Even though I have third quarter (!) goals all lined out for the Walker Four, I’ve been feeling a little scattered, like I haven’t been making very much progress.

Imagine my delight when I realized that I have been, totally without trying. I guess that’s the benefit of having routines in place. Not that I’ve been perfect or even hit them all, just that I’m doing better than I thought.

Low waste holidays

I wrote about revamping my favorite Thanksgiving sweet potatoes recipe (no one noticed it was any different than previous years, incidentally, which I took as a big win), but there’s more to this story. My parents hosted, and aside from paper napkins, everything was served with real live dishes, including my mother’s china. And then my mother sent us home with leftovers in her glass cooking containers and/or bowls, including the turkey caracas. This is no little thing, friends — it’s not only a nod to our lifestyle, but it’s a sacrifice on her part, as she needs those items in her own kitchen. Um, and that entire pan of stuffing she made specially for us? DELICIOUS.

I am "imagining" this in a recyclable can. HERE is why you can't recycle this kind of packaging.

I am “imagining” this in a recyclable can. HERE is why you can’t recycle this kind of packaging. (This isn’t even the brand I buy, by the way.)

I totally called dibs on the caracas, by the way, because I am out of homemade chicken stock and have been having to buy it in cans at the store. And I can’t get organic chicken broth in a can, only in those non-recyclable shelf-stable containers. So yeah, we’ve been somehow managing on nonorganic, non-homemade chicken broth. Not awesome. Anyway, making homemade broth is really easy (or I wouldn’t do it): HERE is a link for proper details, but basically you just have to cover your caracas with water, add some celery, carrots and onion (don’t peel, just toss it in there), bring to a boil and then simmer for a couple of hours. Then you take all of that out and simmer the liquid until it condenses and tastes good. We’ve got some salt issues in this house, so I don’t add any of that, but you could.

(As I write this, I’m simmering a pot of leftover everything turkey noodle soup using said broth … and all sorts of veggies languishing in the fridge. I  sautéd a bunch of chopped veggies in butter, tossed in some leftover turkey, added 4 cups of broth and some water, added herbs, brought that to a boil and added some broken linguini noodles — well, that’s what we have — and there you go.)

The next big events for us are Eric’s birthday at the end of November and Johanna’s mid-December. We’re still in the planning stages for both. Eric is easy, Johanna only moderately more difficult. I’ll keep you posted how that goes.

Oh, wait, there’s the whole Christmas thing coming up, too. Zero waste Christmas tree? Check — we’ve got one in the yard in a terrible location, planted as a sapling Abby brought home in second grade (the girls are fighting to keep it, but it needs to go), and plenty of beloved ornaments. Presents? Well, we’ve got a good idea list going, thanks to y’all. Cards? I really like this tradition … and will need to look into how to make it as low waste as I can. Meal? I’m not ready to go there yet.

P.S. Does anyone else prepare for Christmas by listening to “Christmas in Hollis” by Run-DMC on repeat? It makes me laugh.

Yin and yang. They move around to much to get a good picture, so this will have to do.

Yin and yang. They move around to much to get a good picture, so this will have to do.


Baby Bear is finally off the bottle — and is growing like a weed. I was sort of wondering how Pearl would do with all of this, as emotionally fragile as she is, but she’s actually doing really well. The two enjoy playing with each other, and Pearl takes it upon herself to give the baby baths once in a while. She almost seems happy. That might also be because we’ve started letting Pearly go outside. She’s too smart to be inside all day. She needs the mental stimulation that comes from exploring the yard. (Or that’s what I tell myself.) Anyway, Bear is on real food now — kitten chow and soft canned food — and we’ve upgrading her litter box from a reused paint tray liner to an actual box, which we already had. I’m glad Eric kept this stuff after Skilly passed. I was ready to just donate everything and be done with it. Shows you what I know.

Still some work to do here, but I’m pleased we’ve been able to reuse so much and not have to make any special purchases (new or used). I’ve still got kitty litter and food alternatives on my to-do list. I’m okay with the purchased canned food, it’s the hard stuff that I’d like to replace. And I honestly don’t even know if that’s possible.

And: Having a kitten crawl up your leg so she can curl up on your lap for a nap? That’s not the worst thing.

Next up: I finally joined a Buy Nothing group.

9 Responses to Updates!

  1. Making your own broth is wonderful! I believe it’s more nutritious, too, since anything canned always loses nutrition in the process.

    I make chicken stock year-round and try to keep it on hand all the time. I’ll buy a whole chicken, and once we’ve eaten the meat, I put the bones in the crock pot in the evening with whatever veggie scraps I have, plus a bay leaf and some pepper. (I save carrot, celery and onion cuttings in the freezer to use for this.) I fill it with water, turn it on low overnight, and it’s ready in the morning. You really could cook it for 12 or 24 hours with no problem if it’s on low heat. It really only gets better the longer you cook it. I pour it through a sieve into a big glass Pyrex pitcher with a lid, and keep it in the fridge to use for cooking rice, beans, making soup and sauces, or cooking vegetables in.

    Just thought I’d share this system, since it works for me as a way of almost always having chicken broth on hand without buying it in cans.

    • WHAT!? I’ve never thought about using my crock pot to make broth — what a great idea! — and a good way to use veggie scraps too. I haven’t purchased a whole chicken since the project started because of they come wrapped in plastic here, but I am totally going to try this … as soon as I can scrounge up another caracas. Thank you for sharing!

      • Even a few bones will make nice stock – like leg or thigh bones, if you don’t have a whole chicken to work with.
        Crock pot all the way! I particularly like that there’s no urgency with it and it needs no monitoring. If I don’t have time to strain the broth right now, I can just leave it another 3 hours, 6 hours, whatever!

        • Bone-in chicken might be more doable. I will ask at the meat counter. Who knows, maybe they’d sell me an unwrapped whole chicken too?

  2. I made chicken stock and chicken and rice soup this weekend. Nom nom nom.

    Maybe for Christmas cards you could look into the paper that’s made with seeds that you can plant and grow flowers from.

    • I hadn’t thought about that kind of paper for cards … that would be super fun, too. Cards are wasteful, but I so enjoy sending them and receiving them. I’m totally looking into that. Great idea!

    • I’ve received these … and I’ve sent out a few, but I just like the idea of sending cards in the mail. Yours is definitely the most zero waste option, though.

  3. Pingback: Zero waste DIY: Crock pot turkey stock | The Simple Year

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