I am a lover of the rich, tangy cold treat. Especially in the winter. I don’t know why but I love a cool treat during a cold day! Weird? Maybe. I even make homemade fo-yo with this. No joke, it’s amazing. Thick and creamy!
It has not been an easy journey finding a perfect vegan yogurt. Soy yogurt was easy, just follow the recipe that comes with the instant pot with soy milk and a yogurt starter. Done.
But I wanted MORE. Or actually, less. I was sick of buying soy milk. I wanted to use my own milk and NOT end up with a watery mess of nasty.
And that is how we arrived here!
VEGAN YOGURT RECIPE
•3 1/2cups of your choice of plant based milk (your personalized recipe can be calculated in an app called MyFitnessPal.)
such as oat, hemp, rice, coconut, almond, walnut, acorn, cashew... the list keeps on going!
•2 scoops of vegan protein powder (I chose one with calcium, vitamins and minerals. Why not make this treat a good one!)
•2 tsp xanthan gum (I use gluten free). This is your main thickening agent. You definitely need one! Agar agar would work as well.
•2 Tsp arrow root powder or corn starch. (Another thickening agent)
•1/2cup of yogurt starter (this can be from a previous batch of yogurt or a store bought)
*2Tbsp sugar, this can be omitted based on which plant milk you select and/or additional ingredients you choose. Many ingredients already contain naturally occurring sugar! If you believe you have enough sugar to sustain your starter, try it! I generally like to add the sugar, just to be sure!*
-You may spilt or double this recipe, respectively!-
and what ever additional ingredients you would like! Fruits, nuts... just be aware that the more liquid based ingredients you add, the less thick your yogurt will be.
Sanitize your jars. While those are being sanitized, heat your milk base. You want it just under boiling, so your xanthan gum and corn starch/arrow root will incorporate. Let it cool completed to room temperature as the jars are cooling. Add your vegan protein powder, sugar and starter!
Add enough water to the base of your instant pot to meet your steamer plate (I don’t like my jars sitting IN water. Just enough water to retain some heat). Place your jars inside, close and keep warm for 15 minutes. Then unplug it!!! Leave it alone (no peaking) overnight and by the morning, plop them in the fridge. Few hours later and you have BEAUTIFUL yogurt! If you strain it, it will get even thicker!!!
My last batch I added an extra tsp of xanthan gum and I was able to WHIP it!!!! Whipped vegan vogurt? Yessssssss.
Give it a shot! I know I am saving SERIOUS money just making my own milks. Adding the protein powder ensures I still get some nutrients along with my probiotics. It’s just a win win!
Be sure to do your due diligence as far as homemade goods and shelf life! Be sure everything is highly sanitary before making. The nutritional values and the shelf life all depend on which milks you use, how you made it, what you add and how you store it! If there is more liquid then when you first made it, there is mold present or it smells strange, that is a sure fire sign that it is definitely bad. Keep refrigerated for longest shelf life. You can even freeze it for a longer life, plus it’s an easy and quick additon to smoothies and drinks!
Love and Yogurt,
~The Smart Girl in Pants
Everyone I know has a budget these days. It’s just a good idea. A Smart (Girl in Pants) idea, if I may be so bold as to say... not cool? I’ll go home.
The goal of a smart budget is to spend as little as you can on things that are of less import to you. Thus, giving you more you can spend on things you love! Same money, just managed better. Trying to save for something special? Sick of being on the wheel of living pay check to pay check? Try adding these substitutes and watch how much money you save in the long run. Here is a big list of things you can cut out RIGHT NOW to stop wasting money!
One: Cleaning cloths
Buying one set of cheap wash cloths is about the same price as two rolls of good quality paper towels. The only difference? One can be washed and reused multiple times, thus ending this cycle of waste. Not only are you saving the planet, but your pocket book!
For napkins, I made the cutest reusable napkins from scrap fabrics. Everyone comments on how adorable they are!
I bought one set of not-paper towels from a local seamstress but making more is on my list of things to do!
Two: Toilet Paper
This one is a bit of a leap for many people. Investing in family cloth can really cut down the wastefulness. Did you know, on average, it takes gallons of water for one roll of toilet paper? Going green and buying toilet paper without plastic wrapping is great. The reusable toilet paper is washed, sanitized and used again. The basics for washing these just like any soiled wash (mainly because germs are scary) in the sanitary cycle with homemade detergent, essential oil infused vinegar rinse and sun shine on the line!
Three: Plastic cutlery
I know many use plastic cutlery for outings such as picnics and parties, but that one plastic cutlery item will outlive us all. Not only that, but that’s money we are literally throwing away. Investing in a great picnic bag full of reusable cutlery and a grand set of silverware for parties is the way to go. It’s much more elaborate and has pays for it’s self over the years. Plus, so cute!
Four: Feminine Products
That time of the month is never fun. With the mood swings and pains, adding in one time use products that cost so much and irritate the skin never helps. I switched to reusable cloth pads and my menstrual cup. Not only did it save me tons but I personally had lighter periods and less irritated skin. Not to mention never had to spend money on menstruation items again.
Five: Disposable Cups
Whether you are on the go or at home, disposable cups are horrible. At worst, styrofoam that will out live us all with it’s remains. At best, cardboard or paper cups, which not only use trees but water and other resources to make. Buying these means throwing your hard earned money away. Since I have switched to using a reusable cup, I have actually found I get discounts at my favorite coffee shops! A solid reusable cup can last years, meaning less resources were used. Thrift stores often have amazing selections as well, saving even more money and resources. Stop tossing your money down the drain with toss-away cups. So get that smoothie to-go in your own cup!
Being sick is horrible. Spending money on something simply used to remove mucus is not going feel grand for the ole pockebook, either. It’s so easy to use old t-shirts cut into squares and wash. Not only will you save so much money, but you can use only the most gentle fabrics. I really like having mine scented with some peppermint essential oil for a nice aromatheraputic moment.
Seven: Cleaning Products
Everyone has to clean. Many people, like myself, clean multiple times a day.
That being said, making your own cleansers and reusing the bottles from previous purchases can and will save so much. Not only are you keeping that bottle from landing in the dump for the next 5-20 years, but you avoid the costs of repurchase. I use essential oils to scent my cleansers and Match my cleanser scents with my laundry and diffuser blends!
Eight: Baby Hygenie items
Diapers are part of life in a family. In The Smart Pants home, we had two in diapers at once for a short portion of our lives. Do you know how much we spent on diapers? $40. No joke.
Cloth diapers saved us from exposing our beautiful babies to all the daily disposable diaper nonsense. We found a previously loved set of organic bamboo, one-size adjustable, insert style diapers that was a score of a deal at $1 a diaper with inserts. Now, I have found several comparable diapers brand new as low as $3 a diaper online. There’s literally no excuse! I never touched poo, well, not any more frequently than any normal parent by way of accident during a changing. Yuck.
We simply washed them with the rest of the baby cloths on high sanitation cycle and using our homemade detergent. Never had a single stain! We have since passed them down to another family (so keep your eyes peeled for a deal like we found because many cloth diaper mommas just want to spread the love!) but we did save a few for just-in-Case baby sitting emergencies. That’s how much I loved them, I reuse to use single use diapers ever again.
Even with the cost of the diapers and the cleaning, it’s still cheaper to go cloth over disposable. Not to mention less disposable diapers sitting in landfills for years and years.
Along with cloth diapers, we used reusable wipes. We sprayed the cleaning solution on each wipe before use to make sure we didn’t waste cleaning solution or risk it going bad and washed when we were finished using. So simple. If you hang dry your laundry, be prepared to save even more money and sunlight is a great natural bleach!
Nine: Skip Dryer sheets and Fabric softener
DIY is all the rage now a days and no wonder. Who wants to waste money silly things such as laundry? It’s my most hated chore. I do like my clothes clean and laundry smelling fresh though.
For dryer sheets, I use left over fabric soaked in vinegar and essential oil blend. My favorite? Bergamot, ylang ylang and jasmine but I do switch it up during holiday seasons.
The same vinegar and essential oil blend in a bottle works fantastic as a fabric softener. I do add some extra essential oils like tea tree and thyme in my fabric softener, just for added bacteria fighting boost.
Ten: Sponges and loofahs
Everything needs a good scrubbing, including humans. Investing or crafting a reusable, long lasting tool is more important than repeatedly buying disposable items. It all comes back to saving money, right? Disposable loofahs and sponges, including plastic based ones, are not meant to go through sanitary cycles. This means bacteria is just growing and breeding. Even if your scrubber lasts a long time, it could just be spreading bacteria around. So, throwing them away is the only option. Not a very good way to waste money. Put making or buying a scrubber made of sustainable resources such as bamboo, cotton, extra yarn a friend has (like I did), bit of left over decorative fabric or hemp on your to do list.
Eleven: Office supplies
We all work. Whether it’s in the home or outside the home. One of the place of waste is the work space. From pens to paper. If you journal, use these tips to save money on your personal journey!
Though we can’t avoid all waste, trying to switch to digital files can help save on paper. The less you use, the less that’s bought, the less money wasted. Recycled paper is amazing as a stand by when all else fails.
As for pens, any pen that is refillable is instantly better than any one time use pen. Even if the pen is plastic. The refills are often much cheaper than buying all new pens.
Printer cartridges are often refillable at a much cheaper rate. Avoid tossing those expensive cartridges and save money on the refills.
Other things to look into cutting down are: staples, paper clips, folders, etc. The more you can cut out, the less you have to buy.
As far as journals go, buy a recycled journal made with no leather. Leather takes a lot resources to make. Your journal is a journey of you. There are a lot of popular plastic based planners and journals, but why spend an insane amount of money on those when you can create something personal to you? It’s really not what it looks like on the outside, it’s what you create on the inside that makes it special. You do not have to be an artist to make a beautiful journal or planner! My recycled paper journal costs $4 and has enough pages for SEVERAL personal pages, like above, and TWO YEARS of monthly and weekly spreads. Mine is so personalized, we keep them in with the scrapbooks to look back on! Now that’s stretching a dollar!
Twelve: Shampoo and Conditioner
Whether you shower or bath in the morning or night, it’s nice to have access to being clean. Shampoo is one of the top selling items in the cosmetic industry, and rightfully so. But with those bottles of sudsy liquid comes a price. Some shampoos running the bill up really quickly, who sctually spends that much on shampoo?! As well as creating so much plastic waste and exposure to many unnecessary ingredients.
Switching to a shampoo and conditioning bar is such an affordable option. There are just as many shampoo bars as there are different hair types. Always options to choose from. I make mine myself with luxurious ingredients that big companies wish they had throught of and my hair is more healthy than it has ever been. They often run at very affordable prices and most last a very long time. It’s definitely worth looking into not only for your pocket book but your hair.
Thirteen: Scented Products
I don’t know anyone that enjoys a stinky home. In fact, it’s a huge market to make your home smell good. Not just clean, but a step above. A nice smelling home sets the mood, makes home feel like home.
What if you could create your own personal home smell? One that reminds you of walking into your safe zone after a long day. One that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Making our own is so easy. Replacing wax melts with diffusers using only a few drops of essential oils or even making your own wax melts! Making your own fabric and room sprays with the same very few drops of essential oils. You can not only have your home smell great, but you can match every thing from your linen spray to diffuser blender to your car , all in your personal favorite and save money in the process.
Just be sure to not make them too cute... I made puppy shaped scented wax melts as gifts that still exist and the owners refuse to melt them!
Fourteen: Teas and coffee
Do you indulge in tea or coffee? I do. I’m an avid tea drinker. I’ll splurge once in a while, with my reusable cup of course, but making my own at home saves so much money. If I had to add up all the tea I drank in a day in how much it would cost, I would earn myself a solid pat on the back. As great as splurging is, saving money is much more impressive.
I have found buying loose leaf and coffee not only saves money, saves resources (skipping plastic pods and bags) but tastes so much better! Buying in bulk will lend huge savings AND save the planet by reducing your waste. You can even grow your own herbal tea blends. If you can’t have caffeine do to anxiety or another issue, dandelion root tea really gives you the taste of coffee! I love it! On a warm summer afternoon, nothing beats fresh from the garden, iced chamomile tea.
Fifteen: The Electric Bill
Electricity is definitely a one time use item in my book. You use it to charge your phone and next thing you know, you are paying for it. While rechargeable items are great, leaving them plugged in is very wasteful and it shows on the bill at the end of the month. Vampire electronics take money right from your pocket, and it’s not even being used!
To avoid this, simply turn everything off and unplug chargers that aren’t being used. I found that plugging things into a great quality power strip makes this chore so easy. Turn the whole cord off and BLAM. Nighty night, energy thieves.
Investing in solar panels is another amazing thing to do. Not only can you free yourself from electric bills, but you would be actively helping the environment at the same time. Solar is one of the fastest growing power suppliers, it creates so many jobs around the world. Whether you start small or go big, solar is the way of the future.
In this day in age, almost everything has a battery. Even though we aren’t suppose to throw batteries in the trash, millions end up there anyway. Leaking acids into the environment as they rot in landfills.
Investing in reusable batteries is the easiest way to save some dough. A new toy from the holidays that needs batteries? Never fear, you have some.
Another idea is getting a health check on the batteries on phones. Phone batteries do not last forever. If your battery loses charge quickly, that means plugging it in more. Giving your money away to front the bill and leaving your phone at risk of dying when you may need it most. Having a new and possibly superior battery installed in your devices can save not only money but time in the long run.
Seventeen: Hair Removal
I really can not think of anyone who enjoys hair removal. Not only is it time consuming, but it can be so wasteful.
If you chose to remove your extra body hair, There are many options besides plastic toss away or refillable razors. A popular zero waste option is the old fashioned stainless steel razor. With refills being pennies compared to their plastic counter parts, affordable start up costs and reusable designs, it’s not a shock. There are other options such as waxing, epilating and lasers. At this point, plastic toss away razors are just a money drain.
Avoiding one time use cosmetics can save so much money. Flash eye lashes can be replaced with eye lash extensions or reusable eye lashes. One time use eye shadow papers can be replaced with mini samples of eye shadows (those don’t work anyway, IMO).
Even better? Making your own! Of course, you want to be sure to understand how to safely make things like makeup, lotions and more. As well as understand how to store them with or without preservatives.
Borrowing things is one of the best ways to save money. Instead of buying books, borrow some from the library. There are many items you can borrow or rent instead of buy! If we bought every, single book we have ever read, we would be so broke and also be able to fill several homes with books!
Twenty: Disposable Dishes
Doing the dishes is hard work. Everyone wants them done yet no one does them of their own free will. Even at parties and picnics, it’s so easy to reach for something you don’t have to worry about lugging home to clean. How much money are you just wasting by not only buying those, but using them one time? From take-out containers to paper plates, it’s all fairly easy to wash and reuse what we have.
Twenty One: Craft Times
I am an avid crafter of all things. I know many people are. Whether it’s painting, scrapbooking or whatever else. There are still so many ways to save your money and create less waste.
Using recycled items is great for scrapbooking! One idea is using left overs of wrapping paper to cut by hand or with a cutting machine for the word art on the pages, as well as the actual paper itself. A memory and art! Avoid buying plastic glitter and make your own!
Making your own painting supplies is actually really fun and saves so much! From making the actual paints to canvas wrapping. Buying quality brushes and washing them each time will mean buying less replacements.
It takes just a bit of extra time but then you have a completely unique work of art. Something the world needs more of!
Twenty Two: One time use food packaging
Plastic snack bags are a mess. I know many people wash and reuse these as many times possible, which is a fantastic plan as long as you have a back up for when those finally reach the end of their life. If you wash these twice and throw them away, you will still be buying more. Investing in or making your own reusable fabric bags is not only easy but cute and saves you money in the long run. There are so many bags you can make including sandwich bags, snack bags, bread bags... you get the idea!
Twenty Three: One time use beauty products
Skin care is so important. What isn’t is throwing so
much money down the drain on one-time-use items! It’s just so easy to make things like sheet masks, clay masks and more by yourself, saving hundreds, if not thousands, a year.
Twenty Four: Repair broke items
Learning to repair your items is a skill that will last a life time. Not only will you get to enjoy your favorite things longer, but also save money and reduce waste.
Many skills such as basic carpentry, sewing, and electronic understanding are just a few on the list.
Twenty Five: One time use entertainment
Nothing saddens me more than watching my paycheck get used once and done. From fireworks to waterballons! It just seems like there’s always something ready to waste!
Here is a link to a GREAT alternative to one of those issues! Save money and reuse!
Twenty Six: Skip The Parchment paper
Parchment paper can be easily replaced with silicone mats for cooking! I know, there are debates about whether silicone is good or we should just stick with non-reusable parchment paper. It takes almost the same amount of energy and resources to create one roll of parchment paper that it does to make a silicone mat. Water, electricity, etc. And if we are talking money saving, buying one reusable silicone mat VS a buying rolls of parchment paper... it’s kinda obvious which witch is which.
The right silicone mats can even be used on the grill! No more need for aluminum foil! YAY!
There are just a FEW ways to SAVE MONEY and the planet! Little changes are how we have changed the world! Studies have shown that it is making a difference in the world around us!
Keep up the good work and stick around here at The Smart Girl in Pants! I’m always posting new content!
The Smart Girl in Pants
With spring sneaking up on us (at my time of writing this in the cold of February) it’s time to prepare for the inevitable summer time activities.
Some are so wasteful, it almost hurts me to partake! Just watching the money splash away. The smiles they bring though...
lucky for me several others online thought the same thing. I found ZERO WASTE, REUSABLE WATER BALLOONS!
Now wait. I know a while back the rage was sponges. My Smart Pants band did not enjoy. Nope. They fell apart SO FAST! It would have been cheaper, at the rate they fell apart, to just to buy the balloons! Not to mention if the flat part of the sponge got ya, ouch. No, thank you.
I didn’t follow any templates for these, I just grabbed any extra yarn I could find and went to town! Most made them look like water balloons but I just went with balls. I added strings on the ends to hold on to and get a good fling. I know my Smart Kids... they need a lot. So make a lot I did... and we tested!
Can you believe we had 65 degree weather right at the time I needed to test these?! Thanks, momma earth!
We loved them, we did not throw them at each other but the look they gave each other sure told me the first hot day and the siblings would be targets. Let’s just say no one will be safe from these water ‘balloons’.
I did let the kids pelt ME. A rare occurrence, as I’m not accustomed to being pelted with soaking wet balls in the tail end of winter. But it’s for SCIENCE!!!!
I can tell you, they gave it their all and I didn’t hurt! If these would have been actual water balloons, I think it might have because you know kids. They get really close.
I did, however, get very VERY soaked. EASY to refill! They loved that! Just plop back in the water and reloaded.
So as as far as reviews go, I do believe this was a favorite of the kids! I am also excited to skip out on the plastic pieces I have to pick up and knowing the hard earned money is going into the trash with them.
So, love and water balloon fights,
The Smart Girl in Pants
Ah vegan wax. What can’t it do? It grows quickly, it’s cheap, it doesn’t harm anyone. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways, soy.
Soy wax is one of my favorite ingredients to use. I use it in some senseless things such as wax melts but I also make my own candle, cosmetics and wax wraps. Yes, you heard me, wax wraps.
My readers have had a bit of a hard time finding soy in their areas that is food grade, 100% soy! Please beware that not all wax blends are pure, food grade soy! So to combat this, I have added an alternative wax wrap! Soy free and easy to find food grade! That is carnuaba wax! I use the exact same recipe for both!
Move over plastic wrap, fabric wax wraps are the new boss in town.
It is a simple thing to make. You just melt the wax and soak your fabric. Vegan wax, just like bees wax but without the hard work of the little bees.
*Additional Wax NOT necessary! You can make these with 100% soy (food grade of course) But for me, adding the oil gives it a bit of flex that I love!*
Carnuaba wax is a VERY hard wax and must be blended with oil to give that flex you need! Depending on the hardness of your carnuaba wax, you may need to work with the measurements a bit. I find that almost equal parts, heavy on the oil, brings a great result to my wraps.
I prefer using grape seed oil as the oil. It’s extremely high in Vitamin E!
If it’s too stiff or too sticky (which may Happen. Waxes do differ in Hardness Depending on where and how it’s made) Just melt a new batch and Re-soak your fabric. No biggie!
To use, you want your wax wraps to have some bend. Not too stiff, not too sticky.
Of course, avoid heat when using these. Just like plastic wrap, bad things happen when it comes into contact with heat.
1) How long to wax wraps last?
Most people don’t even think of this, but evey wax wrap have a shelf life, in their own way. These are made with natural materials without preservatives and touching food a lot of the time. Just be aware how you store them, keep them clean and check often for signs of spoilage. One sign is a strong smell! With proper care, you can prevent this and your wraps can easily last a year with good care!
In the event of damage, the Best way to Re-wax your wraps is to put them in the oven on a silicone mat. Heat just until he wax melts. When cool enough to touch, squeeze as much was as you can out. Now you can wash these by hand using hot water and soap. Then, simply re-wax those bad boys for continued life.
If you have any doubts, throw it out. You can always strip your fabric
and make again! Just be sure you are doing all of this with proper sanitation!
2) How can I use these?
So many ways! I use them to literally wrap my food for the family’s lunches! We also use them in replacement of plastic wrap. We cover bowls, cups, and any container without a lid. We also are able to wrap left over fruit and veggies! I even used one to transport garlic from the garden to a friend and was shocked that my wax wrap didn’t hold the scent.
You do not just use wax wraps for food! I use them for all kinds of things!
3) How do we clean them?
With mild soap soap and COLD water. Remember, any heat or harsh soap will damage the waxes. It’s not recommended to use any wax wraps with meat or other highly germ prone items. Remember to always wash well! Sanitation is key!
4) What sizes do we need?
Since you are making these yourself, you can make them any size you want! If you want to cover a casserole dish, measure just a bit larger than your dish and boom! You have your own custom made wax wrap in the making.
I have some very small, good for left over fruits and veg and covering cups! It’s all about what size you need. You decide!
5) Can wax wraps be frozen?
YES. I have used mine in the freezer! The only problem, thaw time. Your wax wraps need to fully come to room temperature or you risk wax bits cracking. I love using smaller ones on top of cups of unfinished smoothies. I can actually pop them off of flat top cups and let them come to room temp while I’m already enjoying my breakfast!
6) Can I use any wax?
Sure, it just depends how you used them.
Wax wraps can be used for a variety of different reasons. Just be sure that whatever you use with food is food safe. Most candle waxes (including soy and bees wax) are NOT intended to be used with food. Be sure to do your due diligence! Above I did say 100% soy and food grade, make sure your wax is pure and intended for food contact!
And there ya have it! I know my vegan wraps went through a very popular moment last summer (2017) when I brought some dishes to a gathering. Everyone wanted to know just how I made them! Because guess what? Not only do they save big money, they are also really cute!
*THANK YOU to a viewer for pointing on which wax should be used!
Be sure your soy wax is 100% pure and safe for food contact!*
Love and let me count the ways,
The Smart Girl in Pants
Anyone who’s into tofu or vegan recipes knows the struggle. If you want tofu, you buy the plastic wrapped tofu at the store. It comes in so many different types... but in the end, it’s all packed in plastic.
OR! Have you ever wanted to make a recipe SO BAD, only to find you need tofu. Tofu that is still at the store. Way over there. Outside of the warm house... okay. It’s snowing here so that is my current predicament.
This recipe has saved me MANY times over. I use it straight as fried tofu or marinated tofu. I have also used it in cream based recipes such as icing. It’s amazing as tofu egg replacement and nuggets. Works wonders in recipes with vital wheat gluten. Lemme tell ya.
While this is not real tofu, it is made from soy flour. It’s rather more like the consistency of dry flan, if tofu from your not-so-friendly plastic package was typical flan. Soy also is extremely easy to buy in bulk and plastic free BUT! Once you start using it, I highly recommend keeping your Soy flour in the fridge or freezer for extended shelf life.
It’s SO simple but be sure to find a PLAIN soy flour!
Simply take 2 parts soy flour, 1 part liquid (can use water, vegetable stock, etc).
I like to press mine into the pan!
Fry, grill or Bake until golden and a reusable tooth pick comes out clean. Times will vary based on amount you make.
Depending on your flour and base, your results may vary... but! The more air pockets you get, the more yum it can be!
Hope it helps your vegan, waste free journey!
Spring fever or I guess I should say Garden Fever hits and again at the most inappropriate time. Yup it's feeling like negative degrees and I am wrapped up in my robe dreaming of my Spring garden already! Hopeful thinking?
Either way, I have big plans for this year! Last year was almost perfect! I had a bumper crop of corn, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries and loads more!
The only issue... It was CROWDED. Plants were out growing their beds at a rapid rate, pumpkin vines were merging with the melon vines and most sad of all... my herbs were smothered. They made it until mid July until the roses grew their rapid and unexpected growth spurts. I was able to get a lot of herb but to know that I could have gone until October this year kills me.
Now that I use my oils, tinctures and dry herbs in my handmade products... so this can't happen again!
So, taking my already huge garden and making it bigger. This sounds great... in theory. Easy to write in the new beds and expand the fence line out. DOING it is another story completely! Bigger means pulling up fence posts, moving the soil already in the beds (because I use this thing I call the drop it method for seeds on to the next year, I will explain this later) and building new beds. You would think writing it all out would make it dread it... It doesn't!
I'm not one the the rich and famous here so my garden doesn't take a lot of money to build or maintain in order to have a successful bounty. I use untreated wood, again because my garden is organic. It does break down after a few years but any wood will so I don't worry about it much. Winterizing your garden beds can help because hey, that's 5-6months out of the weather! I don't do that... I should but I don't. You should, Dearest Reader, because you are smart! I don't buy special soil, that soil is plain top soil mixed with my organic compost! I use fermented compost, if you want a blog on it, lemme know in the comments!
I needed extra top soil for the water garden. Otherwise we have an old fenced in garden we use to put leaves and other compost. So I dig my own soil up every year! I call this my 'Getting ready for summer' workout! I get the garden done and I am sore for a good solid week, HAHA! We search all throughout the year for free untreated wood to use and anything else I may like to include! Where there is a will, there is a way.
I don't do raised beds with weed barriers because I have learnt that my plants are smaller sized and the weeds didn't seem any less. I do have border beds, I don't know what the gardening pro's call these exactly but just wooden frames with plant specific soil on the inside and mulch outside. This keeps the path clear between beds! I still weed but part of those plans are to use an organic on top of the soil weed barrier! I didn't want to use any plastics that can potentially leach into the plants and will break down by the element before the really bad weed season even begins anyway! I don't want to use newspaper because many would dispute that as organic gardening and again the breaking down before the real weed season even starts. I have had nothing but good results with my own religious weeding, leaves and mulch around the plants, so that's the plan.
As for the plants, I firmly believe anyone can have a hardy garden. It's just about knowing your plants. Where they like to live, the type of soil, the amount of sun, weeding, watering and making sure to keep the bugs away. Lavender, as an example, hates having wet feet. I use a blend of 30% moss, 30% sand and 40% soil, roughly guesstimated. Equal amounts of moss and sand with some soil may be more closely to what I actually do :) Lavender likes full sun and it quite picky, IMO. Roses are simple. Basic soil, mild pruning in the spring and watch out for mold! As long as they don't have any weak points where bugs may attack, they are King of the Garden. Soil is another thing to take in to account. Some plants do better in acidic soil and some like a more Alkaline soil. Know your soils and what your baby prefers! Research your plants before you waste your money on seeds or plants. If you don't know your plant, don't be shocked when it dies. Making your plants happy is the best way to get results, results being more produce! You don't have to grow them in another country to make them happy!
Bugs are always an issue in a garden, organic gardens are even more of an issue. Different bugs require different Blah blah. Let me tell you what I use for bugs and this has worked with aphids, zucchini bugs, slugs and flea aphid, which I think still counts as some scientific named aphid or maybe not even an aphid at all but again, not a garden pro on tv. I don't even get paid to do this soooo flea aphid it is! This secret recipe has kept all of them away! So shhhhh!
I use...water with homemade organic glycerin, tea tree oil, peppermint oil, oregano oil, garlic tincture and cayenne tincture! To make a DIY tincture, add the garlic and the cayenne to boiling water and let it seep for a week or two. All natural! I REALLY recommend doing this at night or evening and washing off in the morning. The soap can smother your plants and the soap and essential oil combo can cause sun burning and wilted plants! ANY recipe with soap and oils should be rinsed off in the morning, at least before the sun gets the hottest. Especially on baby plants, which seem to have the most damage when bugs come along for a little nibble. If I need to use a spray during the day I use water with peppermint oil and a tiny bit of the liquid glycerin. Peppermint and oregano both BURN so bugs hate it, the glycerin makes leaves slippery and aphids hate it PLUS it helps keep the stuff on longer!
I say I spray it every night but I don't ever actually keep my word on that one and I only spray it when I see a problem. It seems to work well enough. Don’t waste your time if you keep a good eye on your garden. Things to look out for are browning leaves, tiny holes in leaves, missing leaves... things of that such. Mold and Mildews can be easily taken care of with a few drops of tea tree oil in water and sprayed on!
Plants are most susceptible when they are little. So, if you start from seed, it's very important to check them often. It doesn't take slugs or flea aphids long to kill a tomato plant. Best part though, if you do save one the plant is so much stronger! I don't have scientific proof behind this but I do notice that the abused babies generally grow into hard to bully adults. This is good for the survival of the plant but plants that have the habit of over growing tend to use more energy growing and yield later bumper crops. Even store bought plants are often small enough to take a beating and buying from a store increases your risks for bringing in mold, insects and other things that aren't in your garden! Upcycle milk jugs, soda bottles and anything of the sort to cover. Cover the plant carefully and push into the dirt so the ornery little buggers can't find a way in!
On to my drop it planting. This works perfect for tomatoes, pumpkins, gourds, squash, zucchini and melons. I just drop the damaged fruit! I have this deal with the bugs in the end of summer, half for me and half for you! Normally at the end, I am just ready for pumpkins and I don't really mind sharing. Especially when I get 10 pounds of maters a day... sure, help yourselves! This always leads to FREE tomato plants popping up the next year!! I haven't bought my heirloom Chocolate or heirloom ivory pear tomatoes in YEARS just because of this one little thing! Use a pumpkin on Halloween? Simply dump the seeds in your garden and cover with a layer of dirt! Squash get a little bug has eaten on? Leave it there! Seriously it is this easy. Free Plants? SURE! I haven't tried this with my corn, usually because any corn we don't want, the squirrels are the ones who get to it first.
Did I miss anything? If you would like more info, please feel free to comment and I can make another blog about that!
This was quite a long one but worth it! I hope all of this info has helped someone out in this big ole world to have a more productive organic garden! It is more of a hassle to garden organic but the benefits more than out weigh the extra work! Let's help make the world and ourselves better!
Love and Green Growing things,
The Smart Girl in Pants
Oh yes. You read it. Easy Vegan Crepes. I remember my very first crepe. It was in Paris with the Eiffle Tower behind us. No joke, it really was the moment my life changed. I wasn’t even aware of being vegan then (at the baby age of 13) and just felt like this was one of those things I needed in my life.
Fast forward to coming home, there was nary a crepe to be found! Not in cattle country. People didn’t even know what it was. A few barely even believed I had one. Luckily I have pictures to prove such things truly exist (with my snazzy disposable camera, I feel like I really knew selfies before they knew me...).
When I made them the first time, they were okay. Nothing like the crepe I had that started it all. I played with recipes and created this one. Most recipes are so easy to convert to Vegan these days, this one is no exception! Please enjoy a recipe that began way in my ole days!
All you need is:
1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour (or white flour!)
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
1 1/2 c water
That's IT! Mix all the dry ingredients together, add water and mix like a crazy french chief OR just a really hungry vegan? Idk just stir it a lot. You want to activate the natural gluten so the crepe can crepe like it needs to!
*For a gluten Sub, try using rice flour and flax seed*
Get your pan nice and hot! DO NOT ADD OIL! No oil, none of ANY kind. This will ruin it! Crepes are magic, just let it do it's thing! GEEZ!
Crepes are like thin, dense cakes. Not as thin as tortillas and not as fluffy as pancakes. With pancakes you don't want the gluten to activate, it get's it's fluff from the chemical reactions and cause bubbles. This is not a pancake but you know how when you wait on the pancake to bubble to flip it? Same here! Once the upside of the crepe bubbles and the edges are solid, you can flip it! These are really forgiving. I can make a huge breakfast and run between crepes and everything else with no issues.
Fill with fun things! I was REALLY craving chocolate because every where I went, there was chocolate full of stuff I don't want to eat. BAH. Found me some good ole vegan chocolate and put some tofutti and BLAM! MAGIC!!!! I also made a Mounds inspired one with the chocolate in question and coconut :) Plus Strawberries and cream with the tofutti!
SO don't believe that you have to have bland food when you become vegan! Not only is this vegan but it is also only about 100calories Per crepe (prefilling). Team with with your favorite smoothie or tea and you are GOLDEN!
This recipe made 5 full sized crepes!
Love and Crepe-y things,
~The Smart Girl in Pants
Okay before we start, this isn’t exactly a typical ‘energy drink’. The ingredients can span from pretty plain to extravagant. This is meant for those with basic knowledge of Kombucha brewing, at the end of the blog, there are further links to help you on your way to making this yourself!
My verision of an energy drink is fermented coffee. WHAT?! Yes... hear me out.
Kombucha is a probiotic tea drink you can make yourself in your very home! The caffeine from the tea is left intact, meaning it can give you the feeling of a boost of energy just like a cup of tea, or in our case, coffee.
I make this from distilled black coffee, so it’s a fermented coffee. It is fizzy like a coffee flavored energy drink but hopefully lower on sugar, may deliver beneficial probiotics and with the goal to be cheaper to make in the long run.
Let me explain how how I make mine!
Coffee Energy Drink:
*for this you will need a basic understanding of brewing Kombucha. Again, check below for links!*
-Fresh brewed, room temperature coffee
- 1/4 of your total amount of liquids should be Kombucha from your previous batch. If your batch is one cup of Kombucha, 1/4 of a cup
of the tea should be Kombucha.
*Natural Flavors: I chose carob powder and maca root powder. More ideas would be:
- Vanilla bean
-Natural flavors such as hazelnut
-Chocolate peanut butter
I make a gallons of Kombucha at a time, so for me, I would use somewhat under a gallon of coffee/Kombucha mix, cooled to room temperature. Never add Kombucha to hot anything. Whatever size your jar, do less than that. Simply put, we are replacing the black tea in your Kombucha with black coffee.
Add your sugar into your black coffee and dissolve. Once the brew has cooled, add your Kombucha and Scoby. Allow first ferment until desired level is reached. Feel free to test with alcohol Strip at this
point or wait until after second ferment.
During second ferment, pour black coffee
kombucha into desired bottles or jars. Then, add a small amount of your desired flavor. For my blend above, I chose maca root powder, carob powder and a dash of simple sugar syrup to help my brew develop a nice fizz.
At second ferment, begin your first ferment with your Scoby.
Once your second ferment is done, it’s ready to drink!
*If you find your Scoby is losing steam or making less babies, becoming unhealthy, etc. give your coffee Scoby a vacation in some black tea with lots of sugar. Remember to stay mindful of the warning signs of a sickly Scoby and make your brews with careful sanitation*
Be sure to ask your doctor if caffeinated or fermented beverages are for you. My blogs are meant to be entertainment and recipe sources, not meant to replace your doctor or treat, diagnose, prevent, cure or give medical advice. Do your own due diligence before trying anything new. Always allergy test as well.
With all that being said, I am quite caffeine sensitive (as I don’t expose muself to caffeine often). I can do most teas in moderation but I generally stay clear of coffee now. My husband on the other hand loves this and prefers it over regular kombucha! He’s the one that said it tasted like a coffee energy drink!
I hope someone found a new way to enjoy kombucha! I know this little drink has changed our lives! Our fizzy drink replaced soda and now, energy drinks!
Hope you enjoy!
The Smart Girl in Pants
Kombucha, huh? I know I love the stuff. I love the process of making my own. Knowing what’s in it from start to finish. Getting my personally, perfect brew. Avoiding excessive waste that comes with purchasing bottle after bottle...
In this blog today, I’ll explain how I go through the process. It involves the preparation for the first ferment with an established Scoby Starter and a few days later, the flavoring stage or second ferment. For growing your own Scoby, please check my blog posts listed at the end of this blog! I also have flavor options and a Vegan Jun!
I make gallons at a time. That’s right, you read correctly. I use Kombucha for so many things, I only makes sense! So I stagger when I do these so I have bottles ready to drink or use throughout the week. Luckily, it only takes a few minutes a day! The best part about Kombucha Brewing? It’s perfect for a busy person, very forgiving of forgetfulness and so rewarding.
First off, First Ferment.
For this, you want flavorless tea. No fancy blends. Standard Black the, Green Tea. I make a Kombucha coffee but I’ll get to that in another blog (hint, mine tastes like a coffee energy drink! So stay tuned!).
Your Scoby, the main part of Kombucha making, does not like many things:
1) Flavors, natural or artificial.
6) Artificial sweeteners
7) Sun light
I avoid using soap with my Kombucha jars. I use the Kombucha itself to clean them and then boil ANYTHING involved in the process of making Kombucha. I have never had anything weird happen in my brews but there are warning signs and mold people must be aware of. Prevent this simply by always practicing good sanitary methods. I know in all my posts, I sound very slap-stick. It’s true, I am. I am notorious for not measuring and adding in last minute flavors and spices but I am always conscious of cleanliness. Maybe to the point of germaphobe but it works, obviously!
Back to it,
Scoby, the Culture used to ferment your tea, is a semi-delicate culture. As long as it’s clean, maintaining its own cleanliness but not exposing it to anything new, it can tolerate a lot of neglect. Just avoid contamination and exposure to any of the aforementioned and you will be fine!
As I make gallon sized brews, I start with a gallon of tea! If you start in a 32oz jar, make 32oz of tea! Easy peasy! I think a strong brew makes the best Kombucha. The quality of your tea also makes a difference. Something many store bought teas can’t match is the quality of tea. Making smaller batches (gallons at a time may not seem small but when compared to companies... it’s pennies to millions), we can control everything from the tea quality to what sweeteners we use.
For your first ferment, sugar is the best bet. I know, there is such a stigma against sugar but this is the best thing to keep your Kombucha brew strong by feeding that Scoby baby! I love using organic turbinado sugar myself.
So, you may add your sugar to warm tea but wait to add your Scoby until the tea is room temperature. Remember above? Scoby do not like heat!
Cover with a breathable material. I like tight knit fabric, I have used wash clothes, cotton jersey fabric, etc. A lot of people like cheese cloth but the spaces are almost large enough for gnats or debris to fall in.
Now that your tea and Scoby have become acquainted, let’s give them some alone time to get brewing. The best place for your Kombucha is some place DARK. Just like us, UV rays can damage your Scoby. It loves a dark, warm but not moldy/humid area to get to know your tea. From what I have seen, most of the mold issues come from exposure to contamination either while making or in storage while fermenting. Under the sink may not be the best place due to the high moisture, for instance. Mine is in an extra closet, covered and safe.
Your Scoby may float. Your scoby May sink. It’s not a big deal either way, it’s not a sign of failure if your Scoby sinks and doesn’t come up. You do have the chance for a rogue baby Scoby that’s not attached to the mother Scoby during the event of a sink. But that’s alright!
As you ferment, your Scoby will get bigger and thicker. This is actually the formation of multiple baby scobies attaching to the mother! They can be separated and stored for other uses, composted (they make GREAT accelerators for compost!) or given away to fellow Kombucha lovers! A growing Scoby is a healthy Scoby!
Now, as you brew you will notice hanging bits from your Scoby. This is yeast and part of the fermenting process.
After 5-9 days (7 days is typical in 70 degree F weateher but feel free to taste test throughout! If it’s too sweet, keep fermenting. If it’s too sour, cut back on fermenting time next time. Just remember to check hygienically!) you will be done with your first ferment! Now time to move on to second ferment and bottling!
Second ferment is a whole new ball game! You could skip this completely. Your Kombucha is fine with only a simple first ferment but in order to get the fizzy, flavored Kombucha you need to second ferment. This second ferment doesn’t take as long as your first, between 1-3 days.
Here, you get to play with flavors because you will pour the Kombucha from the ferment containers and into new jars or bottles. The difference in containers is this: in your first ferment you want your brew to breathe and ferment. This is your base ferment, if you will. In your second ferment, you want to carbonate and flavor your beverage.
When it comes to flavors, what you add will contribute to your fizz-factor. If you only add dried herbs, don’t assume your Kombucha will be extremely fizzy. If you add juice or fresh fruit to your Kombucha, get ready to check often or prepare for the later disclosed series of unfortunate scenarios I will explain. The mix of the air tight container and the sugar in the fruit and juices is what really produces fizz. A dash of homemade simple syrup would even work with your dried herbs if you do not wish to add juice or fruit! Just remember, If you feed your Kombucha, it will fizz!
Also at this point, you will need to begin the new batch for first ferment and put your Scoby into that. If you leave your Scoby with no environment to thrive, it will die.
We can use almost any flavor you can imagine, keeping in mind the things your baby Scoby doesn’t like.
Start with boiling your bottles. Anything air tight will work, I personally jars over swing top bottles but I do use both. My reason? It’s easier to clean out the jars. I really do not enjoy using a chop stick to fish out cubes of fruit that stubbornly refuse to leave the swing top bottles! I always get that! No matter how small I cut the fruit cubes!
If you use a container with a flip top lid, it won’t hold your fermentation. If your container doesn’t hold the fermentation, you have flat, flavored Kombucha. Not that that’s bad, but the goal is a flavored, fizzy experience!
Make sure your bottles are sanitized, cooled down and ready to go. I strain my Kombucha into the bottles. The floaty bits won’t effect your finished product in anyway. I simply filter for esthetic reasons, as I have many friends new to Kombucha who aren’t as comfortable with the sediment as I am.
Fill your bottles or jars 3/4 of the way full with your final fruit and juices added, maybe a bit less. You want some head space here. For many reasons!
Now the fun time, flavoring! Don’t add too much. For my peach basil, I add two slices of peaches and a pinch of basil. Not only does the fermenting process enhance the flavors, making them quite strong, but any added sugar should be controlled. If there is quite a bit of sugar in the second ferment, it could lead to eruptions, lids flying off and allegedly, even bottles exploding. I have never had the latter happen but I have had one lid fly off and SEVERAL eruptions... Checking your second ferments often can prevent these things but checking too much will lead to flat Kombucha! Check sparingly!
Here are a few of my favorite flavors at the moment:
-Honey Dew and Mint: Honey Dew melon and fresh or dried mint from the garden
-Hibiscus and Rose: Dried Hibiscus flowers with rose petals and rose hips.
-Chamomile, lavender and grape juice: fresh or dried lavender and chamomile buds from the garden with a splash of grape juice.
-Pineapple and Thyme: Fresh pineapple or pineapple juice with fresh or dried Thyme
-Apple Pie: Fresh Apple or apple juice with a pinch of Apple pie spice
-Pumpkin Spice: Pumpkin purée with a pinch of pumpkin pie spice
-Cranberry and Apple: fresh cranberries or cranberry juice with a bit of apple
- Peach and Basil: fresh peach chunks or juice with fresh or dried basil
-Banana and Cherry: fresh banana with some cherries
-Coconut And Lime: Fresh or dried coconut with a lime slice
*Adding loose leaf Tea to the second ferment gives you the flavor of that tea! I love Earl Gray and Lady Gray with a dab of fruit juice for the fizz!
The choices are literally endless! Get your creative on and make some of your favorite flavor combos! Comment below what they are so I can try them! I’m always looking for more flavors!
And there you go!
Please feel free to check my other blogs, listed below for ideas!
Be sure to ask your doctor if caffeinated or fermented beverages are for you. My blogs are meant to be entertainment and recipe sources, not meant to replace your doctor or treat, diagnose, prevent, cure or give medical advice. Do your own due diligence before trying anything new. Always allergy test as well.
Much love and Kombucha,
The Smart Girl in Pants
We all know scented pinecones... the ones you walk by in the store and almost instantly get a headache from the faux cinnamon chemical wafting off them.
I really prefer just natural scents. Of course I do want it to actually scent my home as well.
Here are other ways to use them besides just sitting around the house!
1) I loved using the smaller ones as scent samples (so cute and obviously biodegradable!).
2) Gift package ideas! Definitely a cute replacement for bows. I attach with thine or paper tape.
3) Bigger ones can make part of a gift on their own! You can also team it up with a matching soap, bath bomb and perfume oil and you are SET! Get it, because it’s a set... TADA!
4) Decor around the home is obvious but ornaments on the tree or for a wreath on the door! Imagine that gorgeous smell every time someone knocks on the door!
5) Festive holiday car fresheners for you and your friends!
6) Coat closet air freshener! What an extra (yet totally impressive) experience it be for guest?
7) Linen drawers. Think about it, if I were a guest and I found a scented pine cone in my drawer while putting up my clothes, call me impressed. Replace the disposables and go with this! Just be sure to have it in a net bag or check with your guests for allergies.
What's a Smart Girl in Pants to do? Make my own...
First, you want to FIND pine cones! Don't steal pine cones. Technically don’t steal anything but right now the focus is on pine cones. Nature sanctuaries really don’t appreciate taking seeds. Animals and nature uses these! Ask before hand or buy some online. I know my friend took my advice that she can sell hers rather than burn them up. Her yard gets FILLED with a variety, so we go a picking every year. For those who can’t get their hands on them, know that people like my friend really do appreciate the support!
Next, sanitizing your pine cones. Wash first, then You can choose to bake these or not. I turn my oven to 350 degrees F, let it preheat and turn it off. Place be cones in for about 30 minutes. I have found leaving them in my trunk during multiple 100+ days in a sealed bag worked too... not that I reccommend it but there ya have it. Just don't burn your cones.
Then the scenting can begin!
In candle and soap making you learn something very quick. The base note of scents and how it effects the outcome. Scents with musky, deep bases last longer. Think cinnamon, spiced, musky. Light scents last the least amount of time. Think lemon, light herbs, linen.
For my cones, I wanted long lasting scent that's easy to apply again for a boost of scent. I am going with a vanilla based scent with labdanum, cinnamon, clove, patchouli and sandalwood. You can pick whichever you prefer, but remember your scent base!
I use a mix of essential oils, tapioca starch and real spices. I just feel like it brings the scent home. The spices and starch also retain scent! So I add an extra pinch of ground allspice, clove, cinnamon and tapioca starch (feel free to omit this or try arrow root!). It should be a damp, more liquid than powder mix. If it’s too powdery, it will be like a sticky dough. I can’t even imagine getting that evenly onto a pine cone... although for faux snow, maybe it would work!
Apply to the cones and store in a box. I just use a cardboard box. Shake gently to make sure the scent gets all over. Leave closed until they are dry. This last part is a bit Schrödinger-theory. As long as I don't open it, the scent is still super strong. Haha! Really I don't think drying them in a box helps them retain smell but that's what I do. Plus it helps keep down on the mess of it all! Be sure to dust them off really well in case you went over board on the spices and starch ( I know I did...).
Once I place these, I add more of my scent concoction whenever I walk by and can't smell them anymore. Last year I think I re-scented 4 times during the fall/winter time by just dropping more oils onto the coated pine cones. If I can’t smell it over my diffusers, I re-scent. So, a normal person may not have to re-scent as often! Still, Easy and worth it!!! Smells AMAZING.
Once you are done with these, try planting it!
Be sure to wear gloves and work in a vented area if you are sensitive to essential oils and don’t use anything you are allergic to. Essential oils are potent! They are meant to be used diluted, not full strength. But for this, we need max scent throw. Just be sure to be Smart and be safe. I’m not responsible for any incidents and I sure do not want my Smart Pants Fam to get hurt!
Give it a go and lemme know,
The Smart Girl in Pants
The Smart Girl in Pants