Zero Waste Birthday

I love my birthday. I don’t love getting older, but I really love being the center of complete attention for one day. (Maybe that’s why I wanted to be an actor?)

My birthday fell on a Sunday which meant a whole weekend of whatever I wanted to watch or eat, and never having to get up to get a third slice of chocolate cake. 

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The weekend started out with a brilliant plan, “What if we could get the pizzeria to put pizza dough in our jar?” Guess what – it totally worked!!

There’s an AMAZING pizza joint around the block, and they put their crack crust right into the jar. We made a Friday pizza, a Saturday pizza, a Sunday pizza, and after eating pizza for almost 9 meals straight, I was pizza-d out. 

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My family has been awesome and super supportive about my zero waste transition. They’re all completely cool with buying experiences rather than things. We've gone to some great new restaurants and out to the theatre!

It can be difficult to talk to your loved ones about gifts. You don’t want to come off ungrateful but try to explain it to them that you want experiences rather than things.

It also helps if you can give them specifics. Like, I would like to go zip lining you can buy me tickets here.

There’s a new restaurant I really want to go to, you can buy me a gift card here. I really want to take a cooking class you can buy my admission here.

There are so many awesome things you can do that don't involve more stuff. 

Old Town Sacramento from www.goingzerowaste.com

On Sunday morning my love whisked me away to my favorite spot, LEAF Cafe, where we got coffee to go in our mason jars.

Then we trekked to Old Town Sacramento where we explored the museums, learning about the Pony Express and the expansion of the railways. Trains allowed goods to be outsourced; consumerism and capitalism had their birth in the railway.

It was fascinating to learn the history behind it and see how consumerism has developed. Exotic goods such as birds, oranges, spices, and jewelry could be ordered from catalogs.

Back then it would take weeks for your items to arrive at the mercantile, where you’d pick them up. Now we can go on Amazon, order anything we want, and have it on our doorstep tomorrow. 

Zero Waste birthday excursion

I was also very pleased to see the Harvey Girls represented. Harvey Girls were waitresses in restaurants along the railway. They were said to have helped civilize the west and redefine the working woman in a positive image.

They adhered to a strict code of conduct and were one of the few options for working women during that time period. With good pay and honest work environments, they blazed the trail for women in the workforce, and contributed to a large part of women’s history.

wine tasting for a zero waste birthday

We listened to nonstop NPR in the car, wine tasted in an underground cellar, had drinks in a saloon, and I almost got a tattoo (but, it’d probably hurt - so, I didn’t!) The day was completely free of disposables!

I did get one present, and it’s been something I’ve been wanting for a while…. Last year Justin bought me a beautiful marble and wooden rolling pin for the kitchen. This year he bought me a matching mortar and pestle.

I can’t wait to try it out!!  Do you have a mortar and pestle? How do you like to use it?

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Wild West Bash

Birthdays are a wonderful time of celebration. Our house was filled with karaoke, crackling backyard fires, spicy fajitas, and rich chocolate cake. I wanted food that could be fixed and eaten in your hands. Cupcakes with no wrapper, fajitas that could be fixed on a tortilla “plate” providing the perfect vessel for marinated steak, veggies, and an abundance of toppings. I wanted to avoid washing lots of dishes for the purposes of conserving water… and shirking responsibility.  I spent about four hours in the kitchen leaving me plenty of time for a trip to the brewery. 

The Napa Smith Brewery is tucked away under rolling hills. The large room is flooded with natural light and sprinkled with mega jenga, dart boards, and dog bowls for your furry friend. After sampling a flight and presenting my birthday present, we chose our favorite three and headed home. (Surprisingly, we had a lot of beer left over. Even more surprisingly it stayed carbonated and delicious for three days after being opened.)  A growler holds 64 ounces only 8 ounces shy of a six pack. Although glass bottles are recyclable the caps aren't. Cans are completely recyclable (I'm trying to curb most recycling, but that's another post), but a growler is refillable. It's something you buy and can bring back. Since we don't need to keep three in stock at all times, we will bring two back and refill one. 

Planning a party can be full of stress, disposables, and single use products, but it doesn’t have to be.  The night was filled with singing, laughter and full bellies. Below you’ll find a breakdown of the menu and recipes at the bottom. 

Dinner & Drinks for 10… Western Style with a budget of $200.00 

Back from the grocery store. Peppers and Avocados, even though in season, are difficult to find at my farmers market. Unfortunately both items had stickers on them, but the most unfortunate thing of all was the tortillaria being closed. There were no fresh tortillas only leftovers from earlier that day wrapped in plastic. I could have made the tortillas, but I didn’t have time. Next time I will need to plan better. Fortunately I was able to load my jars with sour cream, pico, and shredded cheese.

Back from the grocery store. Peppers and Avocados, even though in season, are difficult to find at my farmers market. Unfortunately both items had stickers on them, but the most unfortunate thing of all was the tortillaria being closed. There were no fresh tortillas only leftovers from earlier that day wrapped in plastic. I could have made the tortillas, but I didn’t have time. Next time I will need to plan better. Fortunately I was able to load my jars with sour cream, pico, and shredded cheese.

Food for a crowd. The wax pencil takes the place of wine charms. You can write your name on the glasses, and it will wash off later.

Food for a crowd. The wax pencil takes the place of wine charms. You can write your name on the glasses, and it will wash off later.

The Menu 

FOOD ($60.00)

Oven Fajitas with all the Fixin’s

      *tortillas, steak, bell peppers, onions, pico de gallo, guacamole, refried beans, rice, cheese, and sour cream. 

Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache 

 

DRINKS 

Alcohol ($40)

Whiskey Tea

      *Sweet Tea + Southern Comfort

Margaritas 

       *Homemade Margarita Mix + Tequila 

Beer ($90)

        *3 Growlers from a local brewery

 RECIPES

Fajitas for a crowd: 

Fits in 2 9x13 glass baking dishes 

            4 Red Bell Peppers

            3 Orange Bell Peppers

            2 Green Bell Peppers

            3 Medium Onions

            3lbs of Steak (Carne Asada) 

            1 Chili Pepper

            4 Cloves of Garlic minced

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss everything in olive oil, fresh garlic, fresh cilantro, salt, pepper, juice of a lime, and extra chili powder if desired. Bake for 45 minutes. 

 

Refried Beans:

            4 Cups of Dried Beans 

            1 Medium Onion Diced

            1 Chili

            4 Cloves of Garlic Minced

 

Soak beans for 6 hours or Quick Soak. (Bring beans to boil, take off heat and soak for 1 hour.) Place beans in a slow cooker on high heat for 4-5 hours. Mash and add salt and pepper to taste. 

 

Rice: 

            4 Cups of White Rice

            3 Tomatoes 

            

Flash your tomatoes, put them over high heat until they’ve completely broken down. Put 4 cups of white rice, 8 cups of water, and tomato juice in a large pot and cover. Bring the pot to boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to low. Come back in 20 minutes, give it a good stir, and salt and pepper to taste. \

 

Homemade Margarita Mix 750ml: 

            14 Limes

            1/2 juice of orange

            3/4 Cup of Sugar

            Water, to fill up almost all of the bottle. (You'll be putting more liquid in, but some will evaporate out.)

Heat the sugar and water over medium heat. Add the juice of limes, orange, and stir. To get more juice out of a lime cut in half and microwave for 30 seconds.