Making a Swaddle Quilt

DIY, Home, Parent Life

One of my favorite aspects of newborn life was wrapping my son and daughter up in those super soft swaddle blankets. Made from muslin and printed with adorable images, they brought so much comfort to those early days. Each time I wrapped them up I remember thinking, ‘I would really love being wrapped up in this fabric, too – it’s so dreamy.’ As my kids grew I couldn’t stomach getting rid of their swaddles. Aside from the soft fabric, the memories of those early days were also in each and every one.

To be honest, the decision to make a quilt out of all their swaddles was a bit spur of the moment. I needed the closet space and didn’t want to part with them. The perfect solution – make a quilt!

The Process

Something to know about me and my quilting skills…I’m not a perfectionist. I’m more of a progress-over-perfection quilter which, for me, means just the right amount of planning and execution. I love love love working on my sewing machine and care for measuring, ironing, and pinning much less. I still do all of those things, but definitely don’t get as much joy out of them. I see quilting as a fun creative outlet verses a serious craft. That likely puts me in the minority among quilters, but that’s ok, I’m comfortable here.

Luckily, as I discovered, all of the swaddles we had collected were perfect squares of 44″ x 44″. This made planning out the quilt super simple. Not so lucky for me, swaddle fabric is very stretchy and super difficult to work with. They make amazing swaddles but can also be a nightmare when it comes to ironing, measuring, and cutting. Unsure of how to proceed, I called my quilting expert Aunt Jan. She confirmed the fabric would make this tricky and if I wanted to have perfectly cut and sewn squares I likely would be investing serious time on the front end to spray starch, iron, and measure each swaddle before cutting and sewing. I made the decision this quilt would be made with love and care, but wouldn’t be perfect. This approach isn’t for everyone but it worked for me!

I started by taking each of our nine swaddles and cutting them in half and then in half again. (Yes, I skipped the ironing and measuring.) This resulted in 36 equal(ish) squares, which would become the blocks of the quilt. I decided to make this quilt a perfect square with six blocks across (rows) and six blocks down (columns) so all 36 blocks would be used.

Next, I laid all the blocks out on our basement floor – the only place large enough in our home for a quilt to be spread completely out. With all the blocks laid out, I did my best to arrange them in a loose pattern with varying colors so the quilt felt balanced, though not a perfect pattern.

Now came time for pinning – one of my least favorite aspects of sewing BUT also one of the most important! Just about every time I approach my sewing machine I ask myself if I can skip the pinning part. Then I hear my grandma’s voice in my head, sigh, and get out my pins. I pinned together all the blocks from one column before taking the full strip over to my sewing machine. While my kids were less interested in me cutting squares and arranging blocks, they were super interested in the sewing machine. Veda helped me sew just about all of the blocks together. This quilt was made with love and contains all perfect imperfections I was hoping for.

Once all the columns were done, I joined them together strip by strip to form the top quilt. You’ll notice from the picture a few of the blocks have trim. We had two plain white swaddles with a decorative trim that I loved. I didn’t want to loose the trim in the quilt, so I sewed those blocks with the edges up so the trim would remain visible. It adds a nice dimension to the quilt.

Ok, with top quilt done I had some choices to make about what to do next. Option one: add a backing, finish it like a traditional quilt, and call it done. Option two: add a backing to strengthen the muslin top, then turn this into a duvet cover that could be stuffed with a fluffy comforter. After consulting the family, the consensus was to make this a fluffy duvet.

Time for a trip to Joann! While soft and scrumptious, the muslin top quilt was still very stretchy and a tad bit fragile. I was concerned the quilt wouldn’t stand up to the test of time OR use by two rambunctious kids. I found a slightly thicker and more sturdy white flannel for the backing. This gave the muslin some security and shape while still protecting the softness of the original swaddles. To make the duvet pocket, I selected a light gray jersey fabric that I knew my family would find super comfortable and snuggle-worthy. Yes, I know, jersey is another tricky fabric to use. But since this quilt is a standard square with no fuss I figured I could make it work.

Back in the basement it was super simple to add the backing. Honestly, the most time consuming aspects involved maneuvering the largeness of this now king-sized quilt. It’s heavy and massive and took some finesse to get it over to and through my sewing machine with pins around the edges.

Since this quilt was so large, the backing needed to be secured to the top with more than just edge sewing. Generally, quilters will sew patterns in the top to help secure the top quilt to the backing. Since I do not have the machinery necessary to do that on such a large quilt AND I wasn’t about to sew it all by hand, I decided to knot tie it with yarn. I used an embroidery needle to knot tie short pieces of yarn through the center of all 36 blocks.

To add the duvet pocket I duplicated the same maneuvering I did for the backing, but left one side open. This is how the quilt, or should I now say, ‘duvet-quilt’ currently stands. I haven’t finalized the pocket with buttons just yet because this thing is so big and heavy I’m not sure we want to add a king size comforter to the inside. Yes, it would be fluffy and amazing. But, where would I store this massive thing?!

The (almost) Finished Product

So, the duvet-quilt remains slightly unfinished. Do I close the pocket and keep this a quilt? Or do I add the buttons and make this an official duvet? What do you think?

Either way, we tested it out this weekend and it makes for the perfect nap blanket! Tucker the Pug agrees.

Creating a Zoom Worthy Home Office

DIY, Home

When my partner and I moved to a new city in 2016, I had to find a new job. Thankfully, I found a position within my current organization that allowed me to work remotely. Most of my new team was based in New York, with a handful of us working all across the country. Adjusting to working from home definitely had its ups and downs. While I was able to complete some household chores throughout the day, like laundry and dishes, the isolation was a big adjustment for me. Additionally, I needed a work space that looked semi-presentable on Zoom. The messy home office cluttered with boxes and old papers was not a good look.

The Project

During my second maternity leave in 2018, I was blessed with a baby that did super well snuggled up in a Boba wrap tied to my body all day long. This allowed me two free hands for most of the day. Sitting around reading and watching TV got boring fast, and since my daughter was born in November, outside activities were limited. I needed a project. A big one. So I decided to tackle my home office.

Our current home office was located in our basement den. We were using my desk from high school (!!) and a few old bookcases we had collected over the years. In the corner of our office was a stack of boxes from our various moves that we just hadn’t gotten around to unpacking in 2 years. Cleaning out the mess was task number one. Task number two was envisioning a space that would be functional and beautiful while not breaking the bank.

The Vision

My vision for this new space was simple: wall-to-wall bookcases and two desks facing each other, partner-style. The bookcases would provide much needed storage and the desk set-up would give both me and my partner individual and dedicated workspace; something we desperately wanted. Finding budget friendly options was a little harder. I started my search like I always do, with the major big brands like Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel. Their beautiful designs gave me a ton of inspiration, though the price tags did not.

The Furniture

Enter IKEA. IKEA had an online planning tool that allowed me to virtually design my dream room using their products. My daughter and I made several trips to our new local IKEA to scope out the goods in person. I tested out all the desks and office chairs, and measured floor model bookcases and storage units until I finally landed on the perfect solution. I selected seven Hemnes bookcases and two Hemnes desks, all in the white stain. Though not the cheapest of the IKEA options, the quality and price balanced nicely for our intended purposes. I decided to splurge a bit for my desk chair since I knew it would be getting a ton of use so I went with the Hattefjall in grey and white. All in all, the total spent on on all this brand new furniture was just over $1,500. Not bad considering what we got in return! I was able to assemble everything, with my daughter snuggled up on my chest, over a couple of days.

The Light Fixtures

Since IKEA had proven economical and stylish, I stayed to browse the lighting fixtures. Who are we kidding, I could not have found my way out of IKEA without following the maze-like path and I just happened into the lighting section. Regardless, I found two black Ranarp pendants that were the right style and price I wanted. A couple of DIY Youtube videos later and I was calling myself an amateur electrician. The new space was coming together nicely!

The Décor

IKEA for the win, again! I found the perfect storage boxes for all the random papers and office materials we needed to keep, but didn’t want looking messy. Enter the Fjalla storage boxes. They were easy to assemble and look super sharp on the white bookcases. After a few hours of organizing and labeling, most of the office was assembled and looking awesome.

All that was left was something for my Zoom background AND a solution for all the random pictures and frames I had just cleaned out of the stack of boxes in the corner. With gallery walls notoriously tricky to get right, I opted for two black floating shelves from Amazon that I could stack all our framed pictures on. The end result was just what I had hoped for!

The Transformation

Our Compost Bin Make Over

Home, Sustainability

We started backyard composting back in 2018 and have never looked back. For the longest time, we had a fancy compost pail that sat in our second sink. It would fill up quickly and took up enough space that we stopped using the sink for anything other than compost. I hated the cluttered look and wanted my prep sink back. There had to be another way.

Our kitchen has one of those pull-out trash drawers that hold garbage and recycling cans perfectly. Since most of our garbage is compost and/or recycling, the trash can was really taking up more space than necessary. I decided we needed to find a way to make the compost fit, too. Armed with measurements, pictures, and a loose idea of the final concept, I made a trip to the Container Store.

After searching the entirety of the Container Store, I was not able to find three identical garbage cans that would fit into our pull-out drawer. What I did find was a very workable solution: a small compost bin, with lid, that could hang from the drawer, and two smaller garbage cans that could work for trash and recycling. Thankfully, everything fit perfectly in the pull-out drawer, marking my Container Store visit a success!

Compost Bin

I landed on a Simple Human small trash can with a lid that is designed to hang on the back of cabinet doors. It fits perfectly on our pull-out drawer and I appreciate the easy-to-open lid which contains compost smells. We purchase compostable trash can liners from Amazon that work well with this 2.6 gallon can and are suitable for backyard composting. When looking for compost bags BEWARE! Many are not suitable for backyard composting; only commercial facility composting. That was a nasty lesson :O.

Trash & Recycling Cans

I found two white Eco Cocoon trash cans that fit in the remaining drawer space. Made from recycled materials, these are sturdy and a little flexible which allow for a perfect fit. They each hold 3.7 gallons so I can use standard-size bag for the trash can. While the recycling can does fill up rather quickly, it’s well worth the hassle to have all three cans in the same, organized and tidy place.

How do you compost? Do you have a similar set-up in your kitchen? How do you organize compost with trash and recycling?

More…

Making a Swaddle Quilt

One of my favorite aspects of newborn life was wrapping my son and daughter up in those super soft swaddle blankets. Made from muslin and printed with adorable images, they brought so much comfort to those early days. Each time I wrapped them up I remember thinking, ‘I would really love being wrapped up in…

Creating a Zoom Worthy Home Office

When my partner and I moved to a new city in 2016, I had to find a new job. Thankfully, I found a position within my current organization that allowed me to work remotely. Most of my new team was based in New York, with a handful of us working all across the country. Adjusting…

Sustainable Gift Wrapping for All Occasions

When it comes to gift wrapping, I used to fall into one of the following camps: I have wrapping paper, but it’s themed (Christmas/birthday) and doesn’t fit the need I need right now (occasion and/or recipient) I have the right wrapping paper, but not enough of it to wrap the gift/s I don’t have any…

Sustainable Gift Wrapping for All Occasions

Home, Parent Life, Sustainability

When it comes to gift wrapping, I used to fall into one of the following camps:

  1. I have wrapping paper, but it’s themed (Christmas/birthday) and doesn’t fit the need I need right now (occasion and/or recipient)
  2. I have the right wrapping paper, but not enough of it to wrap the gift/s
  3. I don’t have any suitable wrapping paper and need to go buy a roll (and tape) while on my way to the event
  4. Screw this, just use a gift bag. Wait, I don’t have any tissue paper. FML.

It was annoying and wasteful, which just made me even more frustrated. Like most people, I don’t have unlimited space to store a Paper Source’s worth of cute wrapping paper in my home. My closets are filled with linens, craft supplies, and clothes. Wrapping paper ranks pretty low on the storage priority list. It’s also really expensive, shockingly expensive given it’s only going to be ripped apart and thrown away.

There had to be a better, more sustainable way.

Wrapping Paper

I scoured the internet and landed on my perfect solution: brown craft paper. Yes, it is plain and boring. BUT, it’s made from 100% recycled materials, works for any occasion and recipient, can be used as coloring/craft paper and other house projects, and can be repurposed after use. Another added bonus is that it can be purchased in bulk and will match another roll perfectly, so there’s less of a chance you won’t have enough on hand. The neutral brown allows you to customize any gift/package with ribbon and/or bows depending on the occasion and recipient. Win-win-win- win!

Tape

My next search led me to find eco-friendly paper tape made from brown craft paper. I love this stuff for so many reasons, but mostly because it’s easy to tear and works well with my wrapping paper. It also blends in nicely, and since it’s recyclable, I don’t have to separate it from the paper before the whole things gets recycled.

Ribbons

For the final step in any gift wrapping process, ribbons, bows or other accoutrement add a visually appealing touch. I love to use multi-colored compostable twine. It’s perfect for adding a touch of color and better for Mother Nature than plastic-based alternatives. I purchased the 11-yard, multi-color pack linked above over a year ago and so far it’s lasted two Christmases, countless birthdays and several housewarmings. When the gift has been opened, I pull aside the twine to reuse or compost.

While my wrapped gifts are not the most shiny or flashy, they do make a statement in their simplicity. Choosing this less common route also opens up a conversation about sustainability; one I’m always up for having. How do you bring sustainability into gift giving? Do you have alterative gift wrapping methods that are good for Mother Nature? I’d love to learn from you!

More…

Our Compost Bin Make Over

We started backyard composting back in 2018 and have never looked back. For the longest time, we had a fancy compost pail that sat in our second sink. It would fill up quickly and took up enough space that we stopped using the sink for anything other than compost. I hated the cluttered look and…

Secret Bookcase Door

The dream of having a secret passageway in my house has been one since I was a child. Maybe it came from the 90’s classic movies the Secret Garden or Clue. Regardless, when we moved into our current home I saw the perfect spot to build one. My son’s room had four doors in it:…

IKEA Play Kitchen DIY Hack for Under $100

The kid play kitchen. It’s become ubiquitous in the homes of most millennials with kids, and ours is no exception. I originally got the idea to take a base model kid kitchen and spruce it up into something that would blend better in our home from our cousin, Priya. She had taken her daughter’s IKEA…

Secret Bookcase Door

Home

The dream of having a secret passageway in my house has been one since I was a child. Maybe it came from the 90’s classic movies the Secret Garden or Clue. Regardless, when we moved into our current home I saw the perfect spot to build one. My son’s room had four doors in it: one entry, two for closets, and one to an attic. The attic door was metal and had different hardware on it, which made it look and feel out of place. We didn’t want my son going into the attic and the room felt cluttered with doors. The solution? We decided to turn the attic door into a secret bookcase door.

Custom building a bookcase door was not something my partner had the stomach to pay for, regardless of how badly I wanted this secret passageway. I scoured the internet for DIY solutions and came across a company that sold pre-fabricated hidden bookcase doors. After taking all the necessary measurements, we pulled the trigger and ordered a hidden bookcase door from Murphy Door.

From the outside it looks and functions exactly like a bookshelf. However, with a key you are able to unlock and pull the bookcase open to expose the entryway into the attic. To this day my son has no idea this bookcase is actually a door. We plan to keep it that way for as long as possible.

Installation

The door arrived in a massive box that weighed a ton. It lived in our garage for a few weeks until visiting cousins could help my partner carry it upstairs and into the attic (thank you Casey and Anand!). We planned on installing the door ourselves, but once we unboxed it and read all the instructions, we realized we needed someone with carpentry skill and wood working tools. Fresh off our renovation, we hired our contractor for the job. It took David one day to install the door, though he said it would take him about 2-3 hours the next time he needed to install one.

The Final Product

The timing was perfect as my son was at school all day and was able to come home to a fully completed project. It also happened to be his 2nd birthday, so I purchased some pillows and turned his new bookcase nook into a cozy spot just for him. He was thrilled, to say the least!

Reading Time

My son continues to love his bookcase and reading nook, and still has no idea it’s actually a secret door. Climbing up on his pillows over our shoulders allows him the perfect vantage point to see. The pillows also have become a favorite resting spot for our pug, Tucker. We store our Christmas decorations in the attic, so 2x a year when access is necessary we ensure our kids are not home or sufficiently occupied downstairs. This secret passageway will remain a secret for a long time!

Do you have a secret door in your house? Have you always wanted one? Where would you put one if you could? Powder room? Pantry? Bedroom? Let’s talk – comment below!

More…

Home Renovation: Before and After

After moving to a new city in 2016, we spent a year searching for our perfect forever-home. We looked at over 20 houses before finding one with enough potential. Built in 1989, just about everything was original to that era and the original house. While the finishings were outdated, the location and footprint/layout were just…

Sustainable Kitchen Products You’ll Love

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Daily Skincare Routine Basics

The 10-step Korean Skin Care Routine, or what I call daily skincare routine basics, seems crazy intense, and it is, but it’s completely worth it. While 10 steps can seem intimidating, it breaks down into 4 simple parts: cleanse, tone, nourish, and protect. Read my daily beauty routine to see how I action these steps…

3 Tips for Creating Healthy Toddler Boundaries

For the past three years I’ve been living with at least one toddler. My son, thankfully, is now 4-years-old and no longer considered a toddler. My daughter is 2-years-old and right smack in the worst of the toddler years. How can I tell? “No! I do it!” “No, mine!” Basically anything with NO in front…

Let’s stay in touch!

IKEA Play Kitchen DIY Hack for Under $100

DIY, Home, Parent Life

The kid play kitchen. It’s become ubiquitous in the homes of most millennials with kids, and ours is no exception. I originally got the idea to take a base model kid kitchen and spruce it up into something that would blend better in our home from our cousin, Priya. She had taken her daughter’s IKEA play kitchen to the next level with minimal DIY supplies, and I was inspired!

I purchased our IKEA “Duktig” play kitchen on sale, bought some easy supplies from Amazon and at our local Lowe’s, and got started. In total, I spent just under $100 on this play kitchen and it’s been totally worth it!

Getting Started

Like all IKEA purchases, the Duktig play kitchen came in a flat box and required assembly. It took me just over an hour to assemble alone. Since I wanted a ‘before’ picture, I chose to assemble it completely. I would later take some parts off for the ‘hack’ before putting the final piece back together.

The Hack

After completely assembled, I took off all plastic accessories (sink, faucet, knobs, hanging bar & hooks, and stovetop) and spray painted them copper, our kitchen’s accent color. I did this in May when the weather was hot, so it didn’t take long for the 2 coats of paint I applied to dry. Regardless, I left them drying overnight before adding them back on just to be safe.

Next, I took the top half of the set off, which allowed me to remove the counter top. I applied a piece of butcher block contact paper from Amazon to the entire counter top. I then reassembled the top half of the set.

The original kitchen set does not come with a backsplash. We definitely wanted one so the wall this sits against wouldn’t get dinged up from playing. Using a large leftover piece of cardboard, I covered it in subway tile contact paper from Amazon to match our kitchen’s backsplash, and attached it to the back with tiny pin nails.

Voila!

Play Time

This kitchen gets a ton of use! In fact, I’d say it’s the most popular toy in our home. Both our kids (2 & 4) still play with this set, as does every visiting kid. It’s become a staple in our home and the anchor for several other learning-toys like chef costumes, these color sorting fruit baskets, and the Melissa & Doug Ice Cream Counter, Keurig, and smoothie sets.

Have you completed an IKEA Duktig kichen hack? I’d love to see your before and after pics…comment to share below!

More…

Sustainable Kitchen Products You’ll Love

When I first decided to take my family 100% single-use plastic free, the kitchen was an obvious starting place. We spend nearly all of our time together as a family in the kitchen. Everyone, no matter our age or gender, has duties and responsibilities in this room. It makes a perfect backdrop for our attempts…

3 Tips for Creating Healthy Toddler Boundaries

For the past three years I’ve been living with at least one toddler. My son, thankfully, is now 4-years-old and no longer considered a toddler. My daughter is 2-years-old and right smack in the worst of the toddler years. How can I tell? “No! I do it!” “No, mine!” Basically anything with NO in front…

Let’s stay in touch!

Home Renovation: Before and After

Home

After moving to a new city in 2016, we spent a year searching for our perfect forever-home. We looked at over 20 houses before finding one with enough potential. Built in 1989, just about everything was original to that era and the original house. While the finishings were outdated, the location and footprint/layout were just right, which made renovations far more affordable. We spent months renovating the house into our perfect home. Below are some of the big projects we tackled.

Exterior

The original house had never been painted, only stained. We knew we wanted a white house with black trim, but couldn’t stomach the every 5-7 year upkeep of regular exterior paint. We opted for Rhino Shield which came with a 25-year guarantee against peeling and flaking. Three years in and we have had only minor flaking in a few spots, which the company came out and fixed quickly for free.

Entryway

Every home’s main entrance is a chance to welcome guests and set the tone for the home. We removed all the tile and laid down hard wood acacia on the entire first floor to streamline the design. The original wood trim was a natural light brown that we painted white to brighten up each space. We painted over the avocado green with a soft and neutral gray. Lastly, we replaced the light fixture with a custom designed chandelier from Hangout Lighting in Chicago. This room now provides our guests with a sneak peak at the styles they will find throughout our home.

Great Room

Located just off the entry and kitchen, this room provides a strong center to the house with stunning natural light and high ceilings. We replaced the old carpet with acacia hard wood, opened up the wall to the left of the fireplace, and built a bookcase along the back wall. This is our favorite room in the house now. My son calls it the ‘talking room’.

Kitchen

The heart of any home and where we spend most of our time. My partner loves to cook, and I love to eat his creations, so creating his dream kitchen was priority number one. While we lost some storage space when we took out a wall, the kitchen is still large, functional, and open.

Master Bath

We waited two years before tackling our master bath renovation. Bathrooms are a big job and we wanted to do it right. This was a full gut-rehab that resulted in a larger shower, more functional vanity space and beautiful tub.

What’s Next?

Our renovations were pretty extensive so we are taking some time off before tackling the next big projects: bathrooms. Have you renovated a house before? What lessons did you learn in the process? Comment below to share your reno stories!

#BetterTogether

More…

Sustainable Kitchen Products You’ll Love

When I first decided to take my family 100% single-use plastic free, the kitchen was an obvious starting place. We spend nearly all of our time together as a family in the kitchen. Everyone, no matter our age or gender, has duties and responsibilities in this room. It makes a perfect backdrop for our attempts…

Secret Bookcase Door

The dream of having a secret passageway in my house has been one since I was a child. Maybe it came from the 90’s classic movies the Secret Garden or Clue. Regardless, when we moved into our current home I saw the perfect spot to build one. My son’s room had four doors in it:…

Sustainable Bathroom Products You’ll Love

Trying to move to a more sustainable bathroom all started as I went to buy more razors. I’m a teensy bit OCD with my shaving. I have to shave every. single. day. Given my obsession, my go-to razors are those with alllll the blades (4-5x). Leave it to Target to make a disposable 5-blade razor…

Five Skincare Tips to Live By

Take care of your skin and it will take care of you. I’m in my 30’s and have white European / Mediterranean skin, which means my face is in a race against time. I have always taken my skincare routine seriously and have spent loads of money on products over the years in search of…

Let’s stay in touch!

Sustainable Bathroom Products You’ll Love

Home

Trying to move to a more sustainable bathroom all started as I went to buy more razors. I’m a teensy bit OCD with my shaving. I have to shave every. single. day. Given my obsession, my go-to razors are those with alllll the blades (4-5x). Leave it to Target to make a disposable 5-blade razor that is awesome and a fraction of the price as the brand-name, fancy ones. So there I am, in the hair removal aisle, reaching for my favorite pack of obnoxiously pink razors when I’m overrun with a terrible realization. Everything is plastic. The razors, the packaging…all of it. I fruitlessly searched around for a better alternative on the shelves and found none. So I reluctantly threw the package into my cart and vowed to find a better alternative.

Below is a collection of products we have incorporated into our lives and bathrooms while on our plastic-free journey. If you have products you use and like better than those I’ve listed below, do share! I’m all for making life easier.

Hand Soap

My family plows through hand soap, especially since the pandemic hit. Teaching two little kids how to properly wash their hands means using more than an average amount of soap each time. My youngest happens to be obsessed with water and bubbles, like most 2-year-olds, so washing her hands is a favorite pastime. Tired of buying endless one-time use hand pumps, I switched to refillable dispensers some time ago. However, buying soap for dispensers means buying another single-use plastic item – so what was I really accomplishing? Enter Plaine Products! All their products are all natural, vegan, cruelty-free, toxin-free and come in a returnable, refillable aluminum bottle. Yep. Read that again. Once we finish a bottle we place it back in the box, attach the pre-paid return label, and send it right back to Plaine Products where they wash, refill, and ship out again. If you haven’t heard of Plaine Products before, then prepare yourself. I love them and have their products all over my house, which means they are featured all over my blog. The hand wash is a new favorites of mine! We get the rosemary mint vanilla scent for everything because, well, it smells like heaven, obviously. Use this link to get 20% off your first Plain Products order.

Hand Sanitizer

Ahh…the MVP of 2020. Remember back in March when this stuff was selling for a million dollars a bottle and you couldn’t find it anywhere? Me too. Plaine Products strikes again with an amazing product we have on subscription. Thanks to COVID, we’ve made it a habit to keep this stuff all over the house now. Kitchen? CHECK. Bathroom? CHECK. Mudroom? Yep, there too. It smell good, doesn’t leave a sticky residue and comes with all the signature Plaine Product perks: all natural, vegan, cruelty-free, toxin-free and comes in a returnable, refillable aluminum bottle. Win-Win-Win! Use this link to get 20% off your first Plain Products order.

Body Lotion

Born and raised in Arizona, I have a strong appreciation for body lotion. The body lotion from Plaine Products does not disappoint! We use it all over the house: kitchen, bathroom, kids bathroom, powder room, etc. Just like all the other Plaine Products, it’s all natural, vegan, cruelty-free, toxin-free and comes in a returnable, refillable aluminum bottle. Winning! Use this link to get 20% off your first Plain Products order.

Reusable Toilet Paper

OMG REUSABLE TOILET PAPER?!?!?! Yes. It’s amazing. Hear me out….

I was skeptical when I saw this product available on the Marley’s Monsters website. I think my first thought was something along the lines of “OMG gross!!” or “no effing way!”. I thought about it and decided to give it a try. In the beginning I just used this for #1 potty breaks. It was super easy and WAY softer than regular toilet paper. Just do your #1, grab a pre-cut and sewn, super soft piece and then drop the used piece into a wet bag. Once a week, or when the roll is empty, just empty and drop the whole wet bag into the washer and run a normal cycle. Easy peasy. Now, #2 is an entirely different thing. I was NOT about to use these for #2. Nope. And then my good friend Kate finally convinced me to get a bidet attachment (get $5 off a Tushy bidet using this link). Now #2s are no longer messy. Using the bidet means there is nothing left behind on our tushies (pun intended) and the soft, reusable toilet paper becomes a breeze to use.

Sustainable Toilet Paper

For those not 100% ready to commit to reusable toilet paper, then Who Gives A Crap is the absolute way to go! Made with 100% recycled paper and surprisingly affordable, this toilet paper does more than provide you with a clean tushie. Delivered straight to your door, 50% of all profits are donated to help build toilets for those in need. This, my friends, is a win-win-win! Use this link for $10 off your first Who Gives a Crap order. Who Gives a Crap takes care of their subscribed members first, which means the next time there is no toilet paper anywhere, you will still get your shipment.

Razor

Ok, the item that prompted my entire plastic-free journey. The Razor. I shave my legs every day so I need a razor that can keep up. I’ve tried one other plastic-free razor but much prefer the Leaf. It has 3 blades and a pivot head, making it far superior to others, IMHO. Now, the thing to know about using any razor other than the plastic ones from the store, there is a learning curve. I’ve cut myself a lot with this razor because, as I mentioned above, I shave every day and tend to move quickly. You can’t speed-shave and expect not to get cut. Take your time. Learn the best ways to maneuver your legs and other areas. Oh, speaking of, yes – I use this to shave my lady areas and NO, I have never cut myself down there. I attribute this to my approach – slow and steady wins the race.

Shampoo + Conditioner + Body Wash

Well, you’re probably not surprised to see these products here…again. I won’t repeat all the perks of Plaine Products over and over and over because you’ve already heard enough. I will say that I moved the entire family over to this trio. It’s in all our bathrooms, even the guest baths. In addition to being high quality, they all smell fantastic. Use these links for 20% your first order of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.

Tissue

A true sign of being a full-grown adult: I have tissue boxes in every room of the house. When I first discovered these “forest friendly” tissues my first thought was, “Finally! Tissue boxes that aren’t completely ugly!” Throw in all the perks of buying from Who Gives a Crap and it was a no-brainer to keep these beauties in stock. Use this link to get $10 off your first Who Gives A Crap order.

Deodorant

After a friend of a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer in her twenties, I was ready to ditch the chemical-filled antiperspirants I’d been using all my life. I started looking for a natural alternative in 2010 and there were not many options. Thankfully, Native entered the scene. Effective, delicious scents, and now offering a plastic-free option. Use this link to get a free mini with your first Native order, perfect for the gym or travel.

Q-Tips

I’m a big q-tip user and love having these forest-friendly ones made from bamboo. They are effective and compostable!

Dental Floss

Flossing at least 3x a week has been a long time habit of mine. This floss is made from silk and is 100% compostable. It comes in a glass container with a metal top, so it’s 100% plastic-free! Refill are available to cut down on waste.

More…

Sustainable Kitchen Products You’ll Love

When I first decided to take my family 100% single-use plastic free, the kitchen was an obvious starting place. We spend nearly all of our time together as a family in the kitchen. Everyone, no matter our age or gender, has duties and responsibilities in this room. It makes a perfect backdrop for our attempts…

Secret Bookcase Door

The dream of having a secret passageway in my house has been one since I was a child. Maybe it came from the 90’s classic movies the Secret Garden or Clue. Regardless, when we moved into our current home I saw the perfect spot to build one. My son’s room had four doors in it:…

Home Renovation: Before and After

After moving to a new city in 2016, we spent a year searching for our perfect forever-home. We looked at over 20 houses before finding one with enough potential. Built in 1989, just about everything was original to that era and the original house. While the finishings were outdated, the location and footprint/layout were just…

Let’s stay in touch!

Sustainable Kitchen Products You’ll Love

Home

When I first decided to take my family 100% single-use plastic free, the kitchen was an obvious starting place. We spend nearly all of our time together as a family in the kitchen. Everyone, no matter our age or gender, has duties and responsibilities in this room. It makes a perfect backdrop for our attempts at a more sustainable life.

Below is a collection of products we have incorporated into our kitchen while on our sustainable journey. If you have products you use and like better than those I’ve listed below, please do share! I’m all for making life easier and more sustainable for everyone.

Baking Soda

Behold, the unsung hero of the kitchen….baking soda. Once I discovered all the wonderful uses of this powerful cleaner my life changed. I’m not being dramatic, either. My partner loves to cook (and I love to eat his creations), and for some reason when he cooks he uses every frickin pan, pot, dish and utensil in our kitchen. Cleaning up the remnants of a pot roast that have baked hard onto a dish is not fun and often made me regret the entire meal. I’d rather eat peanut butter and jelly than spend an hour scrubbing baked on food. And then I found baking soda. Sprinkle some on ANY tough grim and your scrubbing time will be dramatically reduced without needing a drop of dish soap. Seriously. Just don’t use it on any plastic or non-stick – it’s abrasive and will ruin softer materials. I found the handy little shaker pictured above at World Market, but I’m sure Amazon sells similar, plastic-free items.

Reusable Paper Towels

Paper towels are the heavy lifter in our kitchen. After noticing how frequently I was ordering more, I decided to try something different. Enter REUSABLE PAPER TOWELS! I did a ton of research and landed on my favorites: “UNpaper” towels sold by Marley’s Monsters. They come in a variety of prints, colors, and plain old white to suite anyone’s kitchen décor. I love them for their super-soft feel and absorbent work ethic. Perfect for wiping down counters, cleaning up spills, and tackling sticky peanut butter hands and faces. While they looks super cute all rolled up on an official paper towel roll, that is not how we use them in our kitchen. They get washed, folded and stacked in a drawer next to the sink. Some people don’t even bother to fold them but my OCD tendencies won’t let me do that, yet.

Sustainable Paper Towels

While I much prefer to use reusable paper towels (see here), getting the rest of the family on board is still a work in progress. In the meantime, we love the super strong 2-ply paper towels from a blend of bamboo and sugarcane Who Gives A Crap makes . While they are not reusable (my preference), they are still more sustainable than the paper towels you buy at the grocery store. Use this link for $10 off your first Who Gives a Crap order. I highly recommend learning more about Who Gives A Crap – the work they do to bring clean water and toilets to under-developed areas is truly admirable.

Hand Soap

My family plows through hand wash, especially since the pandemic hit. Teaching two little kids how to properly wash their hands means using more than an average amount of soap each time. My youngest happens to be obsessed with water and bubbles, like most 2-year-olds, so washing her hands is a favorite pastime. Tired of buying endless one-time use hand pumps, I switched to refillable dispensers some time ago. However, buying soap for dispensers means buying another single-use plastic item – so what was I really accomplishing? Enter Plaine Products. Their products are all natural, vegan, cruelty-free, toxin-free and come in a returnable, refillable aluminum bottle. Pretty cool, huh!? Once we finish a bottle we place it back in the box, attach the pre-paid return label, and send it right back to Plaine Products where they wash, refill, and ship it out again. If you haven’t heard of Plaine Products before, then prepare yourself. I love them and have their products all over my house, which means they are featured all over my blog. The hand wash is a new favorite of mine. We get the rosemary mint vanilla scent for everything because, well, it smells like heaven, obviously. Use this link to get 20% off your first Plain Products order.

Dishwasher Detergent

Did you know that regular dishwasher detergent is actually terrible for the Earth? Especially the little convenient pods that come in wrapped in plastic. We switched to Dropps detergent pods over a year ago for our dishwasher and laundry and haven’t looked back since! With compostable packaging, free carbon-neutral shipping, and a subscription program that saves us 30% it was a no-brainer. These little dish pods do a better job at cleaning our dishes than the expensive, bad-for-the-earth pods we previously used from the grocery store. Use this link to get $15 off your first Dropps order.

Napkins

We have dinner together as a family most nights and it’s my son’s responsibility to set the table. Placing napkins out is a big part of his job. I got tired of using paper towels or paper napkins only for one of two things to happen: 1) the meal wasn’t messy so the napkins went unused and thrown away, or 2) the meal was so messy a single napkin wouldn’t hold up. The 3rd option of the napkin being used the appropriate amount is a unicorn in our home. The reusable napkins from Marley’s Monsters are the PERFECT solution! They are just the right size, can handle tough messes, and….drum roll please….do NOT need to be ironed. Hallelujah!

Sponges

Sponges: the ever-present workhorse of the kitchen sink. Also a breading ground for germs and bacteria. Before making the switch to these eco-friendly and washable sponges from Marley’s Monsters, I was replacing our plastic-based sponges every 2-4 weeks. They would get so gross and dirty the thought of all the little creatures living inside made my stomach squirm. Now, whenever our sponge looks a little icky I simply toss it in the washer and ta-da! Good as new!

Metal Spoon Straws

I love spoon straws and have been using them for years! They have become quite popular in recent years as people make the switch from plastic. Perfect for any drink that could benefit from stirring or scooping. My kids love them too. Ours are basic looking, like the picture above. Amazon sells a million different kinds and I found these fancy ones I might get for my partner and his fun mixed cocktails. They make for easy stocking stuffers.

Hand Sanitizer

Ahh…the MVP of 2020. Remember back in March when this stuff was selling for a million dollars a bottle and you couldn’t find it anywhere? Me too. Plaine Products strikes again with an amazing product we have on subscription. Thanks to COVID, we’ve made it a habit to keep this stuff all over the house now. Kitchen? CHECK. Bathroom? CHECK. Mudroom? Yep, there too. It smell good, doesn’t leave a sticky residue and comes with all the signature Plaine Product perks: all natural, vegan, cruelty-free, toxin-free and comes in a returnable, refillable aluminum bottle. Win-Win-Win! Use this link to get 20% off your first Plain Products order.

More…

Home Renovation: Before and After

After moving to a new city in 2016, we spent a year searching for our perfect forever-home. We looked at over 20 houses before finding one with enough potential. Built in 1989, just about everything was original to that era and the original house. While the finishings were outdated, the location and footprint/layout were just…

Sustainable Bathroom Products You’ll Love

Trying to move to a more sustainable bathroom all started as I went to buy more razors. I’m a teensy bit OCD with my shaving. I have to shave every. single. day. Given my obsession, my go-to razors are those with alllll the blades (4-5x). Leave it to Target to make a disposable 5-blade razor…

Secret Bookcase Door

The dream of having a secret passageway in my house has been one since I was a child. Maybe it came from the 90’s classic movies the Secret Garden or Clue. Regardless, when we moved into our current home I saw the perfect spot to build one. My son’s room had four doors in it:…

Daily Skincare Routine Basics

The 10-step Korean Skin Care Routine, or what I call daily skincare routine basics, seems crazy intense, and it is, but it’s completely worth it. While 10 steps can seem intimidating, it breaks down into 4 simple parts: cleanse, tone, nourish, and protect. Read my daily beauty routine to see how I action these steps…

Daily Skincare Routine: Acne & Wrinkles

A self-named skincare fanatic, I take my daily skincare routine very seriously. It’s special self-care that I get to do 2x a day – who wouldn’t love that!? Below is an overview of my daily morning and evening routines, the products I’m currently using, and why I love them. I like to switch up my…

Let’s stay in touch!