Wednesday, March 18, 2009

WIP Wednesday: greening up 2 ways...well, actually 3

I feel bad about using plastic shopping bags.  We all should, really.  I couldn't really afford to buy a bunch of reusable bags though, so I decided to make some.  Out of my old tshirts that will probably never fit again because I'll probably never be a size extra small ever again.  I have all these old shirts that I love...but never wear, so this is a way for me to use them again and help out the environment.  The funny thing is that most of these shirts are from a store I worked at for awhile, and I had a major Volcom obsession for awhile and now all my shopping bags (except for like...2) have their logo.  Fun.  Psssst....these were really, incredibly easy to make.  Like ridiculously easy.  If you have a sewing machine (or just a shitload of patience), you can do this.  Looky here:
amazing how those xsmall tshirts stretch 

They hold so many groceries!  That's only three of around ten that I made.  Here's what you do:  
1. Find a tshirt that you don't wear anymore.
2. Cut off the sleeves, but keep the seam that holds them on intact (for stability)
3. Cut out the neckline so it's wider.
4. Turn it inside out.
5. Sew together the bottom hem (I did it twice for extra sturdiness).

That's it.  Go make your own grocery bags!  You no longer have an excuse not to.  Also, as you can see in that photo, Kroger is now carrying these Tasty Bite Indian dinners that you just microwave up and the ones that are vegan say vegan on them.  Which is pretty much unprecedented in West Virginia.  I was so excited that I had to buy one!  Haven't tried it yet, but they seem good.  Added bonus?  They're lower in fat and calories than most of those microwave meals, so you don't feel all gross after eating it (I'm assuming).  You might have also noticed these:
even greener

What's the point of using a reusable shopping bag if you just fill it up with your produce that's in those silly plastic produce bags?  If you're like us, you buy a lot of produce, either at the store or at the farmers market.  Well...fret not, my friends.  There is a way around it!  Some people, like our buddy Amy at Tahinitoo, make their own out of lightweight nylon.  There's no fabric like that at my fabric store, so I ordered some bags from Etsy from a girl who is making these (at $2 a bag) to pay for her college education.  Go check it out!  They are as light as the plastic bags so they don't screw up the scale, plus you are (yet again) helping out the environment.  And helping a kid pay for college.  Where can you go wrong?  They come in sizes small, medium, and large with these nice little ribbons to pull everything shut.  Rad!

Another way we are greenifying our house is by starting an indoor garden.  We made a trip up to Lowe's on Monday to get's our seeds:
so many exciting veggies and herbs!

Last night Michael and I started planting the seeds that specified March for our region.  It was some work (and some money spent...), but well worth the effort (assuming we get loads of veggies out of it).  We have a sunporch on the front of our apartment, so all the containers are going out there.
do you see our garden owl?

Those are the ones that don't need to be transplanted.  Lids on top to keep the kitties out.  Now I really need advice on how to keep cats OUT OF THE PLANTS!  It's a big problem, because our cats are curious to the max and like to destroy things.  If you have any advice, let me know!  

My mom gave me a growlab that I can start seeds in for things like peppers and tomatoes.
happy plantlings

I can't find the list of all of our seeds, but here's what we planted last night:  brussels sprouts, cayenne peppers, chili peppers, scallions, golden beets, red beets, kale, red radishes, watermelon radishes, regular lettuce, mesclun, rainbow chard, and sugar snap peas.  Should be an adventure, eh?  This is all due to a book my brother got for Michael for Christmas called The Bountiful Container by Rose Marie, Nichols McGee, and Maggie Stuckey (thanks, Jonah!).  We highly reccommend this book for anyone with a small space that would be interested in gardening (indoors or out!).

Stay tuned for progress throughout the spring and summer on how our little plant buddies are doing!

The final way of going green is our St. Patrick's day meal.  As soon as I saw the colcannon puffs on Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, I knew I wanted to make them.  And I'm so glad I did!
nice little potato balls

These were seriously tasty.  I'd say you should make them all the time.  Not just on St. Patrick's day.  They are lightly crispy on the outside and nice and soft on the inside, with loads of flavor.  The recipe made more than I could fit on my cookie sheet (which was 30 puffs), so we put the rest in a loaf pan so Michael (the potato lover) could have colcannon loaf as snacks.
tato loaf

To go along with these loverly potato puffs, we seared some tofu according to a sort of tofu recipe that some lady behind us in line at the Healthy Life Market gave us.  Basically, you don't press it, just cut it into steaks (we got 4 out of our cake), salt both sides with sea or kosher salt and leave for awhile to sweat the water out.  Then heat up some olive oil in a nonstick pan and sear both sides until brown.  Adding cracked black pepper to both sides beforehand makes them extra yummy.  
i had no idea this would work so well

They came out with a great texture, but still pretty flavorless (which we figured would happen) so we served them up with some gravy, also via Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.  Mushroom gravy.  And it was freaking amazing.
gravy in the back, croissants in the front

It all turned out so well...  Which made us and our tummies mighty happy.
how can you resist?

I was going to make some soda bread to go along instead of the croissants, but I got some really sad news right when I started cooking and it just didn't happen.  I will make some soon though.  It was all in all a very successful meal, with all the right awesomeness to make vegans happy.

And I don't want to end this post on a sad note, but I do want to say....  Please, if you are depressed and thinking of taking your own life, don't.  There are always other options out there.  Your friends and family will miss you when you are gone, and their pain after that fact outweighs the pain you are feeling now.  I've been in the same position a few times in my life, but let me tell you...  life is a better choice.  You never know what it holds for you.  Please, get some help instead.

In loving memory of my brother's and my friend, Shane.  Please keep his family and friends in your thoughts.


Katy said...

Those t-shirt bags are so cool! And your garden is so cute!

I'm so sorry about your friend. I will definitely keep you and his family in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

I am swooning over all the lovely ways you are greening up! Your tee shirt shopping bags are a smart invention! And you are right, super simple! I might make a few too! I really like those transparent produce bags too, they seem just right for greens. Thanks for passing along the tofu trick, it sounds like a fun new way to make tofu (as if we don't already have a zillion ways!). As always, your meals melt me into a puddle of vegan goo (the good kind of goo).

I am sending all the best wishes for happiness to you, your brother, and your friend's family. I am so sorry for the loss. I too, have been in the position of wanting the final escape, and your post really puts me back on my feet. Thank you.

Ashley said...

So, do your t-shirt bags have straps? I really like to have straps to sling my heavy bags over my shoulder with.

allularpunk said...

thanks to all for the love and thoughts. the tshirt bags have straps via the shoulders of the tshirts, for those who want to make them!

Virginia said...

that is so crafty about the shirts! i wish i had a sewing machine because JUST today, seriously, i threw a huge bag of old tshirts in the garage while cleaning out our drawers...i have no idea what to do with them, otherwise! i hate throwing things away!

i am so sorry about your friend. my prayers are with you and your brother.

saveyrgeneration said...

lady, that's such a fantastic idea with the t-shirts. I would absolutely do that but:

1. I has no sewing machine. :(
2. I already spent $2 on a hefty healthy life market bag.

there's a shirt called Generation T that I recommend to you.

veggievixen said...

your food looks awesome!

happy gardening! my dad and i are going to start a real, outdoor one!! i'm so excited.

Celine said...

I am so sorry to hear about your friend, hon. you are in my thoughts.

Anna said...

Love your environmental post. Go Green!

michelle said...

Super-jealous over your indoor garden. I'm currently trying to figure out how to rig a window box up to grow an ultra-mega-tiny garden (is that even considered a garden anymore?). Good luck and I hope for james and the giant peach-sized abundance in your garden!

I'm sorry to hear that about your friend. It's hard to know how to deal in these situations, but please take care.

Vegyogini said...

Thanks for the tip about the nylon produce bags; I just bought a set of 5 and can't wait to get them! It's so nice to be able to do something to help promote a teenager's college education AND green(er) living at the same time.

Anonymous said...

What a rockin' W.I.P. Post!!!! I LLOOOVVVVEEE it!!! Those t-shirt bags are such a fantastic idea! I promise if I ever manage to talk my husband into letting me cut into some of his old t's I'll totally give you credit! I also love those mesh bags - what a wonderful idea and way to cut down on the plastic!
I so want to have an indoor garden, but if you saw how tiny our apartment was, you'd better understand my hesitation - especially with a little one running around. I'm really hoping to plant some plants - SOMETHING - soon, though. That book sounds great!
I'm so sorry for your friend's family. So, so sad.

jessy said...

i'm so sorry about your friend Shane, Jessica. his family & friends will be in our thoughts. and i'm sending big hugs your way.

i saw those colcannon puffs on susan's site - now i need to go back & print off the recipe. they look awesome, and especially love you guys making tat-o loaf outta the leftovers. freak'n brilliant! mushrooms are something that i'm still working on getting dan to love as much as i do. we conquered kale and now i'm gonna move him on to mushrooms 'cause i really wanna make that gravy! damn, it looks awesome - especially over the tofus. mmmmmmmm! now i want croissants! and who needs soda bread when you've got enough awesome go'n on. i look forward to your soda bread some day though, fo 'sho!

i see those swiss chard, brussels, and beet seeds there! and my suggestion for the kittehs may be to grown some kitty grass for them and keep your fingers crossed that it's a good deterent. i will keep my fingers crossed for you too. :) your indoor garden is going to rock so hard! wahooooo! be sure to keep us posted on all the happy little yummies you guys grow. w00t!

making your own reusable bags = the shiznit! and what a fantastical idea to get the produce bags 'n help out someone else, too! hells yeah! too funny on the volcom logo - i have a lot of old "roxy" logo things and "burton". aahhahaa. awesome.

once again, i'm sorry about your friend, Jessica. that's so sad. i'm sorry.

JENNA said...

What an awesome way to use up old t-shirts. I have a perfect one that I could use to make this.

miss v said...

great idea on the tshirt bags. i have a super cute smokey the bear one that has a small oil stain i just can't get out (and it's right on my boob, of course).

i can't wait to plant my garden (i have an outside one). i'm getting so anxious with all you in-door planters.

pixiepine said...

Power packed post as always! My friend made me a super cute party purse out of a couple of miniscule old tshirts :)

The Tasty Bite dinners are ok...not astounding but perfect for lazy days and nights when you need something good to eat.

VeganCowGirl said...

Wow! Some totally impressive ways to green it up! I really dig the idea of using the old t-shirts.
Your inside garden is grand! I totally dig it and think that I need an inside garden to go with my outside garden. Thanks for the inspiration.

I am really sorry to hear about your and your brother's friend. Peace.

Betty Holiday said...

I'm totally going to make some T-shirt bags (T-bag anyone? tehee). I am jealous about your indoor garden space... currently we don't have enough natural light to keep our mango plants alive. I got several of those tasty bite dinners on markdown from kroger. Packed them as lunches for work (at kroger lol).

I've been reading many of your blogs lately and they've definitely been giving me some inspiration during icky finals week and the prep for finals week and the prep for prep for finals week! I just want to say thank you.

I learn something new every time, like cutting tofu into steaks? I always do slices, the other way. And gravy? I rarely ever make gravy... The word gravy kinda scares me, but with healthy ingredients why should it be?? Definitely going to have to try :)

<3 From Macrobiotic in Indiana to Vegan in West Virginia

My condolences regarding your friend, Shane. Bless.

Betty Holiday said...

P.S. You wouldn't be too jealous if I was inspired by your blog and started blogging about my own meals, would you?

River said...

Way to green up your grocery shopping! We have reusable shopping bags but not reusable produce bags, that's an awesome idea! We reuse the plastic produce bags, but they are so thin and flimsy that they don't really last very many uses.

Good luck with your garden and thank you for recommending the book! The first thing I noticed on your picture was your garden owl! So cute!!

Cool growlab! Growing your own peppers and tomatoes would be awesome. I've always wanted to grow my own bell peppers.

What a delicious meal! You are right, I cannot resist!

I am so sorry about your friend Shane. You are right, you never know what life holds for your future.

Tami (Vegan Appetite) said...

I'm sorry about your friend, too.

That dinner looks fabulous-- and we hope to start a garden this year for the first time.

Alison said...

What a wonderful idea for produce bags! I never use them because I think they are such a waste and I know the cashiers hate me when I unload a pile of loose apples onto the conveyor belt!

I'm sorry to hear about your friend :( My thoughts are with you and your friend's family.

aTxVegn said...

You are brilliant for making up those tshirt bags! And I am totally jealous of your gardening.

Your St. Patrick's Day meal looks fantastic. Potato puffs sound so good.

I'm sorry to hear about your friend. I will certainly remember your family and his in my prayers.

Vegan_Noodle said...

Love the tshirt bag and the reusable produce bags! Thanks for the link, I have a few, but need more! (being vegan means you buy lots of produce obviously)

So very sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. You are in my thoughts....

lin said...