First Second-Hand Purchase This Year

Yikes, we’re already into April! Here’s February’s edition of No New Clothes For 1 Year!


It’s getting easier not buying new clothes as the year goes on. Poopy and I usually go for a walk at least once a day and instead of going to strip plazas or malls where we used to go, we’ve started to explore all the different neighbourhoods, parks, and trails that are within an hour’s walking distance of our house. And now that spring is here, we’re also soaking up all the lovely sun (in moderation) and getting a ton of fresh air, wuhoo! Do you find that you get happily zoned out and sleepy after being outside for a long time, especially away from cars and busy places? There must be scientific studies on why this happens … the big whoomph of pure oxygen to the brain? Nature + exercise = yes, please?

You’ll probably be seeing much more of the white tunic top in upcoming NNC41Y episodes since it’s such a versatile piece. At the second-hand store, I also got a couple of tops for Poopy — a green and navy blue striped polo top (Polo Rolf Lauren, $5) and a colourful plaid shirt (Timmy Hilfiger, $2) — that are both perfect for spring. I’m trying to limit my purchases for him as well. He has about 5 outfits — pants + tops/onesies –which I think is a good number for a toddler, since he’s going to outgrow them so quickly.

What’s coming up video-wise? Well, you might have seen what I’m planning for the next Harriet’s Kitchen on Instagram but I also have a couple of Sketchbooks in the works. I did some filming today that involved spring cleaning / rejigging the living room, so I’m hoping I can get that video out sometime this month as well!

Maple Syrup in Jeff’s Backyard

It’s maple syrup season! Zach and I visited our friend Jeff in Milton, where he’s been tapping a few of his backyard trees and making maple syrup.


I can remember visiting Black Creek Pioneer Village as a kid, and watching as freshly boiled maple syrup was dribbled across a long pan of fresh, clean snow. The syrup would instantly solidify into these lacy chunks of hard candy, and all the kids would scramble line up in an orderly fashion to sample them. The candy melted in your mouth and, of course, had an amazing maple flavour.

Seeing Jeff make maple syrup right in his own backyard was pretty neat. Admittedly, he does have a huge property with lots of trees, firewood, and a fire pit, but I was surprised at how low-tech and easy the process was. Like most DIY projects, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you can do pretty much anything!

In the future, when Zach, Poopy, and I have a little farm and/or cabin in the woods somewhere, I’m looking forward to tapping the trees and making maple syrup. Until then, I’ll just have to content myself with maple syrup from the farmer’s market.

Thank you so much to Jeff and Krista for having us over (mmm, blueberry pancakes and waffles!), and to Jeff especially for answering all my Maple Syrup 101 questions. I’m hoping to document more of Jeff’s backyard projects during the spring and summer when all the trees and flowers are in full bloom. The series will be called, appropriately, Jeff’s Backyard. Stay tuned!

Here are a couple of links if you want to learn more about maple syrup:

Why I’m Doing #NNC41Y

I’ve completed my first month of the No New Clothes For 1 Year challenge! Check out the video below to learn why I’m doing this challenge and to see what I wore this month:


I’m just one month into this challenge and I’m already feeling the time and noggin-space savings of not buying any new clothes. A few examples:

  • Clothing sections at grocery stores (Costco, Loblaws, etc.) — I just walk on by
  • Flyers advertising sales — no thanks!
  • Crazy, deep-discounted, end-of-season sales? Tempting, but nah
  • Online browsing/shopping — meh (I browse online a lot less, and only to get sewing pattern or design ideas)

What have I been doing with all the saved time and noggin space? Planning new videos, learning about the pattern-making and dyeing, composing song lyrics, developing new recipes, spending more time with my family, and getting outside and breathing in the fresh air! Which makes me wonder — what was so attractive about shopping in my pre-NNC41Y days? There are so many better things to do, things that are useful, things that help others, things that make me genuinely happy in a long-lasting way.

Here are some further things to read/watch if you’re interested in learning more about the topics I mentioned in the video:

Next up on Nuddy Bar — more Harriet’s Kitchens and Sketchbooks! And some design/sewing tutorials and music videos. I’m not sure what order I’ll be publishing these, but I have several videos currently in the works. I often post progress photos on Instagram, so be sure to follow along there too!

No New Clothes for 1 Year


Ooooh, my first challenge! No new clothes for 1 year — it sounds like something that would require a lot of self-discipline and effort. But it’s actually something I’ve been moving toward over the past few years, even if I hadn’t specifically thought, “Buying no more clothes … yeah, that sounds like a bombdiggedy good idea! Let’s do it!”

I’ve been slowly editing down my closet, buying fewer and fewer things each year, and getting to a point where I really don’t need to buy new clothes, not even socks and undies. I have a job and a life that don’t require me to dress or look a certain way. I prefer clothing that is comfortable, durable, and classic, over dressy, trendy, or statement pieces. And with an active toddler choo-choo-ing around, I have less and less time for non-essential activities — shopping for clothes definitely falls into this category for me.

There are a lot of people who have already done this challenge. A quick DuckDuckGo will find you all sorts of blog posts and articles on it. And really, it’s not that big a deal. Many people do it and don’t think twice about it. My parents and husband have probably already done this several times, even if they didn’t document it or post the evidence on YouTube  ;P

In the next video in this series, I’ll go into more detail on why I’m doing this challenge. If you want to follow my progress or join in this challenge with me, the hashtag I’m using is #NNC41Y.

P.S. My closet looks so nice because I KonMari-ed the heck out of it. It makes a big difference and is really satisfying when you’re done!

2000 Subscribers!


Yaaay, Nuddy Bar has reached 2000 subscribers on YouTube! Thank you so much to all of you, my wonderful subscribers, for liking, sharing, and commenting on my silly videos. From my very first video to the most recent one, I have loved making and sharing all of them, and have so many fun new ones planned for this year!

As a small token of my big appreciation, I am giving away two Harriet hats (i.e., the red bunny hats I wear in Harriet’s Kitchen) — one on Facebook and the other on YouTube.

To enter, you can either:

1. Visit facebook.com/nuddybar and share the “Sketchbook: Making a Drumstick Plushie Rattle” video post.

or

2. Comment on the “2000 Subscribers! + GIVEAWAY + Donation” YouTube video, telling me what your favourite Nuddy Bar video is and why.

The contest ends on Sunday, January 15, 12PM EST, and I will randomly choose the winners by some to-be-determined amusing way, and announce who won in the next video, which should be up in a week or so.

Also, because I was able to make a bit of money from YouTube revenues, I have donated to two non-profit organizations (I’m hoping to continue this every year, and donate 20% of my Nuddy Bar revenues to two charities or non-profits — feel free to suggest some!). I will post on Facebook and Instagram who I donated to tomorrow, but right now, I gotta go to bed because zzzzzz ….

Drumstick Plushie Rattle

Earlier this year, I was reading a book about babies and one of the moms in it mentioned that her baby had a chicken rattle. I thought, That is hilarious and brilliant! I have to make one. I finally got around to making it this month and here’s how it turned out:


In the video, I named the drumstick the Turducken Plushie Rattle in my hand-drawn sketch. A turducken is a dish made from a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey. Because I couldn’t decide what kind of poultry the drumstick should be, I named it after allll the poultries. Also, I snuck in a Monty Python reference just for lols … goorrrn.

A big thank you to Bear Woods Supply in BC, the place where I bought the wooden bits for the rattle. I emailed to ask if they could test some of their woods parts for rattle-ability before I bought them online, and Stephen, the President, did it for me the very same day. That’s some seriously good customer service!

I’m not planning to make and sell the drumstick rattles on Etsy or anything like that, but I probably will make some in the future as thank-you gifts for YouTube subscribers. If you absolutely have to have one and don’t want to DIY, there’s a toymaker I came across while DuckDuckGoing to see whether anyone else had made something similar. Her company is called Janie XY and she makes all the toys herself with her boyfriend in Los Angeles. Her drumstick rattle is incredibly cute and squishy-looking and has really clever packaging.

Coming up next in Sketchbook (I haven’t forgotten about the leather and cotton tote, btw, but it is on hold for a bit) are some wintery projects. After doing the tea-dyeing for the drumstick plushie, I started reading a ton about using natural dyes and fabrics. I have a whole bunch of interesting things planned for the next few months, so stay tuned.

Thank you for making 2016 a great year for Nuddy Bar, and I hope you all have a happy and healthy new year! 2017, here we come!

How to Make Yogurt

I used to think that making yogurt was difficult. You need a machine and a special yogurt starter and have to plan it out, and ugh, too much time and effort. Easier to just buy it, right?

But I was bothered by the number of plastic containers Zach and I were going through. Back in 2011, we were probably eating one or two 750 g yogurt tubs a week, and that added up to a lot of plastic over a year.

Zach started making yogurt for us, using techniques he had learned from the Weston A. Price Foundation, which focuses on a traditional diet that includes fermented foods, and Sandor Katz, aka the fermentation guru.

After a while, I took over making the yogurt and streamlined Zach’s technique even further to make it as simple and derp-proof as possible. Check it out!


Ingredients:
Whole Milk (at least 3% milk fat)
Plain Yogurt (with live cultures)

Equipment:
Medium Pot
Measuring Cup
Big Bowl with Heavy Bottom
Wooden Spoon
Thermometer
1 Litre Glass Jar with Lid
Towels and Belt / Tie

Directions:

  1. Clip your thermometer onto your pot so that it’s about 1” from the bottom. Pour in 1 litre of milk.
  2. Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat to low, or 2 or 3 out of 10.
  3. Let the milk heat up slowly to 180ºF (30 minutes to 1 hour).
  4. Take the pot off the heat. Let the milk cool down to between 110-115ºF (~1 hour).
  5. Spoon 1 tbsp. of plain yogurt into your jar. Pour 1/4 cup of hot milk over the yogurt and stir to dissolve. Pour in the rest of the milk, stir, and put the lid on.
  6. Fill a large bowl with hot tap water that’s 110-115ºF, i.e., hot but not scalding. Place the jar into the bowl, cover it with towels, and tie a belt around it to keep it warm.
  7. Let the milk ferment for 4-24 hours, refilling the hot water every 6-8 hours. The longer you leave the yogurt, the thicker and tangier it will be.
  8. Take out the yogurt jar and put it in the fridge to chill and firm up a little bit.

Tips:

  • If you’re going to make yogurt regularly, invest in a thermometer so you don’t have to do any guesswork. They’re between $10-20 online or in stores, and you’ll get a lot of use out of it.
  • Doubling or tripling the recipe is fine. Just use 1 tbsp. of yogurt per litre of milk.
  • Don’t try to use milk with <3% milk fat. You’ll probably get a runny, sad-tasting yogurt. Fat is your friend! You can even use 5 or 10% cream if you want amazingly yummy and creamy yogurt.
  • You can use a crockpot or slow cooker to heat up the milk. (Actually, that’s a really good idea. I think I’ll start doing that :P)
  • Heating up the milk should take between 30 minutes to 1 hour so that you gently unravel the milk proteins but don’t damage them. You can stir the milk and skim off the skin, but it’s not necessary.
  • If you’re not using a thermometer:
    • The milk is ~180ºF when you see little bubbles forming around the edges and surface of the milk, and steam coming up when you move the milk skin away.
    • The milk is 110-115ºF when you can put your finger into the milk and hold it there for at least 10 seconds. The milk should still be hot but not scalding.
  • To cool the milk faster, you can put the pot into another pot filled with tap water, and then stir it to cool it down in about 10 minutes.
  • Yogurt frozen into 1 tbsp. cubes works just as well as fresh yogurt.
  • Try not to disturb the fermenting milk for the first 4 hours or it might not set properly.

Troubleshooting:

  • Yogurt is grainy — milk was heated up past 200ºF and started boiling, which damaged the milk proteins. Make sure to take the pot off the heat before the milk boils.
  • Yogurt is runny — milk didn’t culture for long enough or at a warm enough temperature, or milk was too hot when it was poured over the yogurt and killed the cultures.
  • Yogurt is gummy/slimy — milk proteins didn’t unravel enough; once the milk hits 180ºF, turn the stove to low and try to keep the milk at 180ºF for about 10 minutes (but don’t let it boil).
  • Yogurt still tastes like milk — let the milk culture in the new, hot water for another 4-8 hours to get a tangier and thicker yogurt.
  • You forgot about the yogurt and left it out for longer than 24 hours — no problem, the yogurt should still be fine! It’s hard for bad bacteria to grow in the milk because they’re overwhelmed by all the good yogurt bacteria.
  • If your yogurt failed for whatever reason, you can still drink the milk. It’ll taste and smell a bit like yogurt, but it will still be perfectly edible and safe to eat as long as it doesn’t smell bad.

The first 2 or 3 times you make yogurt are the most nerve-wracking. Aahh, it’s almost reached 180! Aah, it’s 110 and I have to add the yogurt cultures now! Aah, is the yogurt ready yet? Why’s it still runny?? But you’ll quickly get the hang of the method and what the best settings and timings are for your own stove and pots. I’m so used to making yogurt now that it just fits into my normal kitchen schedule. I make it in the morning before breakfast, check it after lunch to see if the water is still warm, then pop the jars in the fridge after my evening snack. Simple!

I’ve had maybe 4 failed batches in the 4 years I’ve been making yogurt, probably because I didn’t let the yogurt ferment at the right temperature for long enough. The next step in my yogurt-making journey is to get some heirloom cultures so that I never have to buy yogurt again. The problem with store-bought yogurt is that it’s been cultured using only a few isolated strains of bacteria and can only be propagated (i.e., you use the previous batch to start the next batch) 4 or 5 times before the bacteria get sad and don’t work any more. Heirloom cultures on the other hand, have a whole bunch of diverse and robust strains that work together, and will stay healthy and alive batch after batch.

Here are some great articles that might help you out if something went wrong with your batch of yogurt, or if you want to learn more about the art and science of making perfect yogurt.