Showing posts with label kitchen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kitchen. Show all posts

Feb 26, 2013

DIY reusable shopping bag

Just as I promised, I attempted to make my own reusable shopping bag.  The experience took me a few hours and was a little frustrating (because I've never sewn this type of material before), but I think that with a little more practice, I could get one of these puppies done in no time. 

So if you missed my last post, I was rambling on about how awesome it was to be green in your kitchen.  Not only does it save you money but it is also kind to earth.  And I mean, who doesn't love earth?  So if you don't have any reusable shopping bags or you do and are up for a fun sewing project, read on!

So this little tutorial is a mini adaptation of the one I found here at pieandcoffee.org.  If any of my directions are unclear, I urge you to check out this website as they have much more detail and better pictures in their tutorial.

STEP 1:  Get some fabric! And have fun people!  I went a little crazy with my fabric choice, but when else can I use outstandingly colorful fabric such as this piece below?  Plus, I am 100% positive this will make my grocery shopping experience a little more fun & bright (pun intended---hawwwink) I bought 3/4 yard of a stretchy denim/canvas combo.  I thought this choice would be a little more durable.


STEP 2:  Fold your fabric in half and cut your fabric 23 in wide (as per the tutorial above)  This is  what I ended up doing, but I think in the future I'm going to leave the width of my fabric as it comes from the store (27ish inches) and cut the height to 23 inches.  This may or may not have been what the tutorial above actually wanted me to do, since they never mentioned a height measurement.  If so, I was confused, but either way works. 

STEP 3:  To form the pattern for the bottom of the bag you need to cut two squares 5.5 inches wide by 4 inches high out of each corner of your fabric.  Make sure you are cutting your fabric on the FOLDED side. 


STEP 4:  Sew the left and right side of your bag.  Leave the top and bottom squares UN-SEWN.   Now the stitch I used.  This was the most difficult part for me.  I couldn't figure out what stitch would hold this fabric without bunching it, coming undone, or just plain not working.  I experimented with different tensions of my thread, spacing, and stitches, and ended up using a ridiculously complicated stitch that was really unnecessary.  After I finished I found out the best method to use is actually the flat felled seem.  Definitely use this.  It takes a little longer on your machine, since it is multiple steps, but it really will save you time and effort in the long run.  This is my go to stitch for future projects with this sort of material. 

STEP 5:  Pin the corners of the bottom of your bag together and sew.  Now the tutorial at pieandcoffee.org has you first sew the bottom shut with the bag right side out and then has you resew the seems with the bag flipped inside out.  This is the method I used as well, and it turned out alright. 

STEP 6:  Hem that puppy.  This is the hem on the top half of my bag.  And yes, I cheated.  The stitch you see was the original hem I created. But I wasn't happy with how my bag appeared to be too tall for it's width.  (which goes back to the whole 23 inch measurement thing)  So i folded my hem down further and used hem tape the second go around.  Honestly at this point, I was so tired of fighting my sewing machine, plus it was late, that I cheated and used my hem tape I've had sitting around for a year.  Hey that's what it's for anyway right?  So if you feel like cheating too, go ahead, I won't tell.

STEP 7:  With your scrap fabrics, cut pieces that are 4 inches wide and however long you would like your handles to be.  My handles ended up a little shorter than I would like, so make sure you presize them with your bag.  Fold them in half (hot dog style) with the print sides inward. Stitch along the edge, but leave the ends open.  When you've got them stitched, flip them inside out so the fabric print is on the outside again. 


STEP 8:  Attach straps to bag.  So I folded that unfinished edge into the tube about 1/4-1/2 inch and then used a straight stitch to sew around the border of the handle.  As you can see below, I made an "X"  to add extra strength to the hold. 

The upside down view from the other side of the bag.  Sorry, blogger won't let me flip my pictures around for some reason!


STEP 9:  Admire your finished product.  There you go folks.  A finished reusable shopping bag.  I bet this thing will hold at least 4 plastic bags worth of groceries.  I have to go grocery shopping later today, so I'll let you know ;-)





Update:
Look at this beaut! She worked and held more groceries than I coulda hoped for.

Feb 22, 2013

The "Green" Replacements

The replacements

In this post I want to share with you a couple ways in which I have saved money in my kitchen and gone "green". I like the idea of being "green", although Dan and I are not experts, we try to do our part wherever and whenever we can. And we have found a few ways to practice being green in our very own kitchen.

Change number 1:
Reusable shopping bags:
I am so glad to see that this trend is finally catching on. Each time I go to the store, whether it be to get groceries, household items, or even clothes, I see at least one fellow shopper with their reusable shopping bags as well. The number of plastic bags I get from a weekly grocery shopping trip (if I forget my reusables) is horrifying! I can easily come home wit 20+ bags and that's just one trip, one person. Imagine how many plastic bags go out the door in one grocery store per day at that rate?! Scary! So invest in some reusable bags. I have an odd collection that I've accumulated over the years. Many of them can be bought for one dollar. Can't beat that for something that can be used over and over again. And I don't know how you'll feel, but I admit I feel very proud of myself when I'm wheeling my cart full of cloth shopping bags to my Car. I feel like Mother Earth is giving me a pat on the back. Stay tuned, because inspired by this post I think I'll try to do a tutorial for you on sewing your own jumbo sized reusable bags. Check back for that one.

Change number 2: Cloth Napkins
Now this one is so simple. Replace your disposable napkins with the cloth kind. Dan and I have a basket of cloth napkins near our kitchen table that's easily accessible. During mealtimes, we grab a napkin, and when we are finished with it, we throw it in a basket in the laundry room to be washed. There are a few reasons I love using cloth napkins. Let me share.
1. They are pretty and fun and come in all sorts of cool patterns and colors. You can change them with the seasons, holidays, mood swings, whatever.
2. They are more efficient. I don't know about you but I easily go though 3 paper napkins during one meal. I dunno, maybe I'm a messy eater, but they rip and tear on me like tissue paper. With cloth ones, that is not a problem. And Dan can't give make fun of me for needing more than one!
3. They save me money. Now I don't have to spend that extra 5-7 dollars every couple of weeks at the store to buy paper napkins. It may seem like so little savings, but they call it "counting pennies" for a reason. They all add up!
4. Mother Nature appreciates me. Again, I love to know that I am doing my part to help keep our planet green, no matter how little and insignificant it may seem. So I get another pat on the back ;-)


Change #3:

Cloth paper towels

I saved my most favorite for last...replace that paper towel roll with cloth ones! Now before you go "pshhh ya right". Hear me out. This has by far been the best " green" change we've made in our kitchen. We used to go through sooooo many paper towels. It was so easy to just rip one off and clean up any and every mess we had no matter how big or small. But by doing that we found ourselves constantly replacing rolls and then having to buy more. And let's face it, they aren't cheap things to be buying constantly. So I found the idea of a "cloth paper towel roll" on a friends Pinterest awhile back and fell in love! It was on an etsy shop. A roll of cloth paper towels that had snaps and attached to each other and looked all cute and everything. The only problem was that it was $50. Cue jaw drop and instant disappointment. No way Was i going to pay 50 bucks for that. Well then my voice took over and I devised a plan to make my own, which I detail in this post here. Since making these, we've gotten sooooo much use out of them. Even the hubby likes them, and they have held up so well after MULTIPLE washes. I am ready to make myself another set here soon, so I will definitely post a new and improved tutorial when I do that.

Well that's it. Three major but simple changes in your kitchen/food shopping habits that will not only save you money but also keep our planet healthy!



Don't go far, I'll be back soon with a few more fun posts!  I have a couple of really sweet projects in the works now that I want to share with you all =)


Feb 16, 2013

DIY Recipe Organizer

In the spirit of simplifying our lives and being budget-savvy, I decided that our weekly grocery shopping trips needed to change.  Dan and I can easily drop $100-150 every week to two weeks on groceries.  While this was never an issue before, I can foresee it becoming one in the near future.  Plus, I feel like that is a good bit to be spending on food for a family of 2 1/2.  Now obviously we make food a top budget priority because before all else, we need to eat....however, I've seen blogs where families of four live off of $200 a month for groceries!  I think that is amazing!  I'm not sure if I'll ever be that good at couponing, planning, and budgeting my shopping trips, but I know there is certainly more that I can be doing to save money than I am now.

So I took a good, hard look at what we were purchasing week to week and which items were the most costly.  Turns out prepackaged snack foods are the culprit.  Not only are they pricey, but they are also notoriously unhealthy and packed with lots of additives, chemicals, and lord knows what else.  I figured if I could find an alternative to these packaged snacks, it would be healthier and cheaper for all of us.  (Packaged snacks for us include(d) cheese and cracker sticks, rice krispie treats, granola bars, brownies, fruit cups, etc etc.)  So my plan....replace each of these packaged snacks with a homemade, healthier, cheaper version. Sounds simple enough right?  Wrong, I knew I'd have a 150 lb road block in my way....my husband.  You see, Dan likes his lunches the same way, everyday.  And let's be honest, he's not so keen on accepting change.  For example 95% of our date nights, we usually end up at TGI Fridays.  Not once have we ever eaten at a Mexican, Chinese, Sushi, Korean, Indian, Japanese, or any other of the sort restaurant. (Now I'll admit, I'm partly to blame for this too...I just really like TGI Fridays, but now I'm getting off topic)  Anyway, I knew it would be a challenge to get him on board with my new approach to snack foods. But I was up for it.  I figured if I introduced one new homemade snack food at a time, I wouldn't overwhelm him, and maybe, just maybe, he'd come around to liking them!?  One can hope right?

So the first switcheroo I tried:
 Prepackaged Snack vs. Homemade Version Number 1: cheese and crackers. (one of Dan's favorites)
Product Image
google image
A box of 15 of these puppies is approximately $6.  And what is the snack essentially?  Well 5 crackers and some soft cheddary cheese dip with a few chemicals and preservatives.  How can I replicate this for cheaper?  A block of Cheddar cheese and some club crackers of course!  (Okay, Okay, I know what you are thinking.  Calling store bought cheese and club crackers "homemade" is a bit of a stretch, but since I don't own a goat, and have no idea how to make my own cheese and crackers from scratch, this is as close to it as I'm gonna get people.  So just go with it)
Now a block of Cheddar cheese is ~$2.70 and a box of of 128 club crackers (store brand) is ~$2.50.  Cutting this block of cheese into small squares will give you around 15 servings.  And 128 crackers will give you about 25 servings (5 crackers each).  So do all that math and it comes out to one package of crackers is 0.40, And one homemade equivalent is 0.28.  You save 12 cents per package and $1.80 for the entire box.  Did you follow?   That small hunk of change adds up, and imagine how much more I could save if I did this sort of thing to all of our snack food?

To make this version more hubby friendly, I pre sliced the block of cheese and sorted it out into separate baggies.  Convenience is a big thing for Dan, so the pre-cut cheese in baggies made this more appealing to him and the transition was smoother.  And the verdict....the big guy reluctantly admits that this version "is tastier"!  Zing! I win.

Next week I will continue my slow overhaul of snacky foods with homemade granola bars (I am for real making these ones!), so check back later for that.  But now, the real point of this post.

 Because I want us to be more responsible about our eating and snacking, I decided it was time to organize our recipes.  Up until now, they've had no organization.  Some are in our heads, others on the ipad, others on pinterest, and still more in cookbooks and on recipe cards.  It is far past time for all of them to come together in one nice, organized, and preferably stylish place.  So voila, here is what I came up with.


 An old binder

+ some scrapbook paper

+ some scrapbook vintage-y stickers I had lying around

+ some handy dividers from another notebook

+ post it note labels all cut up and fit on there.

+ recipe pages of course (i designed in word publisher with a picture of vintage notebook paper & downloaded font from Fontex.org)








= a spectacular solution to our scattered, unorganized, recipe problem

Well folks, that's all for now!  Hope you enjoyed.