Category Archives: Eco-friendly living ideas

Plant a Strawberry Patch: Decreasing The Size Of Your Lawn Is Eco-friendly

child strawberry picker

In an area that used to be part of our lawn, I made a garden for my two children. They have used it to grow edibles and things of beauty. This spring/ summer they decided to let the strawberry plants take over most of the growing space. Apparently you can be very tidy with your strawberries and snip off all the runners or you can let the runners do as they will. We like the second method; in which you end up with a beautiful mat of strawberry plants. My kids try to be the first each day to search for the sweet bounty. Growing a strawberry patch in place of some of your yard is twice as sweet: less lawn to mow and fresh local organic fruit besides.

strawberry patch

Here is the kids’ garden.

Delicious Home-made Chicken Soup Made With Locally Raised, Free Range Chicken

bowl of chicken soup

We’ve been raising chickens for about 4 years now. They are truly charming and we love them. However, roosters can cause problems. First of all, although often very pretty, you can’t keep very many. It is suggested that you have one rooster to 25 hens. We therefore, only need to keep around one and only if we want fertilized eggs for hatching baby chicks. You don’t need a rooster at all to get eggs by the way. Fertilized and unfertilized eggs are indistinguishable in taste. Second, if you hatch out chicks (on average half are male), when they become “teenagers” they start to fight. In addition, if there aren’t enough hens, the rooster(s) can hurt the hen’s back from too much mating. This can lead to complete feather loss on their backs and even large cuts from the rooster’s claws and spurs. Third, not always but sometimes you will have an over aggressive rooster and they will attack you or worse your kids. For these reasons, we on occasion have locally raised chicken for dinner.

If you want to know that the chicken that you eat is humanly raised; raise them yourself. Our chickens have a very large area in which to range, peck, and scratch around like chickens. This area is fenced however, to keep away stray dogs or a marauding fox.Furthermore, I can make sure they have a healthy diet. So, why not enjoy chicken soup on occasion and have your own supply of superior eggs.

I always make a soup out of the leftovers and my family loves it.

cup of chicken soup
Soup:
I bake the chicken in my cast iron French oven (Dutch oven) made by Le Creuset. After the first dinner, I pick off any meat that is quick and easy to remove. Then I add enough water to cover the chicken bones. I also add a large onion (cut up in large chunks), a bay leaf or two, some fresh thyme from my garden, a few stocks of celery if I have any, and simmer it on the stove with the cover on but not completely closed for an hour or more. I then remove the carcass to anther container. If I’m making the soup right away, I scoop the droopy onion and celery out of the broth. Then I add some veggies- like chopped carrots, peas, corn… and a starch (brown rice, barley, or noodles). While that stuff is simmering on the stove in the same French oven, I pick all the meat off the bones. When the Veggies (and rice) are cooked, I add the chicken meat. I used to always shy away from dark meat but not anymore. Season with salt and pepper or leave out the salt and put in a bouillon cube instead.
I have an old fashion kind of cooking style. It’s the kind where you use up things that you have on hand, I don’t measure (well maybe when baking), and I make things to taste (shouldn’t we all?).

pot of chicken soup
I make soup like my dad; thick with lots of stuff.

Make Your Own No-Sew Eco-Friendly T-Shirt Tissues

MYO no sew t-shirt tissues

Tissues made from old t-shirts work really well and they are soft on the nose. Kids will like the fun colorful fabrics and you will like the part about saving money and resources.

Make Your Own T-Shirt Tissues

Make your own tissues from t-shirt

I set aside some children’s t-shirts that were too worn or too stained to pass on.

How to:
Gather some old t-shirts. Thin, uber soft t-shirts are best. Use a salad plate (whatever size you like) and a rotary cutter with a cutting matt. Cut around the plate. The beauty of this project is that the edges do not need to be hemmed.

Alternatively, you can cut square pieces.

t-shirt tissues and home-made bear

Keep these eco-friendly tissues on bedside tables for use on little noses.

recycled wool sweater bear and hankie hamper

Hankie Hamper: find something around the house or at the thrift store to be your hankie hamper.

Recycle Worn-Out Shirts Into Handkerchiefs
When choosing old shirts to be made into hankies; the softer the better. Pick an appealing fabric if that matters to you. You want it to also have a bit of absorbency. Obviously, stiff fabric is no good for this project.

How to:

Cut strips 7 inches wide (or your preference) with a pair of pinking shears. Next, cut the strips into squares and you’re done. Using pinking shears will help to prevent fraying.

make your own no-sew hankies

To take with you, fold in half then fold in thirds: it fits nicely in your purse or pocket.

recycled fabric hankies
Hankies in a variety of fabrics: My husband’s favorite shirt (blue plaid cotton) was eventually turned into little hankies. It was a soft fabric to begin with but repeated washing only made it better. The kitty fabric was made out of worn-out flannel pj’s.

eco-friendly tissues and hankie hamper
Be sure to provide a place to put the used tissues or your kids will leave them all around the house.

Cleaning Rags Made From Old Clothes

It’s not like I came up with the idea to make clothes into rags: people have been using damaged clothing and other textiles as rags forever. This post is just a reminder. Have you been buying your cleaning rags? If so, why? I ask because cotton cloth rags work great and are easy to make.
I made nice cleaning cloths out of a pair of worn out flannel pajama pants. Old towels, worn flannel sheets, damaged blankets, cloth diapers ready to be passed on, stained or torn linens, old t-shirts and socks all make good cleaning rags!

Pick flannel or other cotton fiber clothing because it is soft and absorbent and usually lint free. Use it to wash your windows or clean your kitchen floor whatever…. It’s also great at polishing the chrome in the bathroom or dusting your bookshelf.

How to: Cut or tear the piece of clothing in manageable sized pieces (18 x 18 inches more or less). If you want to tear the fabric, sometimes it is easier to use a pair of scissors to cut the first half inch than tear. If you have never tried this before, the fabric will tear in a straight line following the weave. Quickly cut out any buttons, zippers, waistbands, hem, or anything else that might scratch whatever you are cleaning.

Save any buttons for future projects or give them to someone who can use them.

Made-made material like polyester, spandex, and nylon aren’t my favorite for cleaning because they are not as absorbent. I use worn out clothing made out of this stuff for rags that I don’t plan to wash and use again. They would be good for paint rags or auto maintenance.

Keep a pile(s) of rags on hand. I have a stack of cleaning rags with my cleaning supplies and another stack of “disposable” rags in the work shop.

Quilt-like Winter Curtain With Landscape Design: Keep The Heat Inside The House

This cool curtain will keep the heat in the house. I made it to cover sliding-glass doors. I wanted something to not only help keep out the cold but to also be pleasing: necessary during the coldest, bleakest time of the year. It’s eco-friendly because it reduces energy costs and because it was made almost entirely with repurposed fabric that I already had. I especially like this curtain because it is functional art.


How to: Tips for making one for yourself
Get a piece of fabric or a sheet to be the front. I used a black flat sheet that we weren’t using anymore. Design on paper your scene. You could make your curtain depict a pond with ducks or anything you like. Use scrap pieces of material and hand or machine sew the pieces on (appliqué). I prefer to hand sew in this case. I pieced together some vintage white sheets: the sheets were thick and very nice quality but there was a tear and some damage I needed to work around. I did not quilt through both pieces of fabric. I turned the edge under as I sewed it onto the background. When done with the front, add a back and then a boarder. The boarder fabric is the only part I bought new. I did not use any batting. Remember to leave open the ends of the top boarder for the curtain rod to go through. You will also notice that I cut the curtain in half. You may or may not have to do this.
Another option is to use a blanket or quilt that you already have and then fashion it into curtain(s). Crib sized patchwork quilts might later be used as charming winter curtains.