Put down that roll of paper towels

gray faucet

Hand towels can be icky even in the best of situations. Drying your hand on a damp towel is counterproductive and let’s face it, even though we love our families, some of them aren’t the best of hand washers. 

I was introduced to the roll of paper towels in the bathroom by a coworker. And I thought it was genius until the sustainability shortfalls hit me, and I realized that using virgin paper to dry my hands and fill the landfill was not exactly aligned to my values. 

Another co-worker introduced me to fingertip towels. She was stylish and particular, and it seemed so *fancy* — I was sold. I also learned from her to have a separate basket in the bathroom seeded with a “used” towel, so guests would know what to do. Remember having people over? That used to be a thing.

I started with some pretty fancy fingertip towels. The problem was I couldn’t amass enough on my budget to get through a week. I eventually bought a bundle of low-cost washcloths and used those for a long time. Two downsides: 1) They didn’t have nicely finished edges, and they frayed; 2) they were also on the small side. 

I finally landed at a nice middle ground: six-packs of higher quality washcloths bought on sale–larger, softer, and finished edges.  We have about 24 for each bathroom. That’s not quite enough to get us through a week, so I will do a mid-week load when needed.

My cleaning routine: warm water with detergent plus vinegar in the bleach dispenser and an extra rinse. Move promptly to the dryer and dry using the sanitize dryer cycle.

Fire and Rain

Fire and rain

It’s been a tough month in the West. A couple of weeks ago I woke up smelling smoke and it was a downward spiral from there. A couple of weeks of fire danger, thick smoke, dangerous air, and devastating fires.

Today it is raining buckets in Olympia, Washington. I don’t know if I have ever been so grateful for the rain.

Whatever we are going through, it doesn’t last – good or bad, everything is always in motion.

Cue J.T.: He was 22 when this recording was made.

Also Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande:

The Laundry Fairy Will See You Now

Laundry secrets from Shout®

This may surprise you: I love doing laundry. I get excited about washing machines the way some people get excited about iPhones. I enjoy the science of laundry and I’m always looking for laundry tips and tools.

Here are two: 

  1. Shout Advanced Ultra-Concentrated Gel Brush for Set-in Stains
    Years ago I got oil-based salad dressing on a favorite silk blouse. I dutifully took it to the dry cleaners and got a note back from them that it was beyond hope.

    As a general rule, I reject the “beyond hope” assessment in laundry and in life. So I tried my go-to stain remover, Shout Advanced Ultra-Concentrated Gel Brush, and washed the silk blouse in the washing machine. Washing silk can go very wrong so it can be an advanced laundry skill, but I decided I really had nothing to lose. And it worked. I got all of the stains out. I wore it for years after that. 
  2. Shout ColorCatcher Dye Trapping Sheets
    I learned about color remover sheets after a devastating laundry incident. I had just completed a Christmas quilt – a very red Christmas quilt – and I washed it to remove the quilt markings. The red ran everywhere. It was devastating. I was sure that I had ruined it. In desperation, I searched the internet for possible remedies and found one that involved Dawn dishwashing soap and Shout ColorCatcher Sheets. It was a long process but my quilt was saved. Now I’m a regular user and will throw a sheet in if there’s ever a chance that one garment might run. 

Also confession: I don’t always sort my laundry by color. I really used to be a purist about this, but after learning about some best practices around washing underwear and socks, I now wash them together as a single load irrespective of color. And they are definitely a mix of white to black and every color in between. I’ve never had a problem with colors running.

Also, a good soundtrack for doing laundry always includes this gem. I may or may not have my own custom lyrics. 🙂

Getting back together with your sewing machine

Sewing machine detail photo by J Williams on Unsplash

Many people are pulling out their sewing machine to make masks or do repairs and are flummoxed by the wad of thread that shows up when they try to sew a simple line of stitching. 

Machine won’t sew? Here are the three main reasons:

  1. There’s a threading problem.
  2. There’s a tension issue.
  3. There’s a blockage of lint or other debris.

Here are some tips for when your machine won’t make a nice row of stitches. 

  • Stay calm and stay positive. Your machine isn’t out to get you, I promise. 🙂
  • Rethread your machine, top, and bobbin. Removing both completely and starting fresh solves a lot of problems. Make sure the bobbin is seated correctly and that the thread is going through all the guides. 
  • Change your needle if you can, and make sure it’s secure.
  • Use the right needle for the weight of fabric you are sewing.
  • Use the right type of thread. Make sure you aren’t inadvertently using topstitching thread. 
  • Adjust the tension and use scrap fabric to test your changes. Start in the mid-range of your tension dial and adjust up or down in small increments until the stitch improves. 
    Check out this short video from Professor Pincushion for more tips.
  • Can’t find your manual? Search on the internet for your model or a similar model. 
  • Make sure you are using the right presser foot for the stitch you are trying to use.
  • Tighten the screw on your presser foot.
  • Clean under the throat plate and around the feed dogs and bobbin casing
  • Refer to the maintenance section of your manual and do what you can. 

Still not working? Walk away for a bit and do something else. This often provides a clear mind to start again, allowing you to diagnose the problem more easily. 

Or: Get on FaceTime with a fellow sewer. They might see something you’ve missed, and if nothing else, you’ll get some much needed human attention.  You can also contact me. I love to talk about sewing.


Photo by J Williams on Unsplash

Baby Rhino, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Momma and baby rhino. Photo by sarah stockman on Unsplash

What I need right now: more cute animal videos. The penguins are touring the aquarium: yes! Penguins going down the stairs: YES! Fiona, the hippo: YES! The cats with the dominos: YES! 

The dogs wanting their people to stop typing and start petting them: YES! Oh …, wait … – that happens here almost every day. 

MORE, PLEASE!

But what broke the internet for me is the baby rhino at the Denver Zoo. NO ONE TOLD ME OF THE EXTREME CUTENESS! Watch the video now.

More Fun Stuff

Virtual Safaris with the Cincinnati Zoo: http://cincinnatizoo.org/news-releases/cincinnati-zoo-is-bringing-the-zoo-to-you/

Weekday, kid-friendly drawing classes with illustrator wendy macnaughton at 10 am Pacific time on Instagram @wendymac


Cover photo by sarah stockman on Unsplash

I don’t know who needs this today …

Capturing a shooting star over a bridge. Photo by Alejandro Benėt on Unsplash

I am reading Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up by Jerry Colonna. It’s not at all what I expected. It’s a deeply profound book about understanding who you are and the forces that formed you and your beliefs. If you are lost, temporarily or habitually, or you want to break out of a pattern than brings more sorrow than joy, this is a place to start.

My biggest takeaway so far: to see a shooting star, you need to soften your gaze. Focus will not help you.


unsplash-logoAlejandro Benėt