My new year's resolution for 2021 was to reduce our household's waste. Here is a quick update on how it's going.
(Links to product companies at the end.)
O F F I C E:
One of my favorite things that I've purchased to help me go green is my mini Rocketbook. I take notes throughout my workday, edit my "to-do" list, and keep track of my hours since I work from home on a notepad by my computer. I realized I was using 1 to 2 sheets of paper per day, and there had to be a better way. I put out a call on Snapchat for recommendations and my friends told me about Rocketbooks. They are awesome! You just wipe them off with the microfiber cloth at the end of the day, and you're good to go with a clean slate. It also has an upload/digital feature that I haven't tried yet, but it's neat that the option is available if I ever wanted to use the QR code to instantly digitize my notes. The longest I've left ink on the pad so far has been two weeks, and it still wiped off great.
L A U N D R Y:
I have heard about wool dryer balls (as a replacement for dryer sheets) for a long time, and being a knitter myself it was a no-brainer to make a few of my own. I finally got to use some 100% wool yarn I'd been saving, and they turned out great. I've noticed a much faster dryer time with my clothes. I also have a few clothing and household items that can't be washed with fabric softener, so it's a great added bonus that I don't have to worry about them anymore, I just toss all my laundry in the dryer with the wool balls and go about my day.
I have tried a few products from the company Blueland. And so far I really like all of them. Their laundry tabs make my clothes so soft and fresh, are unscented, and are sans-plastic.
B A T H:
Along with the laundry tabs from Blueland I also got their foaming hand soap and bathroom cleaner starter kits. The first thing I was impressed with was the size of them. They're huge! I have a picture of the cleaner next to a wine bottle for scale. They were shipped in completely recyclable packaging and I have been really happy with both of them so far. Their fragrances are pleasant and light, not overwhelming, which is great for me because I'm sensitive to strong smells. You use the attractive reusable bottles and fill with water, then add their refill tabs to make the solution inside. It was fun watching the little tabs dissolve, like Alka-Seltzer. I hope to get their multi-purpose cleaner kit too, once I use up the current one I have.
B E A U T Y:
One of the biggest areas I (and I think most women) create waste is when it comes to our beauty routines. With the average woman using anywhere from 12 to 16 different cosmetic products every day, and most of them being in plastic and nonrecyclable containers, the beauty industry definitely needs to make some improvements when it comes to the environment. My shower has perhaps gotten the biggest makeover. I now use solid bar shampoo, conditioner, and soap. I still use disposable razors for now, but I use each one for two months, so I only use 6 per year. I have been pleasantly surprised by how low-maintenance this has made my shower routine, and traveling is a breeze! I also knit myself reusable cloths/loofas which I affectionately dub "shower flowers" and the one in the picture is about 5 years old. I Love This Cotton yarn is amazing folks, it holds up in the laundry and is super sturdy. The shampoo and conditioner are from HiBar, and I love them. The shampoo suds up well and the conditioner feels moisturizing. They don't leave any heavy scents in my hair, it's just shiny, soft, and healthy.
In an earlier post I shared my pattern for reusable makeup remover rounds. I am still tweaking these a bit, and you can find the original article HERE.
S U M M A R Y:
Overall I am really happy with the changes we've made. Using our own tote bags at stores instead of plastic sacks has been another great improvement, and they can hold so much more, so less trips to the car is a bonus.
While our reducing journey continues, it is fun to reflect on the changes we have made so far. Hopefully this article helps inspire you, or offers suggestions you hadn’t thought of before on how you can find ways to reduce your own household waste.
Links to the companies mentioned:
I Love This Cotton
My goal for this year is to waste less. Reflecting upon my daily beauty care routine I realized I was throwing away about 16 disposable cotton rounds every week. That's 64 every month! So, I decided to make my own reusable option. I love these because they are double-sided, so I can use one per day, one side in the morning, and the other at night. I also like them because they hold up well in the laundry and I've already noticed my skin getting happier and healthier! I do recommend washing them before the first use. Another tip is to be sure and get a good quality and soft 100% cotton yarn. My favorite brand is "I Love This Cotton".
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE PDF
Matthew and I love to travel. Having spent so much time in hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts I've learned some packing "hacks" that are my go-to when I get away. Here are some of my must-haves.
1. Oven Mitt
I've found that the only heat styling tool I need for my hair is a good quality straightener. I can straighten my hair and make curls with it, freeing up some much needed space in my already crowded suitcase. Although they sell travel cases for styling tools, they can get a bit pricey, and I've found that a spare oven mitt works just as well.
2. Deck of Cards
When we have the space to bring an extra bag of board games we usually do, but sometimes you're pressed for elbow room. That is when a simple deck of cards is a great thing to pack. You can play an endless variety of games from one little deck, and they are a very travel-friendly size.
3. Luggage Tag
When we took a train to California we had to put luggage tags on our bags, per Amtrak requirements. I've ended up liking them so much that I keep them on my suitcase 24/7 now, just in case of accidents or emergencies. We found ours at Walmart for around $4 each, but they also have them at dollar stores for $1. You can read my blog post about packing tips for overnight train trips by clicking HERE.
4. Travel Bags
These adorable bags are one of my greatest dollar store finds. They only cost $1 each and they are just as sturdy as any other cosmetic bag I've ever had. I can fit all my makeup in one, and my hair wrap in the other. Think outside the "bag" as you shop. A pencil case could be perfect for makeup brushes, or a binder bag work for a travel towel.
5. Door Stop
I recently watched a video on vacation security on Snapchat. In the video they said that a simple rubber door stop can be one of the most effective tools of travel safety and they are super inexpensive. (Once again I found mine at the dollar store for only $1). Little did I know how soon this would come in handy. Staying at a historic hotel, we were awoken in the early morning by someone pounding on our door and trying to open it. (Thief, confused construction worker, who knows). Even though there was an old fashioned door knob with a lock on the door, there was a four-inch gap at the bottom and a less than tight seal. I am so glad we had the door stop, it helped prevent the door from budging or the lock from being tempted to give way.
6. Bottled Water
All of my years as a renaissance festival performer has instilled within me a very diligent need to always have drinking water nearby. I have also gotten sick more than once from drinking the water from our hotel room's tap. So now, I always bring enough bottles of water to drink. My goal for this year is to get a larger gallon and refill a reusable bottle to save on waste.
7. Rechargeable/No Battery flashlight
I've been in several situations where it has been handy to have a flashlight. However, trying to remember to keep batteries in one you don't use all the time can be a hassle. The large batteries required for most flashlights also make them very heavy; and when you're hauling your suitcase up four flights of stairs, every ounce counts. I keep this wind-up flashlight in my suitcase at all times, so it's ready to go and I never forget to pack it.
Whether you're on a train, bus, or sharing a room with a bunkmate, headphones or earbuds come in very handy. They allow you to hear your entertainment device over the noise around you, and keep the peace if someone nearby is trying to sleep.
9. Chargers/Power Cords
Of course with all of the electronic gadgets we bring with us now a days it is essential that you bring the proper chargers and power cords. To conserve space you can use adapters and all-in-ones.
10. Travel Clock
Hotel clocks for some reason always seem to have the loudest and most annoying alarms ever. So I bring my own. I've had this little travel clock for about 20 years now. It was actually a reward for selling Girl Scout cookies back when I was a preteen! A small, convenient travel clock with an alarm sound you like, and a night display or snooze button is a great thing to bring. Instead of having to learn how to use the clock in the room and risking oversleeping, bringing your own ensures you will not only get a good night's rest, but will wake up on time as well.
I hope this article has given you some new ideas or can be helpful as you get ready to hit the dusty trail. Have a great trip and happy adventuring!
I wanted to knit a Christmas present for a family member this year. Being huge Nebraska Cornhusker fans I searched for a pattern to celebrate the beloved football team. However, I couldn't quite find one that included a winter element, which I wanted to have incorporated into the design. So I created this pattern. It just so happens that our last name initial is "N" so it serves a great double-purpose and leant itself to the naming of the pattern.
I hope you enjoy this pattern as much as I do.
CLICK HERE FOR FREE PDF DOWNLOAD
This hat pattern came from a commission I received from a family member who saw a similar one online. It can be a little hard on the knuckles with twisting the bulky yarn, but the result is well worth the effort. I've made a few more for friends and they love them. I hope you enjoy it as well! (Link to PDF below).
If you would like to say thank you, please favorite our Etsy store: scenerychanges
or like our Facebook page: facebook.com/scenerychanges
In early 2020, before all of the COVID craziness began, we took a train from Iowa to California. It was a fantastic experience and I loved nearly every part of it. You can click here, to read the original blog post.
I wanted to share some tips that helped us stay comfortable on board, especially since we were on the train for a grand total of four days and four nights. We had our own roomette, so I can’t give advice for traveling with coach tickets, which is a slightly different experience.
According to Amtrak’s website, each passenger is allowed to bring:
-2 Personal items (14x11x7” and 25lbs).
-2 Carry-on items (28x22x14” and 50lbs).
You are also required to have an identification tag with your name and address on your bags.
I would definitely suggest bringing a pillow as one of your personal items. Although they provide pillows on the train they are very small, and they won’t be as comfortable as bringing a full-size one from home.
For my second personal item, I put my purse in a tote bag that had some snacks, my cosmetics bag, my sunglasses, and a card game or two in it. My two carry-ons were a Duffle bag that I used for the trip, and a rolling suitcase for the destination. Since space in a roomette is limited, living out of a smaller Duffel bag during the trip was invaluable. It was so much easier than having to maneuver an actual upright suitcase every day.
You can also check bags, but they are kept in a separate luggage car, and there are a few more rules and steps to take, and I didn’t want to bother with it. I had a lock on my rolling suitcase (that was kept downstairs in the sleeper car with everyone else’s) and I never felt worried about it. Of course, it’s a good idea to keep valuables and anything you can’t live without in the cabin with you, just in case.
Here are some things that came in helpful and I’m glad we packed:
-Bath towel (they have towels by the showers, but like a pillow, your own is better)
-Shower shoes that dry quickly
-Small battery-operated fan
-Card games and travel board games
-Pen and paper or notebook
-Cell phone charger (of course)
-Shoes that can easily go on and off
It also came in handy to have some cash. Since all of your meals are included with a roomette ticket we used this for tipping the staff, buying treats in the snack car, or purchasing souvenirs at a pop-up street market on the platform in Albuquerque.
The temperature for us was very cozy, but if you are cold-blooded you might want to bring a blanket. For me, the hardest part of sleeping was the constant movement. I haven’t figured out how to conquer that yet, but when I do, I will be sure to post it.
One of the best things I did before we left was download the Amtrak mobile app. This was a great way to keep tabs on our departure and arrival times, and it provided a backup record of our tickets, just in case the paper version I printed out didn’t work or got lost.
I hope this article was helpful. If you have any more suggestions be sure to leave a comment below. Bon voyage!
In March, Matthew and I got the wonderful blessing and opportunity to travel on an Amtrak train from Iowa to Los Angeles. We stayed two nights on the train and got our own sleeping cabin or “roomette”.
First, the highlights. The two main reasons we chose to take a train rather than fly was so that we could actually experience our journey, and to have less stress. Choosing this method definitely checked both of those boxes to a fantastic degree.
I have major anxiety about planes, and I knew that I would not be able to enjoy my vacation, because I would be worrying about flying the whole time. Taking a train, I am very pleased to say, was a superb alternative for lower levels of traveling stress. There were no long lines, no body searches, and no strict restrictions on the size of shampoo you could pack. It was so relieving to simply wait for the locomotive to arrive, grab our things, and board.
For the second reason, I didn’t simply want to pass over the western United States, because I had never been there. I wanted to see the landscape, breathe the air, and feel the miles. From our roomette window we watched as the scenery changed from the flat lands of Colorado, to snow in the mountains of New Mexico, and the early morning light projecting rays through palm trees in California. Our longest pit-stop was in Albuquerque, and local vendors had a market set up right on the platform. We got to stretch our legs, meet local artists, and buy handmade souvenirs.
I also enjoyed the opportunity to converse with our fellow passengers. We dined with a couple going on an anniversary tour, boarded with a little girl about to see the Grand Canyon for the first time, and met a new family traveling to introduce their young baby to relatives on the other side of the country. The train was full of stories, and I couldn’t help but feel like a character in an Agatha Christie novel, even if for a bit. Our dinner companion commented that locomotives are a “sophisticated way to travel”, and I couldn’t agree more.
Now, for the thing I didn’t like. Sleeping on the train proved to be quite a challenge. I think there is a subconscious fail-safe that is built into the human body where it will wake up when shaken. So throughout the night, we were constantly being shaken, and my brain kept telling me that I needed to wake up. Our beds were comfortable, the sleeping car was quiet, and the temperature was nice. But the constant movement could not be helped. However, less than adequate sleep is kind of par-for-the-course when traveling.
Apart from the sleeping obstacles I really enjoyed taking a train. The food was superb, the staff friendly, and my own little cabin cozy and snug. The showers were warm, the bathrooms clean, and the views spectacular. For all of the benefits I think I can give up a night or two of sleep.
If you plan to take a longer trip I highly recommend renting your own roomette or bedroom. It does cost more, but the benefits are well worth it. You get access to the showers, a more comfortable place to sleep, privacy, and all of your meals are included.
Hopefully, this article has given you some insight, and all that’s left to say is “All aboard!”
Just in time for Halloween, here is a fun pattern for some spook-marks! Lol. These were my first attempt at color work on such a small and intricate scale, and I was very happy with the result. I used the intarsia technique on the pumpkins, and it worked really well. However, regular carrying of the yarn worked better for the cats.
I usually block my bookmarks in a 1/2 water, 1/2 starch solution. It seems to give them just the right amount of stiffness.
I hope you enjoy this pattern and all of the neat bookmarks you will be able to make from it. If you want to say thank you, please favorite our Etsy Page: www.etsy.com/shop/scenerychanges or like our Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/scenerychanges.
Thanks and God bless!
One of my favorite things about autumn is the spectacular flavors it inspires in cuisine. And pumpkin spice flavored beverages are definitely on the top of my list. However, I just completed a food sensitivity test, and it turned out that most of the elements in a pumpkin spice latte were potential allergens for me, including coffee, milk, ginger, and clove. So I had to find a way to still enjoy the taste I loved while avoiding the ingredients I am sensitive to. And the Pumpkin "Nice" Steamer was born. I hope you enjoy this drink as much as I do, and it gives you a pleasant alternative if you are on a restricted or allergy-sensitive diet.