little ZW things (cloth napkins and bread storage)

Outside the home, zero waste is HARD, you guys. People will still give your kid plastic-wrapped, plastic toys. Restaurants will still give you a straw when you ask them not to. But at home, it’s getting easier. It probably helps that I like to make things, and that IMO the reusable option is much more beautiful than disposables. It makes this transition seem less like a chore and more like I’m treating myself.

Last weekend I whipped up a few cloth napkins from some random fabric I had. I made 5 and need to make a few more, but I love how they turned out. There are many basic tutorials out there, but I followed this one.

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We don’t really use napkins very often (I use Hannah’s baby burp cloths still, as rags, to wipe her hands and face after meals). I don’t know who these people are who really go through all that many napkins. Our default setting is no napkins at the table, and if we need one, we get up and get one. But that’s hardly ever. So, the point is, having a few cloth napkins on hand is sufficient for us. Over the course of the last week I’ve only used one.. to dampen and wrap around spinach in the crisper. I plan to make more really only for instances we have people over and want to convince them we are civilized.

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Another addition to our kitchen is our new-to-us bread box. I’ve been struggling with how to store bread zero waste style and came up with two options in my research: bread boxes, and linen bags. I am going to try both. I’ve been scouting thrift stores for linen items I can chop up, with no success yet. This cute turquoise breadbox popped up on a Facebook yard sale page, and I snatched it up.

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The previous owner did all the embellishing of it. I don’t hate it at all. 🙂 So far, I’ve yet to actually try it to store “naked” bread, but I’ll certainly update later once I do. All across the Internets are foodie people who swear by breadboxes, saying that the fridge, and plastic, cause moisture that make breads mold quickly. Breadboxes (and linen) are breathable, but still keep bread fresher, longer (I imagine compared to leaving it out in the open air). So this isn’t a long-term bread storage solution. If we only have one bread item to use up per week it seems like it will be a good solution. That’s kind of how our meal plans are going now, anyway (buy little and use it up that week). I’ve yet to even attempt to find a place to buy naked bread (where I can have them out it in my own cloth bag). I do make my own in a bread maker, and I even made my own tortillas a couple weeks ago. I’d just been storing them in a few lingering (washed and reused to death) Ziplock bags until I found another solution. Hoping this is it!

I’m finding a few food groups incredibly frustrating when it comes to packaging, and breads/rolls/tortillas are a big one. Even in my health food store, fresh baked breads are sold wrapped in plastic. I’ve been reading Plastic Free Life by Beth Terry. She makes a seriously compelling point that, given how toxic plastic is, manufacturers should not be allowed to mark foods as “organic” if they are packaged in plastic, no matter if the ingredients in the food itself are organic. I have to say I agree! By the way, I really like the book and highly recommend it, and her blog.

play kitchen revamp

This project post is long overdue, but I didn’t want to scrap it because it is kind of close to my heart. Over the summer (see, overdue!!) I revamped the old play kitchen I had when I was a kid, for Hannah. I LOVED it before, and I love it even more, now.

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My parents bought this unfinished, and painted/stenciled it with big ol’ strawberries. Its pretty darn cute. I loved this thing as a kid and I’m so happy they saved it. It was moved around a lot and pretty dirty/banged up (oh only close to 30 years later) so it needed a little bit of love.

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I used up some leftover paint to update it (including spray-painting the knobs and faucet silver).

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Fun, right? I even painted the back. The cute red appliances and dishes were Hannah’s birthday gift from my friend. I love them!

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On the side, I stuck some Command hooks I had, to hang some utensils. Unfortunately, Hannah thought it was more fun to rip the hooks off so perhaps I will put them back on when she’s older.

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This is one of Hannah’s favorite things, for filling up cups of water to bring to me and her dad, and for squirreling away all the random items she pilfers from around the house (she’s a little magpie that way!). It was a ton of fun to update it, and I have plans to do a few more things to go with it when we have a playroom in the basement.

diy reusable food wrap

In my attempts to go zero waste, I gave away the remainder of the Ziplock bags and plastic wrap I had in the kitchen. I know I could have used it up, but at the rate I wash and reuse them, it’d be a long time before I could upgrade to something reusable, and I wanted instant gratification. 🙂

I made up some quick beeswax covered cloth food wraps (for sandwiches, cheese, etc), and bowl covers (to replace cling wrap) yesterday, in less than an hour. I followed some instructions found here. I didn’t stray much from the directions I’ve linked to, so refer there first. I’ll just note my take on the method in case it’s helpful but I can’t take credit for the how-to.

  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut your fabric (I used various fat quarters my mom had gifted me from her stash) to the size you need. I traced a pizza pan and large bowls to make the bowl covers in a variety of sizes, and just cut large squares for the wraps. Nothing technical here. 🙂
  3. Place one of your cut pieces onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with beeswax pellets.
  4. Put in the oven for about one minute (long enough to melt the beeswax completely into the cloth)
  5. Remove from the oven and carefully peel the waxy cloth from the pan.
  6. Holding the piece of cloth carefully on an edge, fan the cloth up and down to cool quickly. Once you’ve done that a few times the wax will be hardened enough to lay it down on your kitchen counter to completely cool.
  7. Repeat with remaining fabric pieces.
  8. Once they’ve all cooler, you can stack them and roll them for storage (so the beeswax doesn’t crack).
  9. Use like saran wrap! The wax makes the fabric pliable and mold to your contents with the heat from your hands.

I’ve not had to wash any of these yet, but the tips on the website I linked to say you can just clean them with water or a damp soapy rag as needed.

the raspberry finsbury 

I’m a paper lover.. Lists, letters, calendars, journals & scrapbooks. I keep a lot of scraps and notes, and I don’t remember a thing if it’s not written down. I’ve recently taken on more work (still mostly at home- I’m so lucky!) but it’s easy for me to feel overwhelmed when I juggle so much. It always helps to plan ahead, and to plan for balance. I recently bought my dream planner- a personal Filofax (the raspberry Finsbury, to be exact) and I LOVE it. I anguished over which Filofax to buy (it’s a big investment for a planner, and I had to carefully budget for it so I didn’t make the decision lightly). But I am content with my purchase. Here’s the outside. Such a pretty color. I’ve been really into shades of purple lately. Here’s the inside, right out of the box (I’ve modified it quite a lot):

Continue reading “the raspberry finsbury “

nursery progress

Only 5 weeks or less til welcoming a baby girl into our home (OMG), and we’ve done what we can to make sure she’s got a cute space to come home to. Babies totally know the difference, right? I can’t wait til it’s completely done (well, nothing’s ever completely done..) to reveal some pictures of the nursery, so here’s a progress update (and yet-to-do list).

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I shared the above picture on Instagram last night after we finished hanging the vinyl wall art we picked up at Target. I really love it! I have been trying to decide what to do over the crib for a long time; everything seemed like a potential baby hazard! Shelves or pictures would come crashing down (not that I’ve ever had anything fall off a wall before) or a canopy would surely cause suffocation. New mom paranoia! Vinyl art is the perfect solution and I finally found this one I loved.

That little white bookshelf has been everywhere in my house (and our old house, and our first apartment). It’s the perfect thing to store the cute blankets, books, stuffed things, etc I’m collecting and have saved over the years (including afghans that were mine as a baby on the top shelf!). Nothing too notable on there except this tiny wood elephant that was my grandparents’ and I think it’s so cute. I have all 4 of them, from small to big, and this is the tiniest. I made a cloche from a drinking glass and round wooden plaque I painted. I glued a broken brooch to the top of the glass. I don’t know why, but this little detail makes me smile.

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My parents gifted us the crib and mattress (from Babies ‘R Us) and it’s so pretty. I love the weathered grey finished and that it turns into a toddler bed, then a twin bed head/foot board. I kind of hate all nursery bedding sets I’ve found (and half of it shouldn’t be used for safety reasons anyway!) so I went with a simple white fitted sheet and fashioned my own crib skirt; really I just found some vintage fabric I liked on Etsy and cut it to size and used Velcro squares to secure it around the part of the crib supporting the mattress.

IMG_2027Moving slightly to the right, here’s the other corner of the same wall. I love how it’s all coming together. The night stand was mine as a kid, and Jonathan painted them green (Behr “Minted Lemon”) for me. The mirror above the night stand is from Target.

IMG_2029The closet is still a favorite feature. The whole room is pretty feminine, but the closet is uber girly, with coral walls and all those little dresses. The curtains are the LENDA’s from IKEA (same as my dining room and nursery window). I just hemmed them to the length needed and Jonathan installed the rod on the inside of the closet near the ceiling for me. I like it open while it’s so organized, but the curtains can be closed to cover up the chaos that will soon happen in there. 🙂 The bird and squirrel prints and frames are from IKEA, as are the baskets on the shelves in the closet.

IMG_2023The other side of the room still has some work left but I’m struggling with finishing it all. We are using my old dresser, also painted that lovely green (thanks, Hubby!) as the changing table. The changing pad takes up most of the dressed top width, so the mirror that accompanies the dresser can’t be installed until we no longer need is as a changing table. So, I haven’t decided what to hang on that blank section of wall. The owl print above the chair is an old calendar page I saved, and framed in a Target frame. The white shelf was mine from college and the bear on top was mine as a baby!

IMG_2031I really love the purple crushed velvet chair. Isn’t it a beauty? I found it at a consignment shop in Ogden and it was a steal. It fits me perfectly, and it rocks (literally and figuratively). The pillow case I made from an old vintage bed pillow case. There’s a lot of vintage clashy-ness happening in this room, and I love it.

IMG_2022I made the little hanging elephant garland just today! Well, I made the elephants several weeks ago with some scraps leftover from the quilt I’m working on, with the intentions of making a mobile. But I decided I would rather use the little animals for a beaded garland and I really love how it added something to the windows. Again, same LENDA curtains from IKEA. They are so cheap and the best!

IMG_2026My dad built the crib under the window for me, before I was born! It won’t reside in the nursery here shortly; it will be next to our bed for several months! But it’s really cute there for the moment.

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One final thing to share because I must: the cloth diaper stash! They are so cute, I can’t even handle it. In case you’re wondering what I picked, I have some snap Alva Baby diapers that you stuff with bamboo inserts, and some BumGenius all-in-ones with Velcro. I have collected unisex colors so they can be used on the next baby, which makes the whole thing more economical than it already is. I admit the whole concept of washing diapers is daunting, but I knew immediately it was something I wanted to try, for many reasons. The cuteness factor is just an added bonus. I mean seriously.IMG_2028

Thanks for taking the tour of our nursery so far! Here’s what’s left on the to-do list for this room:

  • Finish quilting baby quilt I am making! It will probably reside on the purple chair.
  • Hang something above the changing table/dresser.
  • Make a tissue paper garland to hang above window or off the small white wall shelf (just a fun DIY I’ve been wanting to try).
  • Get a lamp shade for the cute thrifted lamp I found. It will sit on the changing table.
  • Make a small row of mismatched knobs to hang near the door for diaper bags and such (and later for the little one’s jackets!) I have everything, I just need to put it all together.
  • Gather up diaper changing accessories and corral in cute basket or on something wall-mounted above the dresser).
  • General primping of the space. I definitely like where it’s headed but it can use a few more touches. That’s the fun part!

What do you think? Any ideas for some other fun things I can do?

DIY gifts & a lip balm recipe

Last year I made some lotion and lip balms to give as gifts to my sisters-in-law, and they were a big hit. This year we drew names for gift-giving with my inlaws, so I decided to DIY a few other fun treats for gift purposes, this time to the gals I work with. I LOVE handmade gifts, especially when they are made with good ingredients, so I hope the recipients feel the love behind these! Look at this assortment of goodies!

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In the picture above I have all my gift items ready to hand out – lip balms, castile bar soaps, hand creme (yet to label!) and lavender eye pillows. I wanted to first share the super simple lip balm recipe because it’s fast and fun and there’s still plenty of time to get everything and make some of these for the holidays. And it’s made with all kinds of good-for-you stuff as opposed to chemicals and it’s fun to make your own flavor combinations, so even if you just want to make yourself a huge supply, I’d totally recommend it!

DIY Beeswax Lip Balm

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBS + 1 TBS filtered beeswax (either use pellets or grate a large piece into the appropriate measurements).
  • 1 TBS Shea Butter (or another butter of your choosing – Almond, Avocado, Cocoa, etc, are all good options)
  • 3 TBS Sweet Almond Oil (or another carrier oil of your choosing – Olive, Jojoba, etc)
  • 1/4 TSP Vitamin E Oil (helps preserve)
  • 15-30 drops essential oil* or flavor oil

Materials:

  • A double boiler (or makeshift double boiler like I use, in the instructions below)
  • A silicone stirring instrument
  • Small containers (I got these .75 ounce tins from Majestic Mountain Sage)

*Note: Remember you’ll want to use oils that are tasty, since this is going on the lips! I’ve suggested some below.

Directions:

  1. Using a double boiler (I use a Pyrex measuring cup in a pan with a couple of inches of water in it) heat up the beeswax, Shea butter, and Almond oil. Stir constantly until it’s all melted into liquid.
  2. Remove from heat. Stir in the Vitamin E oil.
  3. Remove the top container from the pan of water and let the oil sit for a couple of minutes to cool down a bit. (Adding essential oils to very hot oil will make them less potent.)
  4. Stir in your essential oils til you achieve desired scent.
  5. Divide mixture evenly among several small containers. Let them cool completely before putting lids on the containers. The mixture will harden to a perfect lip balm consistency upon cooling.
  6. Enjoy!

If you are using flavor oils, go crazy and use whichever you’d like. But if you are using pure essential oils, you may need to consider some tasty combinations. Here are a few good options:

  • Orange, lemon, grapefruit etc.
  • Orange + Clove
  • Cinnamon + Clove
  • Orange + Cinnamon
  • Peppermint

You can also use a dab of cocoa powder in your mixture if you want something chocolatey. That would be delicious when mixed with peppermint or orange essential oil. The possibilities are endless!

Here I made two with flavor oil from Bulk Apothecary, Coconut-Lemongrass and Brown Sugar & Vanilla, and another lip balm with doTerra Sweet Orange and Clove oils. The essential oil balm is by far my favorite because it doesn’t taste artificial. The others are still great, but there’s a big difference in the quality, in my opinion.

To prettify these for gift giving, I printed the flavor and cut out each in a small circle with a craft punch. I Mod Podged a small circle of scrapbook paper to each lid, then added the circle label to the center. I Mod Podged the whole lid and let dry for an hour or so before stacking them away in a box.

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These match the handmade soaps I also made as gifts – here’s a closer peak at those. I will add a tutorial on making the soaps shortly, as well as the hand creme in the above picture.

IMG_1979Are you making any gifts this year? Do you love receiving handmade gifts as much as I do?

This is 29.

I can’t believe it’s June. I know I say that all the time, but this time more than ever time has really gotten away from me! Here’s a quick recap on the last month or so.

I finished my last class for my MBA in Mid-August! SUCH a relief.

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Sorry about that.

But. I’ve not properly celebrated yet. The immediate weekend after the semester ended I wanted to jump into some projects and began an early AM workout schedule (which for me, is a big deal, waking up extra early). But by the next Tuesday (yeah, day two of my school free existence) my plans were foiled due to a series of unfortunate events. First a throat infection, then an eye infection (that had me stuck wearing outdated glasses for a week). Then the best of all, I somehow tweaked my lower back swinging a sledge hammer at concrete last weekend, and as I’ve been coughing so violently I kept aggravating it. To the extent I was unable to walk on Saturday. I am that awesome at life right now. Three doctor visits, four prescriptions, and one shot in the hip later, and I’m on the road to recovery and I’ve been able to do some work from home. But seriously. Let me recap this for you. At the apex of this really fun ailment combo, I had 90 year old smoker voice/cough, swollen red eyes, glasses I can barely see out of, no makeup, could barely move, and when I did have to walk, it was a 3-inches-at-a-time hobble. Oh, and my back is shaped like an S now. So that’s awkward looking. Not how I pictured my last month in my 20s. I should be out finishing my list, or at least making lots of bad decisions to blame on my youth before it’s too late.

What I’ve actually been doing in my down time is less than exciting, but I’m sharing anyway.

  1. Collecting shiny old things via Ebay. Search “vintage estate jewelry lot” or “wear and repair jewelry lot” and you’ll find tons of great things for next to nothing. Getting an 8lb box of weird and broken mismatched earrings, buttons, brooches and chain is my idea of a great time. IMG_1570
  2. Watching The Vampire Diaries on Netflix. That Damon. Rawr.
  3. Also watching Dive!, a decent documentary by dumpster diving hipsters who delve into America’s food wasting problem.
  4. Reading A Discovery of Witches. I hope it gets better because I do love a good series. Except when they end and you feel like you’ve lost a part of your life and can’t remember what you did before you began them.
  5. Trying out Jamberry Nail Shields. Not toxic like nail polish or as spendy as a manicure or pedicure, they are pretty fun! They take a while to apply, but there’s no dry time like polish so I think it’s a wash. They have some really cute designs. I don’t recommend the glitter styles though – they are thicker and don’t lay flat and bond as well as the others seem to. IMG_1625
  6. Tending the garden. I haven’t spent the time I’ve liked out there, but it’s coming along nicely for early June. The lettuce, kale, peas and turnips especially are taking over the place. I picked my first strawberries today and pulled up about 15 decent-sized radishes!IMG_1626

There’s still time (barely) to work on some other items on my before 30 list and I feel okish about my progress there. Right now I am just trying to get better and start my 30s better than I ended my 20s!

What are you all working on/reading/watching/making these days?