Adventures in Sewing and Repurposing

One of my 30th birthday bucket list items was to learn how to werk a sewing machine. Up til a few months ago, my sewing knowledge consisted of fixing frayed hems and sewing buttons back on. By hand. One look at my work and you'd swear the eight-year-old kid down the street fixed my clothes for me.

But I get grand craft ideas in my head, and sometimes, a desire to attempt to pull them off. My first big sewing machine project came about when my fiance's stepmom showed me a beach bag she created. We made plans for a craft afternoon - a CRAFTERNOON if you will - and I started hunting around the house for materials.

I knew I wanted to repurpose some kind of fabric instead of spending money on something new. I can't do anything if I don't attempt to be sustainable! I grabbed a few shirts, a spare towel and a scarf. Now, I have a slight obsession with scarves. Collection of scarves, I mean. Damn autocorrect. I had quite the large pile of scarves, and while I loved most of them, I just didn't wear all of them. This berry-colored fringe scarf was one I didn't wear as often, though I loved the colors.

We decided it would be perfect for a beach bag, since it is a lighter material. Armed with instructions via iPad (paperless!), we started off on the project.



Even though it's all anyone has talked about for the past almost 48 hours, even though there are multiple news satellite trucks camping out a mile away, even though the police tape proves otherwise, the evening of Thursday, July 23, 2015, still feels so surreal.

It's a movie theater in the middle of the city. In front of the gym I frequent. Just down the road from the farmer's market I visit and the Horse Farm where we got engaged a few months ago. In the same parking lot as my favorite nearby bar and a quaint coffee shop. The last movie I remember seeing there was The Wedding Ringer, but I've lost count of just how many movies I have seen at The Grand 16.

It was surreal to hear the cacophony of sirens from home at 7:30 Thursday evening, then learn that it was not just another car crash; it was something much more heavy-hitting.

Like pretty much the rest of the city, we spent Thursday night glued to the news. Stuck on the local broadcasts, but occasionally flipping to a national cable news network for the sheer shock of this being the top national news story. Why did Lafayette have to make the national news for THIS?

Then Friday morning, we learned who the victims were: Mayci Breaux and Jillian Johnson. Two beautiful ladies who are gone far too soon. Instantly, the tributes came pouring out. Jillian is well-known in Lafayette for her two businesses, Red Arrow Workshop and Parish Ink, along with her band, The Figs. I am a frequenter of Parish Ink, as a fan of their popular Lafayette culture shirts. And I am a supporter of Red Arrow Workshop and their unique collection of recycled, hand-made and locally sourced products. I've mentioned them many times here on the blog, as one of my favorite local shops.

 Baggu recycled cotton backpack and flag patch from Red Arrow Workshop

The Acadian flag has represented our region since 1965, but its popularity in art and clothing has
surged in recent years, undoubtedly partly because of Jillian and her work and creativity. You can find a representation of it just about anywhere these days as a symbol of our cultural pride, and it will now serve as a symbol of our unity going forward.

Park bench in Downtown Lafayette

Because of how interconnected Lafayette is, we are all deeply impacted by the events this week. So many of us have a personal connection to the victims or the survivors, and at the same time we are grieving for them, we are also staying strong for them.
Lafayette is not a small town. But, it’s a special place. It’s a microcosm of culture and faith, of tradition and progressive thought. There is no place like Lafayette. - Amanda Harris for The Independent


Chocolate: Organic, Fair-Trade, Sustainable

I am not a huge chocoholic, but there are times when all I crave is some good dark chocolate. With sea salt preferably.

Chances are, you buy chocolate pretty often each year. Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas...not to mention that bowl of candy you keep on your desk. And that stash in your drawer. And that other stash hidden deeper in your drawer.

I hate to make you rethink your stash, but did you know conventionally produced chocolate is one of the worst destroyers of the environment? Behind only cotton, cacao farming uses the highest volume of synthetic and toxic pesticides. Synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers affect the environment, the crop, and workers.

Chocolate production also wreaks havoc on rainforests, fuels wars in production companies, and pays out low wages.

On chocolate!


Help, I Need to Get Rid of These Electrical Cords!

Once upon a time, there was a striped cat named Milo. Adopted at eight weeks by a gullible sucker named Caitlin, Milo quickly became spoiled and decided everything he could see in the room was a toy to play with.

It was cute at first, but quickly became extremely annoying, and two and a half years later, Caitlin found herself with a pile of chewed phone chargers and AC adapters (and one fiance's laptop charger).

Hiding her one remaining phone charger, she researched how to properly dispose of her electrical cords so they didn't have to go in the trash. "Milo may be destructive and wasteful, but he is not going to keep me from being eco-friendly. AT LEAST I can use one of our spare AC adapters for my essential oil diffuser and save money," she thought.

(I am so glad I can write a short non-fiction piece on cats chewing through wires. Literary, I say.)

Maybe (hopefully) you are not in the same predicament. However, chances are, you've got a box full of spare cords and cables taking up room somewhere in your house. Not very minimalist! I wrote a post a couple years ago about electronics waste and why it's so important not to contribute to electronics pollution. So, how do you get rid of them the responsible way?

Do your cords and cables still work? 

  • Donate them! Goodwill accepts electronics donations, or you can ask around at schools, libraries or other nonprofit organizations to see if they can accept the items.
  • Sell them! Whether in a Facebook "For Sale In Your Town" group, at a garage sale, or on another website, you could make a little extra cash and help out someone who needs an extra cable.

If they've shorted out, don't work, or are frayed/chewed...

Look to your recycling options. 
  • Your local Best Buy has kiosks, just inside the front doors, to drop off ink and toner cartridges, rechargeable batteries, and wires, cords and cables, plastic bags and gift cards. Simply drop off your crap and go about your day.
  • If your city has an electronic waste recycling center, drop off your cords there.
    • The Louisiana DEQ has a list (albeit a two-year-old list) of electronics recyclers throughout the state. If nothing, this can serve as a starting point if you are looking around.
    • AllGreen offers electronic recycling pickup throughout the state.
  • This Apartment Therapy list provides available online recycling options.

Nice try, Sour Patch Kid. (He's sour and then he's sweet. Heh. Hehehe.)

Now, Milo, can you earn your keep and take this bag of cords you destroyed over to the local Best Buy for me?


Sun-stainable Sunscreen

You know the rules by now (or at least you should!): Wear sunscreen whenever you're going to be outside. It's super important for your health, but at the same time, added harmful chemicals could be hurting you and the environment. Similar to other conventional items I've written about, the chemicals in sunscreen seep into your skin and can have lasting negative health effects.

As living organisms, coral feed on algae, and they provide a safe breeding ground for fish and other marine species. Coral reefs also protect shorelines against damage from storms and floods, buffering against erosion.

NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science researchers and their partners have discovered that BP-2, a sunscreen chemical commonly used in many soaps, cosmetics and fragrances, is highly toxic to corals. As of 2003, 27% of the world's coral reefs have been lost. By 2033, 60% could be destroyed.


Travel Throwback Thursday

A vacation is good for the soul, and a great vacation changes your spirit, even when you go back home. This year, the vacations are closer to home, so I'm reliving my past favorite blogged trips and pretending I'm somewhere other than here.


Eco-friendly Spotlight | Lafayette Public Library Main Branch Reopening

I've got so many fond memories from my childhood of our local public library. My parents would take me every few weeks, and I'd check out a stack of books to read, mostly the Sweet Valley and Baby-Sitters Club series (hello, 90s child!). I loved being able to read all kinds of books, do research for school, and just browse through the shelves to see what was there. My father and I would also visit the annual Friends of the Library book sale, where you could certainly find interesting titles.

As I got older, I would go less often, but I still loved the joy of finding a "new" good book to read. Humor is always a solid choice, I'll catch up on some good fiction, I've looked up books on environmentalism, and I love to browse the travel section.

Although I'm far from that bookworm child these days, the library stayed the same throughout the years. With the exception of upgrading their technology, it was the same dark library it had been since 1973. Until now!

The Lafayette Public Library has been renovating their main branch for the past three years, while operating in a temporary space a few blocks away, and this week, they held a ribbon-cutting, providing Lafayette residents with a state-of-the-art library.


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Celebrate the Fourth of July!

Ah, Fourth of July, that much-awaited long weekend! Do you have big plans? A trip to the beach? Camping? Staying home in front of the air conditioner?

However you're celebrating America's independence this weekend, don't forget to display your red, white, blue and GREEN!

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