Hand Powered Kitchen Tools

 

07.18.2016

0800

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I personally dislike using a lot of appliances in my kitchen. The less appliances I have, the more kitchen counter space I tend to save. I’m also not one for buying appliances that very specific uses. I prefer appliances that vary in uses such as a toaster oven, which can toast bread, bake small dishes and grill small amounts of food at a time. I also prefer appliances that are hand powered or are designed in a way that the kitchen tool can sustain its use if I walk away. For instance, my French Press is one of my favorite kitchen tools because it will keep my coffee hot for up four hours. I can take my time and sip and enjoy my coffee knowing that there’s more in my pot that’s still hot.

Part of the reason why I prefer kitchen tools that are powered by hand is due to the fact that I usually know how to fix them easily. If it’s an electrical appliance, I’m not sure how to approach fixing it. If the appliance needs a wire re-attached, I can fix that- but if it malfunctions on any other level, I doubt I’d be able to fix it.

Living a zero waste life also means that when I need to use a certain kitchen tool, and I don’t own it- I have to improvise. Granted, sometimes the improvised version of the kitchen tool takes longer to get the task done, but it WILL get the job done. Honestly, sometimes I only need to use the kitchen tool once, so that’s why I don’t go out to buy it. I use a stove, toaster oven and an electrical hand blender; those are the appliances I own. I don’t use a microwave because I heat items up in my toaster oven. Owning a total of two appliances helps in the fact that I only need to maintain those two.

A few of my non electrical kitchen tools are:

  1. French Press
  2. Pepper grinder
  3. Lemon Juicer
  4. Can Opener
  5. Wine Bottle Opener
  6. Scissors
  7. Vegetable Peeler
  8. Knife Sharpener

A few of my substitute kitchen tools include:

  1. Wine Bottle, used as a rolling-pin
  2. Pyrex bowls, used as a nut grinder
  3. Colander , used as a flour sifter

I’m simply not a fan of using multiple appliances that will end up using a lot of electricity. As long as I have the basic essentials, then I’m more content with my kitchen. It also boils down to the fact that I don’t want the responsibility to have to maintain multiple appliances yearly.

Composting

07.13.2016

0800

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I have a compost at home and I love adding to it. It’s a great way of how I get rid of my food scraps without adding it to the landfill. Currently I use the Lifetime 65 gallon tumbler, which is large enough to add multiple layers of dry leaves and moist food scraps. The design allows me to rotate the pile so I won’t have to run the pile using a hand tool.

Composting is the process of breaking down or decomposing organic materials for use as an excellent soil amendment. Beneficial bacteria and fungi do their part to return this waste into a form usable once again by plants. These microbes need air, water, food, and heat to thrive. Keeping the microbes “happy” will speed up the process.

There are a few benefits of composting such as:

  • Saves landfill space, as well as, time and gas transporting yard waste.
  • Improves the soil’s ability to retain moisture, reducing watering costs.
  • Provides needed humus and nutrients for healthy plants.

With the Lifetime Compost Tumbler, it:

  1. Hides the messy appearance of a compost pile, and takes less space.
  2. Easily rotates saving time and effort of turning a pile.
  3. Reduces smell by enclosing composting material and providing adequate air supply to maintain desired aerobic microbiological activity.
  4. Helps to maintain proper moisture by shedding rain and shielding compost from drying winds.

First I  chose a location on level grass or dirt where drainage won’t affect pavement and a location where it will be convenient to access for loading. This location also has direct sunlight will help heat up the compost, and then I started adding to create my compost pile. I added:

  1. KITCHEN SCRAPS: like fruit and vegetable peelings, cores, eggshells, and coffee grounds.
  2. LAWN CLIPPINGS: can be returned directly to the lawn with a mulching blade or composted as desired, especially if the grass clippings are too long to be left on the lawn.
  3. LEAVES: can be mowed to reduce their size which will speed up decomposition and increase the amount which will fit in the composter.
  4. WOOD: such as branches must be chipped or shredded in pieces smaller than 1 inch. Saw dust must be resin free i.e. no particle board.
  5. PLANTS: discarded from the garden, straw and hay.
  6. MANURES: from herbivores e.g. cows, rabbits, or chickens. Excessive amounts will also increase the salt content of the compost.

But I don’t add:

  1. Meat, bones, greases, dairy products, or bread which attract pests.
  2. Anything treated with pesticides or herbicides.
  3. Black Walnut leaves which inhibit plant growth.
  4. Oak leaves and pine needles which decompose slowly.
  5. Diseased plants or weeds with seeds.
  6. Pet or human waste.
  7. Plastic, foil, etc.

Usually the compost is done when it becomes dark brown and has an earthy smell. I then add the compost directly to ornamental plants as mulch or work into soil. The composter can easily be dragged after dumping to make room for another pile. I usually dump the compost directly onto the soil underneath it and then move it around accordingly. I hope more people will consider composting as a means to get rid of your foods scraps as opposed to dumping them in the trash. Check with your local trash collection agency or recycling center, some have donation stations or pick up services for compost and/or foods scraps . Some areas will also pay you for your compost as well.

Hanging Boots

 

07.06.2016

0800

Materials:

  • Velcro straps
  • Metals rings
  • Binder clips
  • Carabiners

So there are a few ways I organize my boots. Over the years, I’ve played around with different set ups of how to hang boots. If you’ve read my blog, you might have read that I hate having items on the floor, I just don’t like clutter on my floor.

For those who own tall boots, you’ll know the issue of your boots folding over when they’re standing upright. I deal with this issue by hanging them up.Using my current pant rack in my closet system, I clip large binder clips to join the sets of boots together and then I’ll attach a metal ring to the binder clip. With this method, I attached the rings to a carabiner that hangs from one of the pant racks. I also tried splitting up the pairs of boots to hang from separate carabiners too.

The metal carabiners were slipping easily from the pant racks so I switched out the carabiners with velcro straps. The velcro straps created more friction so the boots stayed in place easier.

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Another method I tried to use was to hang the boots from my existing shelf. I screwed a few screws to the interior of the lip of the shelf and hung the boots from there. If you own a metal over-the-door-shoe rack, the boots can also be hung from there with this technique.

With the idea of hanging boots using adjustable Velcro, you can pretty much hang sets of boots anywhere. the idea is to keep them organized and not loose their shape so that you can continue to extend their lives. This is how I organize my boots, maybe it’ll help you as well.

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My Clutch Hacks

 

06.20.2016

0800

So it seems that regardless of how I go about wanting to own a cute clutch or a simple clutch, it never seems to pan out for me. I always seemed to struggle between the super compact concept of a thin wallet and a clutch large enough to hold the rest of the items I need to carry around to make my life “convenient” (ie. my eyeglasses, lotion, charging cords, nail filer, lip balm, etc.). As a teenager, I always obsessed over different wallet and purse designs. As time moved on the trendy style of a large clutch and even larger purses became more popular and I couldn’t adapt. At one point I gave up, I figured that I would have a wallet and the rest of my crap would be thrown into my bag and I’d spend a good part of my day-to-day life digging around in it to find items I needed.

About two years ago, I persisted once more to find the perfect clutch for myself, and it came in the form.. of a fabric pencil case. Now as a designer I am supposed to be trained to look beyond what’s presented in front of me to see the potential in the object, and with this pencil case, I knew I had found my answer. But in order to make this pencil case work as a clutch, it needed my personal touch.

I utilized the walls of the pencil case due to the fact that once you add in a layer of fabric, you can create built-in pockets into the walls of your pencil case easily. When I created the pocket on one of the walls, I used a piece of fabric that I had already divided into smaller compartments. The reason why I used a wall of compartments as a wall pocket creator was because of the fact that I knew I’d carry around small “intimate” items and I needed a place for these. This compartment was going to help me separate my intimate items versus my practical items.

So on one side of my clutch, holds my coin purse, and credit cards and within the other wall holds my ear buds (not pictured- I leave them at work now) and my phone charger. And if you’re looking that the images, yes, I wrap my cards with an elastic band with a ring attached to it. I’ve tried so many different wallets and I’ve been unhappy with all of them, so it has come down to a simple piece of elastic and a metal ring. I’m quite picky about what holds my cards, and if it feels too bulky or is inconvenient to pull my cards out quickly and put them away quickly, most likely I won’t be happy with it.

Within the center divide where I had created tiny compartments, I keep my makeup. Where the pencil case widens and you can see the entire bottom of the case, I keep my eyeglasses there along with a small container of lotion. This seems like a horrible idea to keep my eyeglasses in that location, but the width of the lotion jar keeps the glasses from getting crushed as well as my comb that I keep along the other wall. I also keep my eyeliner pencil alongside my comb because it’s too big for the compartments.

To make this object even more convenient for myself, I attached an elastic band along one side of the clutch. If when I’m gripping my clutch and I happen to almost drop it, I can always catch it easily with the band still wrapped around my hand. I don’t like to hold objects, and this elastic band is also a way I reassure myself that if I’m not paying attention, I won’t accidentally leave it in a public place. And as always, I attached a ring and carabiner to it, so that it can hang on the inside of my shoulder bag. This pencil case/clutch always hangs vertically wherever I go so it seems that my eye glasses never get crushed.

So there it is, my pencil case/clutch/bag of everything.  I honestly really am finally happy that I found an answer for myself and no clutch seemed to satisfy my lengthy checklist of needs. I also chose this pencil case due to its material- it’s easily washable.

Sometimes re-defining what you need versus what you see is all it takes to find the answer that you’ve been looking for. In my case, I know it’s not the most attractive clutch, but what I was looking for was not just a clutch, but one that was so convenient to my lifestyle- I’m not sure it exists. If I find a better pencil case that has a more attractive exterior, perhaps I’ll work on re-designing that one.

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Charging Stations

 

06.15.2016

0800

I love making my life convenient. “Convenient” can be defined by individuals in different ways and it really comes down to how much energy are you willing to put forth in any task. I like the convenience of pushing a button and the task I desire has started and is running on it’s own.

One of the conveniences I’ve created in my life are my power strip locations. I really dislike plugging in a charger into a wall. Perhaps it’s the height of the outlet or the fact that I have to shove the prongs into the outlet in order for it to take, but either way- I’ve never been a fan. I also don’t like to leave my items plugged in all day, so a power strip makes sense for me.

The act of pushing one button to run my life is a dream come true for me, the less work it takes to run my life- the better. Also, the convenience of having a few power strip locations helps me divide the items I charge up during different tasks. And it’s convenient for my friends and family when they come over and need to charge their phones or laptops.

I charge my phone next to a shelf, which is near my bed. I don’t like to place items on surfaces in my home because the surfaces tend to gather dust quickly. But due to the location of the closest available outlet,  I was forced to lay my phone on the floor, which is something I prefer not to do. One reason for that is that I like to keep my floor clear and free of any clutter and I don’t like to reach all the way to my floor in the early morning to turn off my alarm (I’d probably be searching for it for a good 10 minutes).

This brought me to my solution of hanging a power strip underneath the shelf and a small bag to hold my cell phone while it’s plugged in. I also thread the power cord through the handle that makes up the hanging bag so that the cord will stay in place. I made the bag from an old pair of denim jeans and shoelace. I simply plug in my phone and push a button to activate the power strip. In the morning, I just turn off the power strip. Essentially this is an elaborate extension cord, but there’s no struggle with pulling my charger out of the outlet or otherwise. I simple push a button now.

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I know this hack has been advertised before, but I also attach a power strip to my bookshelf. I actually attach this power strip to the back of one of my shelves. I’ve seen power strips attached to the outside of bookshelfs, but I try to limit the amount of items poking out of the sides of bookshelves due to the fact that bookshelves are great space savers if you can place it up against a flat surface. If I had the choice  and was trying to place a vertical power strip, I’d try to move it to the interior of the shelf structure. This book shelf power strip is usually used for my camera gear, laptop and other various electronics.

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Shoulder Bag Hacks

 

06.06.2016

0800

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Materials:

  • Metal rings
  • Carabiners
  • Shoelace

 

In an earlier post, titled Always Consider Gravity, I wrote about my consideration of gravity when it came to organizing my spaces.  This consideration also applies to individual items and each system that’s working within it.

Consider my purse/shoulder bag. I carry a few items in my shoulder bag that needs to be organized easily. I specifically choose this bag due to it’s height and the materials it was made with. However, the reason why I needed a tall shoulder bag was for the fact that I would be carrying around items that were tall in height, and if I used a bag that sat horizontally- I would be constantly digging through my bag to find items. With this bag, I can eliminate the digging around part and not waste time.

I always attach rings to the interior framework of my bags. I always have carabiners attached to everything I carry around so it makes sense that I create a spot for them to be attached to. For this reason, I usually will have at least two rings attached inside the frame of my bag.

Nowadays, I seem to always carry around a set of utensils, a coffee tumbler, water bottle, cell phone, keys and my wallet. There are days when I may leave the coffee tumbler and utensils at home, depending on my activity for the day. For the most part, I will always have my wallet, cell phone, keys and water bottle with me. I usually hook my wallet and keys together on one ring and on the other ring will be my water bottle and utensils. Because the water bottle is heavy compared to the combined weight of my other items, it usually gets it’s own ring. The extra bag that’s attached to the same ring as my water bottle is the bag I carry my utensils in. It’s also the bag I will carry my lunch in during the workweek. I don’t like to carry an external bag for lunches because I don’t like to carry items in my hand. If there is no other choice, I’ll carry items by hand, but I prefer my hands to be free. So during the work week, I’ll pack my breakfast, lunch and a smoothie into that bag for each day I go to work. On the weekends, that bag tends to be less utilized.

In a way I’ve divided my bag up into the “food” end or “all the other stuff” end. I’ve always organized the inside of my purses and bags this way and it seems to work. I organized my backpack similar to this method during graduate school and also during undergrad; partly because I like my bags organized and partly because as an art & design student, you carry a lot of stuff to class and organization is necessary.

I don’t like searching for my keys or wallet because that wastes time, which irritates me. I like my items convenient and in place ready to be used. These are some of my hacks, I hope they may come in handy for you as well.

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Car Hacks

 

05.30.2016

0850

Materials:

  • Shoelace
  • Carabiners
  • S-Hooks
  • Metal rings
  • Velcro straps

As someone who frequently uses a purse, I find it very annoying that there never seems to be a place in my car to hang it. When I used to own a smaller purse, I was able to place it on my console area because it was small enough to sit there. Since I’ve upgraded to my shoulderbag, and needed  to hang it up so that the contents inside stay organized, I still didn’t have a place in my car to hang it. Although cars do come with a multitude of amenities, sometimes  when you have an older car, like mine, you have to design it yourself.

For my shoulder bag hanger, I use shoelaces, an S-Hook, a carabiner and rings to reach the rings attached to my bag. There are rings were left over from my purse hack and I would hook those rings to the S-Hook for quick access.

I looped the shoelace extension to one of the poles of the passenger headrest. I wanted a soft material in the beginning of this line, in case the passenger needed to lower the headrest to its lowest point. An S-Hook was then attached to the shoelace at the end, which could be height adjusted by moving the S-Hook to different knots on the shoelace line. Because I knew my bag needed different types of height extensions depending on what I carried in my bag for each day, I wanted to make a few knots in the shoelace so I could choose the tension  that would be needed. This way, my bag rings would be taught while hanging, but not floating off of the center console. The carabiner is there in case I have items that really needed a secure anchor, the S-Hook is used for items that will only need temporary security when in motion.

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My second car hack is my phone holder. It’s a simple rectangular case that came with my external hard drive. But since I keep my external hard drive in another case, I didn’t think it was necessary. So I repurposed it as my car phone holder. I’m sure that any rectangular case could be used for this purpose, as long as it’s large enough to place the phone in and take it out without a struggle. I cut two rectangular holes in the hard case itself, one to view the screen and one for the charger location.

Since my car is so old, I don’t have a auxiliary connection but I do have a cassette tape adapter. So my cable for my cassette tape adapter is hanging on the right side of my phone holder.  Although it covers my car climate temperature control as well as my car climate mode control, I don’t usually need to access those often. I can also flip up the phone holder and peer underneath if I need to.

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In my car I tend to use the Hitch Knot in order to secure my rope. I keep an extra rope tied with a Hitch Knot, attached to one of the bars to my front vents. I do this in case I need to hang anything in the front area of the car. Although the item can’t be heavy, it’s still handy in dire situations when I need to attach a bag quickly.

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For my trunk area, I’m not a big fan of simple placing my groceries in the back of my car. I’ve had more than a few incidences when I took a turn in my car and my items from my grocery bags slipped out of the bags. As a precaution, I now hook my bags to the interior of my car. There are a number of ways to keep your groceries contained while in your trunk, this is just the way I do it since I don’t have a lot of trunk space. I use carabonders for the heavier items and velcro straps for the lighter items.

I’ve seen some people use cardboard boxes to contain their loose items in their trucks or even laundry baskets. I pretty much don’t have a separate trunk so my method can’t take up too much room. Also, my carabiners are pretty good at keeping bottles upright.

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Clothing Edits

05.16.2016

0800

Sometimes after I purchase a clothing item from the thrift store, I’ll come home to find out that some adjustments are needed. If the item is not exactly what I need, I’ll add design edits to the product with my own creative touch to get to the specific use that I was really looking for in the store.

For my light blue blouse, the button holes of the blouse were stretched larger than the buttons, so I had to shrink the size down. The buttons were able to unhinge without much effort. With a little bit of thread and hemming, my button holes were sewn smaller and fitted accordingly.

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For my shoulderbag, the bag was designed with double straps but I’m a single strap kinda gal. I  also hate trying to grab both straps, of any purse or handbag, each time I need to pick up the bag. This is what the bag looked like when I first bought it with both shoulder straps intact.

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With a little bit of cutting and resewing, this is what my strap for my shoulderbag looks like now. I left the other two rings on the bag because I use them to hang my bag up in my car (that’s for an upcoming post about how I hack my car). I’ve done this with another bags, one of which is actually my camera bag. I use the extra rings to hook carabiners when I go on impromptu photo shoots. Idealy I want the top to be closed, and once I figure out a way to design it, I’ll add that in too.

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Work Desk Essentials

 

05.02.2016

0830

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I keep a small desk essentials kit at my work desk so that I don’t have to carry items back and forth from home constantly. I keep some loose leaf green tea along with a tea infuser, and some dry snacks. At my job there is a kitchen with a microwave, an electric kettle ready for employees, so I base my small kit on the available resources. In my bag which I do carry back and forth from home, I keep a stainless steel travel mug, and a set of utensils along with a fabric napkin. The reason why I keep my utensils and coffee in my bag is due to the fact that I like to be ready to go out to eat  when the opportunity arises. I also will  use my coffee mug for coffee, teas and water as well.

The variable items that I tend to carry is my stainless steel water bottle, whatever lunch I’ve packed for the day, and my “to go” breakfast which is usually oatmeal in a small mason jar. Depending on the days schedule or how much time I have before I step out of the front door I may or may not carry along the variable items.

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Hand Sewn Repairs

 

04.20.2016

0845

Although I do enjoy using a sewing machine to stitch together projects, I initially learned how to hand sew as a child. Hand sewing isn’t as daunting as it sounds, although it takes a little bit of practice, anyone can learn how to sew by hand. I hand sew items when I need a quick fix or a temporary fix. As a person who lives a zero waste life, repairing clothing helps in the fact that I can hang onto clothing that I still love to wear. Learning to repair items is essential to living a zero waste life for that fact that I simply don’t own that many items but also the fact that I don’t want to create more waste in the landfill.

Granted, once a piece of clothing or item is beyond repair, I will have to somehow repurpose it or it becomes trash. Even when I’m ready to donate my clothes and buy second hand clothes, I still prefer to repair the item before donation- there’s no reason that the next person should receive an unkept possession.

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Sometimes I need to edit products for my daily needs so hand sewing is a better option than using a sewing machine. After I’m done, I simply add my leftover thread to my trash pile. Although the leftover thread is inevitable, it’s a better alternative than going out and making new purchases. I have quite a bit of leftover thread in my trash pile so I plan to find an alternative use for it.

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I like to use the running stitch, hemming stitch and the backstitch. I favor the running stitch because it’s a simple stitch that is clean and easy to make. The hemming stitch is good for joining two layers of material together, when you want to hide the stitch seam. The backstitch is good for a more secure version of the running stitch. I use the backstitch on items that may have more weight on either side of the stitch, or when there s a chance that the stitch might come apart due to the materials being pulled in opposing directions.

There are many types of stitches to learn about and if you can master just one or two of them, you can save a great deal of time and money. Learning how to hand sew items is a skill that anyone can develop and learn, it is very easy once you understand how fabric is held together and why certain products use certain stitches. A lot of the times, picking out the right stitch is simple as just copying what the manufacture used on your product.

Types of Stiches

Borrowing Tools

 

04.13.2016

0900

As a child, I grew up watching my father fix the house little by little using his collection of tools. This childhood observation conditioned me to understand that owning tools was essential to get any job done around the house. However, any tool owner knows that whatever tool you buy, it comes with a warranty and there will always be a more powerful version of your tool out on the market somewhere at some point in time.

Owning tools can be quite costly and takes up a great deal of space. If you are a collector of tools and owning tools is essential to your day-to-day routine, then by all means, I think keeping them is the best decision. However, I am not a part of that population. I love to fix up my home and there’s a great satisfaction when I finish a job, but I don’t like to maintain tools nor do I like the amount of space they can take up.

The concept of borrowing, sharing and renting tools is not new, in fact, it’s quite old. There’s a level of trust and blind faith you must have in order to hand over your valuable tool to someone who may or may not know how to use it correctly. This idea of sharing tools creates a larger library of tools for any community in which the members understand who owns which tools and opens the communication lines between neighbors. By teaching each other how to use tools properly may in fact bond a community in a very unique way. Home owners, renters and potential home owners understand the frustration of maintaining a home so that bond in itself is unique. I personally have a numerous conversations with friends and family about how I prepare my home for each season of the year. Between the list of what tasks needs to be done to what tasks have yet to be done, neighbors young and old understand the need for certain tools and how to go about obtaining them.

Sometimes you only need to use a tool once or just use a specific tool once in a while so renting it may be a better idea. Some tools are not expensive and by owning all of the tools that you could possibly need, shuts you off from your neighbors. Granted, perhaps you’re the guy who everyone goes to in order to borrow tools, and in that scenario, you’ll be everyones’ ‘go-to person’ when it comes to tool inquiry. When you borrow/share/rent tools, it forces you to step outside and talk to one another.

We all know how to survive on our own, some of us are better at it than others, but part of me asks the question, how do we survive with each other? Borrowing and sharing tools is a small task to conquor “surving with one another”, but I think it opens a door of communitcation with one another.

There are programs designed to allow you to rent tools such as Loan-A-Tool from AutoZone or Cresco Equipment Rental.

Tools I borrow:

  • Dewalt Mechanics Tool Set
  • Dewalt Reciprocating Saw
  • Ridgid Cordless Drill/Driver & Drill Bits
  • Single Bevel Miter Saw
  • Sawhorses
  • Power Sander

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Creating Working Surfaces

04.06.2016

0600

Although furniture is designed for specific uses, there are a few opportunities when you can design multiple functions from one piece of furniture with a few design hacks. Using or having a flat surface is essential in pieces such as tables and desks. If the furniture piece is going to have items set on it in a balanced manner, you’ve got a table style of furniture. I approach the need for flat surfaces in a few different ways.

When it comes to the need for a coffee table when I’m sitting at the couch, my ottomans become my table. I either flip the ottoman lids over and use the back as the flat and hard surface to set items on, or I use a tray on top of the ottoman to give it more stability. I’ll usually use the tray if I need to serve guests and  if I need to move many items all at once (and when the clean up process is also all at once). If I’m alone I’ll usually bring the items over individually.

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When it comes to more functional use of surfaces, I utilize my drawers into pull out surfaces as well. As you can see, I place my cutting board across my drawer to create a place to use it. And because I don’t need to use that particular drawer often, the cutting board stays where it is. If you use this method, as long as your cutting board is sturdy and there’s enough support on at least three sides of the board, you can utilize the drawer a a location for your cutting board. Keep in mind that you may not want to apply a great deal of pressure when using your cutting board, while it’s balanced on the drawer edges. The further you pull out your drawer, the weaker the drawer attachment is to it’s rightful sliding hinges. Basically, if you’re going to carve a heavy food product or dish, please move it to a sturdier surface. When it comes to the other drawer next to it, I use a clear cutting board, which I’ve had for awhile, and slide it out of the way when I need to access the silverware.

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Materials:

  • Two pillowcases
  • Safety pins

My bedroom came with a closet system from IKEA, which was also designed with a roll out pant rack. I  hang up my coats and a few other clothing items, but I prefer to fold the rest of my clothes. Folding clothes is easier for me due to the fact that I simply don’t own a lot of clothes so I can see everything at a glance and folding is a quick task. This closet system does come with an extra shelf to be placed in the closet system, but I wanted to try out a few different design options. Currently, the closet system does not have a shelf in the location of the pull out pant rack, so I simply used my large cutting mat as a substitute. I’ve had this cutting mat for years because of my degree and I still use it. Granted, I can’t place heavy items on this generic shelf, but I also don’t need to.

When I was playing around with this design, I had used two pillowcases, attached with safety pins and I stretched the pillow cases over the pant rack. I didn’t stretch it to the point where I would start bending the pant rack arms,  but enough where the pillowcases fit just right. That method actually worked pretty well. If you want to test out the pillowcase method, it will take some trial and error. It really depends on how tight you want the pillowcases to fit over those bars. These two methods worked for me because I don’t own a lot of clothes and for the ones I needed a flat surface to place them on, it wasn’t a heavy  amount, so the pant rack wasn’t damaged.

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My Emergency Kit

04.04.2016

0845

I have a small emergency kit and most of it is pictured here. In any emergency, it’s always a good idea to keep certain items on hand and ready at a moment’s notice.

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In my small electronics bag: (green flowered bag)

  • Small battery operated radio and clock
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Extra AAA batteries
  • Flashlight/hand crank radio accessories

In my first aid kit:

  • Gauze
  • Medical tape
  • Styptic pencil
  • Mercury- Free Oral Thermometer
  • Compact scissors
  • Bandage

Items that are not pictured are:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

I also have a flashlight/hand crank radio, butane lighter with butane gas refill and candles. I use bandanas as dust masks to help filter contaminated air.

This is just a simple overview of what I have in my emergency kit for living in the city that I live in. Understandably, the most common natural disaster in my area are earthquakes, so preparing for all natural disasters wouldn’t make any sense. Depending on each family’s’ dynamic, this kit is essentially  for only one person. There are a lot of websites out on the internet that suggest to have a large emergency kit at all times, but ironically, my kit is based on FEMA’s outline. (you can find it HERE). All of the items listed may not apply to you but the list is a comprehensive one. Due to the fact that I’ve experienced a few earthquakes in my life, these items are exactly what I need in case of an emergency. It’s a slim and small kit, but it has been working for me. This post was to simply give an overview of what I keep in my kit.

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Essential Design Tools

03.28.2016

0900

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When I mention my essential design tools, I’m talking about tools I keep around in order to hack an object or product. Whether it be the way that the product is used, is placed in a location or creating more than one type of use for it. These alterations are never designed to compromise the integrity of the product itself unless I really want to step into that realm. The reason why I don’t want to alter the integrity of the products too much is because by living a zero waste life, I must be able to make multiple products be able to be used for multiple functions. This idea of versatility with every product I invest in, is always in the back of my mind with every purchase or design hack.

Supplies I keep in order to fix or hack day to day situations and circumstances around the house:

  1. Shoelaces and Rope
  2. S-Hooks
  3. Metal Binder Clips
  4. Velcro straps
  5. Carabiners
  6. Metal Rings

All of the tools I choose to keep are reusable and are made of durable material. I do prefer metal or stainless steel material because these tools can be manipulated into the shape of a loop. My favorite tools out of all of these are the carabiners and metal rings. Carabiners are strong, safe, secure and easy to use. Their closed loop design and locking mechanism was the design feature that caught my attention years ago. And due to the fact that these carabiners can be used repeatedly, the investment will pay off on its own. Metal rings can be used anywhere to create another secure loop for hooking any carabiner to it. These two tools coincide with one another when I use them.

I also favor rope as well. If you can find extra rope that’s braided together, then you’ve found gold in my opinion. The strength of braided rope combined with the knowledge of knots is essential. Also, rope has a soft flexibility to it where it can be use with clothing alterations, products and repairs. It’s flexible enough to create tension for a blanket fort, yet can be turned into a lasso to help save a drowning adult in a roaring rapid.

Metal binder clips and velcro straps are used as temporary grips for a group of anything that need to be bundled together. Although metal binder clips are limited in the width of the object they’re gripping, the metal material is still strong enough to retain it’s own shape.  Velcro straps can be used for larger bundles and can also be linked together to extend their capabilities around larger bundles.

S-Hooks are simply used when I need to hang something up without needing to drill a hole into another material. It is my go to tool when I have to deal with an object that needs support due to gravity more so than any other issue.

There are parameters to living a zero waste life, but one has to live within those parameters and still meet their own needs. Some might say that keeping supplies such as  the ones I’ve listed above is excessive, yet, I reuse these design tools repeatedly. If you notice that you constantly reuse certain tools or constantly go out and buy the same supplies, I’m betting that you’ve stumbled upon your own design tools. Invest in supplies that are versatile and are produced with durable materials, and they will consistently give back to you.

Alternative Screen For Doors

03.16.2016

0830

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Materials:

  • Fabric shower curtain
  • Shoelace
  • Metal rings
  • Binder Clips
  • Nails (thin enough to fit through the holes of the shower curtain)

Tools:

  • Hammer

As Spring is rolling in and Summer is around the bend, I wanted to show a design hack that doesn’t require much commitment. I have a small balcony that leads up to my area and it doesn’t have a screen to keep out pesky bugs. I’m a fan of fabric shower curtains for the fact that I like to toss them into the washing machine and hang them up to dry. I have a few fabric shower curtains that I keep around for design hacks such as these.

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A shower curtain fits almost the height of a standard door frame. For anyone who lives in a space where they cannot impede on the design structure of the space  (ie. due to tenant contracts via landlord), this seems to ease the pain of when your area is overheating during the hotter season. I took 2 tiny nails and hung up one of my fabric shower curtains. Make sure that the nail on the end where the hinge of the door frame is located, is about 6″ from the edge of the frame. This is because when you swing the door open, you have to take in to account the width of the door itself. The curtain must hang easily and without tension as the door is open at 90 degrees. On the door handle side, try to use a binder clip to extend an arm to hook it to any lock hinge with an S hook, or you can simple place a push pin in the wall and hook the binder clip handle to it.

The nail holes are also a simple fix if you decide to move out and need to patch up the holes with caulking. On the open side of the shower curtain I clipped a metal binder clip and on the hinge side of the door, I looped a metal ring. The side with the metal loop tends to wedge perfectly in between the door and the frame on the hinge side. However, when placing the metal ring, try to wedge it horizontally. I actually use a folded up washcloth to wedge under the door to hold it open too.

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On the bottom of the curtain, if you want some weight to the curtain, you can simply attach some metal binder clips with a key chain on each (I know you guys have these key chains lying around somewhere). If you don’t have any key chains, try to find a small weight to hang from the binder clips. The reason why I use binder clips in this design hack, is because I don’t want to sacrifice the integrity of the shower curtain itself.

If you still want the curtain to be lower, you can take some extra shoelace/string/rope/twine and create an extension for the top like this:

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Because the nails are on the top of the door frame, you have about three inches to give in the distance that the curtain starts to hang. If you add these extensions on, the curtain should fit right under the door frame. But if you do add these extensions, you will need to add another nail so that the middle of the curtain isn’t loose. So it will look like this:

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My extensions seem to be enough for me when it comes to hanging my shower curtain and the design on the shower curtain gives a little bit of illuminated art during the day. I don’t add the binder clips or the key chains at the bottom of mine during the summer. I think I like the drastic movement it makes with the wind when it flows through my space. I hope this design hack helps for any of you who may be living in apartments or homes that get uncomfortably hot during the summer. It’s a way to make your own screen without destroying the integrity of the architecture and design or paying for a brand new screen.