Playing is how we learn

By now you’ve seen some of the projects I’ve done using plastic bread bags and leftover yarn. I’ve also made some using clothesline rope and yarn. I love playing with ideas (where do I get my ideas? Youtube, Pinterest, and looking at other artist’s work).

Here are some of the ornaments that I made using clotheline rope and yarn – the first one uses the loop back method to create a hole for hanging the ornament (see first picture).

Ornament
Ornament

I have loads of jewelry findings, so I dug through my stash for end caps that had hooks or holes for a way to hang the ornaments, and used those for the two larger ornaments. And these are indeed large, about 6 inches in diameter…which would look great on a big tree or hanging in a window.

Ornament

I am also trying to figure out what to use as a wire form in order to make a tree topper – I would make a “round” ornament and affix it to the “stand” so it could be slid over the top bough or branch. My challenge is both to make it sturdy and pleasing to the eye, as well as to use materials that might otherwise be in the trash/landfill. I’ll let you all know what I come up with. If you have any ideas, please feel free to message!

My current focus project is making a bunch of small “baskets” to use as soft sculpture on a canvas using cut up bread bags (we eat a ton of breads and bagels even when I regularly bake sour dough). Yes, yes, I know I am all over the place – I just like to work on lots of things – and sometimes paint needs to dry or glue needs to set – so I have other things to do while that is happening.

I picked coordinated “Fall” colors – and will make several of these smaller “baskets” which I plan to affix to a framed canvas (which I will paint ahead of time). I could also see these easily on an Autumn themed wreath or as part of a table centerpiece. You are only limited by your imagination! Plus I am prepping some fabric scraps to use to make some baskets, as well!


I was recently interviewed for “A Heart For Writing” with Joan Raymond, and I mentioned that I will be putting together a book on how to do many of these crafted items. I hope you will stay tuned and also give your input about what you would like to know more about and which projects are the most interesting to you.

Until next time, remember “Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose” – every little bit counts!

More upcycles and reuses

I am seriously enjoying finding ways to use fabric scraps, bits of yarn, and plastic bags – that keep them all out of the landfills.

Another basket with wooden bead embellishments, using plastic bread bags as the core to wrap the yarn around.

It is relatively simple to do even if you are not “crafty”.

This mini-mat is made with yarn project leftovers and a yarn I made using old worn out tee shirts (in this case a light grey and a dark grey tee – cut into strips and slip-slotted together into a yarn).

This “table topper” is also made using leftover yarns and strips of silk saris made into a “yarn”. I love the colorful result.

Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose

I save plastic bags. The zip lock type – I wash, dry, and reuse. Bread and english muffin/bagel bags, I save and use for pet waste…but even that makes me feel bad, because it goes into the land fill.

Recently I was browsing Pinterest, looking at what kinds of things I could do with a lot of the waste that goes into the recycle bin – and I found a post where someone was crocheting plastic bag “plarn” into mats for the homeless. I don’t have enough to make “plarn” (plastic bag yarn) but it did remind me that the bags could be used as the core of something else.

Plastic bread bag strips used instead of rope for a coil basket.

I have made a couple of baskets using bread bags cut into three inch strips and folded to make a “rope” to wrap leftover yarn around – and voila! Coiled baskets!

Here are the first two that I have made:

These were relatively easy and a lot of fun — as well as therapeutic, as it gives me something to do while listening to audio books. 🙂 .

I may give a shot at making plarn if I ever amass enough shopping sized bags but in the meantime I will be playing around with using fabric remnants and yarn to make coiled baskets and coasters. Maybe even a rug! It keeps them all out of the landfill and makes fun artsy items for the house.

Do you make stuff with plastic bags? I’d love to hear about it and share it!

The “real” pandemic

It has been hard to focus on anything these last two years. I’ve had a lot of false starts and failed experiments, and I’ve learned a lot.

I’ve learned a lot about pandemics. I’ve learned a lot about how people deal with pandemics. I’ve learned a lot about how people process information (and information overload).

Ultimately the “real” pandemic seems to be a contagious form of rage.

You might wonder what rage might have to do with sustainable living, and learning how to have a higher quality of life with less “stuff”.

Part of the answer is just that there is such a disparity in addressing how to live on less. For those who currently live paycheck to paycheck – transitioning their thinking is not only hard, it may be impossible.

For example: a person making minimum wage and lucky enough to have a place to live, may not have access to fresh vegetables or the time to prepare them, since it is likely they are working two jobs to be able to afford the apartment they are living in. When you live with scarcity, you tend to hold on to and try to accumulate as much as possible. You cannot simply check to see if something gives you joy… you see what I mean?

And with the lockdowns of the last two years, if you were one of those folks doing a minimum wage job, you also found yourself in danger of losing wages due to being sick, or if the business had to close, or worse – being assaulted for trying to maintain mask mandates.

Everyone has had reasons to build up rage. Frustrations and stress are the building blocks to rage. And people who are angry tend to make everyone around them angry, too.

One thing that has become apparent, is that to counter this rage pandemic, we need to help each other. Treat each other kindly. And share our resources.

One way to share is to look for a community Buy Nothing Project Group. the concept is that if you have something that is still usable, instead of throwing it away, you offer it up to someone else in your community, who might need it. Clothing, food, appliances, baby stuff, craft stuff – whatever. And if you need something, you simply ask – and if someone wants to gift you, they do. It keeps things out of the landfill. It shares the abundance in a community. It builds relationships – many new friends have been made through sharing on the Buy Nothing groups.

Just a little reminder to you that you can do something about the rage pandemic, at the grass roots.

Be well.

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

Changing things up a bit

I’ve blogged for years. Literally years – more than a decade, less than a quarter of a century. And while I love blogging, I haven’t been great at self-promotion; it isn’t a strength of mine. I have no problem with promoting others and therein is my epiphany moment.

I have explored a variety of platforms and have decided to publish a bi-weekly newsletter about sustainability for every day life. And I will be scouring the internet to find people who are doing interesting things in sustainability – recycling, upcycling, reusing, growing, foraging, teaching, sharing – whatever it is that is being done to creatively find ways to live responsibly; because I love interviewing people and I love sharing their stories.

If you know someone or ARE a person who is doing something good for the planet CONTACT ME – I would love to talk with you, interview you, share your good works with the world.

Email me at: Natalia@serroc.com and use “Changing things up a bit” in the subject line. Let me know what you are doing, what part of the world (time zone) you are in and whether you prefer a phone call or Zoom or an email list of questions for your interview…and I will answer you to schedule an interview about what you are doing and how it benefits the world. And it will go in my newsletter, and get promoted and shared. Helps you, helps me, and inspires others to do what they can, to make the world a better place (hopefully).

Got kids?

If you have kids, then you probably have a chunk of closet/drawer space filled with clothes your kids have already outgrown, but are still good. Maybe you’ve thought about recycling them or donating them. Here’s one more choice for you: It is called “Rockets of Awesome” and it is a kid’s clothing subscription box service, that also has a program called “Rockets Reverse” which lets you send the clothing that the kids have outgrown back for store credit.

The Rockets of Awesome subscription lets you preview the selections, and if you (or rather – if the kid) doesn’t like some of the clothes, they can be returned in the box they arrived in.

The Rockets Reverse is for “worn” clothing (aka used) that is in good shape and you get to return that stuff for store credit – and it doesn’t have to be their brand of clothes being “Reversed” …so it is a win/win for those growing kids and the best part (according to kids I have asked) is that the clothes are “cool” and “fun”.

Currently this company only ships to the Continental USA (sorry guys and gals – if you are in other parts of the USA and the world).

Got more questions about “Rockets of Awesome? Here is the link to their FAQs – CLICK HERE.

2021 – Is this YOUR year?

Every January is met with hopes and resolutions to be better, more prosperous, happier… after watching the world scramble during a pandemic (and spending a lot of time reading about previous pandemics) my “zen of living smaller” approach to this new year is just this: “Waste Less“.

I will count this new year as successful if I can just do that one thing – to waste less.

What will I waste less of?

  • Time – mostly the time spent worrying about things I have no control over;
  • Food – I will challenge myself to be more creative with what I have in the pantry;
  • Trash and Garbage – (if you are wondering what the difference is – in my mind trash is anything that cannot be composted) make sure that I compost what I can when I can and diligently separate recyclables from the regular trash;
  • Opportunity – I will take the plunge when opportunities arise after reasonable risk assessment, instead of sitting in analysis paralysis.

If I can accomplish even a little of “Waste Less” – I will count this year successful. I have a long To Do list for 2021 – things I want to write, things I want to paint, a new business I want to establish and grow (curious? go see it at http://www.shadowgirlcoffee.com ) and another round of decluttering and reorganizing plus I think I want to paint the interior of our home and I need to get this year’s garden started.

In the meantime, I vow to write more here…and to bake more bread (a comfort food in our home). Hope your 2021 is filled with what you need and some of what you want.

Bread is love!

Peace out.

Freecycle.org

Once every couple of years I do an article on Freecycle.org (established in 2003)- like this one I did on Narrative.org : https://www.narrative.org/post/the-freecycle-network-tm – and while I know that not everyone who tries to use this service has had a stellar experience, those bad experiences are the result of other users, not the service itself.

Their mission: “Freecycle aims to keep items out of landfills by providing an internet listings service to help people give unwanted items to someone else for free in their own community. Keeping stuff out of landfills helps build a sustainable future, is good for the environment and builds local and world communities.”

Since researching it again for my Narrative article, I noticed that the City I recently moved to had a post saying they were looking for moderators. I am currently a moderator-in-training for the Moreno Valley group.  If you browse the groups available, you will find that there are groups all over the United States and all over the world from Albania to Zimbabwe.

When you join one (or more) of the groups, the Moderator will send you a welcome email with all the rules and how-to’s. Very simple, and easy to use – if you have something you no longer need that is clean and safe – you can post it as an “Offer” if you need something – you can post it as a “Wanted”.

The rules specify the no-nos and they make perfect sense for safety and liability reasons. And the Moderators job is to make sure that those simple rules are adhered to, and to help publicize the service.

I support anything that keeps usable items out of the trash – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – and this is one of the ways we can all do that, while helping others.

A quick suggestion to you, gentle reader: If you know of a non-profit that looks for donations of goods (for example: old towels for animal rescues) – share Freecycle.org with them. It is one more way for them to get their message out and ask for the items they need.