Product Review: Nighttime Moisturizers

Product reviews are hard to keep concise because I want to cover all the questions you may have but I’m going to try today because there are two products I want to review: RMS Beauty Oil and Bambu Earth Petrigrew Moisturizer.

I’ve been trying to find a good nighttime moisturizer for a while now. I didn’t have one that I loved when I decided to go low-waste so I wasn’t heartbroken to move onto a better moisturizer.

The first one I tried was RMS Beauty Oil. I’d been following RMS for a while on Instagram as a clean beauty brand but hadn’t made the plunge to try anything. When I had initially discovered them, they just weren’t offering makeup I was looking for. But by the time I tried their Beauty Oil, I was getting a bit on the desperate side.

Their oil comes in a glass bottle. The dropper is glass, rubber and plastic. It’s not perfect and I am keeping my eye out for other options but so far it’s the best packaging and quality I have found.

The oil works OK on my combination skin. If I’m being honest, I think I went into it with really high expectations. This is the most I’ve ever spent on a beauty product so I expected some big results. I do keep going back to it, though, because so far, it’s the best I’ve found. It does occasionally result in breakouts around my nose but for the most part, it keeps my dry skin at bay. It doesn’t clear it up entirely, which is what I was hoping for, but between this and the Raw Elements product I shared with you last week, those two products get my skin as close to normal as I’ve found when used consistently.

a little goes a long way!

The application is incredibly easy. I wash my face and then when my skin is still damp, apply 4 drops to my face and neck. Though it is expensive, this stuff does last forever because you are applying such a small amount each time. I bought mine the first week of October and am not even halfway through it. I do keep trying other moisturizers so this isn’t a great representation of usage but it does go a long way.

Additionally, this has a very mild smell, which I really like. I hate scents. Like, all scents. I pretty much can tolerate vanilla, peppermint, and some milder citrus scents and that’s it! Floral scents are a hard ‘No’ so I really like that this was subtle.

Overall, I would recommend giving this a try if you are able to find a sample somewhere and see if you like it or if the price doesn’t make you twitch. The oil retails for $78. For my Boston peeps, I found this, and all the RMS Beauty products, at Cambridge Naturals in Porter Square. I was able to sample it and really loved it when I first tried it so stop there first. For my Connecticut readers, I believe Green Beauty Salon and Spa in Willimantic stocks RMS products, though I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet. I would give them a call before heading over.

photo from Bambuearth.com. This is the trial size and contains about 2 weeks worth

The second product I tried was Bambu Earth’s Petitgrain Moisturizer. This comes in a glass container with a plastic lid. Their website states that their packing is “sustainably sourced for a minimal environmental impact”. This was mailed to me and the shipping products were minimal and recyclable- no plastic. All their products seem to be packaged mostly in glass, where possible, with minimal plastic. Again, it’s not perfect, but this was $32 for full container compared to RMS’s $72. I was also able to try a sample size at $14, which I think is such a good idea! (seriously, why don’t all companies offer trial sizes???)

The first problem I had was upon ordering their moisturizer, I got a FLOOD of emails. Bambu Earth emailed me at least once a day, everyday, once I placed my order. The irony is, it took them over a week to ship out my order because one of the items was back-ordered but none of the 8 emails I received mentioned that. I finally reached out to them to see what was going on and that’s when they notified me that one of the items was back-ordered. The emails did seem to slow down to about once a week after that, which I don’t mind.

The second problem I had with this moisturizer was I absolutely hated the smell. The ingredients list was short, which I liked! The list is: Organic Raw Fair Trade Shea Butter, Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, and Petitgrain Essential Oil. I think it was the Petitgrain oil which I didn’t like the smell of and honestly, I had never come across it previously so I genuinely had no idea I wouldn’t like it.

Smell aside, I used it religiously every evening for about two weeks, which was how much came in that sample size. I wanted to be able to get an accurate idea of the product and how it worked. For the most part, I felt that it didn’t really penetrate my skin enough to moisturize it. It seemed to sit on the surface. When I washed my face in the morning, I saw no improvements and my skin was still dry. I opted not to order more and went back to reusing the RMS Beauty Oil.

I do have another product from this company that I like and will review later so I am not writing them off completely! They do have another moisturizer called Intense Hydration Cactus Concentrate but that retails for $160 for a full container and I absolutely refuse to spend that so I didn’t dare try their sample size for $28. I would inevitably fall in love with it and then just be disappointed when I couldn’t afford it regularly. But, I figured I’d bring it up incase you have a larger budget then me.

So in conclusion, if you are looking for a nighttime moisturizer, I would recommend giving the RMS Beauty Oil a try at a location near you first. It has been the best moisturizer I have found for my combination skin with the best packaging.

As I said though, it’s not a perfect solution. If you have a moisturizer you like or have heard of a good brand you want reviewed, please leave me a comment below! I would love additional recommendations.

February 10th Meal Prep

Sometimes my meal preps come together fast and other times, I accidentally purchase silken tofu instead of extra firm and my meal prep is spread out over the weekend.

This weekend was definitely the later. As a result, I didn’t get a complete spread of all my prepped meals but the recipes are so good, I had to share anyway!

I did the bulk of my shopping at Pemberton Farms. I needed olive oil ( which they sell in bulk and they let you bring your own container, just try and use one with the amount on it) and a few other dry goods and to save time, I picked up as many of my other groceries as I could. Pemberton’s isn’t the cheapest spot for a full grocery run but I found some cool new things like veggy stock bouillon in a glass container and miso paste in glass. They also have dark chocolate pretzels, smoked almonds and plantain chips in bulk. Worth it!

For meals, I made:

Eggs and leftover veggies for breakfast. I’ll top this with a little Avocado ranch and everything but the bagel seasoning and have a piece of fruit on the side.

Creamy Chickpea Miso Vegetable Stew for lunch. I left out the cauliflower because I don’t really like chunks of it but I may try it with riced cauliflower next time. If you haven’t tried miso yet, I highly recommend it! According to the BBC, it’s a good source of protein, B vitamins, vitamin E, K and folic acids and helps promote gut heal. Plus, it tastes good.

And for dinner I made these grain bowls with turmeric sweet potatoes, baked tofu, lightly dressed arugala and Trader Joe’s sprouted California rice. If you follow the link, you’ll see this was originally a breakfast bowl with an egg but I switched it up and added tofu since I was having eggs for breakfast. This recipe was so good! That Trader Joe’s rice is my absolute favorite and I don’t even like rice. Unfortunately, its not plastic-free. This last bit was all that was left from a pre-low waste shopping trip. I would say you could use any grain here you enjoy. I think next time, I’ll try farro. This whole meal was packed with flavor and is one of my favorite dinners I’ve made this year.

I also made some chocolate cookies to have at lunch and have apples and oranges for snacks.

What are you making this week? Be sure to let me know if you try any of these!

Product Reviews: Day Time Moisturizer

This month for Product Reviews, I’m going to be focusing on makeup and skincare. I think this was one of the more daunting changes for me. It took me forever to get a make-up routine down that included more natural products. To find natural AND low-waste seemed a lot! So, hopefully this helps you out a little bit when you go to make some changes.

The first thing I tackled when I switched was moisturizer. I used to have oily skin and then I turned 30 and my skin and I had a bit of a breakdown. I handled becoming 30 by going to Disney and pretending I wasn’t an adult. My skin decided it was going to dry out. I now have combination skin- I have very dry skin across my nose and cheek bones and yet, I get break outs across my chin and forehead. It’s great.

For a day time moisturizer, which I will be discussing today (check back next Tuesday for my evening moisturizer), I wanted a moisturizer that was mostly all natural ingredients, had SPF and was in low-waste packaging. A low price tag would also be nice but I thought maybe I was asking too much if I made that a priority! I actually really lucked out and found a really good moisturizer my first try.

Enter the Raw Elements Certified Natural Sunscreen Tinted Facial Moisturizer.

Raw Elements Tinted Facial Moisturizer has been my go-to daytime moisturizer for the last few months and I’m a big fan. The moisturizer had all three of the things I was looking for and the relatively low price tag as well. Be still me heart!

For the ingredients, the Tinted Facial Moisturizer only has 12 ingredients- non Nano zinc oxide, sunflower oil, green tea, black tea, coffee bean, hemp seed oil, cocoa butter, mango butter, bees wax, rosemary oil extract, vitamin E and iron oxides. If you check out their website, you can see most of these are also organic and that their ingredients page boldly states “if it isn’t produced by mother earth, it isn’t in our sunscreen”.

Additionally, the moisturizer has SPF 30, which I love! Skin cancer runs in my immediate family so this was non-negotiable for me and something I really struggled finding in natural moisturizers. Raw Elements, though, is a sunscreen company so it’s clearly something they prioritize as well! Their founder was a lifeguard looking for a healthier sunscreen for people and the planet. As an added bonus, their sunscreen is also reef safe and they have founded World Reef Day. As someone who lives in New England where it’s cold for roughly 9 months out of the year and who goes into the water maybe once a year, reef safety wasn’t exactly on my list of priorities in my moisturizer. That doesn’t mean I don’t love that the company is considering the welfare of the ocean, though, and I’m looking forward to giving their Face+Body sunscreen a try in the summer.

And last but not least, this moisturizer comes in a 100% zero-plastic container. The tin is aluminum, which is very recyclable and reusable and doesn’t include any hidden plastic, like lid liners or anything. The website suggests reusing it as a container for headphones or jewelry. As you can see, I’m almost out of this one so I think I’m going to keep mine in my gym bag to hold my rings. Though, homemade lip balm in on my To-Do and this container would also work well for that.

This picture looks gritty but the moisturizer goes on incredibly smooth with no grittiness.

As for the application, I use my fingers to apply my moisturizer and foundation and this goes on smoothly. I can’t speak to how it would go on with a brush or sponge. My skin is so dry that using my finger has always worked best. I read some comments that users found the moisturizer was too solid and it made it difficult to apply. I have left mine in the car before and it does get pretty firm if it’s cold. I found it warmed up quickly, though, as I began to apply it and have never had any problems with application.

Compared to traditional moisturizers (I used Coola prior to this), it does initially feel a bit oilier, which is to be expected with the ingredients list. It has never made me break out, though, and I find that it does absorb quickly into the skin. I use a light hand when applying and find that a little goes a long way.

On the left is the moisturizer swiped onto my hand; On the right is after I’ve blended it in. Again, I just use my finger.

As far as I can tell, the company doesn’t specifically have a facial moisturizer with SPF that ISN’T tinted. I think the closest they have is that Face+Body SPF, which isn’t advertised as a moisturizer but it does have almost all the same ingredients. I was pleasantly surprised by the tint in this moisturizer, though. I have fairly light skin and found this provided a very subtle color that blended into my skin well on days I didn’t want to wear foundation. Obviously, I can’t speak to any other skin tones so please leave comments if you end up trying this.

For my Boston readers, I purchased this item in store at Cambridge Naturals in Porter Square. For my CT readers, it’s available on line at Raw Element’s website and on Thrive market (it’s actually cheaper on Thrive and they offer carbon-neutral shipping so you can pick up a few groceries as well).

Tune in next Tuesday as I tackle two nighttime moisturizers I tried: One was a winner and one, not so much!

(This post is NOT sponsored.)

January 26 Meal Prep

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I almost didn’t post this week because my meal prep was pretty small. I wasn’t feeling good most of last week so didn’t finish all my food. I’m trying to finish up what I have first and then maybe I’ll do a small meal prep mid-week.

I decided to post anyway though, because I feel sometimes meal prepping can be pretty intimidating online. Shiny new containers with special dividers, everything laid out for the week- it can be a lot! So I figured I’d so my mini-prep, taking into account leftovers and what I have in the house.

Groceries were around $16 this week as I was just picking up a few essentials.

For meals, I’m having:

  • smoothies for breakfast. We had a left over mango from last week laying around and a bunch of frozen fruit. I made up smoothie packets with the mango and frozen bananas and pineapple and will add protein powder and hemp seeds (I tried freezing these with the smoothie packets and it didn’t work great).
  • Lunch is leftover mushroom cauliflower soup from last week. It made more than I expected so I have a few servings left over. This recipe wasn’t great so I’m going to hold off sharing.
  • Dinner- I have three quinoa burgers left over, which were so good by the way! I highly recommend. Here’s the recipe again. I roasted some leftover veggies I had laying around like green beans and peppers to eat on the side and will top these with avocado and salsa.
  • Snacks this week: sliced up bell peppers with hummus, apples with peanut butter (I slice this the night before to minimize browning as much as possible) and stovetop popcorn with olive oil, nutritional yeast and salt. Stovetop popcorn is one of my top 3 favorite foods. I highly recommend it.

I also prepped my cold brew, per usual.

I was really feeling snacks this week for some reason. Maybe because so much of my food was leftovers that adding snacks helped add something new to the menu? Either way, my commute is long each way so snacks are a must.

That’s it. I’ll maybe do another small prep on Thursday to make some soup to get me through the week and weekend but I’m really trying to get rid of the food I already have.

Would you guys like to see some low waste ideas for the Super Bowl on Sunday? I’ll be keeping it low-key since neither of my teams are playing but you still need good snacks right??

PACT Review

One of the features I want to introduce on Trees and Honeybees is company reviews. As environmentalism becomes trendy (yeah!) more and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon which can sometimes make it hard to weed out those who truly believe in the cause and those that are greenwashing (boo!).

So my goal is to scout things out for you, try out stores and products that are popping up on the internet and see if they are worth the buzz. I have been trying to be better at purchasing items second hand (more on that to come), but sometimes, second hand just isn’t the right choice (underwear anyone?). For moments like that, it’s good to have some reliable stores on hand.

The first store I’m tackling is PACT, an online clothing store. I’ve had this post done for weeks but I was hoping to include some pictures of me wearing the items. Turns out, my skinny, wavey Ikea mirror from college is not so good at the full body photos so I’m working on a solution for that. For now, I’m including some flat lay photos of the merchandise but please let me know if you have any questions.

After having spent a year organizing and tracking my closet, I realized what I was missing was some nice quality basics. My tank tops and tshirts were threadbare and from Target or Old Navy. Also, my winter wardrobe was sparse- I could use some basic sweaters/sweatshirts. So I decided to check out PACT.

Pact got their start making organic cotton underwear and have grown into clothing and home linens. From their website, “What’s guilt-free fashion? Easy: Organic Cotton, Fair Trade Factory Certified, zero harmful chemicals, and processes that use significantly less water than conventional cotton.” This is a nice website for a little more information on conventional v. organic cotton, if you are interested.

The items that I ordered were: a pack of three tank tops (black, white and gray), a pair of plain black leggings to wear under longer shirts (not exercise leggings), 2 basic sweatshirts (blue and black), 2 pairs of cheeky hipster underwear and a pair of boy short underwear. I like to stretch my dollar as far as it will go so I bought every single piece on sale. Definitely keep an eye on their website for discounts. They seem to have quite a few.

The clothes arrived in a brown envelope, which is recyclable and compostable so we were off to a good start. To my surprise, all the clothes came in individually wrapped plastic bags, though. This I did not like! I emailed the company and was all “what the heck?!” but, you know, in a nice way. Their response was as follows:

Thank you for contacting Pact!

We use poly bags to protect your clothing throughout the manufacturing, transport and shipping processes. A lot can happen during the transportation of your favorite undies. From dust and dirt, to bugs and bacteria, to plain old rips and tears.

Pact is committed to finding sustainable solutions and we are constantly searching for new ways to improve our packaging methods. We share your concerns for sustainability and are always researching new and improved packaging options that may be introduced in the future. We have also made a vow to make our packaging more eco-friendly by Earth Day 2020 because we know we can do better!

See- It never hurts to reach out to a company! Poly bags are supposed to be a more environmentally-friendly plastic that is easier to recycle but, as I continue to shop from environmentally conscious stores, I know there are better solutions. I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

I was literally wearing the gray one when I was taking these photos so wasn’t able to include it! lol

As for clothes, the tank tops are described as having a “slim, stretch fit body” and that’s correct. I purchased them in my normal size and they are very form fitting. I’ve been wearing them as layering pieces and tucked into skirts, which is why I purchased them.

The black leggings ripped the first time I wore them. The rip was along the seam so I opted to keep them and repair them myself instead of having to ship them back and have another paired shipped to me. That’s a lot of transportation for a single pair of leggings. I did reach out to the company again and they refunded me, which I appreciated. I wore them under a tunic but I’m pretty confident they were not see-through. They have a nice wide band (which you can see below in the picture with my blue sweater) and thick fabric.

The two sweatshirts I purchased are very comfortable. Both are made of a thinner, terry cloth fabric so not super warm but definitely a needed layer in my wardrobe. The black sweatshirt is advertised as “vintage” and “lived in” and I would say that is accurate. The color is a faded black as if it’s been washed many times. I didn’t mind that but I could see that bothering some.

The blue sweatshirt is no longer available. It was the Women’s Dark Navy French Terry Slouchy Sweatshirt. This one fits very similar to the Essential sweatshirt, if I’m being honest. The biggest difference was the neckline seemed a bit wider but that’s it. The color definitely doesn’t feel like Dark Navy. The material is speckled with white giving the sweatshirt more of a true blue feel rather than navy.

A shot of the terry cloth lining, which is the same for both styles of sweatshirts, and this is a little bit better shot of the blue coloring

Both fit comfortably and I have paired them with jeans and skirts.

And last but not least, the underwear. I told you, guys- I needed basics! After a few years spending very little on clothing, I really needed to invest in some boring stuff, like underwear! I bought the cheeky hipster style in nude and white, which definitely fit more like granny panties compared to the hipster cut I normally get at Victoria’s Secret. They were very comfortable, though, and seemed to maintain their shape throughout the day. I also bought the boyshorts in blue. This is a cut that I struggle with and yet, still keep trying. This pair seemed a winner, though. They were incredibly comfortable and also maintained their shape throughout the day without riding up uncomfortably.

An additional perk is that they have a program called Give Back Box, which is a program that allows you to use their packaging to send your used clothes to a Goodwill store. You just go online, they send you a free shipping label and you send your clothes off! I tried this out and it was super easy and a great excuse to make room for my new clothes.

So my take away- The clothes are comfortable across the board and seem well-made, with the exception of the leggings. The clothing on the website does lean more toward basics, with minimal colors and styles but sometimes, that’s what you need! The company does seem interested in their environmental impact. With that said, I would advise waiting until April to make any purchases to see if they fix their packaging, if that’s important to you. Also, I wouldn’t recommend buying anything full price. They seem to have quite a few sales so use the next few months to sign up for their emails and research pricing so your ready when April hits. I bet they will be proudly advertising their new packaging as soon as they roll it out!

What other clothing sites have you heard of that you’re curious about? Will you be giving PACT a try?

**This post is NOT sponsored. Everything was purchased with my own money and all my opinions are my own. PACT has no idea who I am. 🙂 **

January 20 Meal Prep

Happy Tuesday, everyone! This post is coming a little late because I had Monday off and because I’ve been fight…something. A cold? Allergies? I don’t know. But I’m running a little sluggish so bare with me.

For this week’s meal prep, I thought I’d take a few step backwards and review some of the ways I try and stay low waste when I’m grocery shopping and cooking for the week.

  • Before heading to the grocery store, I always make sure I have my list, my reusable grocery bags and my reusable produce/bulk bags. A list prevents be from buying things I don’t need, which could lead to food waste. Bags prevent me from using the cheapy plastic ones at check out or in the produce area. Always be prepared!
  • When I can, I try to buy items from the bulk bins. In Boston, Pemberton Farms is my favorite spot for bulk bin items. They have beans, chocolate chips, baking items like flour and sugar, coffee, the best gummy bears ever, and more. For my readers in the Brooklyn, CT area, I would recommend the Willimantic Coop. I discovered this gem this weekend and I am impressed! They put Pemberton Farms to shame. I didn’t have a chance to explore too much but they had a whole aisle of bulk dried goods as well as Dr. Bronners and other house hold items in bulk. I was able to buy black beans and steel cut oats in bulk.
  • I know that not everyone has access to bulk bins so when possible try to stick to items in aluminum or glass, avoiding plastic where you can. Aluminum and glass can both be recycled endlessly without loss of quality or purity. Not all plastics can do that, though they are making strides to create a more closed loop system. For the most part, though, every time plastic is recycled, it becomes less stable. This means that if you buy a can of diced tomatoes, when you recycle it, it can be made into another can for diced tomatoes. This process can go on endlessly. With plastic though, you can’t make a plastic water bottle out of a plastic water bottle because when it’s recycled, the plastic loses it’s quality. You can read more about aluminium recycling here and glass recycling here.
  • No one is perfect but before reaching for an item wrapped in plastic, see if there is a plastic-free alternative. This week, I had mini sweet bell peppers on my list to snack on with hummus. They only had them in plastic bags, though, so I just bought regular bell peppers. An easy switch there! Not all of them will be that easy, of course (I still can’t find non-plastic wrapped tofu!), but you do what you can.

So, that’s how I approach low-waste shopping- look for no packaging first (vegetables, fruits and bulk bins), then aluminum or glass where possible, then plastic as an absolute last resort. I know I’m not perfect each time but if I can keep the majority of my shopping to package-free or aluminum or glass, I consider that a win!

Now, for this week’s prep! I spent roughly $50 total and bought the bulk of my groceries at the Willimantic Coop (about $40) and had to buy a few things, like Teddy’s Peanut Butter, elsewhere. I made:

Savory steel cut oats (x4)- I made mine with a handful of vegan cheese mixed in, garlicky kale on the side, sunflower seeds and 1 hard boiled egg (not pictured). When served, I sprinkle Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel Seasoning on top. So warm and savory for cold days!

Mushroom and cauliflower soup (makes 6 servings)- not sure how this recipe came out so I’m going to hold off on sharing.

3 ingredient brownies (makes 8-12 servings)- I’ve made these before and know they are a bit bitter because there is no sweetener in them so I mixed in 2 TBSPs chocolate chips and 2 TBSP peanut butter chips. They still aren’t super sweet but they help curb that post-lunch craving for chocolate.

Black bean and quinoa burgers (makes 6 servings) with steamed green beans on the side (not pictured)- this recipe was recommended to me by my brother- My brother, who was excited to get a giant box of meat for Christmas! If you need a veggy burger to serve to the meat eaters in your life, this may be the one for you! I’m planning to eat them with avocado and salsa on top.

Chai milk – this is why I purchased the Oat Milk. Oatly is my favorite non-dairy milk for drinking. I haven’t been feeling great the last week and I was craving something warm to drink besides coffee so I made a batch of chai milk. I roughly followed the recipe I linked to but didn’t put tea in it. I also only used 1 TBSP of brown sugar. 3 seemed a lot!

Vegetable stock from scraps– My container was full of scraps so I made a batch of this and froze it for another time.

Snacks: Oranges, apples with peanut butter, and peppers. I have a long commute to work and back so I’ve been trying to be better about packing snacks.

Let me know if you have any questions about low waste grocery shopping or meal prepping! And feel free to share your meal prep with me. I love to hear what everyone is eating for the week. It always helps inspire me for next week.

DIY T-Shirt Bags

So last week’s produce bag DIY was a little fancier than the bags that I started with last year. As I had mentioned, I cleaned out my closet early in 2019 and I had a lot of t-shirts left. I had already done a big t-shirt clean out a few years back and made a t-shirt quilt (my absolute favorite use for shirts that have meaning to you- old concert t-shirts, yours first marathon, etc.) but extra t-shirts have a sneaky way of making their way into a closet. One second your closet is nicely organized with pieces you actually wear, the next you have free t-shirts from charities you went to, Kickstarter campaigns you sponsored or gifts someone gave you. And guess what? You never wear them!

So here’s a project to get them out of your closet and give them a second life.

These bags are VERY similar to the produce bags that I shared with you last week except I made them months before the Spoonflower instructions landed in my inbox so the constructions was a little bit more…rustic. Also, since these aren’t made of gauze, I tend to use them for items like hemp seeds, beans and popcorn kernels- items that are smaller and don’t need to breathe, like produce.

The biggest difference is for t-shirt bags, you are often working around an existing design on the shirt which makes each one a little different.

So, I’ll be using my Veronica Mars kickstarter campaign tshirt. I LOVE the show Veronica Mars. If you have not seen it yet, do yourself a favor this MLK weekend and binge it while you make these bags. As much as I love the show, I didn’t love the material of the t-shirt so I was never wearing it.

What you’ll need:

  • an old t-shirt
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • a pen or pencil that you will be able to see on the t-shirt
  • pins
  • sewing machine

Step 1: Remove the sleeves, the collar and cut up the side seams, removing the front from the back. For now, we are focusing on the front shirt.

Step 2: Fold the bottom edge to the top edge so the right sides are facing together.

Step 3: Clean up the top and the side edges by laying a ruler along the edges, drawing a straight line and trim to even out the edges. If you have a rotary cutter, that would make this step quicker but it’s not necessary. I started by trimming the top first and then pinned across the top to make trimming the sides easier.

Step 4: Once you have cleaned up the edges of your bag, remove the pins along the top. At this point, you are going to want to rough out how wide you want your casing. The produce bag I shared last week said 3″. That’s a good measurement if you aren’t working around an image. For t-shirts with an image, fold down the top to see where you want the edge to fall. Mark with a pin where that is along each side.

Step 5: Pin the front to the back across the top and on the sides. Sew up the sides to the pin that marks your casing. I think if you don’t have a sewing machine, you could at this point use fabric glue or an iron-on hem tape. I haven’t tried that but t-shirts are a bit more sturdy than the gauze I was using last week. I would NOT use anything but sewing on the gauze produce bags.

Step 6: Fold over the top edges so they line up with the top of your sewn line along the sides. Pin. Sew along the bottom of your folded line like so. In the picture below, the right side is my fold and the left is my raw edge. I used the width of my presser foot as a guide. Be careful not to sew your front and back together or you’re bag isn’t going to have an opening!

Once both tops are folded and sewn down, turn your t-shirt inside-out and you have a bag!

At this point, you can use anything as a drawstring- scraps from the shirt, ribbon, old shoe laces (obviously wash them first), etc. You’ll just want to make sure if it is a material that will fray, like certain ribbons, that you sew a line along the edges so you can wash them easier.

Put a large safety pin on one end of your chosen drawstring and feed it through your casing, pulling your draw string through.

You can see some examples of different drawstrings below:

Please excuse the yellow lighting! I used an old ribbon here
This was a tank top and I used the strap as the draw string.

Once you have completed turning the front of your t-shirt into a bag, don’t forget to turn the back into a bag as well! I liked making two smaller bags out of the back of the t-shirts. This way, you get three bags with two different sizes per shirt.

Please note, these bags are VERY forgiving and come together quickly. Again, I didn’t have any pattern when making these so please let me know if you have any questions while making them. You can leave questions here or on my Instagram.

If you do any of my DIYs, be sure to share your projects with me. I’d love to see them!

What plans do you have for this long weekend?

January 12 Meal Prep

Happy Monday, everyone! I officially have my first week of Trees & Honeybees under my belt and I want to thank everyone for tuning in. Be sure to let me know what articles you liked and feel free to ask me questions on anything! I check my Instagram, @trees_and_honeybees, regularly so feel free to connect with me there, as well.

This week’s low-waste meal prep is much closer to what I will be doing regularly- short blogs that show what I bought and made for the week with as little waste as possible. I’ll be sure to included the recipes where possible as almost none of these are my own recipes!

Grocery shopping this week happened at Whole Foods. Full disclosure, I really dislike Whole Foods now that they are owned by Amazon. I used to shop there exclusively and defended their prices because their produce was top notch. As someone who eats a lot of produce, that was something I valued. Now that it’s owned by Amazon, though, the quality has plummeted. I end up with bad produce frequently which is why I rarely shop there anymore. This weekend, though, was supposed to be kind of full so I squeezed grocery shopping in on my way home Friday and this was the most convenient grocery store.

Groceries this week came to about $60. I think the increase in price came more from the fact that it is Sumo orange season again and less from the fact that I was at Whole Foods. Guys- Sumo orange season may be my favorite season right after Fall! If I could afford it, I would be eating those oranges with every meal. If you have not tried one, I HIGHLY recommend tracking some down. (Of course, one of the oranges was completely moldy in the center because #AmazonWholeFoods. They are at least predictable in their quality?)

The theme of the meal prep this week was to try and use up a few things I had already open. I made:

  • Overnight Oats (x3). Instead of buying fresh blueberries, I will top the oats with blueberry chia jam I already have open. I’m also putting a little chocolate granola I got in my stocking on top.
  • Cashew Vegetarian Chili (makes 7). I couldn’t find kidney beans in bulk so I used equal parts pinto beans, black beans and chickpeas. I would recommend roasted and salted cashews for this recipe cause it adds a nice pop of saltiness in your chili.
  • Corn Bread Muffins (makes 12. I will freeze about half the batch)- This goes with the chili. I have a little bit of corn meal I’m trying to work my way through.
  • Winter citrus salad (I made 4) with Cara Cara oranges, Sumo oranges and Blood oranges. Yes please!
  • Hemp Chocolate Energy Balls (made 14. I’m not sure if you can freeze these though I may try)- I’m trying to keep processed sugar to a minimum and date balls are a great natural sweet for after lunch to help with that craving. I made these with Sun Butter because that is what I had.
  • Simple stir-fry with some extra veggies from last week and farro.
  • I also bought stuff to make a tofu curry and will likely make that mid week once I’ve finished the stirfry.
  • I also made a batch of cold-brew.

The only purchase in this week’s meal prep that had plastic was the tofu. I have yet to find a plastic-free tofu so please leave your tips if you have any! The bulk of my protein comes from beans because it’s a zero-waste option but I do like to add variety to my meals every once in a while with tofu or frozen edamame.

What did you meal prep for this week? Are you going to give any of these meals a try next week?

Organizing Your Closet for 2020

Tis the season for resolutions! I love this project I’m presenting today because it can work for so many resolutions- getting more organized, saving money and producing less waste.

My goal last year was to spend less money. I was really bad at buying clothes when I had an occasion or impulse shopping but I wasn’t actually buying clothes I needed. Another dress with skeletons on it even though I already have 2? Sure! New jeans because mine have holes in them? Not so much…

I also seemed to have an entire closet of clothes and nothing to wear? I’m sure I’m not alone in that! So last January, I started tracking the clothes I was wearing to get a better sense of what I had. It was a game changer!

Here’s what I did to tackle my closet:

  • Start by going through all your clothes. And I mean, ALL of your clothes. For me, that meant going through those underbed storage bins that held my “seasonal” clothes, aka, “The Out of Sight, Out of Mind” clothes I hadn’t looked at in over a year.
  • Responsibly get rid of the clothes that no longer fit or you know you will not wear. You can coordinate with friends who are also looking to clean out their closets and have a clothing swap; sell them on line at Poshmark or send them into Thred-Up; donate them to Goodwill; for tshirts, you can make them into a quilt or grocery bag (DIY coming for this next week!) etc. There are so many ways to eliminate the waste in your house without adding more waste to landfills. If there are any clothes that you are unsure about, keep them in your closet. By tracking what you wear throughout the year, you can re-evalutate those items at the end of the year.
  • In a spreadsheet (I like Google Docs so I can access it anywhere), track all the clothes that you decided to keep in an Inventory tab. Based off my wardrobe, I broke everything down into the following catagories: Bottoms, Tops, Cardigans/Jackets, Dresses, Shoes and Brooches. Your list will be different depending on your personal style and the items you are looking to track. Below is an abbreviated version of mine for reference. I like to also sort things by color in each category to make finding an item easier when I’m planning an outfit.
  • I also have a tab for seasonal items which I rotate onto my Inventory tab throughout the year. I color coded them so I can see them better on my inventory and make an effort to wear them when they are in season. This helps prevent the “put them away and forget them” mentality. It will encourage you to actually rotate your clothes in and out seasonally if that is something you are interested in. I also keep special occasion outfits on this tab. You, understandably, aren’t going to keep a dress appropriate for a wedding on your inventory which you are using daily. Having them noted on this tab though, allows you to see those items more easily instead of forgetting them in the back of your closet.
  • In a separate tab, set up the outline for your month. You may find it helpful to include on this tab the weather and any events you have going on that month. This can help plan your outfits better. I tried out both of these and found because my office is so cold, the weather didn’t have much impact on what I wore but it was helpful to see if I had plans.
  • At the beginning of each month, I go into my monthly tab and rough out ideas for outfits. I try not to wear a piece twice if I have other options. If I have 5 pants, I’m going to try to plan outfits for all 5 before wearing my favorite jeans for a second time.
  • I put the outfits I’m planning to wear in gray. The monthly outfit planning usually takes me about 1 hour to do. I’ll put on a show and work through my outfits as I watch an episode of Witcher or The Crown. There may be some changes as the month goes on but I find that I stick to the outfits pretty closely because it makes things SO easy.
  • As I plan outfits my outfits for the month, I put gray ‘x’s by the items I plan on wearing in my inventory tab as shown.
  • As the month goes on, I change my planned outfits to black as I wear them. I also change the small, gray ‘x’s to large, black ‘X’s. When I describe my process to people, this seems to be the part that is the most daunting to them- keeping track of the outfits throughout the month. In reality, it takes me less time to update this document then it does to check my emails or Instagram and I usually do it while on my lunch break.
  • At the start of each month, I’ll begin building outfits off the items that I didn’t use last month. So with the example above, I’d start with the tops that weren’t used last month like the Navy blue T, Purple Dashboard Confessional T or Grey Lace Trim Tank top. If you have no pieces that weren’t worn, then try and make new outfits from the same pieces. For example, in January I wore my black floral top with black skinny jeans so for February, I’ll try to style that top differently. Maybe I’ll pair it with the denim skirt and black flats. This helps you get out of a clothing rut with wearing the same things all the time.
  • At the end of the year, you’ll have a spreadsheet of all the items of clothes you own and how often you wore them. As you can see from the picture below, I like to keep the gray ‘x’s so I know what I had planned to wear but actually never did. To me, it shows that even when I tried working a piece into an outfit, it was just not something I wanted to wear when the time came and I can probably get rid of it. The below is a shot from my actual inventory from last year. I didn’t end up wearing those three shirts in red so I pulled them out of my closest. The ‘ – ‘ indicate the months I didn’t own the item (like the Blue Frank Turner tshirt) or they were out of rotation (like the Burgundy Boat neck tshirt). That helps me differentiate items I wasn’t wearing and items I didn’t have. As for the items that were worn sporadically, like my Blue Flutter Sleeve T, I have to decide whether I like it enough to keep. Maybe I give it one more year and aim to wear it X amount of times and if I don’t meet it, I donate it. That’s up to you!

So that’s my closet project! By tracking my wardrobe this year:

  • I was able to see what I wasn’t wearing because I didn’t like the item and responsibly get it out of my closet (I donated some items through Pacts donation project with Goodwill and re-purposed some old tshirts into bulk bags. )
  • I was able to see that I wasn’t wearing some items because I didn’t have anything to go with them. In that situation, I was able to thoughtfully purchase clothes I actually needed.
  • I didn’t suffer from “I have nothing to wear”. I actually saw that I had more then I could wear in a month and began to appreciate the clothes I had more! I was also mixing up my pieces more so things felt fresher and new. It really cut down on the feeling that I needed to shop.

So there you have it- a closet organization project that will help you get organized, spend less money on junk clothes and appreciate your wardrobe a bit more.

What do you think? Will you be cleaning out and organizing your closet this month? What are some other organizing you guys plan to do in 2020?

1-Hour Reusable Produce Bag

Let me start this post by saying I definitely, most certainly, do not identify myself as “a sewer”. I know the basics, I can muddle my way through some simple instructions or pattern but I’m working off my mom’s 30 year old Kenmore and I mess up, a lot!

With that said, one of my New Year’s resolutions this year is to get better at sewing and the only way to do that is practicing. So bear with me as I share with you my first sewing project of the new year- some very easy produce bags.

The official tutorial can be found here. Just to be clear- This tutorial is from Spoonflower. I’m including it here with a few notes I made throughout the process.

Materials:

  • 1 fat quarter of gauze per bag OR for a complete set of bags, you can cut one yard into four rectangles approximately 28” x 18” each. (I went with the 1 yard of fabric and bought the Organic Sweet Pea Gauze from Spoonflower. Here’s my orange pattern. I also ordered this blackberry fabric and this pineapple fabric. All are insanely cute. Since this was going to be touching my food, I liked the idea of using organic cotton but feel free to use what you can find or what you have. I acknowledge Spoonflower is not the cheapest material; I had a discount.)
  • 1 yd of twill tape, ribbon, or other coordinating tie material per bag – choose a material that measures 1″ wide or less. (I chose rope and ordered it here. )
  • Sewing machine and/or serger (My instructions are going to be serger-less because I don’t have one)
  • Ruler, scissors, thread, fabric marker, & pins
  • Large safety pin
  1. Cut your yard of fabric into 4 rectangles. Zigzag stitch the edges.

2. Place your rectangle in front of you so that the wrong side is facing up, and the longest edges are facing you. Measure and make a mark 3″ from the top edge on both of your short sides.

3. Next, you’re going to hem the 3″ area you just marked on your short edges so you don’t have any exposed threads once your bag is finished. Fold ¼” of the 3″ marked side edge inward. Pin and sew in place. Repeat for the left edge.

4. Next, you’ll hem the top edge of your fat quarter. Fold ¼” inward, pin and sew in place.

5. Next, fold the top hemmed edge down so it’s in line with your 3″ marks. Pin and sew in place to create a 1½” casing for your drawstring.

6. Fold your fat quarter in half widthwise, right sides facing. Pin in place, being careful to line up the edges of the casing. I lined my casing up first and then worked down from there. Sew the bottom and side edges together with a ¼” seam, stopping at the edge of your casing.

Note: The below picture shows my bag pinned together for Step 6. I did two bags with the bottoms and the entire short sides hemmed. I felt that was easier then just hemming the 3″ area around the casing. This resulted in a cleaner area around the casing but did result in a bit more bulk around the bottom and side edging once the entire bag was sewn. I didn’t mind this, especially since the material will crinkle and hide the bulk when washed. Just an FYI in case your process looks different.

7. Once the bottom and side edges are sewn together, turn rightside out and you have a bag! All that’s missing is the draw string…

Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. The material crinkles when washed so it’s very forgiving!

8. For the drawstring, attach a safety pin to one of your drawstring material and feed it through your casing. If you are using the rope that I ordered, wrap tape around one end of your rope and put your safety pin through that. It will keep your rope from fraying before you can knot it at the end.

How cute is that bag?! I just love it.

You are going to want to make sure you add a tag or note somewhere about the weight (aka Tare) of the bag, especially if you use the rope, which is heavier. Many grocery stores can do this for you. Some, like Whole Foods, have digital scales in their bulk section and you can weigh as many bags as you want in peace. Or, even better, you can get the weight from a kitchen scale! You can write it in the corner if you don’t want to worry about removing a tag when you wash it, you could make it into a label like you find on clothes or you can add a removable paper tag if that’s the easiest.

That rogue green tie I found in the kitchen and figured I’d repurpose it right away since I had 8 more produce bags to make with the rope.

For cleaning, I have NOT cleaned mine yet but I will remove the rope and Tare tag and probably soak them or wash them on delicate and then let them air dry. They do crinkle when they are washed making them more textured. Here’s more information on the material from Spoonflower. I first saw this on their blog post, “16 Eco-Friendly Projects for a Zero-Waste Home”. I can’t wait to try and make bowl covers!

Also, as only a pseudo-sewer, this did only take me 1 hour or under for each bag. So, it’s a nice weekend project! Be sure to share pictures if you end up making them. I’d love to see what fabrics you use!

If you are looking for a cheaper produce bag and/or a no-sew option, check in here next Thursday and I will be making produce bags out of recycled tshirts. Those are fantastic for after you clean out your closet. For help with your closets, check in with me tomorrow. I have a project that will help you get a handle on your closet, find new ways to style clothes and reduce the need to shop!