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Posts Tagged ‘conserving’

My mission for this past week has been to embroider some tea towels. More specifically, my mission was to embroider tomatoes onto a tea towel.

Success. I took the towel with me this weekend and we used it, instead of paper towels, to wipe off our cutting board. The towel was a little stained by the end of the day, so it did its job well! Last week we had a bunch of semi-used paper towels in our trash; this week, just tomatoes too squished to sell.

The tomato design is from Sublime Stitching. If you haven’t checked out this site, please do so. They offer a lot of really cute designs, from cowgirls to hedgehogs, at reasonable prices; when you purchase a pattern, you get a bunch of iron-on designs that can be used multiple times on whatever your little stitching heart desires. Plus, their site has a bunch of tutorials that can get even the most needle-clueless stitching away. If you’ll notice, all of my stitches are split stitch, which is explained on the site. Easy peasy!

This will be the first of many embroidered tea towels I’ll be making. I’ve realized how quickly I jump for paper towels if there’s a spill in the kitchen, or to dry off veggies I’ve washed. Embroidering tea towels to use for cleaning up and drying off is functional, but it’s also economical. I know in the past I bought paper towels as regularly as I would buy toilet paper, and feel the same sense of panic if I ran out of either. With reusable towels, I’m saving money over the long haul – a set of three tea towels cost a little under $9 from a local kitchen supply store – and I’ll save myself the time of running to buy more paper towels.

I know one perceived drawback to the towels lies in having to wash them, because of the inconvenience and possible threat to your handiwork. I’ve washed other embroidered garments multiple times to no ill effect, and getting them clean is as easy as tossing them in with any old load. (I guess I just revealed that I commit the sin of not separating my laundry.)

Added bonus of embroidered kitchen paraphernalia? Way cuter than paper towels. If there aren’t designs out there you like, you can draw your own design on to the towel with pencil. Alternately (or even additionally), you could just add a fun border to the towel, if you’re more of a minimalist in the kitchen. Check out Purl Bee‘s great stitch tutorial.

Give it a shot! Embroidering your own tea towels takes almost no time, costs almost nothing, and is a real way you can take steps towards reducing your consumption. Get your green on. Make your kitchen cuter in the process. Game, set, match.

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Alarm clock goes off. 6 AM on a Saturday. Gross. I flop out of bed and manage to grab a hoodie and my keys through the fog of slumber. There are a few cats meandering the streets, but that’s about it. It’s early. It’s dark. I’m tired.

But I’m happy. Or I will be. Early Saturday morning can only mean one thing: I’m working the farmers’ market again!

This is a real tea towel that we had around, so we hung it up today. Love it. I feel almost as happy as they look. After some coffee and an apple.

Today was a great day at the farmers’ market. We had insanely sweet Gala apples, lots of our organic dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes (our main focus), giant Walla Walla onions easily six inches in diameter, and some beautiful purple bell peppers and Anaheim peppers:

Will someone get on it and make me some sock yarn in those colors? I love all the purple we ended up having today at the stand; between the bell peppers, our cabbage, the red Italian Torpedo onions, and our purple flowers, I’m in color heaven.

So, as I was saying, it was a great day to be selling at the farmers’ market. The sun came out about 7:30, and there were a lot of happy people walking around, looking for the last remnants of summer’s stone fruit, getting serious about beets (so many beautiful beet greens!), buying up summer squash and zucchini flowers… the vendor two stalls down brought his mandolin, so we even had lovely tunes intermittently throughout the day.

One of the best parts about the market is the kids. One kid came up to the stand with his mom, who was buying tomatoes. He told me and my co-worker we “looked funny with our aprons on.” “Oh?” I asked, “And what do we look like?” He thought a bit, and responded, “Tomatoheads!”

You know, there are worse things to be.

Check out these conjoined tomatoes! We usually snag the funny-looking tomatoes and put them on display near our scale. I thought these were just too cute, being joined at the stem and all.

I’m always impressed by how red our tomatoes are. And part of the reason they taste SO GOOD (and why any fresh tomato will taste way better than conventional tomatoes) is because they’re allowed to ripen on the plant. According to my hero Alton Brown of Good Eats (from whom I get much of my food knowledge), industrial tomatoes — those sold in big grocery stores, even if they are organic — are picked when they’re just starting to blush. They’re then put in a room with chemicals that make them redden. Now, they may get red… but their ripening, or sugar development, stops the moment they’re picked. They may get prettier, but they’ll never get tastier.

And that’s why tomatoes from your garden or local farmer are downright yummier — because they’re actually ripe. I thought I didn’t like tomatoes until this summer. What I realized was I do like tomatoes. Real tomatoes.

Speaking of tomatoes… and tea towels:

I’m not going to get into details right now, but I will tell you that the stains are from tomatoes, and that this probably saved us half a roll of paper towels today! Stay tuned for total crafty and veggie dorkiness.

P.S. Obtained new Mason-Dixon book. Overcome with sudden urge to add to my kitchen cotton yarn stash. Predict I will not be able to resist the appeal of more knit objects in my kitchen.

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I have a deep hatred of plastic bags. I’ve recently exiled plastic bags (like the ones they give you at chain grocery stores or Target) from my life for a couple reasons. More often than not, they get thrown away. Those that don’t end up in the ocean — where they ensnare marine life or entice seals to eat them — end up in landfills, where they will never ever break down. Even if they get successfully recycled, the problem with plastics is that they only recycle down; plastics get recycled into less-good plastics, creating a spiral into a product that is ultimately unrecyclable. Down with plastic!

OK, sorry, I can get a little carried away. So! Lots of people and places are perking up to the fact that plastic bags are evil. You can only imagine my excitement when, perusing Mason-Dixon Knitting (one of my favorite knitting blogs), I came across the (totally free!) Monteagle Bag pattern from their new book (which I am so trying to find this weekend).

And I was so excited that I knit my own in about two days!

In an effort to reduce-reuse-recycle, I dove into my stash and came up with some Sugar and Cream cotton yarn that looked just funky enough for this macrame-style bag. I figured, “If I’m focused on reducing my consumption of plastic bags by knitting the bag, I should further reduce my consumption (of yarn) by using something I already have.” Hooray for conserving… and having a new bag to use instead of plastic bags!

The pattern knit up great. It was a bit of a challenge, and I consider myself a more-than-decent knitter. Very few issues though, just needed to read the pattern carefully and trust it. The horizontal stitch is totally the most fun part of the pattern, but lassoing my needles for the long stitches was pretty fun too. I did find that the longer wrapped stitches needed some coaxing to unravel. Maybe it was the cotton? I guess I’ll get to see when I knit a linen version…

My only change, as evidenced above, was to give it a longer strap. Most of my food shopping is done at the farmers’ market, and I need room in a bag for beet greens to stick out!

Let’s see that horizontal stitch up close and personal:

I foresee making a few of these for people I know. I think one of these with some embroidered tea towels inside would be a great gift to encourage someone towards eco-friendliness… a cute bag to take to the store, plus a way to curb paper towel usage. Awesome!

Can’t wait to take this to the farmers’ market next week!

…and that IS bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress in the bag… if any of you were wondering…

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