Dec 30, 2016

Best of 2016 for SkipTheBag

Since this is my first year with the blog (well, 9 months, really) I'd like to take some time to reflect on where I've come. I think it will be fun to see how things evolve year after year.

Top Posts:

Zero Waste Gift Ideas
Precycling, Recycling, Downcycling And Upcycling
What Happens To Waste Water?
5 Simple Plastic-Free Swaps To Make In The Bathroom
Zero Waste Halloween Ideas
Bulk Stores In Pensacola, Florida
6 Zero Waste Shampoo Methods
California Plastic Bag Initiatives
Shampoo Bar Review
10 Tips For An Environmentally Friendly Closet

This year I started the SkipTheBag because I saw that people were using too many plastic bags, but that quickly evolved to seeing how much plastic and waste is created on a daily basis. Since I talk about what is going on my life in addition to the harms of plastic, some are more relevant to me.

This year's posts which are special to me:

The #SkipTheBag Challenge
Meet Callie, Lexy, and Maggie
Impromptu Beach Clean
We Have Eggs
Zero Waste Tenets

Some Instagram Photos that didn't make the blog:

How much do you want to bet the one on the left is a double yolk? #backyardchickens #doubleyolk #fresheggs #chickensofinstagram#chickens #mybackyardchickens

Maggie and Lexy are getting along! Callie the cat is still less sure.

Using veggies to capture the essence of candy corn. Fun less waste way to celebrate Halloween. #lesswaste#zerowaste #halloween #food

Home for Thanksgiving means lots of games! #thanksgiving #happythanksgiving #gamenight

At a work conference, guess which side of the shower has my stuff. :) It's crazy to think how far I've come in about 6 months. Small changes add up! #shampoobar #conditionerbar #barsoap #plasticfree #plasticpollutes #greenliving #everydayisearthday

Hubby and I decided against rewrapping the presents we had shipped to us. #lesswaste #zerowastegift #babystepstozerowast#trashisfortossers #plasticpollutes #SkipTheBag

My favorite Christmas gift so far! Chocolate cookies, rum spiced pecans and red wine jelly. Delicious and zero waste! #christmasgifts #christmas #goingzerowaste #trashisfortossers #zerowaste #edible #ediblegifts

Blog Stats:

Yearly total users : 5,903
Total sessions: 7,944
Page views: 13,595
December average users: 1,200
AdSense: 16,000 impressions, 14 clicks, $6
Amazon: 345 Clicks, $7
Instagram followers: 507, 6722 likes, 230 posts.
Twitter followers: 335
Facebook likes: 73

I feel like I've come a long way, but can't wait to see where 2017 takes me! What has been your favorite post?

Shared on Homesteader HopWaste Less Wednesday

Dec 26, 2016

2017 Green Resolutions

Someone asked me about my Green Resolutions for 2017 and I realized that I didn't have any, so I should make some! I've made a ton of progress in 2016 and learned a lot of things, but in some ways I feel like I've stalled and haven't been pushed to move much further in my endeavors toward being plastic free or zero waste. So in honor of the new year and saving the environment I'm listing my Green Resolutions!

1. Get reusable napkins 

This is something I've been wanting for a while. We don't have any and I can see the utility of them. We aren't heavy disposable paper people, but we do generally use either paper towels or decorative cocktail napkins when we need a napkin. In reality neither one of those would be completely replaced by a reusable napkin, but we'd likely use both a lot less. I envision us primarily using them to replace cocktail napkins that we using during sit down dinners. If we got enough of them, we might even be able to have them out for parties and forgo the cocktail napkins all together.

2. Pack my lunch at least twice per week

I've been really bad about buying my lunch at work. And our cafeteria needs some work in the 'green' department. Not only to they rarely serve people on plates, but they rarely have real silverware. My heart aches at the amount of Styrofoam and plastic is used even when eating in the cafeteria. I've got to walk the walk and this is one area that I can relatively simply make a change. Bringing my own lunch will help the environment. It may even help our wallet if I'm using up leftovers or cooking efficiently. And, if I bring healthy foods it may even help my waist line! Triple win.

3. Shop at the bulk store at least once a quarter

Remember my hunt for local bulk stores and how I found one? Well I'm embarrassed to say I've not actually used it! The store is a little further out of the way and in the opposite direction from how we normally go. It's just been habit to go keep going to Publix. So my resolution is that I'm going to commit to shopping there once a quarter. I'm hoping that by setting the bar low, I can crush this resolution and, ideally, that would become our new grocery store full time.

4. Purchase reusable menstrual products

This has been on my radar I'm thinking if I get a cup and some pads that will cover most of my needs. It would be awesome to reduce all the waste associated with periods! Do you have a favorite product to recommend?

5. Make a food product each month

There are a number of food items I've been wanting to try, but just never seem to make the time. I'd love to make yogurt, bread, English muffins and bagels. But I'm sure other things will strike my fancy. When the chickens were producing more, we tried our hand at mayonnaise which was awesome, but I'd like to try other condiments like ketchup or mustard. Or anything really there are so many things that we just blindly buy at the store not realizing that someone used to have to make that by hand! I look forward to experimenting with this.

So there are my green resolutions. Hopefully you can stick around and see how well I accomplish them. What are your green resolutions?

Shared on Going GreenWaste Less WednesdayHome Matters

Dec 23, 2016

First State to Ban Plastic Bags

With the passage of California's plastic bag ban last month I've been seeing several reports stating that California was the first state to pass a plastic bag ban. Now as you know, Hawaii's plastic bag ban was completed in July 2015. So how are all these people getting it wrong?

First, California was the first state to pass a statewide ban on plastic bags. It was passed back in 2014 with an anticipated start July 1, 2015. However it was put on hold and was sent back to voters this past November. Remember Propositions 65 and 67? Well Prop 67 passed so a state wide ban went into effect. Many people didn't realize that it went into effect the day after the election so stores started initiating the 10 cent fee. I mean, why wouldn't they!?! Prop 65 failed so all money raised from the bag fee goes to the store (unlike Washington, DC's bag fee).

So where does that place Hawaii? Well as of July 1, 2015 plastic bags were banned in 4 of the 5 counties in Hawaii, an essentially de facto statewide ban. They were first banned in Maui and Kauai Counties in January 2011 and then banned in Hawaii County (the Big Island) in January 2013. Finally Honolulu County (Oahu) brought up the rear with their ban beginning July 2015. Kalawao County, which covers a small portion of the island of Molokai and has a population of less than 100, has not officially passed a plastic bag ban. Furthermore there has not been one cohesive legislation passed at the state level banning the bags.

So, on a technicality, I guess I've been wrong, and will allow California to claim the prize of having the first statewide ban on plastic bags.

Do you live somewhere that has a ban bag or is it illegal like in Florida? Or does it not matter because you #skipthebag anyway?

Dec 19, 2016

December Garden Update

December Garden Update

Yes, it's the middle of December and we still have a garden. We are fortunate to live in Florida where the temperatures allow a garden nearly all year long. We did have a couple of nights that dipped into the 30s, but no freezes so our plants appear to have survived.

Now, as I've mentioned before, the garden area doesn't get that much sun this time of year, so things are really slow to grow. We also had a bit of an issue with squirrels eating our Brussels sprouts. So we haven't had much of a harvest from the garden.

December Garden Update Broccoli SkipTheBag

 However our broccoli is full and leafy, you can even see the start of a head here.

December Garden Update Broccoli Head

Our cabbage also has had full broad leaves for a while, but is now only starting to think about growing the actual plant.
December Garden Update Cabbage SkipTheBag

Lettuce didn't grow much and then sort of bolted. However we've still been able to get some leaves. In fact, I used some of it in a sandwich yesterday! I'm so happy that we are finally on our way to growing a 'salad'!

Most of our tomatoes are still present and green, but as you can see here we've got one that has ripened on the vine! We were prepared to pull all the green tomatoes if we had freezing weather, but since that isn't a fear we are going to let them go a little longer.

Our watermelon has pretty much stopped growing and the leaves are starting to die back. So I think it's time to harvest this one and see what we've ended up with. This whole year is a practice garden and I think this winter garden has illustrated it best. So I'm not holding out a lot of hope that this will be the best watermelon ever, but it might provide a yummy snack!

I'm curious where we are going to go from here. I can't imagine January/February are going to be much better producers. Things are just taking so long to grow since there is less direct sunlight. However I'm excited for spring to get here and our garden to start taking off again!

Dec 16, 2016

Chickens Molting

I got home from a work conference to find that a couple of our chickens started turning ugly.

Just kidding! They had started to molt. Unlike when they got chicken pox, I knew that molting was a possibility, but I didn't really know what it would look like or what caused it. So I decided to do some reading to learn more. Amazingly I have 4 books that books that are about homesteading/urban farming, but mention chickens on the cover or are expressly about chicken raising.

So what did I learn about chickens molting? Not very much. The two books that are broader homesteading or gardening books do not mentioning molting at all. The two books about raising chickens each had about 2 paragraphs of information about molting. So that tells me that chickens molting is either not that important or not that interesting.

Well I find it both, so here goes: Molting is when the chickens lose their established feathers and start growing new ones. They tend to molt each year in the fall or winter, but sometimes they skip their first year. One of our chickens is full on molting, another one seems to be doing it, but either is a slower molter or has just started. The other 4 look completely normal so I'm guessing they will probably skip molting this year or maybe they'll just start later.

Some chickens lose their feathers slowly so you can barely notice, but others lose them quickly so they look a little scraggly. Unfortunately the later is the case with one of my girls. She just looks like she's going grey and skinny because the new feathers are coming in.

Can you stop them from molting? Nope. It's best to just let nature take it's course.

How can you support your chickens while they are molting? There isn't really anything that you can do other than ensure that they have proper nutrition including adequate protein. Some people increase their protein availability (by adding cheese or eggs, but there are risks to that), but others don't do anything.


What about eggs? Molting generally slows egg production, but it doesn't affect the quality of their eggs. Sadly, one of the books said that commercial eggeries (I think I made that word up, but, you know, commercial egg production plants) "harvest" chickens when they molt. We're obviously not going to do that. In fact, their egg production has seemed increased from the low we experienced while they were fighting off the chicken pox. Hooray!

Were you surprised when your chickens first molted?

Shared on Animal Tales

Dec 12, 2016

Easy DIY Christmas Card Wreath

I wanted a fun, festive way to display the Christmas cards we recieved. I found one that I liked here, that I decided to replicate. It was pretty easy to make and I had most of the components already.

What you need:

  • Clothes pins
  • Green Spray Paint
  • Red Pony Beads
  • Ribbon
  • Wire Clothes Hangar
  • Hot Glue Gun


1. Spray paint the clothes pins green. I did it by laying them out on newspaper. The other article suggested clipping them to a box you don't care about. Honestly, it would have probably saved some time because I wouldn't have needed to flip the clothes pins and it might have been easier to spray the sides, but doing it my way wasn't that big of a deal.

2. Make the clothes hanger into a circle. This was probably the hardest part of the whole thing!I had to bend it out of it's hangar shape and then try to get it round.  Mine isn't perfectly round nor perfectly flat, but it gets the job done.

3. String the clothes pins and pony beads on the hangar alternating. It's a little hard to see the beads, so if I were to do it again I might experiment with doing two beads between clips. However up close you can still see the red quite well.

4. Attach the two ends of the hangar. The website that I was using as a guide recommended just lining up the ends and gluing the heck out of it. However Hubby had a great idea about bending the two ends to make hooks and then looping the hooks. This alone probably would have been enough to hold it together, but just to be sure, I gluded the hooks together. It also made it so I could fit another couple of safety pins on since I didn't have to rely solely on the glue.

5. Use ribbon to make a tie from it to hang from and a bow for decoration. I used some wire ribbon I had laying around that matches the red and green.

I love that it is festive empty, but when filled with cards from our friends and family it is really fun.

P.S. This card says "It's 80 degrees and sunny somehwere" "Oh yeah, that's here! Merry Christmas there." I got this card a while back to send to our friends living in the snowy Northeast. I think it's fitting because between Hawaii and Florida we haven't had a snowy winter in many years!

Dec 9, 2016

100 posts!

I can't believe this is my 100th post. It seems like just yesterday that I was so shocked by the amount of plastic bags people were mindlessly using at the grocery store and decided to start a hashtag to help bring awareness (#skipthebag).

From there it morphed into a blog where I could help educate and show people there were other options. I was in a unique situation because I had just moved from a place that had banned plastic bags. However I soon learned that in Florida those bans are illegal which make the decision to refuse plastic bags all that more important. The environmental harms from plastic bags lent its way to reassessing the use of plastic in all corners of my life and eventually to all waste.

Concurrent to this Hubby and I got settled in our new house where we decided to plant a garden and raise chickens. I've learned so much in the past 8 months and I can only imagine how this blog and the readers of it will help push me in directions I can't even foresee.

So if you've been here from the beginning, or are just jumping in, thank you!

I try to cross post, but if you aren't following on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram you are missing some of the things I find interesting.

Dec 5, 2016

Why We Laid Cardboard Down In The Garden

When we bought our house it had a huge backyard and we were excited about putting in a garden. There happened to be a local gardening class that gave us information about where to put our garden, what will grow, and how to mulch.  Their recommendation was to cover the area you want to use as a garden with cardboard.
Why We Laid Cardboard In The Garden
Hubby watering the cardboard. It helps make it less slick to walk on, and also easier to cut through if you are planting right away. 

Their goal in gardening was to teach us an organic, no till, weed-free way of gardening. The cardboard helped with all of that. The cardboard was an easy way to help cover and kill a lot of ground cover and weeds. The cardboard will not allow the sunlight to pass and thus deprive the grass and weeds of nutrition leading to their death. The cardboard is easy to cut through so you can easily plant in it and it will eventually biodegrade adding to the garden.

Furthermore it was a way to help maintain the soil-food web in a way that tilling would not. The soil food web is a way to preserving and enhancing the microbiome of the garden to help nourish the garden. By tilling, you are breaking through the earth, but bringing bacteria that would normally be in the dark and buried in the ground and exposing them to sunlight and air. There are bacteria the help break down nutrients making it more readily available for the plant. By encouraging those bacteria it would allow for healthier plants. Besides, laying down cardboard is far less work than tilling. :)

You want to have large pieces of cardboard that are plain (without a lot of colors or designs). Mattress boxes, especially tempur-pedic boxes, are the best at covering large areas.  You want to make sure that holes and cracks are covered up because plants and weeds are tenacious.

After laying the cardboard we added mulch and started our garden. We put hay on the garden rows and wood chips on the pathways. We were able to get a load of wood chips delivered to our yard for free from a local tree company. We had gone to their store before and picked up trailer fulls, but it was far more convenient and we got a ton more by having them delivering it. Call around to local tree companies they may do this in your area too!

Why We Laid Cardboard In The Garden
We put in each row separately. You can see we put in and planted the first row and had just finished the second.

After we put a layer of wood chips  down on the cardboard we still had a ton left. So we laid some extra cardboard down and made a path of sorts along the edge of the house running from the backdoor to the garden. We also put some around the chicken coop and mulched along the driveway. Yes we got THAT much mulch from the tree company.

So how well does the cardboard work? Pretty well! We only have two kinds of weeds in the garden and they both are pretty tenacious, but easy to pick. Each kind has an extensive root system which allows them to get nutrients and spread over a large area. If we weren't participating in the ultra lazy form of gardening we probably could have kept it at bay some more too. We should have probably been adding more mulch roughly each quarter. We did a little bit better about adding hay to the growing rows, but didn't really do much to the paths.

Why We Laid Cardboard In The Garden
Weeds from the garden.

It also wouldn't have gotten so out of hand if we had kept on the weeding better either. Remember both of our weeds have huge root systems so they can spread quite well, by keeping it at bay when it was only in the paths and outskirts of the garden would have kept if from getting into the growing rows.

So what do we do to combat it? Add another layer of cardboard and some more mulch! We went cardboard dumpster diving and got some boxes to cover up the paths. For this, medium to large size boxes were better than mattress boxes because we didn't need to cut them to size and we didn't want to cover the growing rows. So far that's where we are at, because remember, we are ultra lazy gardeners and haven't gone to get wood chips yet. However I take comfort in knowing the weeds are still dying even if our garden doesn't look the prettiest.

Why We Laid Cardboard In The Garden
Garden with cardboard laid in paths

Would you use cardboard in your garden?

Dec 2, 2016

Slow Cooker Balsamic Glaze Pork Loin

Slow Cooker Balsamic Glaze Pork Loin

Have you heard of Pinterest failures or Pinfails? I'm not sure how popular they are now, but when Pinterest was first hitting its heyday Pinterest failures were more popular too. For those who are not aware they are when people try to replicate what they find on Pinterest and fail miserably. Some of them turn out quite humorously.

Thankfully I haven't made any total failures when trying to replicate a pin. Generally I'm quite pleasantly surprised with how things turn out. This Pinterest copy cat is no different.

Don't forget to pin this recipe to make later!
Slow Cooker Balsamic Glaze Pork Loin. Delicious crock pot meal that is easy to make.
This site uses affiliate links to keep the blog running. If you click on a 
link I may get a commission, but the price is the same to you.

You can see I served the balsamic glazed pork loin with some salad. It was amazing, better than I expected.

Serves 6-8


2 pounds boneless pork tenderloin
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup water

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce


In a small bowl, combine the sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub the spices all over the roast. Place the pork roast in the slow cooker and pour in the 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Near the end of the cooking time for the roast, combine the ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally until it thickens.

Remove the pork from the slow cooker, shred and place on a platter or plate. Drizzle the glaze over the pork and serve.

I only slightly adapted this recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, so please give her the love.

Are you following me on Pinterest? Have you ever had a Pin fail?

Looking for more recipes? Check out Hubby's Famous Fish Tacos.