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Monday, 24 July 2017

LBH Weekly Roundup: Zero Waste Grocery Shopping at the Bulk Barn

Quite by accident, I found out that Bulk Barn, which is a national chain of stores selling bulk food, was now allowing customers to bring their own containers.  This is a boon to anyone interested in reducing their waste and the amount of packaging coming in to their home.  Your containers must be in clean condition and plastic and paper bags are not allowed.  You have the containers tared (or weighed) first before filling them so that the cashier is able to subtract the weight of the container from the total weight when you cash out.  I have always found it interesting when I hear of the difficulty of people in other countries in finding stores that sell bulk groceries as Bulk Barn has been around in Canada for many years.  The great thing about Bulk Barn is the vast selection.  There are lots of unusual things like Xylitol powder and hemp seeds on offer.  There are even liquid foods like various pie fillings and honey.  If you aren't in Canada, do you have a grocery store that is similar to Bulk Barn?  Any way, my first trip to Bulk Barn was more of a test.  I bought a handful of pretzels, 0.80 kg @ $5.28 per kg which came to 42 cents (before taxes).  I chose pretzels because packaged snack foods tend to be the Achilles heel for a lot of people trying to reduce their waste.  The process was so straightforward.  No arguing with the cashier about why you wanted to use your own container and trying to explain the concept of zero waste.  My second trip was a bit of a failure as this time I bought 2 handfuls of pretzels, as well as flour.  The pretzels came to over $3.00.  I couldn't figure out the disparity until, after much staring at the two receipts, I realized that the cashier forgot to subtract the weight of the container at the second visit as the receipt didn't show the net and gross weight the way the first receipt did.  So I think the cashiers are still getting familiar with the new system and you have to check your receipt.  I used my vintage French mason jars but you can find similar ones here.  
via Amazon

The great thing about this French brand is that you can get tall ones for storing pasta like spaghetti or linguine and get replacement gaskets as well.

via Amazon

After reflecting over my experience, I have concluded that it is a process that needs to be gradually assimilated into your lifestyle if you want to sustain the practice over the long haul.  At the moment, I am the only one in my household with any interest in it so I don't think I will ever go completely zero waste. Personally, I like to say "reducing waste" rather than "zero waste" as it makes it less intimidating. Because the process means taking your own containers to the store, the trip needs to be planned out beforehand.  I can't expect Monsieur to assist as he has mobility issues so it would be very difficult for him to haul containers to the store.  At one point, we considered getting our groceries delivered when our combined health made ordinary chores like grocery shopping extremely arduous and delivery would, obviously, preclude shopping at the Bulk Barn.  
To be honest, when I first heard about zero waste, I was simultaneously intrigued and repelled.  As with any movement, extremists tend to be attracted to it.  I felt like it wasn't for me and my household.  I mean, I am not going to get into an argument with the pharmacist about why life saving medications are being dispensed in a plastic jar!  If you go on the Bulk Barn website, you will see that they've partnered up with a fairly well known French-American zero waste proponent that I once followed.  When I saw that, I had a bit of a giggle because I remember when she ran a crowdfunding campaign and then immediately after the campaign ended she disabled comments on her blog and began running ads on her website for some time  for...disposable one-use cleaning products.  So, I stopped following her when I realized this zero waste guru had clay feet.  My personal belief is that balance is the key and finding what works for my home and the people in it.   Right now, any reduction in household waste is a good thing and I do have to give tremendous props to Bulk Barn for instituting this new policy.  Do you have any interest in bulk grocery shopping?  What are your experiences with the zero waste lifestyle?

This is not a sponsored post.  Some links are affiliate links.

Monday, 17 July 2017

LBH Weekly Roundup: e.l.f Eyebrow Kit

I purchased the e.l.f. eyebrow compact this past week and I have to say I am really impressed.  For years, I used Benefit's Brow Zings compact.  It comes with a pair of miniature tweezers which, in theory, seems like a good idea but, over time, I ended up with a handful of the little guys that I just didn't know what to do with.  I always reached for my full size Tweezermans and never the little mini one.  Finally, I stopped buying the Benefit compact and used an eyeliner pencil which was the right shade of ashy brown that disappears into and yet subtly accentuates a dark brow.  The eyeliner pencil lasted me an incredibly long time, however, as I got closer to the end, the more difficult it became to sharpen it.  The tip kept snapping off and I was losing a lot of product.  I noticed that the e.l.f. line was on sale at my local pharmacy and decided to pick up the brow compact.  It really looked like a dupe of the Benefit compact with a dark cream shade and a lighter shade to get a natural ombre effect.  And for the price, it really is a steal.  I use an e.l.f. angled brush to apply it and it is so easy and effortless to apply and blend.  I got mine in the shade Medium.  There was only two shades available at the pharmacy, Light and Medium which really surprised me but a search on Amazon showed that there is a  Dark shade available which I likely would have preferred. No more stressing over trying to sharpen a pencil!

This is not a sponsored post.  Some links are affiliate links.

Monday, 10 July 2017

LBH Weekly Roundup: Banana Bread With Pancake Mix Recipe, Le Creuset Terrine

We had a few ripe bananas that needed using up so, on the spur of the moment, we decided to make banana bread.  When I say "spur of the moment", I do mean that as a quick rummage in the kitchen cupboards revealed that we didn't have any flour, milk, vanilla extract or even a loaf pan to bake it in!  However, I had just brought home a Le Creuset terrine and was really keen to use it ( I couldn't find a white one on Amazon but you can get a classic red one here).  It is such a beautiful piece that I didn't want to just restrict its use to pate.  I do find that a new, beautiful and functional addition to the kitchen can inspire one to be a bit more adventurous, don't you?  So we made a few substitutions to the standard banana bread recipe, basically using whatever we had on hand.  Below is the recipe with the substitutions:


 3 ripe bananas
2 2/3 cup pancake mix (instead of flour)  I used Aunt Jemima's
2/3 cup demerara sugar (instead of white sugar)
1/4 cup soy milk (instead of milk)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 eggs
the seeds of one vanilla pod (instead of 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
I didn't have any nuts on hand but you can add 1 cup of chopped walnuts

Mash the bananas.  Mix in the sugar, milk (or milk substitute), vanilla (or vanilla substitute), and eggs in with the bananas then add the pancake mix and nuts.  Pour mixture into the greased terrine or loaf pan.  If you have flour on hand, you can grease and flour the inside of the terrine.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes at 350 degrees C.

You will need a 9" X 5" X 3" loaf pan which I didn't have so I used my Le Creuset terrine instead.  The mixture was the perfect amount for it as you can see in the photo above.

The banana bread was delicious!  The texture was dense and firm, very bread loaflike.   The demerara sugar deepened the colour of the bread and gave the top a yummy stickiness without the addition of any caramel frosting.  The molasses in the sugar gave the loaf a rich mellow flavour as well.  And the aroma from the vanilla pod was heavenly.

It was perfectly and evenly baked throughout.  Le Creuset is fantastic for even heat retention which is a boon for baking.  The terrine is a firm favourite now and I know it will be a kitchen workhorse for many years to come.

This is not a sponsored post.  Some links are affiliate links.

Monday, 3 July 2017

LBH June Monthly Favourites: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension, Natural Moisturizing Factors, Hyaluronic Acid 2%

Welcome to another Monthly Favourites!  The standout for me this month is The Ordinary.  I dare say it is fitting that this Canadian company, which has taken the skincare industry by storm, should be my sole favourite for this particular month which leads into a celebration of Canada's 150th birthday.  Woohoo!  150 years young!  Happy Birthday Canada!
Natural Moisturizing Factors Moisturizer appeared in May's Monthly Favourites which you can read about here. I have also written about the Vitamin C Suspension here.  I am still using the Vitamin C as it is good for combating hyperpigmentation caused by long sunny days.  I have cut back on the Moisturizer as I find I don't need as much moisturizer in the summer and added in something new, the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, instead.  Hyaluronic Acid is excellent for hydration as it can hold 1000% its weight in water.  There is a little glass pipette that administers drops of the acid.  I just sweep it over my face in the morning before applying makeup and it is enough hydration for me.  There is a slightly tacky feel to it which some may not like and it doesn't provide a lot of slip if you are one of those who like to throw in a bit of facial massage at the same time as you are moisturizing your face.  However, as a simple serum, it is perfectly adequate.
That is it for June!

This is not a sponsored post.  Some links are affiliate links.
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