How to Make Yogurt, Greek Yogurt, and Skyr

yogurt-small-jarsThere’s almost nothing easier than making your own yogurt! With the back to school and back-to-serious season now in swing, you may be tempted to stock up on the Go-gurt style tubes for kids or even some of those new, beautiful little artisan yogurt tubs for you, to appease your healthy-slash-convenient sensibilities.  But nay nay!  Here’s a fun project for your weekend.

You can make your very own super delicious and wholesome regular yogurt, Greek yogurt, and even Icelandic-style Skyr Scandinavian yogurt right at home.  It’s not only less expensive and more holistic, but good for the environment, too, producing far less waste.  Let me walk you through the traditional stovetop method for making your very own homemade yogurt.   Continue reading

Great Northern Gardening Experiment, Part 2

Gardening Mid SummerA couple months now into our Spring seeding and sprouting, and we are officially in the midst of Summer gardening… and it is OM!  Much of the garden this year was grown from seed and some fruit roots, with a few small berry shrubs thrown in for good measure.  We did see some returning plants from our first year, and things are coming along quite nicely – however, just a little slowly.

Everyone here says it’s been a wet season thus far, though even moving as we did from Texas last year, I find it has been very hot as well.  I will say, 85 degrees with 80% humidity really DOES feel like 105!  Now I understand why the farmers get up so early.   Continue reading

Fairy Forest Cottage with a Side of Jam

Fairy Forest signsWow!  So it’s been almost 2 months since I’ve posted anything here – which is definitely a sign of the season.  With the onset of spring gardening and the end of Mighty O’s school year, needless to say, we have been MIGHTY busy!!!

When we moved in last year, I declared that 2016 would be the year of OUTSIDE – since there was so much work INSIDE  to deal with for 2015… and so it’s been off to the races since the sun came out here.

Top projects over the last several weeks have included handmade teacher gifts (lavender sugar and lavender lemongrass body scrub), tending to the Great Northern Gardening Experiment sprouts and getting them into the ground, clearing and re-envisioning long-neglected beds, planting in over 250 bulbs and roots, and over 30 fruit shrubs and flowering bushes (with a few trees still to go!), turning our “mud pit” off the deck into a huge pebble patio, and – of course – keeping the Elf entertained with plenty of books, hikes, creative projects, and even a few camp days and play dates here and there.

Shew!! So now that I’ve exhausted myself just thinking about all of that… I decided it’s time for a new hobby (of course).   Continue reading

Great Northern Gardening Experiment: Starting Seeds

Starting Seeds CompleteAs a newer gardener – and brand new to growing in the Northern latitudes – there’s a lot I am figuring out… like the necessity of starting seeds early to work with a much shorter and cooler growing season.

Last Spring, my first priority was settling into our new house, so I got a pretty late start on things.  Besides which, a garden plot still had to be tilled out, compost delivered, and finally starting seeds commenced, and somewhat randomly, since I wasn’t really sure  what might grow successfully in our new environment. Continue reading

The Upcycle: Maximizing Your Clothing

Skina ShipmentWe’ve all heard the phrase Reduce-Reuse-Recycle.  Over the years, I’ve gotten progressively more engaged with these ideas, and now I feel guilty anytime I don’t… reduce, reuse, or recycle.  I’ve eliminated our trash can at home, replacing with a large recycle bin and composting, and now find there are really only tiny amounts of “garbage.”  It’s been an interesting process to realize how much we threw out before that could have gone to better use!  I’m of the mind now that unless it’s hazardous waste, there is probably some way to put it back into the stream.

Today, I thought I’d describe my personal upcycle/recycle process when it comes to clothing, which is one of the easiest (and most fun ;) ways to begin incorporating a more eco-friendly approach in household consumption. Minimizing my wardrobe is a continual work in progress, so as I do, I want to make sure that I make the most of what I’ve got and have already soaked up in terms of resources.  A lot of this can apply to other items throughout the house, too.

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3 Steps to Super Cute Storage: Adding Rustic Style to Glass Jars in Just 2 Minutes

Ribbon Jars 3 FinalMy mantra over the last few years has been “Simplify.” Each time the New Year rolls around, I renew my dedication to this principle – and this year is no exception.  This journey is very much a work in progress, though the more I get down this road, the more I realize that the key to simplifying successfully is to find just a few things that work in my home and life for a number of different purposes.

Using up and whittling down the excess starts to get more clear and a whole lot easier this way. As I identify the hard-core multi-taskers of daily life, it’s helping me have to manage less, buy less, and be able to do the things I enjoy a lot more.  This concept seems to apply well across the board, whether it’s wardrobe, cleaning products, cooking ingredients, or what have you.  I’ve found that one of the most effective tools to rise to the top of my utility scale are glass jars.   Continue reading

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Dishwasher Detergent Result GlassDishwasher detergent seems to be one of those items where we always seem to be looking for something better.  Especially as someone who prefers the more natural route, though still wanting exceptionally clean dishes , believe me, I have tried them ALL!

With my recent efforts to change over to as many homemade cleaning products as possible, it seemed like I was starting all over again.  I had a favorite big-name brand of dishwasher detergent that I became loyal to over the years – and though the “natural” products never quite measured up to that degree of commercial-grade sparkle, I always felt much better using them.  Unfortunately, they do get spendy – and are harder to find.   Continue reading

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

Laundry Detergent BucketOne of my latest obsessions is making homemade cleaning products.  My mom initially turned me on to the idea of homemade laundry detergent when she reported making 5 GALLONS of laundry detergent – that worked well! – for just a couple of dollars.  Whaat?!  This appealed to me on so many levels.
There are so many good reasons to make your own laundry detergent.  To live more naturally, consume fewer products with less packaging, reduce chemicals in our homes and on our bodies, and to stem the pollution going into the waste stream and waterways – and last but certainly not least, to save money.  Laundry detergent has always been one of the most expensive items on my grocery list, especially since liquid detergent is pretty much all we can use in our HE machine – so this is an awesome way to conserve in the household budget.   Continue reading