Elizabeth: Nothing’s Ever Wasted

A random pile of fabric scraps that I was able to turn into something useful

Well, okay, technically that’s not true.  Lot’s of things are wasted.  But sometimes those things we think we should just throw away can actually come in pretty handy.

As I’m sure you are aware, one recent suggestion in the ongoing battle against the current health pandemic is to wear cloth masks when you need to be out and about around other people.  Masks are, however, in short supply.  Hospitals and medical systems have spent the last weeks (maybe longer) trying to find enough of them to keep their doctors and nurses safe as they treat their patients.

Fortunately, as a member of the general public, we don’t really need a professional high-grade mask for those infrequent trips to the grocery or drug store.

Cue the home-made mask bonanza.

The health system I work for has been inundated by kindhearted souls wanting to make and donate masks for anyone who doesn’t need one of the high-grade masks.  So many people have reached out to donate that there is a special email box and a dedicated group of individuals responding to all of the outreach, and thousands and thousands of masks have been sent in (and are in use).

Trapped home this past rainy weekend I thought, “I could do that,” and set out to rummage through the craft-cupboard in the garage (yes, I have a craft-cupboard-doesn’t everyone?) for supplies.  I wasn’t sure exactly what was out there, but as it turns out, there was plenty of fabric, elastic, bias tape, and even a package of pipe-cleaners (used to make the nose-bridge of the masks).

Many of the supplies I found were actually from my mom’s house – stuff that I had inherited and not thrown away because “it might be useful someday.”  I’m now patting myself on the back for that choice.  I was pretty sure I could figure out how to make a mask, but watched a few YouTube videos just to make sure.  As a rough guess, I’d say there are about 24,339 videos out there showing you how to make masks–all of them with slight variations of the same idea–some requiring sewing and some not.

The net result is a stack of masks that I can use when I go out and can share with others who need them.  At least one mask already came in handy:  I traded one to a friend for some baking power (I can’t believe I ran out!).

I was thinking about this–the masks, not the baking powder–when I was out for my daily no-human-contact walk around my local park this evening.  Crafting supplies aren’t the only things I don’t throw away because the might be “useful some day.”

When it comes to writing, I do the same thing.  Although my editing process often, to my dismay, involves cutting out large chunks of laboriously drafted text, I never throw the outtakes away.  Words that don’t make the final cut go off in a document where they just might find a second life in some other story.  If nothing else, reading through the bits and pieces that have been pruned from others stories can sometimes trigger new ideas.

Eight Lady Jeanne mentioned a short while back that she had prune a chunk from the story she was working on, but thought it might make a good stand-alone giveaway piece to use for marketing.  That’s a great way to turn words that might have initially seemed “wasted” into something useful.

I’m currently “re-purposing” a story draft I wrote a few years back.  It the initial story was a rather lighthearted contemporary but I just wasn’t happy with how it turned out.  Now I’m looking at it with more of a “women’s fiction” mindset, and I think that suits it better.  I’m currently pruning away large swaths of words to get to the story’s basic framework.  It’s painful, but I’m sure I’ll be able to find some use for all of the words that don’t make the cut this time around.

So, how about you?  What have you been able to put to good use lately?

The end result

6 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Nothing’s Ever Wasted

  1. What lovely masks those are! I was a little daunted when I learned that you’re supposed to wash it after you go out in one. I’d been wearing a cotton scarf over my face when I went for a walk. My neighborhood practices pretty good social distancing, so when I learned about the washing, I stopped wearing the scarf for the walk. Sounds pretty lax of me, but I’ll wear a clean cotton one over my face when I go to the store tomorrow. I think wearing a mask is more important when you’re closer to people. I often don’t even see more than two or three people when I’m out for my walk.

    As for using everything up, my milk had gone sour, so I made a batch of banana bread and a chocolate cake. I’m sure there’s something nutritious I can do with sour milk, but I decided now was not the time to discover what that item might be. The chocolate cake is delicious, if I do say so myself.

    • Thanks Kay. I now have a new appreciation for people who wear masks on a regular basis. When I wore mine on my trip to the grocery store to get milk, my glasses kept fogging from my warm breath escaping out of the top. At least I felt like I was doing my part to prevent the spread. I just remembered that I have a pile of white cotton undertaker-gloves (don’t ask). Maybe I should wear a pair of those when I’m at the store next–who knows how many other people have touched the products I wind up buying.

      Chocolate cake sounds like a great thing to make and I’m glad it is delicious. Pretty sure chocolate cake makes everything better. I made Mandelbrodt–a dessert I usually make around Christmastime that’s kind of like a soft, raisin, jam, and nut-filled biscotti. It also is delicious, if I do say so myself. I do seem to be running low on actual food though, so I might need to plan an excursion to the grocery store within the next day or so.

        • I’ve been making it for years and giving it away at the holidays. I only recently started actually eating it myself and, if I do say so, it *is* delicious. Not sure why I never ate it before.

  2. Your masks are so pretty! I managed to mooch some from my daughter’s neighbor, so my non-existent crafting skills will not be put to the test. (I don’t own a sewing machine. Why would I?)

    My repurposing skills have been focused on making sure that all the food that comes into this house actually gets eaten, in one form another. I steam broccoli for dinner and the leftovers are chopped and combined with eggs and cheese to make broccoli muffins for breakfast the next day.

    • Thanks, Jeanne; glad you liked them. No need for you to own a sewing machine–I own enough for the two of us.

      Your food repurposing skills sound great. I must admit to a little curiosity about broccoli muffins though. I don’ think I’ve ever heard of them but, since I like both muffins and broccoli, i’m guessing they are tasty.

Let Us Know What You Think

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s