last year.

Raspberries - we only got a few but they were good! We have them in pots, but perhaps we will transfer them to beds or the yard next year.

Strawberries - we had more strabs than ever before but never got to eat them. We could never get to them before the critters.

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Looking at the list, it’s a lot longer than I thought it would be! I can’t wait to grow more next year and rely on store bought foods less!

What did you grow this year and what are your plans for 2019?