Archive for the 'Reusable' Category

Ice Packs

Posted by laura on Oct 26 2009 | Making, Reusable

When Honey had her surgery, the doctor and nurses advised us to keep her head elevated and ice on her jaw for two days. “Frozen peas work great!” they recommended merrily. As I was driving home it hit me – two days of frozen (and subsequently thawed) peas equals a lot of peas. Surely there had to be a better way.

At home we had a beautiful big soft ice pack that the kids call the “Amy Icepack” because – big surprise here – our friend Amy gave it to me years ago when I was pregnant in the summertime. (Just stow that idea away, people, and if you have any good friends who get pregnant in summertime you have a home run gift to make them love you forever.) Back to the subject, it turns out that one was a bit big for the occasion, while some of our other packs were too hard or just awkward. What we did have were these awesome little mini packs that look a little bit like ice cubes. I found them a while back at the Container Store and they’re fantastic! They settle in nicely around food in a cooler but don’t leave a big puddle at the bottom when they defrost.


They were great in this situation because Honey could mold them around her jaw, but we had a little trouble wrapping them. All our wash cloths were too thick, so the cold wasn’t getting through. In the end I cut up a soft old tshirt and made a little bag. I had a scrap of super soft tulle to tie it together, and that little bit of extra softness felt good against her cheek.

I’ve heard about people making heat/ice packs with beans and rice, but I’ve also read that these can get smelly over time. It’s made me think that there must be other good materials out there that would make good packs of different sizes. Maybe pie weights? If anyone has ideas, let me know!

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This n’ That

Posted by laura on Feb 11 2009 | Fun, Making, Reusable, Tasty

Is it really possible that I’ve resisted using an n’ in my blog titles for an entire year? Yes it is. I had to check my list of posts, and it’s hard to believe, but true. So watch out, y’all, because this might be the year of the apostrophe. 

ANYway, last weekend was a nice one here. Amy and Andy had our kids over to play on Saturday morning and Tom and I drove into SF to have a breakfast date and a stroll around Chestnut street. We had a lovely breakfast at The Grove, which is this very cozy offbeat kind of place – I love it because they have at least a dozen different types of seating arrangements to choose from. There are traditional small café tables with chairs, tables with benches, benches built in around a fireplace, and a random odd assortment of reclaimed seating from heaven only knows where. Theater-style seats and wooden blocks and cushy old couches.

I love a place like this because you can tailor your seating to the light, your mood, or even what you’re eating. You know the feeling; sometimes you want your tea in a mug and other times it’s just better in a teacup. Or, you love to eat cereal out of the ceramic bowl your son painted, but your sorbet really needs to go in that vintage cut glass dish you got at the flea market. 

Right. So Saturday we ended up in an ideal sunny corner by the door, and I got the bench seat, which just made my day. Tom was so taken by his perfect toast that he took a picture, which you can see here if you’d like. (Funny thing about that shot is that he seems to have missed his toast and focused on his Vegemite, which yes, he carried with him that morning. That’s devotion.)

After a beautiful breakfast we wandered around Chestnut for a while. We each got some quality time in heaven that morning – Tom in his and I in mine. Seriously – I could spend a week in that place. It’s awesome. After that, we took a walk down by Chrissy Field and watched the crazy surfers out by Fort Point. 

The rest of the weekend was also lovely. Honey had a couple of birthday parties to go to, and we had fun using recycled paper and yarn to wrap up her gifts. Here’s a shot of one of them:

I have this huge foldout mailer from Veer that I’ve been saving because it’s covered with tiny photos from their stock and I love the look of it. We used that and some extra bits of yarn to wrap up this packet. Some party highlights:

- sleepover with swimming and TWO movies

- ’sleep’ part of the over started after 11pm

- art party the next day

- soap making with tiny plastic bug inclusions!

Life is seriously good, and all the girls were completely washed up by about 3pm on Sunday. 

The other weekend’s accomplishment was raisin bread, which I’ve been promising to bake for about a month and a half.

I used the recipe from the King Arthur Cookbook that Mum gave me years ago, and it was GOOD. 

So that’s the weekend wrap-up, brought to you in timely fashion on Wednesday (or Thursday for you Aussies and East Coasters).

Love n’ stuff,


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More Paper Flowers

Posted by laura on Sep 21 2008 | Making, Reusable


A couple of paper posies for some great friends. One was a little more arty and recycled, the other was pink crepe.

As I was making the crepe paper roses I first thought Boy! These are fun and easy to make! Who knew? 

Then I thought – I know who knew… every person who’s decorated a Fourth of July float, that’s who! These things have to be as old as the hills. It was like ‘discovering’ granny squares.

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Paper Bouquet

Posted by laura on Sep 14 2008 | Making, Reusable

There are certain catalogs that I just can’t bear to throw away because of the imagery and paper quality. We have a whole collection of stock photo company catalogs that I mine for images when I make cards and luggage tags, and I keep stacks of magazines that use nice heavy paper and great photography. So I’m always thinking about projects for my growing paper collection.

Friday was my lovely friend Satyam’s birthday, and seeing as she’s arty and environmentally focused, I figured a recycled paper bouquet might be right up her alley. It would have been better if I’d had a bit more time to dedicate to it, but I did like how some of the flowers turned out. I think with some effort these could even be wedding bouquets. My daughter got into the game with me and made one of the flowers for the bouquet – we had a great time working together.


In typical fashion, I finished them up just as I was heading out the door, so I just took a couple hasty shots of dubious quality. I do like the contrasting colors and patterns. The big lilly uses a photo of a pink and orange polka-dotted comforter as well as an interior shot of an office space filled with cubicles. I like how they’re nicely abstracted once you cut them up.

Right now my method is a little laborious – I’d love to know how designers at stores like Anthropologie take ideas like this and figure out how to roll them out in quantity. 


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More bags

Posted by laura on Aug 12 2008 | Reusable, Sewing


Been whipping up felt bags for all our little gifties. They’re just so fast to make, and I love that they’re reusable. Lately I’ve been sewing an extra strip of felt along the top and cutting a small handle out of the base layer below – the top layer gives a little extra support and structure. 

Another method that’s worked really well in the past is to cut a couple of branches, about a half inch in diameter, and use them for handles. Just sew a couple of felt loops at the top of the bag to hold them in (I found that it really helps to stitch around the ends of the branches so they can’t slip out.) It’s an incredibly easy solution that always looks nice – particularly with a bird or branchy silhouette stitched onto the bag.

These days, though, I seem to be leaving them till the very last minute and as you can see, the decorations are pretty minimal. Maybe next time I’ll try to get fancy… ha! That sounds like it would involve some advance thought. Better not.


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Gift wallet

Posted by laura on Jun 04 2008 | Reusable, Sewing

Sometimes the end of term/year teacher gifts can be tricky. One of the teachers we were appreciating this past week is just about to go back to school for her MBA and some friends and I decided that the last thing she needed was a mug. (Ok just kidding there – NO teacher needs a mug. Let’s just be clear about that.) We figured she’s looking at a lot of ramen noodles in her future, so we thought the best gift would be cash. Yes it’s impersonal, but it’s a happy day when you’re young and you get unexpected money. To make it a bit more thoughtful, I figured I’d sew up a little wallet for it.


I’m crazy about this material (leftover from pajamas), and the bag was a snap to make. It’s lined with some pale pink raw silk (leftover from a dress) and uses a bit of green yarn (leftover from a baby hat) that wraps around a button.


This couldn’t be any simpler, and yet I still managed to make 2 mistakes while I was doing it. Doh. The beauty of making small things, though, is that they don’t take long to fix!! 

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Reusable Wrapping

Posted by laura on Feb 04 2008 | Reusable, Sewing

I’m pretty bad at throwing things away, so I have bins of old fabric scraps and clothes waiting to be turned into new and useful items. Problem is, I keep adding to the stash without doing any major damage in terms of using it up. This Christmas I finally started to make good on my plan to use some of the fabric stash to make reusable gift wrappers.
handmade reusable bagSo this one uses the pocket from the nicest old pair of mens’ pants – soft but strong and a perfect brown. There’s something nice about having some wrappers that aren’t overly seasonal or specific to one occasion. Also – pants pockets are fantastic for gift bags, since the pocket is a great detail and a perfect place to slide in a gift card or a part of the present. 

handmade reusable gift bagThis little bird bag used to be a sweater. Now it’s a cross between a gift bag and a purse – a small branch makes a nice handle. No fancy sewing here, but I was hoping to make a few bags that were just a little out of the ’sack’ family of cloth gift bags. (Not that I’m above sacks, as you’ll soon see.)   
handmade reusable gift bag.jpg Here’s the bird again, with a t shirt wrap. This one isn’t a bag – I just stitched up a rectangle out of the neckline and torso of a toddler-size t shirt and added a flap along the inside back of the collar. You fill the wrapping from the neck of the shirt and tuck the flap over the contents, inside the neckline.The tag just gets wrapped around the flower.

handmade reusable gift bag
These wintery bags are made from leftover costume material. The top one is also more of a parcel – it has a velcro closure up the back. Note the sack underneath! Very handy for large format picture books or those odd shaped gifts. Like an armadillo.
The next wrapper that I’ve gotten into is little wallet-sized ones for gift cards. I like to work off the colors of the gift card, but I hope that won’t mean they’ll be harder to reuse. Here’s one from this week -
reusable gift card walletreusable gift card wallet
Just a simple felt wallet with a felt applique on the front.I really should have lined the inside of the front to hide my sloppy stitching, but I ran out of time. I think it does the trick, though.
This scrappy sewing is really fun. It’s great to use up clothes that have tears or stains and can’t be given away. I love picking through the bins, looking for just the right shade or material. Storage is always an issue, though. Our ‘art’ room doesn’t have a closet, so I need to figure out some built-in or standing storage option. The blue plastic tubs are just not doing it for me somehow.
One of my favorite storage solutions is featured in a Living magazine spread on Martha’s workroom. Somehow her scrap fabric is all really nice and square and flat and easy to look through. I think mine needs a good talking to.
At least I can have most of it in one room – that’s a real luxury. We’ve consolidated most of the art supplies into one area and it’s heaven just rummaging around for scraps of paper or ribbon or cloth or that perfect pen  in one room instead of all over the house and the garage. Now I just have to find a way to make it look a little nicer!

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