Worm Farm Jan 23

It has been just a little over a month or so since the worms moved in so I thought it was time for an update.

1st feed – In hindsight food not cut up small enough

Ok so I will be perfectly honest and say we are complete novices when it comes to worms. Worm farms are easy to maintain once they are established. Prior to getting the worms we read all about how to keep them long term but getting to the “long term” stage we were nervous. We waited a week as directed before we feed them, they could have gone longer than a week before the first feed but we were eager to feed them. We only gave them a small amount of potato peelings for their first feed which we cut up smallish.

We weren’t sure after the first feed how often we should be feeding them and how much. Over the next few weeks we put small amounts of kitchen scraps (veggie peelings, strawberry tops, crushed eggshells) a few flowers and a teabag in every few days. You can actually kill the worms by overfeeding them. Our big worry was that we would accidently kill them, I don’t think we did but in hindsight perhaps we did put in too much food too often.

New tray

At about 3 weeks we were worried that the food wasn’t getting eaten / breaking down as we didn’t know how long it would actually take to breakdown. We had a couple of worms escape, unfortunately we didn’t find them in time and they were dead on the balcony. On the underside of the lid we saw condensation forming and kept finding worms there. We were worried they were all trying to escape due to the conditions being wrong in the worm farm or lack of ventilation. This was the week between Christmas and New Year that everything was closed so we couldn’t email Compost Revolution to ask. We panicked and swapped the trays around, normally you don’t swap the trays for about 6 months until they are all full of castings. We put shredded paper in new tray, some of the food and moved the worm blanket. After one month we got an email from Compost Revolution asking how things were going and some tips on common problems, I think it was an automated generated email. Unfortunately the concerns we had weren’t in the frequently asked issues so Womble emailed them, luckily someone was working and emailed him back pretty quickly.

It is common for some worms to venture out and escape, it is just their exploring nature so you do get some causalities. It is only when they start leaving in large numbers that you have an issue with your farm. Worms are attracted to the condensation which is why they were probably on the underside of the lid, some say it is a sign of rain if they are on the lid. At first we were flicking them back into the farm but now we leave them, we don’t want to stress them out. If there is too much condensation, you can leave the lid open a little for about a week. You need a moist environment but not too wet.

The settling in time for worms can take from a few weeks to a few months. At the start worms should have a mostly carbon based diet, strips of wet newspaper is a particular favourite, so we put some in. It is best to chop up food scraps really small (worms have small mouths) or to even blend them up and only give them small amounts until they have really settled in. If you have too many scraps you can freezer them which will also helps break the fibres in the food down. We had actually started freezing our scraps as we have a lot at the moment with summer salads, on Boxing Day I even took over a paper bag full of scraps for my sister’s compost heap during our Christmas catch up. Come winter we can defrost the scraps and add them to the farm then in batches. Crushed eggshells is an excellent source of grit which the worms need to help them digest food. We have set aside a container to put crushed up eggshells in, we are drying them out first and then crushing them. This past weekend we even blended up some of the scraps which had been frozen and gave it to them. We noticed last weekend that it looks like some sort of plant is starting to sprout as we saw seedlings, we think it was the uneaten potato peelings. I don’t think they will last, we have been shifting around some of the soil to help aerate it so that has disturbed them I hope.

Original tray

As suspected we should not have swapped the trays when we did. Really you should only start with one tray on your farm and then add on the second tray when it was full. The trays are designed to be rotated and not a high rise apartment block for worms. It is best that we leave it now since we have already done it. We have gone and removed the 3rd try from the farm, we will add that back on later in the year when we need it.

One of the by products of a worm farm is worm tea. It can take months for the liquid to occur. The important thing is that your worm farm is moist but not dripping wet. To keep it moist you can pour old tea or water over it if it looks like it is drying out. Our farm is moist but not wet. We did pour some water through it this past weekend.

Since we got them it has made us even more conscious of the waste that we have. We are noticing how much we are throwing in the bin. After putting one whole teabag in the farm we discovered our teabags aren’t compostable so from now on we will cut them open and empty them into the farm. After we use up our current teabags we are going to switch to loose leaf tea and use a teaball which I picked up in the Boxing Day sales instead.

I never thought I would worry or stress over a worm. I even found myself saying “I love you” as I walked past. I have to stop myself from playing with them, I’m resisting the urge to pull back the worm blanket each day and say “Peekaboo!”

Lessons Learnt From Our First 4 Weeks

  • Torn up wet paper is a good starter food
  • Don’t feed them too much too soon
  • Cut food up very small or blend it
  • Don’t freak out if one or two get away
  • Worm tea takes awhile to form
  • Leave them alone!

Overall our worms are ok. It will take time for them to settle, they need to get used to us, we need to get used to them. It is a learning curve for all of us. The natural temptation or urge is to want to feed everything to them at the start. They are these amazing little munchers that can reduce our landfill waste but it just takes time for them to settle in.



Book – A Family Guide To Waste-Free Living

Over the last month or so I borrowed numerous books from the library, some of which I will share on here if I found them particularly interesting. The last book I read is actually the first I’m going to share.

A Family Guide To Waste-Free Living by Lauren & Oberon Carter is a book written by an Australian couple and as the name suggests is about living waste-free or low waste when you have a family. I will be perfectly honest and say this book was never on my radar when I went to the library, I went looking for other books which I knew were available and stumbled upon this when the cover caught my attention. As a general rule I shy away from anything that mentions the word “family or mum” I don’t associate our situation (couple, no children) with those terms. If a sewing pattern mentions “mum or mumma” it puts me right off it, I don’t even look at blogs that reference that. This book isn’t just for “families” anyone can take a lot away from this book.

This book is broken into 6 chapters

  • The Basics
  • Food
  • Packaging
  • Around The House
  • Celebrate and Venture Outside
  • Change

The book starts with an introduction chapter into waste is, how you can work out the types of waste and quantities you are producing and before you classify an item as waste consider is there something else you could be doing with it such as reuse or recycle it. It acknowledges that you will never be 100% zero waste but instead aim for as low waste as possible. It discusses the idea that waste free living may incur additional expenses in some instances, but you will be saving in other areas so it kind of all balances out. You know your own budget, you don’t need to do every idea within the book just do what you can within your budget. I think that is very important that the book addresses the financial costs as it is something that we all do consider particularly in the current situation with the costs of living increasing worldwide. The subsequent chapters address how you can minimise your waste around the house both inside and outside, when your away from home and during events such as parties or holidays. The last chapter is about how you can incorporate waste-free living outside your home when you are with others in the community. Ways to have conversations with others so that waste-free living can be considered a normal part of everyday life and not considered to be “different” or a “thing” it just living.

The book actually mentions that a lot of the tips and advice in the book comes from how past generations lived before we had the convivence of supermarkets and shopping malls. Storing food correctly so it lasts, cooking from scratch, using up every bit of food then composting what was left, eating within the season, repairing clothing, making products to be used around the home. The book is full of recipes for food items, cleaning and beauty products. The photos in the book are lovely, they look simple and honest. They create a warm and cozy feeling, a homely feeling.

One issue that is addressed is Legacy Waste. Legacy waste is the waste from items you still have from before you started living waste-free. What do you do with those items when they wear out, loose function or break? Unfortunately, if you can’t reuse or recycle the item legacy waste will result in landfill but don’t feel guilty for that, legacy waste is an opportunity to learn from your past and make different choices for futures purchases or items. Legacy waste is part of the transitioning process to waste-free living.

This book is about living a waste-free life as a family with children. When switching to a waste-free alternatives involving the entire family in the process helps children and all members of family unit understand and adapt to the changes, children might come with ideas you hadn’t thought of. It discusses reusable items that can be used like cloth wipes and nappies (diapers) An area that I will be honest I hadn’t even thought of is how do you live waste-free during illness? It is something that happens to every household. The book discusses on the importance of being prepared in terms of having meals ready in the freezer, buying in bulk so you have items on hand and the importance of maintaining your health to avoid illness. It lists some recipes for some drinks which are comforting when you are sick.

I really enjoyed this book. I was thinking back how the title almost put me off with the word “Family” in it. It has changed my view on reading informative books aimed at families. This book was a gentle read, it wasn’t saying do this, this and this. It is a book full of waste-free ideas or practices that as a family the Carter’s are doing. As I was folding laundry on the balcony looking at our worm farm my brain was ticking. The situation Womble and I are in is unique. We are 2 people independent with disabilities, living on single income, we have no car and are limited to the resources around us. There is no book that covers how to live waste-free in that situation, then it hit me…” Be the book you haven’t read yet!” Take what you have learnt from the different books you have read, try ideas and make the small changes that you can. I sometimes feel like a zero waste or low waste fraudster, I recycle everything that I can but still use 2-6 baby wipes a day because of my OCD. The last chapter in this book mentions leading by example and “you do you” that is exactly what we are doing. We can’t do some of the ideas that different books mention, we don’t have access to the same resources but there is a lot of things we can do. Some things we have already started doing such as the worm farm, there are other changes we are slowly implementing. We can try ideas and figure out what works for us. We can demonstrate you can reduce your waste even if you have a disability or OCD issues or have limited income. Not having access to resources like a farmer’s market or bulk food store doesn’t mean you can’t make choices about what products you buy at the supermarket.

Be the book you haven’t read yet. 

Worm Farm – The Beginning

We are looking at ways to reduce the amount of rubbish we send to landfill. If you are not familiar with the blog my partner and I both have disabilities, don’t drive and live in an apartment block. These factors do impact the ways or amounts we can reduce, reuse and recycle. A worm farm suited our situation, so we decided to get one.

What is a worm farm?
A worm farm is a way of composting but on a smaller scale. Instead of using a large bin or section of the garden to breakdown the contents you put in, you put it in a small contained unit filled with worms. The worms feed off the good bacteria that grows on the decomposing items and produce worm tea (liquid fertiliser) and worm casings that you can use on your garden. 

What can go in a worm farm?

  • Eggshells
  • Tea bags
  • Fruit scraps
  • Veggie scraps
  • Paper
  • Tissues
  • Cotton
  • Hair
  • Bread
  • Vacuum cleaner dust
  • Cooked food
  • Garden waste 

When I was first researching on what you could add in I was surprised by some of the items such as cooked food, vacuum cleaner dust and hair. Once it is established a worm farm can process at least 2kg scraps per week. I initially thought that we wouldn’t have enough to put in it but with all the different items you can add I think we will be ok. You don’t realise how much you are actually sending to landfill, particularly if you have multiple rubbish bins around the house. 

In Australia there are many places that sell worm farms. We did some research and discovered a company in Melbourne Compost Revolution had a program with various local councils across the country offering residents composting products at a reduced price. Our council was involved in the program and we saved about $100 which included free delivery. Thanks to pre-Christmas Saturday postal deliveries it arrived on day when I was home. The worm farm is made in Australia by Maze from recycled materials and is designed for smaller spaces like balconies or patios. It is really great option for multi-storey apartment living.

The farm came in a box weighing 8kg. There was very minimal packaging which shows how much excess packaging is put on items when ordering online. The Compost Revolution site has a lot of useful tutorials which we read and watched prior to it arriving. Assembling the farm took only a minute or 2, the longest wait was soaking the peat block in water for 15 mins before adding it to the trays and tipping the worms in. It takes up no space at all in the corner of the balcony.

After you set up the worm farm you need to wait about a week before you can start adding in small amounts of veggie scraps. You want the worms to settle in, over time you start to increase the quantity and types of items you can add in. We’ve decided to name all 1000 worms “Will Burrows” We are excited by our new pets.


Book – 101 Ways To Go Zero Waste

Borrowing books from my local library is something that I should do more often. My library has an online catalogue that you can view and reserve books ahead of time so that they are ready for you to check out when you get there. I was actually borrowing another book when I looked up zero waste books and came across 101 Ways To Go Zero Waste by Kathryn Kellogg and decided to borrow it as well.

I didn’t read anything up about this book, I had no idea who Kathryn was. When I first opened it and discovered she was American I’ll be honest my first thought was this book isn’t going to be of any use to me. I thought it would be referencing shops or practices that they do in the US. I have Erin Rhoad’s books, Erin is Australian, so I have local books that reference eco-friendly options near me. By reading the name of this book you would think it would be 101 tasks to do to live a “zero waste” lifestyle like swap this item for this item, it isn’t, instead it is 101 concepts or ideas to change your habits or actions therefor making relevant to anyone no matter which country they live in. It is similar to Erin’s book but at the same time different which made it enjoyable to read. Like with Erin’s books Kathryn’s tone isn’t that of a lecture but more of an explanation of the benefits of changing your habits, the book isn’t full of green washing guilt.

In Australia we have always recycled. I can remember collecting aluminum cans when I was a kid for my school who would get money for them. Kerbside recycling where the garbage man would come in special recycling trucks to collect paper and bottles started in the early 90’s. You can recycle a lot more now than you could before in your kerbside bin, different shops take back other items which can’t go in the kerbside collection. You can get cashback per back per item if recycle bottles and cans at special collection points, which is great if you a car to get there but not an option for all. Recycling is really pushed now, which is great that there are more options and more people doing it, but it isn’t the magic solution that is implied to be. That is the biggest message I took away from this book. Recycling is great but we need to think reduce and reuse more with recycling being the last option and not the first.

The nitty gritty. The book has a small introduction section and then is broken into 10 chapters

  1. Change Starts Here – Beginner Steps
  2. Kitchen and Cooking
  3. Bathroom Products and Personal Care
  4. Cleaning
  5. Becoming A Conscious Consumer
  6. Work, School and Out To Eat
  7. Travel and Transportation
  8. Special Events
  9. Zero Waste and Beyond
  10. The Big Picture

Some of the chapters are based on areas of the home whilst others are situations you may encounter. The book addresses how waste can occur in each area or about issues you may not have thought and what ideas you can try to overcome the waste issue. In chapter 9 it even discusses options for burials including an item called a reef ball where your ashes are mixed with concrete then placed in the ocean to build a habitat for fish. I had never heard of that idea but it is fascinating, it is available in Australia I have since discovered.

Each of the 101 ideas are on a separate page so you can read them in bite size chunks. Some ideas are only a page long whilst others are like mini chapters themselves for example 89. Gifts Ideas is 9 pages long. It is really easy to read and once you start you want to keep reading. I read this in just over a day in between doing a heap of chores around the home. I’d pick it up and read a couple of ideas and then think about them as I was doing my chores. 30 mins before I needed to start dinner so I sat and read instead of watching tv or playing on my phone. As the book is more ideas or concepts based it got your brain thinking of how you could incorporate that into your life.

Prior to reading this I thought zero waste living was putting as little in your rubbish bin as possible. I now understand it is more a lifestyle which intertwines with minimalism, sustainability and even to a point frugalism. It is about being more conscious of the decisions you make. The book acknowledges that you will never be 100% zero waste, it is impossible. It encourages you to be more mindful in your actions and habits. Instead of looking at dealing with waste product at the end, how do you prevent it from happening at the start. Look at how you consume products from big things to little things.

Before I had even finished the book I knew I wanted a copy for our home so I ordered a copy of it from my local bookshop. It is a book that I want to reference back to in the future it. There is a lot of information in it. Reading it the first time I had ideas pop into my head of changes I could make. I have started to change things. Over the weekend instead of tossing out the serviettes that came with our takeaway dinner I kept them aside to use if we need a paper towel. We don’t use a lot of single use paper towels these days as we use reusable ones but on the rare occasion that we do, we can grab a servette. I accidently broke my phone charger (it got sucked up in the vacuum cleaner) My phone has had a cracked screen for months so my first thought was ok time to get a new phone but by the time I reached the shops I’d thought about it and only purchased a new charger. The crack isn’t impacting my phone, it is still very functional, so I only purchased the item I really needed instead of replacing the entire thing.

I’m not pretending to be perfect, I still have a lot of single use products in my life that I am trying to find solutions for. This book is another tool to help me.


New Washing Machine

Did I ever think I would blog about getting a new washing machine? Are you kidding me! Who would blog about that? Getting a new washing machine isn’t just a simple task and here is why.

The weekend before last our washing machine started to play up. I noticed it when a load that would normally take about an hour to wash took nearly 3. I wasn’t paying attention to the time until it had been on for nearly 2 hours. I was washing a king size quilt cover and it was when the machine went off balance during the rinse cycle a couple of times I realised it was taking too long. The sensor wasn’t picking up the load was done and it would start another rinse cycle. I cut the power to it in the end. I tried the machine the next day and the same thing happened. I had suspected we would need a new machine at some point. Earlier this year I had a repairman come out to service it and replace one of the hoses. I asked him how long washing machines last these days, I didn’t expect them to be like the old machines which would last over 20 years. He said about 10 years and advised me not to spend anymore money repairing this one. Our machine was 11 years old, I didn’t want a situation where the machine broke when it was half full of water. With the sensor failing it was time to replace it.

I have had new washing machines before, this is number 4 for me. My first 2 machines I got rid off because they were too small or I wasn’t happy with how they were washing; the clothes just weren’t clean. I have always purchased washing machines without any thought. When we lived in our old place the lack of thought process came back to bite me as I ended up with a machine that was too big for our laundry. The dimensions of the machine itself fitted but I couldn’t open the lid up fully as we had a dryer attached to the side wall which came out past the top of the machine. I’d hold the lid up with one hand and handle the laundry with the other. When not in use I would have the lid wedged open with plastic container for air flow. I did this for years. I was excited at the new place to finally open the lid.

When it came to deciding on a new machine this time I paid attention. Our laundry is tiny, it has a sink, dryer (which we have never used) and small space for a machine. Our previous machine was 10kg capacity. For 2 people it might sound big but I wash queen and king bed size linen. I think a king is about 210cm x 210cm. At times I wash metres and metres of fabric. I need a machine that can handle that. We can only have top loader machines; front end loaders are too difficult for us to get items easily in and out of as bending low and forward is not our friend. 
The important things in the new machine were

  • Physical size of machine
  • Water temperature 
  • Load capacity
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water efficiency
  • Price  

Unfortunately, we didn’t have the dimensions of our machine to see how big it was. We tried measuring it but we didn’t know how accurate we were. 

I went online to the Bing Lee website. Bing Lee is a chain of electrical stores which have been operational since 1957. The foundation store, headquarters and warehouse are relatively close to our place. We’ve brought lots of stuff from them over the years. On their website I was able to look at a range of machines, I was surprised that some machines don’t have the option of washing with cold water. We were able to compare 3 machines and could see their features directly side by side. Out of all the machines it was only the LG brand which had both the heights of the machine with the lid closed and opened. That was important to us after experiencing for years what it is like if you don’t take that into consideration.

In the end we decided on a 9kg machine. It is 1kg smaller but that shouldn’t make that much difference. It was the same energy rating as the 10kg and 14kg. Admittedly the water efficacy wasn’t as high as the 10kg however we knew it was going to fit. Our biggest issue was space. We couldn’t afford for it not to fit. I do all the washing and I’m pretty good in terms of only washing when there is enough for a full load. One feature of the LG machines is they sense the weight that is put in them and adjust the water accordingly. Unless you choose to manually change the water capacity and put it at full setting it won’t fill the machine up to capacity so there are ways to save on water. I was able to ring the warehouse and purchase the machine over the phone. I don’t know what the shops are like now but for a long time it was hard to get big electrical items due to Covid and lockdowns. By contacting the warehouse directly, I knew if there was stock available, they would have it. Delivery was only $59 which included the removal of the old machine as well as all the packaging. That is great service for anyone but for someone with mobility issues that is perfect. I arranged delivery for the Saturday when I was home, by 8am my machine had been delivered, installed and the first load on.

For future reference (not that it will be any time soon) the dimensions of the machine are
Width – 632mm
Height – 1020mm
Lid Open – 1390mm
There is some room at the sides and above with the lid open so we could have gone a bit slightly wider and taller but never mind I’m very happy with the one we got. It is much quieter than the last one, I guess things change in 10 years.

Next time you need to buy a washing machine take the time to do some research and think about it. If you live in an apartment or rental property it is really important to think about the size or potential size of your laundry. Think about the existing items in your laundry and how your machine will fit in with those. Don’t forget the lid, it adds height to the machine. Consider how much it going to cost to run your machine in terms of power and water. Can you use cold water, or will you be forced to only wash in hot? What impact will that have on your power bills not to mention the items you are washing?

Buying a washing machine wasn’t as simple as I thought.


Our Balcony

I have mentioned our balcony on here a couple of times before in different posts. I was planning on starting regular posts about our balcony and the garden we have created as it has grown from 3 plants when we first moved into now having a variety of plants and colour. Mr StitchNSew aka Womble is the gardener in our house but I’m starting to take more of an interest about what happens out there. I am clueless about plants and how to take care of them, I thought you just tipped water over them and that was it they grow. By complete chance Womble decided he wanted to start a blog about our garden, so I helped him set up Womble’s Balcony Garden. Even though I only have to look out the window to see it all I’m enjoying reading his posts as he has a natural talent for writing. I have decided I’m still going to start writing regular posts about our balcony adventures, our topics might crossover, but our writing styles are different.

The balcony is north facing and is very functional. The design mimics our apartment in the form of a rectangle. It is covered on top by the floor above and has walls at either end. The size is roughly about 5m x 2m. Although it is a relatively small space the rectangle design allows you to make use of the space effectively as there are no odd angles or wasted space. I think of it is a small space but compared to other balconies in our development it is on the large side. Last week Sydney broke record for wettest year ever but we do get a nice amount of sun on the balcony when it isn’t cloudy or raining. They are building a new development in our street, we are hoping not to lose too much sun from that once it is complete.

With the balcony undercover it gives us a place to dry our clothes outside on a clothes airer. The airer is low profile and you can’t see it above our balcony railing. The airer is a big money saver as we don’t need to put things in the dryer, in fact I have never plugged in the dryer which came installed in our laundry. Having the clothes airer outside saves precious space inside the apartment. There are only a few longer items and dresses which don’t get hung on the airer, I have a spot inside for those on an over the door airer. All the sheets, towels, even lengths of fabric are dried outside. It does take a few days for things to dry and you do have to plan your washing but we have enough clothing and linen that we can afford the time. Some items do dry in a day if it is windy or it is hot but most things take a few days or more. I’m guilty of not checking if things are dry and just leaving them out for the normal week but I really shouldn’t so to prolong the life of our items in terms of exposure to light and heat.

In 2020 I wrote when we first got a couple of chairs for the balcony, we have since gotten a 3rd chair. We couldn’t get the same style as the chairs we had, it is heavier and therefor is harder to move about. I’ll admit it isn’t as comfortable as the other chairs either, I plan on making cushions to solve this problem. The chair is still functional at the moment for when we do have to use it.

In Storage Solutions for Apartments, I mentioned the Ikea cupboard we have at one end. The cupboard is part of the Kolbjorn range, in July we got an additional storage unit from the range which sits beside it. This time we chose an enclosed cupboard with shelving at the top. I now hang the washing basket off one side of the shelves using a S hook. Even with the mobility issues we both have the unit took no time to put together. The range is waterproof making them idle to use outside or around water. These units are great for balconies as they allow you to store the items you would normally store in a garden shed or garage, again freeing up precious space inside the apartment.

Our table is now covered in pot plants. In the last 16 months we haven’t eaten out there as much as when we first moved in which has allowed the pots to take over. We still use the table when needed as there is a small corner free. I want to start eating out there more as I used to enjoy it.

The other big thing on the balcony is our old BBQ which we turned into a raised garden pot last year. Womble has already written a post on this but I still plan on writing my own post in the future. I say we did it but it was really Womble who did all the work.

When we first moved I spent a lot of time out on the balcony but in the last 12 months or so I haven’t, I am starting to go out there more than just attending to the washing. At the moment my gardening skills only extend to pouring water on plants but I’m interested in learning and doing more. Sustainability and self-sufficiency is important to us both. We’ve grown tomatoes and strawberries. We aren’t herb fans but do have Rosemary. I’d like to look into what other edible plants we can grow. We plan on getting a worm farm so that we can reduce some of our household waste by putting in kitchen scraps and even our shredded paper. The worm tea and castings produced by the farm will be good for our plants too.

I’m looking forward to writing about our balcony adventures.


Destashing For A Cause

Last week I did a bit of a destash of my crafting supplies and I have to say it actually felt good.

I mentioned in my Craft Spaces post that I wanted to go through all my craft fabrics (non dressmaking fabrics) as I hadn’t done that since the move. Early last year I actually did go through all those fabrics and put them in small tubs. As I went through each piece I took out any that I wouldn’t use for (gifts, wildlife pouches, general items) For over 18 months the 4 garbage bags of fabrics I pulled out to give away had been migrating around my spare room. I kept meaning to give them away but never got around to it. Some bags were in a wardrobe the rest I shifted around whenever I wanted to get something. Each time I moved a bag the plastic would rip a little and they became a nuisance.

Last month I went through all the bags again. Some fabrics I decided to keep as I had changed my mind. I had a rough template of the width of a wildlife pouch so fabrics big enough for that I put aside. I put the fabrics to go in one large bag and offered them to my local Boomerang Bags group. Boomerang Bags is a community group who make and sell reusable bags from fabrics donated to them. Their aim is to reduce the amount of single use plastic bags around the world. After this photo had been taken I put further items in the bag as I thought of them. Last week the group leader came to collect them. The bag was so heavy that part of it ripped when I was about to take it down to her car. The local group meets near me and when Covid cases settle a bit in Sydney I hope to attend one of their monthly sewing bees.

Earlier this year the NSW regional city of Lismore was hit by record floods. Sadly a number of people lost their lives. People in Lismore and the surrounding areas lost everything as homes had water up to the roof. It was devastating to watch the news coverage. A monetary donation drive was organised at the time to help those effected. Last month a different type of donation drive was created this time focused on crafters who lost their craft stashes. If you craft you know how important it is for your mental health. It relaxes you, it brings happiness, allows your mind to focus on something else. Let’s be honest craft items aren’t cheap. If you have all the expenses of rebuilding your life from scratch craft items aren’t high on your list with all the other things you need to get. The charity drive was a simple concept – Crafters go through your stash and donate anything useful that you have to help rebuild the stashes of those who lost theirs. A community hub Love For Lismore Heart Space had been set up in Lismore for crafters to gather. Many people are still living in make shift accommodation or damaged homes so this was place for people to go and share in the joy of crafting. All donations were sent to the hub. This was something I knew instantly I wanted to be involved in and I hit my stash.

In my collection pile I put in

  • Knitting needles
  • Row counters
  • Paper patterns
  • Fabrics
  • Pins
  • Thimbles
  • Buttons
  • Ribbons
  • Velcro
  • Yarn

I don’t use straight knitting needles anymore as I now prefer circulars so I had packs of knitting needles unopened. I prefer a certain style of row counters so the 4 ones I didn’t use went in the pile. Yarn I ordered from overseas but know I can’t really wear as it wool went in the pile. Buttons – Instead of just putting in the entire bag I culled earlier this year I went through it and only included sets of buttons. I didn’t want to send them mismatched items, I wanted things they could use. I found Velcro tied up never used. I raided my ribbon stash and sent spools of ribbons. I went through my dressmaking fabrics. I don’t wear stripes or want to sew them (too fiddly matching from what I see) so out they went. I included a large piece of wool knit, again I can’t wear so why keep it. I included some other fabrics I just wasn’t going to use. I went through my patterns for any I knew I could part with.

Mr StitchNSew had to help take my bags to the post office. I put all the items in a box and it weighed 7.5kgs. There was a small amount of room at the top of the box which had I known about I could’ve added more items. The post office worker who served me knows me and helpfully added some packing material to fill in the room. I packed the box so all the breakable items were protected but the added packing fill would also help stop the items shifting in the box. I was happy with the amount I sent. Late last week the organisers put the call out that they had enough donations. My parcel had already by then so I’m glad I posted it at the start of the week. It was good to see so many crafters contribute to it. This was a practical way for us to help.

Decluttering or destashing your craft supplies is much easier when you know they are going to go to a person or group who will appreciate them. You know they aren’t going to get wasted. This may sound a little strange but after I had given away the bag of fabrics and sent off my parcel it was like a weight had lifted from my craft spaces. The spaces felt lighter. I don’t like to think of my craft items as clutter but when I have too many of them I start to feel overwhelmed and it does feel like clutter. I’m never going to be a full minimalist or let’s be honest even be totally organised but I’m enjoying the shift to only having items in my stash that I’m going to use.


Upcycled Gift Tags

Is this an original idea? No. Is it something we maybe need reminding to do? Maybe. Christmas is a wonderful time of year but it is also a time when we all generate a lot of waste unfortunately. Instead of just tossing all those lovely cards and gift bags we receive why not cut them up into pretty tags to use for next year!

Make use of any prints on the front of the gift bag or card such as Merry Christmas or cut out around pictures such presents or snowmen. For gift bags the first thing you need to do is remove the ribbon handles (keep them to use next year too)

Once I cut open my gift bag I ruled up lines on the back. I roughly did them about 2″ x 2.5″ and cut them out. If you have a cutting tool such as guillotine this would be super easy to slice them up but I did mine by hand. Some are a little wonky but that’s ok no one is going to complain! You could cut them into any shape or even use craft cutting machine such as Sizzix Big Shot but it would generate a little more waste around each shape.

Don’t just use the fronts/backs of gift bags. Make use of the folds in the sides of gift bags. Once the bag is cut open you can easily fold the card the other way to make tiny Christmas cards. I again cut them roughly 2″ tall. These would be super cute to add to any gift

This idea isn’t just for Christmas you can use this idea any time you get a card or gift bag. I will confess this isn’t a zero waste project as some parts needed to go in the recycling bin as I cut them out. Some had marks on the reverse side of the cardboard and others were jagged edges from when I cut the bag open along the folds. Compared to just tossing the bag in the bin the waste was minimal. I was just thinking this year I was running low on tags for my presents but now I don’t have to go out and buy more which saves money and I have reduced waste. I’m keeping my cards in an old ice cream container which I will label so I know exactly where they are for next year.

Merry Christmas

Latte Mix

Are you a tea drinker or coffee drinker? For years I was always team tea drinker with the occasional coffee if I was out. I never liked instant coffee.

In 2019 I had a regular coffee catch up with a friend several mornings a week but it started to cost a fortune as Starbucks was our go to place. On my non Starbucks days still wanting a coffee hit I started drinking instant coffee sachets. I had a box of sachets at both home and work and would drink up to 3 a day. Although not as costly as a brought coffee the cost still added up. More importantly I noticed the amount of packaging waste involved. The box they came in could be recycled but the sachet didn’t say it could be recycled but even if it could when you are throwing out 3 a day that soon mounts ups. Another thing of concern was the ingredients in each sachet. Each sachet had about 13 items listed as ingredients! It is only instant coffee why the need for 13 things in it.

Looking online I wanted to find a MOO (Make Our Own) Latte mix. There are heaps of recipes out there but most of the latte recipes involved adding in instant pudding mix to give that creamy texture. I don’t want to be drinking instant pudding I just want a coffee hit. I decided to make up my own mix and this is what I came up with.

Latte Mix makes 1 batch

  • 2 cups milk powder
  • 1/2 cup instant coffee granules
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar

Put all ingredients in a food processor to blitz up. To ensure an even mix I put in 1 cup of milk powder then add in the coffee and icing sugar followed by the remaining cup of milk powder. Blitz until all a fine powder forms.
Use one heaped teaspoon per cup. Place mix in cup and pour over small amount of hot water stirring to dissolve the mix then top up with water to fill the cup.

My version isn’t thick like the regular mixes as it doesn’t contain any ingredients that would make that thick texture but it is nice. Although it contains icing sugar it isn’t sweet. You could increase the amount of coffee granules if you wanted a stronger coffee mix. As a bit of luxury I use Moccona coffee. I buy a large jar when it is on special and it lasts months as you are only using 1/2 cup per batch.

I have been making my own mix for over 12 months now. I make a double batch each time and it lasts for weeks. I have a container of it at home as well as work. I bring my work container home and refill it from my home stash. These days at work I have become lazy and don’t even use a stirrer to dissolve it, I just put it in my keep cup and swish it around until the coffee granules dissolve before topping it up, this saves having to wash up a stirrer each day (I was using a plastic chop stick) The latte recipe is on our fridge and Mr StitchNSew makes me up a batch whenever he sees my stash is low. 

I no longer have my coffee catch ups and in fact have gone off Starbucks coffee having the rare one now and then. The coffee sachets haven’t completely banished from our house. Mr StitchNSew enjoys the cappuccino sachets but doesn’t have as many as I was having. He did notice in recent weeks that they have reduced the sachets down by 2g per serve but the price still remains the same. He can’t work and is home all day so if he is enjoying it I’m not going to take that away from him. I’m enjoying my coffee mix at work and home when I need a coffee hit.


The Less Waste No Fuss Kitchen

Last year I mentioned I was still struggling with the mindset that I need a treat at times when I was at the shops. With the move last year to the new place and now paying a mortgage I don’t have the discretionary income that I used to have. In the post I mentioned a book that I saw but didn’t buy as I was trying to be good and not waste money on things that I didn’t really need. Being honest I even wrote I didn’t need a book on how to tell me what I was already doing. Well that book was meant to come into my life and through a giveaway by the Rogue Ginger I won a copy of it.

I guess the saying not to judge a book by its cover is true. The book isn’t just saying don’t throw out food. It discusses topics you may not even think to consider such as the carbon footprint different foods have. Choices you can make about the way you store your food. It gives practical ways to use up leftover food items or adapt recipes to use what you have on hand. It discusses ways you can prolong the life of the food that you have and ways to dispose of kitchen waste that you do have. It doesn’t preach to you “This is what you have to do or what you need in your kitchen otherwise your not going to have a sustainable kitchen and waste food” It gives you ideas and opens up and your mind to make you think of things you can try.

I got this book towards the end of last year. I read it at the time and to be honest I need to sit down and read it again. Full confession in recent months I have been known to be wasteful with food at times. Leftovers that should’ve been used up get forgotten or I buy too much of things. I need to read this book and look at what I’m doing. Take stock of what is in the fridge and freezer and start planning meals around that instead of just taking the quick fix option making the quickest thing I can think of making for dinner. Look at the amount that I’m buying or the portion size so food will be fully used up. Learn realistically how long it takes me to use up an item so I don’t buy excess of it which is then spoilt by the time I go to use it.

Often I read a book and pass it on but this book is staying in my collection. I think I treasure it more because it was meant to come into my life so there must be a reason. It must be here to help me and sometimes I need a bit of help.