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Live Waste Free

Easiest. Hot Chocolate. Ever!

Welcome back! I have exciting news… I figured out how to make hot chocolate and it’s basically the easiest thing ever! It’s been awhile since I’ve had one. The only way I knew it growing up was either in small pouches or in a giant tub. Both of which create waste and are basically just sugar mixed with flavors. Delicious sugar mixed with delicious flavors mind you, but it’s all completely processed. So if you’re looking for a nice treat to help warm yourselves up on during these icy times, without adding to your trash bin, look no further!

Time: 5 minutes max

Serves: 4

What you’ll need:

1 small pot

1 metal whisk

 

Measuring utensils of choice

Ingredients:

2 cups of water

4 cups of 2% milk

1 tsp of vanilla essence (yes, I found this in bulk 😉 )

1/2 cup cacao powder (I had the dark kind because that’s what was offered in bulk section)

4 tbsp sugar

Directions:

First, add all the liquid ingredients to your pot and put on high. Cover and bring to a boil whisking sporadically. Be careful that the liquid doesn’t boil over. Speaking from experience, it’s not pleasant!

Once you’ve reached your boil, turn down the heat to low-med. Add the powdered cacao and sugar. Whisk constantly at this point to avoid clumps. Whisk until it’s all dissolved and well combined. It should take about 2 minutes.

That’s it! You now have a delicious treat, with no waste and is perfect for those chilly nights. You can use this as the base and add any other flavor you want. Some ideas include, but are in no way limited to:

  • Whipped cream and sprinkles
  • Marshmallows
  • Creamed liqueur
  • Cinnamon
  • Coffee
  • Wanna try a vegan version? Use coconut milk or almond milk instead!

The list can literally go on and on. The next time, I think I’ll add a pinch of salt to see how that fares. There we have it friends, the simplest and tastiest hot chocolate base you’ve ever tried. I hope you enjoy this!

For more recipes, tips and tricks to help live a Zero Waste lifestyle, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path.

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!

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How to make a Sock Buddy

Have you ever used those heating pads or rubber hot water bottles for sore muscles? They’re so soothing and comforting and ya know… warm. They’re quite lovely actually! Well I don’t have one anymore. I haven’t had one in years and I thought to myself, why not? Why am I missing out just because I can’t find one second-hand.  So I figured I’d just make one out of everything I already have on hand and as it turns out, it’s a hit! My husband was reluctant when I told him what I was making, but after using mine, he not only requested one for himself, but even picked out the socks he wanted me to use!
sock-3

To make your own sock buddy, you’ll need a few things:

  • 2 socks (the two I used have been single and warn out for some time, and one even had a hole, but I was able to sew it up and use it regardless)
  • 1 cup of uncooked rice
  • Funnel (large mouth or regular)
  • Sewing needle and thread, the color of your choice

Rice Filled Sock A

sock-5

Sock A folded upon itself

First, fill the first sock with the rice. I used my more plain looking sock since it will eventually get covered.  From here on, we’ll call this sock SOCK A to avoid confusion. Next, you’re going to twist SOCK A, only once, to close off the top and fold the ribbed ankle part of the sock back onto itself. This seals the rice in safely. I personally aimed for a looser feeling so it would stretch a bit more and be more cozy. If it’s too tight, it will feel like cuddling a hot rock (in my opinion).  You can adjust this feeling easily by folding the sock onto itself less or more.

Now, you take the second sock (SOCK B) and flip that bad boy inside out. Once SOCK B is inside out, you’re going to match them both up. Hold SOCK B by the opening and drop SOCK A into it; twist side first. Don’t pack SOCK A too far into SOCK B. Simply match up the consistency.

To finish up, you’ll do exactly what you did earlier to seal it up. Twist once and fold the sock onto itself. By starting off inside out, we are now able to keep the design on the outside, so it looks nice.

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Sock B folded onto Sock A

Finally, sew along the edge of the top of SOCK B. It will hold everything together and secure it completely. I didn’t use any fancy stitch or anything, just a simple one to connect the two sections.

To use the sock buddy, put it in the microwave for about 2 minutes and use it like you would a heating pad. After awhile, you’ll notice that the smell of the rice gets a bit strong, just sprinkle a bit of essential oil mixed with water and it should cover up the smell of the rice. You can also use the buddy after it’s been frozen. My husband loves using it on his sore muscles after the gym. His sock drapes over his shoulder nicely and stays hot/cold for a while! YAY!

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Finished Sock Buddy

So there it is, reusing old socks and some bulk bought rice and re-purposing them into something very useful to keep on hand. And being completely candid with you, I use it almost every night now. We’ve hit the fun part of the season when it’s not yet cold enough to turn on the heat, but it’s too cold to walk around slipperless. My sock buddy helps keep the chill of the season at bay. Needless to say, I’m super happy I made mine and hope you have fun making yours as well!

 

For more tips and tricks, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path.

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!

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DIY-Zero Waste Laundry Soap

Today friends, we’re going to talk about laundry soap! I haven’t been making this for very long; but I’ve still learned a few tricks on the way. I do this mainly for 2 reasons. First being that I don’t want the large plastic packaging (big surprise coming from me :P). The 4 ingredients I use are all in 100% recyclable material or don’t have any wrapping at all. Quick side note, I recently found 2 more of the ingredients in bulk, where I can bring my own jars to fill. SCORE! Second, I have sensitive skin and don’t want the chemicals in the store bought versions. My reasons are simple enough. Pretty much as simple as the actual recipe!

Before I made my first batch, I searched YouTube for hours (not even kidding!). Trying to figure out which recipe would work best for my needs. I landed on a super simple powder detergent. I tried that for a few weeks but I decided against it in the end. We wash our clothes in cold water always and parts of the powdered detergent were not dissolving. So it left my clothes full of little white soap granules. Now my question went to “what do I do with the batch I already made?” After another hour or so of searching, I stumbled across a simple recipe, already including the very same ingredients I had! All I had to do was dissolve them in hot water and mix! So alas, that batch was saved, and let me tell you, I couldn’t be happier! I even passed some jars along to family members and recently they asked for me to make more! Some of the pickiest people I know, wanted more of my easy DIY laundry soap! Who’d a thought!

So to start, there’s only 4 ingredients in this recipe:

¼ cup of Borax
½ cup of Washing Soda (important note: NOT baking soda! You can find it at any natural/health foods store)
A whole bar of soap (your preference)
15-20 drops of Essential oils (again, your preference)
And you will need:

10 liter bucket
Funnel
Container to help pour mixture (I used a large measuring cup)
Air tight jars/containers of your choice for storage
Whisk
Emulsion blender (it’s fine if you don’t have, a whisk will work well too)
1) You’re going to grate the bar of soap. I found mine at a natural foods store, luckily enough, it was not wrapped. You can use what you find works for you. Just using a regular cheese grater, nothing fancy, grate the entire bar. We do this so it’s easier to dissolve in the water.

2) Dissolve the grated bar of soap in 2 cups of boiling water. Whisk until it’s fully dissolved and you can no longer see small pieces of soap.

3) Fill up a bucket halfway with warm to hot water.

4) Add in the dissolved bar of soap, ¼ cup of borax and ½ cup of washing soda. Mix well until everything is fully dissolved. It should be easy since the water’s nice and hot already. Fill up bucket fully with more warm to hot water.

5) Once you’ve finished, add in the essential oils. I used peppermint because I love the smell but you can use any you like, just to make your soap nice and fresh smelling. Mix well and cover (I used a towel). Place your bucket somewhere over night so it can gel.

6) After 16-24 hours, you’ll notice it’s become quite thick and gel like. This is a good thing. Take either a whisk or emulsion blender to break up the hunks. It will give you a nice runny and soap consistency.

7) Place in your containers using a funnel to make the whole process easier. Wipe down any spills. For my containers, I’ve re-purposed an old fabric softener jug I found in my mom’s recycling bin and old, cleaned out wine bottles. You can choose anything that will work for you.

8) Store your home made laundry soap indefinitely (since it’s only soap and won’t spoil).

9) Using ¼ cup to 1/3 cup per load (depending of course on how much laundry you have in the washer), this batch should last for several months.

*I need to mention that we have an older version for a washing machine, and I’ve never had a chance to use it in a High Efficiency (HE) model. HE soap does not make suds in your laundry, and although I’ve never witnessed any in mine, I would proceed with caution.

So now you can see how simple the process was for me to make it, and I hope you’ll give it a whirl. And just like many other Zero-Waste efforts, I have to add a shout out to how much cash you’ll save! All my products maybe cost me 5$ per batch (Max). And this batch yielded me 9 liters. Enough for my family for well over 8 months. That’s a huge lift off of all our wallets!

For more tips and tricks, head over and like my page on Facebook ‘Live Waste Free‘. Where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you on the Zero Waste path.

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Home Made Solutions for the Seemingly Impossible

Today friends, I want to talk about (surprise, surprise) waste! Not just any old waste, but my own personal wasters. I’m not perfect by any means, and am still learning every day, of ways to cut my waste output. Although it’s getting easier, and I try to make choices which are always eco-friendly, sometimes it’s super tricky. There are somethings that I had to learn how to make from scratch in an effort to go zero waste. As a vegetarian on the verge of veganism, I can’t exactly go to the butcher and get my proteins with my own containers (like my fiancé does). I find my vitamins and nutrients from plant based sources, which will often come in plastics. Today, I’m going to break down how I’ve been able to work around a few of the trickier items.

Largest on my list has always been Tofu. I use perhaps a brick, maybe 2 per week. I’ve tried to find it without packaging but failed. Although it’s recyclable, it was enough to push me towards a home-made version. I used to see it as such a huge effort for little results and convinced myself that my efforts elsewhere were enough. After a few months of purchasing it the old fashioned way, I decided to finally give it a try. Tackle a recipe I’ve never tried before and make my own tofu. It took an hour before I fell on a YouTube video that seemed simple enough for me to use; and I must say, it was completely worth it! Yes, it did take a bit of time to make a firm version, but it was so simple that anyone could do it. The taste was not even comparable to the store bought version. It was an even texture that was pleasing to the pallet with a slight hint of lemon that was left as an aftertaste. I was so happy with the results that I have no intentions of ever buying store bought again, nor is there a need!

The video I followed to make the tofu:

Next waster in my kitchen was non-dairy milks. I often drink black tea, but I have yet developed the taste of it without milk. Soy milk and rice milk have always been my first choices instead of MOO milk (which is just regular cow milk in Dawn language). Back when I first started looking for zero waste alternatives, I did attempt to make a soy milk. I think I either rushed the researching process or was too eager to get started, but I did a rookie mistake that just grossed me out. My soy milk tasted way too much like beans. So much so that I ended up scrapping the entire batch. My mistake that I later learned was that I needed to remove the skins of the beans after soaking. That’s where the majority of the flavor came from and unfortunately, I left them on for the first batch. After a few months, I got up the courage to give the milks another shot. Rice milk was amazingly easy and worked perfectly in my tea. I find the taste reminds me of old school rice crispy squares in my tea! YUMMERS! And the soy milk, after I removed the skins, which I must admit, took the longest, was epic! Nothing like the old gross beany soy milk. I even did a taste test to see which I preferred, pairing sugar and vanilla to decide the flavor I wanted. And they were all amazing!

*I kept half of the batch plain, just to use for the tofu*.

The video I used to make the soy milk:

The video I used to make the rice milk:

Another big waster I found in my kitchen was an ice cream. It’s the easiest desert, tasty and pleasing to most. When I started transitioning to vegan versions, I found that most of the options were made of coconut milk (not all, but more often than not in my experience). An addition to the wasted tubs, I really don’t like the taste of coconut. I’ll deal when I have to, but really, it’s not my fave! So I again turned to a home-made version. The simplest attempt I found was literally 2 ingredients! TWO! That’s it! All you need are frozen bananas and your favorite berries. Before freezing the bananas, peel and chop them. It really makes it quicker than peeling still frozen bananas, and your hands won’t get frostbite in the process!

So all you do is take your frozen bananas and regular fridge temperature berries (I use raspberries when they’re in season). Throw the equivalent of 1 frozen banana and about half a cup of berries into the food process or high speed blender and let it run. At first, it won’t combine well, and you’ll think I’m lying to you, but be patient! Trust me! Let them mix for a bit, and after a few minutes it will mix perfectly and it WILL get creamy! If you find the process is taking more than 5 minutes, try adding some of the berry juice. It makes it naturally sweeter and it gives more of a “soft serve” consistency. Once it’s combined, remove from the food processor or blender and pop it back into the freezer for a quick freeze. Five minutes is all you really need. Serve and enjoy! Simple, 2 ingredients, healthy, quick and Zero-Waste! The only thing you “throw away” is the banana peel in the compost!

These were the top wasters in my cooking routine. Emphasis on WERE! Now that I know how to make them (big thanks to the amazing people who post helpful YouTube videos), I won’t have to throw away anything else.

For more tips and tricks, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path.