Friday, November 29, 2013

Hands Free Grocery Bag Part 2

How to use grocery bag

This how you will get my Hand Free Grocery bag. 

To use the bag - remove all the tags (keep the folding diagram for future reference) and you simply undo the snap and tuck it into it's loop (just above it).

If  you need to, shake the bag out, then you slide both sleeves on first.    

Then you hook the center loop around the center knob of the bag stand.

Now, fill your bag up with good stuff!

When you're done with shopping, you just reverse the process - undo the center loop firstif the bag is really full, you might have to lift from the bottom to get it off the knob. You then slide the sleeves out and off you go!

How to fold grocery bag

First off, on the front of the bag on either side of the strap loop, you will see two lines of stitching in the same color as the fabric. Remember those lines as they will come in handy in the next few steps.

After putting away your groceries, you want to shake out any debris from inside, if it's wet, hang it to dry. If it got messy, wash it. Then working on a flat surface, if you look at the bottom of the bag, you see a basic rectangle. 

You fold the rectangle in half, placing short ends together and . . .

it should look like an upside down house (to me anyways).

You fold the handles up onto the bag.

Next, remember that stitching line, well now it comes into play. That stitching line is your guide to folding the bag. You basically fold from the stitching line to just past the center (you can do any side first, it doesn't matter - you are folding the bag in thirds).

Next you fold the other side over.

Then you take the "bottom" (the side closes to you) and fold it up to where you can see the female part of the snap.

Take the center loop and tuck it into the bag somewhere.

Put on the snap and throw it into your bag or into the back seat of your car - your bag is now ready for your next shopping trip. 

Please remember to wash your bag after every few uses. The bag can go through the washer and dryer, and you can iron it to get the corner creases. It might take a few trys before you get the hang of using your new bag, but once you've mastered it, you'll see that it's a cinch to use. 

I want to thank Country Aire for their support of my bag and I want to thank all the wonderful women and men that work there. If you have not shopped there, you should go and visit, it's a really nice store. I am so glad that we have a great store like this in our town, it is a wonderful place to get some great organic foods and awesome products for our home.

Happy Shopping!!!

Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this post or any of my other posts. Email is the best way to contact me, and please be sure that your email address is sited so I can write you back.Thanks!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hands Free Grocery Bag Part 1

About five or six years ago, my daughter Dawn (who lives in Hawaii), gave me this shopping bag from a local grocery store there. I really liked the print, Hawaiian quilts, and I especially loved the bags's size and shape. I used this bag a lot (can you see the duct tape?)! I modified the handle so it wasn't so long and reinforced it to keep it strong. Although this bag is functional, it doesn't stand on it's own like most reusable bags are. So in 2012, I set out to design a bag that was practical and functional. 

Most people use bags they have around the house and with those, you need to use it with two hands (sometimes three) - not very practical. Even with reusable grocery bags you buy, you need at least two hands. Well, all that has changed with my Hands Free Grocery Bag. 

This is the first bag I designed, it had just the center loop and you needed an extra hand to load your groceries, not practical and difficult to use.
 I took a look at the function of the bag stand at my grocery store and thought that what my bag needed was a sleeve to hold it open so it could be loaded hands free. 

I tried button holes, but you still needed a hand to hold the bag open.

I tried to sew a sleeve and made a flap that you could slide on to the bag stand, but that was too cumbersome to use.

I then sewed the sleeve directly to the side of the bag and voila, genius!!

Storing the bag was another issue. I wanted the bag to be self contained to where you didn't need a separate pouch to store the bag in. I saw this bag and came up with a pocket in the front. You fold the bag and basically stick your hand in the pocket and invert everything into the pocket. That worked okay, but it didn't always lie flat. 

I even made a mistake and made the pocket longer which created a flap so you could close it with a button.

Then I started thinking of people who don't have the manual dexterity to invert the bag, so I went back to the drawing board and came up with folding the bag and putting a snap closure and it worked! 

When the bag is in use, you just tuck the strap into the strap loop.

I am so jazzed about this bag. Every week, I do my grocery shopping at Country Aire Natural Foods Market. Most of the girls there know how to use my bag and love it - hands free loading for them. I always do self check out at Walmart and Safeway and use my bag and it's so nice. 

My bag can hold about $50 worth of groceries (I actually managed $70 on one trip!). It is made of all cotton fabric and can be washed and dried in your machine - pressing for the creases is optional.

What is especially nice is that Country Aire has agreed to sell my bags at their store! I have been wanting this for years and it's finally happened. If my bags sell well, then they will ask for more and who knows, maybe they will be interested in my other products too!

My love of bags and my journey into designing them and others have come full circle for me. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to design and make bags. I can only hope that things will go up from here.

Thanks for reading about my bag journey.

Read part 2 where I demo how to use and fold my Hands Free Grocery Bag.

Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this post or any of my other posts. Email is the best way to contact me, and please be sure that your email address is sited so I can write you back.Thanks!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Going Dairy Free

I've been trying to go completely dairy free for a while now and I'm partially there. I have found some links to make, or buy, dairy free(df) foods - this would be great if you're trying to go df, like I am. I'm going to use the Easy Peasy Sour Cream and the Cashew Cream recipe to make creamy chicken soup I need for this recipe this weekend for a lunch party at my house. I am substituting all the dairy items with non dairy items. My friends that are coming over are trying to eat gluten free, so I will show them dairy free options as well.

Cashew Cream

Almond Cream

Cashew Sour Cream

Easy Peasy Sour Cream

Coconut Whipped Cream

Coconut Carmel Sauce

Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk

Store bought sour cream substitute

I've decided that for recipes I make that need milk, I am going to buy slivered almonds and make my own milk specifically for that recipe. The almond milk I use every day has some a little bit of sweetener in it and it can alter the flavor of recipes I'm making so I will start making regular almond milk instead of buying a whole carton of regular almond milk which has no flavor to me.

Cheese for sandwiches, very important, I buy this, it's really good and grates easily and has real cheddar cheese texture and flavor. Lately tho, I've been buying this one because it's been on sale, but I do prefer the first one - even tho I have to grate it myself.

The coconut whipped cream I always have on hand for my desserts. It's so easy to cut up some frozen strawberries (I always have on hand too) and mix it with a dollop (or two) of the whipped cream for a satisfying, easy dessert. The caramel sauce I make when I need it and it's so good, both these recipes are great to have on hand for when you need them. It does take some preparation to make, but it is so worth it.

I hope this helps you in going dairy free - there are so many options on the Internet and by being creative, we don't ever have to be without dairy. BTW, I have tried and really like all the product images shown.

Thanks for reading!!

Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this post or any of my other posts. Thanks! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

How to Leave Negative Feedback on EBay

My husband and I have been selling on EBay for a while, my husband more than me. EBay is always changing their rules. In the past, if a buyer (or seller) was not nice or didn't play by the rules, you could leave a negative feedback - well not any more. I recently had someone purchase something from me and they did not pay. Not only did they not pay, they didn't respond to my emails. After 4 days, I reported them so I could get the transaction cancelled. The transaction was cancelled, but when I go to leave negative feedback, I couldn't - EBay took that option away. Here is what EBay is saying, 

"Sellers aren't able to leave negative or neutral Feedback for buyers. That means sellers need other tools that will protect them against unfair treatment from buyers and bring those buyers to eBay's attention."

Many people don't like this, me included. How are we to know about deadbeat buyers? Negative feedback was what my husband and I (along with most of you) relied on as far as seeing who good and who was not.

I suppose the current way to handle this is to report them via feedback. Now when leaving a feedback, you can report the buyer. Reporting the buyer starts the investigation process on EBay's end - this is EBay's way way of protecting the buyer. I had actually reported my buyer before realizing I could do it through feedback. Not knowing what to do with leaving a feedback for this buyer, I just left them hanging. Well, a couple of weeks go by along with another good sale. I go to leave feedback for the good sale and saw the bad sale still sitting, waiting for a feedback. Forgetting that this was a deadbeat buyer, I automatically left a postive feedback. When I go to review my sales, I realized that I had made an error - I gave my deadbeat buyer a positive feedback! I didn't know what to do. I knew there was a way to reply to feedbacks so I researched it and here is what I did:

  1. Go to Feedback Forum.
  2. At the far right, under "Feedback Tools", click on "Follow up to feedback left".
  3. Find the feedback you want to correct and click on "Follow up" at the far right.
  4. You will see a blank box after "Follow up comment" and you can revise your positive feedback and leave an appropriate comment.

I felt bad that I had accidentally left a positive feedback, for a negative transaction, but after doing the steps above, I feel better. Now people can know about this buyer and proceed with caution.

I hope this helps others when faced with a negative situation on EBay.

Happy Selling!!! 

Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this post or any of my other posts. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Note Tablet Portfolio

Last Wednesday I had a job interview - my first since being fired from my previous job four years ago. I was so worried about the stigma of being fired and that it caused me a lot of procrastination find another job. I thought since this job interview is a milestone for me, I would make something that would help me feel better about this whole interview process - which has been very daunting for me from the get go.

I wanted to walk into the interview looking put together and professional so I decided to make a note tablet portfolio. I studied some online and even went to my local Walmart to take pics of one and get dimensions. It took me about four days to get everything put together, that includes having to take things apart and cut parts shorter to fit. There was even issues with the inner pocket not being sewn properly from having to fix the sewing seam, but overall, I think it came out pretty nice. I plan to make more now that I know how to deal with the issues I had. Take a look and tell me what you think.

I wanted it to have some print, but not be over the top. I also wanted some color.

I wanted at least one inside pocket and a pen pocket. I had to think to figure out how I was going to make a pocket to put the tablet in and I wanted it to be sturdy. The tablet pocket on the right is just a long rectangle. I wouldn't normally put my label so high, but I had forgotten to add it and that was the most convenient spot to put it so I could top stitch around it.

  I constructed it so there is a compartment behind both inner pockets so I could insert fabric covered chip board for sturdiness. I also covered the top of the tablet with the printed fabric for contrasting interest on the inside.

You can see one of the minor flaws here - it's not that bad, the portfolio is still usable. No one will know about the flaws but me. 

I plan to make more for Christmas presents and to sell - now that I have all the bugs worked out, I think they'll do great!

Thanks reading!!

Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this post or any of my other posts. Thanks!

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Bag Pouch

I have made a couple "fanny packs" for me in the past, they were basically wallets with a belt and they were very useful and serviceable. I loved them during the winter when a bag and a bulky jacket were just too much, plus I love the hands free option.
They both have pockets for my cards and the outside pocket on the one on the right is for my cell phone. Money just sits inside at the bottom.

Back in 2009 I had a job where I was up and down a lot - sit at the desk, then get up to do stuff. In the beginning to help me remember all the things I had to do, I made this pouch:
It had the fanny pack concept, but I made a pouch large enough to hold a steno note pad for all my notes - I also made a little pocket in front to hold the remote radio we used to communicate between each other.

When I didn't need my note book any more, I converted the pouch into a little bag - it was just enough to hold my pursellet sideways, my cell went in the front pocket.

Lately, I've been thinking on that pouch concept and wanted to take it further. I started yesterday and finished it today.

This is the view looking inside. I made it to hold my pursellet and I made inside back pockets to hold my cell phone and my camera (that gray phone on the right is just for show - I was using my camera to take pics).

This is looking down at it without holding it open - not bulky at all. I thought of putting a snap for a closure, but I really don't need it, it's so close to my body nothing can fall out nor can anybody steal anything.

This is where the front meets the strap. I used large split rings, I wanted the strap to be a little articulated and the split rings work perfectly. The fanny pack straps I've made in the past weren't articulated and there was a little stress in that area.

Here is the back view - a little crooked as I took this pic myself.

Here I am sitting down - it doesn't get in the way.

Here - I am wearing a short jacket.

This is a side profile - I made the bottom 2 inches wide to accommodate what I want to carry. 

There no room for other stuff (well maybe a pen), but that's the way I wanted it. I like to just drop and go when I use my bag and this will be perfect. I am so pleased at how this turned out - I just took the blue bag that used to be a pouch and turned it on it's side and took it from there. I am thinking tho, it could use some color at the top edge, maybe a border of red? I don't know - I'll think about it, but it's pretty cool huh?

Thanks for reading!!

08/21/13 Update: I did add a strip of red to the top - I think it makes it look better. What do you think?

Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this post or any of my other posts. Thanks!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Different Way to Cook Rice

I was watching Sara Moulton on TV on day and she cooked this recipe. It looked like a very yummy recipe to try and it's on my list of things to cook, but what intrigued me the most was that she said in all her years of cooking, she has a hard time cooking rice - it never comes out right. She show her method of cooking rice and I think it's brilliant! Basically, she cooks her rice like pasta - she fills a pan with water, no set amount, and gets it boiling. After boiling, she adds the amount of rice she wants to cook and lets it boil for 17 minutes. After, you just strain in a colander and its ready to eat! You don't have to wait for it to set or anything. The grains are fluffy and separated.

I decided to give this a try, I used a two quart sauce pan and put water in about 3/4's of the way up and put a lid on it (boils faster) and let it come to a boil, I had it on medium high heat (make sure you have enough water or it will turn into risotto rice). After coming to a boil, I took off the lid and poured the rice in and stirred it to prevent clumping - Sara added salt, but I don't. I just let it boil for 17 minutes.

After 17 minutes, I poured it in a colander and let it drain.

This is what was left in the pot after dumping out the rice - A LOT of starch! If you have issues with rice, this could probably be the problem.

After rinsing out the pot, I put the rice back in and let it sit on the warm burner as I served dinner - no waiting!

Here is a mini video of the rice two days after the rice was cooked - this is straight from the frig, cold! See how well it separates? It's not stuck together and clumpy like usual.

For a while now I have been avoiding rice at home - I only eat it occasionally (I am part Asian and I grew up eating rice for three meals). Rice has been causing my blood sugar to spike and it gives me a really full, bloated feeling. Plus, I have a tendency to eat too much rice when the protein I'm eating is really good - I've been eating quinoa instead, which has been a great substitute for me. In my opinion, this is the best way to cook rice - you are basically boiling out the starch and dumping it out out when you pour out the rice in the colander. In the traditional way of cooking, either by stove top or rice cooker, the starch is contained and gets absorbed back into the rice (plus, you have to wait about five minutes before eating for the rice to set) - cooking this way eliminates all of that! I believe that this starch has been causing my issues. Also, with this process, you don't have to fuss about the right ratio of water to rice - you just fill the pot as if you were cooking pasta - easy peasy! I've eaten this rice for two days with no problems. You basically monitor the rice for 17 minutes, then when it's done - you eat it! There is no wait time, the rice is is nice and fluffy. This is the way I'm going to cook rice from now on. So, if rice cause you stomach distress or other problems, try this method and see how it works for you.

Thanks for reading!!!

08/16/13 Update: I tried this with brown rice and it worked, you just have to adjust your cooking time - I cooked mine for about 40 minutes. Test taste it every 5 minutes or so (keeping track of your time) and when it's just, that's the time you use from then on. Rice was toothsome like it should be and nicely fluffy and separated like the white rice.

09/08/13 Update: This method works great with quinoa also!

Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this post or any of my other posts. Thanks!