We all have bad days from time to time. Whether it’s a late night, a cranky baby, a looming deadline, or whatever comes up, there are a lot of ways that a day can feel off before it even starts. How do you get back […]
What I've Been Up To!
‘Tis the season for the McDonald’s Shamrock Shake! Nothing brings back happier childhood Lent memories than a Shamrock Shake and a Filet-o-Fish on Fridays. I mean, I know we’re supposed to be fasting and making sacrifices, but… It’s also Girl Scout cookie season with […]
On Tuesday, I wrote a little bit about fast fashion and its impact on our world. You can check out that post here!
One way to combat clothing waste is to really take care of your stuff. I’m always surprised when I read magazine articles suggesting that you take clothing to the tailor for button or hole repairs on clothing. Do that many people not know how to do simple mending? Maybe. But that’s ok. I guess my thrifty Depression-era grandma really entrusted me with some money saving technology when she showed me how to do little repairs on my things. I’m grateful I can do that!
Other than mending, there are some other ways I take care of my clothing and accessories. I’ve also helped some friends mend their clothing!
Probably my oldest daily-use item is a cardigan I bought in 2004. Yup, 14 years ago. I wear it often and still get compliments on how stylish and cute it is. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sewn on new buttons, repaired little tears, and gently removed stains. Buying a sweater that is kind of timeless helps too. And having this sweater well-tended reduces the temptation for me to purchase new things. If you love the stuff you have, why let a little tear or stain keep you from using it over and over?
Here are some essential tools to get you started on taking care of all the clothing and accessories you love:
+ sewing kit
A sewing kit doesn’t have to be as cute and well-stocked as mine. And you don’t have to buy a specific sewing kit box. Any box will do the job and any combination of thread, needles, sewing scissors, and other notions will work. It’s also a fun use for a pretty box you love but have no compelling reason to keep (the box for a favorite pair of shoes, luxury jewelry item, or special gift works great!). To stock your pretty sewing kit, you can buy basic sewing supplies at Walmart, Joann Fabric, or pretty much anywhere online. I like to have a selection of neutral threads (including thicker button thread), a packet of needles in various sizes, a good pair of sewing scissors, needle threaders (those things that look like coins with a wire loop at the end), a thimble or two, and some straight and safety pins. If you have clothing you love with particular colors, like a neon yellow dress, it might be worth seeking out a matching thread for repairs. If I don’t have an exact shade of thread to repair, sometimes I twist two or three threads together to give the look of a single shade. If you really want to upgrade your sewing kit, add a domed lightbulb! It’s a super old school tool to make sock darning really easy. Just stretch the sock of the top of the lightbulb and sew. The shape of the lightbulb will stretch out the fabric just enough to make sewing easier and more durable.
“Notions” is the sweet old-fashioned word for all the bits and bobs you need to do clothing repairs. I save any extra buttons, sequins, or thread attached to nicer clothing items I purchase for quick repairs. I also think it’s important to stock up on a few pieces of velcro and zippers in neutral colors, a set of buttons you think are cute, and matching sequins or lace for your favorite pieces. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a plain blazer or cardigan and upgraded the buttons with something special. It takes any piece from boring to special so cheaply and easily. Just remember to regularly review the notions piling up in your sewing kit. Old buttons from donated items have a way of sticking around in my sewing kit years after I’ve passed the item along.
+ sweater shaver & lint roller
I’ve gotten at least three people addicted to sweater shavers recently. They are the BEST tool for keeping sweaters and pilled cottons looking fresh and pretty. I like to use a good quality sweater shaver and shave sweaters on an ironing board or mattress. This keeps you from really digging into the fabric and accidentally shaving your fabrics too thoroughly. My favorite sweatshirt pills like crazy and looks old and cheap quickly. Once I use my sweater shaver, it looks like I got a new sweatshirt. Worth every penny! This sweater shaver is small so it’s easy to store and only $5.99!
+ sticky and flocked lint rollers
To keep things looking fresh, I also go over dark fabrics with a lint roller before I head out. Lint rollers are essentials for most black leggings and sweatshirts. I find it useful to have both a sticky and flocked lint roller for different textures and fabrics. The flocked lint remover works like magic in removing deodorant stains from my shirts. I always pack a travel lint roller when I’m heading out of town for a few days. You never know when your clothing will pick up lint, dog hair, or dust while you’re traveling.
+ gentle detergent
I’m pretty basic when it comes to detergent because my husband and son have very sensitive skin. I like Tide Free & Gentle for pretty much all of my fabrics. I’ve tried things like Woolite and lingerie wash, but I find that a gentle all-purpose detergent works just as well. Scented and colored detergents can sometimes lead to buildup in your washing machine and on your clothing. It’s good to have something that rinses thoroughly to keep your fabric’s integrity. If you have outdoor or athletic clothing, it might be worth investing in down cleaner or speciality detergent. A good stain remover is also an important thing to stock in your laundry supplies for inevitable mishaps and spills.
+ mesh laundry bags
Speaking of laundry, I couldn’t live without my mesh laundry bags. They keep delicates away from the agitator in your washing machine and protect zippers and elastic from damaging other clothing. These are so important for bras, delicate workout gear, tights, silks, wool, and snag-able fabrics. It also makes it so easy when I’m putting things in the drier to know what to pull out and flat or hang dry.
+ good hangers
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a collection of wire, plastic, and dry cleaner clothing hangers in a closet all crammed together and allowing clothes to get crushed, caught on wire hooks, and get creases and strange crumples on fabrics. I decided long ago to invest in nice wooden hangers for all of our clothing. Yes, they can be pricey. Instead of buying everything at once, I bought a set of two or three every pay period over about a year to get a full collection for our closets. I personally don’t like things like Huggable Hangers because they encourage overstuffing in closets (which leads to all of the above problems). Wider wooden hangers allow your clothing to breathe and discourage huge volumes of clothing. If you have cedar hangers, they keep any kind of scents and goolies out of your closet. I also have a handful of hangers for suits or delicate fabrics that are specially made for the purpose. I hang all of my cardigans on hangers with rubber shoulders to keep the shoulders from stretching out.
+ shoe polish kit, leather cleaner, and a cobbler
Everyone needs a shoe polish kit and the number of a good cobbler in your phone. I have saved hundreds of dollars on new shoes and handbags just by taking very good care of my leather goods. I like to have my shoe polish kit stocked with a few neutral shades of polish (usually brown, black, and tan) and a clear sealant. A rag or microfiber cloth dedicated to shoe polishing is important. A good shoe brush and suede brush and a handful of replacement laces are useful too. I use good car leather cleaner to clean my purses, salt stains from shoes, and our leather couch. If you have speciality items, like Wellies or designer handbags, you can often find specific cleaners and sealants online from those manufacturers. When the heels of my boots and shoes start showing any kind of serious wear and tear or when the seasons change, I take them to get re-heeled. If they get worn too much, I spring for new soles. When you spend good money on timeless styles, you can keep shoes and accessories for decades.
+ a friend who can sew
If you know of a friend who can sew, all your mending and hemming projects become a lot easier. I can do simple repairs, but I go to my mom or my local tailor for hemming. If you can’t do simple repairs and don’t have the time or inclination to learn online, talk to your friends about doing those little repairs. I have a knack for repairing open-weave sweaters and lace items. Any time I see a friend about to pitch items like that because they’ve gotten tears, I offer to rescue those items from the donate bin and repair them. I hate seeing favorite clothing items discarded just because they have a little tear or snag. Don’t be afraid to ask for favors from your more crafty-inclined friends.
There you have it! Just a few ideas to get you started on reducing clothing waste and keeping the things you love in tip top shape. If you have any other ideas for essential items to repair and restore your clothing, leave them in the comments below!
I recently watched a CBC Marketplace special on fast fashion & its impact on our world. (I love Canadian tv.) No big surprise: clothing waste doesn’t have a very good impact. This isn’t the first news report about fast fashion & it won’t be the […]
Do you suffer from perfectionism? Bitterness? Self-criticism? Low self-esteem? Anger? Anxiety? If you suffer from any of the above symptoms, you might be the perfect candidate for a new treatment called essential oils! Side effects may include: smelling delicious, craving green juices and homemade granola, […]
As a vegetarian family, I find some of our best recipes are ethnic recipes from cultures that value vegetarian dishes instead of trying to fit a normal American meal into a vegetarian mold. Japanese, Thai, Indian, Mexican, Italian. There are so many interesting recipes in these cuisines that are just naturally vegetarian with minor alterations or no alterations at all!
Our favorites are usually Asian-inspired dishes like these Peanut Noodles. A bonus is that this recipe can be easily made gluten free if you have guests visiting who avoid gluten.
This is a very popular recipe in our home and SO easy to make! I hope you enjoy it!
:: Peanut Noodles ::
Makes 6 servings
1 lb rice noodles (cooked according to package directions)
1 red bell pepper, chopped into small cubes
1 cucumber, thinly sliced in rounds
2 carrots, peeled and julienned (can also use the peeler to make thin strips)
1 package shelled edamame, thawed
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 lime, cut in wedges
1 small handful each fresh cilantro and mint, chiffonade cut
Sriracha sauce (optional)
2/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari
1 freshly squeezed lime
3 tbs toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 small handful each fresh cilantro and mint
In a blender, puree all sauce ingredients into a smooth paste, except for the cilantro and mint. Once ingredients are combined, add the cilantro and mint and pulse gentle to combine into the sauce.
Chill noodles with cold water and drain. Toss sauce with noodles, chopped vegetables, and edamame. Garnish each dish with scallions, cilantro, mint, and sesame seeds. Serve with lime wedges and sriracha sauce to taste.
This is the simplest recipe and is an easy thing to throw together any weeknight. I especially love that rice noodles take just minutes to cook. It’s perfect dish for entertaining the vegetarians, vegans, and gluten free guests in your home and ideal for a taste of summer in the middle of winter!
Who doesn’t love a good throwback? Right now we’re having a a bit of a 90s moment: choker necklaces (even the wire tattoo-looking ones!), matte lips, platform sneakers, slip dresses… even if you’re not actually getting into these things, the runways in the last few […]
My husband and I eat vegetarian/vegan at home so I like to get creative with our recipes. When he’s out for work dinners, the only vegan option is often pasta primavera or a portobello burger. Neither is super satisfying to be honest. When he gets home, I like to make filling, creative meals that he can’t get most other places. I’ve seen this recipe on a few different blogs, and with some trial and error, I’ve been able to make a great vegan version for us!
I hope you try this recipe out! If you have vegan or vegetarian friends, try making this one night for dinner instead of serving them another soup or pasta dish. I know it’s hard to please all the vegans and vegetarians around, but they always appreciate the effort!
::Thai Tofu Lettuce Cups::
1 tsp coconut oil
1-2 dashes toasted sesame oil
1 package extra firm tofu
1 head fresh iceberg, butter, or bib lettuce
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
5-8 mushrooms, stems removed, chopped finely
4-5 scallions (greens finely sliced, whites sliced in 1/2″ to 1” pieces)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or finely minced
1 lime (1/2 juiced, 1/2 sliced in wedges for squeezing)
2 tablespoons soy sauce/tamari
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tsp garlic chili paste
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 lime wedge
Pinch of salt
Finely sliced cucumber
1 carrot, grated or peeled in thin strips
1/4 cup chopped peanuts, toasted
Fresh cilantro, mint, and/or basil (chiffonade cut)
Sweet and sour egg roll sauce or chutney (optional)
Drain and squeeze dry the tofu. Set in a bowl and wrap in a paper towel to absorb additional water.
Cut and prepare all fresh ingredients. Carefully peel back lettuce leaves to preserve the cup structure.*
Mix juice of one lime wedge, 1 tsp wine vinegar, and pinch of salt with cucumber and carrot. Set aside.
Mix together soy sauce, lime juice, maple syrup, garlic chili paste, and rice wine vinegar in a small bowl.
Unwrap the tofu and place it back in the bowl. Using a potato masher (or a large fork – but potato masher tool works so well!), mash the tofu until it breaks apart into little nuggets.
Heat the coconut and sesame oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the white parts of the scallions, garlic, and ginger. Cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and cook until they begin to brown, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the water chestnuts and sauté until slightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Add tofu in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Cook tofu until it begins to firm up and brown slightly, 10-12 minutes.
Add the bowl of sauce on top and stir to combine. Heat through.
Once the filing is done cooking, transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with lettuce cups, slices of lime, peanuts, cilantro, scallion greens, herbs, and pickled carrot and cucumber. Enjoy!
* If you’re like me and can’t peel off the lettuce leaves carefully enough, feel free to slice the lettuce in strips and serve the dish as a salad.
This recipe is frequently in our rotation at home. I hope you’re able to enjoy it too! If you are looking for a more filling meal, this goes well with a green or red Thai curry or Vietnamese phở.