It's that time of the year. Every year around this time I get the urge to crochet. I plan holiday gifts, things for around the house I would have other wise bought and so on. I think it's the faux autumn nip in the air that does it.
I love using natural dyes as pigments and I'm playing around with a few new ideas I haven't seen before. I'll keep you updated on those if they turn out (just remind me if you get sick of waiting)!
For this lot, I decided to go with my tried and true indigo. Indigo is an awesome pigment. I see I used in everything from soap to fabric. I personally keep it's use for the purpose of dying things, as there is quite an abundance of natural, zero Waste options for other things. Here's where I get mine:
Natural Indigo Powder https://www.brambleberry.com/Natural-Indigo-Powder-P5727.aspx
First, what I like to do is buy Yarn in BULK. I mainly buy plain, unbleached cotton yarn. Always a pain to untangle but worth it for the price saving and the lesser environmental impact. To prove I'm not perfect, I used to only buy acrylic Yarn... while at least it's vegan (which means DRASTICALLY less waste than non-vegan yarns), it is not great for the environment. Mainly I just use it plain. Sometimes, especially for gifts, dying is just so fun!
Second, I prewash my Yarn. Just to make sure there is nothing lingering that could prevent dye from really getting a good stain. I do this by hand washing. Best of luck if you decide to put a ball of yarn in the washing machine. I really do not recommend it. One of those things I didn't have to learn from experience.
Third, salt! I can not stress this enough. Salt really helps your dye 'soak' into your Yarn. This could also leave it feeling a bit softer as well. For one whole ball of yarn, I plan on around a gallon of water (I wouldn't use grey water but cleansed rain water does the trick) and around a cup of salt. Make sure it dissolves. I keep my salt bath warm for the next part.
Fourth, add your indigo! Mix it WELL. Indigo doesn't like to play with others. If you feel like it's really not incorporating, try adding a bit more salt or mixing your indigo in warm water before adding to the salt bath.
Five, add your yarn. Unravel and add it right in. Let it soak for as long as you want. I have forgotten mine outside and let it dye for about a week before with no issues. I wouldn't recommend that but it's the truth none the less. In the first day, be sure to stir it sometimes. Just to make sure any bits of floating Yarn still get pigment.
Quick color test is pretty easy if you have fabric you don't mind dying. Grab a piece of yarn (not with your hands... unless you like that kind of blue-fingered, asphyxiation/Undead look) and press into your soon to be dyed fabric. If the yarn comes off lighter, it either hasn't been long enough or it is just a lighter color. I test until my yarn comes out the same color, just drier *obviously*.
Six, hand wash AGAIN. Yup yup. Wash wash wash. Use soap. You can even follow up with a vinegar rinse. They say it makes it softer. I don't. I feel like the salt bath does plenty. Wash until it's completely clear water. Don't risk the pigment coming off some poor gift-reciever!
Seven, THROUGHLY dry. I string mine out on the line and let it dry. If you have any sneaky moist spots, I bet it won't end well. The WORST smell ever is that didn't-get-quite-dry smell.
As always, be careful and enjoy! Allergy test before you touch anything new and patch test to be sure you like it. On labels for gifts, it would be a good idea to say 'indigo dyed', just to be safe.
Love and all the pretty things,
The Smart Girl in Pants
That's right. You heard me. Strongest tool in cleaning and you already have it. It's ecofriendly, using no resources at all. But it can be dangerous as well. When you hear what it is, you won't understand but hang with me on this to the end! I'll explain how to use it to it's full potential and avoid ugly mishaps.
Your biggest weapon in cleaning is...
Yup! That's right! Plain and simple! But then again, it has it's faults. I'll go through how to use the sun to our advantage and what to avoid.
Obviously, Laundry. This can include rugs, clothes, back packs, car interior, blankets... almost anything you can wash, you can hang dry (minus clothing which specifically states dry clean). Yet with great power comes great responsibility.
Line drying clothes can save THOUSANDS of dollars in the long run and MASSIVE amounts of resources! It's true! Check my blog here:
It can also bleach out stains and get out the worst of odors! I cloth diapered for YEARS. Using the SAME cheap (literally the cheapest) insert cloth diapers I could get my hands on (they were waterproof exterior and had fabric 'inserts' you stuffed inside). I never once touched poo, removed the inserts before washing or washed a diaper by hand. Never once. Just tossed in the wash and sun bathing the inner most part of the diapers, no stains, no smells. I think total I used those diapers for... 6 years!!! Had them stored away for a much longer time but actively used them for that long and no stains, no stink. Sun bathing those diapers is what I attribute to never having issues with stains, smells, rashes or bacteria. I make my own laundry detergent, never once bought special diaper detergent. Besides replacing a total of 3 snaps between all 30 diapers, I didn't have any issues. I passed on the diapers and the woman could not believe they were 6 years old, they looked and felt brand new!
The big kicker is how to hang laundry. I hang laundry all year long. No joke, I hang laundry in January. Where I live, winters have bad days but mainly tolerable. I also love the cold and prefer hanging in the winter. Anything over 34 degrees and I'm outside. For winter clothes drying, you WANT to hit peak sun times. The mix of the lack of humidity and cold means no stinky clothes if you leave them out too long, which is great because it does take a bit longer. If you live in a VERY cold climate, sun drying may not be ideal. A drying rack inside would be great though, maybe one you could move outside! For summer drying, you want to AVOID direct sunlight in peak times and be sure to bring them in BEFORE it begins to cool outside. The humidity and abundance of warmth can spur that stinky wet wash cloth smell. No, yuck. Of all the smells, that is the one I REALLY can not stand. When people say they leave clothes in the dryer or in piles, I literally cringe inside.
Again, timing is important. Not always for optimal drying but avoiding sun bleached clothes. For towels and blankets, I choose to hang dry in the time of the day when the sun is not as strong or out of direct sunlight. Avoiding peak times between 11am-3pm. Granted, that is the best time for sanitation but I was more worried about my favorite comforter being bleached! Also, turning your pattern AWAY from the sun is a good way to avoid sun bleach on the pretty side. If you love all white things, guess what? You are in luck. You have all the freedom to line dry and not worry about bleaching the color out! There is NOTHING better than line-dried sheets and blankets... oh my goodness. I wash my sheets at least once a week, blankets at least once a month. That first night of fresh, crisp sheets is undeniably the best feeling, and smell, ever.
For clothes, I turn EVERYTHING inside out before I hang it but after I wash it. So they can get really clean in the washer. I also turn the backwards facing screen print (if applicable) away from the heat of the direct sun..This prevents sun bleach and damage to screen printed shirts! With white clothes with no color at all on the other hand, I turn the stained areas TO the strongest sun shine.
Either way, don't leave clothes out in the beating sun for more than they need to be. Some things dry REALLY fast. Faster than dryer times in the heat of the summer. That's SO NICE but remember that Heat can damage things. Just like baking in the oven or in a sauce pan can destroy nutrients in food due to prolonged heat exposure, same can happen if you leave clothes on the line too long or in the dryer too long. All heat causes damage. Just as the dryer can destroy stretchy materials, the sun can too. Don't abuse the power we have! Again, just like in cooking, you want to 'bake' for only as long as needed!
I love to sun bake so many things in my home. We have several solar
ovens and solar herb dehydrators! When The Smart Kids were little, I would do a weekly clean of their toys and sun bathe them for good measure.
Home interior items are easy to clean in the sun. Just be sure to follow your gut and avoid peak times for too long. I know everyone loves cleaning with essential oils and vinegar, but if you dry those, be careful! In laundry detergent, avoid photosensitizing oils as well. Those oils can cause spots of sun bleach.
The main thing you want to avoid is sun bleach and skin cancer. Don't forget about yourself in the sun. Check my blog about sun protection:
The sun is our most powerful tool in cleaning for sure but be smart about how you use it!
So, get outside! Save that money and live CLEANER!
The Smart Girl in Pants
Happy Zero Waste week everyone!
I compiled a nice list here for ANYONE interested in starting a less wasteful lifestyle! You don't have to do them all, even one or two this week is a GREAT goal and helps more than you could possibly know.
Not only is practicing zero waste more eco-friendly, but it can save you money and help you live better!
Let's being, shall we? Please check my blog for recipes and easy DIY!
1) Buy your groceries local at a farmers market or at least in season.
2) Skip the plastic bags, be fashion forward and bring your own cute ones!
3) Make your own soda replacement! Kombucha!
4) Make one meal a day meatless. Or! Go the full gusto and make it Vegan week! You would save an average of 7 animals, thousands of gallons of water and grains/veggies used to feed them.
5) Make your own lotion from shea butter and your favorite oil, like grapeseed. You could even add a drop of essential oil!
6) Reuse your glass jars from salsa, sauces and more! I use them for lunches and in place of storage containers.
7) Plan a garden! Even growing herbs inside is a GREAT way to get your favorite herbs fresh and plastic free!
8) Turn down the thermostat this week or just go full open windows!
9) Try reusable facial cloths or a wash cloth to remove the day.
10) Make your own hand sanitizer
11) Buy shampoo and bar soap, without packaging, if you can find it. Many sellers on Etsy are more than happy to work with you!
12) Line dry clothes or simply just hang them around the house to dry! I save hundreds by just avoiding using my dryer!
13) Make your own laundry detergent and fabric softener! Scent it however you like!
14) Buy a bulk item you know you use lots of. I buy bulk or make almost everything but some common items are:
detergent, shampoo, soaps, flour, rice... I could keep going!
15) Replace plastic produce bags with your own spiffy produce bags
16) Stitch to loose leaf tea for the week.
17) Make your own air fresheners for the home, car and office!
18) Avoid prepackaged foods for lunches and opt for your own DIY mini bags! Buy in bulk and put into your own containers!
19) Stitch to a reusable lunch box!
20) Dutch plastic bottles and invest in a reusable, metal water bottle.
21) If you have diapers or are expecting, try cloth diapers! They are all I used with The Smart Kids and I had NO ISSUES.
22) Use wash cloths instead of paper towels. Easy to wash, barely any impact on laundry loads and saves so much!
23) Make your own wash cloths from an old towel or shirt!
24) Make your own diaper wipes with a seperate cloth container and just simply spray each dry towel before using. Cuts down on product waste and prevents early spoilage.
25) Make your own shower gel or face wash from a soap bar for that need! Simply grate the soap, melt in hot water and add a PINCH of salt to prevent your grated soap from becoming slime.
26) Make your own home cleaner! I use my special recipe below!
27) A salt lamp is a great night light and has been known to help cleanse the air! If you are in the market for a new night light, skip the plastic ones and try one of these!
28) Avoid Soap Nuts as cleansers, many native people who use the nuts are facing rising prices for their only way of cleaning due to the high demand of export on these items. Making your own detergents and cleansers from easily assessable items from the store is better.
29) Make your own floor cleaner with a diluted version of the cleanser below!
30) Diffusers are a great way to scent your home with aromatherapy and ditch wax scents.
31) DIY some fun bath products instead of buying them!
32) Shorten shower times as much as possible. I Turn it on to get wet, lather and shave, wash my hair and turn on the water to rinse. That's it.
33) Try your hand at making your own facial mask if you have some strawberries about to expire! Just purée and plop on!
34) Stop buying products with microbeads or anything with harsh exfoliate.
35) Make sure your car is in good shape with a tune up, oil change and tire pressure check. Saves so much in gas usage.
36) Invest in a stainless steel safety razor. Reusable, recyclable and easy to use! I love mine!
37) If you prefer longer hair removal, get an epilator. Keep it in good shape and it will last a long time. There are very few Vegan waxes. They are also so wasteful.
38) Make your own dry shampoo with arrowroot powder, kaolin clay or bentonite clay, mica pigments and essential oils!
39) Make coffee or tea ahead of time, in big batches! It's amazing how nice it is to have quality coffee whenever you want it!
40) Be sure your coffee is rainforest friendly!
41) Switch to non-dairy milk for the week. If growing almonds is wasteful, imagine the dairy industry.
42) Make smoothies in advance by freezing and reblending portion sized amounts. I love this for lunches!
43) Prepack your own lunches in reusable containers like bento boxes or jars!
44) Recycle or compost any paper Waste this week.
45) If you have room for a compost pile, start one!
46) Keep a closed jar in the kitchen for kitchen scraps. I reuse a bulk pickle jar! You could always buy a metal compost for the kitchen!
47) Green your beauty routine by choosing products that are vegan, in reusable containers and locally made!
48) Avoid products wrapped in plastic this week. Just one week!
49) If you use disposable utensils, remember to always pack a reusable fork, spoon or metal set of chop sticks!
50) Invest in a reusable coffee cup! Doesn't have to be expensive, many thrift stores sell them for a steal!
51) Buy used when you can.
52) Now is the time to plan holiday gifts. Plan to make, buy sustainable or simply share the love with those around you.
53) Green your tooth brushing routine with an eco-friendly wooden tooth brush.
54) Make your own bath oil from your favorite oil and essential oils! Treat your self!
55) Try a shampoo bar! One bar can far outlast a bottle of shampoo. Skipping the plastic bottle!
56) An easy fabric softener is a cup of Kombucha and a few drops of the best smelling essential oil! My favorite fabric scent? Jasmine, lavender and Rosemary.
57) Repair any clothing you can! Be a semstress or cobbler for the week!
58) Donate instead of tossing clothing you no longer want. By ridding yourself of excess clothing, you decrease your laundry loads and give those clothing to someone who will adore them.
59) Skip dying your hair at home this week. Either just skip it completely or have a professional, make sure they buy in bulk, do it!
60) Reuse old nail polish bottles by making them into mini oil containers!
61) Reuse plastic bags by making plarn and going to town making all kinds of things!
62) Say no to one time use items, such as samples at stores. Or say yes if you can reuse the containers!
63) Don't just toss all your plastics, keep what is usable and donate anything you are done using.
64) If you buy eggs, save the cartons and find a local that has eggs! They always appreciate the cartons! You can get your eggs from them while you are at it!
65) Buy milk in glass or cardboard, if you can't go without.
66) Invest in refillable pens instead of one time use pens.
67) Make your own fun time things such as playing dough or play sand!
68) Skip one time use paper plates! Just go with those good ole washable ones!
69) Contrary to belief, many dish washers are more eco-friendly than doing dishes by hand. Check your model and always run COLD water.
70) Check our solar programs! Or DIY solar options to reduce your carbon footprint!
71) Ask your dentist about homemade tooth paste recipes. Many say skip on the baking soda but my dentist loves my recipe!
72) Also ask about homemade mouth washes! Bring in many recipes!
73) Reuse, recycle or donate prescription bottles (REMOVE YOUR LABELS)!
74) Kill the appliances with stand by just sucking your electricity by installing a surge protector with an easy odd switch
75) Switch to more eco-friendly light bulbs! We love LED lights and many can be set on timers or voice activated by smart devices!
76) Plan to use LED lights instead of standard holiday lighting and save money while knowing you are helping the planet.
77) Use recycled paper as gift wrap OR use fabric wraps!
78) Reduce your footprint when ordering online by selecting the option for less packages instead of what's fastest.
79) If you are interested in journaling, by only Vegan and recycled paper journals. Mine is large enough for THREE YEARS OF ARTISTIC JOURNALING.
80) Opt out of junk mail and ask anyone who sends paper your way to consider a paper-free option.
81) Skip the one time use coffee pods and go with making your own from ground coffee. Distilling coffee at home is by far the most superior taste I have ever found! Can't get that from a plastic cup.
82) Avoid opening the oven when baking! This puts more strain on the oven to maintain temperature, makes cooking time longer and wastes electricity!
83) Try converting some of your favorite recipes to vegan! I have many and my favorite on here are the Vegan mirror glaze and Vegan macarons.
84) Look into Family Paper.
85) Save and freeze fresh produce now while it is harvest time! My feel freezes are my best friends!
86) Don't idle your car. If you are parked, turn your car off. No one else wants to smell your exhaust and it saves you gas.
87) Buy multivitamins and supplements in bulk to avoid excessive waste. Reuse or donate bottles.
88) Try your hand at making your own pet treats! Our Smart Pups LOVE homemade treats!
89) If you buy soda, by cans and recycle them. Skip bottles and syrofoam cups.
90) Bring your own take home containers for take out!
91) Buy reusable straws if you love straws! I love metal straws but The Smart Guy likes his bamboo ones best.
92) Detail your own car with DIY recipes that are safe to use on interiors of cars. Skip the Vinegar for cleaner in the dash.
93) Have your home winterized before the cold comes! This not only helps your bill but keeps you warmer!
94) Keep home filters clean which helps your system as well as keeps pollution and natural allergies down.
95) Have your home appliances cleaned and tested to be sure they are working at their peak!
96) When you get a stuffy nose, keep squares of super soft fabric around instead of one time use tissues. This is not only a treat for your nose but your wallet!
97) Avoid prepacked food and make a nice homemade meal! Nothing smells the home up better than homemade bread and cider this time of year! Not to mention the smell of cookies baking!
98) Freezer meals are EASY with zero waste, simply use the glass container you wish to use for baking and reusable Vegan wax wraps! Be sure to be safe when baking!
99) Try your hand at making your own dairy free milk! Buy in bulk and go to town! I make a batch twice a week and it costs less than one container of store bought!
100) Finally, just do you! Take a look at the things around you and find what you can do better for the planet. For me? My biggest flaw in zero waste is scented wax. I even use diffusers! I'm making my own reusable, compostable scents for my warmers as we speak and will keep you updated!
Do what you can! Zero waste isn't some crazy idea. Or it doesn't have to be. We are humans, we make Waste and mistakes. We can learn from it and help each other grow!
Thank you for reading and I wish you a wonderful week. May your week of zero Waste lead to a life long journey!
The Smart Girl in Pants
It is that time of year folks! Apple time. Apples are abundant here! We have so so many!
There are SO many ways to use them, pack them and gift them! I love Apple cider. I love the way the house smells. I love the way it envelopes me in cozy, fall warmth.
I wanted to make it a bit more shelf stable for me, in the process I also made it highly portable. Add it to warm water and bam, Apple cider on-the-go.
Intant Apple Cider:
This recipe makes about 8 cups of powder, each serving is around 1Tbsp per 6oz.
-1 cup of sugar (I used fair trade, organic turbinado but any sugar would work well. Below I tested this with stevia grown from my garden)
-One whole Apple, peels included, dehydrated
-One vanilla bean inner beans, not the exterior
-1 Tbsp of the following:
-1/2 Tbsp of the following:
Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
-One tsp of the following:
Same ingredients as above EXCEPT the sugar. Stevia is SO MUCH SWEETER than sugar. And it has a bit of an herbal after taste.
-1/2 cup of real, home grown stevia herb.
-Double up on the following to cut the herbal taste:
The stevia Recipe did not blend as well in water. I'm going to try to put this into a smoothie blend instead.
I know those are a lot of things people don't have just laying around like I do. Feel free to stick with the basics: Cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger. Like I said, I just had these laying around anyway and wanted to use them.
Blend!! Blend FOREVER in your food processor. Of course, give it breaks so it doesn't break but yup. You probably will end up with some chunks, I did. FILTER IT. In my pictures, you can see the Apple chunks, which I liked. But you can pass it through a fine sifter for a smooth powder that easily blends with water. If you processed it fine enough, you should not have any issues. If you do have issues, feel free to blend longer!
Add about 6oz of hot water per 3-4 Tbsp or to taste.
I would keep this in the freezer and say it would last as long as the weakest ingredient, the apples. For mine, I'm betting on a month outside the freezer. In the freezer, around 2 months. But I'll be watching very closely, as should everyone else. Depending on how you dehydrate your apples, that will be the main component in how fast this goes bad. Freezing it slows the process and I find it doesn't effect it's use. It's a pretty fine powder after all the blending. Worth it to make it last longer!
This a fantastic gift! I love packing it up in glass jars with an adorable stamped spoon and cup! I also attach a recipe/ ingredients list and how to use card. So adorable, delicious and functional!
Always attach ingredients lists for any gift or homemade item! Never know how much people appreciate the effort! I know a few gifts I have gotten, I had allergic reactions to. I rarely use anything now that doesn't have all the ingredients listed. Rarely because fruit baskets are an exception! Anything handmade with no label, skin care or food, I won't touch. No offense of course!
Give this a shot! I'll be testing a pumpkin cider to-go recipe this week as well!
Even some summery smoothie to-go ideas! Why not? Winter, it's a comin'. The time of fresh produce from our local farmers will be temporarily suspended. So I'm in prepping mode!
Love and Cider anyone?
The Smart Girl in Pants
The Smart Girl in Pants