Usually when I pull on my Happy Hausfrau pants, I have it together. My projects tend to go off without a hitch, and they end up here, at Blogging Barefoot, with lots of pretty pictures while I brag about my housewifery prowess.

This is not one of those times.

I have a dirty little secret. Different from the microwave secret. This one lurks in my pantry. I let it sleep there, in a pile of its own filth on the floor. I feed it regularly – sometimes weekly, sometimes more, sometimes less. It looks like this:

…this is just a drop in the bucket, folks.

And that’s just a fraction of it. I couldn’t bear to let you see the unabridged truth. I’ll give it to you in words instead.

I have a stash of plastic grocery bags. Like, hundreds of them. I’ve always wanted to be a well-meaning citizen of the planet who uses re-usable bags instead of the landfill demons that have infiltrated my house, but somehow I’ve just never gotten there. And in my shame, I’ve never been able to bring myself to throw them away. At least if they’re in my closet, they’re not in a dump somewhere. Right?

Thing is, I’ve run out of room. They’re literally creeping out from under the door, like the tentacles of a squid who outgrew its aquarium.

I can’t take it anymore.

Then I saw this idea on Pinterest (where else?), and in a moment of housewifery glory saw myself in a plastic-bag free home. Here’s how my thought process went:

(1) I’ll make this cool thing to put in my car and the hubster’s car.

(2) I’ll FINALLY buy the reusable grocery bags and quit using the plastic ones.

(3) Eventually, like in a year or six, we’ll have gone through the 14,000,000,000 plastic bags I’ve accumulated over time, and

(4) I’ll be free of them! Free, I tell you! Like a bird, or a lobster, or maybe even a kids lost first tooth.


So, I set off to do this project. And immediately ran into problems.

The first was since we don’t use antiseptic wipes in our house (good ol’ soap and water for us, thanks), I didn’t have a perfectly portioned container. No worries. I’m good at improvisation. An old formula canister would work just fine – I could figure out how to manipulate the folding of the bags, easy peasy.

Enter problem #2: No scrap fabric that I was willing to part with. Solution? A Boden catalog. I flipped through its pages, hunting for brightly colored pictures that I could paste onto the canister.

It’s not dry in this picture, but trust me, it doesn’t get any prettier.

What I ended up with was something that looked like a kindergartener’s gift to her teacher. That is, if she didn’t like the teacher very much.

Third problem: I was too over-eager when cutting the lid for the plastic bags to come through. Must have been channelling a little Jack the Ripper because I ended up with half a lid instead of a whole.

So, failure. And I still had this behemoth pile of bags mocking me from under the pantry door.

Couple facts about me. I’m pretty (obviously). I’m stubborn. And I don’t mind failing, as long the failure’s leading toward something. I wouldn’t say I like failing, but it’s not the worst thing in the world. AS LONG AS IT’S LEADING SOMEWHERE.

Which meant I couldn’t let those goddam bags win.

Enter Owl. Or, Mr. Owl if it suits you.

My sister gave me Owl awhile back. She also gave me matching salt and pepper shakers, but they don’t play a part in this story. I don’t remember what they were a gift for, but I’ve loved them since the day they came into my life.

Owl moonlights as a cookie jar. If I remember correctly, he arrived chock full of Oreos. The DoubleStuff kind. He hasn’t held a cookie since. In a family of six, any time cookies are made or bought, the likelihood of them surviving an hour out of the oven or box are slim to none. A cookie jar is useless. So Mr. Owl has spent most of his life empty. For a time he held K-Cups for our Keurig, but with four kids to manage all day every day, I go through caffeine like Joan Collins goes through husbands. K-Cups last only slightly longer than cookies.

As I was glaring at my ugly infant-formula-canister-I-hate-you-Kindergarten-teacher creation, the owl seemed to call to me. Hoot, hoot! Use me! Use me!

I pondered the notion. It wouldn’t be as glamorous as the portable versions touted on Pinterest, but it would be better than the terrifying no-man’s-land in my kitchen pantry.

So I pulled out the bags. I folded and rolled, folded and rolled until my owl was fuller than he’d ever been. Check out the look of satisfaction on his decapitated head. He’s positively glowing.

I do, however, have one last dirty little secret to share with y’all. The bags that didn’t fit inside Mr. Owl – roughly 12 million of them – ended up in the trash. I couldn’t deal with them anymore, so I did the thing I hate, and sent them away.

*hangs head in shame*

I did it, though, with the promise to myself that next time I shop (which will be soon, based on the ridiculous amount of food two pre-teen boys can manage to snarf), I’ll purchase re-usable bags, and make ’em my go-to for grocery shopping. And next time I’m feeling the need to splurge, I’m gonna head over to BlueAvacado and treat myself to their shopping kit. Awesomesauce!

Thanks for chilling with me today, and forgiving my flaws…

The Happy Hausfrau

P.S. For more things that make this Hausfrau Happy, check out my Pinterest boards: Useful Stuff/Ideas, CraftyGirl, and Squeaky Clean


27 thoughts on “HAPPY HAUSFRAU: Plans Gone Awry

  1. K.B. Owen says:

    The whole time I’m reading this, I’m wondering: “Doesn’t their grocery store have a bin for recycled grocery bags? In our area, EVERY grocery store has a big bin out front, by the shopping carts, where you can deposit your used plastic bags. You may want to approach your grocery store about starting a program like that – I’ll bet there are lots of folks who have the same problem!

    We have this (although I got it at BBB, not the Container Store – those guys are pricey): http://www.containerstore.com/shop/trashRecycling/recycling?productId=10026204 When it gets full, I thin it out and take the excess to the grocery store recycling. We use fabric grocery bags, though, so I don’t have to thin it out very often these days.

    Here’s a homemade solution you could try – folding the bags into compact football triangles (remember that game?), and then storing them: http://mousechirpy-polkadotpineapple.blogspot.com/2009/03/grandmothers-apron-carryall.html

    And don’t feel guilty, Myndi, about throwing out the rest; at least now you’re inspired to get re-usable grocery bags! πŸ˜€

  2. T. W. Dittmer says:

    First off, it’s just too damned funny that I’m following your blog… even funnier that I enjoy it.

    Second, we go through the same thing with the plastic bags in our household. We reuse them and recycle them, but they still stack up. Well, my mother-in-law made us this thing that hangs up on a hook and we stuff the bags in there. We can pull them out of the bottom, one at a time.

  3. David N. Walker says:

    Blogging Barefoot? What happened to One Stray Sock? Oh, well.

    We use plastic bags and take them back to the store to be recycled or give them to food ministries to put groceries in.

  4. gingercalem says:

    You are too funny. I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared this little addiction I have but, well, I’ll confess … I’m addicted to reusable shopping bags. I could buy the entire grocery store and fit it all in my the bags I own and yet, when a new pretty bag comes out … I. Can’t. Help. Myself.

    I love your owl and glad he’s being put to good use. If you ever get a huge stash of extra plastic bags, see if your grocery store has a recycle bin for them. Most stores do, I think. πŸ˜‰

  5. Shannon Esposito says:

    LOL! Poor girl. Our store has the recycle bins also BUT I still have my entire under-sink cabinet stuffed with the plastic devils because I can never remember to grab them before I leave for the store. We had a guy come to fix our dishwasher last month and when he opened the cabinet, they all popped out and attacked him. He actually fell backwards. My husband gave me one of those “now are you going to do something about those?” looks.

  6. Paige Kellerman says:

    Ahhhh! I’m so bad about this too! I’ve got a secret cabinet that, if you open it, will automatically smother you with how many bags have been stuffed in there. Do I know that Walmart has a perfectly good plastic bag recycling bin at the front door? Yes. Can I ever remember to bring them to the store with me without forgetting the kids? No.

  7. jdp says:

    Eh, we go through kleenex faster than we do plastic bags so I just crumple them up when empty, stuff them in an empty kleenex box. One for the bathroom, one for the car, one for the kitchen, one for the basement. If it doesn’t fit in those 4 boxes it goes back to the recycle bin at Walmart.

  8. Tameri Etherton says:

    We only get plastic bags to use for doggy poops. Otherwise, I’m a huge fan of reusable bags. A few years ago we stayed in the UK for the summer and they don’t have plastic bags there. I HAD to buy reusable ones. Lucky for me, they are super sturdy and way too cute. They have little ladybugs on them! Needless to say, I bought about fifty and mailed them home. I’m still using the original 10, but I know I’ve got more when these get kind of frumpy. They also make great beach or pool bags, so they get repurposed for that. One trick I’ve learned ~ keep them in the car. You’re less likely to forget them if they are always with you!

    Great repurposing for the owl! Definitely look the next time you go to the store ~ all of ours have the recycling bin as well. Good luck!!

    • Myndi Shafer...one stray sock away from insanity. says:

      “…when we stayed in the UK for the summer…”

      Tameri, you are just 95 different shades of uber-cool, you know that? πŸ™‚ Also, I need to see pics of your uber-cute bags. For reals. I’m thinking of making my own because if I’m carting these puppies around, I want ’em to be wicked cute. Like me. *giggle, snort*

  9. justbetweencousins says:

    I have recently started shopping at a store that promotes the use of fabric bags…you take them to the store with you and you will not have to purchase grocery bags to put your groceries into after paying. I rather like the concept but have noticed the diminishing plastic bags I use for lining the small waste-baskets around the house.
    I have started recycling the flavored creamer containers, found in the refrigerator section, to hold my sugar and sea salt. Instead of having a bag or putting my sugar and salt into a large canister…I use these smaller and portable containers that also have a pourer. They are wonderful!
    Thanks for writing!
    Peach State

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