I Like to Crochet…

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**Right now I am having a SALE in my Etsy shop. Head over there and see if there is anything that floats your boat. All hats are currently 10% off. Use coupon code EVERGREEN10 upon purchase. These hats make great gifts or you can just treat yourself! Sale ends Monday**

If you didn’t already know, I like to crochet. I’ve been practising crocheting on and off since I was about 10 years old. My mom (the very talented/) taught me the foundational skills and I’ve been learning different techniques ever since.

When my daughter was born I started taking this skill of mine a little more seriously. I’m not a huge fan of buying cheap, mass produced goods so I started making hats for her. Making them myself allowed me to choose the fibres I wanted, like undyed wool and organic cotton. It’s very satisfying knowing that I can make beautiful things while minimizing my impact on the environment.

That’s when I decided to start my Etsy shop. I wanted others to have the option to choose well-made items developed in a more sustainable way than their cheapo counterparts.

Having the Etsy shop motivated me to create some of my own patterns. With every hat I make I learn something new, so my patterns are always changing and getting better. All of the hats currently in my shop were designed by… that’s right… moi! Although I am a sucker for a cute pattern; my favourites can be found in the Etsy shop Mon Petit Violon.

Being a stay-at-home mom has allowed me the time to do something I love while raising my little girl. I love interacting with customers while being able to read stories with Leah. I love creating and designing while being able to teach Leah her ABC’s. And I have a cute little model to show off new hat designs🙂

More recently I’ve delved into the world of Amigurumi (or crocheted stuffed animals and creatures). Animals are so fun to crochet! I ordered Crocheted Softies by Stacey Trock which is a fabulous book with so many animals that I can’t wait to create. So far I’ve made a moose which turned out adorable! Pictures to come soon…

So to sum it all up, I like to crochet! And don’t forget to check out the sale🙂

PS. All pictures are courtesy of my sister, Amelia Lloyd. Thanks sis🙂

A Homemade Lip Balm Experiment

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Ahh, warmer weather is here to stay… at least I hope so. I’ve had just about enough of this spring weather weirdness and I’m ready for summer!

So recently, I’ve been doing all kinds of research on natural body care products. I delved into it a little around Christmas time, but now I’ve jumped in head first! It was actually brought on by this gorgeous, sunny weather and the need (or so I thought) for some natural sunscreen for my baby girl. Little did I know, the average bottle of sunscreen has some pretty terrible chemicals in their ingredients. Some sunscreens may actually be accelerating the same cancer it is supposed to prevent. Yikes! So I started looking for an alternative and found some great homemade sunscreen recipes. Well I jumped all over that and will be making some sunscreen in the near future. I did however find this post which actually questions whether we need sunscreen at all. It has definitely given me something to ponder this past week and I’ll be posting something soon on my sunscreen adventures but for now I’d like to show you what I made this week.

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Lip balm! With lots to share. Good, quality lip balm from the store can get pretty pricey. The initial investment into the products for making lip balm may seem expensive, but the final tube or container of lip balm cost next to nothing. And the ingredients can be used for making lots of other things like lotions, deodorant, sunscreen, soaps… the list goes on. The benefit of making these products yourself is that you know exactly what you are putting onto and essentially into your body. Our skin absorbs everything we put onto it which eventually travels into our bloodstream. We need to start being aware of what we are unknowingly exposing ourselves to and start taking control of it.

I decided to start with something easy and fun. I found this lip balm recipe around Christmas and have been itching to try it ever since. It uses all natural ingredients that smell wonderful when blended together. I did have a bit of trouble finding some of the ingredients, which is part of the reason why it took me so long to make. But after lots of searching, the end results are definitely worth it!

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Beeswax is one of the main ingredients. I found this at my local Farmer’s Market for a great price.

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Mmm, cocoa butter. It smells so delicious. I had trouble finding this in stores but I was able to find this organic cocoa butter online here.

This is a great recipe and makes enough to share! This lip balm goes on super smooth and the peppermint oil gives it a nice cooling effect. Another great thing about making your own body products is that you can make them however you want. Don’t like peppermint? Add some lavender oil instead or your other favourite scent. Make it your own. I’ll definitely be experimenting with different flavours in the future.

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I also recently tried making deodorant with great success. More on that soon!

Ashley “)

PS. Does anyone want some lipbalm?

10 Ways You Can Reduce Waste in Your Home (While Saving $)

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1. Buy in bulk. Especially food. By buying in bulk not only do you save on the amount of packaging used, but you also save money!

2. Buy foods with less packaging. I was once lured into buying a box of cute, little penguin cookies. I think I was shopping while I was hungry which is never a good idea, and bought a box of these new cookies that were on sale. Little did I know, each cookie was individually wrapped and then put into a sealed bag AND THEN put into a cardboard box. That’s what I call excessive packaging. I try to avoid things like that now.

3. (For the bean lovers like me!) Buy dried beans. I love my beans; black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, chickpeas, mixed beans… And I love having the convenience of having them at the ready for when I plan my last minute meals. But did you know that buying dried beans is MUCH cheaper than buying them in the can? My husband and I worked it out that dried chickpeas are less than a quarter the price of canned ones. You can also cook them up and throw them into the freezer for the same canned convenience.

4. BYOB – Bring your own bags. The car has become my new storage place for my reusable bags. Once the groceries have been emptied, back out to the car they go!

5. Make your own food. Breads, cookies, salad dressings, baked goods (like these yummy granola bars), are quite simple to whip up but for some reason, we opt for the full of preservatives, bland tasting, store bought alternatives. By making your own, you are using less packaging, saving money (more than you would think!), and eating healthier. You can customize your foods to exactly how you like them. And the excuse that you don’t have time won’t cut it. This bread recipe actually takes 5 minutes to make. I tried it. It’s delicious. You should try it too.

6. Shop Thrift. Before going out to the store for that must have item, well first consider whether it is actually a must have item (do you really need that 10th pair of jeans when you can only wear one pair at a time anyways…). Once that’s been determined, see if you can find it somewhere used instead of buying new. You’d be surprised at how many great, quality things you can find used. Most of the things we got for our baby girl have been used (crib, rocking chair, swing, toys, clothes…) and we have probably saved a fortune. Especially on clothes. She grows out of things so quickly.

7. Invest in reusable containers. I LOVE reusable containers. I put everything into them; leftovers, lunches, loose fruits and veggies that wiggle their way around the fridge. They are a great alternative to plastic baggies, plastic wrap and tin foil. They are also great for school snacks. Instead of buying individually packaged snacks, buy them in bulk (again with the saving money thing…) and put them into small, reusable containers. You get the same serving size with less waste while saving money. Seems pretty logical to me. And it only takes an additional 10 seconds to prepare. I love my reusables… did I mention that already?

8. Reuse things instead of throwing them away. If you have plastic baggies lying around, don’t throw them away! They are very easy to wash and reuse. If you happen to have baby food jars lying around, don’t throw them away either. They are perfect for storing herbs and spices, craft supplies, or they would make cute homemade candle holders. And here’s a link for a ton of neat things you can do with tin cans. Like this:

9. Use cloth napkins instead of paper towels. Paper towels and paper napkins are pretty wasteful. Well, they more often than not end up in the garbage, so yup, pretty wasteful. Cloth napkins are great because they are relatively inexpensive (you could even make your own!) and you can use them again and again. As an alternative to paper towels, you could use old t-shirts. Cut them into paper towel size pieces and voila! Paper towels.

10. Subscribe to e-bills and e-magazines. Almost all companies have the option of having bills delivered via email now. So make sure you sign up! There are many magazine companies that provide their entire magazine online as well. Although this option may cut down on your bathroom reading, the environment will be much happier because of it!

So those are just a few of my ideas to help reduce waste while saving money in your home. What are some of the ways you reduce waste in your home? I’d love to hear them!

Ashley ”)

Giving Up Boxed Cereal….Forever

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We have decided to stop eating cereal. You know, the super sugary stuff you buy in the store for ridiculous prices that come in excessive packaging? We’re giving up that stuff. And I’m so excited to start doing it!

We decided to do this a couple weeks ago when we were doing our weekly dreaming about how we want to grow and make all of our own food. Like everything. Breads, buns, herbs, tortillas, potato chips, yogurt, butter, tomato sauce, pasta, jams . . . you name it, I want to make it! But we don’t exactly have all the resources for doing all of this quite yet (like the room to grow everything . . . Although check out this farm. Definitely an inspiration!) But you need to start somewhere right? So we decided to stop buying boxed cereals.

Between the two of us, we typically go through a box of cereal a week (unless its mini wheats, in which case it would be like 2 boxes a week. Because you need to fill your bowl to the brim with those, right?). We started thinking of different breakfast options that could easily replace cereal without having to buy something else with a lot of packaging, and the options were pretty much endless and so easy! We already make our own waffles. When we make them, we usually do a double batch and throw the extras in the freezer. When you want to eat them, just pop em’ in the toaster and voila! Fresh, tasty waffles. I’ll post some of our favourite recipes soon. Oatmeal is always a great option as well. Buy some quick oats in bulk form, scoop your desired amount into a bowl, top with whatever you want (raisins, cranberries, almonds, apples, blueberries, cinnamon, brown sugar . . . ), pour some hot water into it and you have custom instant oatmeal. Top with some milk, maple syrup or honey and it is delish!

I was recently perusing my More with Less cookbook (a book on how to eat better and consume less) and found an entire section on cereals! There are some great granola recipes that I’m going to give a whirl, but what was most interesting was the information given about boxed dry cereals. Here’s a quick summary:

1. Boxed cereal is a very expensive way to eat grain. It is even more expensive than bread and in some cases can be more expensive per pound than some varieties of meat. So basically, cereal is muchos expensive!

2. Dry cereals are extremely wasteful; they have excess packaging, they take up space on shelves, and take up energy as they are developed, processed, advertised and delivered to stores and in turn our homes.

3. Many dry cereals are loaded with sugar and most are filled with dyes and preservatives. The cereal grains in their natural state contain much-needed fibres are are pretty much fat free whereas the dry cereal have most of the good stuff like fibre, removed in the processing stage and then have added fats . . . gross.

4. Cereals are one of the most advertised foods on children’s TV. And the cereals advertised and then most often bought for children are the ones that contain the highest amount of sugars, making young children accustom to heavy sweetening on their foods (and perhaps not as keen for vegetables).

Wow, so this little bit of information I found has only encouraged me to cut out boxed cereals forever. Yup, forever. It will take a little more work and planning, but the end result will be worth it; more nutritious and delicious breakfasts, less packaging going to the dump, and probably more time spent eating breakfast with family🙂

It would be amazing if you could join us on this adventure. Even by just starting small, having a couple cereal free breakfasts a week, you’ll be making a difference. I’ll be posting some cereal free breakfast recipes soon so stay posted! I’d love to hear of any great recipes or breakfast ideas you have as well!

Ashley “)

Green Tip of the Day: Mason Jars

So here is a little Green tip for you today. I am a huge fan of preserving seasonal foods. It is much healthier for you than store bought canned goods or foods that have travelled the continent, it is more delicious and it’s more economical. I’ve only been canning myself for a couple years, so I do know that there are several initial investments that can add up quickly. One of which is canning jars. As we begin to can more things, we find ourselves buying more and more jars! Well I have a solution for you!

I currently buy my pasta sauces at the grocery store (hopefully we’ll try to make some of our own this summer!). I enjoy the Classico or PC brand sauces (when they are on sale, which is actually quite often!). Did you know that these are also Mason jars! See?

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Did you also know that a regular canning lid will fit on the store bought jars? Here’s a shot of a regular quart size mason jar, a PC brand jar and a Classico jar.

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The store bought jars are a little smaller than the regular quart jars, but are the perfect size for canning tomato sauce🙂 And they all have the same size top. So all you’d need to buy are a few extra rings and lids. Reusing these mason jars is great for the environment for a couple reasons. It cuts back on the amount of recycling sent to recycling facilities. While recycling facilities are great, they still require a lot of energy to process all of the items sent their way. Saving a couple jars may seem pretty insignificant in the big scheme of things, but every little thing we do counts! Saving these jars also means we don’t need to buy new jars all the time. New jars means we are using new resources. New jars also come with a lot of wasteful packaging. The pasta sauce jars, while they were new at some point, are simply given new life by reusing them. They also don’t have any packaging. And if the sticker on the jar turns you off from using them, I’m sure there are several methods on the internet for removing them. I’ve heard a blow dryer works well. I’ll try that out soon and let you know how it works!

So pass this info along to your friend and family. Save a few bucks. And I’d love to hear of any other recycling tips you may have as well.

Ashley “)

Back To Business

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For those of you who may have thought otherwise, I’m still here! Alive and well.

It has been a long Christmas break from blogging for me. A little too long… But I’m here with many fresh ideas for the New Year. I don’t have anything prepped for today, but while you wait, let me introduce you to some of my family members that are fairly new to the blogging world as well.

First off, we have my Mom. She is most often the one I go to for interior decorating advice. Well not just interior stuff but pretty much anything decor and home reno related. Her most recent enterprise has been refurbishing, repurposing and recycling old furniture headed for the dump. For many pieces she finds all that’s needed is a little creativity and TLC… her specialty. Here are a few of her furniture redos:

Check out more of here stuff here. You will not be disappointed! While your there, be sure to look at this post. Every Christmas, my family has a tradition of instead of giving gifts to everyone, we each choose a name from a hat and that’s who we give a gift to that year. We have a couple rules though. The gift has to be homemade and can cost no more than $20. Every year our gifts to each other keep getting more and more creative. I especially love this tradition because it takes us away from the mass consumerism seen around the holiday season. Yes, making gifts is more challenging and takes more time, but the effort is well worth it in the end.

And I just need to show off the gift I got. My Dad and Fuzz (my brother-in-law) had mine and Darryl’s name so they combined their efforts this year to make this:

Isn’t it beautiful? It was made from wooden pallets that they took apart and planed and then put back together to make this. I love it!

The other new blogger in the family is my sister. She is a budding photographer with an eye for those amazing shots. Check out her website here. Here’s a few of her pictures that I especially love:

She also recently took some family photos for us. Here is a great shot of our little family.

And here’s one of my beautiful baby girl.

So there is just a few of my talented family members. I’ll be back soon with some Green ideas for you to start off the new year!

Ashley “)

Homemade Dryer Balls

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Dryer balls; have you heard of them? They are fairly new to me, but i’m sure they’ve been around for ages. They’re pretty neat. Their purpose is to decrease the drying time of your dryer by getting in between the clothes and fluffing them, saving you time and money. They also claim to soften clothes and decrease static, just like dryer sheets. These are a great environmentally friendly option for a couple reasons: 1. They replace dryer sheets, which can only be used once and are then tossed in the garbage and 2. They decrease drying time so you don’t have to run the energy guzzling dryer for as long. Many of the dryer balls you find in the store look like this:

They are spikey, round and made of plastic. I almost bought some of these a couple months ago but they were $20 for a set of two. So I thought I’d shop around a little more. Then one day while on my daily Etsy browse I came across these:

Wool dryer balls! Even more eco-friendly than their plastic counterparts for the following reasons: 1. They replace dryer sheets, 2. They decrease drying time, 3. They’re made of wool, a natural, renewable resource, instead of plastic. Score! And they’re more affordable; $20 for a set of 4. Double score! Then I thought, hang on a second, if someone else can can make these, so can I (I feel this way about a lot of things…). And so I did. And it only cost me, *drumroll please*, $6 for 3 dryer balls. Woohoo! There are probably many different ways to make wool dryer balls, but a quick google search gave me this easy tutorial. The following is my version of a tutorial:

The Semi Step-By-Step Easy Dryer Ball Tutorial…
You will need:
– 2 balls of 100% wool, not the superwash kind, it needs to be able to felt (1 ball of wool made 2 1/2 dryer balls, just to give you an idea)
– a sock or nylon
– string… and thats it!

Start by making a small ball with your wool. I find that wrapping it around 2 or 3 fingers works the best until you have a good amount of wrappage, then wiggle it off your fingers and start winding all around it until it becomes round. Wind a little tighter than you would a normal ball of wool. Continue winding until your little ball has a 5 inch circumference. Like this:

Make 3 of these little guys. Stuff the balls into an old sock or nylon separating them with a piece of string so they’re not touching. Like so:

This ensures they don’t fall apart during the felting process. It’s also best to use something other than wool for tying around the sock so as not to felt those as well.

Then throw them in with a load of wash, preferably hot, where they will start felting! You can felt them by hand, but I’ve heard that takes much longer and if your household is anything like mine, there is always a load of laundry that needs to be done anyways. Once they are done in the wash, throw them in the dryer with the rest of the clothes. When they are dry, remove them from the sock and voila! The first felting step is complete. Easy peasy!

All fuzzy and felted🙂 Now onto the second step. Basically repeat everything you just did, only instead of making a new ball, start winding around the balls that have been felted until they are about 9 inches in circumference.

Three little dryer balls, ready for round two of the felting process.

Stuff them back in the sock, separating them with string again so they aren’t touching. Toss them into another load of laundry to be washed and dried. When they are dry, remove them from the sock again and they are ready to be used.

To use them, toss them into the dryer with a load of laundry as you would a dryer sheet and watch them work their magic! Now I haven’t gotten much use out of them yet because my clothes have been drying outside in this beautiful weather. But once the inevitable winter weather is upon us, I’ll be able to test them out a little more. What I have determined so far is that they do decrease drying time by about 5-10 minutes. I did read somewhere that for optimal use of wool dryer balls, you should use between 6 to 10 of them. I better start making some more! I also find that they sometimes get lost. I lost one little guy for about a week. He was no where to be found. Later I found him in the arm of a sweater I had set aside. Silly guy. . . I’ve also found them in my daughters pant legs. So if yours happen to go missing, just do a thorough check of your clothes. It’s bound to pop up somewhere. Once I start using them more frequently, I’ll report back on how well they are working.

I hope this tutorial is comprehensive. If you have any questions please ask!

Happy felting!

Going Green the Delicious Way: Homemade Granola Bars

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I love granola bars. Like really love them. Like I can go out and buy a mega box of 24 granola bars and they could be gone within a week. My husband is not a fan of granola bars so that mega box I get, yea I finish it off myself… I can’t help it. It’s a quick and easy snack with substance that can fill you up (although apparently not me, but i’m still eating for 2 … yea, that’s a good excuse). However, store bought granola bars are not so great for the environment. Each bar is individually wrapped in non-recyclable packaging. My granola bar obsession has probably filled 3 landfills by now (slight exaggeration). But worry not, I have found the solution! After many not so successful granola bar recipe attempts, I have found the ultimate recipe that can be customized any way your heart desires! And it’s a pretty healthy recipe too. It requires no baking and only takes 15 minutes to prepare. This recipe is so delicious that even my husband, the granola bar disliker, enjoys them. Homemade granola bars are also a quick and healthy school snack for the kiddos and perfect for those litter free lunch days (or everyday!). Just invest in some reusable containers and toss them in their lunches. Probably the best thing about these granola bars is that they aren’t crumbly. They stay together like the store bought ones.

These are a few of the tasty treats I enjoy in my granola bars.

But enough babbling already; let’s get down to business.

The Recipe:

Yummy Granola Bars
6 tbsp butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 cups of granola
1 1/2 cups rice krispies
1/3 cup wheat germ
+ 1/2 cup of what ever extras you would like (raisins, unsweetened coconut, chocolate chips, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, pretzels, chopped pecans…)
* For a good consistency, add at least 3 different extras*

1. Melt butter, sugar and honey in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Give it a stir a couple times. Once boiling (only takes about 5 minutes), reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer about 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.

2. Add granola, rice krispies, wheat germ and the 3 extra ingredients you would like to the saucepan. Mix until everything is coated.

3. Pour the deliciousness into a 9×13 pan (no need to grease it) and flatten it out. I find that the bottom of a measuring cup or back of a big spoon works well to flatten if you dont want to get your hands gooey.

4. Cover and put in the fridge for about 20 minutes or until you can no longer wait to sample. Cut into whatever shape you would like and enjoy! If you find them become a little crumbly, pop them in the fridge again for 15 minutes or so. They’ll firm right up.

Feel free to experiment with different sweeteners and flavours as well like maple syrup or peanut butter or whatever else you can think of. Then come back and share the deliciousness you created. I would love to hear!

So go whip up a batch of these bad boys. You will not be disappointed. Planet earth will be a little happier too🙂