{charmed earth}

The Lifestyle blog of Katie Storms.: something simple, something sweet, something styled.

28 March 2010

Something Upcycled: T-Shirt Tote Bag

I unpacked my spring clothes this morning. It's supposed to be sunny, sixties and seventies, all spring next week. As I was unpacking, I came across my bag of college and high school t-shirts. The plan was to always have a t-shirt quilt made. But do you know how much time those take? And how much they cost to have someone do it for you? So not worth it.

Well. You know me. I had to come up with a solution that reused the t-shirts and didn't break the bank. And didn't involve buying anything new. Ah ha moment: reusable tote bags. I wondered if it would work. And it did. I think I'm going to gift this one to someone special.

Let me know your thoughts for other t-shirt projects: I'm already thinking of the ideas. Who knew how pivotal a sewing machine would be in this grand adventure.

26 March 2010

Something Sewn: Vintage Quilt Becomes Apron

I want to make this one quick. On my way back home from visiting the family, I stopped at two HUGE antique malls. It was the adventure of Spring Break 2010!

I came across exactly what I wanted, including a bag of old, vintage binding and buttons and a top quilt.

Then I got to work with my sewing machine. My lovely mother surprised me with it three years ago for my birthday, but I never really challenged myself with it. This week, I've been sewing up loads of Christmas gifts and possible merchandise for a summer/spring craft show or flea market (if I can find one).

Look what I made: Charming Aprons

Nothing new. No pattern required.

And in case you're wondering: I still haven't bought anything new for myself. Nothing. I did buy some gifts and fabric to make gifts (I didn't take a photo, but I made my friend Emily the cutest Peter Rabbit baby blanket to match the nursery theme she picked for her expected baby). And a fabric store in the neighborhood is having a going out of business sale. So I stocked up on a few yards for Christmas gifts.

Something Old: Mere's Aprons

Last month I wanted to wear the brown dress with pink flowers again. It was my mother's in high school. It had long sleeves and a very short skirt. I borrowed it, and wore it as often as I could. Then the zipper broke. For years I thought it was lost. I couldn't believe we'd toss it out on account of a zipper--but for nearly 10 years I searched for it.

I search under my bed. I rifled through the attic. I burrowed myself in the depths of my closet. I dove into the depths of my sisters' closets. I emptied and re-emptied my cedar chest. I even checked Mama's closet. No dress.

Then a few nights ago I had a dream. And when I woke up I knew to look inside my mother's cedar chest. The dress was there. I just knew it. So when I went home this past weekend, I checked the cedar chest. And there she was. Brown long bell sleeves decorated with pink flowers, her lace collar, sitting right on top. Zipper still broken.

I wondered if this magical cedar chest held the other treasures I'd lost: my pink eyeglasses (no matter I lost them in my West End apartment), my mother's shirt with the partridges painted the colors or fall, and my Lolly doll. No luck. But I did uncover some very vintage aprons (I love aprons). I asked my mother about them. They belonged to her grandmother, my great-grandmother. We called her Mere (Or Mirror--I never can spell it right). So I asked to keep one. But I couldn't help photographing all of them in the sunshine at Mom and Dad's over the weekend.

Oh. Mom fixed the zipper (my sewing's not that advanced yet). And it the dress still fits!

14 March 2010

Something Reused: Cereal Box Liners

My friend Nikki lives two blocks away from me. She's a dear friend, but I don't see her as often as I wish I did. So about four weeks ago I made a batch of Magnolia cupcakes. Nikki loves these cupcakes. So I decided to drop off a few at her house for her family to enjoy. She enjoyed them.

And in honor of Charmed Earth, Nikki returned the container to me, filled with blueberry coconut muffins. Then a pattern started: I sent back jam thumbprints, Nikki sent back coconut-chocolate-chip-banana-bars. And we reused the same container. But this container had a flaw: we didn't have a lid. So each time we shared a treat, we had to add new plastic wrap. The other day my butter was getting close to its expiration, so I had to make Pound Cake from scratch.

Yes. You read me right. I had to make Pound Cake. There was nothing else to do with the butter. It was already room temperature, the sugar, the eggs, and the flour were begging for it. I had to do it. So I sifted through my cookbooks searching for the perfect Pound Cake. I found it in one of my favorites: Amy Sedaris's I Like You.

Amy Sedaris's recipe was borrowed from a friend, and hers called for buttermilk; I discovered that skim milk will work fine.

So back to my neighborhood-treat-swapping with Nikki. I was so proud of my Pound Cake. I had to send a few slices to Nikki and her family. But I didn't want to waste any more plastic wrap (because when my stash is gone, it's gone). Then I realized...I had been saving a few sheets of box cereal liners. They seem to be just like wax paper. So I ripped it down the seam and wrapped the Pound Cake inside. I had to close it with a few clothes pins, so I decided to decorate them with treat words. My intention was to put it inside the container, but I forgot it. And I didn't realize it until I was almost to her house.

Now I know what to do with those cereal liners I'm saving! What a great reuse. And I think I know just what to do with the actual boxes: I can't wait for summer vacation so I can focus my time on the reuses!

13 March 2010

Something Recycled. Something Dental.

I take care of my teeth. I floss. I use my Bubblegum flavored ACT. I brush. I just have bad luck when it comes to cavities.

Now. My dental tooth-cleaning lady suggests I invest in a power brush. But. I. don't. want. to. I like my Preserve toothbrush too much to let go.

Yes. My preserve toothbrush. It's almost like a sculpture. I usually get the white one or the soft sea foam green. I love how the neck arches back, like the bristles are out on the beach drinking in the sunshine. I wish I was at the beach.

But it's more than a piece of art. This toothbrush is made from recycled yogurt cups. It comes in a reusable travel case. And when the bristles are no longer firm enough to brush, you simple toss the toothbrush and case in a prepaid envelope and send it back to preserve where they will continue to recycle. And did I mention this tooth brush is under $3? That's at Trader Joe's. Some places sell them for over $6 a piece. To get the prepaid envelope, ask someone at the store or look on the shelf. I also think they sell razors, but I can't seem to find them yet. I'm planning on looking at Whole Foods the next time I am brave enough to walk in there.

Here's the Website: http://www.preserveproducts.com/

So I guess when my disposable razors are no longer sharp, I can at least buy online. I haven't read the Website much, but I think I need to. I'm hoping there's a way to get them my yogurt cups. Because yogurt cups are a recycle #5, I can't recycle them where I drop off my other plastics and glass I can't reuse.

Enjoy brushing!

04 March 2010

Something Glass

I read a magazine article in Spirituality and Health magazine today. The article claims glass is an "abundant, low-impact raw material made with no harmful chemicals." The article makes a suggestion to replace plastic bottles with these very tempting, and cute, glass water bottles found at Lifefactory.com. I checked them out, and I am very tempted to purchase one, but I can't.

I kind of hope someone wants to get me one for my birthday in September or, perhaps, for some other occasion. I think I am a fan of the sky blue one. The other cool thing is that they also manufacture baby bottles. And teething rings. It's a very cool site for new moms and dads alike.

But this article, thought it's promoting a product, is an article I trust. And it starts to solve my ongoing wondering: Should I buy glass or plastic at the grocery store when given the choice. I mean, do I buy jam in glass jars or plastic? Do I buy spaghetti sauce in glass jars or plastic? Do I buy milk in a glass jug or plastic? Well. The milk one's easy. Until Oberweiss cuts their prices, I can't afford milk in glass. But jam? Sure. Pasta sauce? Of course.

But I keep wondering if glass is the better choice. And as I researched the issue further, I came across different answers. A pro of getting glass is that glass, when recycled, can be turned back into glass. Plastic bottles, on the other hand, can't be recycled back into bottles. But glass is heavier, so it takes more energy to transport that its plastic counterparts. But then again glass is safer to reuse than plastic because we don't have to worry about the BPA found in reused plastics that can be very harmful for our health. But then again plastic doesn't break, and the companies won't risk wasting product with it.

So my solution? I'm sticking with glass.

Since I've started my dance with Mother Earth, I've saved three jam jars. And I hope to start saving more. I really hope that I can find a set of smaller canning jars at a yard sale or something this summer. For now, I use my three almost every single week to pack my lunch--today one housed a handful of sesame seed almonds, and the other one carried my cottage cheese. I also use them frequently for grapefruit.

But my lunch isn't the only reason glass wins.

It looks prettier. It's always see-through, so I don't have to guess what I stored inside. It lasts much longer. It won't melt in the microwave. I can use it to store foods in the fridge. I can use it to store foods in the pantry. And I know they food will stay fresher. I can reuse it as a vase easily. I can reuse it to attractively hold candles at dinner. I can eventually reuse it to gift friends and relatives my famous rolo turtles at the holidays, and it will still look classy.

So for now, I think glass is the better choice when given the option. But whether you choose glass or plastic isn't nearly as important as saving Mother Earth by recycling (or reusing) both. The astonishing fact remains: "90% of plastic water bottles don't get recycled and end up in landfills" (Spirituality and Health 37). And they take centuries to decompose. There is no excuse for this. Please, buy a reusable water bottle. And recycle when you forget.

02 March 2010

Something Filthy

"...and the things you used to own, now they own you." ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

I own a lot of stuff. That's right. Stuff. I've been talking this one over with another one of my students (who reminded me of this great quote from Fight Club.)

And I've been repalying T.C. Boyle's Filthy With Things over and over in my mind, asking myself: Am I "filthy with things"? Am I that woman who will need to have a specialist stomp through my front doors to declutter my life? Will she barge in and head straight for the shelves decorated with my Where the Wild Things Are ornaments and toys? Or will she start in the kitchen with my dishes, carefully wrapping the twelve soup bowls, twelve cereal bowls, twelve dinner plates, twelve salad plates, twelve tea cups, twelve saucers, four appetizer plates, and three serving bowls while I am away at work? Will she force her way through the front door with her metal clipboard itemizing my jewelry, scribbling out details like ruby-butterfly-brooch, vintage-button-earrings, grandmother's-gold-and-red-class-ring, and fossil-watch-with-alligator-red-leather-band as if no memories are attached?

Will she arrive at the request of my husband one weekend when I am out of town, antiquing though Columbia, collecting a periwinkle FireKing bowl or bundle of antique buttons and playing cards? And will I arrive to an empty house, a list, and a stack of fees to buy back my great-grandmother Geneva's lace handkerchiefs, my great-aunt Agnes's Dutch boy and girl salt and pepper shakers, and my great-grandmother Teresa's blue and white tea cup in saucer within 60 days? Now. Tell. Me. Mr. T.C. Boyle: Will she arrive? Am I filthy with things? Are the things I own owning me, Mr. Palahnuik?

I want to say no, but I fear my charming husband may disagree.

01 March 2010

Something from Scratch

Guess what I made?! Cheddar Biscuits. Scones. Jam Thumbprints. Buttermilk Biscuits. Dinner Rolls with Poppy Seeds. Black Bean Soup. Lentil Soup. White Bean Tuscan Soup. Fresh Whipped Cream. Magnolia Cupcakes with Buttercream Icing. Hummus.

I didn't want to let it all loose at once, but I couldn't help myself and my pride. It all started with the bag of self-rising flour in the refrigerator. I bought it to make Magnolia Cupcakes for a Trivia Night a few weeks back. It's a necessary ingredient for the amazing bakery treat, but the recipe only calls for a cup or less. And since the self-rising stuff usually expires before I can bake another batch, I usually (embarrassed look here) throw it away.

This time, I read the recipes on the back: Easy, smeazy Cheddar Biscuits. My charming husband loves them. And they are super simple to bake: 2 1/4 c. self-rising flour, 2 t. sugar, 1 stick butter, 1 c. milk, buttermilk, or cream, 3/4-1c. cheddar cheese. You simply mix the sugar and flour. Then add the butter (I cut it into small chunks). Cut the butter into the flour using a fork (or if you are lucky, a pastry cutter). Next, add the buttermilk and cheese. Then drop 'em on a pan and cook for 12 minutes at 450 degrees.

After they bake, microwave a tablespoon or two of butter and add 1/2 t. garlic powder or salt. Brush the biscuits. Impress everyone!

And now my bag of flour isn't going to go to waste. And I've saved a ton on the grocery bill. I stock up on butter on sale, cheese on sale, and we always have milk and sugar. It's so simple! So instead taking in a hefty night and bill at your local Red Lobster, whip up a batch and serve hot with a cup of lentil soup like we are for dinner tonight!