Category Archives: Reduce

Jars of Renewal

crafting la de dah 006
crafting la de dah 008
crafting la de dah 023

What to do with all those jars? Tempe doesn’t recycle glass in my neighborhood, so I’m often scratching my head in my kitchen trying to figure out how to put yet another perfectly good glass jar into use instead of into the trash. Let’s just say after several months of research, I’ve got a plan. If you are interested in a Fall craft and art series that will help tame the craziness that is holiday gift-giving, stay tuned. Start saving your jars and lids of all sizes. This week, wash them with hot water and rinsing them in a cold water and vinegar mixture will get them squeaky clean. Next week, we’ll get cooking.

“To cherish what remains of the earth and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.” — Wendell Berry



Could be a sandwich
Lined up

But what if I should discover that the enemy himself is within me, that I myself am the enemy that must be loved – what then?
–Carl Gustav Jung, 1875 – 1961

A friend emailed me this quote today and it fits perfectly with my current state of mind. My weekend was exactly the right balance of rest and productivity. I made several trips to drop of donated items, clearing my home of more clutter. Deep, unexpected naps (as in I woke up hours later with a book on my chest mildly confused at what had just happened) left me refueled and excited for the week. I ran to my heart’s content and spent a good bit of time drooling over my new dream bike. (What better way to spend that REI dividend?)
There was also time to organize those fabric remnants and get a big project started. I hope to turn these pieces into several scrap quilts to be gifted to friends getting married and having babies this Fall. I enjoyed trimming each of these pieces and remembering why I bought the fabric in the first place. I now understand why my mom has always taken such pleasure in quilting with scraps. You are pooling creativity from dozens of projects to form one final burst of color.


Studio Purge? Check.

Giant bag of scrap fabric

The bag where all of my fabric scraps have gathered for the last several years, including lots of teeny tiny worthless pieces that leave me scratching my head. What did I think I could use that tidbit for?

Good lord.

Old wool sweaters, felt, and gobs of cotton.

Fabric scrap nightmare

It wasn’t pretty.

Fabric scraps, after

Phew. Better. That bag is full of smaller scraps to be sent off to a teacher friend. The box is full of folded larger scraps for a quilt I’m putting together as a wedding gift.

Scrap box, after

Much better.

Yikes these suckers were heavy

Next up? Notions. How is it that I have safety pins, spools of thread and pairs of scissors in 45 places in my house? No longer.

Ribbon box, before

Before. Oy.

Ribbon box, after.
Notions box, after

After. Better.

july 23 016

The knitting bin wasn’t looking any more organized. With stacks of half completed knitting projects that needed to be frogged and a fair collection of teeny tiny balls from left over projects, this bin was crying for attention.

Yikes. What a tangled mess

And also pleading to ignore that tempest JoAnn and her mighty coupons. Not a thing needs to be added to this department.

To become a stack of ballband dishrags

Instead, with a bit of planning, I divided up this nonsense into future projects. There are lots of babies coming this Fall to friends who may need a soft cotton washcloth or two.

To become another knit wrap cardian

Or a pretty pink wrap cardigan.

To become two felted market bags

Or perhaps a felted market tote or two.

I think I’m addicted to productivity. It is disgusting how much pleasure it gives me to clean, organize, send excess off to a better home and make a lengthy list of future projects. Not to mention the joy I get from documenting such nuttiness.


Ouch. Yay! Ouch.

side of ipod case
veclro earbud pocket on the front

It seems the professional stars have aligned to collide this week; so many of my friends are having hard work-weeks. Yesterday I got home unexpectedly hours early from an afternoon meeting and by 4 pm I was in my pajamas, under the covers with a glass of Cabernet so big, I think it might be illegal. About 6:30, the fuzziness started wearing off and I decided it just might be a good idea to not become the crazy 20-something who comes home from work early to lounge around in jammies and drinks the afternoon away while talking to Rachael Ray on the tube.
I pulled myself together, washed out the glass and made some dinner. I also decided the evening wouldn’t be wasted; there isn’t enough time in my day to stress about my job. The only thing it does is make my hair fall out and make me eat my weight in frozen yogurt. Neither leave me feeling terribly attractive or too great about myself. A sense of accomplishment, however, is a sure fire self-esteem boost, and considering I’d had all that wine, it was impossible to drive to the Golden Spoon.

ipod case
inside of amy butler ipod case

Instead, I wooed my Singer and a new Amy Butler pattern. Voila — a pink iPod case. I bought this Amy Butler fabric on eBay years ago and have been nursing the one yard through several projects. I think I’m going to make a couple more of these as gifts. And yes, the seams in those photos would be much straighter without the trip down Cabernet street. Stop judging.

palm card with envelope

With the same sense of using what I have in the craft studio, I pulled out some paper and ribbon to make some new cards. I am a bit of a correspondence junkie and it was so fun to use ribbon scraps to make these.

blue and orange ribbon card
Asian purple card

I’ve got a stack of June birthday cards ready for the mail and am working on July. Mozambique doesn’t have postal service in Beira, so it is wise to get these done now. (Ah, junk mail. I never thought I’d consider you a luxury.)
Also, I decorated some notebooks with leftover fabric scraps and stamps for friends who are also traveling this summer.

cd travel journal
ja travel journal
travel patch, cu
in which to keep my secrets
summer travel journal, front
giraffes on the back of my journal

And maybe a fabulous giraffe journal for moi aussi.
For waking up with a mild hangover, I was pleasantly surprised to see my studio table covered with completed projects. Now, about that packing…


Just Sign the Bill, Mr. President!

Duncan Farms, May 2008 47

You may have heard of the Farm Bill; it’s been in the American news a bunch lately. Last week the Senate approved it by a large margin. The House passed it a day earlier. Today it is supposed to reach President Bush’s desk, where it is anticipated he will use his trusty veto. Thankfully, it seems Congress has enough votes to overturn his veto if that occurs.
I won’t get into the specifics of the politics behind keeping or vetoing this bill from the President’s perspective (or reported perspective), but I will say that as a relatively new advocate in the food banking community, I am so relieved this bill has finally made its way through Congress and will be soon funded. It is controversial. There are subsidies for the farming industry that don’t make sense, but there is a silver lining that does.

Duncan Farms, May 2008 33

In a nutshell, this legislation influences every single American’s life. It addresses food prices (expected to jump 5% this year) by increasing nutritional programs by more than $10 billion. This helps get more food in food pantries and more people who qualify for food stamps enrolled. This isn’t socialism by any means; if there is anyone who advocates for the community — not the government — to be responsible for helping the needy, it’s me. However, there are gaps in that philosophy that I’m not solving anytime soon and this funding will help in the meantime.

It also helps make sure that senior citizens — many of whom are homebound — get fresh fruits and vegetables. The majority of those Arizonans (80,000) who go hungry each day are children and the elderly. That makes me a bit sick to my stomach.

Duncan Farms, May 2008 22

This morning I volunteered to take photos of a gleaning project in the far West Valley. Talk about collaboration — prisoners from the nearby facility are used as volunteers to pick crops from fields donated by a local farm. Duncan Farms has certain fields it plants and then sets aside for food banks state-wide. Today these ladies picked cabbage, which will be sent to food banks this afternoon and hopefully placed in food boxes for anyone in need tonight. My favorite part about this gleaning system is that there is little waste. A lot of the produce within this program would otherwise end up in a landfill and there is nothing more disgusting to me than the fattest nation in the world throwing away food. As one of my colleagues said yesterday, “Hunger in America isn’t a supply issue; it is a distribution issue.”

Duncan Farms, May 2008 21

If you want to reduce the food waste in your community, check out this blog. And if you’d like to see what the average American family throws away each month, take a deep breath and then click here.

If you are interested in helping your local food pantry, the best items to donate are: canned meat, canned fruits and veggies, peanut butter and juice in containers that won’t break.

On a side note, if you are ever feeling a bit unfeminine, spend your morning with a bunch of female inmates in a sweaty, dirty, hot, farm field. You’ll skip away feeling like the most delicate, fragile ballerina to ever get her slippers dusty.


A Tree Grows in Phoenix

red summer geraniums, Casa Luna

I’m swimming in work this week and not spending much time behind the Singer or skillet, so I thought I’d instead share a few new environmental resources for Arizonans who may be interested.

– For those on SRP time of use plan, May 1 was the kickoff for the new “on peak” energy hours. I’ve used this plan for quite a while and it saves me boatloads of money, especially in the summer with air conditioning bills. For example, my May bill is less than $35. Granted, my home is tiny, but incorporating a few of their energy saving tips has saved me green.

– SRP is also offering a new tree planting program. For $3 a month you can plant 72 Ponderosa pines in Arizona. Your donation is matched by SRP and the trees will be planted to offset our carbon use. The 72 trees are equivalent to the offsetting of 26 typical households. Giddyup.

– Urban gardeners, there is a fantastic new resource I’m just learning about. Have you heard of this guy? How about his classes? This week’s include raising city chickens (on my agenda soon enough) and using minimal water for vegetable gardening.

Rad! Soon enough I’m going to have my own raised beds full of veggies. Until then, I’ll just keep taking these community lessons and creating the best plan.

FYI — no community dinner this week, peeps. I’m in Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon tomorrow. I’ve got a feast planned for next Thursday. Save the date.


XOXO Pachamama

what are these tall green things

Pachamama is beloved in South America and I find the idea of an earth goddess looking over us endearing. Rather than bemoan all the recycling we should be doing for Earth Day (Soapbox tone noted, Erin), I’ll say:
Querida Pachamama,
Thanks for all the cool stuff here on this third planet from the sun that doesn’t cost a dime: dark African nights with the Milky Way strung across the sky in a tangle of cosmic creation; the first sight of an ocean or the Grand Canyon, sunsets in Phoenix in August when the sky seems to be on fire, butterflies swirling about when you are on a long hike, silky white saguaro blooms gathered in late Spring crowns, shocking peonies, forests of tall pine that smell like butterscotch, animals so pretty they make you blush in awe, the smell of the desert after a long rain, monsoon season, honey, coffee, grapefruit, wine and the humans who once upon a time came up with the bagel/tortilla/bakery.
Gracias Mama Earth!


P.S. I’m sporting my Chacos and birdie messenger bag today and trying yet again to make sense of the public transportation available to East Valley residents who work downtown. Carpooled in, bussing/walking home. I’ve got my camera ready for another fun urban adventure.

National Public Health Week: Craftiness

April, week one, 2008 009

A stack of vintage linens found at a Boy Scout garage sale this weekend, including those flags I turned into bags.

This is where everything comes full circle. So, how can craftiness improve the public’s health? Well, a bit of creativity always helps when trying to use, eat, drive and waste less. Crafty — in a Beastie Boy use of the word — is a compliment to all folk who use their creativity for the betterment of humanity, not just to fulfill their own desires. They thrift to find materials instead of heading off to yet another big box store. They spend the extra 20 minutes waiting around the bus stop to use public transportation in lieu of driving their own car. They move closer to work to minimize the commute. They bring cloth bags to the market. They wear hand-me-down clothing with pride.

Boy Scout Garage Sale finds

These could have easily been thrown away, but thankfully they were at the sale. I used the disposible casserole to deliver that chicken pot pie. The jars I filled with sun tea and lemons and delivered to friends. The paper bags I’ll use for wrapping during the next year.

If we in the “developed” world use, eat, drive and waste less instead of looking at what we have and really need, we’ll improve our community’s health locally, nationally, and globally. We’ll let less go into landfills. We’ll have less of a disposable culture. We’ll respect well-made products instead of cheap consumables. We’ll have cleaner air and rely less on oil from any country. We’ll eat until we’re satisfied instead of until we’re stuffed, know that taking food home in a doggie bag means spending less on food (and a bigger belt) tomorrow. We’ll have more money for organizations that matter to us. We’ll live simply so others can simply live. We might even live a more orderly and healthy life if we were to hire skip bins online to ensure that the majority of our rubbish is collected and recycled.

April, week one, 2008 007

An Army bag that I’m going to use this summer, when — fingers crossed — I’ll be traveling through Africa. A new trip is brewing… All these items cost $4. I gave them $7 because that’s what I had in my wallet. I would have spent that on the jars and dish alone at the market!

Imagine if the United States was once again known for our philanthropy, geneorosity and creativity? That’s that land (and people) I love.


Sixth Day of Christmas

cloth napkins, folded: Sixth day of Christmas

I wish for “green” gifts.
Cloth napkins anyone? How easy are these to put together! Just grab any heavy-weight fabric, such as decor, and cut rectangles of the size of your liking. Double fold the hem and stitch away, or single fold the hem and zigzag/serge stitch along the edge. Bundle with a pretty ribbon and voila — and end to the purchasing of paper napkins.

napkin fabric: Sixth day of Christmas
stack of napkins ready to be hemmed: Sixth day of Christmas
napkin tags: Sixth day of Christmas
six more gifts, sewn and ready to be delivered: Sixth day of Christmas

When I received a set of fabulous cloth napkins from Meg this year, I knew what I was going to do with that stack of toile fabric that had been gathering dust in my studio. Three hours later, I’ve got six more gifts wrapped and under the tree.
{Technically, my tree is fake and 2 feet tall, also a nod to the green movement. So, they are on the mantel.}

How are you being green this holiday season?

P.S. Anyone in Phoenix know where I can buy fresh cranberries? I’d even take frozen over the canned/jelled variety. They are the last remaining ingredient on my Christmas dinner menu and I am kicking myself for not picking up a couple bags two weeks ago when I saw them at the market. You find them and I’ll trade you baked goods of your choice!
*UPDATE* I found them! Thank you Tambra and Erin!

SSS, or better yet, SOS

secret santa, the beginning

Brown bag to be reused in the spirit of being green + international posting box. $37 for all countries, up to 20 pounds.

When Donna emailed in August asking if I’d be interested in a Secret Santa Swap, I thought, “Sure!” I didn’t have to mail anything until December and that seemed so far away. October was kinda busy. And then November rolled around and I got wrapped up in Urban Dares and ditching Ruby for a kayak. Even though Donna has got this international swap exceptionally organized and even kept us all up to date with postal delivery times around the world, I started sewing yesterday. It needed to be in the mail tomorrow.
Procrastination is how I roll.

pink and orange and happy all over
bag, after being jazzed up
secret santa pouch
secret santa swamp bag and zippered pouch

I wanted this gift to be artsy, but also earthy. I took a well-loved handbag I had and added some pink and orange love, paired it with a sweet zippered pouch and stuffed that international postage box nearly to my 20 pound limit. My recipient will receive chocolate, yarn, a design book, a journal, an ink pen, a quilted pillow case and a lucky giraffe in addition to the purse.

secret santa swap ready for the mail

Now, on to that holiday sewing I’ve been thinking about…