Friday, February 15, 2008

Going Green ... and Other Stuff

I've been slowly making changes, mostly because I try to be frugal and am really trying to cut our budget wherever possible. I try to make sure lights are turned off, it keeps our bill down and reduces the emissions from the bulbs, too, which I hear are some of the worst for the atmosphere.

We put out as little garbage as possible because we pay by the bag, I recycle all that I can and I mostly cook from scratch, we have very little garbage output for a busy family of 8.

In addition, I'm a bagaholic! I admit it, I love bags of all kinds, sizes, shapes and materials. So you can imagine how intrigued I was when I first heard about making cloth grocery bags. I've been hearing more and more about it and how bad the plastic bags are for the environment on a couple of bulletin boards that I read. I was inspired by Michelle's blog and her picture of her trunk full of groceries in cloth bags. I poked around my fabric stash and found the perfect piece to use, I've tried to put it in quilts as border or sashing over and over and it just isn't right for what I usually do (the piece was given to me by a friend who tried to quilt but just couldn't get into it) so I cut it up to make bags. Eight of them. I finished the last seam as my husband walked in the door at 11 last night.

I knew that I probably didn't have enough for my full week worth of groceries, but I added a few other random bags to my stash and off I went. I did end up with plastic bags at Meijer even though I went to the self check because I went to the full order lane and one of the ladies that oversees the self check lanes started to bag my groceries for me. Usually this won't be a problem as my 15 year old usually shops with me and bags while I check.

I think the checker in Walmart was quite surprised when I told her I had my own bags and would bag my own. I couldn't get it in the bags quickly enough because of that small space on top of the bag carousel, so I just loaded everything in my cart and moved off to the side and bagged it there. She didn't have any more customers and came over offering to help me, but I knew I'd rather put things how I wanted them in the bags anyway.

I found more fabric today, a nice floral print that will make 3 bags and a heavier striped fabric that will make 4. The striped ones will be good for heavier items like 2 liter bottles of soda, bags of flour, etc. I have the floral ones cut and hope to get all 7 made today. I should be set for a while. I may even keep one folded up in my purse (they fold quite small) for unexpected trips to the store.

Speaking of purses, I got a new one (though I do try to be frugal with consumables, I do love new things...and I keep and use my things for many years.) Does anyone remember "Mad About You"? I loved that show (until it got weird at the end) and Jamie always carried this large leather bag that she seemed to always have everything she needed in and she could always find what she wanted. I've tried carrying bigger bags in the past, but it just wasn't what I expected it to be. As a larger woman, I always felt that much bigger when I carried a big bag and bumped into everything.

I'm smaller now, though, and thought I'd try the "big bag" thing again. Plus I have certain things I really do want to carry with me...and I'll be carrying things around for Ruthie for a while yet, too. I started looking at all the local stores and just wasn't finding what I was looking for.

I saw something that I liked at Meijer some months back, before I was really in the market for one. It was more than I hoped to spend and a little too trendy looking. It had an unusual shape but I knew it was similar to what I wanted. Of course when I was actually ready to buy, all that was left at Meijer were bags that looked much more tote-bag-ish.

Walmart had nothing at all, Kohl's had a beautiful bag that was $55 ON SALE. Yikes, but I'm not sure the shape was really what I was looking for. Then I checked Target and I knew I'd found it. It was labeled a work tote and I'm sure it's meant to be used as a briefcase, but it was just what I wanted. On the larger side, but nice looking, it has body to it so it keeps it's shape when set down. It has a removable zippered pouch with a bit of stiffness to it, meant to protect paperwork. I keep a clipboard in it for when I grocery shop and also with blank paper on it for Ruthie to scribble on. A removable cell phone pouch, a zippered pocket, pen pockets and a couple of other small pockets keep things handy. I shopped with it for the first time today and loved it. I will have a hard time switching to a summer bag, I think!

I also splurged on a pair of shoes. I've been babysitting lately, and while I pad our grocery budget with some of it, I'm also left with a bit of money to spend on other things. I found these shoes while shopping with my daughter and had to have them. They are really comfortable with the size heel that I just love. I don't have much to wear them with right now, LOL, but I did manage to find something in my closet in my current size to wear to church that they will accent nicely. I seem to be on a brown shoe kick, LOL, it's been years since I had or wore any brown shoes!

The paper pieced blocks are done and sewn into rows so that top will be finished soon. I should have a lot of sewing time tomorrow and I hope to have all the bags finished tonight. Of course, as careful as I was I managed to put one block on wrong. Thankfully I saw it before the whole top was together. I should be able to just rip out the one block and re-sew it properly, which is one nice thing about paper piecing. Can you see the improperly placed block? The third from the left is turned wrong. I'm hoping to have enough gumption to pull it out after I'm done sewing bags for the evening, if it seems too daunting I'll leave that for tomorrow and hand quilt or applique instead.

The ring blocks are going well, I've finished 4 in the last couple of days and would like to finish those this weekend and start working on the anniversary topper blocks.

I did a lot of babysitting this past week and running errands had to be shifted around. I was able to spend quite a lot of time sewing in spite of that. This next week should be much easier, I'm hoping that means even more time to sew. With so many projects in the works and the weather still being quite wintry, I'm taking advantage of being housebound and energized.

And just because, a Ruthie picture.
Happy Quilting and stay warm!


Marilyn R said...

You have been having a lot of fun lately and getting a lot of quilting time in too! Better then me that is for sure! The paper piecing quilt is going to be great!

Winona said...

Ruthie is a doll! I love this picture of her! Happy quilting!

Val said...

More and more people in my itty bitty town are catching on to the fabric grociery bag thing...and I even saw a plastic bag recycling bin outside Giant Eagle the other day. Lol* Maybe I oughtta join on the bandwagon? Besides...I hopped over to the blog you linked to and those blue and floral bags she made are pretty darn cute!!! I think I need to do that! Lol*

Angela said...

Girl you must buy alot of groceries!! That is alot of bags!!! You have the kids/friends to feed though so I can see it. I love the pic of lil Ruthie sticking out her tongue. So cute!

Evelyn aka Starfishy said...

Great bags! In Austria - if you forget your own bags, they are about 50 cents each at the store!!! I am always so annoyed with myself if I forget my bags! I always try to keep at least a small one in my pocket just in case I pick anything up when I am out and about. Of course, bags are free in the US and Canada so I am not so good about remembering my bags then, but we are also trying to make the effort and have several cloth bags - not as many as you though!!! Great job.



Mad about Craft said...

I will seriously try to follow your example and make fabric grocery bags. Here in the UK plastic bags are free except in Lidl & Aldi which means we amass 100's of them. A corner of our garage has been taken over by them (they are waiting to be taken for recycling but we haven't got round to it yet but we better had soon as we will be taken over by them)

LauraJ said...

beautiful famil you have here! Sweet happy children. Lovely quilts you make too! Thank you for visiting my blog. I too love bags. Bags and more bags! Unfortunately I forget to bring my bags to the grocery store 9 times out of 10! ACK! I bought some dishtowels at the dollar store today to make reusable produce bags out of. I'll have to post that sometime!
have a great day!!