An Attempt at Beeswax Wraps

Don’t worry. All my posts won’t be about pregnancy and babies from now on.

I finally found the energy and time to tackle a DIY I have been wanting to do. I own a couple pieces of beeswrap as a replacement for plastic cling wrap, but they have been around for a while and are starting to lose their ability to cling to a surface.

While at a craft fair back in November, there was a booth selling local honey and beeswax products, including a nice brick of beeswax.

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So I bought it, thinking I would try my hand at creating my own.

At first, I was going to run over to Michael’s or Jo-Anne Fabrics and pick up some fabric, but then I remembered The WasteShed here in Chicago. They sell repurposed arts and crafts materials! So I headed over there and scrounged through their fabric scrap bin, leaving with a bunch of options for the low, low price of $2.75.

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The directions I followed for these beeswax wraps came from Good Housekeeping. I was looking for a tutorial that was easy and did not involve a lot of weird ingredients. For instance, a couple required pine resin and some other stuff you have to find at a specialty store or order. Neah.

So here is what I did:

1.) Wash, Dry, and Iron Your Fabric

Good Housekeeping recommended using 100% cotton, which I was not able to know if I fully achieved since I bought fabric scraps, but I figured I would give it a shot and see what happened.

After washing and drying the fabric pieces, I ended up ironing them because some were pretty crumpled. Otherwise, I would not have done this step, I hate ironing…

2.) Cut Your Fabric

I used pinking shears to keep the ends from fraying, but I am sure you can hem them also. I didn’t really adhere to a specific size and just kind of eyeballed what looked good. You can definitely see that I cannot cut straight either!

3.) Grab A Baking Sheet and Parchment Paper

GH recommends placing the printed side of the fabric down.

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4.) Cover Fabric in Beeswax

This is where I started to stray from the GH directions because I did not buy beeswax pellets, which apparently are a thing. I had a brick of beeswax that needed to be grated, which took quite some effort and I would not recommend it.

So I grated and grated and grated for what felt like forever and covered the fabric.

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5.) Pop It in The Oven

It only takes about 4 minutes to melt and then you are supposed to brush the wax around on the fabric, but it seemed I did not use enough wax and there wasn’t any to spread. There also were a lot of spots where I could see that the wax was missing, including the edges.

So I tried again.

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This time I put my muscles to work and grated a more ample supply of beeswax and made sure to get up close to the edges. This seemed to work better this time around.

6.) Let It Dry

The fabric pieces were pretty cool to the touch once I took them out and tried to brush the wax around. I was able to pick them up and wave them around a bit to initially dry.

Afterwards, I folded the fabric over a wire hanger and hung it on the shower curtain rod to fully dry. This only took a few minutes.

7. Enjoy?

After grating enough wax for three wraps, I was pretty tired, so I decided to give it a break. I am also curious if these will work, so I didn’t want to spend all this time and effort making a bunch and it turns out they didn’t do anything.

They feel right and they look right, but I want to test them out for a bit.

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Hopefully, they do the job! I will keep you update.

Have you ever made DIY beeswax wraps? Any recommendations?

Food Aversions and Food Waste

During the first trimester of pregnancy, your body does a lot of weird things and your stomach and taste buds start to betray you.

For a handful of weeks, I barely wanted to eat anything. Everything was just so unappealing.

With my ever-changing palette, I had to come to terms with something that I do my very best to avoid in my non-pregnant life: wasting food.

Many times I would try to eat some of the lovely home-cooked meals my husband made for me and many times I would poke at it with my fork and end up eating a bowl of Cheerios instead.

I would often be over-zealous and prepare more food than my stomach could manage, leaving a lot left behind. Our compost service benefited the most in the first couple of months.

While I felt pretty guilty that I couldn’t always eat what was put in front of me, I had to learn to accept that this was going to happen. With my hormones all over the map, I couldn’t really control what I wanted to eat one day and not the next.

Luckily, I am now in the second trimester and my appetite has vastly improved. I can eat vegetables again! A miracle!

Global Climate Strike A Big Day For Many Reasons

On September 20th, 2019, I participated in the global climate strike in downtown Chicago.

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I took the L downtown and as I exited the station, I could hear the roar of the march as they were approaching Federal Plaza.

Ascending the steps of the station, my eyes filled with tears as the protest grew louder.

It could have been because it was an extremely moving event.

It could have been because of the frustration of the inaction of our governments.

It could also have been because it was inspiring to see so many people come together to demand action.

But actually, I had free-flowing tears from my eyes because later that afternoon I had planned to take a pregnancy test to confirm what I had already known, that I was going to be bringing a child into this pretty messed up world.

After the strike, I headed back home feeling inspired and tried to put taking the test out of mind. A couple hours later, the test was positive and my entire future changed in an instant.

I am very aware of the argument that the number one way to limit your impact on the environment is to not have children. While I absolutely respect that camp and the people making those decisions, that is not my stance.

We have a short time on this planet and having a child of my own is something that I have always wanted to do. While yes, my child will have an impact on the environment (as we all do), it will be small in comparison to the biggest emitting offenders.

So that is where I have been the past few months: coming to terms with what’s about to happen, preparing financially and mentally and emotionally, and also laying down a lot because being pregnant is really tiring.

 

 

Why Use Towels That Go In The Trash When You Can Use Towels That Can Go In The Washer?

How many rolls of paper towels do you use a year?

We probably only buy 3-4 rolls of paper towels and reserve them for particularly messy situations. I usually forget they are even under the sink.

Otherwise, I have been using a legitimate, real towel for cleanups.

To get to this point, I have stocked our kitchen with lots of actual towels that get washed in the washer instead of tossed in the trash can.

In our small kitchen closet, we have one drawer devoted to “rags” or clean up towels and we keep one hanging underneath the sink. These are basically just old towels, be they old bath hand towels or old dish towels. Certain towels are used specifically for the bathroom and ones for the kitchen.

The second drawer holds cloth napkins and dishcloths. The third has hand and dish towels.

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Having plenty of towels on hand keeps us from having to reach for the paper version, which we keep around for emergency back up.

After the towels are used, I let them dry on the washer door and toss them in the hamper.

A huge pro of using real towels in the kitchen is that it doesn’t necessarily mean more laundry. At the end of the week, usually on Friday or Saturday morning, I collect all the towels from around the house, wash them on hot, and replace them with clean ones.

That’s it.

The bath towels and sheets needed to be washed anyway, so it’s no more work for me, and no additional load of laundry.

We save money and landfill space. Win-win!

 

Patience

If you know me personally, patient most likely wouldn’t be your adjective of choice to describe me.

But I have been thinking lately about patience and that is mostly because I started a new job that I am very very excited about. I graduated 6 years ago and I have been through 4 jobs since then. Some were good and some were not, but I continued to search, to network, and to interview.

I got rejected A LOT. Since 2012, I have applied for 393 jobs and received 60 first-round interviews. That is a success rate of 15%. It was disheartening and frustrating, but I had to be patient. It was worth the wait.

Patience is also an important trait when dealing with any environmental/waste/green tasks. Our society has pushed instant gratification on us. We use something once and then throw it out. We want something new, we buy it right now and get it shipped to our door the next day.

It seems counterintuitive to go against this, and harder, more difficult, and inconvenient, but it makes a bigger impact.

Take an extra two seconds and collect your kitchen scraps for a compost service.

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Search secondhand services for exactly what you are looking for and sell your items on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and ThredUp. Or donate your stuff.

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Fix up what you already have whether it is a chair, jeans, or your dress pants,

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Collect personal care products and plastic bags, save your beyond repair clothing, take in your running shoes to be recycled, and return wire hangers from the cleaners.

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Grow your own vegetables or join a CSA.

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Shave with a safety razor.

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Take action on things you don’t want like junk mail, mail not addressed you and solicitations.

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Choose the slower shipping option.

All of these things take TIME, but I value the outcome more than the time it takes to bring my plastic bags back to the grocery store.

It takes patience to do these things instead of just throwing stuff into the trash can. Sure, that is easier and sure, that is faster.

But properly taking care of what comes in and out of your life is worth the wait.

A Place for Personal Care Products

Unlike some people in the zero waste world, I have not rid my life of all store-bought personal care products. I do still like to use toothpaste…

So does my husband, so anyway here we are.

A while back I heard that clean beauty store, Credo has partnered with TerraCycle to take back personal care and beauty items for recycling.

I have been buying makeup from Credo for a while, long before they opened a physical store here in Chicago. While their products are free of a bunch of nasty chemicals, they don’t do so well on the packaging front.

So when I learned you could bring in your empties (and earn rewards points will doing so!) I started to hoard our floss containers under the bathroom sink. Not going to lie, I have also dug stuff out of the bathroom trash!

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The bag slowly accumulated deodorant, toothpaste, floss, old makeup, hair gel containers, a lotion bottle and much more.

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Over the weekend I took my haul into Credo on Damen and asked what they do and do not accept. Turns out basically anything except nail polish, perfume bottles, and hair spray.

So I did have to take my hair spray back home with me and I am still trying to figure out what to do with it. Did you know aerosol cans can explode if crushed when they are not completely empty?! Mine must not be empty because it still makes noise when I press the nozzle.

All in all, I am happy to have a little more space under the bathroom sink and for my old toothpaste tubes to be properly disposed of.

Growing Goodies on Our Balcony

On a dreary day in May (Chicago has had plenty of dreary spring days), I ventured out to the newly opened City Grange garden center to find what I could grow on my balcony.

When we moved into this apartment last summer, I did not make an attempt to grow anything beyond some flowers, but this year I wanted to try growing vegetables and herbs. Even after taking a small space gardening class at the Chicago Botanic Garden, I was not entirely sure where to start.

Luckily, City Grange is there to help people like me figure it all out. Unlike Home Depot or other garden centers where it is next to impossible to find an associate, and then an associate that actually knows what they are talking about, at City Grange I was immediately greeted and offered assistance. And boy did I need it!

I explained what kind of sun I get, what floor we are on, that we don’t have a hose, and how much space we actually have to grow. After some discussion I left with:

  • Romaine
  • Garlic Chives
  • Kale/Red Kale
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Cilantro
  • Sorrel
  • Calendula
  • Strawberry
  • Milkweed

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I also left with potting mix, seaweed fertilizer, and probably the greatest find of all, a pig watering can.

Not all of my plants were meant for human eating. Milkweed is an important food source for monarch butterflies. I also planted the calendula 1. because they are pretty and 2. because I needed a cross pollinator for my strawberry plant.

My planting vessels ranged from one reused pot from last year, two new self-watering pots from Target, and an upcycled metal pot and basin I got at a garage sale for $3. I drilled some holes into the pot and basin and they were ready to go!

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After some time, my little plant babies started to get acclimated to their new home and started growing big and strong (except for the garlic chives, they are not feeling it).

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I got my first calendula flower, which looks like a little marigold and a bloom on my strawberry plant.

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The cilantro, mint, and oregano have been prolific and I am often harvesting almost every week. I have been drying the oregano and also using it fresh.

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Almost two months later my plants have been doing amazing, except those darn garlic chives. I have had fresh romaine and sorrel salads, kale in my smoothies, and fresh cilantro on tacos!

This experience has been much better than when I tried to grow herbs from seeds. If you are in the Chicago area, I highly recommend checking out City Grange!

When Was the Last Time You Went to The Tailor?

When was the last time you went to get your clothes altered to fit your body?

And no, the last time you went to the tailor/seamstress to get a bridesmaid dress hemmed does not count. That is not the same.

I have blogged a lot about taking care of the clothes we own, by getting them fixed or just plain, old taking good care of them!

One way to take care of the clothes we own, that I think is often overlooked by my age group, is taking clothes to a tailor to be fitted to your own body’s shape and size.

The standard sizes from clothing manufacturers are all over the board anyway. A size 6 in one brand is a size 10 somewhere else and the way we shop online without actually trying on the piece basically guarantees we will end up with clothes we thought would fit but most definitely do not.

Even so, clothes are not made specifically with your measurements in mind, but a tailor or a seamstress can help your ill-fitting clothing become the perfect size!

For instance, I went through a period a couple years ago where I gained some weight and none of my dress pants fit. So I went out and bought some. Fast forward to now, where I have since lost that weight and of course, none of those pants fit. They were so so saggy on me.

I didn’t want to buy another set of pants again and I liked them enough that I decided to get them taken in to fit my current body shape. Two of the pairs I decided I did not want to invest the money in tailoring, so I gave them to a friend. The other two I took down the street to a nearby cleaners. Forty bucks later I had two pairs of pants that fit.

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Previously, I had brought in a skirt I purchased from thredUP and had it taken in. It was great to walk out with a piece of clothing that had been altered just to fit me.

Sometimes it is not worth it to pay for alteration fees. In that case, let go of those clothes for someone else! But if it is a piece you love and a quality one, why not put a couple extra dollars into making it uniquely your size.

 

 

An Easy Way to Secondhand Shop: thredUP

For the most part, I do a pretty good job of avoiding the temptations of shopping for new clothes. I don’t wander the mall for fun, or go window shopping, and I have unsubscribed from alluring marketing emails.

Sometimes I succumb to my desires and I end up trolling websites, adding things to my cart, feeling bad about it, and then never returning to purchase it.

I try and keep a list of items I am specifically looking for so I don’t get swept away by something trendy and end up impulse shopping.

Back to where I mentioned feeling bad about shopping, this is important. I am fully aware of all of the environmental and social costs associated with purchasing new clothing (water, resources, labor, shipping, etc.), which makes randomly purchasing pieces really hard for me (but just to be clear, I still do purchase new clothing).

Enter thredUP, a humongous repository of secondhand clothes filterable by size, brand, color, you name it! The problem I find with shopping for secondhand clothes in physical stores is sorting through what you are looking for. It takes time and patience.

With thredUP you can search specifically for what you are looking for and also create alerts when say a Madewell cardigan is added. That’s how I ended up with the cardigan on the right.

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Two J. Crew cashmere sweaters and a Madewell cardigan for much less $$$

I created my search and then waited for the right one to come along, but since there is only one of each item (usually), you need to act fast! By the time I checked my email alert, someone had already added it to their cart. An item can stay in someone’s cart for a specified amount of time and if it is not purchased it is opened back up. If you really like an item, you can check that you will auto-buy if didn’t end up getting purchased.

It was really easy and I used that feature to get my Madewell cardigan. I also set alerts for certain brands I am fond of, which is how I found the two cashmere J. Crew sweaters on the left. I wanted a cashmere J. Crew sweater but they retail for over $90. This one on thredUP was new with the tags still on for half the price. It is warm, cozy, and I love it.

A handful of my wardrobe has come from thredUP and I intend to add more pieces along the way. My coworker recently stopped by my office and asked if I had used thredUP before and my response was something like, “Yes, I have a bunch of clothes from there, this J. Crew sweater I am wearing is from thredUP! Oh wait, so is this Ralph Lauren skirt! I am wearing an entirely secondhand outfit!”

All in all, I recommend thredUP. I have not used other secondhand shopping sites like Poshmark yet but plan to take a look. I am on the hunt for a white denim jacket!

Do you have a place you love to secondhand shop? Let me know!

This post is not sponsored by thredUP, I just like their site and want to share! 

Behind the Scenes at Meliora Cleaning Products

What does Meliora mean?

It means better (in Latin) and it means knowing what ingredients are in your cleaning products.

Earlier this week, I attended my first Chicago Women in Green event held at Melioria Cleaning Products.

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Available Meliora products.

For over a year now, I have been using their unscented powdered laundry detergent that comes in a cardboard canister and is made right here in Chicago.

Before making the switch from our standard Method free and clear detergent, I asked K how he would feel about it. He didn’t care as long as the clothes got clean. And they did, so we have been using it ever since.

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Founder, Kate Jakubas, lead us through the factory.

So I was thrilled to go behind the scenes, learn about their factory and manufacturing process, and see where the products I purchase are made.

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Look soap!

They list every ingredient in their products, are a certified B-Corp, avoid synthetic fragrances, use plastic, glass, and cardboard wherever possible, and even repurpose berry boxes from Costco throughout the factory!

 

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We got to take home a “mystery” bar of soap made up of the ends and beginnings of different scents. No waste here!

On top of Meliora laundry detergent, I also use their all-purpose home cleaner that comes in a little tub and all you have to do is mix it in a spray bottle with water! I love not having to continually purchase a new plastic bottle of cleaner every time one runs out. All I have to do is keep refilling.

While on our visit, I was able to purchase their new solid dishwashing soap. Yay to no more plastic bottles sitting on my counter! In the future, Meliora will hopefully come out with a plastic-free dishwasher detergent, but right now they are still working on the formula.

If you are in Chicagoland, their laundry detergent can be purchased in bulk at the Dill Pickle Co-op and Sugar Beet Food Co-Op, but you can also purchase refills in paper bags. You can find their products in a handful of stores and on Amazon.

Now excuse me while I go clean!

I was not compensated for my review of Meliora Cleaning Products, I just happen to really like them!