Friday, 17 April 2015

Fruit and vegetable shopping bags



Hand or machine sewn with two seams


Fruit and vegetable shopping bags are lightweight, practical and kind to the environment. Use these bags when you buy fruit and vegetables, put in your produce and take home and put into the fridge. No changing bags and no rubbish or plastic bag pollution.

To make a bag, use a lightweight breathable fabric, such as old curtains, wide lace, tulle or any sheer type fabric that does not fray. There is hardly any weight in a homemade vegetable bag but do use the lightest material you have.


Use lightweight material.

Tulle is very good

How to make a vegetable bag

For this tutorial I am using light webbing that is usually put over a vegetable garden. 









1. Cut a piece of fabric double the size you would like your bag to be.

2. Fold over the side seam and sew. Use straight stitch or zig-zag, if you have an overlocker use that. Those who hand sew use a back stitch to make the bag strong.

3. 3. Fold the sewn fabric in half so the seam is in the middle - still inside out.

4. Sew along the bottom edge.

5. Done after only two seams.

You could edge the top and insert a drawstring but it adds weight. To close the top of the bag you can simply scrunch or clip the top when you put items in the crisper bin.

As well as the environmental benefit, using these bags keeps your vegetable/crisper bin clean and tidy. No need to rummage through the crisper to find what you have and no more little vegetables getting lost and wasted in bottom of crisper.


Saturday, 11 April 2015

Homemade Mineral Make Up

by AlisonS

The corporate world and our social lives generally dictate that to fit in, women must cover their purported imperfections and mask their natural looks with make up.

The liquid foundations used in the past went on like paste and blocked pores. They contained a long list of chemicals and no one really knew much about them. The skin is the largest organ in the body and what we put on our skin can be absorbed directly into our body. We have realised in recent years, we have to be more careful.

Fast forward to the last ten years or so, and the new and improved mineral make up hit the scene. 

Mineral make up is so much better for our skin than the "old" foundations of past, they are generally made from good, natural ingredients and allows our skin to breathe. But even so, many of the marketed mineral foundations contain unnecessary ingredients that no one can pronounce, and a lot of them use talcum powder to bulk it out and make it more cost effective for the manufacturer.

Here is an example of one mineral make up product's ingredients:

Ingredient list: Mica, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Zinc Stearate, Boron Nitride, Zinc Oxide (CI 77947), Nylon 12, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopherol, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Retinyl Palmitate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Caprylyl Glycol, Isopentyldiol, Water (Aqua), MAY CONTAIN (+/-): Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Ultramarines (CI 77007), Chromium Oxide Greens (CI 77288), Carmine (CI 75470) (chestnut light),Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140:1)

Not only is it important to know what we're putting on our skins and in our bodies, cost is a major factor. The mineral make up I used to buy cost around $60, and if you were to wear make up daily, no doubt you would need to buy two or possibly three of these a year.

Let me share my secret to having good mineral make up with no unnecessary ingredients and one that is very cost effective ... I make it myself. It has only six ingredients, and all with words I can pronounce easily. And the best part? It takes five minutes to make and I can tweak the colouring to exactly match my skin colour.


It is a little costly in the beginning to buy the ingredients, but they will last forever and have no expiry date. Plus, if you are a soap maker like myself, and like to play around with colours, you may already have most of the ingredients on hand. One of the ingredients I didn't have, and had to purchase, was zinc oxide. This is a great thing to have on hand as you can use it to make your own talc powder, and it is also the active ingredient in sunscreen. Just mix a little into your favourite moisturiser and it automatically becomes a sunscreen moisturiser!

Most (if not all) of the ingredients can be bought from soap making supply stores.

You may need some mini measuring spoons (like you would use for cheese making) to measure the colours. Otherwise, just do it by eye and gradually add the colouring.


Basic mineral make up recipe 

  • 4 tsp Titanium Dioxide **
  • 1 1/2 tsp Sericite Mica (this is what gives your face it's "glow")
  • 2 tsp Zinc Oxide
  • 1/2 tsp + 1/32 tsp (smidgen) Yellow Iron Oxide
  • 1/16 tsp (pinch) Brown Iron Oxide
  • 3/32 tsp (3 X smidgens) Red Iron Oxide
Simply mix ingredients together in a jar, then put through a tea strainer to get out any lumps. Store in a clean, airtight jar. Test on your face during daylight to best match your skin colour.


How to tweak your colouring:

  • Too dark? Add more titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or sericite mica.
  • Too light? Add more brown iron oxide. 
  • Too yellow? Add more red iron oxide. 
  • Too pink? Add more yellow iron oxide.
** There has been some discussion and research into the safety of titanium dioxide, in particular the inhalation of nanoparticles potentially being carcinogenic. We do not want to recommend any product that could potentially harm you, so we researched a bit further. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has deemed it safe for cosmetic use "in amounts consistent with good manufacturing practice", but we urge you to conduct your own research and make up your own mind.

Monday, 6 April 2015

How to make a watersaving olla

by Nanna Chel @ Going Grey and Slightly Green

I first heard about Ollas when I was reading Tania's blog a while back and was quite intrigued by them and keen to make some. Tania had a link to The Suburban Farm where there is an easy step-by-step tutorial for making an Olla which apparently is pronounced oh-yah but I watched a couple of YouTube videos and the presenters seem to pronounce it more like oi-yah. Tania used Liquid Nails Ceramic to fill in the hole in the bottom pot and to glue both pots together but when I went to the hardware store there was none there so I asked what would be a suitable non- toxic glue which would do the job and the very helpful salesman spent some time going through the different glues and reading the labels and thought that the Silaflex-11FC should do the trick. It is drinking water safe as well as potable water safe.


I bought some unglazed 17cm terracotta pots, put a small flat rock in the drainage hole of one of the pots then glued it in so that it would create a waterproof seal. I had a bit of trouble managing the caulking gun so my husband had to come to the rescue. He put glue around the top of the second pot….

…and then glued both pots together. 


 To make sure it sealed properly he spread the glue around both openings. Then it was left to dry for 24 hours.


The next day I filled the Olla with water to make sure that no water was leaking out around the glue before putting each one in a bucket of water for a while as had been suggested in an online tutorial. They were then ready to be buried in the vegetable patch and holes were dug deep enough to put them in so that only the tops were sticking out. Once in the ground they were filled with water through the hole in the top and a small rock was put over the hole of each one to prevent soil from getting inside.


To prevent evaporation some people paint the top of their pots so I experimented with a couple of them. I can’t say for sure if this helped as I had a painted one in the same section of the garden as an unpainted Olla but I did notice that they really came into their own during the hot days we had in spring and summer and feel they are a valuable addition to the garden. Mine had been in the ground for eight months and when I dug them up this week while digging over the vegetable patch they were still in good nick so I moved them to another area.





Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Clothing and textiles in the simple living home (Part 2)



Using thrift shops, freecycle and clothing swaps as your main sources for family clothing and home textiles, you can provide the bulk of your family’s needs at little to no cost. The keys to efficiently and successfully using these resources are as follows:

1. Know what you need by keeping an updated list in your wallet or purse at all times. This eliminates unnecessary purchases and prevents you from buying new at the last minute. If you are prepared in advance for coming seasonal weather changes (or growth spurts in children), you’ll have plenty of time to source what will be needed BEFORE you actually need it.

2. Aim for minimalist wardrobes for everyone in the family. Look for basic key pieces that can be worn together (mix and match) to bring the greatest flexibility and the most “bang for your buck”. 

3. Regularly go through closets, drawers and stored clothes (whether off season or the next size for children to grow into) to take stock of wardrobe gaps that need filling. I suggest doing this task monthly or at minimum, seasonally. This helps you to maintain a truly accurate needs list so you can “shop” efficiently in second hand stores or at clothing swaps.

4. Keep your “inventory” well organized at home. If you have several children and can hand clothes down to younger siblings, be vigilant about boxing clothes up and labeling WELL as to what is inside (gender, size and season). Don’t keep too much as this can become a “clutter” liability rather than a clothing asset.

5. Purge regularly. Needs and lifestyles change and children grow. Donate or sell anything no longer useful or serviceable to free up space for incoming (needed) garments.


Supply and demand plays into the household economy as it relates to clothes and textiles. Some items are as rare as “hen’s teeth” (pants for 10 year old boys, for example as most boys wear through their pants with their rough and tumble play). This fact means that boys’ pants might need to be purchased new. Look to seasonal sales and plan ahead so that you never pay full retail price.


Only consider paying full price for quality items that you know you can get many years of use out of (an adult winter coat that will be worn for many years or a child’s coat that can be handed down to younger siblings). Never pay full price for something that is in great supply second hand in your area (such as a child’s t-shirt).


Special occasion garments are often costly budget breakers, but they are very easily sourced second hand. Most of them have been worn once and often, not at all. If you have an upcoming special occasion to attend, be sure to source your clothing early to avoid last minute costly new purchases. Note that dress shoes are also widely available second hand, often with barely a scuff (usually having been worn only once).


Additionally, sheets, towels, curtains, blankets, quilts and aprons are all available through the sources listed above and many thrift stores offer garbage bags full of worn towels selling for just a few dollars. These can be cut up for cleaning clothes or shop rags and eliminate the need for buying expensive and/or disposable cleaning cloths and shop towels. You can also cut up your own worn clothing and linens to be used in this manner for free (the ultimate in recycling). 

Using these three resources wisely and efficiently, home managers can fill nearly every family and household textile need for a fraction of the cost of new, with very little effort. Happy shopping, simple living style!

Monday, 30 March 2015

Clothing and textiles in the simple living home (Part 1)


We all need clothes and outerwear to protect us from the elements, and every home should be stocked with a variety of textiles to help us keep our houses clean and comfortable. The cost of buying new clothing and textiles is staggering, so it makes good sense for any home manager to find thriftier solutions to meet these essential home and family needs. Using creative resourcefulness we can stretch those hard earned dollars until they squeal!

Most communities have at least one charity/thrift shop, which is a home manager’s best, most reliable resource for sourcing a varied selection of clothing and textiles for the home and family. In modern times, excess of all kinds surrounds us, which translates into thrift stores bursting with gently used clothes, outerwear, linens and home goods. It makes no financial sense to buy new when such abundance exists in our communities for pennies on the dollar. The key to sourcing most of your family’s clothing and textiles at a thrift store is to visit it regularly and know when new items are put out (usually early morning before store opening although sometimes, this occurs on specific days only).


Another fantastic clothing and textile resource for home managers is freecycle. This fast growing, FREE, online network provides everyday people with tremendous networking power to share goods no longer needed. Our family loves donating bags of clothing no longer needed directly to people in our community and we greatly appreciate the reciprocal generosity. Freecycle builds strong communities through the sharing that it facilitates and it is a tremendously powerful budget stretcher. I encourage you to set up an online account on your local network to begin using this valuable resource.


Community clothing swaps are another way for people to share and trade clothing and outerwear at no cost. Usually, these events are held annually and are geared toward children’s clothes, as the steady growth of children requires nearly constant wardrobe purging/purchasing. Clothing swaps often take place in community centers, recreation centers or church halls but many women’s groups are now offering clothing swaps as well. If you can’t find a local clothing swap, consider starting one yourself!

To be continued tomorrow ...