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.
A pie maker is a kitchen appliance I had heard about years ago (I think I may of even brought my brother in law one for Christmas nearly 20 years ago) I had never brought one as Mr StitchNSew always just made pies at home or got the frozen ones in the shops. I didn’t want another kitchen appliance that wouldn’t get used so that is why I never got one. I was talking to a work colleague who offered to lend us hers whilst I was on holidays in September.
The pie maker comes with a recipe book but I decided to look online as well. I didn’t know but there seems to be an entire online Facebook community addicted to pie makers! One thing I quickly learnt is that a pie maker isn’t just for meat pies. You can deserts, cakes and other savoury food in them. Basically if you can cook it in an oven or in a small pan you can cook it in a pie maker. Mr StitchNSew played around with making pies but I tried other receipes. The first was eggs. They were really easy to do only taking a couple of minutes. The next item I tried was scotch eggs. If you’re not familiar with them its a boiled egg wrapped in raw mince then rolled in breadcrumbs. You normally cooked them in a frying pan or the oven. I never make these. Again these only took minutes in the pie maker. I was pretty happy with them and they tasted delicious.
After trying it out we’ve decided to get one. As with many things 2020 is not the time to buy one as they are all out of stock at the shops (it seems many people are getting into pie makers this year with all the extra time at home) We have waited this long without one it won’t hurt us to be without one until the shops get them in again. Knowing that you can make more than just pies in them is a big draw card for us. Also Mr StitchNSew has admitted now he isn’t able to do the day long pie making that he used to do as well. The pie maker is easier and less bending for him as it’s on the bench top and not in the oven. It was good to try the appliance out before just going and purchasing one.
Some things jump my blogging queue as I can’t wait to talk about them and these 2 books fall into that category.
Waste Not and Waste Not Everyday are by Erin Rhoads aka The Rogue Ginger. Full honesty I had never actually heard of Erin until I saw these books advertised in an email from a book shop last month. I’m so glad I decided to read that email and purchase these books. Both books I couldn’t put down once I started reading them. As the names suggest the books are about reducing your waste both at home, work and when you are out.
Waste Not was the first book Erin wrote. Sometimes you read a book or see a program on to tv about the impact your waste is having on the environment and the way the story teller gets their message across to you is by making you feel guilty about what you are currently doing. This book is the opposite. Erin makes it clear don’t ever feel guilty about things you have done in the past, if you can’t do everything the books says or if you do make changes that from time to time you can’t follow those practices for whatever reason. Her big message is just try to do what you can when you can.
The book explains why it is important for people to reduce their waste. Some reasons you might already know, others you may not have thought of before. The book then goes through small changes you can make such as swapping out different plastic items for more sustainable options. A lot of what is in the book and Erin mentions its herself is going back to living more like the way our grandparents lived. Shifting our mindset away from using disposable items all the time and using more reusable and recyclable items. Trying to fix items before throwing them out, thinking before purchasing. It is very much the simple living, frugal living even minimalism concept. The book is full of information on where to find sustainable items and recipes on how to make things at home such as cleaning and beauty products. Although I have been lapsed with my simple living lifestyle in recent years I thought I knew a lot but this book has opened my eyes up even more to ideas to try including wanting to make my own deodorant which isn’t hard.
Waste Not Everyday is like a mini version of its older sibling. It has 365 ideas to try to reduce your waste. Most of it is covered in the main book but this is like bite size grabs. It isn’t a waste to read and I am glad I got it. There are some recipes that weren’t in the main book. Erin emphasises that you can show others by your actions ways to reduce your waste but you shouldn’t force it upon them. It is like anything someone won’t change their ways unless they want to. This book could be a nice little gift you could give someone to hopefully spark their interest in reducing their waste. Both books are really easy to read but this one you could easily just read a couple of ideas at a time. Digest what it says, think about ways you could incorporate things into your life and go back to read more when you are ready.
We are living in unprecedented times at the moment. Some suggestions in the books you can’t do at the moment due to Covid. Coffee vendors won’t accept reusable coffee cups at the moment for example. It is one of those times Erin mentions don’t feel bad if you can’t do it right now. I think now is the perfect time to read these books. Maybe you can try some of the recipes in the books to make products at home to save going to the shops. Look at what you are putting in your rubbish bin, it is extra stuff due to Covid such as coffee cups or plastic straws or are these things you normally throw away that you could make changes to move away from. We will get back to normal life after all this, what would you like to include in your new normal?
I’m putting my hand up and saying I’m embarrassed at how much I have thrown out around our move and I still have stuff to go. In previous posts I have mentioned how much I have sold or given away but sadly there has been a lot gone to landfill. I am also struggling with wanting to move away from some disposable plastics but having OCD issues. I haven’t figured out how I am going to stop taking my sandwich to work in a zip lock bag but eat it without physically touching the bread as I don’t touch my food directly if I’m not at home. Unfortunately I can’t stop eating sandwiches so that isn’t an option. There are a few other OCD issues I’m trying to find a work around for. Both books have been thought provoking. I have ideas ticking away in my head now. Reading the books I’d put them down to google an idea I just read. I discovered a bulk goods store which is accessible by public transport from near my house which I didn’t even know existed. Post Covid I would like to go visit it. This morning on Ravelry I found a pattern for a dusting brush head after last Sunday buying Mr StitchNSew a dusting wand similar to what he saw on tv but this one only had disposable heads. Some changes are easy to make whilst other changes are harder but I’m going to try because that is all I can do.
Each person has their own concept or belief of what minimalism means and what it consists of to live a minimalist lifestyle. To be honest when I first heard about it I automatically had the stereotypical image that a “Minimalist Lifestyle” = selling all your possessions and living in tiny house that is kept like it is a showroom for a lifestyle magazine with nothing out of place, that is not my kind of home. Investigating more into it the way I understand it now (and this is just my grasp of the concept) it is about living your life with less stuff and borders along the same concepts of Simply Living where you make use more of things you already have without going out to the shops and continuing to buy more. We are all guilty of owning more stuff than we actually need, often you don’t even realise it. First world problem. I’ll be honest if wasn’t for our move and the need to pack everything in boxes I wouldn’t have had a clue of the amount of stuff around us. I certainly never paid attention to things we used and what we didn’t. I used to be pretty frugal but my simple living ways have lapsed a little in recent years.
Can you be a minimalist and still be a crafter?
I have pondered this idea. Crafters have a stash (insert your preferred craft here) You always have supplies and tools for whichever craft/s you part take in. How many tools or supplies you need on hand is up to you. I know personally I have more than I actually need and that is after I purged heaps. So it is possible to be a minimalist crafter? I think yes but you would have to show a little discipline. You would have to decide on a limit to how big you want your stash of supplies and tools to be and try then to maintain that level so it doesn’t get out of control. Some people could be a minimalist crafter. Certainly knowing all the supplies you have on hand would be more cost effective as you wouldn’t be buying duplicates of supplies you know you have “somewhere” but you can’t locate when you need them so you purchase more.
I know the saying is “a leopard cannot change its spots” but I’m flirting with the idea of a minimalist lifestyle when we move to the new place. I know a new building won’t instantly mean old habits are forgotten but it is a fresh chance to try things. Clutter stresses me out. Too much stuff around me stresses me out. My brain just thinks of it as clutter even if it is useful clutter. I want to have less things around me in every room not just in terms of craft. Less things around gives visual clarity which I like. Less stuff means less to clean, although Mr StitchNSew does most of the cleaning. Less stuff means less options to choose from (I do get overwhelmed with too many options) With less things in cupboards or on shelves it means you can put things away easily without playing a juggling act or having things fall on you as you try and stuff it in. I will be honest unless I can put something away easily in one go than I don’t put it away and it will sit on a bench/table/chair creating another pile which needs to be sorted out at some point. I need to find a better way to handle my stuff and that better way might just be to have less stuff in the first place.
What We Actually Use In Pantry
At the moment our place is about 2/3 packed up. We are not down to just the essentials yet but we are not far off it. It has really shown what little we actually use all the time as most of our stuff got packed early January. After I culled the dry goods pantry I noticed really it was to only about half a dozen storage ingredients plus breakfast stuff that we used regularly. The only packed item we have missed is the carving fork for a roast dinner so we used a regular fork. For crafting I have come up with substitutes for cutting out things like using old fashion scissors instead of rotary cutter. I’m not to get rid of the carving fork or rotary cutter but they are examples of how you can be resourceful and use other things when in a situation of not having the right “tool or gadget” to perform a task. It will be interesting when we unpack to remember what we actually have and to rethink if we actually need it or not. The minimalist concept is very appealing.
Both me and Mr StitchNSew have mobility issues. If we have wet spills in our house or need to soak up on the ground it is actually easier for us to do it with our feet instead of bending over. We use what we call “Mop Up Towels” which are towels we have in linen closet just for this purpose.
I have made them before but I forgot to show them on here. I take a towel, cut it in half and normally overlock (serge) the raw edge. Really simple to do but useful for us. Our fridge leaks at times so recently I needed to make more. Normally I buy bath towels for about $10 and get 2 mop up ones from that. I was planning on going to the shops when I remembered I had a couple of kids beach towels I brought to make into a gift but never did that I was going to send to the op shop, I think I got them on special for about $5 each last year. I pulled them of the bag and cut them up getting 4 mop up towels.
Instead of overlocking the raw edges I used bias binding. Just prior to making these I had done a big clean up of my fabric scraps and found a heap of leftover binding. The strips were just enough length to cover the towels. I stitched them on by machine and enclosed the 2 ends of each strip by hand sewing so nothing would fray in the wash.
These aren’t fancy but they are practical. I am proud of these as I have saved money by using something I had in my house plus I got to use up binding scraps decluttering them from my stash. Practicality, decluttering and saving money = winning all round
I make no apologies some of my sewing is ugly, I cut corners and I don’t follow the rules.
After the past 2 summers I vowed I would dust make covers for 2 pedestal fans that I own to protect them in the winter months. This morning when I was doing a bit of a clean up in my fabric stash I came across a piece of fabric that I picked up at my local op shop (charity shop) a few years ago. I never find fabric at this shop so when I found this I brought it just because it was there. At the time I thought maybe I would make sewing machine covers with it, I washed it and there it sat. I never actually measured how long the piece was I’m guessing 2.5m. The fabric is a thick drill or upholstery cotton.
Ok time for ugly rule breaking sewing. I literally folded this fabric in half and cut it with pinking shears to get the pieces for the 2 bags. I folded the fabric selvage to selvage (leaving the selvages on) Using the overlocker I stitched along one short end for a top seam and down the side for the side seam. Whilst the fabric was still flat I went around the edge with the overlocker to finish the edging. You can actually see where the selvages are marked with the colours used in the fabric. Ironically it has kind of pattern matched around the seam. Sewing was made easier with the fabric being heavy as you could just hold it together without pins and feed it through the overlocker.
This project was all about practicality not style or technique. My main aim was to cover the blade sections of the fans as you can’t dust these easily. The fabric half covers the base but the base is easy to wipe over before use. It was a quick project. I could have spent a lot of time doing precise measurements and straight edges all the way around but to be perfectly honest had I done this with this project the fabric would still be sitting in my spare room and my fans would still be naked collecting dust. Spend lots of time and effort on special projects and remember it is ok just to run a few seams through an overlocker to construct projects that you don’t give a second thought to once their done.
Recently I’ve had to purchase new pillow and mattress protectors as my washing machine destroyed the linings of the old ones I had. Each time I washed them it would rip more of it off until finally it did it so much you couldn’t use them anymore. The new set of manchester I have brought have an even thinner lining to the previous lot which I know my machine will kill. The lining of them in paper like almost like trace and toile just a little thicker. It says to wash on a gentle cycle but I know my washing machine will still agitate them too much. My solution was to make a giant laundry bag like what you wash your bras in and wash the items in that.
Originally I was trying to find a mesh fabric but I couldn’t find anything suitable in the size that I needed. In the end of year Lincraft sale I stumbled across this polyknit fabric which is similar to a store brought lingerie bag that I have. The fabric was half price so I think cost maximum $5/m, I purchased 2m of it and the longest zipper I could find which was 55cm. To make the bag I simply folded the fabric in half and cut it to have 2 pieces of 1m x width of fabric. I overlocked each of the cut ends which were the long ends. I installed the zipper along on the selvage ends which was the shorter ends and then stitched around the remaining 3 sides to form the bag.
I wanted the bag as large as possible so that the item/s in it could move around within the bag and wash as normal. I can easily fit 4 pillows protectors in this or 1 queen size mattress protector. It will also be useful for other things such as fabric which can shred in the machine. The knit fabric is lightweight so will easily dry fast hung over my clothes airer. I’m really glad I stumbled across this fabric it is perfect. Now I can get many years of use from my new manchester.
I have been making another batch of kitchen wipes for myself for a very long time. The ones I currently had were cut up old tea towels with raw edges so each time they were washed they frayed like made and became tangled with each other.
Recently going through my stash I came across some offcuts from when I made various burbcloths as gifts. I cut the towelling down into squares the various sizes that I needed (not pictured are 2 larger ones to cover animal food bowls) I then overlocked (serged) around the edges. I didn’t bother neating up the edges just cutting the tails. I only needed to do the raw edges as some were already bound as part of the towels construction. A very quick and simple project. I keep these in basket on my kitchen counter to grab whenever I have quick spills such a drops of milk on the counter, food splashes on the stove or floor. I have a used container which I place soiled ones in then just wash them with my tea towels. Using cloths like these have reduced the amount of paper towels I go through. You don’t need to use new towelling or tea towels you can recycle old ones for the project. If you want more the size of traditional paper towels just cut your squares larger.
You wouldn’t think you would learn anything from just overlocking squares but I did use this as learning project. After going through too thick of a project earlier this year and killing my overlocker I was very cautious overlocking over the bound edges. On this project I learnt how to control the speed of my overlocker with the foot pressure. You can overlocker very slow with just light pressure. When you are trying to get a thickish item under the presser foot which towels are you can guide it in. This was a useful project in more ways than one.
I was feeling like some mindless crochet this week so I whipped up another dishcloth. This is the same pattern that I did last weekend which really wasn’t a pattern just some playing around I did. I think I chained about 15 stitches then just did rows of trebles until it looked squareish. I then changed colours and did 3 rounds of trebles as a border before the final edge in crab stitch. This is my new favourite pattern due to how simple it is but how effective it looks. I’ll be using this as a dishcloth but something like this would make a great facecloth (think easy Christmas gifts) or an easy thing to make in batches for events like mother’s day stalls at schools or fetes. Don’t just think ladies, make it in more masculine colours and it’s an easy father’s day gift. As it is 100% cotton yarn it won’t scratch metal surfaces so can be used on cars and appliances.
Cloth pads may not be for everyone and I respect your decision if you don’t like them but they are something I have been wanting to try for a while. Last weekend I made my first batch. I knew that there were some people making and using them but I had no idea of that there was an entire community of online people making, selling and even doing swaps of them.
I joined a Facebook group which is focused on making them. It is really friendly group who are a super supportive of new comers and answer every queen you have imaginable. They have a file section which has heaps of useful patterns, links and general information. If you Google cloth pads you will also find heaps of websites and patterns.
Constructing a pad isn’t dissimilar to making a quilt in the fact you have 3 sections and each section has a function. I found this website very useful on what to use for each layer but to sum up a pad has a Topper – This is the outer layer closet to the skin so you want soft comfortable fabric Core – This is your absorbent layer and does all the work so you want absorbent fabric which you stack in layers Backer – This layer faces out against your underwear so you want fabric that is water repellent if preferred fabric that won’t shift around
When I made these I had no idea if I would even like them or not. I didn’t want to go out and purchase special absorbent and waterproof fabric if I didn’t know if I would even like the feel of them so for my first ones I raided my linen closet and my fabric stash used what I had on hand to try them out. I used this free tutorial by Blue Dinosaur. For my outer layer I used some fabric that I had used before in other projects and just happened to be sitting my fabric basic. For my backing I used some scrap polar fleece fabric. I tested it to see if it was water repellant by doing water droplet test (if you pour water on it and the water beads on top it repels water)
For my cores I cut up some old face washers that had seen better days. Each pad has a core of 3 layers. On the smaller ones I got 3 layers from one face cloth per pad. For the longer ones I had to use separate face cloths.
I have tried these out this week and I’m really happy with them. I’ll admit to only using them at home as I was nervous as to how they would go. The smaller ones which I wasn’t sure would even fit were comfortable however I’m thinking I prefer longer. That’s the great thing about cloth pads is that you can make them to any length or shape you want depending on what you like and what size your body is. Sewing wise from all reports I hear the first ones you make always turn out the worse as you have no idea what you’re doing which is certainly the case with these. I know I haven’t sewn my core in correctly so there is a chance the core may fold inside them once I wash them but that’s ok they will still be usable. If you’re wanting to make these I urge you to have a go at them as they are pretty simple to make. Watch a few YouTube videos, view some tutorials, download a free pattern and grab some supplies you have around your house. To care for them they don’t take as much work as you would imagine – rinse them out, soak them for a few days then machine wash and line dry.