Monday, April 29, 2013

Pretty Much Pintesting - Sewing An XXL Wet Bag

Newborns need a diaper change every 2 hours. Changing a cloth diaper every 2 hours means you're going to end your day with a lot of diapers that need someplace to go. I've had enough issue getting a full days worth of my little lambs diapers fitting into the wet bag I have so I knew I needed something larger.

With the full intention of using this bag for my daughter until my son got here (because having only one wet bag for cloth diapers really wasn't cutting it) I needed to get to work.

Today's post is based on this pin and the information found here. I pretty much followed the same pattern and made a couple of adjustments to make this suit my needs.

I like wetbags because you can use them for more than just cloth diapering.  Take them to the pool for wet clothing and towels.  Maybe you have a little one who is potty training.  This would be a handy thing to have in the diaper bag for any accidents.  Much cuter than a plastic grocery bag, don’t you think?  This wetbag ends up being 9” x 12” and will fit about 3 large cloth diapers, but you can certainly adjust the sizes to make a larger bag.
To start, you’ll need the following materials:
*Two pieces 10” x 12.5” cotton fabric
*One 4” x 14” strip of cotton fabric
*Two pieces 10” x 12” PUL (polyurethane laminated fabric)
*9” zipper
*matching thread
*I read that polyester thread prevents wicking (leaking of moisture in the bag), so I usually use that if I have it.
*baby powder or tissue paper

With shiny side of the PUL up, lay your zipper on top of a short side. 
Place on of the cotton pieces of fabric on top of that, ride side of the fabric touching the zipper.

Pin together.
 Using your zipper foot, sew along the side of the zipper, as close to the zipper as you can.  
Turn both layers over and make the cotton and the PUL even along the sides and bottom.  
Topstitch closely to the zipper.
Before you, Repeat above steps for the other side of the zipper using the remaining outer and PUL pieces of fabric. I stopped to make the straps. Because my bag was so much bigger I was  going to need 2 straps to properly distribute the weight of the bag.

Set the bag aside for now.

Let’s make the straps.
 Fold the 5” x 14” strip in half
 and sew 1/4” seam along the long side.
 Then I sewed along the top of one of the edges.
Turn right side out and topstitch along both long sides.
Your bag no longer needs to set off to the side

Pin the straps in your sandwich of, PUL/ zipper/ straps/ cotton fabric. Make sure the straps are inside the bag. To make certain I caught the straps I left a little extra of the strap peeking out of the wrong side where I would be sewing.
Take the two outer cotton layers and line up as evenly as you can, right sides together.  So your PUL is pulled up and out of the way.  Sew 1/4” seam down each side, making sure to catch the zipper at the top and also the handle that you pinned in.   
 Leave the bottom open.  
Now take the two PUL layers and also line them up as evenly as possible, shiny sides together.
Leave the bag how it is in the above picture.

So the zipper is on the inside, and the cotton layers are still showing the wrong side.  The PUL and the cotton layers are NOT connected at all besides at the zipper.  Sew along all  3 sides of the PUL, leaving the zipper side open.  Since you are sewing on the non-shiny sides, your machine should work fine on this part without tissue paper or baby powder.  

Turn the bag right side out by pulling the cotton layer down over the PUL layer tuck the bottom of the cotton layers and iron. Topstitch closed. I actually didn't bother to stitch the PUL to the cotton. I left it loose.

Right when I was about to sew the end of my bag shut I noticed there was a cut in the fabric.
I fixed it by placing a scrap of the same fabric inside the bag. Making sure that I only had those two layers of fabric before I began sewing.
And then zig zag stitched over the problem.
Now to add snaps to those handles.
100% new to using a press and applying Kam Snaps and 100% disinterested in wasting time or money I went to YouTube to find an instructional video. This is the one I chose to use and it was everything I needed to know about properly using my new crafting toy.

I was careful to do my best to line the snaps up so they should be placed in the same spot on each strap.

Once you have the snaps on go hang the bag from wherever you're going to need it for now. I tend to hang the wet bag from the crib so I did. As you can see my plan to make a massive wet bag was quite the success. Now my only worry is that it's too large.
If your bag turns out to be too large don't forget that wet bags have tons of other uses. For instance this is a great size for holding wet swimsuits and beach things.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Spinning Composter

There wasn't going to be the necessary amount of space in our freezer if I didn't empty out all of that frozen food waste I still had in there from while I was waiting for my VermiHut. Four of my five trays for the hut were already full and I had plans to use my fifth to aid in the collection of compost. More trays didn't feel like the solution, I was going to need another composter or to stop caring about food waste. Obviously I wasn't going to stop caring about my food footprint. Getting another worm hut right now also didn't seem like the option.

What to do? Build an outdoor composter of course! Once again I turned to Pintrest in search of a tutorial that seemed up my alley. This pin led me to Instructables. I've seen a lot of Instructables but never actually tried one before so this would be my first.

You'll have to start with a 55 gallon food grade drum. For anyone who follows me on my Facebook fan page you may remember my posting this picture.
I drove around with this 55 gallon drum in the back of my car until we were ready to build - or very close actually. My husband was kind enough to take it out of my car the night before grocery day to make my life a tad easier.

My father-in-law was kind enough to provide us with the majority of the hardware and tools we were going to need.

We started pretty late in the evening, it was nearly 7PM which would have been just fine in say, June but in February means it's already dark.
Inside the house my husband marked off the spot for the door as well
 as the holes for where hardware would need to be placed using a yellow highlighter.
The little lamb supervised.
Now to head outside

First, my husband drilled the holes for where the hardware was going to attach.
You're really going to want to do all of this outside to avoid having bits of plastic all over your house and in your carpet.
Once all of those holes were drilled we moved on to the door.
Then we cut off the door.
To do so we ended up having to drill holes as a starting place to get the saw moving safely. Safety is always key but it becomes a bigger deal when you're the one holding the barrel and have a saw coming towards you. There's a lot of trust in our marriage.

You can really add the hardware inside and because it was dark and a bit chilly we put the aeration holes in next.
Don't worry, there are more aeration holes in than shown here.

My husbands grandfather built this composter for his wife before he died. According to grandma it's probably about 15 years old.
I know she composts but I've never actually seen her use it before.
 There are no aeration holes. What you see on the ends here is bolts.
He used a much longer hinge for the door
and I didn't see a way to hold the door closed.
You can see over time these have become incredibly cracked.

Here's what you see inside the composter.
 Again I have no idea how long it's been since she's used it.
She says that it's very difficult to turn.
I pre-write a lot of these blogs to try to insure I have regular posts for you. Considering how long the composter sat before dirt was added to the food waste and how long it's been sitting without it's rolling set up I feel pretty confident to tell you it's probably still sitting out on the side of the house, right now, months later, without rollers.

But basically there you have it. Our (manually) spinning composter.

Happy Arbor Day

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Freezer Meals

I've learned so much in my first years of parenting. One of the most easy to remember is particularly easy because it's still a frequent reality - the need to prepare food and eat.

When my husband and I were still dating I remember once, when he reached his newest duty station that I prepared a lot of his favourite foods and then froze them. Overall it went pretty well. He ate just fine while I wasn't around and it probably saved him a bit of money.

I'd forgotten about freezer meals until I came across a pin about them on Pintrest. The moment I saw the pin I knew that was what I was going to need in preparation for our newest little bundle of joy - especially with a two year-old and a puppy in the house as well.

Ready to and eager to begin making and freezing meals I had to wait until when I thought would be the best time to make them. Although you should be able to safely eat a freezer meal a year later - you run the very high likelihood of the dish losing a lot of its best flavor in that time.

Nearly mid-February I was so ready to plunge in, but not due until April I knew it was best to hold off. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend some of my puppy money on a 17 dish set of glassware from Amazon,
they are freezer, microwave, and top-rack dishwasher safe. I was still going to need something oven safe in my arsenal. I still had my online baby shower so I decided to wait and hope that people would order the other, smaller glassware sets that I'd added to the list for use in freezer meals.

I kept looking around online for a solution to my oven safe issue and found Sanctus Mundo airtight containers with stainless steel lids. Unfortunately they are super duper pricey so I had to think about if there were any other options or if I was really going to have to spend the last of what I had on those containers and once again forgo other things I needed as well.
I had to decide against them :(

There were Pyrex containers that were comparably more affordable, but only one of the sets I saw said that the lids were BPA free.
My parents vacuum seal and freeze food but I didn't have a vacuum sealer and preferred to avoid that sort of excess, possibly toxic plastic touching our food and feeding our landfill.

Before you begin freezing make sure that your freezer is set at the proper temperature and that all of the vents are not blocked. You will need for vents to still be accessible when you put food in otherwise your freezer will not maintain its proper temperature. Ideal temperature for your freezer is  0 Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius) for storing food. And -10 Fahrenheit (-23 Celsius) is recommended when freezing food. Make sure it's properly set at least 24 hours in advance.

Generally it seemed that freezer meals last 3 - 6 months. I put together a chart of collective info I saw on how long things should remain frozen:

Fruits and Vegetables – 6-12 months
Fruit pies, unbaked: 8 months
Poultry, uncooked – 9-12 months
Poultry, cooked – 4-6 months
Fish – 3-6 months
Lean fish: 6 months
Fatty fish: 2-3 months
Shellfish, uncooked: 3-6 months
Ham, cooked: 1-2 months
Bacon: 1 month
Chops, uncooked: 4-6 months
Meat, Roasts, Steaks, etc; uncooked – 4-12 months
Steaks, uncooked: 6-12 months
Ground Meat, uncooked – 3-4 months
Meat, cooked – 4 months
Cured or Processed Meats – 1-2 months
Casseroles – 2-3 months
Soups and stews – 2-3 months
Butter: 6-9 months
Bread and cake: 3 months
Cookies, baked or dough: 3 months
Ice cream and sorbet: 2 months

There was one other thing standing in the way of making freezer meals right that second. I still had frozen food waste in our large freezer. Thankfully, I had a plan for that.

Related Reading:
Getting Started: How Long Do Meals Last?
How Long Will Food Last in the Freezer? 
Issue #18: Safe Containers for Freezer Meals Five Best Containers for Frozen Food Storage
Plastic-Free Freezer Storage
Ideal Freezer Temperature 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Plastic Wrap Alternative - DIY Cotton Beesewax Wraps

Plastic is everywhere and it's so daunting that most people seem to decide, "What's the use?" and not bother trying. For a lot of people plastic wrap is an item receiving every day use in their household. How can you kick the habit of using something that has become so integral? By using beesewax cotton wraps.

I learned about this source post from My Healthy Green Family for todays craft while I was perusing the My Plastic Free Life Facebook fan page.

Although I can happily say that we do not use much plastic wrap in our house I can't say that we don't have a regular use for it. How can that be? I've never really bought it so there's never any in the house, but my husband tends to be a lot of leftovers in the fridge completely uncovered. By creating a plastic wrap alternative to provide a man that I sometimes have a hard time getting to put things in our recycled plastic containers I stand a better chance of not finding a bowl of baby cereal/food all dried out on the top shelf of our refrigerator.

I started off with some fabrics that this seemed like a good job for.
The directions say to pre-heat your oven to 185F, but I had to cope with 200F.

Place pre cut fabric on cookie sheet.

Sprinkle evenly and lightly with grated beeswax.  You don’t need a lot!
Place in preheated oven.  Watch carefully!  This should take 5 minutes or less.

As soon as the beeswax is just melted, remove from oven.

Spread wax evenly with paintbrush to cover over any spots that are not yet coated.
The directions say to hang on makeshift clothes line with clothes pegs, to dry. That wasn't really much of an option for me so I laid them out dry on some foil.

They ended up pretty stiff. The author says that once cooled, you can use these wraps. I felt a bit compelled to wash mine before use to see if that loosened them up a bit.

The results after washing were not positive. The wax was piecy, uneven, and cracked. I actually considered throwing what I had left away! But that would go against my feelings about needless waste. I'll have to find another use for this fail.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kid-friendly Movies with Green-Themed Messages

I really enjoy sharing my passion for helping improve the earth we live on with, well, just about everyone really. Education should really begin at home and one of many ways you can try to do so without leaving your children feel bogged down in "life lessons learned" is to allow them to enjoy a movie with you.

Wall-E (2008)
Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest (1992)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
Over The Hedge (2006)
Hoot (2006)
Happy Feet (2006)
Bambi (1942)
Furry Vengeance (2010)
Chicken Run (2000)
Free Willy (1993)
Finding Nemo (2003)
Tarzan (1999)
The Lorax (2012)
Totoro (1988)
Brother Bear (2003)
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)
Homeward Bound: An Incredible Journey (1993)
Pocahontas (1995)
The Lion King (1994)
Rescuers Down Under (1990)
A Bugs Life (1998)
Watership Down (1978)

Sunday, April 21, 2013