unpaper towel

Frustration is part of my daily life when trying to find eco-friendly, free trade and organic product in my area. I want to buy smarter but sometimes, that is not even possible.

The big problem in living in a northern city based on wood and aluminium enormous industries are the lack of «eco» stores. We have some healthy little grocery shops but for clothes and cleaning supplies, almost nothing. I don’t know anyone who compost or buy organic fruits.

Lately, I organized a party at my home for my father-in law’s birthday. One comment I got was that we didn’t have any paper towel or cloth napkin. My boyfriend and I don’t really use them. Paper towel are out of the question for me; they are wasteful and pricey.

I went in search of cloth napkin. I thought I was looking for something common but my shopping proved me wrong. ( The same thing happened when I looked for a tablecloth in February)

The stores in my area only had polyester napkin… I HATE polyester, the texture is horrible and it washes badly. So I looked online for 100% organic cotton napkin. After many, many hours, I did not find ANYTHING. My usual Canadian eco-friendly online stores only had tablecloth and bath towel, no cloth napkins.

So I gave up, telling myself that even if they weren’t organic cotton, cloth napkin were better than paper towel. I ordered 10 cloth napkins on Simons.com.

I waited ( the shipping is really fast usually) and 5 days after received an email telling me that my order was cancelled due to a shortage of the towel I wanted.. My patience was gone at that point.

A week later, I did some more web search. After 3 hours, I found a shop on Etsy with organic cotton unpaper towel. My problem with Etsy is that you can never be sure that the things you buy are really eco-friendly. They are no guarantees or certification.

Still, I ordered 12 unpaper towels and a set of 4 flannel ones for kids. I got them after two weeks but I sill couldn’t try them. The instructions specify that you have to wash them a couple of time in warm water for them to become soft and absorbable. The problem was: I don’t wash in hot water. I made an exception and made the smallest wash I could do in hot water. It wasn’t enough to puff them so I put them in a bucket and poured hot water on them and let them sit for an hour.

I repeated the process 4 times.

I’m pretty happy with my purchase. Maybe I’ll order more flannel ones for the kids because 4 is not a lot!

 

Moving day has arrived

This picture was taken yesterday. I forgot to tell Dame Nature that we had planned to start moving that day. Imagine, April 21st: people walking in shorts, riding their bicycles. April 22nd: people having to shovel heavy snow and wetting their boots in the puddles of slush.

I already told you, I am moving May 1st from my current apartment. The plans have change for the destination. My father-in-law’s trailer is not yet ready ( look at all that snow!) so we are going to an aunt winter cottage for the time being. I won’t have Internet access nor current water but at least, I’ll have a roof over my head.

So yesterday morning, we couldn’t start charging the truck before we shoveled all that snow in the stairs outside and the 15 meters separating us from the truck. Muscles already sores, we got to charge our boxes. This took approximately an hour. Muscles even sorer, we drove to my aunt’s garage an hour from here where we will be putting our stuff. transferring the boxes took only five minutes… there were no 15 meters to cross or stairs to descent carefully. We returned home and took a 2 hours nap and afterwards ate our cheese fondue like zombies. I fell asleep later reading The Help at maybe 10:45.

And, we still have to make a trip today and another Monday and go trough all of our address changes and calls.

In addition to all that effort, I have 2 take-home exam to do for Friday, on exam on Wednesday, 3 dissertation for this week and my boyfriend’s graduation is Saturday. My mother is also in the hospital recovering from an operation and will get out today so I have to take care of her and my grand-mother also needs caring.

Needless to say, there will be no menu planning this week, no baking, no cooking, no bento. We’ll eat spaghetti and salads until we are moved into the cottage!

Until next time!

Menu Plan, week 6

Last week’s menu was almost followed perfectly except for a switch Saturday and Sunday for the risotto and spaghetti. I didn’t make any vegetable soup on monday since I got called in to work and didn’t have time.
This was supposed to be another menu plan with 40$ of budget. However, I found last week that we didn’t have anything for snacks . We ran out of fruit on Friday and we only had chips to snack on since baking is hard when all your supplies are in boxes. Grocery shopping will be made on Monday since I’m working Tuesday from 3 to 11. I am also working this shift on Sunday.
Diners will be humus and pita bread, leftovers and tuna salad. Breakfast will be boiled eggs and fruit and cereals, fruits and yogurt.

Monday: Steak, asparagus and salad

Tuesday: Pasta Salad

Wednesday: Lasagna

Thursday: Sandwiches (I have class until 6:45 and we are going to see the Hunger Games at 7:00 for the only english representation)

Friday: Spaghetti

Saturday: Cheese fondue with sausages and vegetables

Sunday: Cream of carrots

Monday: Vegetable risotto

We bought

  • Marinated Banana Peppers
  • Marinated Artichokes
  • Dehydrated Mangoes
  • 1 tomato juice can
  • Almond pralines
  • Tahini
  • Puffed rice chips
  • Cereals
  • 15% Nutrinor Cream
  • 2% Nutrinor Milk
  • Light Ricotta cheese ( marked down 50%)
  • Minigo yogurt ( marked down 50%)
  • Grec yogurt ( marked down 50%)
  • 2 pounds varied Apples  (We can’t afford Organic this week)
  • Asparagus
  • 2 pounds Bell Peppers ( We can’t afford Organic this week)
  • Mushrooms
  • 2 Mangoes
  • 1 pound Pears
  • Strawberries
  • 2 Sausage (to be bought on Saturday)
  • 2 french steak
  • Sodium bicarbonate
Our total is 72,30$ which is still in our normal budget of 80$. We still have to buy 2 sausages on Saturday for 1$ each. I bought stuff I would normally make myself like yogurt but my yogurt maker is in storage for the next two months ( I can’t really make homemade yogurt in a tiny trailer :S). Some stuff was marked down because they expiration date are soon so they were a steal. We’ll try to keep our budget in the 40$ next week since there will be nuts and dehydrated left.

Easy supper when you only have your essentials in the kitchen

In my last Menu Plan, I’ve talked about our car needing repairs. We had to cut in half our food budget for two weeks to be able to cover it. Since we are students and more money is spent than earned, we have to find ways to cut our expenses drastically if we don’t want our debt to be too high ( we have to start reimbursing next fall)

40$ makes for a sad supper week but It can be done. The trick is to just buy one protein for the week. Snack on nuts and dehydrated fruit and make a lot of bread. Drink water and tea.

Here are some suppers idea when you only have your  kitchen basics. Keep in mind that even if I didn’t mention it, you should also always have flour, sugar and salt, as well as milk.

Wild mushroom risotto: Cream, chicken broth, parmesan cheese, arbozio rice, butter, onions and dehydrated mushrooms.


Cream of carrots: chicken broth, organic carrots, onions and cream


Pesto and cream pasta with veggies: Vegetables, pesto, cream, pasta and cheese
Cheese macaroni: Tomato juice, pasta and cheese
Feta pasta salad: Feta cheese, vegetables, marinated banana peppers, pasta, olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Potato salad: Potatoes, vegetables, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Potato and onion frittata: eggs, potatoes, onions and garlic

Quiche: Veggie or meat, eggs, cream, puff pastry and cheese

Poutine! ( We always keep St-Hubert gravy in the pantry. It’s full of fat but you can’t deny the love of poutine from Quebecers.) Fries, sauce and cheese


Veggie Pizza: Flour, Sugar, water. yeast and olive oil for the dough. Anything you want for the topping

Simple Lasagna: Meat sauce, Lasagna pasta and cheese
Salty crepes with béchamel or Mornay sauce: Flour, eggs and milk for the crepes. Milk, butter and flour for the bechamel ( add cheese for Mornay) and the filling of your choice
Breakfast for supper

Moving day

I’ve written less these last days because I am preoccupied with a big change in my life. Spring cleaning is out of the question this year for us. We are moving may 1st in my father-in-law’s trailer until our apartment is ready for us on July first. Instead of cleaning windows and dusting everywhere we are packing and making decisions about out stuff. Living in apartment, you can’t just put things in the basement or garage and forget about them. Our next apartment is a little smaller than the one we have now and weirdly divided. We are going to have 3 small bedrooms instead of two enormous one. The biggest change will be our kitchen. I have a tiny kitchen that only allows one person at a time right now. The other apartment has lots of counter space and a window!

Try making the dishes when you want to prepare dinner.. impossible in this little space

 

Right now, we are working on eliminating useless stuff. Being a student, you tend to accumulate lots of paper, books and donation from family members. Right now, our spare bedroom is full of those undesirable items ( Imagine trying to work in your office/guest room with your christmas tree, bulk food items and tons of old textbooks in the way). It makes for a really ugly room that my nieces and nephews don’t really like sleeping in when they visit. In the next apartment, since we have two spare bedrooms, we will try to make beautiful spaces. One will be a guest bedroom and the other our office and tv room. To be able to do this, we have to get rid of a lot of things. Hopefully, we will have a garage space in the yard.

We have three categories for the things we don’t need anymore: sell, donate and throw or recycle.

Since February, we have been regularly putting stuff on sale on Facebook. To date, we have sold for 150$! We still have things for sale: our old refrigerator, an oven, videos game, books, shoes and more. The trick is to not be stressed. We can’t do a yard sale because the yard where we live is not ours. The stuff we won’t be able to sell here will be sold in a yard sale in our next apartment where we have a big parking space. Since we don’t seem desperate to sell everything right now, we are able to get good prices for things that we never use and accumulate in our closets.

The second part of the selling will be done in september. We are going to try to sell our textbooks at the University on the billboard. We have a ton of them so we could make more than 200$ if we sell them all.

Donating; all our clothes that don’t fit anymore we donate. We also did a big pantry inventory and decide to give food to the food kitchen. Since we are going in a trailer for two months, we have to eat what we have right now so we are not crowded and only have basics.

Throw or recycle: We put into the recycling bin any old paper or boxes . We don’t throw a lot of stuff except perished food.
After that we have to get packing. Half of our stuff will go in my mothers basement, the other half in an uncle’s garage. Our moving boxes are free since we are getting them from the SAQ where my father works. Don’t be afraid to ask grocery store and alcohol store if they give their delivery box. Our furniture stays at the old apartment since we rented it furnished to a french student for two months.

The move will be made in steps. I work in the same area as my mother, 15 minutes from our current apartment. Every time I will go to work, I will bring boxes and plants (she is taking care of a few since there is no place in our trailer) to her house. On July 1st, we will borrow my father’s pickup truck with my father’s in law trailer to move our furniture into the next apartment. We are moving 45 minutes from our current city, 30 minutes from my mother’s house.

Our spring cleaning will be a summer’s cleaning. Since we won’t be pressured to move right away in the apartment because the trailer is 15 minutes from there and we can live there as long as we want, we will be able to clean, paint and place everything without having to live in a mess.

Sincerely, I’m sick of moving. Since my birth, I lived in more than 15 apartments or houses. I really hope that this is the last move in an apartment and the next one will be in the house that we will raise our children’s in. Moving costs money even if you don’t hire professional help and is really tiring.

Here’s to July 10th, when I will be quietly sitting in my clean new home!

Until then, I’ll try to publish more posts even tought I am surrounded by boxes :S.

 

Menu plan Week 5

Last week plan wasn’t followed very well. We went to the restaurant ( for 16$) on Thursday so the roasted chicken was eaten on Friday, the couscous on Saturday, the Carbonara pasta on Sunday. On Monday, we were invited to supper at my father-in-law’s house.

For this week’s menu, we went very simple. We have some car repair to do so we cut our budget in half for two weeks to pay for the repairs. Here is the menu

Tuesday Thai Chicken sauté with rice noodles

Wednesday Bacon Pizza

Thursday Burritos

Friday Hamburgers and salad

Saturday Mushroom Risotto

Sunday Spaghetti

Monday Vegetable soup

Diners will be leftovers, artichokes and pasta salad and sausage macaroni. Breakfast will be toast, hard-boiled egg and oatmeal with fruit. 

  • 15% Nutrinor Cream
  • Parmesan Cheese (St-Laurent)
  • A dozen Nutrinor’s eggs
  • Cookies and cream ice cream
  • 2 bags of chips ( they were really marked down, we paid 2$ for 2 bags)
  • Cold cuts
  • Bananas
  • 3 Green apples
  • 3 Cortland Apples
  • Strawberries
  • 600 grams Ground Beef

Our total is 39.91$ so we are in budget. But to be able to do that, my mother gave me 2 chicken breasts and some vegetables. I would have replace the chicken sauté with another pasta dish if she did not help me so we would have been right on budget either way!

This will be a big week of baking and cooking to be able to eat for half of our budget so I will be making white bread, pizza dough, hamburger bread, tortillas, cookies, apple crumble, granola bars and maybe some muffins.

What will you be eating this week?

David Suzuki home products survey

If you are from Canada and can spare 10 minutes of your time ( at home because you’ll need access to your cleaning products) please fill this surveyAre there toxic chemicals in your home cleaning products?

The Queen of green blog is a must for your weekly read with tips and tricks for better living. Sign up for her RSS feed an learn more about the effort you can make in Canada to change things.

It also made me realize that when making the switch from toxic store-bought home cleaner to safer homemade one, you shouldn’t wait until you have emptied your old products.

This dog was harmed when it’s master was making the switch and didn’t get rid immediately of her toxic products. He ate some laundry detergent and almost died. He had to be on 48 hours of intravenous treatment.

This poor doggie made me so sad that I grabbed my last toxic cleaners and drove to the eco-center to drop them off.

On the shopping list this week: Castille soap and Baking soda to replace our toilet cleaner and our bathtub cleaner.