Friday, April 25, 2014

To market, to market! More new bags!

We get all our fruit and vegetables from our local Rusty's markets here in Cairns each weekend.

The supermarket shopping bags we've been using for the past few years were looking a bit worse for wear..

So I raided my stash for some nice tartan fabric for the outside, and some old curtain lining for the inside and made a set of new bags.

They're a good large size so 3 of them fit it all our fruit and veg for the week.

 (these pictures don't show our weekly shop - just what was left in our fruit bowls when I made the bags.)

I also made a new set of produce bags (see tutorial here) from net curtains, since some of our original set seem to have gone missing, and we buy more fruit and veg than we used to so we need more anyway!

I'll salvage what I can from the old bags and at the materials to my stash.
For now - I like our new market bags, which should last us for years to come!

Aside from these - I have my supermarket shopping set, made from old bedding (see tutorial here)

I also have a foldable reusable bag (like this) in each handbag I own, so hopefully I will never need to use plastic bags when I'm out shopping!

Do you avoid plastic bags and use your own bags for your food shopping?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What I learned today!

This morning my car didn't want to start to take my girls to school.
 I did eventually get it going but noticed the battery light had flashed up.  After dropping off my girls I went straight to our garage and fortunately they managed to squeeze my car into their busy day.  It looks like it just needs a new battery since the current one is 4 years old and apparently that's a good run for a car battery!

But what did I learn?

I did mention to the mechanic something I'd noticed in recent weeks in my car that I thought might be relevant and it turned out it was!
I drive with the radio on all the time and don't switch it off. So when I start my car up, it automatically comes on to my favourite station. Recently however, when I start my car, the radio doesn't come on, and I've had to retune it most times to find the station I want.  
Apparently this is a sign of a low battery charge - the battery keeps the 'memory' of the radio going, but can't do this if it's charge becomes too low!

So - if I ever notice my radio losing its 'memory' again, I'll know to get the battery checked!  

I just thought I'd share this on here - as someone somewhere might read this and be able to get their battery checked before the car won't start all together.  Maybe it's an obvious thing to some, but it wasn't to me!

I do believe in the importance of sharing little snippets like this on the off-chance they may help someone else one day!

Hope you have a lovely day.

Note: the picture was taken on my lovely unexpected walk home from the garage this morning!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Today I'm....

Today I'll be at our local pool for a 12 hour swimathon.  There are 10 of us in our team - including my 2 girls and some of their friends. We will each take turns swimming laps so that our team swims continuously for the 12 hours.
We're doing this because we can, to raise money for those who can't.
All funds raised will go to supporting those with MS.

It's going to be a great, fun day, and a very worthwhile cause!

Hope you're having a great weekend too.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Shopping bags from bedding - an upcycle tutorial

Four years ago now, I made my first set of shopping bags from an old sheet that we never used. I used them every week for my food shopping:

I made myself a second set too - so that one stays in the car, in case I forget to put the other set back after emptying my shopping out each week!
Four years on, these bags are still going strong.

I decided to make them after my supermarket 'green' bags began to tear and rip. One even biodegraded in our tropical heat and I found it in tatters one day on the floor!  Some of the ladies who worked in the supermarket told me that often the bags begin to smell after a while too.  

These bags from sheets have lasted and lasted so well. I've never had to repair any stitching or tears, can put meat products direct into them knowing that if the packet leaks, the bags just get thrown in the wash and they're clean and fresh smelling once again!

So have I convinced you yet? Do you want to make your own set of environment friendly - and pretty shopping bags?

I made myself a new set, just so that I could make up a tutorial! I'm sure I'll find a friend who would like a set that will gain them as a gift, as there are only so many shopping bags a girl needs!!

So, here's how to make your own sturdy shopping bags from old bedding.

I bought an old doona (duvet) cover from a charity shop for a few dollars to use for this.
First lay it out and cut off the seams.

Then for each bag you need to cut:
1 piece 90 x 43cm (35.5 x 17")
2 straps 62 x 10cm (24.5 x 4")

Main Bag Part

 Fold the main bag part lengthways in half, WRONG sides together.

The next part makes the bottom of the bag sit better when packed full of groceries.

Lift up the bottom fold of the bag with your fingers inside the fold. 
The fold is shown in the pictures, as it is too confusing to try and explain in words!

Pin both sides and stitch.

Now trim the seams very close to your stitching:

Then turn the bag right sides in again making sure your seams are flat.  

Stitch along those seams again - a little wider than your regular seam to make sure you completely enclose the seam you trimmed.  This completely covers the raw edges and is called a 'French Seam'. It's a neat way to finish seams if you don't have an overlocker (serger)

Turn your bag right sides out and that's the main part done!

The straps

Take one strap piece and fold the long outer edges into the centre. Then fold the whole thing in half again to completely enclose the raw edges. If you find it easier you can iron each step here to hold the fabric in place before stitching.
Then top-stitch along both sides of your strap. Repeat for the other strap.

Attach the straps to the bag

Open up the top of your bag and place one strap approximately in place like this:

Fold the top of your bag inwards about 1cm (0.5") and place the edge of the strap on top edge to edge.

Then fold the top of the bag over once more together with the strap, then lift the strap upwards and pin into place. This way the raw edge is once again completely hidden.

Repeat with the other side of the strap:

Turn the bag over and attach the other strap to the other side of the bag in the same way - matching the placement up with the first strap:

Stitch all the way around both the top and bottom of this seam.

Also stitch an extra box and cross at each handle for extra strength.

That's it!  One shopping bag finished!

Ready to fill up with your groceries!

I made 8 bags from one side of the doona (duvet) cover - which was King Size. That is generally enough for my weekly shop.

One of the best things I like about these bags is the long straps so when I'm carrying the heavy bags in from the car I can carry them over my shoulder:

I put all my shopping bags in a small tote (one I made from a pretty net curtain) and try to keep it in the car ready for my weekly shop!

Of course I had to test out this new set of bags for my weekly shop a few days ago!

I always get nice comments on my pretty shopping bags.
I hope you make yourself a set too - I'd love to see pictures from anyone who does!!

Why not make a stylish new handbag to carry all your new shopping bags in to make sure you never forget them again! My new e-book contains the main tutorial and pattern for the handbag (made from old jeans) with a special section just for your shopping bags, plus some extras too! Go here to read more.

If you liked this tutorial, I have over 100 free sewing tutorials for all sorts of different things at all different levels of ability from beginners to experienced sewers:

Happy Upcycling, Sewing and of course Shopping!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Success - A BIG achievement!

6 years ago when I started running, I couldn't even make it 500m to the corner shop.  Two days ago, I won my first medal in a trail run - getting third place in a tough 11km race.  I was so excited that I wore that medal around my neck all day!

Why running?

When I started running it was to get my fitness back after having kids. I enjoy running and my husband and I have entered several runs over the past few years as targets to train for. We enjoy competing in these events together and have found that we particularly like the trail runs for the beautiful scenery and the variety in the running.  

Our first run was up a local mountain - and we finished..... last. But our family and friends all came to watch and support us, and it was such a great feeling to complete the race that we've never looked back.  After running for 4 years, I realised that I was improving and with a bit of hard work and training I might get in the top places in some runs.

Way out of my comfort zone

I would never have imagined myself running off into the bush with my snake bandage and whistle for safety, knowing that there are leeches, wild pigs, endless bugs and plants that try to grab you out there. I grew up in the North of England, and never had to worry about all the bugs and scary things that live up here in the tropics. But pushing myself out of my comfort zone has been rewarding,  helped me to grow as a person, and realise things are rarely as scary as they might at first seem. 
It has also made me see just what I can do and achieve if I put my mind to it.

My first race 'place'

So - last weekend's race was my first breakthrough into the top 3 places. It gave me such a thrill to have achieved my goal knowing that I did it myself through consistent training and hard work.  
It has given me renewed hope in all areas of my life and for all goals I set that I can achieve anything I set my mind to! Particularly when I look back to where I started from.
I fully intend to add to my race medal collection in the coming months and years!

The Knock-on effect

With my running success has come a renewed burst of energy to achieve success in other areas.

For my blog - March was a great month too. I've been getting back to some sewing after a bit of a break over Christmas and New Year, and have produced a couple of new upcycle tutorials:

I also have another upcycle tutorial coming out tomorrow - so watch this space!

This is part of a larger project I'm working on where I'm focussing even more on upcycling and ways to be more environment friendly!  This started out as my 'March' project, but has grown into something that is going take a little longer!  Again - watch this space!

I also continued with more freelance writing work through March. I've done more copy-writing work and a few more articles. I'm also on a short-list for an ongoing writing job for another blog which I'm very excited about and have everything crossed for that!

One site I've written 3 articles for now is Wind . A new environmental website. Since this is a topic I'm extremely interested in, I shall be writing lots more for this site in April.  You can submit as many articles as you like - but only the top 2 each day get paid. So far 2 out my 3 were 'top articles' !!
I matched my earnings for February, earning another $160 in March for my work, plus a lot learned too.

Overall I'm feeling very positive now about my progress and small achievements. I'm fired up and motivated to work harder and achieve even more and greater success!

The first quarter of 2014 has been great - the next one is going to be even better!

How is your year going so far? Have you achieved any of your small goals so far - are you working well towards success you want in your life?

Tell me in the comments - let's support each other in our endeavours. I know support and encouragement from my friends and family is a HUGE part of what helps me achieve my goals and reach my targets.