DIY

Who Needs Cotton Balls?

I have not bought cotton balls in AGES.

 

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My cotton ball replacements.

 

From Friday’s post, you know that I have not been buying Ziploc bags because I have a solid replacement for them, but a replacement for cotton balls was not something I had found yet.

For a while, I just stole cotton balls from my parents, the bags just seemed to last forever. But now I do not even bother.

I never used cotton balls to take off makeup. Instead, I just used a washcloth. The only thing I really used them for was to remove nail polish, which I now just use some toilet paper for. It definitely was not efficient, but it got the job done when necessary.

Now that I am wiser, I know there are replacements for cotton balls and those are just reusable cotton rounds! They are basically two pieces of cotton fabric sewn together. cotton rounds

Currently, I do not own a sewing machine, so making my own was a bit more of an arduous option. So instead, I purchased them from a local business, WholeLoveOrganics. I currently use their deodorant too.

After using the cotton rounds, I toss them in a laundry bag for delicates (so I don’t lose them in the washing machine) and then wash and dry as normal.

Reusable and washable anything is pretty awesome, and I love that I have added these to my routine. They require basically zero effort and I will basically never buy cotton balls again, not that I have been recently!

 

 

 

We Broke Our Microwave and Never Fixed It

Usually, I am always in the pro-fix-whatever-is-broken camp, but in this particular case, I am not so sure.

A month or so ago, we had an incident with the microwave…

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Since we have a tiny kitchen, we have an abnormally tiny microwave. Basically, a heating pad was in there and couldn’t fully spin around, leaving it stuck against the microwave’s wall. That caused a bit of a sparking and singeing episode and the microwave has not been used since.

To avoid any accidental and habitual use, I just unplugged it. At first, it was quite annoying since I was so used to checking the time on it, even though there is a clock right on the wall.

microwave

My morning oatmeal used to be ready in 2 minutes and re-heated dinner was just a few minutes away. Ok, I don’t need to explain to you how a microwave works…

Anyway, now everything gets heated up in the oven or on the stove. I used to grumble about it, but really it doesn’t take that much longer. If I know I need to heat up leftovers in the oven, I just need to remember to turn it on a bit beforehand.

Overall, the re-heating process of any food does not take any more than 15 minutes, but it does create some extra dishes…

Should we even try to fix it? Or just go with the flow of no microwave?

 

 

 

Jean Repair Attempt Failed

I have known for a while that my attempt at patching my jeans was failing, and yesterday they finally bite the dust.

jean rip

There is no saving these babies at this point, but since it is about to be short season, this is something I will probably put off until fall.

Have you made an attempt to repair something, but were met with utter failure?

At least I tried. I got another good 4 months out of my favorite jeans.

Can A Used Table Be An Upgrade? Yes!

Besides our couch, the kitchen table is probably used the most piece of furniture we own.

Except it is not actually used for dining.

It is where:

  • I work
  • I blog
  • We dump everything when we come in the door
  • The mail gets tossed
  • We put stuff from the kitchen to give us room to cook in there
  • And on and on

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The current kitchen table has been around for a number of years now. I picked it up at a garage sale and it made its first appearance in my apartment during graduate school. I ended up spray painting the legs black and re-staining the top since it was most definitely used as a kid’s table and had been covered in marker.

K used it in his previous apartment and it is now in our apartment.

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It has definitely made the rounds.

It’s a fine table. There is nothing really wrong with it, but it does not serve us anymore.

We can only fit two chairs underneath the table. That means only two people can ever sit there. We can never have people over for dinner (we only have 2 chairs anyway), or just sit at the table with more than one other person.

It is time to finally get a bigger kitchen table that can fit 4 adults where at least 2 are not standing up. And one where I did not do such a terrible job staining it. (This was even before last year’s debacle with stripping and staining our kitchen chairs).

Anyway, we want a quality piece of furniture that is going to last us many years, not just a quick fix that looks cute for the moment.

We like the style and look of a lot of West Elm tables, but we are not too keen on the price.

On the other hand, we are also willing to pay more for a quality piece.

For now, I will be been scouring Craigslist for a good deal. Maybe I will even find one at a vintage market this summer. Let me know if you find any!

 

 

 

DIY: Saving My Favorite Jeans

My jeans always rip in the exact same place. Right in the crotch area.

In the past, I have had my grandmother patch them up for me. Sometimes the same pair would get repaired several times like the one below.

While folding my laundry last week, I noticed my newest pair of jeans (over a year and a half old) have finally achieved the dreaded crotch rip. I was not shocked or surprised. This was bound to happen eventually.

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Besides this tiny hole in a not so noticeable spot, the jeans are just fine. There was no need to fret, I was going to patch them myself!

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My sewing skills are even more sub-par than my knitting skills. I can sew buttons and seams together, but nothing this extensive (is this considered extensive?).

Now was my chance to learn a new skill that I could continue to use for years to come!

First, I needed some supplies I did not currently have in my possession.

  1. pinking shears
  2. fusible

I looked up what pinking shears cost and they aren’t too expensive, but so far I have gone my entire life not needing them, so there is no point in making that purchase now. Instead, I chose to borrow a pair from my grandmother. #vintage

After a quick trip to Jo-Anne’s for fusible, I gathered all my supplies and was ready to go.

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First things first, I cut out a patch of denim from my now scrap pair of jeans. My plan was basically just to reinforce the crotch/thigh rub area so it would not rip any further.

 

I figured sewing the patch straight into the seam would help keep the fabric strong. To help, I used fusible, which basically turns your patch into an iron-on. I have never used fusible before and figured it could not hurt my pants any further.

 

Once the patches were ironed on, it was time to start sewing and this took a much longer time than I had thought! If I had a sewing machine this definitely would have been done sooner, but alas I do not. A used sewing machine is on my wish list (hint hint).

jean-patch15

Sewing the patches too frustratingly long. I started this Friday afternoon and did not finish until Sunday evening, but hey, at least I can wear my jeans on Monday!

They aren’t perfect, but I think I did a pretty decent job for my first try and I know I have more to learn.

Have you ever tried to patch your favorite pair of jeans before? Do you have any better suggestions for the next time this happens to me?

 

Introducing “Waste Not Want Not Wedding”

Over the weekend, I got engaged.

Holy Moly!

It has been a crazy whirlwind so far and I am finally feeling the weight of planning such an important life event.

I have been a bridesmaid 5 times already (it will be 6 in July), so I am no stranger to weddings.

bridesmaids

For my own wedding, I am excited to incorporate my eco-friendly lifestyle and chronicle all of it here for you.

However, I do feel that the wedding industry has gotten a little bit out of control (apologies to anyone who has opposite views of me on this topic).

For instance, the perceived need for all of these things:

  • engagement photos
  • engagement parties
  • wedding planners
  • save the dates
  • photo booths
  • over the top centerpieces  and flowers that get thrown out the next day
  • favors no one takes home
  • wedding hashtags #NO
  • matching bridal party shirts you will never wear again
  • “future Mrs. ____” apparel or items you will never wear after getting married

These are not necessities to getting married. Social media (specifically Pinterest) has lead us to believe we need all of these things for a successful and Pinterest-worthy wedding.

Last time I checked, the most important part is the act of getting married.

Going forward with wedding planning, this is what I want:

  • this to be easy
  • this to be simple
  • to avoid unnecessary costs
  • create the least amount of waste as possible
  • do what I can do myself
  • to use local services and goods
  • to use friend’s and family as much as possible

I want my wedding to be an event put together by people who are important to me.

Obviously, I understand as I go through this process, I may change my mind about everything. For now, though, this is my initial stance.

How do you feel about weddings these days? Do you think they can be quite wasteful?

A Succinct Summary of My 2016

2016 is just about over. Hallelujah.

Aside from all the craziness the world had to endure for the past 360-ish days, this was my first full year of blogging.

What started as a tiny creative outlet, has turned into something much more. I get excited about writing new posts and love hearing friends and family talk about my blog.

A lot has happened this year.

I  purged a lot of my belongings before moving downtown,

purge-pile-redo

started composting,

compost container

got a recycling bin for our building,

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became a Chicago Conservation Corps leader,

C3 2

cleaned up multiple beaches,

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stopped buying new clothes for myself,

levis-jeans

tested out bamboo toothbrushes,

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And crafted up a storm.

 

Look out for my post on what to expect for 2017! Coming soon!

 

 

 

The Beauty in the Handmade, Secondhand, and Hand-me-downs

Originally, I had zero intentions of doing a post specifically on how I decorated for the holidays. I am not an interior designer.

But, the below picture changed my mind.

linzer-torte

Yesterday, some family got together to bake our traditional Christmas dessert, linzer torte. I was so proud of my work that I wanted to document its beauty.  Looking at this picture reminded me of all the beauty of the decorations I have found secondhand, made with my own hands, or were handed down to me from loved ones.

The Dining Room*

*It’s not really a dining room, I just don’t know what else to call it

xmas1

I scored this beautiful glass jar from a garage sale long ago and knew it would come in handy. My original plan was to fill it with seashells from K’s hometown in Massachusetts, but I have yet to acquire more than one. So now the jar gets to be seasonal! It currently holds my collection of cookie cutters. They are too pretty to hide away in a drawer.

xmas2

Christmas M&M’s were a staple in my house growing up. After picking some up, I realized I had nothing to put them in! Luckily, I took home a bunch of these mason jar mugs that were wedding favors at a friend’s big day. I couldn’t bare to see any left behind!

xmas5

Yes, there is a pumpkin in this picture. He didn’t make it into last month’s compost pick up, so I have been holding on to him until the next. I figured I would have some fun with it and have him wear an elf hat. Why not?!

xmas7

This enamel tray was found at an antique market in Northern Illinois and I knew it would be perfect for my kitchen table. The pinecones have stuck around since the fall, and all I had to do was add some festive ornaments.

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Over our closet is a vintage paddle we hung up to pay homage to K’s love of fishing and boating. Since I had an extra string of garland, the paddle got to be decorated too! Next year, I am thinking of wrapping it in lights.

pom-pom-wreath3

On our door hangs the newest edition in handmade decorations. You can read all about it here.

Living Room

 

Christkindlmarket is a big deal in Chicago. It is a traditional open-aired German Christmas market right in the middle of downtown. If you are brave enough to battle the crowds, you can get a delicious pretzel and some hot mulled wine, called glühwein, in a souvenir boot mug! I have gone many times with friends and family and displaying the mugs on our bar makes perfect sense.

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Bet you don’t realize our thermostat is in the middle of that picture right? It is usually a blank space on the wall, but now it is home to our Christmas card collection. The delightfully tacky Christmas banner was my parents and I have fallen in love with it over the years and ended up claiming it as my own.

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Last fall, my friends and I spent an evening crafting blanket ladders in a garage. It was such a blast, and I am so glad this piece provides me with memories that one bought from a store could not.

xmas

K had this awful red IKEA pillow that he brought with him when we moved in together. It’s obnoxiously crinkly so it had been banned to the giveaway box in the basement. That was until I decided to give it some new life by turning it into a Christmas pillow. I already had the green and brown felt, so I stitched us a whole new decoration.

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This is the first year I have actually had my own Christmas tree, so that means I had nothing for it. A tree skirt is often common practice, but I saw no reason to waste any money on such an item. We had a red and black plaid blanket that works perfectly wrapped around the tree.

knit-bunting4

Knit bunting is now my new favorite decoration. I made one for fall and now one for Christmas!

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No vintage Christmas collection is complete without a creepy Santa Claus! I found him at a garage sale and just couldn’t pass him up. You better watch out! He’s watching you!

Tis the Season For Frozen Compost

“Baby, it’s cold outside”

So cold that my compost bucket (which we keep outside on our fire escape) had frozen shut.

After a weekend of numerous home cooked meals, our compost bowl was starting to overflow, and its contents needed to retreat to the outdoors.

There was no way I was getting the lid off the bucket, so I figured I would bring it inside to warm on up.

 

frozen-compost

Nice and cozy compost bucket

When I got back from work, I soaked up the remaining water and was able to add my food scraps no problem.

The bucket is back outside now,  but I am sure that will not be the last time it gets to dodge the fire escape’s winter chill. Stay tuned!

 

How To: Gracious Gifting

My Christmas gifts are all finished, and they have been for awhile. If you pay attention to the people you are giving to throughout the year, it is fairly easy to come up with something. For example, I keep a note in my phone with gift ideas for my friends and family.

gifting1

Giving and getting experiences is by far the best type of gift. Even if that isn’t an option, I want to be able to give something that truly has meaning to the receiver, is a need, and stimulates the local economy at the same time. Sorry, department store Christmas commercials, I will not be buying people random sweaters for the holidays.

Here is what you can do to be a conscious gifter:

Go Local

Help a small, local business out and get your gifts from them. To avoid a physical gift, gift cards to a favorite restaurant are always a good option.

Go High Quality

Make your purchase worth it. Going handmade and local usually means it’s going to be of higher quality compared to store brand. Go for brands that have lifetime satisfaction guarantees like LL Bean, Eddie Bauer, or anything on Buy Me Once.

Make It

The most memorable gifts I have ever given have been ones I have made with my own hands. One Christmas I spent countless hours knitting my dad a cable knit scarf and he wears it ALL THE TIME.

Have Someone Else Make It

Sometimes the thing we want to give others is beyond our own ability. If so, employ a local artist or someone from Etsy to help get your message across. I have sent get well cookies to sick friends and personalized flower vases for newly married couples.

Wrap It (Or Don’t Wrap it)

Wrapping paper is a huge waste. I refuse to buy it ever again, especially when we are daily subscribers to the Chicago Tribune. That provides plenty of newspaper to be used for wrapping. Additionally, I save every gift bag and bow I receive so I can pull those out if necessary.

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