Blah Blah Blahg

A little of this, a little of that, and a whole lot of blah blah blah....

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How-to Tuesday: Apple Print Tote Bag

I always find myself thinking of apples this time of year. One reason is that I live in Washington--the Apple State. Another reason is that Rosh Hashanah is right around the corner, which means apples & honey!
As I was thinking about crafting ideas and various ways to enjoy Autumn's harvest while maintaining my focus on Sustainable September, I came across this craft idea.
I thought apple prints would be a great way to dress up some of the canvas totes I use and reuse for shopping. It's also a great solution for those less-than-appetizing apples that find their way to the bottom of my fruit pile (that was not my most sustainable confession).
I also have some small canvas totes lying around that I purchased years ago at a craft supply store. A cute apple print and some embellishments would turn these into a lovely Rosh Hashanah gift...
I've also thought about how cute apple prints would be on some of my solid-colored cloth napkins, place-mats, and table cloths--a great way to bring the beauty of the season indoors!

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's Friday! This Moment: Balloon Animal Fun

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Teeny Tiny Taste of Torah

I have enjoyed welcoming Shabbat back into my weekly routine lately. In my absence from this ritual of practice, I had forgotten how much peace and joy observing this gift has brought me in the past. It is said that Shabbat is like an island. I feel this to be true. Whether I am enjoying this time with friends and members of my Jewish community or having a restful time at home, as soon as I light the candles, I feel within me a separation from all of the "weekday stuff" and an opening of my being to receive a time of intentional rest, prayer, and connection with God and with friends.
In my excitement for spending this coming Shabbat with close friends, I decided to go to my favorite Jewish website and do some reading on this week's Torah
portion. In the Hebrew month of Elul, it is customary that Jews start to think about the upcoming holidays. It is nearly Rosh Hashannah (the Jewish New Year) and then Yom Kippur (a day of atonement). It is during these times that we are encouraged to think about the last year, the things we have accomplished, the things we'd like to work toward, and self-improvement.
This week's Parshah, Ki Teitzei talks a lot about Jewish laws. Out of 613 mitzvot (commandments), 74 are mentioned in this portion alone. Although such details usually go over my head, one mitzvah really stood out to me: if you find a nest with a mother bird and her eggs, you may not take the eggs unless you first release the mother. The idea is that it is too painful for any mother to watch her children be harmed. I'm not on the lookout for any unusual breakfast eggs, and I tend to leave nests alone. However, this concept speaks to the importance of having compassion for all creatures.
Furthermore, I thought about the level of compassion one has for him/herself. As the month of Elul progresses, I am thinking more and more of the
importance of having the same level of kindness toward myself that I have toward fellow humans and living things. It is easy to be bound by overwhelming thoughts of self-criticism. Rather than focus on things I feel are mistakes, I am focused this year on having compassion for my shortcomings, gratitude for my successes and an open heart to personal growth.
So, on this week and on every day, may we find the stren
gth to cultivate compassion and empathy for all living beings--and express that same level of kindness toward ourselves.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

How-To Tuesday: Basket Weave Dish Scrubby

{Tune in each Tuesday to see what's being handcrafted & homemade in my Home}

These fabulous yet functional little dish scrubbies are a colorful accent to any kitchen sink.
They are knit out of 100% cotton yarn. In the past I've used Lily Sugar & Cream or Lion Brand Cotton yarns. Both brands produce multiple cloths in this size.

What I really love about this project is the charming simplicity of the basket weave pattern. It is very easy to knit up and is comprised entirely of only two basic stitches: knit & purl.

sample of a basket weave pattern

To knit your own Basket Weave Dish Scrubby, cast on 24 stitches using size 7 straight needles.
Section A: Row 1: K4, P4, K4, P4, K4, P4
Rows 2-4: Repeat Row 1
Section B: Row 5: P4, K4, repeat to end of row
Rows 6-8, Repeat Row 5
Repeat Sections A and B until you reach the desired size & shape. This scrubby has a total of 20 rows, ending on Section A.
Bind off and weave in loose ends.
Your dish scrubby is now ready for use and can be machine washed. I have even put them in a hot wash and they hold together well. Some fading of color may occur with certain yarns.

Monday, August 02, 2010

It's a Lean, Grean, Earth-loving Scene!

My journey toward healthful living has extended from what I put in or on my body to what I bring into my home and kitchen. It has reached from the boundaries of my backyard to the boundaries of the Earth around me.
My interest in going a bit more Green began years ago when I was living in northern Idaho. I moved to Idaho from a suburb outside of Boston where recycling was picked up weekly at the bottom of your driveway.
In my new home, there was no city recycling service. Cans, glass bottles, paper, cardboard, batteries, plastics--it all just went in my trash bin--my 13 gallon, plastic trash bin, which I always lined with a brand new drawstring plastic bag. My home was full of paper towels, paper napkins, plastic bags, disposable kitchenware, and chemical cleaning agents. When those items ran out, no problem--I went to the store and brought home disposable plastic bags full of more!

I was babysitting one afternoon for a
family nearby. Their three children were all raised in cloth diapers, and ate strictly vegan diets comprised substantially by local produce (much of which was picked from their very own yard). On this particular afternoon, I was preparing a snack when a spill occurred and I needed to wipe it up.
"Where do your mommy and daddy keep the paper towels?" I asked the 3-year-old. "What are paper towels?" he responded.
As I looked around, I realized I was standin
I'd like to say I vowed that day to go paperless myself, to wipe my nose only with snot rags made from old bedsheets, to hug a tree, to rescue a manatee, and to save the world all in one summer afternoon. I didn't. I just went home to my disposable lifestyle, washed my hands, and probably dried them with a sizable quantity of paper towels.
A few summers later, now living in Washington, I found myself passing by this * book * every week on the new arrivals shelf of my public library: Sleeping Naked Is Green by Vanessa Farquharson. Every week I picked it up, read the back, read the first few pages, and put it back on the shelf. This went on week after week after week. I don't know what made me reluctant to check it out, the title was intriguing if nothing else. Perhaps I feared and anticipated that I would not be able to merely return it and go back to buying my paper towels in bulk at Costco. So, I finally checked it out and read it cover to cover in two days. Sleeping Naked Is Green is the autobiographical account of Farquharson's own personal challenge: to make one Green change to her lifestyle over the course of 366 days. Her book is witty, poignant, and often-times left me with tears of laughter streaming down my cheeks (which, of course, I blotted away with a reusable handkerchief).

This book did make a profound impact on me. I did not get up after reading it and save a lobster, handcuff myself to a tree in a forest while awaiting the attack of an imminent chainsaw, or even donate the adorable matching napkin holder and paper towel rack I'd purchased 5 years ago to a thrift shop. What I learned and took away from Farquharson's determination and misadventures was that Going Green didn't have to be as extreme as unplugging your refrigerator or building a compost bin in your living room. With Earth Day celebrating its 40th anniversary this past March, I did decide to adopt some new habits.
My kitchen is now--::GASP::--paperless. I use cloth napkins, wash rags and dish towels for all my cooking, eating, and cleaning needs. Cleaning the kitchen, the bathroom, and even doing the laundry have become an adventure in kindergarten science experiments involving white vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide--
and a variety of fun, bleach-free concoctions that go kaBoom! I learned that using less doesn't take more time and it doesn't cost more money. Most of my cloth napkins are from thrift stores, discount stores, or dollar stores. When bathroom towels got shabby, they became useful for wiping up spills or scrubbing sinks and counters.
Small amounts of 100% cotton yarn make perfect little dishcloths. This basket-weave pattern is simple, attractive, and quite functional when it comes to scrubbing caked-on, greasy pots--and never leaves scratches on my stainless steel.

My crafty side got to come out and play, too, as I used my love for knitting and my abundance of cotton yarns to produce dish scrubbers and wash rags in a variety of patterns and sizes
. I try to bring my own reusable tote bags along on shopping trips. I even found some adorable homemade bulk/produce bags at a local organic whole foods store. Food storage these days is less about plastic bags, saran wrap, and tin foil, and more about getting creative with recycled jars, second-hand mason jars and some reusable glass and plastic containers.
I am blessed and lucky to have access to curbside recycling again, and as for the trash bin? It's now a 2 gallon pale lined with one of the many plastic bags I saved from grocery store visits over the years. I collect my kitchen compost in an air-tight container (after an unpleasant fruit-fly event caused by the summer heat and open containers of organic matter on my kitchen counter). I unload it out back in my Lovely Housemate's compost pile when it gets full.

Being Green isn't about making lifelong, radical decisions. It's not about an all or nothing lifestyle--either I do it all the way or don't do it at all. Every little thing I do to live more organically, healthfully, and in-tune with my environment adds a level of mindful beauty to everyday tasks I often plowed through with no awareness at all. Being aware and mindful of my internal and external environment is a gift I am happy to give myself and the world around me.

*Go Green yourself and check out Sleeping Naked Is Green by Vanessa Farquharson at your local library or purchase it used at