Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Zero Waste Home

I recently came across a most inspiring book called "Zero Waste Home - The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing your Waste" by Bea Johnson from my local library.

In the book Bea shares what her family of four has done to reduce their waste to just one quart of garbage per year.  Quite impressive !  The book starts off with her sharing her journey to a zero waste lifestyle.  In the process of changing their lifestyle they simplified their lives, cut their annual spending by 40% and are healthier than ever.  Each chapter dives into detail on various aspects of the home - kitchen and grocery shopping; bathroom, toiletries and wellness; bedroom and wardrobe; housekeeping/maintenance; work space and junk mail; kids and school; holidays and gifts; out and about, etc.   There are lots of tips and easy ideas for sustainable living for even the busiest of people.  Once you get started on the easy stuff expand to the harder tips.  There is something for everyone one in this book and is all about finding the balance that works for you.   Once these ideas become habit the rest will come easier.

There are many things in the book that we are already doing, but the book has inspired me to do a lot more.  It gave me lots to think about and got me off my chair and have acted on a few of the ideas already, which will share in future posts.

We live in a busy, stressful, consumable world; a world full of plastic, and a world which is becoming less healthy and unsustainable.  There are few people who can say they would like less stress in their lives.

If we all took a few of these tips and ideas that Bea shares, we would be in a better, healthier and more sustainable place.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Cat Nip

I started growing catnip in the house by seed one winter and then transplanted outdoors after the frost. 

I grew this herb for mainly for my cat.   
         She loves catnip ! 

Catnip comes in different varieties and the one I grew is the Nepta Cataria.  It also looks pretty in my perennial beds.  The bees loved this plant this summer when it flowered.  I don't remember seeing so many bees.  But then again, when you "stop and smell the roses" as I have had to do this summer you start to notice things you didn't see before.

It comes from the mint family.

Catnip isn't just for cats.  It has medicinal and culinary qualities too.  It can be dried and used in teas and has similar effect as chamomile.   I also read that it has mosquito repellent qualities, but I haven't tried it yet.  

For now, it's hanging drying now and will be later stored for our pet. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

It's Coming up to the Season of Sock Knitting

It's coming up to that time of year that I knit socks for the next couple of months.  One reason is, I can ! And... I do like to knit socks.  I find it relatively easy to do since I found a good go-to pattern, that I can almost do without looking now.  I've knitted over 50 pairs of socks in the last few years, all of which have been given as gifts.  One of these days, I will knit a pair for myself !

Second reason, my grown-up children love hand made socks.  I was told that my hand knitted socks lasted through a season of rigorous tree planting in the bush, where the store bought ones had holes in no time.

Third reason, they are a very portable knitting project, you can take anywhere ie, waiting at appointments, etc.

As it turns out, I learned at our recent Knitter's Guild Executive Meeting, that we are taking on a sock theme for this coming Guild year.   There will be lots of tips and tricks to be learned at the upcoming meetings, such as various cast-on methods, heal methods, grafting, knitting two socks at a time etc. etc.   We even have a designer coming to one of our meetings, Kate Atherley, who has written a book on socks.  

Will be a fun and informative Guild year ahead.

Happy Knitting :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Lemon Balm

I've always wanted to grow lemon balm in my garden and had a hard time find a plant at the nursery, so I started the lemon balm plants by seed inside one winter.    The seeds took a while to germinate and one little plant survived.   I planted it in the raised beds, but it didn't do very well (perhaps too much shade from our old large tree).    After the tree was taken down, I moved the plant to another location with full sun and has now flourished and spreading like crazy.  It's even popping up little plants everywhere in my garden and lawn where the seeds flew.  

I love the smell of the lemon balm plant and have learned there are many things you can do with this herb.  There are so many uses for this plant - from medicinal purposes, cooking, crafts, cosmetics and teas.  There are many websites listing the uses of this plant.    I've listed just a couple of useful links on this herb below.

The Homestead Garden  -  listing everything you wanted to know about Lemon Balm
The Homespun Seasonal Living Blog -  Listing 10 ways to use Lemon Balm
The Herb Society - An extensive guide, including recipes
Healing From the Home Remedies blog - listing uses and recipes.

Some Facts I have learned :
-  Lemon balm is high in flavonoids, which can have an antioxidant effect
-  Lemon balm also contains tannins, which are astringent and contribute to lemon balm’s antiviral effects.
-  Lemon balm had historic use as an attractor of honeybees
- It has many medicinal purposes too - treats digestive issues, fevers, insomnia, colds and flu, anxiety to name a few.

This year I am going to dry as much as I can and use for tea during the winter months.

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