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My Newest Obsession – or, How to Start Going Zero Waste

No new knitting because my hands have been sore. BUT I’ve started a new project: zero waste. That’s right. No trash to the landfill anymore.

Long time readers probably know that I’m a little… crunchy. That tends to happen when you get a college degree with the word “environmental” in the name. “Zero waste” sounds pretty radical – and it kind of is, but starting it was really easy! I spent a lot of time reading zero waste blogs, and they are… really crunchy. Way more crunchy than me. Let’s not go there.

Anyway, going zero waste doesn’t involve eliminating plastic, eating only at farmers markets, or doing some radical hippy things that sound like torture (“Oil pulling!? That sounds painful!”). In fact, we haven’t bought anything or really spent any extra money… yet. (I’m thinking we’ll have to eventually, once we start replacing products that are more wasteful, but we’ll see.)

It’s really just 2 steps!

First Step: Keep Track of Everything you Throw Out

I’ve been doing this for the past few weeks now in my bullet journal. Write down EVERY LITTLE THING that I throw out. Zero waste means zero, right, so there are no exceptions here. Tissues. Cat food containers. Receipts. Wrappers around the lids of pickles.

pages from my bullet journal where I keep my trash log

If you do this right, you should get a really good idea of everything you throw out. I did about 3 weeks worth of trash (thus, 3 pages) and noticed a LOT of repeats. Some things, like dental floss picks, I throw out every day. Because I love data, I put the items into a spreadsheet and categorized them, so I can look at fun graphs.

The graph shows that food packaging is the biggest waste stream, by far.

If you’re interested in making your own spreadsheet, just check out mine here – you can copy and paste it as your own file.

I wanted to weight each thing, but Dan said that was kind of creepy.

Second Step: Figure Out How to Not Throw That Stuff Out

Ok, this is not really that small of a step, but that’s honestly all there is to it. Next to each item in journal, I have notes on what I can do to avoid that waste. Here are some examples:

  • Ziploc bags to store meat in the freezer – Use other containers, like pyrex glass or mason jars.
  • Dental picks – get a “Gum Simulator”
  • Roomba waste – Pick out the noncompostables (change, hair ties) and then compost the rest.

Here you’ll notice that you start doing some kooky things. This is probably the kookiest that I’ve gotten: I have a little makeshift composter at my desk at work.

It's a compostable cup that I put my other compostable stuff in and take down to the caf every day... but it works!

The backstory behind this is that my work composts, but the only place to “throw out” your compost is in the cafeteria. So, I’ve been buying iced coffee every day (or, lately, every other day) and putting my compostable waste, like napkins, cafeteria silverware, and tea bags in this. I took this picture right before I put the stuff in the bin – if there’s any food waste, I throw it out that day so that I don’t attract fruit flies!

That’s it!

Those two steps are what zero waste is all about. How much effort you put into each step is totally up to you.

I’ll probably do more zero waste-themed posts in the future, since it’s my current obsession.

On a funny note, when I talked to Dan about zero waste, he immediately thought of the wastes in Lean Six Sigma. I told him I’m not quite ready to bring work home like that. He’s such an engineer.

Zero waste can be hard, but starting your journey takes only 2 steps!

How to Lead a Nursing Home Craft Circle

How to Lead a Craft Circle in a Retirement Home

It’s been one year since I started leading a craft circle at my local retirement home. Looking back, there’s a lot of stuff I wish I had known, though. I thought I’d compile a list of tips and tricks, so, here they are! Hopefully I can inspire people to get out there and start working in their community.

No NaNos for Me This Month!

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This year, I’m not doing NaNoWrimo, NaNoKniMo, or any other monthly challenge… and I feel kind of guilty. I just have a lot of stuff on my plate. I want to finish my 16 in 2016 challenge, I’m working on a new secret design that I thought was SO AWESOME but now think it’s a little lame… I just don’t have a lot of knitting confidence right now, which translates to not a lot of self confidence.

I’m happy to watch from the sidelines while everyone else works hard, though! 😉

I DID print a copy of the novel that I finished last year. It’s languishing away, unedited and un-looked at by anyone. (Maybe it should stay that way?)

I’ve Moved!

I’m hopping onto the WordPress bandwagon, and while I was at it, I decided to get myself my own domain. This means that I’m going to be trying to be serious about this side hustle knitting thing. Which, if you’ve been tuning in frequently, you might notice as a theme.

Anyway, I’m hoping to be able to make enough money to pay for my hosting from sales and blog income. That’s about $275 in three years. If I can’t, I promised myself that I’d be moving back to my free hosting. So, we’ll see!

Hope the mess isn’t too bad. I’ve lost all of my photos for the past year, but they’re stored in Flickr, so worst case I’ll re-upload all of them… gross but managable since I haven’t posted much!

Jean Tannen the cat.
Here’s a picture of JT in a box, so that you don’t get too mad at my mess.

Knitting Away!

“Where’d Alyssa go? Oh, she must be busy with her wedding planning, and stuff.”
Actually, I’m not, really! Wedding planning is going really smoothly. I’m immersing myself in work, working out, eating clean, and knitting really, REALLY slowly.
Oh, and watching TV while the cat lies on me 🙂
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If I have any knitting progress, I’ll update you! There’s just not much to see lately. Sorry!

My (Long) Weekend Project Was a Success!

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I now have a widdle baby sweater with a widdle shawl collar! I can’t get over how adorable this is.

The only thing I need to do is weave in the very last end. So I’m going to count this as done!

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I’m a LITTLE worried about the sizing though. How big are baby arms? Beacuse this thing fits around my wrist…

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Oh well… she can grow into it 🙂

Another 16 in 2016 project done! 🙂 I really have to get it in gear if I want to finish the list though… 🙁

  1. Knit something for charity.
  2. Knit something just for yourself.
  3. Knit something you can finish in a weekend. Then spend the weekend working on it!
  4. Knit something that’s been in your queue forever. (Can be a Ravelry queue or just something you’ve been wanting to try.)
  5. Knit something and then yarn bomb somewhere! (Be sure to get permission. I’m going to do something on my own property.)
  6. Knit something that uses a technique you’ve never done before.
  7. Knit something silly. (There are so many possibilities!)
  8. Knit something to give to someone as a thank-you. Everyone has someone that they can thank for something!
  9. Knit something useful.
  10. Knit something that uses a vintage pattern. 
  11. Knit something that uses game knitting
  12. Knit something from a pattern you tried before but gave up on. I have a lot of these!
  13. Knit something from a pattern that you tried before and loved. I have some of these…
  14. Knit something that uses indie yarn.
  15. Knit something with someone else (through a knit along, mystery knit, etc.)
  16. Knit something from a pattern that you buy. Spend money on a book, magazine, or independent pattern!

Weekend Knit

This summer has not been very good for knitting for me.
One, it has been just two darn hot and humid to do ANYTHING, so most activities have been kaboshed for just trying to keep the house presentable.
Two, my two projects have been just dragging on and on.  I gave away the needles for the Hue Shift Afghan to one of the knitters at the nursing home, because she needed to make a gauge swatch and I will set myself on fire to keep someone warm. My knit along – Part of my 16 in 2016 – has been a little disappointing…
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It’s supposed to be a mermaid tail blanket, but it’s not SNUGGLY enough. I purposefully made a child’s large, because I’m small, but I still don’t like it. With the fact that they are selling for $20 online… it just feels like a waste of time. But it’s really close to being finished, which will be nice.
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So, in true knitter fashion, I’m picking up a totally new project. One of the supervisor’s at work is having his first grandchild in October, so why not make a baby sweater? They’re fun, easy, and I can finish it in a weekend with no problem – especially this weekend, which was a game night, a party, another game night, and then MORE dungeons and dragons. Not to mention we have to drive to all these social activities, so there’s knitting time there, too.
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If all goes well, I’ll have another project Monday to show you. Wish me luck!

I had an engagement party and no one died!

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Adorably(?) bad kerning

I was very nervous about our engagement party. It helped to set a goal – when asked about my expectations, I just said “As long as no one dies, I’m happy.” So when things when inevitably wrong (the CD that was playing party music skipped, high winds tore down handmade bunting, I forgot one of Dan’s relative’s names) I just told myself “no one is going to die” and was able to float through the party with something that was close to zen.

Of course, that probably didn’t seem zen to some people. I was really hoping everyone had a good time, and so I tried to get the two families to mingle. Eventually I realized that I should have at least taken some photos, so the only photos I have are kind of grainy 8PM post party stuff.

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Yes, these are the LEFTOVERS.

We had a great dessert table, with all sorts of sweets! Sadly only one cake was gluten free, and that ran out fast. At least I got some before it was gone, but at 9PM when the last few stragglers were eating cookies and milk I felt a little awkward munching on veggie tray leftovers.
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I test drove my homemade bunting that I put together, and I learned two things. First, I need at least 10 times more bunting for the wedding. Second, wind and bunting don’t mix. Wind and decorations don’t really mix in general. Most stuff had to be brought inside, where my hard work went pretty much unnoticed – oh well. No one died.
My favorite detail of the party? This thing.
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Yeah, the gift table is not really pinterest worthy, sue me.
It’s a cloud peeing rainbows. We saw it at the party store and I bought it on a whim. I love it. We brought it home with us, and I spend the entire drive like this:
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Overall, I had an awesome time and would do it again. Oh wait… I am, and it’s going to be even bigger and I’m going to get married at it. 
Yikes.
Better just knit some more and not think about that.

A Project Diversion

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Sometimes you get pulled into knitting things for people. Usually I can resist, but I have a soft spot in my heart for the folks at my knitting circle. They are so nice, and mean so well… and well they’re really persistent.
Here’s how the conversation went:
Her: “Oh I’d like to knit my new great grand-daughter a baby blanket. Do you have a pattern for that?”
Me: “Sure! Here’s a really easy one!”
Her: “Oh lovely! Here are the needles and yarn! Can you start it for me?”
Me: “Ok! It’s a really easy pattern.”
Next week
“Oh, this is so tough, my hands just aren’t the way they were when I was younger. Can you show me again?”
“Sure!”
Next week
“Hey, I noticed you haven’t really worked on your baby blanket. Everything ok?”
“Oh, it’s just your work looks so much better than mine! Can you work on it today?”
“Sure!”
Next week
“Again? Listen, is it ok if I take this home and work on it?”
And now I have this pretty thing.  Made with Red Heart! Hopefully the new owner likes it.
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I’m Engaged!

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Ok, I’ve been engaged for about two weeks now, but I’ve been so overwhelmed talking with family and friends offline, that making the post here slipped my mind.
So, obviously, my 16 in 2016 goals might be… not met? I’m not sure what I’m going to craft for this. Dan and I got the book A Practical Wedding and the workbook as an engagement gift from Alysia, so we’ve been using that to plan things. It’s really been great!
Our date is set – June 3rd, 2016 – and we have our photographer/videographer already booked! We’re also planning an engagement party, engagement photos, and all the trappings. I’m really excited!
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Oh – of course, I should tell you how he proposed! It wasn’t a surprise. (Can it really be, when you’ve been living together for almost four years?) I knew that he had the ring, but I didn’t know what it looked like. I knew he was going to propose to me on a weekend. He really wanted to go to Maine, so I kind of figured he was going to do it there. We had a great day at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, then pizza for lunch before going out to the island.
Before dinner, he suggested we take a walk along the beach and watch the sunset. We did, looking for sea glass and just having a good time. Once, he bent down on one knee to pick up a piece and there was an incredibly awkward moment where I thought he was going to propose and I felt myself crying with happiness. He just looked up at me confused and we had a good laugh. I said “You know when we reached the point in our relationship when you couldn’t get me any jewelry in ring-sized boxes? Well, now I guess we’re at the point where you can’t bend down on one knee for things.” So he pointed out the seaglass and I picked it all up.
When we had walked up and down the beach, we sat down on a big fallen tree that was turning into driftwood and went to compare treasures. When they were all on my lap and we had come to the traditional decision that it was “a pretty good haul,” he stopped and gave a cheesy gasp.
“Oh, wait, I have something here in my pocket.”
It was a suede jewelry box, that was slightly sandy. I opened it and the ring was inside.
I said yes, of course 🙂
Oh, and here’s a closeup of the ring. It’s a little big, so I have to get it resized this weekend.
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