Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Reduce, Reuse... Reforest?

Most of my posts, and many of the conversations I hear, are centered around 1) how do we prevent waste or 2) how do we reuse the resources we've already generated?

Both are valid (and let's do that!), but let's also consider another angle: corrective action.

By adding more plants and trees, we can:
Replace what we've removed and compensate for the carbon dioxide we create just by breathing.

Per 8 Billion Trees, in 50 years, 1 tree:
  • Creates $30,000 in oxygen
  • Produces $35,000 of recycled water
  • Removed $60,000 of pollution from the air
Here are some ways to participate:

1) Get a houseplant, or 10! Did you know that NASA did a study recommending 1 plant per 100 sq ft to purify the air?

2) Switch your home or office paper to FSC Certified paper. This means that is is recognized by the Forest Stewardship Council as being sustainably harvested. They do other cool things like protect indigenous lands and old growth forests.  Just look for the green FSC tree logo.

3) Shop from companies that have a mission to plant trees. 8 Billion Trees is just one example of many companies that sells gift items like charm bracelets, reusable tote bags, and metal water bottles, while planting trees with the funds. Another example is Trinity Oaks who plants a tree for every bottle of wine purchased.

4) Get inspired by mass scale projects around the world. Like the Ethiopians who planted 350 Million trees in 12 hours, as part of an ultimate goal of 4 BILLION trees. Or the Indians who planted 220 Million trees in a day.

5) Then, plant trees yourself. On November 2nd, you can join others in the Seattle area to plant in 17 parks as part of Green Seattle Day. Or find many other dates and locations for events at One Tree Planted.

6) Get your company's support! Ask them to donate 2000 trees as part of a 1 Million tree effort to support reforestation after California's hard wildfire year.

Let's get to rebuilding! Or at least buying a houseplant. :)

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Simple Syrup is Simple

I love me some flavored syrups.  I'm a year-round iced coffee drinker. We already have the iced coffee part figured out: we brew a regular pot of coffee, let it cool to room temperature, and store it in a pitcher in the fridge.

Now for the sweetener. The Torani and Da Vinci syrups are very easy to make, especially the "classic" or "cane sugar". (Want simple syrup for your cocktails? It's the same thing. Shhh...)

These bottles run you about $8 at the grocery store or $5 at a specialty restaurant supply store. Making it at home? Costs about $0.60.

If you like, buy the syrup the first time and use this recipe for refills. I like the bottle because I like the pump (sold separately for about $5); alternatively you could just use a jar and measuring spoon. A single pump is a 1/4 oz = 1/2 tbsp or 1 1/2 tsp.

Here's the recipe:

Equal parts sugar and water. That easy. To fill the whole bottle, use 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water. Heat in a small soup pan to boiling and cook for a few seconds until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool to room tempertaure. Use a funnel to pour into the bottle.

Cooking time? Less than 10 minutes.

If you want, you can make flavors with fruit peels, herbs, extracts, and more. Hearty additives like orange peel can be added at the beginning. More fragile additives like mint leaves can be added as the syrup is cooling. Pull out or strain any pieces before bottling. Note: the pieces can be their own happy product (see my post on candied orange peels.)

Result: yummy syrups for 10% of the retail cost and you save a bottle!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

No-sew, T-shirt Tote

This is one of my favorite t-shirts. The concert was awesome and we went with dear friends. However, I also love cooking and eating greasy foods, so after a few years of abuse, it was ready for a new life.

There are MANY tutorials for making no-sew t-shirt totes, and I wanted to give it a try. I used this one as an example, if you prefer video tutorials. All you need for the project is a pair of scissors.

First step, cut off the sleeves. The arm holes will become your bag handles.

Next, cut the neck hole wider. This will become the opening of your bag. I was careful to cut from the back of the t-shirt, because the design was printed fairly high up of the shirt. Feel free to do a deeper scoop if it doesn't mess up the pattern on your shirt.

Now, move the bottom of your shirt and cut fringe, about 1/2" strips and 3" long. Where your fringe ends will be the bottom of your bag. I didn't need that deep of a bag and wanted to trim off some of the grease stains, so I first cut off the bottom 4" of the shirt.

At this step you have a choice: I wanted my seam hidden, so I will complete this step with the shirt inside out. If you like the look of fringe, leave your shirt right side out. Tie the fringe together in knots (front of shirt to back of shirt) to close up the bottom seam.

Now. just tying front to back will leave gaps between each knot. So we will do a second row of knots, this time tying the top strip of one knot to the bottom strip of the knot next to it. This will close the gap between the two. Do a double knot on this round to make it solid.

When you are done with the knotting, flip your shirt right side out, and now your fringe is hidden in the bottom of the bag. With all those knots, this bag is surprisingly sturdy.

Voila! A free rockin' tote bag, an a second life for my fave concert tee.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

DIY Gift Planters

Today I'm crafting out of my recycling. I'm propagating succulents *crosses my fingers*, and I want to put them in some cute little planters. All we need:
  • Jars: I'm using Tostitos salsa and cheese dip jars. You can't keep me away from my cheese dip!)
  • Cute paper: check out Seattle Recreative for leftover scrapbook or wrapping paper, use a cute shopping bag, or magazine cutouts. I'm using the wrapping from "Who Gives a Crap" TP, which has infamously cute seasonal wrapping. 
  • Mod Podge or other craft glue
Dear friends, I only write about products or tips that I've tried and loved. Therefore, I will not tell you about "Who Gives A Crap" toilet paper. It is my punishment for ordering a case of 48 rolls that I'm making myself finish it myself (T and guests refuse to use it). However, a side result is that each roll is wrapped in really cute paper, so yay, free crafting material. ;)

1) Gather your supplies. You'll need scissors and a brush or sponge applicator in addition to the supplies above.

2) Measure and trim your paper to a size that will cover your jar. Mine needed about 1/3 sheet per jar.

3) Apply an even layer of adhesive to the back of your paper.

4) Wrap around your jar so the ends neatly overlap, and apply a coat of adhesive to the outside of the paper too. This will give a nice seal, so it won't get ruined when you water your plant.

5) Don't worry if it's a little wrinkly. As you can see, the drier jar on the left looks smoother than the wetter one on the right. Any remaining "flaws" are just evidence that it's DIY.

6) Plant your succulent and enjoy!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

SIY (Start It Yourself) Succulents

I saw a short video the other day on "clever plant hacks", and today am testing one of them for myself.

The idea is that you can propagate many new succulent plants from:
  • the leaves of an existing plant 
  • a plastic bottle
Step 1: pull several of the leaves off a succulent.

Step 2: take a plastic bottle (I'm using an orange juice jug) and cut several small holes up and down the sides of it, stopping at least 2" from the bottom. 

Step 3: pour 2" water in the bottom and screw the lid back on.

Step 4: insert the cut side of a succulent leaf into each of the holes.

Put into your window, and hopefully in a few weeks, you'll have roots on each leaf, resulting in about a dozen new little succulents!

I'll post again in a few weeks - if succussful, I will have:
  • saved $4 per plant
  • saved a small plastic pot per plant
  • reused a plastic jug
Happy propagating!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Prime Packaging

Did you do it? Did you cave and go nuts on Prime Day? Does your porch look like this??

Never fear. So did I. And you don't have to fill your recycling bin with all those boxes. And you *can't* fill your recycling bin in most municipalities with bubble envelopes or that plastic pillow padding.

First choice - reuse! One medium sized moving box at U-Haul costs $1.50 and and you'll pay up to $5 for the same size at less economical places like Office Depot, so it's nuts to only get a single use out of them. If you don't have a use yourself, offer them up to a friend, neighbor, or free site.

Medium-large boxes, plastic and paper filler material are great for moving and seasonal storage! Small boxes and bubble mailers were my biggest surprise that I was able to find neighbors who wanted them, but they're great for people with small businesses or who like to mail gifts.

Have you heard of Ridwell? Ridwell is a Seattle-area company designed to compliment your regular recycling - with packages as low as $10 per month. They take all sorts of items like batteries, light bulbs, thread, styrofoam and plastic film. Plastic film includes both those padding pillows as well as many plastic packaging wrappers.

Ridwell is doing a free pickup of Amazon packaging 7/22-8/1 to help with Prime Day specifically!

I'm still in love with this cat castle.

We'll see if I can get T on board. ;)

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Shoe Sister

Remember when you were younger and had a bestie or roommate, that you were lucky enough to wear some of the same sizes? And you would share clothes or shoes and automatically double the size of your closet?

Let's bring that back! You're never too old to have a wardrobe buddy. For me, I'm lucky to have an aunt who's a stylish gal, and likes to give me some of her hand-me-downs. A recent closet cleanout meant that I could be the recipient of some sweet summer shoes:

bøc sandals, compare at $50 new.

Crocs sandals, compare at $30 new.

Born sandals, compare at $80 new.

Overall savings $160, and I have some great comfort sandals to take me through the next couple summers. Thanks, Aunt Tricia!