Search

you're welcome, society

the blog that will answer all the questions you didn't know you had

Clutter and Tiny Houses

I’d love to own a tiny house on day.

Lots of people imagine a 100 sq.ft. box when they hear about the term ”tiny house”, but not me. To me, it’s not about the size but more about the functionality of the space you live in (and yes, the carbon footprint). We currently live in a 740 sq.ft. bungalow and it’s unfortunately cramped because of the terrible design. So much wasted space! I bet we would be happier in a 500 sq.ft. house built to maximize space. My husband hasn’t warmed-up to the tiny house idea yet, but I’m determined to show him that he could like it!

Until that day comes, I’m focusing on housing problem #2: clutter. When I look at what we own, it’s hard to find a space for everything (which I read is what you should aim to do in order to properly declutter). This post is not about telling you how to live clutter-free as I haven’t yet mastered this principle.

Clutter can mess with your emotional health (yes, pun intended!). As George Lucas wrote in Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Declutter and Organize Every Facet of Your Life, “Living a cluttered life will fill your life with more stress than you can deal with and this often usher in depression.” No need to go there! Reading the beginning of this book made me think about my mental clutter. Getting rid of useless thoughts and stress is something I can act on!

Have you ever heard of a Brain-Dump? Google it if it inspires you! I can’t remember how I came across the idea but I thought it was exactly what I needed. I read an how-to guide but haven’t done the exercise yet; just thinking about the possibility is, I find, already therapeutic. This will be one of the steps of my decluttering journey! Another step, which I’m currently working on, is electronic clutter, aka, my emails. I had over 14,000 emails in my inbox when I started and I got rid of 71% of them. Yay me! It feels liberating.

Happy baby steps to more meaningful living everyone!

Wax to Do with Beeswax?

Hi Society!

Last night I went to our local farmers’ market and I found a block of beeswax. I was so excited that I bought it (a whooping $3). I had a vague idea of what I could do with it but I was sure it would be great 🙂 It’s such a versatile product! Here’s a non-comprehensive list of things you can do with beeswax:

  • skin care products: moisturizer, lip balm, soap, hair pomade
  • tool care
  • leather care: shoe polishing, furniture restoring
  • waterproofing: fabric, shoes, outdoor furniture, matches
  • wooden care: furniture polish, restoring kitchenware (spoons, cutting boards)
  • sinking construction nails
  • ”greasing” furniture (aka stuck drawers)
  • candles!!!
  • fire starters
  • coating cheese
  • chewing gum
  • strengthening threads: sewing, shoe laces, cordage
  • making a bow?
  • seal stuff…

Oftentimes it has to bee be combined with other ingredients. This video is gives you a cool overview of some uses! Happy Friday 🙂

Milking my Coconut Milk Cans

Hi Society!

When I went through my pantry to assess its content, I noticed a bunch of coconut milk cans. I had bought them because they were on sale and because I was convinced that my husband and I both liked coconut. Turns out I like coconut milk and oil (not shredded coconut) and him: nothing! Coconut milk in curried or butter chicken is soooo delicious… but he also doesn’t like curry. Difficult man. Don’t get me wrong. I still force him to eat it. I keep pretending that I forgot he doesn’t like it. I also pretend the same with spinach.

I was going to write a post about chickpeas this morning (mostly because we had this amazingly simple italian classic soup yesterday) but this morning, I found a recipe combining chickpeas and coconut milk and I just had to go in that new direction instead.

Someone else posted 17 Absolutely Delicious Ways to Cook with Coconut Milk. There, I found recipes for creamy soups (potages en français) which I’m probably going to use. I currently only have one small sugar pumpkin (which made its appearance in this post) and I bet it’d make a tasty soup! I also found recipes for convenient slowcooking, puddings and other desserts, and even whipped cream! Cool. You can also, of course, make coconut milk ice cream (this post contains 30 different recipes!).

Finally, coconut milk screams, not for ice cream, but for thai food. Here’s a recipe I love.

Thai Shrimp Noode Bowl (from frame>by>frame, quick & easy) 

For 4 servings, you need:

  • scallions
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 200 g rice vermicelli noodles
  • 2 Tbsp peanul oil
  • 1/2 C peanuts
  • 1 fresh sliced Thai chile (or not if you don’t like spicy)
  • 1 crushed lemongrass stalk (I use lemongrass powder to taste)
  • 1 3/4 C fish or chicken stock
  • 1 C coconut milk
  • 2 tsp fish sauce (I use 2 Tbsp because I like it!)
  • 350 g peeled shrimp
  • salt and pepper
  • cilentro to garnish (I use parsley because of my difficult husband)

In my words, diagonally slice the vegetables. Cook the noodles according to the package (usually just resting in a covered hot bowl of water until tender). Fry the peanuts in the oil for 1-2 min and set the peanut aside. Stir-fry the veggies for a couple minutes. Add chile, lemongrass, stock, milk and fish sauce and bring to a boil. Stir in the shrimp (cook until pink if using raw), add noodles and seasoning. Serve hot with garnishes.

Happy cooking!

Overnight Bread Recipe

Hi Society!

Self-sufficiency, for me, includes breadmaking. Not only is it nice to save some cash and to know exactly what is in your food, but what’s even better is the taste of freshly baked bread! I use a few different bread recipes; most of them require at least a few hours of your day (prepping, proofing, baking). Not everyone has time (or wants to take the time) to labour in the kitchen for a loaf that is bound to disappear quickly. This overnight bread recipe is the solution! Bonus: it even has a mild sourdough taste 🙂

Before going to bed, mix together in a large bowl:

  • 3 C flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp traditional yeast
  • 1 1/2 C warm water *

Next, go to bed.

When you wake up, put a dutch oven or big pot with its lid in your oven and preheat it at 450 F. Meanwhile, shape the dough in a ball, adding flour to remove the stickiness. Let it sit in the same bowl it was in and dust a little flour on top of the ball. When your oven is ready, remove delicately flip over the bowl containing the dough in the hot pot. Put the lid back on and put the whole thing in your oven for 30 min. At the 30 min mark, remove the lid and keep baking for another 15 min. Take everything out, let your loaf cool over a rack. Eat for breakfast!

*About the warm water: you want your water to be warm enough to activate the yeast, but not too much to kill it. I was once told that if you can count up to 3 before you have to take your finger out that’s the right temperature.

I also encourage you to wing this recipe and play with different flour types. You might have to adjust the amount of water. Have fun making something nutritious and delicious!

Ecos’cuse Me?

Have you ever heard of Ecosia? Until about 5 min ago I hadn’t either. As Diane from Big Green Purse puts it: ”Ecosia is a new search engine that donates its ad revenue to plant trees. It’s a simple as that.” The article talks about the what, why, how, cost (free!), and statistics. The how is so simple, even dinosaurs like me can figure it out (I may be only 26 years-old but I still struggle with adding friends and whatnot on social medias). Here’s Diane’s how:

”HOW DO YOU USE IT?

Install it on any browser you use, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera.

It takes literally seconds to install, costs nothing, and is just about the easiest tech upgrade/update/add on I have ever done. Ever.

And once it’s installed, you don’t even notice it. You just use it.”

I just did it and it surely is as easy as explained! Right after adding Ecosia I googled ecosiaed it. Very cool 🙂

You can access the rest of Diane’s article here. Spread and research the wisdom!

Crockpot Yogurt

It’s unofficially the end of summer: Labour Day is here. I feel I’m being ironic right now, writing this post on the day celebrating the Toronto Typographical Union’s win on reducing work hours. But then again, this is not my job 🙂

I recently started thinking about my personal consumption of goods and I’ve developed an affection for multipurpose items that I already own. Today, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite slowcooker use: yogurt-making!

I haven’t invented the principle. You can surely find many recipes online. Here’s what I’ve been doing for the last 2 years. No need for fancy cultures. All you need is:

  • 1 L milk
  • 1 Tbsp probiotic plain yogurt (room temperature)
  • slowcooker
  • thermometer
  • towels

You can choose to make more or less yogurt. The reason why I like this quantity is because I use a square candy thermometer that I lay flat in the bottom of my crockpot and I like the convenience of being able to read the dial without moving it. Simple laziness. I personaly use 1% or 2% milk but you can use skim or whole too. This recipe works for previously frozen milk.

Instructions: Pour milk in slowcooker. Heat on high until it gets to 185F. This should take approximately 1.5h. Carefully let the milk stay between 185F and 199F for roughly 15-20 min to increase thickness of final product. Don’t let it go over that temperature otherwise you’ll get weird runny watery milk instead of yogurt. Unplug the crockpot and set dial to warm up (this might be useful later). Let the milk cool down to 110F. Long way: simply remove the lid and wait. Quick way: if you can remove the ceramic part of your slowcooker, remove lid, and put the pot in an ice bath (to decrease the chance of breaking your pot, make sure the water level is equal to the level of liquid inside). Once you reach the 110F (not more than 119F, not less than 100F), whisk in your yogurt. Put the lid back on, put the pot in the metal frame if you need to and wrap the entire thing in towels (I use two). Place your bundle somewhere it won’t get disturbed, preferably draft-free. You want the mixture to incubate at roughly 100F for 6-8hrs. The longer you let it, the tangier the taste will be. Worried the temperature has dropped too much? Plug your crockpot for a few minutes to warm up the liquid a little (this is why you want to have previously turned the dial to keep-warm mode before wrapping it). After the prefered amount of time has passed (6h for me), unwrap the slowcooker and give it a little shake, just to confirm you have a nice ferm content. Successful? At this point, you can either put the pot directly in the fridge or strain the content in a cheese-cloth-like fabric to get a thicker yogurt (30 min of straining will give you greek-like yogurt, 12-24h: cream cheese). Store in glass jar(s) in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Unsuccessful? Bake something like bread of muffins with your watery non-yogurt mixture. This happens. Be more careful with temperatures next time!

What to do with the whey (yellow-ish byproduct of straining)? More baking! Substitute water or milk in a bread (or muffins, etc.) recipe. It will give it a mild sourdough taste. Bonus: extra protein! Do I need to keep buying probiotic yogurt to start my homemade yogurt? Nope! Simply freeze a Tbsp of your freshly made yogurt and use it thawed in your next batch 🙂 I recommend freezing at least 2 starters in case something goes wrong with a batch. It happens. Don’t like plain yogurt? Stir in fruits, jams, honey or maple syrop!!!

There are many other ways of making yogurt without a yogurt-maker. Try one and amaze yourself!

Do you use your slowcooker to make something unusual? I’d love to hear about it!

Bed Yoga!

Hi Society!

I used to do yoga the conventional way: using a mat, on a floor; sometimes at home, most of the time in a class. I loved the idea of being a yoga-at-home-alone-preferably-in-the-morning-to-start-my-day-right-because-I’m-a-motivated-gal kind of person! But the sad truth is I wasn’t that person. I then decided to join a class. It was working. For a while. Until other commitments (and probably poor judgement on my part) made me no longer able to attend the class. I reminisced about the class for a while; missing its structure, the no decision-making freedom, and my flexibility… It suddenly dawned on me that I could try at home again. But instead of pulling my mat out – which was somehow an inconvenience – or even motioning towards the already laid-out mat – which I was apparently too busy for – I’d simply do it in bed!

Doing yoga in bed freed me from excuses. As a matter of fact, I found myself religiously going to bed every single night. Enough sassiness already! I easily carved out 5-10 min off my bedtime routine to do some stretching poses like child pose, cow and cat poses, downward dog, chaturanga, cobra, three-legged downward dog, pigeon pose, supine spinal twist (I love hearing my back crack and the following liberating feeling), whatever else I felt was right, and finishing up with corpse pose. Nowadays, this relaxes me so much that I can barely read more than a page or two from my book before falling sound asleep.

For anyone suffering from insomnia, yoga could be helpful. Last night, without knowing their benefits, I included seated forward bend, the plow, and a shoulder stand. Turns out all three are recommended in these 7 yoga poses for insomnia. What feels right usually is right for you 🙂

Happy yoga!

Mother Nature’s Most Recent Stunt

Hi Society!

Last night, out of the blue (at least for me as I previously checked the weather and there were no advisories), we got a huge storm. There was lots of rain, thunder, lightning and… hail. The golf ball size kind. I wanted to take pictures of the storm but Shiloh, my dog, was shaking uncontrollably so I stayed with her to comfort her. Dog trainers will say I need to teach her not to be scared and reward her good behavior but I’m not there yet. I also still hug my pet. Judging by her waging tail she seems to appreciate the love too. Oops, I’m kind of side-tracking here. Where was I? Right, the storm. My friend Jenny watched it and said it looked like a mini-tornado. Wahh!

Mini-Tornado Damage
Mini-Tornado Damage

Part of the life skills I’m currently learning is gardening. Like I mentioned, I wasn’t prepared for a storm so here’s what I found in the backyard this morning:

hit tomato

crushed pepper

hit peppers

poor pumpkin

sad eggplant

total hit harvest

I could be devastated but I’m not. I’m gaining gardening experience after all and I much rather have this happen to me now, before I get my micro farm and mostly rely on what I grow. I will definately research how to best protect a garden against storms for next time, though! My newbie self thinks a raised tarp covering the garden should do the trick. I’ll let you know what I learn. The other reason I’m not really upset is that I still have those healthy babies growing:

eggplant

good tomatoes

good pumpkin

In the meantime, we’re going to eat roasted green tomatoes with supper tonight. I might look into green relish recipes too. I’m also excited about tasting the green peppers that were hit. This is providing me with a great excuse! To everyone in the same boat: don’t get discouraged! This is life afterall 🙂

Adding Sunshine To Your Life Through Sunflower Seeds

Hi Society!

Sunflower by Luethy
Sunflower by Luethy

Sunflower seeds should be part of your diet for the following reasons. Rebecca Wood wrote in The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia (my food bible) Sunflower by Luethy that they ”contain more protein than beef and 20 percent fat, most of which is unsaturated”. She adds that they are a ”good source of calcium, phosphorus, and iron, as well as vitamins E and several of the B-complex vitamins, they also contain the amino acid arginine and a trace of fluorine, which may explain the claim that they are good for the teeth. They are also rich in the cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.” Cool, eh?

I am obviously interested in this food because it has many proprieties. But also because I happen to have a ton of them in my pantry. In this post I’ll share a few recipes that I plan on trying to use them up. I’ll let you know how they turn out!

  • Sunflower Seed-Crusted Orange Roughy. Except I’ll probably end-up using a different fish for the simple reason that I doubt I can find it where I live. I might also substitute the panko breading just because I don’t buy those things. I might make a homemade alternative from old breadcrumbs.
  • Tai Chicken Pasta in SunButter Sauce. I intend to make my own sunbutter though. I found two great recipes on From The Grapevine. One’s for the sunflower seed butter and the other is for sunflower seed tahini.
  • Banana and Sunflower Seed Cookies. No foreseen substitutions.
  • Savory Kasha Loaf With Sunflower Seeds. The recipe is originally from Men’s Health but I haven’t yet been able to access the instructions. No worries. I’ll just wing it!
  • Sunflower Seed Beet Pizza. This recipe is found in Brendan Brazier’s Thrive book. I have done this vegan recipe before. It’s pretty good and very easy to make. Here are the ingredients for the crust: 2 C ground sunflower seeds, 1 C grated beet, 1/4 C coconut oil (hemp oil can be substituted), 1/2 tsp parsley, sea salt to taste. Simply mix them together and firmly pat on a pizza pan. For the toppings, leave it to your imagination!
  • Sunflower Seed Pâté. Recipe also by Brendan Brazier. Bonus: it’s raw! Process the following ingredients in a food processor (redundant a little?): 2 garlic cloves, 2 C sunflower seeds, 1/2 C walnuts, 1/3 cup hemp oil, 1/4 C orange juice, 1 tsp sea salt. I might substitute the hemp oil for coconut oil just because I like substitutions…

Have fun cooking!

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑