Origami Bookmark With Tray Liner

Origami Bookmark With Tray Liner // Mono + Co

These origami papers are not what they seem.  The Minion themed tray liners from a popular fast food restaurant are too pretty to be recycled into paper pulp.

After trimming them to square sheets, I proceed to turn them into bookmarks.  Catching up with a novel or two is a great luxury during the school holiday, so these will definitely come in handy when left on the coffee or bedside table.

Origami Bookmark With Tray Liner // Mono + Co

I folded these bookmarks with instructions here, here, and here.

Origami Bookmark With Tray Liner // Mono + Co Origami Bookmark With Tray Liner // Mono + Co

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Blue Butterfly Pea Flower Lemonade

Blue Butterfly Pea Flower Lemonade // Mono + Co

My blue butterfly pea flower lemonade has a lighter hue than what you’ll see here and here.  These recipes state to steep the flowers in boiling water first to allow the blue pigment to be extracted before adding the juice of a lemon and transform the blue tea purple.

I prepared mine in a different order: squeeze the juice of a lemon into a glass first, followed by adding ice cubes that has been frozen with the flowers inside each of them.  This method suits me better since I prefer my lemonade really sour with little dilution. By the time all the ice cubes has melted, at least the drink still stay tasting like lemonade.

Blue Butterfly Pea Flower Lemonade // Mono + Co

I started freezing these blue flowers in my ice cube tray when I ran out of ideas what to do with them as they continue to bloom.  I have since brewed them as hot blue tea, dye a cotton hankerchief into a lightest shade of blue (the color has since faded after a few washing), and conducted a self-learning calligraphy lesson in, you guessed it, blue ink.

Blue Butterfly Pea Flower Lemonade // Mono + Co

This is a great way to preserve the blooms and make pretty drinks.  If you let these ice cubes melt on counter, you will get a puddle of blue ink which you can subsequently use for your favorite  crafting ideas with blue pigment.

Blue Butterfly Pea Flower Lemonade // Mono + Co

Blue Butterfly Pea Flower Lemonade // Mono + Co

Back to my lemonade, as the ice cubes started to melt, the color of the drink slowly turned pink.  It’s so perfect for the warm day!

For the curious ones, this explains the science behind.

Blue Butterfly Pea Flower Lemonade // Mono + Co

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Green Monday : DIY Bath/Foot Soak

Green Monday : DIY Bath/Foot Soak // Mono + Co

After a while, the habit of reading food ingredient label will automatically extend to the body care product section.  With more beauty trends focusing on naturally derived ingredients, I also started making some for my own use with very basic recipes starting with bath and body products.  It’s tempting to stock up on a variety of ingredients to keep up with the huge range of diy bath product recipes available online, but I am determined to stick to what I already have.  Apart from a few types of essential oils, sweet almond oil, and castile soap that I bought last year (Yes! All these lasted me that long!), I got the rest from my kitchen pantry: honey, baking soda, raw sugar, sea salt, coconut oil, oatmeal, apple cider vinegar, etc.  I am very tempted to buy some bentonite clay, but that will probably have to wait until I finish up my jar of store-bought clay mask.

I always tell my friends that they will get a lot more bang for their buck if they make home spa products at home.  Since I am making these products for my own use, chance are I will be super generous with the key ingredients such as honey or olive oil, food grade, no less and sometimes even organic.

I made this “Rosebuds + Himalayan Pink Salt + Epsom Salt” bath soak for a recent vacation and like it so much that I made more back home as a foot soak since I don’t have a bathtub. For this soak, I used a mix of Epsom salt and Himalayan salt, with more of the latter since it is the cheaper of the two.  The rose buds from floral tea section were honestly more for aesthetics purpose, to have an entire bathtub of water smell like rose tea, I will need way more than the 30+ buds that I have added here.  If you have a favorite essential oil that you like, add a few drops of that instead.  The addition of rosebuds is a nice touch if this is put together as a gift.

Green Monday : DIY Bath/Foot Soak // Mono + Co

This 300g bottle of bath/foot soak took me less than 5 minute to diy and cost less me than $2.  Make one for your regular home spa treat, or pack this in your luggage to soothe your aching muscles at the end of the day!

Here are some interesting links that I referred to when I decided on the Epsom and Himalayan salt mix, with some common precaution to note when taking bath soak:

// 2-salt combo mentioned here, here and here as a detox bath

// a pretty gift idea

// Epsom salt with baking soda, also for detox

// precautionary notes here state that Epsom salt are not recommended for patients with high blood pressure or severe varicose veins

// benefits of Epsom salt, and Epsom salt baths here

// or detox with just Himalayan salt

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Green Monday : 327 Days Cotton Tote

Green Monday : 327 Days Cotton Tote // Mono + Co Green Monday : 327 Days Cotton Tote // Mono + Co

Being attractively simple in design, like a blank canvas, there is no lack of cotton tote bags with creative designs for sale in the market.  In fact, cotton tote bags are also popular as corporate gifts and event goodie bags.  So is it better for the environment with more people buying and switching to cotton bags?  It depends.  According to a study by UKEA, a cotton tote bag is more environmentally friendly than a plastic bag only if you use it more than 327 times, given that the carbon footprint emitted by the manufacturing process of a cotton tote is significantly higher than that of a plastic bag.  This means that even if I use the cotton bags every weekend for shopping, that is still only 104 uses/days in a year.  More than 3 years of uninterrupted weekend usage is required before the carbon footprint of the tote bag production can be offset and made comparable to a HDPE plastic bag.  I am not sure if the cotton bags can last that long, but as this article readily pointed out, the ironical thing about cotton totes is that ‘people don’t actually use them.’

Besides having quite a few that I use regularly for grocery shoppings, I also try to use the well-made cotton tote bags stamped with corporate logos more often than they sit in the storeroom.  This can be done by jazzing them up a little to look slightly less like a freebie and more like something from Etsy, with a few embroidery stitches here and some embellishments there.

Cotton tote bags function really well as a weekend carryall tote if you are blessed with a perfect size one like these below.  Luckily, this makeover project is not too tedious given the subtlety of the corporate logo.  I’m sure you can tell where the company logo used to be.  And I managed to keep the rest of the original silkscreen motifs intact which I like very much.  And off they go towards 327 days of usage, hopefully, more.

Green Monday : 327 Days Cotton Tote // Mono + CoGreen Monday : 327 Days Cotton Tote // Mono + CoGreen Monday : 327 Days Cotton Tote // Mono + CoGreen Monday : 327 Days Cotton Tote // Mono + CoGreen Monday : 327 Days Cotton Tote // Mono + Co

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Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

I started making Eco enzyme during Chinese New Year when I cumulated quite a lot of mandarin orange peels.  Eco enzyme is a mixture of 3 ingredients: fresh fruit or vegetable scraps, sugar, and water that goes through 3 months of fermentation and then turns into a vinegar based eco detergent that has many uses around the household.  While finding out how Eco Enzyme works, I read that the term eco enzyme is more of a “colloquial term” than a real enzyme product.

The real enzyme is probably what Tampines estate is using to kill their cockroaches when they recently announced that they will be going the enzyme route as a more effective form of pest control treatment, after a month-long trial last year showed positive results.  I had to admit that I cringed a little when I saw the reporter licking off the enzyme solution from her finger to show that it is edible and completely safe.  Then again, how I wish that everything we wash down our drain should be as safe as this. I always thought that for a population that counts a small part of our drinking water from reclaimed sewage water, we should be more wary of the chemicals that we wash down our drains.  But of course, the water treatment technology is more sophisticated and advanced that I think.  Still, I prefer less harsh chemical detergents around the house, and even better, make one on our own with ingredients that we know are safe.

The Eco enzyme I made is not for consumption purpose.  And there are only 3 steps.  The initial time spent on mixing the ingredients takes less than 5 minutes, then we leave the rest to Science to break down the scraps and turn it into an environmentally friendly household cleaning solution.  Here’s how:

Step 1 : Gather a plastic container with a lid, fresh vegetable and fruit scraps, black or brown jaggery sugar, and water.

Step 2 : Fill up the container with 10 parts water, stir and dilute 1 part sugar, then top with 3 parts of fruit peels and vegetable scraps and stir again to mix well.  Leave enough gap in the covered container for air to expand during the fermentation process.  Cover the container, keep it slightly loose, not screwed too tightly and leave this in a cool area away from the sun for 3 months.

Step 3 : Filter to extract liquid enzyme.  I use a coffee filter bag with wire handle for this job.  Store the Eco enzyme in plastic bottles and dilute according to usage.  The residue that has been filtered out are useful as plant fertilizer.

After reading up, making and applying the Eco enzyme in household cleaning, following are some tips and links that I have penned down/bookmarked during my DIY Eco enzyme journey and hope that you will find it useful as well.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

+ Why plastic container?

Gas will build up during the fermentation process might cause a glass container to explode.  Even though plastic ones are safer, always leave a gap inside the container when filling up the ingredients.  Also, for the first month, open the cover to let build up gas escape every day when fermentation is most active.  On certain days, I can even hear a fizzing sound of air escaping as I  unscrew to open the lid.  After 1 month, check on the eco enzyme once a month.  Stir the solution to keep everything well mixed once a while.

+ Any preferred vegetables or fruits to use?

Citrus based fruit peels make the best smelling eco enzyme.  For my first batch, I added 100% mandarin orange peels.  Later I learned that one of the benefits of making Eco enzyme is to reduce the amount of kitchen waste sent to landfills.  Since scraps like vegetable roots, peels, yellowish leaves are unavoidable, turning them into Eco enzyme instead of throwing them away is a great way to reuse them. I have since been following a 70% fruit to 30% vegetable scrap ratio to keep my final Eco enzyme smelling good and to do my part to ease the landfill load.  However, only fresh scraps can be used.  Do not include cooked leftover vegetable scraps that are uneaten.

+ What are those marking on your container?

That is a method I learned from a DIY workshop ran by this group mentioned in this article to measure the ingredients required for a batch of Eco enzyme without a weighing scale.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Firstly, cut out a strip of thin paper as long as the height of your container without the lid, I always use the newspaper since it is thin enough for me to do multiple folds.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Next, fold it into halves 4 times, so that when you unfold the paper, you get 16 equal parts.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Mark the paper according to the recipe, with 10 parts for water, 1 part for sugar and 3 parts for fruit/vegetable scraps, leaving the remaining 2 parts for an air gap.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Trace the marks onto the bottle.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Then I add the ingredients in this order: 1. pour water till it reaches the marked “water” level, 2. add sugar until it displaces the water to reach the level marked “sugar”, and finally 3. drop fruit peels and vegetable scraps till the liquid level reaches “food”.  Give it a good mix and cover.

+ How does the end product look like?

It should be brownish with a pleasant citrus vinegar aroma.  Filter with a cloth bag to retrieve just the liquid portion and store the Eco enzyme in plastic bottles.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + CoGreen Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + CoGreen Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + CoGreen Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

+ How do you use the Eco enzyme?

I have just harvested my initial batch that yields fewer than 2 litres, too precious to be used nonchalantly.  I am currently using it to mop the floor, cleaning the kitchen counter and as fertilizer for my plants.  This is a list of household uses and dilution instructions for Eco enzyme which I find will come in handy when my next few containers reach their 3-month fermentation target.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Anyone with experience to chip in more?  I find myself barely scratching the surface.  I am lucky that my first few containers fermented without a hitch.  Nothing rot. No terrible smells.  Will update as I go along if there is anything worth a mention, both making and using it.

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Hand Sewn Produce Bag : Plain Design

Hand Sewn Product Bag // Mono + Co

Instead of Tenugui, I hand sewn another version of produce bag with another 100% cotton fabric found under the curtain section of Daiso.  Like the scallop border, so I sew the bag without drawstring loop to keep this design intact and simply seal the sides using the blanket stitch.

Hand Sewn Product Bag // Mono + Co

Reinforce the bag opening by going through the fabric with several repeated stitches using contrasting colored thread.

Hand Sewn Product Bag // Mono + Co

And they turned out nicer than I thought.

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Step-By-Step Guide : Hand Sewn Produce Bag

My hand sewn drawstring bag turned out more useful than I thought.  Originally made to store my homemade bread, I have started using them for buying loose items like dried beans and mushrooms from the dry goods store.  I have also started using them for the fresh produce shop, for broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots, fresh mushrooms….

I used this Tenugui from Daiso, measuring 87cm x 35cm.  Since they already come hemmed at the sides, sewing work is minimal.  I chose to sew a drawstring version so that the produce will not fall out from the bag.  An alternative is bag clip, this will be an even simpler project as there will be no need to sew a loop for the cord.

Fold and iron the shorter sides to create a loop for the string to go through later.

Start sewing.  I sew with a blind/invisible stitch so that the stitches can hardly be seen on the right side of the fabric.

Here is a great instructional video to illustrate the how-to.

If I use white color thread, the stitches will hardly be noticed.  Repeat the series of blind stitch on the other end.

To sew the side seam, I used the blanket stitch.  And here’s another video.

Stop sewing when you reach the loop section.

Repeat for the other side.

Flip the bag out.

I used a safety pin to guide a cotton ribbon through the loop.

Tie a knot with the ends and the cotton drawstring bag is done.  Handwash and line dry before use.

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Hand Sewn Drawstring Bag

Hand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + Co

I wanted to hand sew a drawstring bag to store my home baked bread when these Tenugui with cute animal prints caught my eyes at Daiso.  Made of 100% cotton, these hand towels come in a dimension that is perfect to be turned into a drawstring bag with a few simple folds and blanket stitches without cutting the fabric.

These bags are also in the perfect size for buying in bulk stores for nuts, grains, onions, potatoes, carrots etc.  No more bulky containers when grocery shopping!

Hand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + CoHand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + CoHand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + Co Hand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + CoHand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + Co

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Simple Pleasures

Simple Pleasures // Mono +Co

// these hand-sewn cotton bags for shopping in bulk, sewing more out of excess tea-towels I have at home.

Simple Pleasures // Mono +Co

// this meat-free request at a cafe, it’s getting easier nowadays.

Simple Pleasures // Mono +Co

// shopping for eggs, look ma, no disposable plastics!

Simple Pleasures // Mono +Co

// a foot soak update, less than $2 spent.

Simple Pleasures // Mono +Co

// this sourdough toast, best eaten plain.