Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Too Much Rain!

It's been an incredible Spring and now, early Summer is a little on the wild side!  From snow in May to deluges in June - it's a hard year to get things growing!  This past week has seen three major storms, with high winds and large amounts of water in a short time.  We're more fortunate then some in Brandon who are dealing with flooded basements, and way more fortunate then the town of Reston which is flooded....again.

Now, we're on the North Hill and we have very sandy soil.  So, weren't we surprised when doing the rounds this morning to find huge puddles in different places?  That never happens here!  It's just an indication of how saturated the soil has become.  The rain of last week had created some run-off areas, which were exaggerated during the weekend downpour and have now become major river beds.  There are patches of field tomatoes washed away, almost an entire plot of carrots washed out and a number of little wash-outs in other areas.  Fortunately, we plant lots...but the tomatoes will be missed.  Perhaps I'll do the rounds of the garden centres in the next few days and see if there are any deals.

All there is to do now is wait and see.  Maybe some of the tomatoes will come back, maybe the carrots will just keep growing - even though they may have been moved down a foot or two.  And we'll continue to watch the weather:  there's another storm watch on right now!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Greener Home!

One of the things we've been working on for a number of years is reducing our use of one-time, disposable products.  It's easier than you think to go a little greener around the house!  One of the easiest changes, I think, is getting re-usable grocery bags and avoiding plastic bags.  Your grocery store probably offers some at a good price and all sorts of lovely ones are available from crafters at your local farmers market/craft market and on websites like Etsy.  There's even online DIY projects for making fun market bags out of things like old t-shirts.

We've also been collecting more food storage jars and containers.  Getting away from plastic wrap, baggies and the sealable bags is also very do-able!  I do wash and re-use zipper type bags but never if it has contained a meat product!  I use my multi-purpose canning jars to store herbs, dried beans, pastas and food stuffs like that.  I also freeze my goats milk in canning jars, leaving lots of headroom for the inevitable expansion-contraction.  Learned that the hard way my first year of storing goats milk when I cracked and broke a number of the jars: ruining the jar and the milk!

Green cleaning is easy - but does require a bit of an expense that I think is quickly re-couped!  Getting away from paper towels and one-time use floor cleaning pads will add money to your pocket, as well as keeping junk out of landfills!  One of my favorite products is the Norwex cleaning cloth.  You can clean lots of stuff without anything else: just dampen the cloth and clean spills, sticky spots and more!  I think it has something to do with the fabric as well as the nap on the cloth.  I currently have four of these cloths, in a rotation.  As I'm constantly cleaning up spilled goats milk (I'm a little sloppy, I guess) the cloths can get a funky soured milk smell so I just change one out until I'm ready to do laundry.  The cloths are washable; one of mine is almost seven years old, has been laundered about once a week and is still going strong!  I get mine from my Norwex lady Renee at Global Market Brandon - just added the pretty pink one in the picture last week!  Norwex also has a great washable duster (the green mitt in the picture).  It's awesome and we're a dusty house, living so close to a gravel road!  Picks up everything fast!

For floors, I'm a big fan of washable pads.  I've got a Vileda mop whose pads can be used dry for dusting or wet for washing/cleaning.  For our laminate floors I just spray on cleaner and mop away then throw the pad into the laundry.  Works great even for muddy boot and paw prints.  It's another one where I've got a few pads - just in case I'm not doing laundry in a timely fashion....or it's rained and we're super dirty.  And the cleaning solution?  Oh, yeah, I'm making that from scratch for pennies per bottle using this recipe!  It's a great multi-purpose cleaner and I use essential oils known to have cleaning and disinfecting properties like lavender, clove and citrus!  Drying laundry?  Forget the dryer sheets and get yourself some felted wool dryer balls.  No chemicals and your laundry actually dries faster!

Beauty products - we've got those two.  My soap hangs in a little scrubby bag from friend Sharon crochets for me!  Not only helps the soap dry out better but is a wonderful exfoliator.  Completely washable, of course  I've switched over to re-usable cotton pads and I'm loving them.  Yes, washable cotton balls!  Those are the little guys in the left in the picture.  I got mine on Etsy.  I wouldn't use them for removing nail polish - to hard to get the stuff out and too 'icky' in my washing machine.  Fortunately I'm not much into fancy nails but it doesn't hurt to have a few disposable pads around.  Even for cleaning up the goats before and after milking I'm using crocheted wash cloths - handmade and re-usable!  I got a number of mine from local Brandon crafter Ritzy Creations but she's also on Etsy.  A crocheting friend of my crocheting friend Sharon also gave me some lovely large ones she'd made - score!  I currently have a pattern and a how-to book by my bed so I can learn to make my own!  Of course, it's easy to get away from disposable baby diapers and even menstrual pads - just search Etsy for tons of great ideas!

Are you reducing your contribution to the landfill?  Share your tips and tricks in the comments!