Valentine's Day is next week, and people who are much nicer and more romantic than I am will give gifts to their significant others. So this is as good a time as any to talk gift wrap.
I'm ambivalent about wrapping paper, gift bags and other gift wrapping stuff. It's so nice and spirit-lifting to get a package beautifully and thoughtfully wrapped. The moment ends, however, as soon as you tear apart the wrapping paper or yank the tufts of tissue paper out of the gift bag. All too often, the lovely packaging ends up in the garbage. Some conscientious gift-receivers carefully unwrap their presents, being extra careful to pull the tape off without tearing the paper, and then neatly fold it for another use. But let's face it: lots of people don't.
I have a few gift wrap ideas that are cost-effective and perhaps more eco-friendly.
If none of the above mentioned ideas strike your fancy, you could try any of these: reusable shopping bags, tote bags, newspaper or comics pages (recyclable), teacups, mugs or photo boxes. There are lots of ways to make your presents look pretty without spending much money or creating much waste.
Mrs. Bristol Cuts Ham (from old-photo.com)
Before grocery superstores were a quick drive away and take-out was a quick phone call away, people had to carefully plan their eating. Cost and versatility were important considerations. People had to work with what was available from their local grocer, butcher and baker.
I've been thinking a lot about this lately. Approaching eating in this way forces you to slow down. First of all, you must take time to plan: determine what and how much you can make with what's available. You need to carve out a pretty good chunk of time to shop. And then of course you need time to prepare the food. Preparing and eating food this way seems so much healthier: it involves less rushing around, gives you a deeper appreciation for your ingredients and the people who've prepared them, and is more cost effective.
So in my own life, I've been trying to go more old school with managing the household food supply. It's less complicated for me because my household is small: just my husband and me. Since I've been planning a bit more carefully, we have both noticed a positive difference in our culinary lifestyle. We eat waaaay better, for less money, and spend more time eating together.
One thing I'm learning is how to use meat more resourcefully. Instead of buying small packages of meat, I've tried buying larger cuts and using them in multiple ways. One of my favourites - especially for winter - is a hefty bone-in ham. I usually buy a half, weighing between 7 and 10 lbs. (I'm guessing), and I can get about five meals out of it. I start with this awesome recipe: Old-Fashioned Ham with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze. After smelling it cook all afternoon, we'll have some for dinner, and then I have tons left over. I put some in the fridge for the next few days for lunches and meals, and some goes in the freezer. Here are some of the things I've done with the leftovers:
Give it a try yourself and have a ham.
In any studio, organization is a continuous process. I constantly tweak my workspace to make it more efficient, comfortable and navigable.
On my desk is a flower pot in which I keep all my paper cutting tools, and it has always been a mess. One day, I was Googling around, and I stumbled on some posts and photos about organizing stuff with empty toilet paper rolls. Aha! This would be the perfect solution! So I dumped out all my tangled tools, and put four empty toilet rolls inside the pot, and voila!, it was divided into nice neat sections. Now I have easy-to-find sections for (going clockwise) scissors, my fancy cutting contraptions, punches, and x-acto knives. And there's still room left to hang more punches on the side of the pot. I love this so much: I never have trouble finding my tools. Now I'm going to find some other stuff I can organize with toilet paper rolls.
Jane Hogeterp Koopman
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