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.

zero waste eye makeup removal

I am gradually replacing disposable items in my life with reusable ones to minimize waste and cost. I used to use those little pre-soaked eye makeup remover pads, the cost of which is pretty outrageous! When I ran out, I would use coconut oil until I made it to the store to get more disposable makeup remover pads. ..How dumb is that?? Coconut oil is so dirt cheap and not full of chemical ingredients, you’d think given my DIY and thrifty ways I would have had that DUH moment long ago. Alas, even I am a product of marketing sometimes, thinking I had to buy a specific-use product at a stupid-high price, and that the eco alternative was only to use in a pinch. ANYWAY.

When I made the conscious effort to think through every product and purchase, I ditched the disposable eye makeup remover pads for coconut oil permanently. And because I didn’t want to have to use cotton balls, I made my own little cotton pads from scrap fabric I already had. (What did you do with your New Years Eve? Go out and party? Ha!)

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I grabbed a small piece of cotton fabric I had leftover from another project. I hoped to use up the rest since I think it’s so colorful and pretty! For the back I used an old piece of a flannel burp cloth (which had a previous life as a receiving blanket a friend handed down to me… quite the purposeful piece of fabric, eh?)

I cut little squares (about 2×2) of each (one of the cotton and 2 of the flannel for each finished square to make them a little thicker). I made 9 because that’s exactly how many I could get from the cotton scrap. Then I sewed around the edge with a zigzag stitch. No time-consuming turning right-side out and stitching closed – just enough to keep them from fraying too badly. This little project cost nothing and took maybe 20-25 minutes at the most.

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They aren’t perfectly square because I didn’t measure or use a ruler, but they are still cuter than a cotton ball!

I just apply a bit of coconut oil to the pad and wipe off my eye makeup, then rinse them out a bit and toss in the towel hamper. Could not be simpler!

some sugar and spice

Congrats to my good friend, Alicia, on her new {perfect} baby, Jenna Ruth. The proud parents are 3 for 3 on uber cute kids.

I whipped her up a couple gifts {to tuck in with the Target swaddling blankets and binkies}. First, some framed buttons in perfectly girly colors. This is about a 5 minute project, but super cute.

Second, some scrappy embellished onesies. The ruffle on the pink/gray onesie was once a too-small A&F t-shirt {thrifted}. The other, just decorated with some Amy Butler fabric scraps that were too cute to not make something with. Onesies always make me go “ahhhhhhhhh.”

Congrats, on your pretty little girl.

fix or toss?

I took the day off to enjoy the weather and to spend the day doing some spring cleaning/dejunking and finishing up some in-progress projects. One of those projects is my clothing-to-fix pile. Buttons that need secured, zippers that need replaced, ect. Digging through I found some real gems- 3 pretty and colorful dresses I never wear because… they need something, but I can’t figure out what! Will you help? Can these be fixed or should I let someone else love them?

Dress number 1:

This one was something like 90% off on the Kohls clearance rack. I wore it once, with cowgirl boots and a denim jacket! But it’s just so big (but cozy) and I hate those sleeves! What can I do to fix it?

Perhaps just take it in a bit so it’s not so billowy? Here I am demonstrating in a very scientific way, holding it back. ha. Would that fix it, or are the sleeves too ridiculous for this to ever be wearable?

Dress number 2:

I ordered this from Urban Outfitters to wear to my cousin’s wedding a few years ago. I haven’t worn it since because it’s just so… purple. I think it’s really cute and casual and probably great for a weekend of errand-running. I have considered dying it, but I would obviously have to go darker to cover the purple, making it a less-summery navy, gray or black {this dress also came in black and it was pretty cute}. Thoughts? Dye it or leave it alone? This one I’d like to keep and wear because I love the length and it’s soooo comfy.

Dress number 3:

Tthis bright yellow Forever 21 beauty is one of my favorite colors that unfortunately doesn’t flatter me much {esp in that quantity}. The super-short length doesn’t either {though it doesn’t seem too short just standing there, the fabric is so light it moves up a bit as I walk and the slightest breeze could mean very bad news}. It’s made of jersey so it’s stretchy. When I pull it down to cover more leg, my bra will show. When I pull it up to avoid uber cleavage, it feels way short. I could dye this one, too, but it’s sad because I’d never have pulled it off that Savers rack to begin with if it were boring ol’ brown or black. But really, it’s not the color that’s the problem, which is good because I bought another dress the same color exactly {oops} but it’s much more “me” style-wise. Thoughts on this one? Give it to someone who could give it a better home than me? Sew a band of fabric along the bottom to make it a better length for me?

Any ideas would be appreciated!

a rant. a project. a recipe.

Last week I was accused of being a “traditional, old-fashioned woman” when I was telling a male friend that my weekend plans included baking and cleaning. {They ALWAYS include LOTS of domestic  activities because that’s how life is. Houses don’t clean themselves, dinner doesn’t cook itself… I just happen to like it, too, for the most part. Lucky me.}

I guess it never occurred to me that the fact I dig the homemaking stuff indicates {to some people} I’m in some way a crappy feminist. It’s about choice, people, not about taking over the world {feminism, that is}. Or taking over the world, then making killer brownies later while listening to Tori Amos. Whatever.

So, anyway. In keeping with the good little housewife theme of the weekend, I finished the apron I was working on. This was originally a fug swimsuit coverup-type dress with an elasticy-tubetop thing attached. It was $1 at a thrift store and I liked the fabric because I’m on a serious yellow kick.

I was going to make a skirt out of it. But it dawned on me I could chop off the tube-top part and cut into the shape of an apron easily, similar to those retro halter-style aprons that the kids love these days.  Doing so, and adding some fat gray ribbon ties, and voila!- all that’s missing are the heels and a glass of scotch on the rocks or a pie for my husband when he comes home from a long day. {It’s funny cuz I work more than he does currently. Heeeeeeeeeee}.

In action, making Vegan Banana muffins:…

…which were killer, by the way, and you should make some if you’re a happy homemaker like me. (:  Here’s the recipe.

hood rat

From these:

To this:

1. Find two t-shirts made of jersey knit. These ones were both nearly free and super hideous.

2. Chop up and sew one so it’s flattering. I turned it inside out and laid it flat. I put another t-shirt on top that fits well and used that as a pattern. I cut about 3/4″ bigger to allow for seam allowance, o’course. Stitch back together and make sure it fits. Then, chop off the sleeves and collar as you like it.

3. Make a hood from the other t-shirt. {I cheated and used a pattern piece from this book. Picked up the book for TWO DOLLARS at Ross Dress for Less last week. I was there looking for a fondue pot, NOT for clothing, P.S. (:} Ahem. Anyway. You can also use this tutorial for the hood. One day, when I don’t write instructions for a living, I might take the time to write legit tutorials.

4. Sew that sucker to your t-shirt, right sides together. Here’s the scientific part: if your hood is too wide for the collar of the shirt, chop it bigger. HAHAHA. Sciency. Test tubes and everything.

armwarmers.

Arm warmers are pretty awesome.

And you can make some. Pretty much for free.

From these:

To these:

You’ll just need a pair of socks and scissors.

1. Cut off the foot part of the sock.

2. Stick your arm and hand in and determine where your thumb needs to stick through. Cut a little slit.

3. I sewed about 5 stitches (forward-backward-forward-backward) between each finger to get them fingerless/gauntlet-style but you totally don’t have to. See?:

I’m going to make some fancier ones at some point, but these are totally sufficient for blogging and typing my research paper in my frigid house. (: