Just a quick post to pass on a few things on this lovely Earth Day.

I started my day on public transit, and later saw this on Facebook. It’s a good point:

A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars, it's where the rich rice public transportation. - Mayor of Bogota

Post by Conscious Consumers.

Later I went for a bike ride with my youngest (he’s moved up to gears and hand brakes, which is exciting for him!) and saw the newest local community garden, with folks in it prepping for growing season!

Last year, as you may know, I partook in the David Suzuki Foundation 30×30 nature challenge. They are on it again this year! Check it out. I highly recommend being a part of it. It made me feel spectacular. It’s geared for Canadians, but really, just join. Their daily tips are great and you will feel so much better for it!

Join Canada's 30x30 Nature Challenge

As much of my life revolves around Etsy these days, I thought I’d pass on their Earth Day workplace initiative:

Cup exchange at Etsy HQ

Cup exchange at Etsy HQ

Happy Earth Day, folks!


A friend (who keeps a lovely blog here) had a tie-dye gathering yesterday, as she was inspired by a beautiful Tie-Dye book. I had a couple of white t-shirts I bought at my local second hand shop, plus some old stained t-shirts and leggings, and when we found we had some dye left, the bag I brought and a hankie.

It was a great morning spent with some really lovely women and we had a blast tying and later generally making a mess.

In case you’re curious about the methods and results, I took before and after photos of most. These are my favourites, but I loved all the results.

What I learned from this experience was that the thick elastics create more dramatic ties. I’d like to try the accordion style again, but folding on a diagonal next time.

tie-dye stripes

This was folded accordion-style and then rolled.

tie-dye stripes

The shirt was grey to start. I love this one but I think I thought the yellow was orange when I dipped it… Oops!

tie-dye: marbles

There were marbles wrapped in plastic and secured with elastic. The dye was randomly sprayed.

tie-dye: marbles

Fun marble spots

tie-dye: cone roll

I rolled this as a cone starting from one shoulder. I sprayed the 3 colours of dye in lines.

tie-dye: cone roll

I think this is my favourite.

tie-dye cone roll from centre

My youngest designed this: He pulled the middle and and rolled it in a cone.

tie-dye cone roll from centre

How fun!

On Saturday there was a grand opening of our local park’s very own Free Little Library, right next to the playground. The path it’s on gets a lot of foot traffic, and in the hour or so that we were at the playground at least half of the passers-by stopped to have a look and some borrowed a book as well. We will go back tomorrow and add more books, as we borrowed a lovely children’s book today.
It’s been a long time coming. Well done friends of the park!

As I’ve mentioned before, I got a bag of fabric scraps from freecycle a few years ago. And since I picked up that great little book Sewn By Hand, I’ve been sewing a lot more.

My sons have also done some sewing. We had a bit of a secret Santa-type valentine exchange last week with our homeschooling group (instead of every child bringing 22 cards, they each made one small gift). We went online (I love the web for creative ideas and patterns) and they selected the things they wanted to sew. My five year old chose some stuffed felt hearts (in navy, green, and red) which he and I worked on together (about 50/50) and my seven year old chose a felt rose. I can’t find the link to the instructions he used, but it was basically this here and we used a little square of felt, plus some scrap green felt (we keep all of the little bits for these wee projects), and another scrap for the bag.

felt rose and scrap fabric gift bag

I also made myself a roll-up for my circular knitting needles. It was a bit laborious for hand-sewing, and it’s a little imperfect, but that’s part of its charm, right? It’s made from a corduroy scrap from the freecycled fabric and the bottom portion of some curtains that were too long for the window.

Circular knitting needle case hand sewn using scrap fabric

I didn’t love the ribbon closure, however, so when I went to make a crayon roll-up (those cardboard boxes never last long) for the boys I looked (online) around for a better closure and found this great tutorial, which uses a couple of buttons and a hair elastic. Brilliant! The original is much fancier and uses a machine, but the boys and I are quite happy with ours.

crayon roll hand sewn from fabric scraps and a hair elastic/button closure

And lastly, we had a birthday recently, and we usually decorate with crepe streamers (they are reused but each time they get a cm or two shorter from the tape rips off the ends) and I wanted to do something a little different and reusable, so my five year old and I got up early and made a birthday banner. It’s not actually sewn (it’s glued) but I may get around to securing the letters on a bit better at some point. My son chose the colours and placement of the letters. He wanted the letters to be “jumping.” Excellent.

reusable birthday banner from scraps

We also made a monster stuffy for a story we told to our storytelling group, but I don’t have a photo and I can’t get one now since my little guy is sleeping with said monster! It came from My First Sewing Book.

I buy many of my clothes second hand, as well as many of the clothes for my boys. Which means the knees in our jeans wear out pretty quickly. And I don’t like to throw them out, so I’ve mended a few pairs with fleece patches (fleece because it’s a bit stretchy, which is good for the knees) but apparently my method isn’t that great, because eventually the seam of my patches rips. A few pairs we’ve made into cut-off shorts. But I figured there had to be a better way to salvage them.

Patches from Sewn By Hand

A couple of months ago my eldest son asked to learn how to sew so we got a couple of books out of the library, looking for good beginner projects. I found a book for myself as well, called Sewn by Hand, with some fun little projects in it. I liked it so much I ended up buying the book, and this weekend had a chance to do some of Susan Wasinger’s awesome patches. They kind of dress up the old holey jeans (as a friend commented: “Fancy pants!”) and make me want to wear them again!

Patches from Sewn By Hand Patches from Sewn By Hand

So today I only have a link for you.  The ideas/initiatives are great. Here in Toronto, only #1 is in effect, but all City of Toronto functions do not use bottled water (although I’m not sure how long that initiative will stick around with our new mayor) which is a step in the right direction.

Anywho, onto the link… I actually saw it retweeted from @Inhabitat on twitter. It’s a list of Good magazine’s 10 favourite innovations for reducing plastic consumer waste.

I love all of the ideas, with the exception maybe of #9, which reeks of dioxin at first glance, but I haven’t read the details of Plastofuel, so don’t quote me on that.

I especially like #5: “Try take-out, without.” I still use the tiffin boxes that I bought in at the beginning of July 2007 and without fail, every time I use them at least one person comes up and starts asking about them and what they’re all about and, eventually, where to get them. I have no idea whether anyone else has bought them for take-out use (some friends have bought the nesting ones for lunches and snacks) but at least people are talking and thinking about it. It’s a start.

reusable gift wrapHaving kids puts the fun into birthdays again.

Tomorrow is my youngest son’s birthday and we bought and made gifts for him, but I didn’t really think about how they would be presented to him until tonight. I thought about bags, but there is something fun about unwrapping gifts, isn’t there?

Then I remembered that I have a bin of freecycled fabric scraps that come in handy for small projects and patching. So I rifled through the bin and found a bunch of scraps that would fit various gifts in them and used some ribbon (there is a dearth of ribbon in this house, I have found), brightly coloured string (from a game/toy) and yarn (there’s always lots of that around here) to tie them. They are “wrapped”, simply enough so that a young child can get in them easily but still gets that thrill of unwrapping, and the wrapping is completely reusable!