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10 Tips For A Zero-Waste Life — existential ergonomics

filled coffee bean clear glass mug

Are you pursuing a zero-waste life? Is this the first you’ve heard of it? The low waste and zero waste movement is having a huge moment right now. Consider learning more. Start with this list of beginner-friendly tips. Take or leave the pieces that work for you. Maybe just give some thought to the time and effort getting rid of junk mail and packaging you have to get rid of every day and week.

My zero-waste journey began as a broke college kids with an allergy to the one-time-use plastic in grocery store bags and very few possessions, over a decade before the idea of sustainability even became popular. The developed world is filled with stuff, often more stuff than we really need. In my mind, zero-waste comes down […]

10 Tips For A Zero-Waste Life — existential ergonomics
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Holiday Hot Cocoa

First the quick way, then the “real” way.

Basic but nice:

  1. Hot chocolate mix and hot water
  2. Tea spoon of decaf instant coffee
  3. Cream or half n half or almond milk to bring it down to drinking temperature
  4. 2 drops peppermint extract OR two shakes ground nutmeg
  5. Stir gently and thoroughly
  6. Whipped cream topping and sprinkles

Fancy way:

  1. 2 spoons baking cocoa with just enough boiling water to dissolve it
  2. Confectioners sugar to taste, gently stirred in
  3. 2-3 spoons brewed decaf coffee
  4. Cool milk or cream added to desired drinking temp
  5. (Optional: Stir in using a milk frother for more of a latte texture)
  6. Peppermint extract 2-4 drops, OR 1/2 teaspoon of 1:1:1 mixture nutmeg, ginger, and all spice (Not everyone likes the added flavor, though)
  7. Pure heavy cream, beaten until you have God’s greatest creation, homemade whipped cream
  8. Top with whipped cream and either sprinkles or nutmeg

A few afterthoughts:

  • You can leave out the coffee if you can’t stand coffee flavor no matter how slight. Most people will not even taste it, but rather it will potentiate the chocolate flavor.
  • When I say spoons I mean the ordinary eating utensil. Our cutlery set has larger and smaller spoons and we use the smaller ones 99% of the time. Ultimately those measurements are to taste and the size of the mug used will affect this, too.
  • I am experimenting with salted caramel and maple syrup versions.
  • Chocolate syrup drizzle could be a nice addition.
  • In the quantities listed, you could use regular coffee and the caffeine would still be negligible for most people.
  • For plain hot chocolate without added flavors, I’d recommend a pinch of sea salt on top. This is also a good hack for coffee that is too bitter whether from over-brewing or imperfect beans.

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Celebrate Harvest Season

Celebrate the Summer Harvest

Once again, it is my favorite time of the year! Time to celebrate harvest season. The leaves change color and fall, and it is time to put the garden to sleep for the long winter. But first, we take some delicious veggies to the kitchen.

Summer veggies!

Reflecting on the summer garden, I realized that we have actually made a lot of progress in a relatively short time.

Celebrate Progress in the Garden

First there was a late frost, and then significant competition for our produce from the deer, squirrels, and birds. Now that the harvest is wrapping up, here are a few of the successes after a couple of years in progress:

  1. Increased the number of raised beds
  2. Added mulch (and learned how to get a truckload of free mulch for the asking)
  3. Added compost (accelerated by adding the birds’ used bedding to the pile)
  4. Blackberry bushes grew well and so produced more berries
  5. Tomato vines were enormous
  6. Peppers and onions grew better than expected
  7. Herb garden expanded to include rosemary, parsley (2nd year plants!), mint, garlic, onions, cilantro and coriander
  8. Planted some new flowers that seem to be doing well
  9. Perennial garden including hazelnuts, cranberries, and elderberries continued to grow well
  10. Added a couple of trees
  11. Kept my potted lemon tree alive another year and it produced two lemons
  12. Indoor garden added a few plants and propagated a few plants

Celebrate Positive Reflections

This year I felt like the garden had setback after setback, but when I actually reflect on it, there were a number of areas of growth and success just because of things set in place in the first year. The soil improved. The perennials are more established and more productive. Time to celebrate the harvest season and the transition from summer to fall.

Reflections on 2020

Never has the garden meant more than in such a wild year 2020!