Thursday, April 28, 2011

Excuse Me While I Stand on My Gift Box

     One of the biggest challenges of not buying new has been trying to come up with gifts for people.  I wouldn't want someone to be disappointed or annoyed by a gift, which made me almost want to quit gift giving all together for this year.  I mean, not everyone loves homemade things, or previously loved items, like myself.
     One night, while fretting about a birthday gift I was working on, I had a realization.  Why isn't gift giving more about love or friendship or goodwill and not at all about the present? No matter what funky gift I give my Grandma, she always LOVES it!  Why?  Because she knows that it means I was thinking about her when I made or found it.
     Why do so many of us beat ourselves up trying to find the perfect gift?  Or trying to make sure that we are spending the exact same amount per gift per person?  Then we get overwhelmed and just buy gift cards. Bleh!  That just plain takes all the fun out of giving a gift.  Why not give what we want when that "thing" makes us think of a person we love?  If we can't find a gift to wrap, why not give someone our time with lunch or coffee.  Or give our energy and clean their bathroom for them?  Now, that's a gift everyone wants!
     It almost feels revolutionary.  I have started enjoying gift making and giving and shopping again, because I really don't mind if the person regifts or recycles what I give.  The point is that they know I am giving the gift, not because I have to, but because I want to show I care.

Just to share, here are some of the gifts I've made or upcycled in the last weeks.

This a mobile I made for a new baby.  Made from hand felted wool.  The kids and I had a great time hunting for the perfect stick to hang the birds on.
This upcycled message center use to be an old headboard!  I was so nervous to give something so large as a birthday gift!  But she loved it.   With one of the left over pieces of wood, I made a chalkboard for my house, too!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Get a Little More Out of Your Morning Cup of Joe

We own a fabulous coffee invention known as the Keurig.  Before this brewer I could literally never make a tasty cup of coffee.  Now every cup is just delicious.  And the flavors, oh my!  Plus, the hubby and I can each choose our own favorite drink every morning. 
However, like all things, there is a downside to having this tasty coffee.  The k-cups create so much plastic waste.  Sigh. 

One morning, over a cup of Hazelnut and dreaming of spring, I thought, "These little cups are just the right size for seeds!"
So, here is how I my found a way to scratch my planting itch and get a little more out of my relationship with coffee.

Thanks to the Keurig already punching the wholes in the k-cup, all I had to do was compost the filter and grounds, add a bit of soil and seeds, and voila:

Bachelor Buttons are down front and patio tomatoes are growing in the yogurts cups.  Yum!

Now we just have to wait for that last frost.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Let it all Hang out

Some women have more than others, but we all have them.  Why hide them in boxes and drawers or leave them tangled on your dresser.  It's time to put your necklaces on display as wearable art in an upcycled frame.
After some browsing for inspiration, here is what I put together.
First, figure out how many necklaces you actually have and clean out the ones you no longer want.  Take the unwanted jewelry to Goodwill.  Buy a cheap frame while you are there.  I got mine for $4.00. 

Remove the glass and picture.  Paint the frame a new color.  Painting covers all the scratches.  I choose a shabby chic blue, but any color would be great.  A really bold bright yellow for a modern look or a gray or white for a classic look.  Use your own fashion for inspiration.

I cut some cork board to the size of the cardboard picture backing.  I glued them together using contact cement.  While that was drying, I found some fabric to cover the cork with.  Again, anything to match your decor would be great.  Could be a cotton calico, an old dress, or a shirt that you love, but no longer wear etc.  Satin and velvet would give a formal look.  I think a vintage logo tee would make a great casual playful look.  (I want to make some more; there are so many possibilities.)

After attaching the fabric I marked the spacing for some upholstery tacks.  I hammered them in and taped the board in place.
Now, it's time to decide where to hang your new art.  After it's in the perfect place, start hanging your necklaces.  Not only does it make your space more beautiful, you'll find yourself wearing your necklaces more often because they will all be out to choose from.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It Beats the Crepe out of Ribbon

Ellesie was invited to attend a birthday party this last weekend.  We still had some festive wrapping paper left over from last year, but we didn't have any ribbon (and I love a bow on a present).  All I had on hand was some left over crepe paper from Ellesie's birthday and some Christmas bows. 
Then it hit me.  What else says "birthday party" or "lets celebrate" like crepe paper all over a room?  Why not use it to decorate our gifts, too?  It's a perfect accessory; it's cheap (50 cents to a dollar a roll) and comes in a rainbow of colors. 
So, I made a bow for our gift.  I think it turned out great.  Wish I had thought of this years ago, since ribbon can get pricey.  Besides, especially for a kids birthday, I really think the crepe paper is more playful and fun.
Another bonus, crepe paper is compostable!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Two Birds, One Sweater

This last week I took my first trip to Target since this challenge began.  Oh my, it was a terribly tempting place.  There were sales everywhere!  Sigh, but I made it out with only R's diapers, baby food, and vacuum bags.

Jerremy had a successful shopping trip this last weekend,too.  He bought three pairs of previously owned work pants for only $14.00 at value village.  Nice pants, great prices.

 My project this week was inspired by an idea on "The Nate Show" (I love that show) for reusing an old sweater.  I cut off the sleeves, sewed them together, and filled them with beans to make a draft dodger for our kitchen door.  I used the remaining sweater body to make a throw pillow.  The stuffing came from an old bed pillow.

The draft dodger turned out okay.  I don't really care for the seam down the middle.  I'll have to think about a way to make it prettier next time.  The pillow is great.   It's so comfy, just like an old sweater.  Makes me wish I could take a nap.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

There's a Fine Line Between Genius and Ghetto

While watching "The Nate Show" a couple of weeks ago I saw a great little organizing and space saving tool called a scarf hanger.  They range in price from 7.99-19.99 and are really great for scarfs and ties and belts.
      Since then I kept thinking, "I need one of those clever things."  This last Sunday, after grabbing a diet coke from the fridge, I had a great idea.  My coke bottles already had a scarf organizer holding them together.  I added a normal hanger, some tape, and voila I had my very own (free) scarf hanger.

Add some ribbon if the original is
too tacky for your closet
A space saving view inside our closet

Perhaps a bit ugly, but useful all the same.  My little hanger will hold 12 scarves, ties, or belts!

Monday, January 17, 2011

How it Began

     The idea began forming itself the night that I burnt a bowl of green beans in the microwave.  I set the bowl in the sink and thought they looked strangely pretty.  So I grabbed my camera and took a few shots of the ruined side dish.  I loved how they looked.  Who would have thought something as useless as a bowl of charred green beans could turn into kitchen art?
     So this photograph, my already existing addiction, and my regular efforts to be green combined to become our family's challenge of living for one year without buying anything new.  Everything has to be previously owned, free, or homemade.  As needed, we will buy the necessary supplies to repair or recreate. Obviously, food and personal care items will also be new.
     Although this started for us at the beginning of the year, I'll officially start my 365 days tomorrow, January 18 2011. I'm looking forward to getting really creative this year and sharing our little adventure with all of you.