Friday, 18 April 2014

Picnic cutlery roll made from a tea towel...

When we go to the markets in the weekends or even to the local food court occasionally, we always end up with plastic cutlery. Awesome fresh roll with yummy salad, cheese and ham filling, that needs to be cut to eat it - the answer is always a plastic knife. For a while we were bringing it home so we didn't have to throw  it out as it seems like such a waste. I ended up with a whole drawer full of plastic takeaway knives, forks and spoons as we taught the kids and students not to throw it out, but to bring it home and reuse it.

Except no body (including me) does... 

Eventually I gave up and took the whole lot to an afterschool care program to use in their craft or home corner and got back a bit of space in our drawers.

When I did the no plastic challenge last year, I was quite good at taking my own cutlery to the markets as for Christmas, I asked Santa for this little pocket knife type thing that has a knife, fork and spoon set inside. Then it finally broke and I'm back to trying to remember my own again.

So I decided that in order to remember and to take our own cutlery, I needed to make it easy. So I made a cutlery roll to pop it all into to make storing and carrying the cutlery easier...

Here's what I did...

First I found a tea towel and set the cutlery along it to make sure it will fit.
I used 3/4 of the tea towel to fit the cutlery and the left over 1/4 as the flap that will hold it all in.

I put the pins in between the cutlery (tip - use a stripy tea towel, much easier to get straight lines!)

Check that it all fits. Put the cutlery in and fold over the flap. I thought Id be lucky to get five sets in but got six easily! I might use the last hole for chopsticks or maybe a wee fruit knife instead though as we only need five sets...

Roll it up as well - Just in case.

Find a ribbon that will easily go around the roll and tie in a bow (not a knot)
Fold it in half and insert the folded side into the side seam and pin it there. I placed mine about level with the bottom of the heads of the forks so I could pull it tight and stop it all from moving when its tied up.

Sew the first side seam from the bottom of the fold to the top of the pocket. 

Make sure you get the ribbon sewn in the seam securely. I doubled back over it a few times as its going to take a fair bit of pressure.

Sew all the pockets - follow the stripes if you are using a stripy tea towel!

Pop all the cutlery back in...

Roll it up...

Tie it up...

And take it on a picnic!

This is working really well for us at the moment! There is enough sets in there for every one. It fits into a bag and lives by the front door where we see it on our way out. When we get back it goes on the bench with the rest of the washing up and whoever is on drying, puts it back together, ties it up and puts it back by the door.

When the tea towel part gets a bit grubby, it just goes through the wash with the rest of the washing.

I bet we cant take it on a plane to eat our dinner with but to go to the markets on a Sunday morning and be able to cut up your breakfast in a vaguely civilised way is really cool!

Now, to work on the plastic plate issue...

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for not creating a demand for a single use item
Frugal-ness: Doesn't really save any money -
Time cost: Took me about 1/2 hour from selecting a tea towel to presenting the finished item to the family!
Skill level: Straight line sewing! (My favourite!)
Fun-ness: So nice to use real cutlery rather than plastic ones when we are out and about for meals!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Making inner soles for your shoes from old meat trays!

I bought a pair of new (to me) sneakers at the markets last weekend for just 50c!

It was a bargain - it was too good to pass up. I tried them on and they fitted me, they were the right colour and really, I couldn't complain about the price!!

When I got home I decided to road test my new sneakers and off to the dam the dog and I went. She went to sniff and bound around like a rabbit and I went to look at the water and breathe!

On the way there, I noticed that my feet were feeling a bit "Princess and the pea-ish". I swore I could feel the plastic sole of the shoes through my sox. By the time I got back I wasn't so enamoured of my 50c sneakers as I was when I bought them.

Once I got home, I had a quick look inside and saw that the inner soles were really worn and that's what the problem was. Well, after paying a whole 50c for them I didn't want to have to go and buy new inner soles and so I had a look around to see what I could use...

Here's what I did!

I found one of those foamy (possibly polystyrene) trays that meat and sometimes veges get packed on...

and cut a new liner out of it!

No rocket science involved, just cutting around the original liner as a template,

And then popping them both back in the shoe!

The heels were especially worn in this case, so I used the corners that were already moulded into the shape that I wanted as extra padding underneath both liners.

And my 50c sneakers are still 50c sneakers!

There are all sorts of take away containers out there made of this foamy air filled stuff, so you have a wide range of sizes (and colours) to make your new inner soles out of! Its not going to stop them from wearing out but it will keep them going and me comfortable until I come across my next set of unbelievably cheap walk-the-dog and muck-around-in-the-garden shoes!

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for repurposing something destined for landfill.
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for a repair that cost nothing
Time cost: Maybe 2 minutes..?
Skill level: Cutting
Fun -ness: Great fun to walk the dog without that nagging feeling on the bottom of your foot!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Wordless Wednesday...

 Sitting, chatting by the fire on a early Autumn evening with new camera...

Want to join in with this Wordless Wednesday? Choose a single picture or a related group and blog them then use the Mr Linky Gadget below to join in. I'd love to see what you are capturing through your lens this week!


Friday, 4 April 2014

Make your own reusable party penants!

I like to celebrate! I love hosting birthdays, gatherings and having people over for dinner. I also enjoy decorating the table to make it a little more special when we have a special gathering of some sort. I have collected from markets and op shops a variety of linen, serviettes and candle holders but I was buying paper things to hang from the ceiling each time and then, of course, throwing them in the bin after one (or maybe two uses) There had to be a cheaper, more sustainable way of decorating for special occasions. Then one day at the botanical gardens I saw these. Knitted, felted and sewen pennants!

And thought they were wonderful!

 Totally out of my league to make, but gave me an idea for making my own, very basic, celebration pennants...

Here's what I did...

I gathered together old bits of material I had in my stash around the purple theme. I didn't have quite enough so I went to the local op shops and bought pillow cases in the right colours for a $1 each and bought them home and opened them up into a sizeable piece of material. Ironing the ex pillow case goes a long way to making life easy when you go to cut them, too.
I decided on a pennant/flag size and cut the material into strips and from there into triangles with two long sides and one much shorter in the classic pennant shape. (The two end 1/2 triangles can be sewn together to make an extra full triangle if you need it.)
Then, I sorted them into pairs - I was going for a mix and match theme rather than a line of solid colours or a pattern (makes it easier to hide mistakes and saves me having to purchase a large quantity of the same material!) so as long as the back didn't match the front I was happy! I did a plain back and a patterned front so that when I went to sew them on the ribbon, I could get the mix and match pattern for sure!
With the material inside out (right sides together) I sewed the two long sides of the triangle together.
Like so!
Do them all at once in a production line!
As I'm not the world best sewer, I used a pair of scissors to  even things up a bit. You don't want too much excess material on the inside as it makes it harder to get a point in the pennant when you are finished.

Then you turn them inside out

Use a pair of closed scissors or a knitting needle to poke the ends out as far as you can.
Since none of my pennants were the same size (due to lack of measuring...) I cut them all to a similar length by cutting the top off them. As you can see, I'm going for hand made charm not commercial perfection for this particular activity!  

Once you have go them all roughly the right size, get out the iron again and fold the top over about 1cm (or the width of your ribbon) and iron it. When you go to sew it, this will make it soooooo much easier!   
Choose your ribbon - taking into account how far you want your pennants to reach from end to end.

Open the fold that you made with the iron...

And clip the ends off with a pair of scissors...

And then refold - this is so there is no bit hanging out the side and that your pennants can sit snugly next to each other. I like my pennants with the flag part all butted up against each other but I have seen them with gaps in between the flags. Roll out your ribbon and check how many pennants you will need to fit on the way you like it. (Make more pennants if you need them or buy more ribbon if you have too many!)

Before you sew the pennants onto the ribbon, lay them out in the order you want them. Check that you have the pattern that you want or that they are as random as you hoped - both on the back and on the front. Remember to sew a loop to hang the pennants up with or leave enough at each end to tie them onto something. Then pin each pennant in place or put them in the order that you want to sew them on.

And sew them on!
I used a single zig-zag stitch and just went along the ribbon once making sure that the folded down side went under the ribbon leaving the plain side at the back with just the stitching along it. It looks neater that way.
And then hang in the garden, over the table, on a wall or where ever you need a splash of colour!
I use mine a lot in the garden as we live in the subtropics and entertain outside a lot. But they work just as well under the pergola as well as inside the house. 

I made another set out of an umbrella whose metal parts had given up but whose stop rip nylon most certainly hadn't! My husband devised a way of cutting each umbrella segment into about eight pieces that were the same size and since it was stop rip material and the same colour on both sides, I just cut it and then sewed it straight onto a piece of ribbon - very, very easy and very colourful as well!
One of the things I love the most about my pennants is that if they fall on the ground, get wet or get dirty, you can simply wash them (hand wash them though - the machine will do very bad things to them!) and hang them out to dry and they are as good as gold again. I haven't bought paper decorations since I made these. These pennants have become our symbol of a special gathering.


 I chose purple as I have a lot of purple table wear anyway. Obviously when you make your own, you will be naturally drawn to certain colours and patterns and each set of pennants will look totally different. I have seen these made with doilies cut in half as well which are very pretty indeed!

I store mine by folding them in a zig-zag pattern (back, front, back, front) and then securing them with a large bull dog clip. We have put a few hooks up in various places where we tend to hang the pennants from to make it easy to pop them up. If they aren't long enough to go where you want them to, I use a piece of string on each end to lengthen them so they fit across the area I want them to. I have even cut them for a super duper special occasion to fit, as its easy enough to sew them back together when its all over.

I love my pennants and think they are great value for the time and cost it took to make them!

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for repurposing material and not needing to buy a disposable product ever again.
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for buying from an op shop or using material from your stash.
Time cost: Around an hour for me from go to whoa.
Skill level: Sew and cut in a straight(ish) line skill.
Fun-ness: Great fun to pull them out over and over for celebrations! They get a specialness about them after a while!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Slow Living Essentials Monthly 9 Link Up - March 2014

I have been following Christine at Slow Living Essentials for a couple of years now! And in 2012 she started a monthly round up to record on our blog, how we have "slowed down" under nine categories - I have been doing this since she started it at the beginning and really get a lot out of it. 

Here is what I have been up to!

Click on the link to go to the link up and visit other linked up blogs!

Slow Living Essentials Monthly 9 link up - Grab my button!
NOURISH: Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over packaged, over processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead.  

The joys of seasonal eating! Pears baked in a caramel sauce for dessert. Cost next to nothing and tasted soooooo good!

I have been menu planning for a long time and just recently have started scheduling a meatless meal. So far no one has commented so I don't know if that's because they haven't noticed or because they don't care cause its so yummy! Part of this is about me wanting to increase the quantities of vegetables and slightly decrease the meat portion and really decrease the white carbs (pasta, bread) in our evening meals.
PREPARE: Stockpile and preserve. 

I found some freshly picked Olives at the markets for $6 a kilo and decided to have a go at making my own. It doesn't seem to be a complicated process but I wont be eating my olives for at least 6 months!

Scored and the into a water bath. Twice daily changes of water for a week and then into a salt bath for at least three months... If these turn out to be really yummy, I'm really going to regret buying only a single kilo...
REDUCECut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing. 

The ultimate in repurposing... Meat tray into a shoe insert/liner thing!
I bought a pair of new to me sneakers at the markets for 50c. I tried them on at the time and they were all good so I bought them home. I wore them to take the dog for a walk the next day and discovered that under the liner, the plastic layer next to the sole was really worn and I could feel the plastic heel of the shoe. So when I came home I looked around to see what I could use to make new liners and then saw the plastic foamy meat tray sitting in the recycle pile. I simply pulled out the inner sole and cut around it and popped them both back in. I ended up cutting extra padding for the heel from the leftovers as it was worn a lot more than one layer could fix.
GREEN: up our lives. Start (or continue!) using homemade products. 

While increasing the vege consumption, I'm also trying to buy my all these veges as ethically as I can. I am ordering from Food Connect and buying from Farmers Markets when I can.
I got told about an organic farm not far from me a little while ago and today I was practically driving past it so I popped in to see what it was all about. Imagine my surprise to find my Landlord from over fifteen years ago was the Farmer!!! Great to catch up with her, great to bring home local organic veges!

My Food Connect Box
GROW: plant/harvest. What's growing this month?

My new baby chookies are what's growing this month! These are Brahma chickens, about 4-5 month old. They are almost the same size as my fully grown chooks and still have some growing to do! They are a large soft feather breed. I got them from a local breeder who was selling off his colour rejects as pets. I thought they were just beautiful! 

I have called them Solstice (left) and Splash (right)
Solstice is half buff and grey and half white (half summer, half winter) and Splash has flecks of black through the solid white parts of her feathering. I just love their feathered feet and hope that they wont get too tatty with all the rain we have had lately...
CREATE: to fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others. 
I have been enjoying playing with my new camera down at the dam... Creating images, just for me!


DISCOVER: Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests.
I'm reading lots of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks in order to find interesting recipes so I can increase the amount of vegetable in our diet. Lots of interesting ideas and some fun meals! 
ENHANCE: Community: The rewards for your time are often returned tenfold.
This hasn't been a good month for community, I cant think of a single thing for this category...

ENJOYLife! Embrace moments with family and friends!

Its lovely when students that we have hosted come back for a visit. We took the dog for walk down to the dam and watched the wildlife in the late afternoon...

And then came home for Pizza! (It was a Sunday after all!)
IMPROVEChange or create a habit, work on an aspect of mind, body or soul that needs a wee tweak.

 This one is my addition to the 9. I have been setting myself wee challenges that improve my life over the month. I have gone carless one day a week, stopped buying anything but petrol from a petrol station, paid out my credit card, and tried to exercise more.
Last month I wanted to see if I could have breakfast every day and I managed it...just. If you stretch the rules a bit and say that breakfast can be had at 10am and that a cold slice of last night pizza counts! Generally I was good as I made a whole bunch of smoothies and then froze them so I didn't have to make them everyday. I set an alarm on  my phone reminding me to get the smoothie out of the freezer in the evening so it was defrosted for the morning. The only real problem was when I went to bed before the reminder went off and then in the morning my smoothie was still solid and took a while to defrost!
Like the making of lunches in advance, this works for my lifestyle. Do all the hard work in one hit and then reap the benefits for the rest of the week!
This month is going to be about consciously increasing our fruit vegetable consumption. Not just the meatless meal I have been scheduling into the week, but in each meal, increasing the quantity and the variety of fruits and veges. We have a teenage student who is not going to be very impressed. Apparently green things can kill teenagers if they have too many too often, he tells me....
I find these bitsy blog challenges to be really motivating. Because I know I have to report back here, I tend to stay honest and it stays in my consciousness - or is it because I write it down... Either way its a good way to make some changes for me!

As always I enjoy popping over to see what other slow livers are up to. Sometimes I can't get past the security things (You know, put in the letters or numbers thingos)  but even if you cant see my comment, know I have been and enjoyed!

Thanks for the opportunity to share again Christine!!! Have a great month everyone! - Kxx
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