A while ago, I decided that buying paper towels was more of a convenience rather than a necessity and set about replacing them with something almost as convenient. I found several blogs extolling the virtues of cloth napkins. I decided what did I have to lose?
My sister was getting rid of my nephew's crib sheets and blankets and gave them to me. I cut them into paper towel size, about 10 inches square. I decided I wanted one side to be the sheet material and the other the receiving blanket material. So I sandwiched two together right sides facing, machine stitched the edges leaving a gap to flip them right side out, and finished closing the edge. I made about 75 of them.
I actually like them.I use them anytime I would a paper towel. Now if the mess is particularly nasty, I will use torn up boxes from, like say, cereal boxes or Mac & Cheese etc. On those occasions I don't think a measly proper paper towel would do anyway!
The draw back? The convenience of picking up a mess and being able to throw it away. Spaghetti Sauce comes to mind! On those occasions, as on that particular one ;) I have a small coffee can that I have put detergent and a drop or two of bleach and soak them on the shelf above the washer. When I do a load of towels, I dump the water into the toilet, squeeze out the cloth towels and wash as normal. So its not really a draw back, just an extra step or two.
The bonus? I don't have to panic if I get to the end of the roll of paper towels... I just make sure to throw them in the wash! I save money, I have not noticed any increase in washing, besides I make my own detergent! I save on waste, here we are charged per bag of garbage, and even though being green was low on my list of priorities, financial was the top priority, it was definitely a plus!
The hard one to convince was my hubby. He is so used to me having a fit for using my "nice" kitchen towels to pick up spills and such, that when I replaced paper towels with these, he would watch me closely as he was reaching for them to see if I was gearing up for a fit :) He now reaches for them with confidence (and leaves my kitchen towels alone!) He even likes them when he makes a sandwich, the sheet side is perfect for it!
Here is the bed caddy my daughter mentioned in the comments section of the Gift Giving post.
I didn't have a pattern for it, just a picture, so I made it up as I went along. Also, my daughter's room has maniacally cheerful colors - you cannot be in her room and be sad :) Her bed sheet is the polka dots and the wildly colored strip of cloth you see is what goes under the mattress to hold it in place.
all I did was use the back side of an old pair of jeans, sewed it to a strip of cloth and used that same cloth to make a "belt", and then she had a place to put her books, remotes to the T.V. and D.V.D./V.C.R (even though she could have just leaned over!) or whatever into the pockets. She had a very small room and for several years shared with our other "adopted" daughter, so any space saving storage was invaluable!
Jeans are wonderfully versatile! I did something similar for my wheelchair and walker, though didn't try to make it pretty like her bed caddy, but I can honestly say it is most useful!
When making homemade gifts it is important to think about the recipient more than anything – which is true for all gift giving! Many years ago I began reducing our purchased Christmas gifts, so most of the gifts are homemade now. Some of my homemade gifts didn’t go over so well and some were huge hits! But isn’t that true of purchased gifts too? How many times did you purchase that “OMG I gotta have that $30 doll!” for it to only be played with twice?
Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, Birthdays, etc. does not have to, and should not, break the bank! I realize kids want the latest and greatest $80 video game or that new cell phone that’s $200. But do they NEED it? I feel we are not teaching our kids the difference between a want and need, and what it takes to fulfill either! At the same time parents tend to feel guilty as if they are depriving their children if they do not get them “the latest and greatest”. IF that is the case and it really gnaws at you, purchase only one or two high dollar gifts and supplement the rest.
Many people ask for ideas on what they could make and or at least not spend a ton of money and here is a small list of ideas:
*A travel game made from felt, one side checkers and the other tic-tac-toe. (can be for boy or girl) This is a no sew project, just use the “wonderunder” or “stitchwithcery” stuff, all you need is an iron.
*A poncho made from a fleece blanket (more girly ;) )
*Sew pj bottoms, either pants or shorts (boy or girl – can even use a fleece blanket too!)
*Make a book for the “String Game” you can find many of the directions to make the different shapes and print them out (remember “cats cradle?”)
*crochet or knit scarves, face warmers, gloves, socks
*Make up a board game (small wooden pieces can be purchased at a craft store for very little)
*crochet, knit or sew an mp3/Ipod/Cell Phone cover
*sew up some dress up clothes and props, one year made daughter a “fairy” skirt, headband with ribbon and tissue paper flowers, and “fairy” wings made with two hangers with the hook duct taped together and the “arms” of the hanger were the wings. I covered it all in cheesecloth, ribbons, and more silk and tissue paper flowers and used elastic to put around the shoulders.
*for all my kids (have two and two others who were not really mine but in my heart they are) made a binder with their favorite recipes in it and old family recipes with who they were from – and if they were handwritten I photocopied them along with any time we had “special” recipes or traditions (is: cabbage rolls with a foil wrapped dime in one roll for New Years with Black Eyed Peas etc and why we had them) Now every year I send them new recipes I think they may like to add to their book. This is a wonderful example of what you can do http://crafted-love.blogspot.com/2011/03/spring-cleaning-recipe-journal.html
*Sew a bucket buddy from fun material or made from old jeans for tougher users. This is great for those adults who have tools – and don’t just think of it as just for the guys with hammers etc, does anyone in your family go to Bingo Halls? I am sure they would love to have a bucket buddy for their daubers! Or your crafter in the family, a bucket buddy works wonders for being able to craft on the go! BTW a coffee can makes a great "bucket" :)
*macramé plant hangers (all it is is tying knots!!!) Maybe start rooting some cuttings now to put into pots for the plant hangers!
*crocheted sponges (work GREAT)
*Sew lap quilts from the kids old clothes for the grandparents (“rag” lap quilts can be done in a day)
*sew “doorags” (my crews favorite) or scarf coolers. The polymer beads you can purchase online; here is just one source http://www.watersorb.com./
*sew/knit/crochet up some doll clothes or furniture
*Make a “Fort Kit”. You can get all kinds of ideas from the net on different “forts”. Or you can go simply with a sheet and clothes-pins!
*brushes / combs / hair ties / toothbrushes
*special shampoos / soaps (even homemade!)
*the mp3/Ipod?Cell Phone cover!
*fruits or granola bars to tide the kids over till breakfast is ready
*coupon books (ie: extra hour of video game, or skip a chore, etc)
*small games. Do you remember Jacks? How about “Chinese Jacks”? If you have a Gibsons, they carry the small plastic rings used to make them – if not then use colored paper clips! Google it. (a little secret – I still love to play with both!)
There are so many ideas out there and we have such a useful tool now to get the ideas, the internet! Just use your imagination and go "shopping" for ideas on the net, believe me you will find all kinds of nifty suggestions!
These trees, if I remember right, are "Chinese Potash" trees. They were the same age, same height, acquired from the same location and put into the ground at the same time.
If you look to the left of the pic above you will see a 6ft T-post in the ground, to give you an idea of what the scale is. BTW I love the color on this one! So fall like! Now look at the pic below. If you look on the ground to the left you will see a camp picnic table, the white is the top of the table and the blue is the seats.
Incredible difference isn't it! What we did differently? Compost tea. WOW. Its amazing what compost can do :)
My son's girlfriend "Blue-eyes" made these beautiful spiders that I absolutely fell in love with, and bless her heart, she let me take home 3 spiders AND a scorpion! I have no clue how she did it, though I am sure directions are somewhere on the internet :D
I just wish I could take pictures to do them justice. I have no idea why they keep getting so blurry but these were the best pics from a seriously bad lot! I got some better pics... it was the camera, not the operator... I think my hubby lost a camera.... :D
But the smaller pink one I am putting on my hat like so:
I bet I am the best dressed out there hangin' up that laundry!
Here are my crocheted "sponges" or Dish-clothes... Basically if I like a stitch, I just do a small square of it and go from there, or if it needs a little more oomph to it, I do a rectangle and then fold in half, stitch or slip stitch the edges closed (or leave one end open to put hand inside) and viola, your done!
The green one I just did the other day (told you my favorite color was pink!). And these little suckers will SCRUB! Without scratching - woot! Now if you clean off a counter or something you will need to follow with a towel to get up the excess water: that is an issue I have been mulling over. I may try to make one side the crocheted side and the other maybe from the washcloths or towels that have holes in them..... hmmmm.