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

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.

Needed A Phone Holder For The Car

02.15.2016

0800

Materials:

  • Shoelace
  • Carabiner
  • Metal rings
  • Box that would fit my cell phone
  • Electrical tape (try to match the same color as the new cell phone holder)

So I made this phone holder in 2011, it was right around the time when the statistic of distracted driving started becoming an issue. Quite frankly, I don’t text and drive, I enjoy driving when I’m driving. The idea of getting pulled over for a ticket is also not one of my goals. However, I still used my GPS map when I drove to new locations. I did research different types of phone holders for cars and I wasn’t happy with any of the designs.

I like to keep surfaces clean, mostly because I hate to move things when I wipe down a surface, and then move them back. The mounting units that came with the phone holders would either have a set holder that would attach to surfaces or they were movable. There was the option of using the devices that had a suction cup to stay attached to my windshield, but if my windshield temperature got too cold, it would slowly release the suction and the entire device would fall down.

I love the Law of Gravity. I really do. I utilize it in almost everything I design or make. This was my solution to my problem.

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I used the black case that my 1 TB external hard drive, and used rings to hang the case from my vent system in my car. I cut a rectangular hole on the bottom so that I could attach the charging cord. I cut out a rectangular hole so that I could see the screen when I drove and I used electrical tape to clean the edges. (I use electrical tape when the environment calls for some sort of heat fluctuation.) The holder is slightly bigger than the phone, but I figured, iPhones are getting larger with each generation so why not.

I have an old car but I still love looking at this contraption. It’s just amusing to see my solutions. It’s not the prettiest iPhone holder, nor do I think it would sell, but I didn’t go out any buy anything and it still works to this day.

Less Is More

01.21.2016

0700

I bought this shirt in 2000. The shirt is from Consolidated Skateboards, a great company. I bought it because the quote sparked my interest and I’ve never been able to let it go. It’s a simple red long sleeved shirt, with only the front print that you see, and nothing on the back. I never knew how much of an impact those words would be.

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When people say that I’m simplifying my life, I jokingly call my system “Being Strategically Lazy”.

When I decided to start living a zero waste life and because I was eliminating so much from my life, I was also eliminating the amount of storage area I actually needed. So here are a few things I decided to get rid of:

  1. Dresser:  I use one shelf now and I hang up the rest of the items
  2. End Tables: I use two ottomans that have lids which I can flip over and use as mini portable coffee tables
  3. TV stand: My TV currently sits on a book shelf. I’m planning to use a projector that will be mounted to my wall to watch movies/TV (but that’s for the future)
  4. Filing cabinet: I digitized all of my documents and keep a small folder of the legal documents.
  5. Nightstand: I use my drafting table stool as my stand and I made a shelf to sit at the bottom of it, so I could at least place items down. I also created a pocket so that I could have a location to place my phone when it was attached to the charger as well.
  6. Bookshelf: I donated of one of my two bookshelves because I had digitized almost all of my books so I didn’t need the piece of furniture anymore.
  7. Futon: I donated my futon and replaced it with a couch 🙂 So it’s technically a replacement piece

I have:

  • 1 four level bookshelf
  • 1 couch with two ottomans
  • 1 bed
  • 1 drafting table, which I use as my desk
  • 1 hope chest, which I use as my seat at my desk
  • 1 “nightstand” (I use the chair from my drafting table set as my nightstand)
  • 1 dining table with 6 wood fold up chairs
  •  1 IKEA Poang Chair

I think getting rid of the dresser made the biggest impact because it wasn’t just the frame of the dresser or the drawers themselves, but it was also the amount of the contents stored within each drawer. There’s another article I read which might be of interest for those who want to read more about this: 15 Pieces of Furniture You May Not Really Need

It certainly helped me look at the use of furniture differently. Here’s my little nightstand contraption. I made the pocket from an old pair of jeans and I used pink shoelaces as ties for hanging the pocket. I used an old picture frame as a flat surface on this nightstand and attached it with some sticky velcro dots that were left over from another furniture set. I found a bag of pink shoelaces at my aunt’s house, she was going to throw it out, so I took it home. I keep all of my velcro straps because velcro is amazingly versatile and I keep extra metal rings and shoelaces  for projects like these.

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