DYI Cruelty Free/Natural Kitchen Sink Cleaner

 

So my kitchen sink was absolutely disgusting one day (well it happens more than that) and I was out of kitchen cleaners. I was like what on earth can I find in my apartment to use. I started searching Pinterest for some DYI cleaner ideas and saw a number of different ideas, but nothing that would work for me. I scoured my kitchen and found a handful of ingredients I thought might help me, I piled them on the counter and began to experiment. After a number of tries on a few different occasions I discovered a concoction that was made from household items, nothing toxic, and it did make my sink look a whole lot better. 

Kitchen Sink Cleaner:

  • 2 Cups Vinegar
  • 3/4 Cup Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice (I prefer fresh and generally juice 1/2 to 1 lemon)
  • 1/8 Cup Salt (I use regular sea salt)

Fill your sink about 1/2 full with hot water and then add all the ingredients. Give it a good stir and then let sit for about 10 minutes. Scrub with washcloth or pad if necessary and then drain and rinse. 

It’s definitely not a hardcore abrasive cleaner, but it worked wonders in my regular (stainless steel I assume) sink. The mix tends to eat away grime. I have also used this concoction a few times on a clogged bathtub drain. In that case I used quite a bit more vinegar to really get at whatever was clogging it. I added the 2 cups first and let it sit about ten minutes and then added some more vinegar and again let it sit. After I ran really hot water for a couple minutes and voila. I have also cleaned my stove top with this. 

 

Ebay Store

As usual things have been busy and pretty crazy around here. I am just starting a new position as a nurse extern at a hospital here and school just started for this semester. I am also still working casual at my previous job. The boyfriend has been working his busy ten hour days at work and then coming home to post stuff on Ebay. He opened an Ebay store  (check it out!) due to the amount of items we have. So far we are making some awesome progress with that. We have been able to sell around 70 items thus far and that still leaves at least 85% left! We cleared out our storage unit and brought everything back home, so it’s been a bit cramped, but slowly improving as we sell stuff.

Any which way we look at it, it’s getting scary close to go time. We are so excited, yet nervous about getting everything done in time. We have been doing a lot of talking about the little details and making plans. I graduate in four months and our lease is up in six months! Now that I typed it, I am even more anxious…that’s not much time! Oh well back to work!

RV Show #1

As a kid growing up in a small town I remember going to the “Boat and Home Show” every year. The show was held in the high school gym and featured everything from RV’s to home improvements and what not. As lame as it was in a tiny town, I loved going. The tables always had free candy or pens to give away and I never turn down free stuff. I remember looking at all the fancy stuff people could do to their homes and then walking in all the RV’s and thinking how cool it was. Back then in my mind, RV’s were for rich people, we had tents…or the back of a pick up. They were so fancy, a mini home away from home. At that time I never imagined I’d be buying one to live in full-time.

At the end of Summer 2015 I did research on all the RV shows in our state and marked them on our calendar. Turns out one of the all time biggest RV shows, The Wisconsin RV Show was right in our city. I looked it up and was ecstatic, they had RV’s, tow vehicles, and seminars. On Friday, January 8th, 2016 we set out for the RV show. We were both pretty excited to look around, after all in less than six months we will be purchasing our new “home”. This just made it seem more like reality and less like a dream. The show was held in downtown Milwaukee. From the moment I saw the address and we drove down there I was baffled as to how they would get all those RV’s/Trailers into a building downtown. Who the heck wants to tow something like that through downtown and better yet what building can accommodate all that? Let’s not forget, how will they get them into the building???  We arrived late morning and were directed to the third floor of the Wisconsin Center. Yes, third floor, at this point I was totally confused as to how they got all those RV’s and stuff to the third floor of a downtown building.

When we got to the third floor we were absolutely amazed by the amount of stuff they fit up there and all the things to see. I was still unsure how everything got in there, but at this point I was so excited to look it didn’t matter. We passed the tables selling odds and ends and turned the corner to the actual show and were mesmerized by all those RV’s. We stopped at a couple tables and entered our names in some drawings and then moved on to see the RV’s. The first row we looked in one or two and then realized this was a row of contraptions that would be far too small. We walked to the end of the row and decided to go into the first RV in the next section. It was a fifth wheel and originally I didn’t want one, we had decided on getting a travel trailer, but we were here to be open minded and look at everything. I didn’t care for any fifth wheel layouts I had seen shopping online. They all seemed to put the bed above the part that goes over the back of the truck. To me it didn’t seem home like at all and it seemed claustrophobic.

We walked into this fifth wheel and all my previous thoughts about fifth wheels vanished. It was incredible. We both fell in love with it. The living room was placed in the area that goes over the back of the truck rather than a bed. It was perfectly homey and the layout was incredible. We were in awe! I knew instantly that was what I wanted and luckily he agreed! I could have stopped looking right there, my mind was made up, but we were there to look at as many as we could and get an idea of what we like and what we don’t.

After about an hour and a half of climbing in and out of RV’s we were exhausted and hot. At that time we made our way to the seminar we planned to attend “Preparing to Full-time”. The seminar was given by the couple (Howard and Linda Payne) that runs the blog RV-Dreams. They seemed so happy, I loved it. Mr. Payne spoke during the seminar and boy was it overwhelming all the stuff he brought up. Most of it I had already read about, but hearing it out loud made it seem scarier. I found comfort in the fact that they were new to the lifestyle when they started too. We had planned to attend another seminar or two, but were too exhausted after all that (and didn’t want a parking ticket :0).

We went home and looked at more pictures and information about the fifth wheel we fell in love with. We decided that it is the one we want and we are going to try our best to get it. I think with enough team work we can do it! Stay tuned for when I share details on our love child the fifth wheel!

Ebay and Etsy

The semester is over! We have been really busy trying to get things moving along. We have been listing all kinds of stuff on Ebay to start clearing our stuff out. I opened an Etsy shop to sell crocheted scarves made by my boyfriends grandma. They are just beautiful, I love infinity scarves. There’s an RV show we will be attending in the beginning of January. Lots of exciting things going on.

Check out the Etsy shop! Like and share this post on Facebook to be entered in a drawing for a free scarf!

Https://RealGrandmaInc.etsy.com

 

 

 

 

Almost there…

Less than two weeks left in this semester and I can’t tell you how thrilled I will be to be done with it. Then just one more semester to go. Less than six months until graduation. Time is going fast! We’ve been so busy that I have neglected this blog and a lot of other things. I’ve eaten “lazy food” and neglected housework. I am just exhausted. I can’t wait for break when I can focus on recouping, writing, and cooking again.

With less than six months until graduation we have been talking more and more about our move and what we plan to do. We are still planning on purchasing a truck and travel trailer when I graduate. Our lease is up at the end of January and we plan to stay at an RV park in the area and continue to work until approximately October. During that time I can take my state boards and we can save some money to go. Around October we plan to move somewhere (Southwest?) and be stationary for some time while I gain nursing experience. After that we’d like to travel.

Any suggestions on where to move initially? We want something nice, nothing cold. I would love some suggestions! On that note, homework calls and I must abandon you once again.

BUSY BUSY BUSY

Third semester of nursing school is insane! It is beyond busy with homework and studying. I have not abandoned my mission of this blog by any means, but my education comes first. If I am not successful that throws off the entire plan anyways. I recently completed my seventeen page research paper and now I am working on even more papers and homework. I’m also studying for multiple tests. When I am not in class, studying, or cleaning, I am enjoying some time with my loves. Priorities :). We talk frequently about our plan and have been working towards our goals. We recently sold three action figure collections. We realize that in six months we will need to purchase the RV and trade in our vehicles. Time moves so fast and that is not far away at all. I have many posts planned, but just haven’t had time to get to them. I will soon I hope. Take care!

Tuscan Fresca Pasta-Copycat Noodles and Company

Tuscan Fresca Pasta

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Up until this past year it had been many years since I had eaten at Noodles and Company, and I had only eaten there once. After becoming vegan I needed to find a multitude of options, even on the go options. Thanks to my trusty friend Google (and the Noodles allergen menu), I discovered Noodles had a few dishes that were vegan or could easily be made vegan by holding the cheese. I’m not big on peanuty stuff or super spicy weird stuff so the whole grain Tuscan Fresca stuck out. It was yummy simple pasta with tasty vegetables and a zesty olive oil dressing. I ordered it and loved it and have ordered it a number of times since. The last time I got to thinking, this is a very simple pasta dish and it’s so good I should make it at home. I planned to eventually, but last night I did unexpectedly. So here’s the deal we really need to go grocery shopping, but payday is still a week away. Things were getting pretty desperate so the other day we picked up just a few things to get us through (of course the way I eat it got us through two days). So back to hardly any food, but thanks to my tiny shopping trip I happened to have a few fresh veggies and they happened to be what’s in this pasta. The pasta I used wasn’t whole grain, I only had plain linguine, but it was still yummy and I personally love pasta in any form so long as it is vegan. I found one recipe on Pinterest that looked like it was a similar copycat recipe, but the pasta was different and the dressing was for fifteen servings. So, I decided to wing it and try my own thing.

INGREDIENTS

-1/2 Box (8oz) Linguine

– 1 Tomato

-1/2 Red Onion

-1/2 Bag (3oz) Baby Spinach

-1 clove (1 tsp) Minced Garlic

-1/4 Cup Olive Oil (+ 1 tbsp for sauteing)

-1/8 Cup White Balsamic Vinegar

-1/8 Cup Grape Juice or Sweet White Wine

-Salt and Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

You can do these in almost any order, I did them all kind of at the same time. I had the pasta cooking as I mixed my dressing and then sauteed my vegetables. I then drained the pasta, poured on the olive oil/fresca dressing so it didn’t stick together, finished up my veggies and mixed it all.

-Begin preparing pasta per instructions

-Heat tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pain on low-medium heat

-Prepare your dressing by mixing 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/8 cup white balsamic vinegar, and 1/8 cup either grape juice or sweet white wine. (If you like it sweeter add more grape juice, if you prefer more zest add more vinegar, if you want less oily use less oil)

-Add the tomato and red onion to the heated frying pan and saute for 1-2 minutes, then add garlic and saute for another minute or until fragrant or onions are partially translucent. Don’t saute too long you still want your veggies kind of crunchy.

-When your pasta is cooked drain it and add in about 1/4 to 1/2 of your dressing to keep the noodles from sticking. Do not add it all, you can add more later if you like, but you don’t want too much.

-When the veggies are done and them to the pasta and mix

-Then add in the fresh spinach and mix. The heat from the pasta and veggies will wilt/cook it a bit, but not too much 🙂

-Add salt and pepper to taste and then add more dressing if you like.

This was very good as leftovers, I think because the dressing was able to soak in and marinate. Either way it was simple and although the directions look long it really only took fifteen minutes all together. Let me know what you think. 

Quick Vegan Pancakes

Quick Vegan Pancakes

These are nothing fancy, but they are quick and easy to make and in my opinion taste pretty decent. I have used a number of different recipes found online in the past and this is my version of what I feel works. I’ve taken basics from numerous recipes and altered them into what I feel made a decent pancake in a short amount of time that tasted good topped with some earth balance and syrup!

INGREDIENTS

-1 cup flour

-1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sugar

-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (use 2 for extra fluffy)

-Pinch of salt

-1 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond)

-1 tablespoon vegetable oil (you could use coconut)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat a pan to medium heat

Mix dry ingredients together (Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder, and Salt)

Add in the “milk” and oil

Mix until smooth, the mix will be thick, if it is too thick or there is still dry ingredients visible add another dash of milk or oil to thin (we want it thick, but not too thick)

If you don’t have non-stick cookware add some oil or vegan butter to your pan and allow it to get hot

Now spoon or poor some batter onto the pan

Once you see bubbles appear on top of the pancake carefully flip it and cook the other side

*Should make about 6-8 pancakes depending on size*

Feel free to add chocolate chips, blueberries, coconut whipped cream, a dash of cinnamon, or anything else you can think of to spruce them up! I made them plain for dinner the other night, because I was lazy and hungry!

Let me know what you think.

Avocado Mashed Potatoes

AVOCADO MASHED POTATOES

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I absolutely LOVE potatoes, they have been a staple in my diet ever since I can remember. Mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, french fries, hash browns, you name it. I also happen to love avocados. Up until about a year ago the only form of avocado I was familiar with was guacamole, you know the stuff you eat with chips and salsa. I was unaware that there was a whole world of possibilities out there. So I started buying avocados, first I made homemade guacamole, but I eventually branched out. Now I find myself constantly eating avocados. One of my favorite meals is Gardein vegan burger with avocado slices and a baked potato. The avocado and potato go very well together and it was a simple, fast, and tasty meal. I have read numerous times that avocado makes a good butter substitute. This got me thinking that perhaps avocado mashed potatoes would be good. I started searching Pinterest and found a post, but the link was broken, and all the other posts were for avocado cauliflower mash. I decided to just throw something together myself since it isn’t exactly rocket science. I’m no expert, but it turned out pretty tasty. I will definitely play with the measurements more to perfect it to my taste in the future. This recipe is really something that varies based on taste preferences and the size of the potatoes ect that you are using, but mostly taste. This gives you the idea(s) and guidelines, but you really have to individualize it.

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Peel the potatoes. I used golden potatoes, because they have a creamier texture and it’s what I had on hand.

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Cut them up into chunks.

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Place potato chunks in boiling water and boil them until you can easily pierce them with a fork.

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While the potatoes are boiling, bust out the avocado

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Slice it up. You can use half, if you just want to replace the butter with it or the whole thing if you really like avocado like me!

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When potatoes are ready drain the water and then place potatoes back in the pot. Add vegetable broth. Some people are fancy and make their own veggie broth, I just used store bought.

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Add the sliced avocado, salt, lemon juice, pepper, and garlic to the potatoes.

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Blend together. I used an electric mixer, you could use a food processor or high speed blender.

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Taste test your pot of green mush and add salt, pepper, or other things as needed to taste.

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Begin preparing your plate…

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Continue adding food items to your plate…

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When your plate is appealing to both you eye and your stomach it is complete.

AVOCADO MASHED POTATOES

Remember to add ingredients slowly and adjust to taste

Ingredients:

-approximately 9 med/small golden potatoes

-1/2 to 1 medium avocado

-1/2 cup vegetable broth

-3/4 tsp salt

-1/4 tsp pepper

-1/2 tsp finely minced garlic

-1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Directions:

1.) Start a pot of boiling water on the stove

2.) Peel potatoes and cut into chunks

3.) Add potatoes to boiling water and boil until you can easily pierce with a fork

4.) Drain water and place potatoes back in pan

5.) Add all ingredients to pan with potatoes (avocado, vegetable broth, salt, pepper, lemon juice, garlic)

6.) Blend all ingredients with an electric mixer, food processor, or blender.

7.) Add more salt and pepper, ect to taste.

*Use the entire avocado for more full flavor, use only half to mimic butter substitution. You may substitute almond milk or another plant based milk instead of vegetable broth for an even more creamy texture, however the golden potatoes along with avocado tend to already produce a very creamy texture. I personally use more than one teaspoon of fresh lemon juice ( I squeezed almost half a lemon), I love lemon and love the extra flavor and kick. I recommend starting small and gradually adding. Don’t like garlic? Don’t add it. At the very end you may want to add more salt and pepper to taste. Add other seasonings and ideas to your hearts content. I garnished mine with green onions.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I know avocado and strange things like this aren’t for everyone and these amounts are very much based on taste, but what did you think?

How Veganism Changed My Life

I grew up in a small town in Northern Wisconsin. There wasn’t much diversity up there or much going on at all. We lived rather simply out in the country on twenty acres of land with a huge garden, chickens, and rabbits. My dad was old fashioned and my mom a strong independent woman, hence why they are divorced. I was a shy and quiet child in the beginning and never really spoke up for myself. One evening, when I was six years old, Dateline came on (we didn’t have cable), they were airing a special on slaughterhouses and my mom let me watch. She stood in the kitchen making dinner and doing dishes and finding a small amount of sick humor in how grossed out I was. She never hid the truth about things from my brother and I, and she always encouraged education and free thinking. What she didn’t know was, that evening would change my life and who I was.

Absolutely horrified by what I had seen, I got up the next morning and announced I was not going to eat meat for a week. That week flew by and I was still couldn’t get those images out of my head and announced that it would now be two weeks that I wouldn’t be eating meat. After two weeks passed I was still traumatized and announced I was extending it to a month. Shortly after that we were visiting my grandparents and I overheard someone tell my mom it was just a phase and I’d get over it any time now. As soon as I heard that I proudly walked into the room and announced I was never going to eat meat again.

I spent my childhood as the weird kid who ate weird things. I made strange requests in the lunch line at school and I would often order cheeseburgers without the burger. I learned at a very young age how to read ingredients labels and then how to speed read them three more times just to be safe. I found my voice and was soon no longer the shy and quiet one. I wrote letters to companies about their products or the prices, I started arguments with hunters, I would debate with anyone, and I researched statistics and placed information in mailboxes. I even volunteered at the animal shelter.  I advocated greatly against the consumption of meat and harming animals. As I grew into my teens I continued to advocate, but despite my great compassion, I was naive. I consumed dairy products, I told myself no one dies for cheese so who cares, I wore leather, and even though I spoke out against animal testing I wasn’t buying cruelty free products.

I was vegetarian for twenty-one years. I was often tired and sluggish. I gained nearly one hundred pounds over a six year period due to my degenerative disc disease. Discs in my lumbar spine crumbled into my spinal column and were crushing my sciatic nerve causing constant excruciating pain. My lack of movement due to extreme pain and my diet filled with animal products caused the large amount of weight gain. In 2012 I had a spinal fusion, which removed my crumbled discs relieving the pressure from my sciatic nerve and then fused the lower third of my spine. The spinal fusion was a life saver, it allowed me to function fairly normally again. Being able to move normally again helped me to lose around forty-five pounds, but then the weight loss stopped. I was still almost sixty pounds heavier than before.

In September 2014, I began thinking about my lifestyle choices and it prompted me to do some research. While online I came across a video documenting abuse on a dairy farm and I was absolutely disgusted. I continued my research and what I found was very upsetting. I had been lying to myself all along, there most certainly is death involved with the dairy industry. The more I thought about it the more I realized I was a hypocrite, I eat dairy products, I wear leather, and my shampoo was probably tested on animals. I was horrified, I was an ethical hypocrite. I kept thinking and researching…what about health? I was even more disgusted by what I found. What about the environment?  I knew at that moment that I was a vegan starting that very second.

What was I supposed to eat? I had a hard enough time being meat free as a kid in a small town, I lived off grilled cheese. If I can’t have cheese what now? I assumed being in a larger city now that it wouldn’t be as difficult, but honestly what do I eat? So I turned to trusty old Google, and what did I find? I found that there was a whole world out there that I was unaware of. I found that I was sheltered and living in a bubble. I found that there is an insane amount of vegan food options and so much amazing food out there that I would never run out of ideas. What about personal products and household products? It’s going to be so expensive and hippie deodorant won’t work. WRONG. There are so many brands out there ranging from cheap to expensive, from scented to unscented, from hippie to chic, there is something for everyone.

So how exactly did veganism change my life?

  • I began losing weight again immediately after going vegan. I lost 40+ pounds.
  • My skin cleared up.
  • I have ten times more energy.
  • No stomach issues anymore!
  • Less pain and inflammation.
  • I eat twice as much as I use to and don’t gain weight.
  • All my personal care products are cruelty free and my hair still smells amazing.
  • I sleep better.
  • I’m happier.
  • I feel better and healthier overall.
  • I am more informed and no longer turn a blind.
  • I advocate against all forms of oppression.
  • My mom switched to a vegan lifestyle and has lost 96 pounds and lowered her cholesterol 65 points!

I could go on and on about the positive impact this has had on my life. It has been a journey of self discovery and it has been a learning experience. It has changed my life and I will never look back. How has it changed yours? Share in the comments.