Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sizzix Die Cutter Repair!! - Photo Tutorial

My Sizzix Big Kick started by getting a little harder to crank, then eventually starting making little noises of protest during use.  Finally, one day, it stopped cranking all together, I could not budge that crank :(  While the machine was older, it had always been cared for (never left anywhere damp or dropped) It seemed that it was bound for the landfill.  If the metal parts could be recycled I would have to disassemble them from the plastic  (and who knows about the plastic).

My son, age 11, was happy to assist in the dismantling.  When something is headed for the landfill it really reduces stress ;) in this process. There was some trouble in removing the plastic housing, this required 2 people!  We did break off a couple of the press in tabs, these are really meant to be put together only once, but there were still many that we could reuse.  Once apart I could easily see the problem was a bearing.  I appealed to my husband at that we should attempt a repair, not only was this a small part resulting in a big waste, but a new machine was about $100.  

Bearing Needing replacing
At this point I have to mention that this post is regarding reducing landfill waste.  As I still have other accessories that the kids and i enjoy using for various crafts.  I am trying to wrap my head around simplifying life, and this might ultimately mean reducing my crafts.  For now, I am still actively using these things and they make us happy.  However, I don't want to unnecessarily fill the landfills doing it.  I am trying not to buy anything new, unless it is a relatively small part of an existing project that otherwise cannot be completed.

We were unable to find the bearing locally.  It is a very cheaply made bearing, and while we have several bearing manufacturers and providers in our region, none feel that it is worth stocking such a low quality item.  In truth most items that utilize these simply end up in the landfill once they fail :(  I was not to be deterred.  The cutter need a bearing with those precise measurements and I could not locate an alternative, higher quality bearing that would fit.  So I went to the internet.  I was able to use the imprinted number on the bearing to order some more.  I only needed 1 but had to buy 4---again not so good for household reduction.  I guess 1 extra would be a good idea, I think the die cutter must have been around 5 years old.  The downside to this was waiting the 2 months to get the bearings from China.

1. Remove this Round cap to get at the screw holding on the crank arm.

2. remove the screw and then the crank arm
3. Remove the screws on the bottom

4. there are some press-in style tabs, so you need to squeeze in all the way around to get the bottom off.  this is where 2 people come in handy.

5. The sides also have to be removed, more tabs...
here are some of those plastic tabs that hold on the sides
6. the beds have to be removed
you can see that there are tabs holding the bed to the sides.  we took off one side, then the beds, and finally the other side
finally here is the bearing!  I was so excited i forgot to take a photo, it was located just behind the plastic where the crank arm was removed.

In these 2 pictures I have taken out the faulty bearing.  They are simple, open roller bearings. You can see that just after the grease was worn away from use the moisture in the air caused the rusting.  One of the rollers actually came out and got jammed up, that is why the cutter stopped being able to be cranked.

here it is all cleaned up, you can see the imprinted part # on it 

8.  Here is the main roller unit without the plastic housing. I am using a screw driver the remove the black metal tab before taking out the bearing.

Here is where i have figured out the faulty bearing is within, because of the rust dust you see below the inside edge of the crank arm. 

In this photo you see the outside crank arm bearing is still in good shape.  Ultimately i replaced both, because I had extra bearings, and taking it apart is a hassle.  I used a wood dowel and hammer to pound it out and put the new one in--I am sure there are more sophisticated tools.
Yay!  Now lube everything up and start putting it back together.

All done and it has been working great for months.  The current project in motion is a quilt using old shirts and cotton dresses from my kids and husband to make memory quilts!!!  I bought an accuquilt triangle die that was narrow enough to fit through and now I will be able to keep cutting them.  It saves my wrists all that cutting. it cuts 4 triangles at a time, and i c can do 3-4 layers!

Disclaimer=fine print: attempt at your own risk, any repair requires some risk as does crossing the street...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pressure Cooking and Responsible Consumerism

I am going to post a review on a Pressure Cooker that i purchased, and why I chose it over other options.  But first....why I think it belongs on this blog.  After all this a blog about reduction right!  not purchasing?!

Just a few days ago I posted that I realized that i was yo-yo decluttering.  If you purchase as much as or more than you reduce you will never get ahead.  Yet I am saying that during this revelation, I have gone out and made yet another purchase.  Here is my rationale.  The pressure cooker should: reduce the amount of time i spend prepping, cooking and cleaning, additionally it will reduce the amount of electricity I am using.  Ideally I would also get rid of some other pots/pans to offset this coming into my home.

For now I am not ready to let go of any other pots.  However, I have gone through some of my kitchen cabinets-as i needed space to store my 2 new pressure cooker pans. And gotten rid of many items, that more than offset these incoming items

My new intention is to post not only outgoing items on this blog, but also incoming.  I hope that this may help others make informed, well-thought out decisions about the things they choose to surround themselves with.  And hopefully I too will get some helpful feedback.

I bought a Fagor Pressure cooker. I have been using it for 2 weeks now and LOVE it.  It is the best value as reviewed by Americas Test Kitchen.  I bought mine at a local mom and pop kitchen store on Sale!  Go the ATK link to see their review- there is a "better one", but cost is 3.5 times higher!!! And not all PC pots are created equal. They also have reviewed the electric pressure cookers and I think that is worth a read, I won't rehash the whole review, but will touch on the points that were important to me and making my decision.  And they are not too excited about the electric models at all.


  • Save time prepping- for instance I put a whole butternut squash in without any cutting and in 20 minutes (5 to get to pressure 8 to cook and 10 to release pressure) I was simply scooping out the butternut--leave it to cool so you do not burn your fingers, but if you let it completely cool it is a little harder to separate the 'meat' from the skin.
  • Save time cooking- you do have to wait for pressure 5-7 min. with 8qt. but then cooking time is less, a lot of times drastically so. (if you are just steaming vegetable-its only slightly faster-and usually I do that in regular pot while other items are in the crockpot--but if nothing else is cooking I would still use the PC). To be fair you also have to wait for it to release pressure depending on the recipe.  Don't plan 8 min. cooking time for baked beans-like I did when I saw the 8 Minute BBQ Bean Recipe in Americas Test Kitchen PC book.  you really need 5-7 to get up to pressure and then 8 to cook, and then 15 min for pressure release (and soak beans overnight)-then they have it simmer for 15 min.  more for flavor.  Still that is a total of 30 min. of electricity, done in 45 min.!!  compared to 4 hours it would take me in the bean pot in the oven, or 8 in the slow cooker!!!
  • Saves Cleaning- Most recipes, ones that don't require simmering after cooking, are easy peasy clean up.  The Steam has kept the food from sticking on the sides!  Just takes a minute if you clean it right away.
  • Saves Energy-things do not need as much time with your burner on! Also your burner is at high ovly for the first 5-7 min.  once it is up to pressure I can turn it to low heat for the cook time.  This also means less heat in your home on hot days=more energy savings!  I intend to use mine outdoors on a burner or the induction plate during the summer and while camping--so i can carry/pay for less fuel (of course to bulky for backpacking ;) Easy cleanup is also key while camping, where water has to be hauled, heated and conserved. 
  • Induction Ready-not only is the bottom a nice heavy weight for even heat distribution, but it can be used on an induction plate.  I just happen to have been given a programmable induction plate.  This will allow me to program a times and temperatures (while FURTHER reducing energy use!) so that it will turn off/down/warm automatically should I be worried that i will forget it.  So far everything cooks so fast i just put the timer on, but come summer when this is outdoors and I am playing with the kids or hanging laundry this will come in handy I hope.
  • Safety- this pressure cooker has multiple safety features to make it fool-proof (not that my mom, gram or great gram ever had any issue with their old school version that my mom still uses- but accidents could happen if you forgot the rules with those)  this one has 3 pressure relief mechanisms-the third of which is that the replaceable rubber gasket will let go if the other pressure releases were to get jammed somehow.
Now, why I chose NOT to go with an electric model:

  • Smaller capacity- if you are cooking for a family an 8qt is ideal. Because you have to leave space for steam the 6 Qt electric models do not actually give the cooking capacity it looks like they give. I did not know that you can not fill it, luckily I bought an 8qt :)  also, a lot of recipes are written for the 8 and have to be modified for the 6--just be aware.
  • Non-stick Liners- I will have to do a post on non-stick later-but there are plenty out there that address health concerns.  Here is something that you should be aware of even if you are ok with possible health risks (note here that i do own some non-stick i.e. camping pots because quick wipe out clean in combination with light weight and a screaming deal, and infrequent use ) MANUFACTURES -even high-end, WILL TELL YOU NON-STICK NEEDS TO BE REPLACED ABOUT EVERY 5 YEARS-SOONER IF SCRATCHED OR BURNED!  THAT MEANS THOSE POTS/PANS/WHOLE UNITS ALL END UP IN OUR LANDFILLS AFTER ONLY 5 YEARS!!!!!!  I know, some people keep them longer...but my experience has been that they stick way MORE than stainless or cast iron after only a few years, and that means frustration cooking.  I just don't like throwing my money away if there is a better option. Supposedly some companies might offer SS inserts as an additional purchase-check availability before you invest.  The Instant Pot comes with SS insert.  
  • Safety- well leaving any heating element on unattended poses a risk, as stated by a friend who was a firefighter.  Even so I have been known to use the crock pot--but not so much now.  Honestly, I have been using it stove top, because it is easy enough to set a timer...and nothing needs to cook long enough to need to leave it on while I am away/sleeping.  
  • Storage restraints-not a lot of counter space.  I am able to hang the Fagor out of the way in between uses. I would need a big shelf or counter space for the electric model. I will hang from the small loop handle-opposite the main handle with the pressure controls.

Also, check out the review on Happy Herbivore.  I am not sure which stove top model she bought, but do think about safety and get one, be it electric or stove top, that has multiple pressure relief mechanisms-don't let it deter you from the stove top model.  And watch some Youtube videos to see them in action!

Notice in Lindsay's picture, the upper edge of the pan is already losing its non-stick, ask any manufacturer, and they should tell you that as soon as the coating is compromised it should be replaced for food safety. Which of course is ridiculous, because that is going to get scratched right away.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Medicine Cabinet Cleanout

There have been many smaller things as well as some larger projects that inevitable we dive into without remembering to take pictures of.   The biggest of these is the Medicine stash and under sink area.  I thought it was fairly tidy, but wanted to make things more accessible.  In the end I had a small grocery bag of trash (old, unused prescriptions, old product, cotton balls, etc.), numerous boxes to recycle, and about 12 medicine bottles to recycle.  We always fill prescriptions, then perhaps don't use them.  Or we don't use all of it, and save it...why?  we will go to the doctor and get a new prescription. I think we feel we pay too much for it, so we keep it "in case", those Armageddon movies are not good for the hoarder in us, we might need those antibiotics if there are no more to be found....????  Most of them went ;)  I did this project at night, and recycled the next morning, never thinking to take a photo of the outgoing.  Interesting even after the impressive cleanout, I had too much left to fit it all in the drawer i had designated to this cause.  The two bins on the top shelf are still there where they are difficult to access, granted they are not often needed, but if I need bandages it would be nice to get them easily.  So this will need to be gone through again.

I have heard that you should not leave your labels on medicine bottles, as they contain personal information.   Just peel most of it off, it only takes a few extra seconds.  I am working to not just reduce my belongings, but to reduce the amount I am sending to the landfill--yes, even if it is incinerated first, it still goes to the landfill ultimately--plus all that air pollution....

While recycling is better than land-filling, there is a point at which those materials are beyond recycling (check the packaging of a product touting that it is made of recycled materials, and you will may note that it is not recyclable, such as egg cartons).  I am working hard to avoid creating any further demand for materials that will end up in the recycle bin after just a few used.  However, I believe that prescription bottles are something that is out of our control, unless we can stay healthy and find alternative medicines.  Most states will not fill a re-usable jar.  Luckily we don't get that many prescriptions.

Monday, March 16, 2015

More of Less

so the saying goes, less is more, but perhaps sometines we need more of less.

This is where i am at.

We have just finished going through my daughters closet.  They have to share, but it is a big closet....this is not going to last is it? LOL!  but right now it works, they are close to the same size, only their jeans are different, everything else they share.  i think there are a few items that are a that's yours, this is mine.  But even those they often 'borrow' from each other....
60+ Items leaving daughters closet!

My younger daughter weeded out 13 pairs of jeans that are now too tight, or she just doesn't like to wear.  At first i was concerned there would be nothing left.  But after a quick count i found that she still had 24 pairs!!  that is a clean pair a day for more than three weeks without wash!!!  crazy.  she ends up with new ones when grandparents get a pair for siblings, and then ends up with the hand-me -downs from both siblings.  So really I would like to see a few more go, mostly because the closet is so crammed it is hard to work in.  \This cut helped a lot.  Maybe I can get them to do it again in a week or two.

Then there is the part of me that says that if we have it, and i chuck it, and then she ruins several pairs after i have weeded to only what we needed....then i have to spend $ we don't have on new ones....  it is all about balance i know....

Update:  I wrote this a while back and then did not post right away.  I have since stopped buying clothes for the girls.  They have continued to grow, and weed out clothing.  We have recieved a few hand-me downs and a few gifts of  clothing.  They still have too much.  So I will continue to save my money, and not shop!  And wait until they really need clothes ( I think bathing suits will be the first up), then we will get them clothes they really like in a very reasonable quantity.  I may spend more per item, but overall I will save on laundry, time, and money as well as the headache.

When they have too much to easily put away it becomes a fight to get them to put it away.  If there is always something more to wear, then why bother getting it to and from the wash ;)

Now if only i could get rid of some of my own 'perfectly good' clothing to make it easier to work in my closet....