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New Napkins and a Flickr Group

Eat Your Vegetables Cloth Napkins

I made up a pretty little set of 4 cloth napkins for the shop this week. I love the little carrots on the fabric. I bought it almost a year ago because I thought they were so cute, and only just now found the right project for it. As I mentioned before, I have been making cloth napkins for my own use. I’ve been pretty satisfied with them, and particularly happy about not wasting paper napkins or paper towels, so I thought it would be good to make some for others, too.

While I’m making things, I decided to create a new Flickr group for handmade items for your kitchen (like cloth napkins, but also anything else you’d use in your kitchen), called Handmade Kitchen. Please join and share all the wonderful things you’ve made for your kitchen. You can also share handmade things you’ve purchased for your kitchen, or things you’ve made for someone else’s kitchen. I can’t wait to see all the creative things you’ve been working on!

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Gardening on the Patio

Container garden

I’ve been wanting to garden for awhile. While I still don’t have a full garden, I have started a little container garden. SciFi man kindly drilled some holes into the bottom of two aluminum tubs for drainage. We’ve had these tubs since we bought them to hold drinks at our wedding reception, and it’s good to finally give them a purpose again. We put them up on bricks, added a layer of pea gravel for addition drainage and topped them off with some good potting soil.

I planted “patio” tomatoes, which the tag informs me are good for container gardening, sweet basil (and one errant Genovese basil that snuck into my cart), and marigolds. I read somewhere that marigolds keep bugs away from tomatoes. Even if they don’t, they add a pretty splash of color. I chose to plant tomatoes and basil so that once the tomatoes ripen, I just need to add some fresh mozzarella and olive oil for a delicious caprese salad.

The marigolds are producing more flowers, the basil is getting tall, and the tomatoes are starting to show a few green “baby” tomatoes. All this growth makes me happy, since I don’t always have the greenest of thumbs. I think being extra careful about having proper drainage may be what’s making the difference.

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Recycling Onions

Green onions, sprouting.

Back in May, My Byrd House posted a tutorial about how to “recycle” those green onions that always seem to go bad in the fridge before you can use them. I know when I buy green onions, I always use a few and save the rest for “later,” which seems to come after the onions have become unusable. It’s frustrating to waste the onions, and frustrating to buy them when I know I’m only going to use three and the rest are going to go to waste. This tutorial solves both problems, and satisfies my hearts desire to garden. Basically, cut off the root ends on any onions you use (which you would probably be doing anyway) as well as the root ends of the onions you don’t use, and plant them. The onions don’t go to waste, and best of all, they make new onions! I planted a few last week, and already they are sprouting new green onions! I highly recommend you give this one a try.

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Earth Day

Target Design

Today was Earth Day. I was afraid I missed it, but a quick check of Wikipedia assures me that it’s still Earth Day today. This weekend, I picked up one of Target’s reusable shopping bags. They have them in the dollar spot for .99, which is a price you can’t argue with. What I love is that they have two types of affordable, reusable bags and the “smaller” one (which still seems quite roomy to me) folds up into it’s own pouch and easily fits into my purse. The pouch serves as a pocket when the bag is open. With it so easy to fold up the bag, I have no reason not to just keep it in my purse, ready to use even on unplanned shopping trips. Also, they are bright red and have a pretty graphic tree design on them. I’m thinking I should have purchased a few more. You can read more about Target’s reusable bags at Sustainable is Good.

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Reusable Grocery Bags

I’ve got a 50% off coupon for the fabric store, and I’ve decided today’s the day I’m going to use it to buy a bunch of canvas and make myself the reusable grocery bags I’ve been thinking about for months. I save all the plastic bags I bring home from the grocery store and reuse them at least once, but I know that’s still not good enough, and I would rather not bring them home in the first place.

G2BGreen.com has an excellent article about plastic and reusable bags that includes some eye-opening statistics. Statistics that make me think I need to stop putting it off and get my reusable bags made. I did not know that it could take 1000 years for a plastic bag to decompose, and with the number of plastic bags most of us are using, that amounts to a massive pile of plastic bags. I wonder where that pile is? Perhaps part of the pile is in that garbage vortex in the Pacific ocean.

A lot of grocery stores have started to sell their own reusable bags, which I think is wonderful. And if I understand correctly, some of them will even credit your bill when you use those reusable bags so that they ultimately pay for themselves. I think this is wonderful. If it weren’t for the fact that I like to make my own bags, I definitely would have picked up a few reusable bags at the local grocery store by now. If you are like me, and want to make your own reusable grocery bags, here are a few excellent free patterns I found:

With so many patterns, what are you waiting for? Go make a reusable grocery bag!

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Ice Storm = Productivity

We had our second ice storm in as many weeks today, and it looks like it’s going to continue into tomorrow. It was bad enough that the university was closed and I got to spend the day at home, instead of at work. I planned ahead this time and went grocery shopping yesterday, so SciFi Man and I were able to watch a House episode we hadn’t seen and warm ourselves up with beef stew from the crock pot and biscuits.

Paisley Sea Denim Card Wallet

I also finished up a bunch of card wallets I’ve been working on through the week and listed them in the shop. I’ll try to do a few more tonight and get them listed tomorrow. I’ve got some pretty cranberry red ones coming up next that I think are going to be lovely. One of the wallets I posted today is a bit more environmentally friendly that my other wallets have been. It includes a denim lining made from recycled jeans. The jeans were still in great condition, and I hated to see them go to waste, so they went to wallets instead. I think it makes the wallet a bit more “heavy duty,” too.

If you’ve read many of the recent posts on this blog, you know I’m interested in doing what I can to have a smaller impact on the environment, so the idea of recycling clothing into something new appeals to me. But what do you think of the idea? Would you buy a new product made from recycled fabric?

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Reusable Water Bottles

Sigg Water Bottle in GreenI have been thinking lately that buying bottled water is not a very smart thing to do. It tastes no better than the tap water I filter through my Brita, it costs a lot more than tap water, and according to some things I’ve ready, it may not even be as safe as my tap water. Financially, it doesn’t make sense to keep buying bottled water. It doesn’t make much sense for my health, either, if it’s no better than tap water (and trust me, I’m not buying fancy bottled water, so there’s no way it’s better than my tap water). Add to that the fact that many plastic water bottles end up in landfills, and it’s clear that buying bottled water isn’t a very wise decision environmentally. I recycle my water bottles, but why bring them into the system at all if I don’t have to?

Given all this, it seemed like it was time for me to find a reusable bottled in which to carry around my much more affordable tap water. I thought about picking up a plastic bottle, but after doing a little research I thought I might as well avoid plastic altogether if I could. I found two companies online that sell reusable water bottles in stainless steel and aluminum that last for decades, are recyclable when you are finally done with them, and appear to be safe for your health. I checked out the bottles at Kleen Kanteen and Sigg. SciMan and I decided to each get a 1 liter bottle from Sigg, although the ones at Kleen Kanteen look great, too. If you decide to buy a bottle from Sigg, check online for a coupon. We found one that covered the cost of shipping and then some. Since the bottles aren’t cheap (in the short term), saving a bit certainly feels good! They arrived quickly and are surprisingly lightweight. And, well, they hold water like they’re supposed to.

Here’s to 20 years of the same reusable water bottle!

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Recycling Link Roundup

recyclesymbol31.JPGThanks to the great response to my post about using recycled packing materials (and marking them with a cool stamp), I’ve decided to share a few reusing and recycling related links.

  • Fairythreads has a very nice article about recycled packaging, with lots of suggestions for how to incorporated reused materials, or just more earth friendly materials, into your packaging.
  • G2BGreen has an excellent post about taking reusable bags with you to the store, complete with statistics about the impact of plastic bags and a list of cities that are banning or thinking about banning plastic bags.
  • Eco-Libris reminds us that every book we read used to be a tree, and thanks to them, we can now plant a tree for every book we read. (You buy Eco-Libris stickers to put on your book, they plant a tree for each one you buy.)
  • While you’re at it, why buy a new book when you can find a gently loved copy at BookMooch or PaperBackSwap? Recycle books you’ve finished and get new books from someone else’s personal library. I’m already in the middle of reading my first BookMooch book. (Want to know more about why you may want to share books, instead of buying new? Check out Read More, Consume Less.)
  • Did you know you can recycle the Tyvek envelopes you get from the post office? DuPont, the manufacturer, has a program to recycle them and provides instructions here.

Also, there were some great suggestions in the comments to my last post. Felicia shared that she uses a rubber stamp to put her return address on packages, which saves on labels. And Erin wrote that she uses pretty paper scraps from scrapbooking and other projects to re-cover used padded envelopes. She prints the recipient’s address on white paper and pastes this on top of the decorative paper. Great idea– I bet those envelopes are lovely! Plus, of course, reuse boxes, tissue paper, bubble wrap, and packing peanuts that find their way to you. Thanks for the great suggestions! I’d love to hear any more you may have.

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Recycled Packaging

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

I have been trying hard to find ways to reduce waste and recycle where I can. Because I frequently make purchases online and send things out to others, I’ve been thinking about packaging. I’ve always saved boxes, but for the past several months, I’ve also started saving envelopes and packing materials. When I send out a book for BookMooch, I have been packing them in reused envelopes. I’ve thought about trying to recycle packing materials for my Etsy orders as well, but I certainly don’t want to look cheap. It’s nice that I may save a bit on envelopes if I can reuse some, but it’s more important to me that I’m not letting them go to waste when they are still perfectly functional.

My solution to this dilemma: a fancy new rubber stamp! A stamp seemed like a good idea for a recycling message, because it’s inherently reusable. I poked around online for a stamp I could use to mark packaging as clearly recycled and wasn’t able to find much. I did find two (only two!) Etsy sellers with recycling rubber stamps, but they weren’t exactly what I was looking for. Sweetpaperie has a lovely recycled packaging stamp, as does Terbearco. Finally, I came across the Roughstock Blog, which had a free recycled packaging image that seemed to be designed just for me. A bit wordier than the other two stamps, I think the Roughstock message most clearly communicated that I was recycling for the sake of recycling and why I was doing that. The image read:

reduce. reuse. recycle.

This packaging has been reused
or made from recycled materials
to ease up on our environment.
Please consider using it again!

Perfect. Except, it wasn’t a stamp. Just an image that I could make into a stamp. My mom, ever the problem-solver, sent me a link for RubberStamps.net, where I could get a custom stamp made with my image for a great price. They made the image into a stamp and it arrived in my mailbox in just a week! And I promptly ran out, got myself a green ink pad (don’t recycling messages look better in green?) and stamped up some recycled envelopes I’d packed some books in.

Do you use recycled packing? If you do, do you mark it in some way? How have the recipients of your reused packages responded?

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It’s 2008 Already?

With all that’s been going on in my life lately, 2008 has snuck up on me. So, 5 days late, I’m thinking about the year ahead and what I would like to do with it. I’ve read other blog posts about resolutions and I think I should set some down, too. It’s easier to get where you’re going if you have an idea of where that is.

  1. Continue to make changes and choices that are healthier for me and the environment.
    • I am going to make myself a set of canvas grocery bags, to cut down on plastic waste.
    • I am going to continue to try to clean my home with natural ingredients. If you haven’t already, I recommend that you pick up a copy of Michael De Jong’s Clean: The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing. It’s a wonderful, affordable little book.
    • I will try to use more recycled packaging when I ship my Etsy orders.
    • Check out Broomhuggers great eco-friendly suggestions for 2008.
  2. Reach 100 Etsy sales.
  3. Develop a time management plan.
    • I have never been particularly good at managing my time. I stay up too late and, consequently, get up too late. (Or get up early because I have to and spend the day exhausted.) I know this directly affects how much I am able to accomplish. I have a lot of personal and professional things I want to accomplish this year, and I already know I can’t do that if I continue to sally forth without a plan. So this year, I’m going to make a plan and follow it.
  4. Finish outstanding 2007 projects before committing myself to new 2008 projects.
    • KT’s bag.
    • Sheetal’s bag.
    • Grandpa’s quilt.
    • Double wedding ring quilt.
    • That school stuff I don’t like to think about.