Friday, May 22, 2015

Kitchen Renovations... again

After our big food prep day, we just couldn't bring ourselves to set everything back where it had been. SOMETHING needed to be done to get some more functional pantry space and get my huge, honking microwave off the counter!

I searched online for some microwave carts to replace one of our pantry shelving units, and didn't like what I saw. Baker's racks, however, might give us the depth I was searching for to get the microwave off the counter, and at a MUCH better price.

But sometimes you just get that feeling, and you know what you've got to do. Out the door on a whim to hit the thrift stores. There's one right nearby, but the furniture section is usually a little lackluster. We enjoy going over to a nicer side of town with two major thrift stores, and besides, I just had the feeling that we shouldn't stop nearby first.

We found something we thought we could jerry-rig to work, and went to the next one. Still nothing quite right, and we'd managed to talk ourselves out of jerry-rigging. It was either what we wanted for the space, or buy a baker's rack new. But we also found a small microwave that has all the options we need, and takes up half the counter space. So that was a win, at least.

And then on the way home, defeated by our lack of furniture findings but happy about some books & clothes that found their way home with us, I decided one last ditch stop at the thrift store right by the house. And wouldn't you know it, just then they put out this lovely set of sturdy, deep shelving.


We really wanted the one on the right with the drop-down door, but couldn't figure out how we would use the other one even though it seemed a shame to split them up. Still, we did, and got that honey home and in place. I made that drop-down section a tea & coffee station, right next to the tea kettle and all the goodies inside to make a tasty cuppa. We got all the contents of the old shelves there into it, while still leaving the bottom cabinet section empty! It fit into the same footprint we had open, though we actually lost the 5-inch gap we so mockingly called our broom closet, going from 11-inches deep to 16 inches. 

But then Mr. Moon finally came around to my way of thinking, and we decided to switch out his mom's old sewing cabinet with 5-inch-deep shelves for the other one of these beauties--which again fit perfectly in the same footprint we had for that unit. We decided we'd sleep on it and if the shelves were still at the thrift store when we woke up, we'd get them but if not, then it was not meant to be. 

First thing the next morning, I got myself an iced coffee and we headed out the door. We tried hard not to get our hopes up, but when we saw the other, lonely, formerly-paired shelving unit waiting for us, I'm not sure who was more relieved and excited--us or it! We slid it into the back of the car, butt hanging out just as its mate had the night before, and got it the 15 blocks home and into the living room. "Oh, we might not have time to switch that out today!" we said. "We have Things To Do! Like Laundry!" 10 minutes later, I was too excited and we started swapping out units. 

We got everything from THOSE shelves into the new shelving, and a box that we simply hadn't been able to find room to store yet. We may be using every inch of space, but the room feels more open than it used to--and of course, I failed at getting a good Before picture. 


They flank the liquor cabinet nicely, feel like they were always meant to be that way. They have shelves that hold the tall vinegar bottles right where I want them within reach of me cooking. They hold the gallon vinegar bottles we use to store dry goods in. There's room for our onions, and even the sprouting jar! And best of all: That groom microwave is off the counter.

Because we had coupons, we came in at $75 for this little renovation. A brand-new baker's rack would have cost a minimum of $100, and wouldn't have solved as many problems. All in all, I'm feeling proud of our accomplishments this week. And best of all, next week's prep cook day will be even easier to manage!


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Food Prep Day

A friend and I concocted a scheme to do a bulk food-prep day. She's living in a 300 sq ft apartment with no real kitchen right now, and while she has access to the kitchen in the main house, it comes with strings attached. So, we thought we'd try having her join us for one of our food prep days, which we'd gotten out of the habit of doing anyway. It was fun!

The focus: Get some quick breakfasts into the freezer, and a lunch salad prepped in bulk. Maybe a little something extra for the freezer.

Our menu:

  • Balsamic lentil salad (made with kale to hold up to vinaigrette for a few days)
  • Homemade Egg McMuffins
  • Mini Quiches
  • Shredded chicken (for dumping on salads, quick lunches/dinners). 
We did well! Mr. Moon dragged the microwave out of the kitchen for a little more counterspace, which will soon be available permanently when we build our microwave cart. After I did most of the paper-planning, we put him on knife duty, Friend on assembly duty, and I mostly directed & went to an appointment. We weren't super diligent, we added some stuff at the last minute, but we got everything done in 6 hours--including eating breakfast, lunch, and testing some cocktails. 


All in all I'm expecting a few more of these joint food prep days in our future, and I'm pleased with how it went. I just wish it didn't involve deconstructing and re-arranging our kitchen just to get some more counter space, and completely shutting off the dining room.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

Not a huge change at all, but Mr. Moon got a second job today. Selling restaurant smallwares & appliances at a local restaurant supply store. One day a week for now, but in time there may be more shifts available. Of course, that one shift is Saturdays. Which means that after a hard night at work, and before a hard night at work, he gets to work an extra shift--the day before any potential double shifts at work. On the one hand, it's not yet impacting his days off, but on the other his workweek got a little busier. Nothing to do but redouble our efforts at weekly organization, meal planning & execution.

As it stands, whenever he's had to work early morning shifts on Sundays, we've tended to use it as an excuse to get takeout for dinner. But, at one shift a week of retail income, the extra money being made will barely pay for an increased expenditure of once-weekly take-out (let alone twice-weekly). Instead, it's time to get down to business with some recipes that we can prep ahead & have me turn on the crockpot/rice cooker during his work shift or when I head to pick him up from the night job. And some make-ahead breakfasts & lunches, for that matter!

Some ideas so far have included:
Breakfasts:

  • Porridge oats or rice: Let the oats soak overnight, then have the timer start cooking the oatmeal when we wake up. Top with nuts & craisins, as desired. 
  • Overnight oatmeal: the cold way in mason jars that we can make for a few days ahead. With chia seeds? 
  • Microwave sausage egg muffins: Which we can buy in individual packages but are much cheaper to make at home and not terribly difficult. Either the "protein cupcake" version from my low-carb cookbook, or the fake-McDonald's version I loved in high school.
  • Yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit. 
  • Smoothies, but that's not new. 

Lunches:

  • I'm thinking of the things he's taken to boy scout camp before. Sandwiches, obviously. Handheld fruit like apples & nectarines. Salad? Ummm... 
  • Seriously, we have to figure out lunches he can take to work, this is weird and also a little exciting. To Pinterest! 

Dinners:

  • Anything that I can make in the rice cooker on a standard rice setting, because I can turn it on when I walk out the door and have us walk into a home cooked meal that's ready to eat. 
  • Rice-cooker red beans & dirty rice: Cook up a few pounds of taco meat next time we buy a bunch of ground beef, freeze in 1/2 lb packages. Day of, dump 1 cup rice, 1 cup chicken stock, can of rinsed beans, half cup of salsa, and a pack of taco meat into the rice cooker, turn it on, walk away, done in 35 minutes. 
  • I feel like I have forgotten everything I learned from our busy weeks living with his parents and clearly have to go back to my old entries for ideas. 





Sunday, April 26, 2015

Eat the Larder: 4 week update, & celebrating our progress

We didn't make some kind of massive turn-around on the Eat the Larder challenge this week, but that's no surprise. I took some time to review what we have stores of that we need to be using, and reflect on why we aren't using it. Some of it is because I have a tendency to hoard food that goes way deeper than we'll ever get on this blog. Though I feel like I've touched on some of the reasoning before. Some of it though is because we stocked up on some things when we were working with a MUCH more expansive kitchen at Mr. Moon's parents' house, right before we moved away from it. And of course it's been a whirlwind since then that we're only pulling out of now to take some deep breaths and focus on shaping our lives going forward the way we want them. I'd like to be starting some more/better routines, so we are more practiced at them when the next whirlwind hits us, whatever that may be.

Though, on the topic of better routines, I must say that we, and of course by that I mean mostly Mr. Moon, have gotten SO GOOD about a lot of things. I've managed to take my twice-daily vitamins & meds every day for 46 days straight! That's a LOT better than I've ever done by myself in the last 30 years of life, it was decidedly a team effort.

Also successful team efforts: Weekly meal planning. I know I've been spotty about posting them, but we've been doing great about making them AND sticking to them--and better yet, prepping for them. Breakfasts & lunches have been better, though I don't want to imply we've been bad about them, they just pale in comparison to our dinner planning is all. The general house cleaning has been... if not on schedule, at least at an acceptable level of cleanliness that we can live in it, have people over on a whim, and not send me into a panic attack most days. Following the checklists to improve speed & consistency is our next step.

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What's in the pantry?

It's a lot of grains and beans. I mean I'd say easily, 65-80% grains & beans. If you don't count the open condiments. So many grains. And beans. Let's take a look at my canister collection, for speedy ingredients and things bought in bulk bins.

 Popcorn, red beans, walnut meal, panko, flax seed, Mr. Moon's vanilla granola, wheat groats (cracked wheat?), spirulina, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, rolled oats.
 Spices! Buckwheat, TVP, rolled oats, hidden is soy protein isolate. Second row: Corn starch, AP flour, slivered almonds, corn meal.
 Nutritional yeast, bulgar wheat, Scottish (steel cut) oats.
Black beans, Triticale wheat berries, hummus mix, brown rice.

And then of course the cupboards...
 Mr. Moon has his own cabinet for his food. We eat some of our dinners together, but mostly our meals are different, even though he cooks a lot of them for me. Looks like he's out of ramen and tuna though.
My cupboard. Beans! And tomatoes. And canned meats. I'm out of chicken stock, which is kind of amazing because I accidentally double bought cases of stock a couple months back. Also very low on soups. I'm killing the larder challenge! Just... apparently have a lot more to go.
More of Mr. Moon's foods. Corn meal, irish oatmeal, cornbread mix, tabbouli mix, falafel mix, no idea what that other box is... There's probably enough room to move these down to his cupboard now! And get them out of the cup cupboard.

You see what I mean about the grains? And the beans? Let's go look at the pantry...
 Granulated sugar (we were making kombucha when I stocked up), white rice, split peas, lentils, quinoa, soy beans (which was an ill-advised purchase and now I don't know what to do with them because I keep trying to hide them in things and they're gross).
 So many things omg. Of these two shelves, the top on is his and the bottom one is mine. Top/His food: Baking stuff, cous cous, farina. Bottom/Mine: some tomato sauce & alternative milks, a bunch of pickles & condiments...
 Okay just ignore my finger lol. This shelf is all me again. Green basket is sick tummy basket. Blue basket is baking add-ins. Pinto beans, brown sugar, lavender blossoms, 10-grain cereal mix, what wheat flour, all the pancake mix in the world because I forgot I had one and then we were going camping and then didn't...
 Backups of whole wheat flour, AP flour, TVP.
This whole section is literally just backups of things we have elsewhere.



 We share condiments. Though we have separate peanut butters, because he likes sugary stuff and I don't. But it seemed silly to have two bottles of sriracha, two tapatios, two malt vinegars and two olive oils just because we eat pretty much entirely different foods everywhere else.
Coffee and tea is all me, sports drink and koolaid (which is usually on the gatorade, why is it down there?) is all him. Bottom shelf has my onion collection!

Oof! I can't even get started on the freezer & fridge. Too much for today. But, that's the non-perishables I'm working with to try to get through.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Menu: Apr 20-26, 3-week Update on Eat the Larder challenge




What's on the menu?

Breakfasts: Smoothies, eggs on toast, Turkey "benedict" (I don't like hollandaise on the turkey version, instead using garlic & mayo on the english muffin & adding a tomato slice, but this isn't some Pinterest renaming crap, it's just an aphasia slip-up that stuck).

Lunches: Turkey & roast beef wraps/sandwiches, leftovers.

Snacks: Really not doing great on these.

Dinners:
Monday: Tacos/Nachos! [using up leftovers]

Tuesday: Steak & Broccoli [beef, freezer cooking]

Wednesday: Shrimp (I don't know what kind of shrimp, we'll find out what we're in the mood for that day.) ETA, we ended up with a giant creole-shrimp caesar salad! Bottled dressing, but homemade croutons.

Thursday: Pita Pizza [freezer cooking]

Friday: Rice & beans [pantry cooking]

Saturday: Chili dogs

Sunday: Noodle bowl
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How are we doing on the Eat The Larder Challenge?

Let me tell you how not good we're doing. Epic fail. I mean, we didn't do TOO badly, we didn't stock up on anything new, we just bought as LOT more perishable stuff than I had intended. The steak & broccoli, shrimp, pita pizza, chili dogs & noodle bowl all rely heavily on freezer & pantry items. But, we got lunch meat twice & a bunch of fresh veggies because I just had all these cravings... No, not THOSE kinds of cravings! lol

We will start trying that again next week. I'm going to take this week to really pick through what we have and see what we can make with it. I was going to do that yesterday but we ended up having friends over for wine instead.

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What's on your menu this week? Need planning ideas? I'll be linking up at orgjunkie.com, if you need other ideas!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Organizing Dilemma: Beverages

I like having a coffee & tea station. Everything in one place when we need it. That in mind, we also have a soda maker station, which doubles as cocktailing station, but also has the flavor syrups that go for both soda and coffee. And then of course there's the liquor cabinet... I'd better show you.

Here's our bar with soda maker and cocktailing supplies. The bottom shelf has soda & coffee syrups, and a rack of bitters (because my preferred beverage is plain soda water with a dash of bitters). So of course it makes sense to have those accessible. The middle shelf is canned soda, because I found a great deal and it's like a year's worth of soda--but at that drinking rate, I don't need them that accessible. So I want to put those elsewhere, and we'll get back to that. Top shelf is spare syrups, and that seahakws tin needs something in it so it's useful. It's also getting the flask collection, I just forgot to put that up before I took pictures.

Then there's the liquor cabinet...
 The top section has glassware and liquors.

Bottom section (behind wood doors so it isn't visible) has liqueurs, mixers (which is mostly what I use canned soda for!), empty growlers, and bottled beer. And an empty space where I think I'll put the canned soda from the bar.

This is a set of pantry shelves that kind of got overrun.
The snacks are fine there, aside from escaping their space. The spice rack on the left has been cluttering up the counter, but traded with the rice cooker because I was using it. I'd like to get it living accessible but off the counter! The grapefruit and unpictured cranberry juices are what I stash in my purse for after bloodworm because I tend to faint. So I want them accessible but logically filed. The V8's on the other hand, I probably have one of those a day and sometimes two. I want them VERY accessible. I'm thinking about putting all these int hat middle shelf over the bar, which will make the snacks less annoying too.

This is our Coffee/Tea station, which needs some TLC.

Two issues: 1,
It needs to be organized. But two,

This is what one end of my counter looks like and I want it decluttered. The rice cooker belongs back on its shelf, but that brings the spice rack back out. I was thinking about putting the tea kettle out on the bar and moving the currently-open coffee & tea to those shelves instead of here. I'm just not certain there's enough room for all that, but I could always have the snacks and beverages switch kitchen shelves so the beverages will be next to the bar and the snacks next to the counter. And I'm wary of the fact that puts Mr. Moon making coffee over carpet.

It's like, I want my stuff to be accessible for how we use them and look nice at the same time. Why is this so hard?!

Friday, April 3, 2015

April is the Eat from the Larder Challenge

The Challenge:

Northwest Edible Life has a yearly Eat from the Larder challenge in April. I only read about it on April 1, but it had been a half-assed goal of ours anyway so I jumped onboard.

Their rules are a ZERO dollar food budget and no intentional stocking up ahead. Of course without any forewarning I couldn't possibly have intentionally stocked up ahead, but I'm not interested in a $0 grocery budget--just cleaning out some of our excess pantry storage and being a little creative. We're having an issue with our freezer & fridge that requires us to minimize our perishable food stock before fixing it, besides the excessive collection of condiments and pickles in there.

Our Rules:

  • No purchasing non-perishable food items. 
  • Minimal purchase of perishable items. 
  • No opening of new condiments if they can be avoided (until after the fridge is fixed, whether that's in two weeks or May). 
  • Be creative! 


Keep it simple, right? Bonus goals:
  • Use every gadget in the kitchen. NO NO NO NOT ALL AT ONCE. 
  • Make at least one menu item each week that we haven't made in 6 months (totally arbitrary numbers, I just want to get out of a rut). 
  • New recipes are awesome. 
  • Be able to fit all the non-perishable foods in the food pantry shelves & designated cupboards. 
  • Get all the bulk-food items switched from bags to proper food storage containers. 

What's the point?

NWEdible Life's goals are to pare down stores before the summer harvest & storage season. For us, it's practicing a little creativity and moderation. Our balcony garden isn't even planted for the season yet, and it's all herbs anyway, so there's not much harvest storage space required for that. We'd mostly like to make sure we're continuing to learn and hone new skills that would be beneficial in a long-term homesteading situation. We may not have the property and garden and "larder" now, but we'll be learning a lot of new skills once we do, so it seems reasonable to work on skills we can do now so we can best take advantage of different learning opportunities in the future. And of course, fitting into our available space (not being overstocked) is an issue. 

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Are you joining the challenge? Looking forward to a new growing season? Trying out new recipes? Just hoping to get through the week with your family managing to eat most of their meals? 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Laundry Meets Kitchen: degreasing unpaper towels

I went paper-towel free, officially, about 4 years ago. I'd been weaning off them for years, but living with my Gran meant I didn't have the authority to make that decision for the house.

At the time, we purchased a 25-pack of bar towels and a bunch of cloth napkins. White, not-quite-square, durable terrycloth; and a bunch of mismatch cloth napkins ranging from "brought home some bread wrapped in a napkin from the restaurant in my purse" to "I found these 12 hand-stitched cotton napkins for a dollar and they match my kitchen." Spoiler alert, I love those matching cotton ones the best, not least because they are so clearly made with love, but also because they're so immediately absorbent so when you have greasy food on your hands it cleans right up--unlike the weird shiny ones from the restaurants that just sort of smear food around and water beads up on instead of absorbing.

We also around this time bought a pack of washcloths for cleaning to get rid of the nasty sponges molding all over the apartment. White for countertops, green for kitchen, blue for bathrooms, yellow for "Gross." They were cheap, they didn't last long, and that's okay. They all got relegated to the "gross/floor" pile when I got some replacements. Which were purple. And shrunk to 1/3 their original size when washed once. Which stained the white counter towels a lovely lavender. ARGH.

We sucked it up for a couple years, but over time even the counter cloths were getting kind of gross. Stained, and we could never get the grease entirely out from just general food cleanup. So for our wedding, we bought a new, nice white pack of bar towels, our friends who were catering used them, and then we graduated everything down a step.

But I still wanted a way to clean the gross ones. Even the icky-jobs towels don't work if they don't absorb anything, and they were transferring that grease around in the laundry to the new counter cloths and the hand towels! Regular laundry soap wasn't cutting it, homemade laundry soap wasn't cutting it, no baking soda-vinegar combo breaker seemed to help, oxyclean was just not enough, and I was getting mad. It was almost like they were absorbing more soap than getting clean.

Last night the mister said he was ready for the load of kitchen towels (which gets washed about every 6 weeks) and asked what to soak them in, so we decided to pull out the big guns. Keep in mind, we're discussing a load of laundry the size of a milk crate.

  • 1 tbls dish soap, to degrease
  • 1/2 cup baking soda, because if it works on a casserole dish it's worth trying--and to cut the suds from the dish soap
  • 1 scoop oxygen cleaner, to help break down the organic components
  • 1/2 cup homemade laundry soap (fels naptha, washing soda, borax). 
Soaked overnight, washed as a large load (for extra water) on hot. 

They came out beautifully. Sure, they're stained, they've been used and we eat a lot of tomato sauce. But they're soft instead of stiff, and they absorb water immediately. No fussing around. No excess sudsing in the HE washer, either, I'm glad to report. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Quick & Dirty: Make gift-giving easier with color-coded wrapping paper

The rule in our house has always been, "Those who don't believe in Santa don't receive gifts for Christmas." So it stands that at 30 & 33, my brother and I have never uttered words that might indicate Mr. Claus might possibly be imaginary, and certainly not in front of our mother. Magic, bringing gifts for parents to wrap (those overworked elves, you know), possibly non-corporeal, maybe even formerly-a-person but currently just an idea. But not real? NEVER.

Sometime when I was in middle school and my brother was in high school, my mom had a kind of genius idea. Instead of taking the time to write tags on gifts for us from Santa, she grabbed (what I'm assuming is like 12 rolls) some wrapping paper that clearly related to each of our interests. In our case, it was the Tazmanian Devil & Winnie the Pooh. We each got a couple gifts from our parents and some years even each other, but all Santa gifts to a person were in their own wrapping paper with no tags. I would be remiss if I didn't point out: I never saw a single roll of these special wrapping papers in our house, even though I was the main gift wrapper for nigh on a decade, I helped move the Christmas supplies when we moved house and was usually the one digging out ornaments for the tree. So, perhaps Santa does indeed wrap his own gifts and I'm giving my mother too much credit.

I'm pretty sure I had graduated college (so, ah, easily 15 years later) the year we looked under the tree to find two piles of presents wrapped in somewhat less childish but no less matching papers, with one CD each of Tasmanian Devil & Winnie the Pooh propped careful atop them to mark our piles. In one of those rare moments of unspoken communication, we each carefully set aside those two precious gifts to save for last. Later Mom tearfully informed us that indeed, those would be the last two in those papers, as Santa informed her he'd finally run out of the stash of them. It kinda felt like the end of our childhoods!

As it happens, since this is my first year staying home for Christmas instead of visiting family, this is my first year not using my mom's extensive gift wrap stash for gifts and I actually had to purchase my own. I doubt I'll ever go so far as to buy a dozen rolls of one particular paper for each of us, but the idea of using one paper per person for Christmas morning definitely is an idea I intend to keep in mind when I get the chance to use it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cost/Benefit Analysis: Un-Paper Towels

Sometimes I look at things people post online and I marvel at how many people seem to have more money than sense.

Multi-layered, snap-together to make a roll, "unpaper towels" are the impetus for this particular rant. They seem to be an expansion of the cloth menstrual pads stores, more than anything, and presumably therefore made to appeal to the same demographic. But, there are better ways to accomplish a lot of goals sometimes, and this is one of those times. I love that people want to reduce their paper usage and their contribution to landfills. That's great!

The ones I'm seeing about typically use a single-sided terrycloth on one side, and quilting cotton on the other. I've seen a few with interfacing or batting in the middle to increase absorbency. They have snaps on each corner so that you can snap them together in a row and roll them up to be stored on the paper towel holder. Presumably, this is to help the household adjust to the new method, because they reach for the paper towels where the paper towels were before, and find this instead.


  1. Who in the world has time to be snapping all these together?! I mean I guess if you're bored, but if that's the case I have some alternative ideas for you to do with your time. 
  2. Are you so attached to the paper towel holder that you just can't get rid of it? I used mine for plastic wrap and foil for a while until I needed the counter space.
  3. Do you think that when people reach for the paper towels and don't find any, they're going to be like Sims characters who get stuck trying to walk when there's a banana peel on the floor and be suddenly unable to function because their little task list says "grab paper towel" and they get stuck until they have one? Do you think if you communicate "hey we don't have any more paper towels, use this instead" they will be too incompetent to remember that when they habitually reach for the paper towels and not find them there? 
  4. If they're that incompetent, doesn't that mean you can't trust them not to just throw out the item they're using like they were doing with paper towels? 
  5. Don't these strike anyone else as too precious to be using for wiping up spilled tomato sauce and smears of peanut butter? 
  6. With all those layers (and especially the ones with batting), doesn't it seem like they'd harbor a lot of bacteria in between washings and take a while to dry? Or like the fabrics would shrink differently in the wash? Or like you can't wash them on hot because they're too precious? 
Solution: Basket, pack of bar towels. You can get bar towels at Costco and similar warehouse stores, or any restaurant/bar supply store. I've bought 20 packs for as little as $5. 

I fold the bar towels in quarters. This perfectly covers my hand while giving me maximum control over the entire usable surface. When one surface gets soiled, I fold the big fold opposite. Then flip a corner around to a new fresh surface. Typically, since I'm going to use them quarter-folded anyway, I just do that to store them in the basket when laundry is getting folded anyway. However, you could toss them in the basket unfolded if that suits you. I've even just stuffed them in those plastic shopping bag sleeves, with great results. 

If it REALLY means that much to you, you can roll them up to use on your paper towel holder. I'd get a piece of PVC pipe that goes around the stick for the paper towel and is as long as the towels are wide, and for that matter get two so you can have a backup roll at all times. Lay the towels out by putting the first one down, then the second one with the edge 3/4 of the way down the first towel so they only overlap by 1/4 of the towel. Place the PVC pipe on the first (bottom) towel's first edge. Roll until you reach the opposite seam, hiding underneath the second towel. Place the third towel the same as you did the second, overlapping 1/4 of the second. Continue layering & rolling thusly until you have a roll that fits on your dispenser. No need for snaps! 

Bar towels are super cost-effective. You don't cry if you stain them. When they get greasy, you soak them in some dish soap and oxyclean, wash them in the machine with baking soda and rinse with vinegar. When they get worn, you repurpose them as all sorts of things (mostly here they get relegated to floor rags, camping supplies, car washing), and since they're usually made of cotton you can just compost them or rip them apart for fire starters once they're really unusable. I'm on my second set in 5 years, and the first set was only downgraded because I wanted fresh ones for self-catering my wedding after I accidentally dyed the old ones lavender (and had used them that way for 2 years).  

Yes, I love supporting local businesses (but so many restaurant supply chains are regional and locally-owned anyway). I love supporting single-owner businesses and especially women-owned ones. The supplies used by the people making these are very, very rarely of better conscience than the bar towels. And, I get that they're pretty. I just feel that there are better ways to spend one's money and time than on this particular product. 

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