The Canning Kitchen

The Canning Kitchen coverI love it when bloggers experience success especially when it’s a blogger I’ve been following for some time. Seeing them on TV or their books in print, make me excited for them . . .mostly because I know that it probably took years of building a relationship with readers and juggling many plates while trying to deliver the best content. Admittedly, I have a soft spot for fellow Canadian bloggers, in particular Savvy Storytellers.

When I saw that Amy Bronee from Family Feedbag, a go-to for quick and easy family friendly recipes, had published a book, I wanted to share it with you.

The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes is a must-have companion to the bountiful summer harvest season. I have wanted to try my hand at dill pickles and this book covers the classics but it also inspires with new recipes like for Salted Caramel Pear Butter.

Canning isn’t just for grandma anymore!  Give it a try and enjoy the taste of summer all year long.

To order your copy of The Canning Kitchen click here.

Be Green and Detox Your Home

images-1Carol is my go-to green expert.  She’s most likely cringing right now because she considers herself anything but an expert on the topic.  She is, however, the most environmentally conscious person whom I know and instead of wanting to stick my fingers in my ears and ride out the guilt wave whenever she talks about her latest greening project, I am inspired!  That’s right folks, inspired!

This woman makes her own soap, grows her own mushrooms and boarded the eco-train long before it became mainstream yet she is anything but a green snob.  Her quiet enthusiasm spurs me to try new things and step way out of my comfort zone.

A few weeks ago, Seventh Generation sent over a home detox kit and I figured why not give it a try?  I have made strides to introduce more organic, whole foods in to our every day diet but I have been neglectful on the home front.

I am not easily impressed when it comes to “green” cleaners.  The few that I have tried have delivered lacklustre results that left me wondering how clean the toilet/counter/floor really is?

I was pleasantly surprised with Seventh Generation’s granite counter cleaner and dishwashing detergent but the laundry detergent made me a convert!  images

I do laundry like it’s my job.  Well, it kinda is my job.  I easily push through 10 loads a week of grimy, sweaty, stained clothes running the gamut from sporting uniforms to my beloved skinnies and EVERYTHING CAME OUT SPOTLESS with no soapy residue.

Thinking of “leaning-in” to become more green conscious when it comes to your home?  Here are some easy-to-do tips from Seventh Generation:

  1. Open The Windows – avoid synthetic air fresheners and sprays.
  2. Leave Shoes At The Door – and wash those welcome mats!
  3. Plant More Indoor Plants – they help purify the air.
  4. Clean With Plant-Based or DIY Cleaners – or choose a brand that lists all of their ingredients so you can make an informed choice.
  5. Sleep On Organic And/Or Natural Fibres
  6. Detox Your Home From The Outside In – spray your lawn with white vinegar to combat those pesky weeds!
  7. Choose Toys Made From Natural Materials – and wash them with natural detergents.

Declutterer By Degrees by guest blogger, Sara Vartanian

I’m a declutter by degrees. It takes me a few passes to reach a level of deep satisfaction as I reduce six bins of baby boy clothes to four and then two. I feel lighter each time I smugly pass an empty Rubbermaid to my husband. Soon, they’ll be no evidence of my boys’ newborn days expect a few sleepers that evoke memories too deep to give away.  This process is repeated for maternity clothes, teaching supplies, and kitchen items sitting idle on shelves I cannot reach. There is nothing safe from my systematic purges.

Since there is no “away” where does all our stuff go when it no longer serves us?

Does my participation in companies that resell my clothing and donating absolve me from the guilt of disposing of the items myself? Or will last year’s statement pieces make their way across the world to weigh down another country with my discards? One of these days, I’m going to host a clothing swap amongst my friends. We’ll all feel a bit better knowing that pieces of our past will no longer be accusing us from the bottoms of our dressers. I’m talking to you gorgeous jeans, bought two pregnancies ago.

If I keep my things to pass onto my kids am I burdening them with both my memories and my junk? I think of the 35-year-old handmade wooden crib commissioned by my Papa. Weeks after moving into my first home, my mom eagerly passed it onto me with the words, “It’s your turn”.  The crib now takes up valuable space in my midtown Toronto garage while I quietly detach myself from it, forgiving myself for wanting to give it a new home. Please don’t think me heartless. An egg carton stroller that my Papa and I made while watching Mr. Dressup, weeks before he died, holds a place of honour in my dining room buffet. Some things, I hold on too.

Sometimes I stare at the pile of plastic superheroes, wondering what we will possibly do with it when we are done? Perhaps, I’ll mellow out with age and cease this endless cycle of minimizing. I’ll pull out boxes of Lego and train tracks for my grandkids, thrilling them with stories of their dads. But if I can’t resist the urge to declutter, I hope we’ll be able to find them a new home with kids who play just as hard as mine. I do know that I’ll sell, donate, or swap before I’ll toss any of our memories into the garbage because there they won’t even stand a chance at a new life.

Best Green Tip: Mindful Consumption

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When I think of favourite green tips, long laundry lists come to mind, so I’ve opted instead for maybe one over-arching tip.  I think ultimately, if you want to respect the earth you’re living on and dependent upon, you need to practice mindful consumption.

What does mindful consumption mean?  To me, it means being intentional about buying and consuming goods and services, with an explicit, unwavering knowledge that everything we buy requires resources from the earth.  Being mindful about those purposes means thinking about whether our consumption has appropriate value to us considering its real cost.

This real cost goes beyond the sticker price and asks what was the cost to the person who made or grew it, and the earth that produced it?  How much energy did it require to bring it to you and how much packaging will go in the garbage after it is consumed?   How much pleasure does it give you and for how long, and what is the quality of that pleasure?

I read somewhere that spending money means voting with our dollars, and I believe it’s true.  Money talks.  Whether we are conscious of it or not, the way we spend our money translates into supporting people, companies and practices.  I may not have much money, but I’ve got some, and I like the idea of wielding whatever power may be in it in the direction I choose.

The beautiful thing about mindful consumption is that it brings one’s purchases into alignment with what you actually believe, and maybe even helps you to define what that is.  Spending less on the-everything-that’s-everywhere will mean having more to invest in what matters most to you.   Being mindful about how we consume is a path to clarity, respect for the earth, and peace of mind, which naturally makes it priceless.