Upcycle Tutorial – Environmental Bags

Say No to plastic! That is our new mantra, right?

When we think Green bags, what comes to mind? Those ugly, bland ones in garish colours, with some corporate log stamped all over it, offering fresh promotions to someone other than you. They might be practical, but more often, ugly. Or they get dirty and you can’t erase the marks, no matter what detergent you use.

Furthermore, I am inclined to prefer to drink my own ‘home-grown’, filtered water, rather than tap water, at my workplace, and thus, carry several drinking flasks to work, which becomes unwieldy in a regular handbag. My local, liquor store carry-bags have several interior compartments that are just perfect for holding bottles of wine, or, in my case, stainless steel drink flasks. Normally I carry 2-3 of these water flasks, which clank around noisily as I walk, and get dented or scratched in a normal tote bag.

However, carrying Liquor store carry bags into work each day, gives out the wrong message to my colleagues. “Look at her: she just can’t keep out of the Liquor store!!” I could almost hear it whispered about in the corridors of my workplace, each day. There had to be a better approach, I thought.

I have already shown you how to create a new shopping bag out of old clothes and fabric scraps here in this tutorial, but another solution to going plastic free and reducing plastic waste is to “Upcycle” the ‘green’ bags, by adding a pretty fabric cover which is machine washable. This gives me the chance to use some pretty fabric from my stash and get a stylish tote bag in the process. Here is how I did it:

Step 1

Grab some iron-on batting or interfacing, and a piece of pretty fabric (slightly larger than the bag’s measurements) or two, that is if you want to add a pocket on the outside to hold keys, phone etc etc.

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Step 2

Try out a few combinations until you are happy with the contrast of fabrics and colour schemes. Keep in mind they should complement the colour of the green bag itself.

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Step 3

Cut a piece of interfacing the dimensions of the bag. Now cut the fabric to fit the bag not forgetting to add a 1/4 inch hem allowance on all sides. I find it works better if I iron the hem allowance under, before I sew it. Tacking also helps keep the fabric in place. It will be impossible to sew the complete four sides of the bag, with the machine, as the bag is already assembled. So some hand sewing will be required in those places that your sewing machine foot cannot reach.

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Step 4

If you are attaching a pocket, cut, trim and hem before you sew the fabric to the front and or back of the bag. Iron on the interfacing etc…. you already know how to do this….

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Sewing in progress.

Tip: Use a strong/thick needle for sewing this bag. They make them tough and that will break a #80/90 gauge sewing needle.

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Step 5

Repeat on the back side of the bag. As I said, use a strong/thick needle for sewing this bag. They make them tough and it will break a #80/90 gauge sewing needle.

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Step 6 (optional)

The pocket looked  a bit plain, so I added a heart motif applique, for contrast.

That’s it…. all done, and I do like to take this everywhere now. Holding my lunch and water allowance for each and every work day. The bag fits in at the workplace in a way the Liquor shop carry- bag did not!!!

I hope this gives you some ideas to ponder about.

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After a While You Learn

Ethereal Water LillyThere is no really more to be said. This poem says it all.

After some time you learn the difference,
The subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning,
And company doesn’t always mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts,
And presents aren’t promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats,
With your head up and your eyes ahead,
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.

And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn,
That even the sun burns if you get too much,
And learn that it doesn’t matter how much you do care about,
Some people simply don’t care at all.
And you accept that it doesn’t matter how good a person is,
She will hurt you once in a while,
And you need to forgive her for that.
You learn that talking can relieve emotional pain.
You discover that it takes several years to build a relationship based on confidence,
And just a few seconds to destroy it.
And that you can do something just in an instant,
And which you will regret for the rest of your life.
You learn that the true friendships,
Continue to grow even from miles away.
And that what matters isn’t what you have in your life,
But who you have in your life.
And that good friends are the family,
Which allows us to choose.
You learn that we don’t have to switch our friends,
If we understand that friends can also change.
You realize that you are your best friend,
And that you can do do anything, or nothing,
And have good moments together.
You discover that the people who you most care about in your life,
Are taken from you so quickly,
So we must always leave the people who we care about with lovely words,
It may be the last time we see them.
You learn that the circumstances and the environment have influence upon us,
But we are responsible for ourselves.
You start to learn that you should not compare yourself with others,
But with the best you can be.
You discover that it takes a long time to become the person you wish to be,
And that the time is short.
You learn that it doesn’t matter where you have reached,
But where you are going to.
But if you don’t know where you are going to,
Anywhere will do.
You learn that either you control your acts,
Or they shall control you.
And that to be flexible doesn’t mean to be weak or not to have personality,
Because it doesn’t matter how delicate and fragile the situation is,
There are always two sides.
You learn that heroes are those who did what was necessary to be done,
Facing the consequences.
You learn that patience demands a lot of practice.
You discover that sometimes,
The person who you most expect to be kicked by when you fall,
Is one of the few who will help you to stand up.
You learn that maturity has more to do with the kinds of experiences you had
And what you have learned from them,
Than how many birthdays you have celebrated.
You learn that there are more from you parents inside you than you thought.
You learn that we shall never tell a child that dreams are silly,
Very few things are so humiliating,
And it would be a tragedy if she believed in it.
You learn that when you are angry,
You have the right to be angry,
But this doesn’t give you the right to be cruel.
You discover that only because someone doesn’t love you the way you would like them to,
It doesn’t mean that this person doesn’t love you the most they can,
Because there are people who love us,
But just don’t know how to show or live that.
You learn that sometimes it isn’t enough being forgiven by someone,
Sometimes you have to learn how to forgive yourself.
You learn that with the same harshness you judge,
Some day you will be condemned.
You learn that it doesn’t matter in how many pieces your heart has been broken,
The world doesn’t stop for you to fix it.
You learn that time isn’t something you can turn back,
Therefore you must plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure.
You really are strong .
And you can go so farther than you thought you could go.
And that life really has a value.
And you have value within the life.
And that our gifts are betrayers,
And make us lose
The good we could conquer,
If it wasn’t for the fear of trying.

Attributed to:

‘After a While’ (Veronica Shoffstall), ‘Comes The Dawn’ (Judith Evans), and ‘You Learn’ (Jorge Luis Borges) with minor variations on the wording. The version posted here  seems to include extra verses and the extra verses seem to come from other poems titled “I’ve Learned” either by Washington and Paul Coelho and by Maya Angelou.

Credit to https://purenourishment.wordpress.com/ for the content of this post.

Kicking out Plastic – Tutorial Signature Shopping Bag

embroidery hack
Design penned onto calico shopping bag

I really hate using plastic bags and avoid them at all costs. As supermarkets here are phasing out single use plastic bags, there is even more need for consumers to have their own environmentally friendly and sustainable shopping bags.

And it is not just reusable bags for groceries. Even when buying a new outfit, I will carry a clean cotton bag for my purchases inside my regular handbag, rather than use a plastic variety that is not only bad for the planet, but also advertises companies who make absolutely no effort to take care of the future of the environment and wildlife. Why would I want to promote them?

In less than ten minutes, you can create an individual environmentally friendly solution. A solution, so easy, that even the children can get involved and create their own reusable, plastic free shopping bag.

Back in 2012, I began making a variety of D.I.Y, “plastic free” bags: in Redwork embroidery, painted Norwegian Telemark and floral designs, and also with a pen and painting technique.

Here are a few samples from my existing bag stash.

But I needed more bags to have on hand, and as plain calico is rather plain, and ‘Redwork’ embroidery makes such a pretty and easy adornment. My initial plan was to embroider some designs on the new calico bags, in redwork technique, with a needle and thread. However, I am not the world’s neatest hand sewer ( far from it, really), and embroidery takes me for-EVER to complete, as I have an aversion to sewing, itself!

Solution: Enter the Evanscraft craft and cross stitch pen…. a permanent, acid free pen in a Barn red colour, that can simulate cross stitch or other types of embroidery. Wonderful! With this technique, you can create a pretty cottage garden or folk art design on fabric, (or even wood), and the result is something unique, and useful, created in a matter of minutes.

More time for plastic free shopping!!

It just might inspire others to take up plastic free shopping as well.

flower pattern

You will need:

  • A Calico or Cotton bag in a light colour from your local haberdashery store, ironed flat.
  • A pattern such as the one above, which you can trace over in thick black pen. NB. If you aren’t feeling particularly inspired to draw your own design, you can find plenty of free ‘Redwork’ or other embroidery patterns, (there are some here on Pinterest); in colouring books or even on google image search, itself.
  • A permanent pen, preferably in barn red or a dark red colour, but any colour will do, as long as it doesn’t bleed or run when you wash the bag. I used an Evanscraft Craft and Cross Stitch pen but please patch test the pen of your choosing, on a hidden corner, to check its colour fastness and suitability.

Instructions:

  1. Tape the design on a glass window to create an impromptu light box and trace your selected pattern in thick black pen.
  2. Tape the traced design on top of a piece of cardboard and slip both inside the bag, centering horizontally. The calico is fairly thin so it is easy to see the traced design through the bag. Mounting the design on the cardboard prevents any bleeding of the penned design, through to the rear side of the bag.
  3. Then it is just a matter of re-tracing over the pattern with the chosen pen, and adding a few embellishments of your own, within and around the design.
  4. A final press of the bag, with the iron seals the design and you are ready to shop!

Tip: A ruler may be used to keep long lines straight, or you may prefer to keep them loose and rustic, as I did in the border design. Use the ruler turned upside down to prevent smudging on to the bag.

A major complaint of those who continue to use plastic bags, is that they forget to bring the re-usable bags, along with them, when they shop.

I purchased the plain cotton shopping bags from Lincraft for a dollar each. Not only are they strong, bu they can be scrunched up to a really small size, for carrying inside my handbag, (see in photo to the right above).

In this way they are always on hand, for my use just when I need them.

No more forgetting the bags!!

What design would you choose?

Something environmentally friendly and creative to ponder About.

Healthy Afternoon tea:-Almond and Walnut Muffins

If you could find a way to incorporate  a food that provided you with magnesium and Vitamin E, could lower your blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol you would eat it, wouldn’t you? And what if that food could also reduce hunger and assist with weight loss? It would be a miracle!

But it is not. This ‘miracle’ food is almonds and unless you are allergic to nuts, this is a great way to incorporate almonds into your diet, even if you don’t like eating whole almonds themselves.

Almond and Walnut Muffins

Ingredients:
  • 150g Anchor Lighthouse Self Raising Flour
  • 50g Almond meal (ground almonds)
  • 85g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Mixed Spice
  • 55 g chopped nuts – I use a mix of walnuts and pecans
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup (125mL) milk
  • Pinch salt
Method:
  1. Sift all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.
  2. Combine butter, eggs and milk.
  3. Pour into dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Line muffin tray with paper muffin cases.
  5. Fill cases to 2/3 full
  6. Bake at 170ºC  for 20-25 minutes or until inserted skewer comes out clean

Sprinkle with cinnamon for an additional health benefit!

Something delicious and healthy to Ponder About

 


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Raspberry and Almond Shortbread

I am at a loss to remember where I found this recipe, but it was handwritten on a scrap of paper which mysteriously turned up in my cupboard last week, so rather than throw it out, I tried it out! It could well have stemmed from a binge Pinterest session or some online Scandinavian recipe site, but who knows?!

Whatever it origins, the hungry hordes in my house scoffed the finished product down with gusto. Undoubtedly, a good seal of approval.  The biscuits have a lighter texture, akin to a shortbread. In fact, one could easily substitute rice flour if one wanted to avoid wheat!

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Ingredients

1 cup Butter ( softened )

2/3 cup Sugar

1/2 Teaspoon Almond extract ( can also use vanilla if you don’t have almond)

2 cups Flour

Pinch of Salt

1 Egg

1 tsp Milk or Kefir ( can also use yoghurt)

1/2 cup Raspberry Jam

Method

Preheat oven at 180 degree °C or 350°F

Cream butter and sugar and add the almond or vanilla extract and egg.

Mix well.

Add in salt, flour and milk/kefir and mix gently but well.

Take heaped teaspoons of cookie mix, and roll into a ball shape

Place 2 inches (5 cm) apart on a greased/lined tray.

Press your thumb into the middle of biscuit and fill the cavity with jam.

Bake the biscuits 14- 18 minutes in preheated oven. Cool 1 minute.

If you are pedantic, you can even drizzle a mix of icing sugar, mixed to a liquid with almond essence, over the top of the biscuits, if desired  – I don’t do usually this, but you might like to do so.

Enjoy!

Calorie content:  Feel free to do the math…..


Tantalizing Tuesdays

Something Edible to Ponder About