Humble Ideas, Humble Holidays

It’s the summer holidays here and as a lone parent to a 6 year old boy I have company for the next 6 weeks.  Paying upfront for 6 weeks of childcare while I work is virtually impossible financially. Dexter’s absent biological father has recently decided he will go to all lengths to avoid any sort of maintenance contributions, which has made life pretty tricky, as we all know children are super expensive.  Still, I was thankful for the support for the short while I had it and now its time to get my size 12 arse in gear and make HumbleIdeas work so that I can provide the best possible future for my son.

We’ve come to an agreement that if I work in the mornings then it’s Dexter and Mum time in the afternoon. I am actually amazed how well it’s turning out so far, he has been so good either helping me or occupying himself (mostly) and then come 1pm it’s ofski into the big wide world.

 

We are so very lucky to live in Sunny Eastbourne, and although with our slightly red tinged hair and pale complexions we are wilting a fair bit, we have had some lovely times, up the hills, enjoying the sea, foraging for random fruits, seeing friends and passing time in Granddad’s garden.

Dexter has been helping me post my parcels whilst also acquiring lots of post office stickers in addition to randomly asking if he can have my latest makes, including interlabial pads curiously ….. sometimes don’t you just wish someone else was around to witness? He did get his own pair of cat pants though, they look supercute. I have the grown up version in the same cat fabric.  In my boy’s head he is also making things to sell and often sits next to me cutting up scraps or sewing scraps together to make interesting looking bags. I love that he’s also got the creative genes. He tried to pay in a shop a few days ago with money he made himself too….. I love the reaction of the shopkeeper. I probably shouldn’t have said to him “ok then, go and see if she’ll accept it”. Haha he wouldn’t have it that it wasn’t legal tender and had to learn the hard way.

Business carries on as usual and so far I have made unpaper kitchen towels, little wipes, period underwear or period panties, as many call them, oh and some rather lovely little wet bags out of some of the babywearing fabric offcuts I used to use in my old business. I’m super pleased with the wet bags, they look like little purses, but they aren’t. I’d be happy to carry one around.

So, what am I planning and what have I been asked to do? Well, firstly I had a large parcel go missing and stupidly I posted in the post box over the road without being signed for or with proof of delivery, lesson learned I think. So, I need to remake that order and also rethink my postal strategies. Thankfully, I buy most of my fabrics by the bolt or half bolt and I did have some in stock, a couple of heavy black period panties and some of my beeswax items. The lady who ordered has been super nice and we are working together to put things right by the time she is back from holiday (eek).

I’ve had another lady message me asking for some sort of basket to put family cloth in, to coordinate with some of my other items for around the home. I’ve had something on my mind like this for a while, but have been procrastinating…. now I have this down to rather an art form, I can procrastinate for a very long time, until someone pokes me to get on with it. So, I’ve been looking at designs and I think I’ve decided what to go for, so it’s a case of watch this space. The question is, how many cloth wipes do I put in? 20 maybe? We go through 10 at least in a day and that is just with wees.

Another project I have on the go, which I am running a tiny bit late for, is a bit of cross marketing with another business, freshfruitbox. They are based in Eastbourne and I am one of their customers.  I love their fruit and veg and I am happy that they are pesticide, wax and plastic free. I used to be a Riverfords customer, and loved my organic veg, but I dated the delivery driver and really shouldn’t have and kind of shot myself in the foot there, another lesson learned. I didn’t find another veg box as good, well, until I found freshfruitbox. See, It’s the pesticides I don’t like, I don’t like the idea of them building up inside our bodies, I also don’t like all the plastic containers you get from fruit and veg in the supermarket, plus it saves me a fortune, because I always go shopping hungry and buy lots of rubbish when I go, so this is a time saver, a planet saver, keeps us healthy and will hopefully help regulate the amount of junk I eat, which as someone who is hypothyroid it really is quite important health wise. One of the things I found frustrating when having my freshfruitbox was the brown bags they used always split, especially if the produce was slightly damp. I’d unpack and I will get potatoes all over the floor. 1st world problems, I know. Anyway, I thought I’d make them some fabric bags so that they can reuse with their loyal customers. If they can reuse boxes, why not reuse bags too. Plus, I’m planning on making a simple line of produce bags, so this promotion could work really rather well. This is tomorrow’s job, with Dexter’s help, of course.

So, that’s cloth wipes, unpaper towels, remake of lost order, bags for freshfruitbox and produce bags. Anything else? by Jove, Yes! Did any of you know that I make fabric Art? Well, I do and I’m hoping to add a section for sale here on my Humble Ideas website. I’ve been working on a few sketches and will try and complete a few thread paintings over the next few weeks. Thread painting is pure indulgence. I don’t need a social life, no I don’t. I just need lots of cups of tea and free motion embroidery to keep me happy. This is possibly why I may stay single forever, because of my relationship with my Bernina…. no man can complete. Haha. I’m a simple soul…… do you think I’ve planned enough yet to keep me going until School is back?

Blimey, I almost forgot beeswax wraps. Now, do you remember me saying I work with Jennifer, from WaywardBee? Well, she provides me with ethical sustainable beeswax for my wraps. If you haven’t read my post on my journey to Beeswax wraps then please do. The Bees and Jennifer give me what is reasonably available, working with the bees at a foremost for their happiness. The bees had given me a reasonable amount to get me started, but during the summer, like the honey, the wax becomes thinner, so there isn’t so much, or it’s not so easy to melt down. Plus, Jennifer also finds that honey with beeswax in the summer is a treat for some so she sells it along with her free-range eggs and art classes. The beeswax is so fine that you can actually eat the wax in addition to the honey. Honestly, you should have seen Dexter’s face when I gave him his nightly spoon of honey in honeycomb, it was as though I’d asked him to eat an alien. I give Jennifer’s honey to him for his hayfever in addition to helping with friendly bacteria for gut health, something like an probiotic, which apparently research is saying is the root of all our health problems….. we are what we eat, folks! In that case, I’d be a giant bag of crisps…. Hurry up Walkers and bring back paper crisp packets, stop my crisp addiction guilt of all those packets going into landfill. I’m off on one again, aren’t i? The wax, anyway, I’m taking a little break while the bees work their stuff and Jennifer is going to see if she can get me a decent amount to work with again in September. This amount could be anything between 400g to 1kg, lets see. I would imagine this may be the last lot before we all start prepping for winter, bees included, afterall they need their honeycomb and honey to survive the long winter.

Well, my boy is snooring in the next room. I’m in the hallway on my desk, which is also where I sew as I’ve a bright velux window which brings in a magical amount of natural light. My cup of redbush has just one mouthful left and I’m thinking of raiding the kitchen for munchies, which I really shouldn’t as it’s just a sign of tiredness. My brain says have a carrot the rest of me says eat the hobnobs (well, Aldi’s version, which I think are just as good).

Night night all, speak soon.

The Humble Journey to Beeswax Wraps

Being an ecologically minded individual and following the worlds ever saturated issue with plastic it got me thinking one day, when I ran out of clingfilm…. there must be an alternative. So, that’s where I began my internet search and I found clingfilm alternatives.

The two alternatives I was looking at were silicone wraps and beeswax wraps. I’m a natural researcher and wanted to find the most sustainable alternative. Silicone is a very popular idea, but, and now this is a big but, silicone, although food safe, non toxic and easily recycled, once it’s produced it doesn’t degrade, so here we have a similar problem as plastic (but without the toxicity) that once something is made from it, it never goes away. So this rules silicone wraps out, despite them looking rather cool and interesting. Plus, I have silicone ice pole molds and those tend to split after a while, so I’m guessing that the covers might too and then it’s only option is either burning it and letting off silica fumes, burying it in landfill, or recycling. Ruling these out, I looked at the other popular option, beeswax wraps.

I am a big fan of fabric, I do have an addiction and I feed my addiction regularly, sustained by my business. Ahem, I digress…. so, beeswax wraps are made from thin cotton fabric with melted beeswax, tree rosin and jojoba oil. You can store items in them, or cover pots with them and the wax forms a seal using the warmth of your hands. They are compostable, can be used for 6 to 12 months, the wax can be reset and they work! Cool, very cool in fact, so then I started looking into Bees and Beekeeping, how wax is produced established that I really didn’t like the idea of traditional beekeeping methods. For example, why cut of the queen bee’s wings to stop her from swarming? Surely this goes completely against nature, and it’s definitely not fair to completely clear the hive of wax and honey just before winter. I really, was not enjoying what I was finding and I did know that vegans have been on the fence about this, whether honey was an acceptable product because of it’s production.

Then, when researching beekeeping further I stumbled upon there was another way, a kinder way, and ethical way of beekeeping and I wanted to learn more. This is when I put out a call to the universe for a local Ethical Beekeeper to work with, or at least buy from. I like to deal with people face to face if I can, also, it keeps mileage and transportation down, supports local businesses/practices, which is very important for the local economy, etc, etc. You get where I’m coming from.

My first call was a fella who lives down my road, called Dietmer, who is trying to set up the Bourne Coin. I had found out about it via my network and he lived a few doors down so I was naturally curious about him and what he was doing locally. He was really nice, and said he would ask about, I think he said something about speaking to local beekeepers in Eastbourne, and to leave it with him. I dropped him in a beeswax sandwich wrap as a thank you… It was a large one as i reckon he looks like he likes proper decent sized sandwiches…. he just chuckles when I see him;  I do hope he liked his little gift.

When I’ve got a bee in my bonnet (excuse the pun) I can get a bit impatient, like a lot of us, and so I put the feelers out on the internet, including my ThePadLadyUK business facebook page, where I communicate with my likers and let them know new products being listed on Etsy. My idea of producing a local ethically sourced sustainable beeswax plastic alternative product was growing. I bought some wax and the other ingredients to make some trial ones and the result was good, I gave some to a few friends to try and they liked them too, but I really wasn’t happy with using wax from bees who were compromised…. I’m still not happy I made that purchase…. for that I am truly sorry bee population of Livemoor.

So here we are, one of my followers tagged local sustainable, ethical beekeeper Jennifer Moore, who runs Wayward Bee. We chatted about my  Beeswax Wrap idea and then she invited me to come see her at her home, where she can talk me through her processes, how she works with the bees, educate me on her intuitive style of beekeeping and to try some of her wax if I was happy…. and guess what? I was! I was completely happy with Jennifer’s way of keeping bees and even better, I liked and respected her as a person. She, in turn, had been looking at ways of using her beeswax as she didn’t want to waste it. Always a bonus.

This wax was so completely different to the pellets of the livemoor wax, it was raw and it smelt beautiful. The chunky hand melted chunks of raw wax had natural propolis that hadn’t been filtered out and was much stickier.  I think the term Jennifer used for this propolis and natural raw bee stuff is gubbins, which still makes me chuckle. Don’t worry, most of the gubbins is left at the bottom of the saucepan, it doesn’t go into the wraps and being an attempted zerowaste business what gubbins doesnt melt gets turned into fire fuel and firelighters, but that’s another topic altogether.

After a few trial runs I found that I needed to adjust my recipe purely because it was much stickier. I wanted sticky, but not too sticky. the 50/50 recipes were too much stick anyway, in my opinion. This is actually great news, because it reduces the amount of tree rosin used and although this is food grade and seen as safe some people aren’t great fans. I get this….. keep the product as natural as possible.

The amount produced of this wax is really not much, so far this year, Easter to July, the Bees have only let me have approximately 1.5kg, which sounds a fair bit, but it really doesn’t go that far, but that’s the thing about working with the bees rather than raiding their hive, it’s like helping them with their housekeeping and giving them a little extra space two work with. Well, this is my impression, and but I’m not a trained beekeeper, Jennifer from WaywardBee is…. did I mention she runs courses in sustainable, ethical beekeeping? She does, look her up if you are interested. She tells me she’s also writing a book, which will be rather cool to read. With an arts background Jennifer will be doing all the illustrations herself too…. my goodness, what a multifaceted lady… She’s pretty cool and I’m very lucky to have found her just up the road.

So, there we have it, my road to researching and making ThePadLady HumbleIdeas Local Ethical and Sustainable Beeswax wrap products. Now you know why mine are a little different to some of the others, but that’s nice…. It’s makes you feel good when you buy from someone who has the bees interest at heart. Afterall without bees the world would be in trouble.  I also make sandwich and snack bags and wraps. Supercool they are, I’m converted, are you?

If you’d like to buy any of my wraps, then feel free to contact me direct, or I have a little Etsy Shop and the wraps are here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ThePadLady?search_query=Beeswax

Period Pants (or Period Panties)

Period Pants!…. (now I’ve got your attention):

Period pants, period knickers, period panties…. Oh goodness, I hate the word panties, but it does seem to be the term associated with period pants, unfortunately, it reminds me of the 90s and those tiny little thongs with synthetic fabrics and lace that cut you in two or the name people use for knickers, attempting to be provocative, but just ending up being cringeworthy because it is also reminiscent of the terms used for which these things are a very fine line..… ahem, I digress, anyway Period pants, what are they? As The Pad Lady I get asked this a fair bit, so what better place to start with this topic for my blog.

Period pants are the knickers you save for your period, but they are not those manky 6 year old baggy Marks and Spencers hip huggers saved for that time of the month. No, no, no, no, period pants are pants which are a form of protection allowing you to free bleed during your period into a reusable and washable pad. This pad, made with a layer or two of absorbent fabric and a waterproof layer, is sewn directly into your underwear.  They are brilliant as a cup back up, or if your period is unpredictable and you don’t want to be caught out, if you have light bladder weakness when you laugh, stand up or sneeze, or if you’ve a not too heavy flow then they are great for all the way through…. Just change your pants as you would a pad.

So, what makes The Pad Lady’s period pants so great? Well, we are now at a time where reusable menstrual products are becoming more commonplace. The fact that half of the population bleeds every month is not as taboo as it once was, this is also a time where the world needs to reduce its waste and where we are awakening by not only what we put into our bodies, but also what we wear on our bodies and how it affects us, with regards to menstrual items, this is particularly so and is surrounded by many contentious issues. The Pad Lady’s period pants are simply lovely, well fitting handmade pants made from cotton, well, cotton mixed with a bit of lycra or spandex, and they are also adapted from the SUAT scrundies pattern, which we all know is the comfiest pants pattern known to woman. Period pants (or period panties) need to feel nice, they need to look nice, it’s a time we are sensitive, we’re emotional, we feel vulnable and body conscious, we hurt, we ache, we’re hormonal, so if anything is uncomfortable or doesn’t quite fit properly at that time, it will be noticed …. To me, ThePadLady, it makes sense to adapt the pattern for cloth menstrual underwear, besides the cloth pad community have already adopted scrundies as their underwear of choice to wear with cloth pads, they are already ingrained in the community, they give great coverage, they look and feel great, so it makes sense. I’m not the only maker who makes from this stitch upon a time scrundies pattern, but I am one of a few in the UK at this present time (Waves to the other makers).

Another question I get asked is how to wash the pants and what to do with its contents. Well, you first rinse the period pants with cold water, or soak, then pop into your washing machine, with your normal wash (minimal conditioner) and then line or low tumble dry.  Seriously, it’s not as gross as you’d first think… trust me, I’m a convert too.  I find, personally, it humanises your period, it’s more respectful as you’re not just throwing your uterus lining away on a plastic coated bleached sticky thing which stays in landfill for like a zillion years. I’ve known some people of the cloth pad community take it one step further, after all this blood was once part of your body, a celebration of womanhood, so they collect it and water their plants with it on a full moon…. Yes, you heard right…..And why not, it’s more sustainable than feeding your tomato plants regular plant food, it’s cheaper and it contains some amazing nutrients…. I bet you’d get some beautiful fruit from your fruits.

On that note…. More on this subject later. It’s Saturday night and I’ve spent the week making Unicorn Scrundies and Period Pants (or period panties, ugh, that term)and I’m mostly happy with them, they look super cool and will make their owners smile (I hope) and feel a little less uncomfortable when they use them (for whatever purpose). I’ll be listing on Etsy tomorrow, fingers crossed. I make every pair myself despite currently working on a home sewing machine and overlocker who are, by the end of the working day,  shouting “Help Me, I’m not supposed to work this hard, or this fast”…… I really need to get industrial machines and there would be a lot less frustrations, problem is, where to put them, as I live and work in a top floor flat and how to finance them (watch this space).  My machines and OBSESSION with sewing machines through the times, with their different makes and functions will, I’m sure, become clear in future articles.  Anyway, I’m off on one again…..Speak soon. Rebecca (ThePadLadyUK).