Plastic Free July

Are you doing Plastic Free July this year?

Are you wondering what on earth Plastic Free July is? Find more info here.

We’re far from plastic free in our house, and not quite at the stage where we could live without plastic for a month, but we’re continually taking baby steps towards a more sustainable way of life with less plastic.

There are some really simple changes we’ve made to cut down on plastic, like taking our own bags when shopping, BYO coffee cups, refusing straws etc and then we’ve made some more small switches gradually over the years.

We’ve switched to bar soap purchased in cardboard packaging instead of liquid soaps in plastic bottles.

I bought some mesh produce bags for fruit and veg shopping, instead of using the single use plastic bags in the fruit and veg section of the store. I then made myself some more bags when I decided I needed more.

We often forget the produce bags when we shop, and on those occasions we simply buy all of our fruit loose. It’s fairly easy to grab a hand of bananas and put that in your trolley without a bag. It does get a little annoying with 10 loose mandarins though! Haha.

We also stopped buying single use plastics wraps and bags as well, opting for beeswax wraps or Tupperware containers for sandwiches and snacks.

I’ve made a number of beeswax wraps in the past year (see my instastories here), but I’ve found they’re not quite as good as the ones you can buy online. It’s a process I’m still tweaking and I have a new plan for the next batch!!

There are a lot of great wraps for sale here if you’re interested in buying some of your own.

I also stopped purchasing dishcloths from the supermarket after realising that they all contained plastic and didn’t last very long before they ended up in landfill. We’ve been using some cotton dishcloths I’ve made for the last year, and throwing them in the washing machine between uses. None have worn out yet, but I’m comfortable with the knowledge that at the end of their life I will be able to compost them as they are 100% cotton. One less item for landfill!

I also sell these cloths in my Etsy store, and have a 20% off when you buy more than two items deal happening until July 7th. If you’d like some reusable dishcloths, now’s the time!

The biggest change we’ve made however, is thinking a little more critically about packaging when we’re shopping. We’ll opt for loose apples or carrots over those already in a plastic bag. I’ll buy a whole butternut pumpkin instead of the half pumpkin that’s wrapped in glad wrap. If I’m looking at pantry items (ie biscuits) I’ll purchase something in cardboard packaging over plastic packaging.

We’re forever making small changes, and learning from our mistakes, and we’re still making plenty of mistakes! It took us about a years worth of saying ‘we should have brought containers with us’ every time we ate a restaurant, before we actually remembered to do it last time we went out for dinner and had leftovers to bring home.

The idea of no plastic seems so daunting, but if it’s just a single swap you’re making each month, it’s doable. It all adds up! Imagine the difference it would make if everyone just switched to bar soap!

Have you made any plastic free switches lately?

Abby x

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Winter days

If it has to be this cold all winter, I feel like we should at least get some snow for our troubles. We’ve had several frosty mornings in the last week. Scraping ice off the car first thing in the morning takes me back to Canada holidays, just not quite as much fun!

By the time the sun is out on these frosty days, it’s usually warmed up enough that we can get outside and try to soak some of that sunshine up. It’s never quite enough to warm our house up though. Built in the late 70’s, it seems no one was thinking a whole lot about solar passive design when they built this house. The entire Northern side of our house is shaded by a wide verandah and carport, which is perfect for summer, but miserable in winter. Our firewood stock has been dwindling pretty quickly in the last month!

I dream of ripping the whole carport down, putting in extra windows on the Northern side and growing vines, or putting in a greenhouse where the carport now stands. Maybe one day!

And so, with a couple of head colds in the house this past week, it’s been all about staying warm.

We’ve walked to the playground in the sunshine

Collected kindling / marshmallow sticks down in our creek

Sought out all the little pockets of sunshine that peek through our front windows at the end of the day.

And I’ve been keeping my hands warm with lots and lots of wool.

A new wool order and a beanie with a Pom Pom for Mr 3.

He’d been begging me for a beanie with a Pom Pom for a couple of weeks. I finally got around to making it last weekend and he’s completely in love with it.

I listed some new cardigans in my Etsy store, and posted one to a new home.

I love making these cardigans. I have another two in the works at the moment. The pattern is The Kotori Jacket by Shara Lambeth Designs if anyone is interested in making their own.

And the yarn dyeing obsession continues!

Right now I’m tucked up under an old wool blanket I crocheted a few years back, nursing my head cold, staring out the rain spattered window and listening to the sound of my kids playing in the backyard with umbrellas, raincoats and gumboots. I’m hoping they’ll stay out there just that little bit longer so I can get a few more rows of this cardigan done before they burst through the back door and we fall into the pre-dinner routine.

After a very busy weekend last weekend, I’m hoping for a well deserved quiet (and warm!) one this weekend.

Happy weekend all.

Abby x

Children’s Crocheted Scarf – A Free Pattern

I have been making and selling these little crocheted scarves for a few years now. I started out with making a few for my Miss 4 when she was about 2, and then soon found we had more scarves than I knew what to do with.

A quick and simple crochet project, this is a great beginner – intermediate pattern that should take you no longer than 2 hours from start to finish.

Not a crocheter, but love the scarves? You’ll find a selection of scarves I’ve made in my Etsy store here.

**Please note that I would not recommend these scarves for children under 3 years of age unless under constant close supervision. As with anything else you place around a child’s neck (necklace, bag strap, etc) a scarf does pose a strangulation risk to small children. I would also urge you not to leave a scarf on a sleeping child as this will also place them at risk of overheating.**

Heavy stuff aside, this is a great little scarf for the 3-5 year olds in your life, and with a few alterations can be made in much larger sizes too. I’ve even made one for my Dad!

So without further ado…

A Children’s Scarf Pattern

This pattern is written in US terms. If you usually work in UK terms, please find a handy conversion chart here.

Please use pattern for personal use only, or seek permission before selling products using this pattern.

Materials:

8ply yarn. I’ve used Bendigo Woollen Mills Bloom

4.5mm crochet hook

Darning needle

Scissors

Abbreviations:

Ch: chain

DC: double crochet

St: stitch

SC: single crochet

Sl St: slip stitch

Pattern:

Ch 80.

Row 1: 1 DC into 3rd ch from hook. 1 DC in each st to end. Turn. (78sts).

Row 2-3: Ch 2. 1 DC in base of Ch 2. 1 DC in each st to end. Turn. (78 sts).

Row 4: Ch 2. 1 DC in base of Ch 2. 1 DC in each of the next 11 sts. Ch 9. Skip the next 8 sts and DC in the 9th st from the last DC. DC in each st to end. Turn. (78 sts).

Row 5 – 7: Ch 2. 1 DC in base of Ch 2. 1 DC in each st to end. Turn. (78 sts).

When you reach the 9 chains of the previous row, continue your DC into each chain as you would for the rest of the row.

At the completion of Row 7 you may like to fasten off here for a simple completed scarf, or you can add a SC border with the following step.

The last step: Ch 1. 1 sc in base of Ch 1. 1 sc in each st to end of row. DO NOT TURN. Continuing in the same direction we’re now going to work around the corner. * add an extra 1 sc in the last st and work 13 sc’s across the scarf end*. Continuing around the edge of the scarf, 2 sc in the corner and 1 sc in each st to end of row. Repeat from * to *. Sl st into first st (the beginning of round). Fasten off, weave in ends.

And you have a complete scarf!

This pattern is easy to alter to suit your preference. Add more DC’s to your rows to make it longer, more rows to make it wider, add details on the ends like tassels, or leave it as is. See a few variations I’ve made in my Etsy store.

Happy crocheting!

Abby x

Friday again

I always have the best of intentions for a mid week post, and then in the blink of an eye it’s Friday again and I didn’t get around to it. I went so far as to write and photograph a crochet pattern to share with you last weekend, and yet it still sits handwritten in my notebook waiting to be typed. Next week? A toddler scarf pattern is on its way anyhow, maybe mid next week. Probably next Friday…

Things I HAVE achieved this week –

We’ve been helping to prepare my husbands Grandma’s house for sale and had a bit of a family working bee last weekend. We sorted through books and towels and kitchen appliances and while there was definitely not a high volume of ‘stuff’ there, it did make me think of the Swedish death cleaning trend and what a great idea that is. So if you come to my house in my retirement years and find I own only one tea towel, two coffee cups, two knives, forks, spoons etc – you’ve been warned!

I also helped out with rebuilding a rail/balustrade and painted it during our working bee. It’s probably a year or more since I last had to paint anything. Not my favourite job, but this was pretty quick and painless. Now I’m wandering about my house constantly noticing how badly my walls and ceilings need repainting and trying to muster up some energy for kicking into that boring job!

We walked away with a few bags of yarn and a trailer full of pot plants too, both of which have kept me pretty busy since!

With huge quantities of yarn to play with I’ve been crocheting in every spare second. Mittens for each kid and I started a new blanket, which I’ve been lugging about the house and to craft night in a big basket.

I also had a play with hand dyeing some plain wool with food dye during the week. I wasn’t happy with the colours, but had great fun with the process. I will have another play with some different colours this weekend.

Mid week I discovered that Miss 4 seems to have grown 2 inches over night and desperately needed some new jumpers and jackets for kindy. I ended up getting her a jacket and track pants in the boys section of Target, because I was so disappointed in the girls section options! Read more on that here.

Sticking to what I know best, I headed to Savers on Thursday and picked up a pile of clothes for both the kids and myself.

For the kids I ended up with 2 x skirts, 2 x shorts, 2 x dresses, 2 x jumpers & 5 x tops.

For myself I bought a coat, a vintage jacket and a pair of shoes.

All in great gently used condition, in brands – Witchery, Zara, Cotton On Kids, Milkshake etc.

I love Savers. We’re doing a kindness to the environment by using what already exists instead of supporting the fast fashion industry, we’re typically buying better quality brands than I could justify spending money on if purchased new, we often find really cute quirky items not found in the big box stores and we’re saving bucket loads of cash. My only regret is not getting started shopping there when my kids were babies! Oh the money I could have saved!

Aside from all that I’ve been…

Reading

True Stories by Helen Garner. This is my second Helen Garner read, and I love her style!

Listening to

The Slow Home Podcast – my absolute favourite podcast. The link here will take you to last weeks interview with Rob Greenfield about small steps we can take towards a better world. A great listen!

Planting

My celery seedlings, ground covers, poppies, pansies and transplanting all those pot plants into our garden!

What have you been making/reading/listening to lately? Do you think you’re the Swedish death cleaning sort? What great secondhand bargains have you picked up recently?

Happy weekend folks.

Abby x

A Picnic Rug

I’m very pleased with this little project.

I’ve spent a long time lusting over pretty picnic rugs, and finally decided to make my own for this Spring and Summer.

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It’s made from a vinyl topped table cloth (for waterproofing the back) and patchworked duck cloth.

This was an easy little project. The most time consuming part was hand stitching the binding. At a fairly slow pace, I knocked this project over in a week.

I bought this ‘beautiful’ tablecloth on ebay for $8. I figured it didn’t matter too much what it looked like, as you wouldn’t see it when the rug’s laid out anyway.

table clothOnce I’d quilted the patchwork top to the backing, I trimmed off the excess table cloth, and then added the binding. I made the binding myself, because I’m too cheap and fussy to buy bias tape.

Here’s a glimpse at how the back ended up looking.

IMG_5508Penny was insistent on helping me take photos.

IMG_5505I’ve been toying with the idea of adding some hand embroidery to my quilts lately, so I thought I’d try it out first on this rug.

IMG_5502It’s not perfect, but practice makes perfect!

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As per usual, I made far too much bias tape, so I sewed around the edges of the left overs, and then sewed the strip to the back of my picnic rug, to hold the rug together when it’s rolled up.

and here’s the finished product.

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IMG_5512I’m so happy with it, and can’t wait to have our first picnic with it!

Abby xx

 

 

 

 

 

July Roundup

If I had to describe July in one word, that word would be ‘Cold’. Frosty car cold. But aren’t the patterns in the ice so pretty?

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but somehow, not cold enough to slow down our veggie garden! How weird is that strawberry?!

IMG_3704I’ve spent a lot of time this month making baby food, and stocking up the freezer.

IMG_3682Matt’s been tidying up and organising his man cave. I’m jealous and thinking that I need my own man cave!

IMG_3910and working on the pizza oven that I wrote about here.

IMG_3869Penny’s thoroughly enjoyed having Matt working in the yard, and forgetting to close the car doors.

IMG_3868I took advantage of a bargain at the supermarket and bought myself some pretty tulips! I just wish that they looked like that forever, and not as sad as they look now 😦

IMG_3907and I had my hair chopped off, not exactly the way I’d hoped to.

IMG_4011Miss E learned how to sit up this month, and now gets cranky any time she find herself on her back or belly.

She also had her first swimming lesson and absolutely loved it. She spends so much time kicking her legs all the time, that we knew she’d have to be a little fish in the pool!

e swimming lesson

I’ve been reading:

I finally finished reading Jane Austen’s Emma. I’m not sure how I’d managed to get so far through life without having read it before!

I enjoyed getting lost in the 19th Century romance, but didn’t enjoy it as much as Pride and Prejudice but I guess that’s to be expected, given that Pride and Prejudice is the far more popular of the two!

I’ve picked up Shantaram again, as I mentioned here, and as I expected, haven’t got very far with it yet!

I’ve been making:

Lots of things it seems!

IMG_3673The Taggy Cube I wrote about here.

princess and bookThe Princess and the Pea playlet I wrote about here.

IMG_3956Some fabric blocks for Miss E to play with.

IMG_3769and work on the crochet blanket continues, a little slower than before, but I’m still going!

I’ve been watching:

Not much really.

Though this little video popped up on my Facebook newsfeed the other day and made me stop and think…

Maybe I should try baking more!

I’ve been listening to:

A couple of weeks ago we went for a bit of country drive to visit some of my family. A four hour trip, and broken radio reception, meant we listened to podcasts on the road.

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One podcast we listened to was a conversation between Richard Fidler and John Safran, an ABC radio presenter and a Triple J radio presenter, respectively. This podcast was fascinating, talking about John Safran’s new book about a murder case in Mississippi. Now I need to read the book! Well played Richard and John!

July, you were lovely!

August, some sun please!

Abby xx

Potato Container Continued

You may recall me talking about the potato container Matt made back here.

Well, we’ve finally bought some straw and put some potatoes in it!

I must point out firstly that we’ve never grown potatoes before, so this is all an experiment and we’re not sure how well it will work. I’ll keep you updated as they grow (or don’t grow!)

potato container 1

Firstly we separated the container Matt made into two parts, to make it easier to get to the bottom

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and put some mulch and manure in the bottom.

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We bought some seed potatoes, and cut them into pieces. Each piece with one eye on it.

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We then placed each seed potato piece, with the eye facing up, in the bottom of the potato container.

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and took some photos of Penny being cute…

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added a light layer of straw and mulch on top of our potatoes

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potato container mulchedand now we wait patiently for them to shoot up, before we add more layers to our container sides, and put more straw on top.

Hopefully we’re not waiting too long!

Abby xx

 

 

The Princess and the Pea

In an effort to save money, I’m trying to hand make as many gifts as possible. So that I don’t find myself caught out at the last minute without a gift, I’ve started making some gifts to put away, ready for a rainy day.

I found the idea for this gift on Pinterest a couple of years ago, but only got around to making it for the first time just recently. Find the original idea as I saw it here.

I made a simple Princess and the Pea playset, to be gifted with a copy of the book.

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Using some fabric scraps, and bits and pieces I already had, I made eight little mattresses for the Princess to sleep on, and one little princess.

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As you can see, I didn’t worry too much about making the princess perfect. I tend to make a lot of my projects with a lot of trial and error, no measuring, just going by eye. Sometimes, I get wonky results, but it doesn’t bother me too much. Half the appeal of handmade toys is that they are not perfect. I doubt a kid would mind anyway!

Of course, it wouldn’t be The Princess and the Pea without a pea would it? I added a marble to the bottom mattress as my ‘pea’, and for added interest, sewed a little maze pattern into the mattress for the pea to pass through.

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I’ve only made one playset so far, but I’ve bought three copies of the book, so it looks like I’ll be making a couple more to put away in the gift box too. One will probably be for Miss E when she’s old enough, the others will become gifts for someone else.

princess n book

princess and book

I’m pretty happy with this little project. It was quick, easy and a lot of fun. I can’t wait to make some more!

Abby xx

 

 

Taggy cube

IMG_3394I cannot be the only Mum with a baby who’s obsessed with tags. Miss E loves them, as you can see above where she’s rolled away from all of her toys to play with the tag on the bottom of her fold out couch.

She likes to play with the tags on clothes, blankets, toys, furniture and anything else she can get her hands on. They really don’t seem all that interesting to me, but since she’s determined to love them, I decided to feed her obsession by making her a taggy cube.

tag cube

Using some left over scraps of fabric and ribbon, I simply cut out 6 squares and sewed them together in a cube with ribbons in each seam.

tag cube 2

Before stuffing the cube, I popped in a plastic egg (left over from easter) with a bell inside, and then stuffed around it and sewed it up.

eggThe whole thing took me about an hour to put together, and now I can’t wait to see what Miss E thinks of it!

tag cube 3

Abby xx

 

Sensory Basket

sensory basket

A few months ago I put together a Sensory Basket for Miss E. I’d planned to start using it straight away, but we’ve really only just started using it recently.

A quick search on Pinterest will give you a multitude of suggestions for sensory baskets but the general idea is to have a little treasure basket full of items of different textures, shapes, sizes and some that make noise. The items do not necessarily need to be toys, in fact, in a quick search around your house will probably find enough items to fill a basket straight away.

I went to my local cheap store to buy a small basket, and some interesting treasures to add to it. Along with things I found around the house, this is what currently lives in Miss E’s Sensory Basket…

basket contents

  • A plastic little egg/person/toy/thing that stands straight back up every time it’s knocked over.
  • I bought a pack of small travel bottles and filled one with water and glitter, another with rice, and the other with beads. These look and sound interesting when she shakes them.
  • A plastic container with a lid to place small items in and shake. When Miss E is a little older we’ll also use this to learn about putting things ‘in’ and taking things ‘out’.
  • A soft bath sponge. Miss E loves putting this in her mouth!
  • Some rough exfoliating gloves.
  • Hair rollers. Again, Miss E loves putting these in her mouth, I can’t imagine anything worse!
  • A silicon mixing spoon.
  • A cheap toothbrush. This would be her favourite item by far! She enjoys chewing on both ends.
  • A silicon muffin case. Also fun to chew on.
  • A stretchy rubber toy.
  • And nesting doll measuring cups.

Most of these things cost about a dollar to buy, or came from my kitchen cupboards.

My plan is to swap and change the contents of the basket every couple of weeks. Other things I might use are:

  • A facewasher. Miss E loves playing with these!
  • Pasta, rocks & sand in the small plastic bottles.
  • Cookie cutters.
  • Small metal bowls/trays.
  • Cellophane in a length of tied up panty hose.
  • (New) kitchen sponges.
  • Pinecones/leaves/rocks (making sure they don’t end up in the mouth).
  • Fluffy toys.
  • Corrugated cardboard.
  • Inflated balloons.
  • A half inflated beach ball.

Keep in mind that as most of these items are not made with babies in mind, the Sensory basket requires constant supervision.

In our house, we only pull the sensory basket out every few days or so, and so Miss E still thinks it’s new and exciting each time. To begin with I would take items out of the basket and hand them to her one by one. Now she gets just as much enjoyment from rummaging through the basket herself, as what she does from actually playing with it all.

Abby xx