Showing posts with label Recycling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recycling. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Reviewing Handmade Book Crafts for Readers and Writers

Know a book lover? Show your love with a gift to warm their book-loving heart. Here's our review of easy to make handmade book crafts for readers and writers.

There's a new craft website on the Web and, in its first month, Craft Closet has been a busy place. When you're looking for crafty ideas, information, and inspiration, browse the Craft Closet archives. There are sewing projects, crafts for kids, ideas for paper crafts, jewelry tutorials, crochet patterns, and so much more. 

Today I'd like to share with you some of the cool handmade book crafts that the Craft Closet writers have created.

Update:  Sorry, but the Craft Closet has closed and all of their article links have been removed

Scrapbooks Made With Paper Bags

Making scrapbooks is a popular hobby and a great way to preserve memories. If you have some lunch-size paper bags around the house, you can make your own scrapbooks. Just stack the bags on top of each other and sew down the middle.

After you've assembled the basic book, it's time to get out your scrapbook materials and begin decorating. This paper bag scrapbook even has pockets where you can slip small surprise pages.

Easy to Sew Fabric Book Covers

Book covers are an easy way to hide an ugly book, keep your reading choice a secret,  decorate a bookshelf, or protect a valuable book.

When you want to be creative and you have basic sewing machine skills, this pocket-style fabric book cover is a fun project that can be completed in an hour and can be made from fabric found in your scrap drawer.

These fabric book covers can be made to cover any size book. Send kids off to school with a funky new covers for their textbooks. Make a one-of-a-kind cover for your checkbook. Or, hide your latest romance novel behind a cover of fabric.

Customized Journals

Do you or a friend keep a diary? Every have difficulty finding just the perfect journal? Here's an easy way to solve that problem. Upcycle a journal for yourself or your friend using colorful duct tape or washi tape.

Start with a simple and inexpensive journal or notebook. Shop your local dollar store or other discount store for good deals. Then, pick your favorite colors and get taping. You'll have a journal to fit your mood in less than 30 minutes.

More Book Making Ideas

If you've been inspired and want to try your hand at a few more book craft projects, check out the Little Book of Book Making for more ideas.

Inside the Little Book of Book Making, you'll find dozens of unique book making projects from folded books to books with sewn bindings.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Recycle It Right and Keep Trash Out of Our Oceans

Make Every Day a Coastal Cleanup Day

Every year in September, communities around the world band together to pick up trash. They're not just picking up trash for the sake of picking up trash. They're picking up trash to keep our oceans clean and safe for marine animals. And, they're cleaning up the environment for a better future for all humanity.

For the past 29 years, the Ocean Conservancy has hosted the International Coastal Cleanup. And what a success it is. In 2013, over 648,000 volunteers in 92 countries collected over 12 million pounds of garbage by walking 12,459 miles of shorelines and searching 455 miles of water. The numbers aren't in for 2014 just yet.

What kind of garbage did they find? 

At the top of the list are cigarette butts, food wrappers from potato chips and candy bars, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, and straws.

Stuff that people use every day. Items that would be so easy to toss in a waste receptacle or in a recycle bin. Things that could be eliminated from our environment.

I went on a search for ways to reduce and reuse some of the common garbage items found floating in our oceans and littering our coastlines. Junk food wrappers, plastic bottles, and bottle caps can be the inspiration for a craft project. And, disposable items are easily swapped out with sustainable and reusable goods.

Need some ideas?

Halloween is almost here and the perfect opportunity to rummage through the recycle bin for some scary decorations. Make a Mad Hatter Mini Top Hat with an old plastic cup and a damaged CD.

Plastic straws are so uncool. If you want to be the coolest kid on the block, get a set of Plastic Free Glass Drinking Straws for you and your friends.

Bottled water may be one of the biggest plastic garbage producers that our oceans see. Instead of buying bottled water, bottle your own and carry a Reusable Water Bottle.

Confused about recycling? 

The first step to keeping waste out of our oceans is to practice recycling the right way. Every community has different recycling programs, but there are some basic recycling rules that everyone follows. Print out this Recycling Decoder from the Ocean Conservancy. Post it on your refrigerator. Fold it up and keep it in your wallet or purse. Keep it handy for when you need it.

Want to get involved?

Start by Learning the Basics of Marine Debris. The Marine Debris program sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is a wealth of educational resources. You'll find information on the types of waste found in our oceans, where it comes from, its impact on wildlife, how it affects the world economy, and solutions to this worldwide problem.

Then, organize a cleanup day in your neighborhood.
I hope you'll join us in keeping our world Clean and Beautiful.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Waste Not, Want Not

Re-use your food and stretch your food budget

Volunteers load a truckload of oranges
for local f
ood banks and pantries.
Learn how to donate at
Wasted food is wasted money. Every time edible food is thrown in the garbage can, a few pennies get thrown away with it. Get more bang out of your grocery budget by reducing the amount of food you throw out. And, when you have extra food that you just can't use, donate to your local food bank.

This morning I sat for a few minutes and watched the Food Waste Ticker at The ticker showed that over 91 billion pounds of food have been wasted in the U.S. since the beginning of 2014. For every second that ticked by, I saw another 200 pounds of food being sent to our municipal landfills.

In February, 2014, the USDA released a report showing The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States. The report shows that in 2010, the US produced 430 billion pounds of food. Of this available food supply, 31 percent went uneaten. Think about the impact of this unnecessary food waste.
  • A total of 133 billion pounds of wasted food was sent to municipal waste facilities. Landfills collected over $2 billion from taxpayers and consumers to dispose of this food waste. 
  • If you purchased this 133 billion pounds of food from a grocery store, it would cost $161.6 billion.
  • It's not just money that is wasted. This 133 billion pounds of food waste coverts to 141 trillion calories. That's enough food to supply each person in the US with 1,249 calories of energy per day.

What can you do to prevent food waste?

Start in your own kitchen. There are many ways to get the most value out of the groceries you buy.
  • Look in your refrigerator before heading to the store for a quick dinner. Find ways to cook what you already have at home. The longer it sits in your pantry, the more likely it is that the food will go to waste.
  • Plan your meals before you go shopping and make a shopping list. When you're at the grocery store, only buy those items on your list. Resist the urge to impulse buy.
  • Don't buy more than you need. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.
  • Reuse food scraps. Fruit skins can be turned into pickles and jellies. Vegetable peelings make a tasty vegetable soup stock. Stale bread can be used to make croutons.
  • Freeze, preserve, or can surplus fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are abundant during harvest season. Stock up on your favorites.

Our Favorite Food Saving Tips

It's 3 p.m. and your family asks, "What's for dinner?" If you haven't thought ahead, take a quick inventory of the food in your pantry and refrigerator. Even if you don't have the right ingredients for your favorite dish, it's always possible to substitute. Ruthi uses whatever leftovers she has in the refrigerator for a Chicken Not Quite Paella Surprise Recipe.

Winter will be here soon and that means soup season is just around the corner. Around our house, there's always a quart of homemade vegetable soup stock in the freezer and a quart of vegetable peelings waiting to be cooked into stock. We save so much money when we Recycle Food Waste and Make Soup Stock.

When our favorite fruits are in season, we buy extra to freeze. Frozen fruits are are perfect for smoothies and ice creams. On the FoodFAQs blog, Regg and I share directions for how we freeze fruits without adding any extra sugar.

End Food Waste and Stop Hunger

Do you have food to spare? Not everyone is so fortunate. In 2012, 15.9 million children lived in food insecure households, homes where there is not enough nutritious foods for those children to grow up strong and healthy. Donate your excess food to your Local Food Bank.

Please help put an end to food waste.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stop For A Moment And Think Green

There is so much that each of us can do to save our planet and make this world a better place for each and every one of us. All it takes is to stop for a moment and Think Green.


Before you toss that garbage into the trash, stop for a moment and think green. Could that useless piece of garbage be turned into a priceless treasure? Our Sesame Street friends at Oscar's Junk Band have a lot of fun creating music from items others have thrown in the trash. Stop for a few minutes and listen to their tune. What Bob thinks is a broken broom handle, Oscar turns into a rotten, terrible, junky song. It's all about recycling and recycling is good!

Oscar isn't the only one that thinks creatively. In Paraguay, kids living next to a garbage dump are Making Musical Instruments from Trash. They triumph over the tragedy of poverty by finding the good buried beneath the waste.

Turning trash into treasure isn't the only way to protect our fragile environment and protect Mother Earth. It's easy to reduce our impact on the environment with these 8 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint. It's as simple as using cold water to wash clothes, turning down the temperature on the heater, and turning off the lights when no one is in a room.

Next time you're about to throw something in the trash, stop for a moment and Think Green. Could that piece of garbage be put in the recycle bin instead? Could that old CD be turned into a crafting project? Is that old sweater in good enough shape to donate to a thrift store? Think green and turn an old broom handle into a musical instrument. Oscar did!

Please help save our Mother Earth. She's fragile and she needs our help.

Until next time, Think Green!


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Getting Ready for an Upcycled, Recycled, and Earth-Friendly Halloween

Halloween is in full swing on the Web and writers are busy telling tales of their favorite Halloween costumes, crafts, decorations, movies, and books.

I have been having so much fun getting ready for Halloween, too! Boxes of scrap fabrics, bags of odds and ends, and baskets of ribbons are scattered all over my crafting room floor in anticipation of haunting crafts to come.

As you can see, it's not a spooky kind of Halloween for me. Oh no, it will be A Low Key, Fun and Not So Scary Halloween Party here at the Recycler crypt. Setting the tone for this year's festivities, these Big Bows for Steampunk Halloween Decorations will be seen hanging from vintage family portraits and sitting next to our spooky sculptures.

There are more upcycled and recycled Halloween crafts sitting on my crafting table. I can hardly wait to show off my Steampunked fashions.

I've sent Halloween Party Invitations to a cast of characters and I'll need treats for kids young and old.

My sweet-toothed little goblins are sure to gobble up these Organic and Fair Trade Halloween Candy selected by GraceOnline. She's put together a list of gummy candies, jelly beans, lollipops, and bite-sized chocolates that are earth-friendly and contain organic ingredients.

The sophisticated ghouls are a bit of a puzzle. Maybe I'll take a lesson from Poetvix and learn How to Make an Apothecary Bottle of Unicorn Tears and fill it with homemade bath salts for the hairy monsters, herb-infused vinegar for the sourpusses, and vanilla sugar for the fairy princesses.

And, if anyone wants to slip a little treat into my trick-or-treat bag, my favorite candy bar is Endangered Species Panther, Extreme Dark Chocolate (88%).

That's all for today folks! Thank you for spending time with us today and we hope you've found some inspiration to recycle your way to a Happy Halloween.

Best wishes,


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Getting Organized and Going Back to Work

Just the other day, a friend reminded me that it's only 24 weeks until Christmas. Do you wonder where the time has gone this year? Does time fly while you're having fun? Or, have you been too busy to notice?

It's been too busy around the Recycler household. The year started with the hunt for the perfect home. It took us a month of sorting through the list of foreclosures and estates sales in our town until we found a home, that, if we didn't look too closely, looked like the home of our dreams.

After the papers were signed, we had a short party and then spent the next three months getting the place in shipshape condition with An Environmentally Friendly Spring Cleaning Solution and a lot of pruning to recover from what was definitely not an example of how to Plant the Right Tree the Right Way.

Now that the hard work is done, it's time for us to get organized and go back to work. It's important that our home be organized and work-ready. Our dream home is not just the place where we eat, drink, and be merry. It is also our home office, art studio, and crafting room.

One corner of the house has been set up as a combination office and crafting room. In the middle of the room is a very large, pub-height table that we use as a computer workstation and a crafting table. I wanted a tall desk so that I could stand while working. I had experimented with standing at the kitchen counter at our old home and I loved it. I felt more productive and stronger by just standing for a few hours each day.

Finding the perfect standing height desk setup wasn't as easy as I had thought. There's a lot to consider before standing while working. How the standing height workstation will be used and personal health issues should be considered, along with preferences about the size of the desktop and the storage features.

Standing and working isn't a full-time gig for us. We keep a couple of comfortable stools next to the bar, excuse me, desk, so we can saddle up for some serious sitting time. It doesn't take a permanent standing height workstation to get the benefits. There are several Stand Up Workstation And Adjustable Desk Options that convert a standard desk into a temporary stand up workstation. Sometimes it just feels good to mix up the work routine.

With the crafting workstation in place, the place needed some organization. There must be a thousand and one Craft Room Ideas, Designs and Organization tips on the Web. Our workroom has plenty of bookshelves and cubby holes to fit art supplies, upcycle materials, and books. As we grow accustomed to our new workspace, we're learning what organization methods work best for our working style. Our organization style... Implement the best and toss the rest in the recycle bin.

Now that the neglected house we purchased has been turned into a clean, well-lighted home with an awesome workspace, it's time to give the old resume an update and a good polish. This girl needs to get back into the work-at-home workforce. And, create a few more Steampunk fashions on mom's vintage Singer sewing machine.

As we slide on into the last half of this exciting, changing, and busy year... reduce the stress, reuse the best, and recycle the rest.

Here's to your health and happiness!


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Building Teams and Growing Friendships

Online communities are everywhere. An overwhelming number of websites offers surfers a place to play, share, write, create, read, and participate any which way they choose. How do you choose the right place to spend your time? Join me on a tour of Squidoo. A great place to learn new things, to write about the things you know, and to make new best friends.

NOTE:  On August 15, 2014, Squidoo announced that it was being acquired by HubPages. I will forever appreciate what I learned during my time at Squidoo. So long, Squidoo. It's been good to know you! 

Thirty something years ago, I became a writer. For the first 25 years, I worked as part of a team. Accomplishing projects with the input of my co-workers and supervisors.

Then came the Internet and a concept called telecommuting.

For the first time in my writing career, I found myself an Independent Writer With No Team Of My Own. No team to brainstorm ideas, no team to keep the project on schedule, and no team cheer leading sessions.

Then I found Squidoo. And my whole world changed.

From the very beginning, Squidoo has offered me the opportunity to join a team. To become a part of something bigger. To contribute to making life better in all kinds of ways. I have enjoyed A Year of Storytelling on Squidoo and I hope to enjoy many, many more.

Squidoo's RocketSquid web writing workshop was my first opportunity to join a Squidoo team. Through RocketSquids, I met a lot of people and, unknowingly, the seeds of friendship were planted. During my first year, I joined more teams, met more people, and grew friendships that make my world a better place.

These friends have become my team members. We check on each other from time to time. We offer ideas when one of us can't nail down a story. We share our joys. And, we share each other's stories.

Squidoo was my online garden. A place with Plants and Flowers Where Friendship Grows.

Until next time, be happy and be well!


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Banish Summertime Boredom with Greeting Card Craft Projects!

"Hey Mom (or Dad), I'm bored! What can I do?"

 How many times have you heard those words in your lifetime? Summer is usually when those words ring out in even the busiest homes. The best advice I can give you is to have plenty of paper, glue sticks and colorful markers on hand. If you have a good public library, I suggest that you go to the "Arts and Crafts" section and look for books about greeting card making.

I recently found a delightful crafting book at my own public library.  Pop-Up Paper Structures: The Beginner's Guide to Creating 3-D Elements for Books, Cards & More is jammed packed with well-written instructions for making creative pop-up greeting cards for all kinds of occasions. The best part is that you can adapt any of the design concepts so you can use supplies that you might have on hand. Those are MY kinds of projects--the ones that reuse stuff!

I have a big storage box where I keep all of my hoarded paper supplies. (If you are a regular reader of this blog you might remember my post about re-using greeting cards. ) That big box is the home for the file with all those greetings card pieces. There is also a big zipper bag with my favorite tools and glues in that same big box.

I am sure your older children will be able to find a pop-up greeting in the book shown above, that they could figure out how to make. Just remember, dear parent, try not to be too critical and just go with the flow. So what if some of the cutting is not as straight as you might expect. Let your children be creative. Sometimes their ideas might just be better than yours.

If you are not in the red and green "holiday" spirit yet, you should read "How to make a Watermelon Card Invitation for Summer Parties", make the card then throw one! Not a watermelon--a party! You will still be red and green, but this card will not feature any holly or red noses!

greeting card craft projects
 "Creative Ways To Recycle Holiday Greeting Cards"
Have you saved a ton of cards, you most definitely should read Creative Ways to Recycle Holiday Greeting Cards. This page abounds with many of ideas for recycling those greetings. I particularly like the projects for a "Star Tree" and a "Woven Card" (see them above--Thank you AcornOakForest for allowing me to use your image!). You will be happy to know that there are wonderful photo tutorials to walk you through the steps for making both of these green crafty projects.

If you need a good crafting glue for paper projects, I highly recommend Elmer's Craft Bond Fabric and Paper Glue. I use it myself to repair books and make my own greeting cards.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Getting a Notion to Upcycle With Crafting

Crafting and do-it-yourself projects were a big part of my life, way back when I was a kid. I enjoyed sewing, macrame, paper mache, basket weaving, and any other craft that kept my hands busy.

When I grew into an adult, crafting time disappeared to make time for The Job. And, there was all that time spent traveling around the country with no place to set up a crafting table.

I thought my crafting life was over. I was wrong.

Crafting never did leave my life, even though I set it aside for other activities. While I traveled about, my parents carefully stored my boxes of fabric, buttons, ribbons, twine, and other notions. They must have known that one day I would come to my senses. Parents are so smart.

I did come to my senses. I settled down, bought a new home, and collected a few of my forgotten belongings from my parents storage shed. As I unpacked boxes that I had not seen in decades, a million surprises spilled out onto the floor. One box in particular caught my eye and kicked my brain back into crafting gear.

It was a box full of notions. Ribbons, buttons, thread, zippers, and a whole lot more. Where did I begin? At Squidoo, of course! Why, because I loved Squidoo and it was a fantastic place to be a writer.

My journey began by writing about the collection of ribbons that filled that box. There were so many ribbons that there had to be at least 101 Things To Do With Ribbon. And, what a great title for a story.

So, I'm writing a list of all the cool ribbon crafting projects I come across. On this list you'll find ways to turn ordinary ribbon into bows for a little girl's hair, flowers for a spring bouquet, decorations for a holiday party, and bookmarks for your favorite bookworm. This list of 101 Things To Do With Ribbon is a work in progress and I keep adding to it as I find new and interesting ribbon projects.

Learn how to make this Fabric Paper Handbag.
With my ribbon project well underway, next came the fabric. I'm not ready to set up my 1958 Singer sewing machine and start sewing again, but I wanted some cool and unusual project that would put all my scraps of fabric to good use.

I came across a cool tutorial by ImagineCreateInspire on How to Make Fabric Paper. This looks like such a fun and easy project. All it takes is fabric, paper, and glue to make handbags, shopping bags, memory books, scrapbooks, gift wrap, and wall art.

A Tatted Alphabet
And, finally, I had a bushel basket full of thread in a rainbow of colors. Oh my, what shall I do? Once again, a search for ideas brought back memories. Crochet projects gone wrong and thread crafts that I had long ago forgotten.

Anyone remember tatting? Tatting is similar to crochet, but with thin threads, and is used to make doilies, lacy edgings for dresses, and cutout monograms for towels. It can be done on a train, in a plane, or while watching TV.

I remember giving tatting a try when I was in high school. It was fun, but life was going a million miles an hour and tatting just didn't hold my attention. That is, until I came across a story by Studentz filled with information on How to Tat, Tatting Craft Tutorials and Projects. I even rummaged through my sewing kit to find those itty bitty crochet hooks that mom gave me long ago.

Until next time, rummage through your closets and see if you get the notion to upcycle into crafting!


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Handmade Dolls from Upcycled Materials

Dolls create special magic for children and adults, especially when those dolls are lovingly made by hand. The writers on Squidoo share their secrets to doll-making success with projects for a Tin Can Man, a Lalaloopsy Rag Doll, a Japanese bottle doll and doll clothes made from a sock.

Dolls were a memorable part of my childhood. My Dad Was an International Traveler when I was a kid and he brought me a doll from every country he visited. My mom taught me to sew and one of our favorite mother-daughter sewing projects was a set of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy rag dolls.

When I was selected as the Recycler Contributor on Squidoo, I wasn't too sure what to do about a logo for The Recycler Network's social media channels. I grabbed an assortment of recycled and upcycled items found around my home, arranged those items artfully on the kitchen counter and started shooting pictures.

One of the items I grabbed was a doll that my aunt had made for me many years ago. She's only 6 inches tall but she's 100% recycled. From her button arms and legs to her hand-me-down dress, her sock stuffed body and her yarn scrap hair. She begged to be the mascot for The Recycler Network.

If the traditional rag doll is more to your liking, chibikitty shows us How to make a Lalaloopsy Rag Doll and even supplies a free pattern to make it even easier to create your own rag doll.

Until next time, share the love and give the gift of a handmade doll!


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Coffee Emergency!

Photo Credit
How far would you go for a cup of hot coffee?  This weekend, when my electricity was out, the thing that bothered me most was the inability to use my coffee maker to brew a pot of the elixir of life.  Seriously, I live for my early morning java. 

As for me, I drove nearly 60 miles for my cuppa joe yesterday at the crack of dawn.  Might sound kind of extreme, but I’m not lukewarm when it comes to coffee.  Freshly brewed coffee is essential to starting my day off right. 

I wasn’t prepared for a coffee emergency the past couple of days, but I will be next time.  As an avid camper, I always have canisters of propane on hand.  If I had already stocked the Coleman Propane Coffee Maker in the pantry, I would have been all set.  In 15 minutes I would have been savoring a latte brewski.  It’s just not right to weather a storm without one.

Check out this award-winning review of the Coleman Coffee Maker by kristalulabelle84.  I’m not sure how I have survived without this no-more-coffee-emergencies appliance.  Though I appreciate a rustic, woodsy lifestyle, there are limits to roughing it.  Why deprive yourself of the one little luxury that can make or break your next adventure (whether on the road or at home)? 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle the Small Stuff

Recycling is a way of life at my house. My grandparents were born into simple farming families at the turn of the 20th Century, my parents grew up during the Great Depression of the 1930s and I am a starving artist that must make every cent count. Reducing, reusing and recycling are just one way that generations of my family have saved money and made the most of every dollar spent.

It doesn't take a big effort to make a big difference. When it comes to recycling, small steps can go a long way. Just look in your recycle bin for inspiration. What items do you find in the trash? Is there some way of using it instead of tossing it? You may be surprised at what you can do!

One of my favorite trash to treasure projects is to Recycle Egg Shells and Make Sidewalk Chalk. We eat a lot of eggs at our house and usually the egg shells end up in the worm composting bin or in flower pots. Except when the grandkids come to visit. That's when I grind up those shells, add a little flour and mix in some water. In a few days, the kids and I draw up a storm. You see, recycling is fun!

BritFlorida finds creative ways to save space through recycling. After reading her story, you may be motivated to Create Mini-Storage in Your Home With Cardboard Tubes. BritFlorida uses the cardboard tubes from rolls of toilet paper and paper towels to store small clothing items, hide cords from electronic devices, keep jewelry from getting tangled, separate the knives from the forks and organize the medicine cabinet.

Got a bunch of glass jars? Need extra storage space?  Lyndamakaracreations has some Simple Glass Painting Ideas for Recycled Jars. All you need to do is save a few jars from the recycle bin and buy some enamel craft paint.

My new home is covered in wood floors and I need a few rugs to soften the load on my feet while working at my new standing height desk. JaneNew uses old sheets to Crochet Rag Rugs.This sounds like a fun activity to do while watching TV at night.

And, because I'm such a book worm and have so many books piled up in bookshelves and corners, LBrummer came to my rescue with a list of Book Page Crafts to create handmade cards and altered art using book pages. I see some new pictures hanging on the walls of my new home very soon.

I hope you enjoyed our simple steps to recycling. Do you have a favorite every day item that you recycle? I'd love to hear about your adventures in the Fast & Easy Recycling Lane. Leave a note in the Comments section below and, if you've written a story about your recycled project, share the link to your story.

Until next time, recycle the small stuff and make a big difference!


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Recipe Recyclers: Keeping Food Fun and Healthy

The man in my life is a true Southern Gentleman who loves his granny's buttermilk biscuits. I'm a latte loving, health nut kinda Seattle girl. When my guy insisted on Biscuits Like Granny Used to Make, my whole grain spine shuddered at the thought of all that butter.

I wanted to please my man but I didn't want to clog our arteries. It was time to put on my apron for a session of Recipe Recycling. After a few experiments, my Old Fashioned Southern Buttermilk Biscuits Done Seattle Style successfully fooled my Southern Gentleman's taste buds.

Some people spend hours flipping through cookbooks looking for the perfect recipe. Others are content to follow a single cookbook and only venture into the suggested variations. Then, there are the Recipe Recyclers, like me, who are always testing new taste combinations, questing for new variations on an old theme, searching for the perfect taste treat.

When I need a basic recipe, I turn to my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. It contains over a thousand recipes and is my best source of cooking inspiration. Recipes are just guidelines and ingredients can be changed to satisfy taste buds, to meet dietary restrictions or to substitute healthier ingredients. Sometimes these recipe experiments turn into a new family favorite. Sometimes a flopped dessert can be salvaged.

A few of my friends are also Recipe Recyclers and put an international twist on the recycled and personalized recipe. I'm always surprised at what new culinary delights can be found in the Cyber Kitchen.

Marathon Running comes from Croatia and she specializes in dainty morsels that pack a powerful taste. Along with some great recipes, she uses step-by-step instructions and photographs to make sure your recipes turn out exactly right.

Smine27 lives in Japan and has family in Hawaii. He is always looking for great foods and ways to reduce the sugar and gluten from his diet. He knows that he needs to eat right to maintain a happy body weight. Yes, diet food can taste good. Try these delicacies:
Recipe Recyclers aren't just about creating new and improved food sensations. Recipe Recyclers are also on the lookout ways to reduce food waste by reusing leftovers. My neighbor to the north of me, Ruthi, has been known to make a Not Quite Paella Surprise when she has leftover vegetables in the refrigerator. Around our house, those wilted vegetables are turned into a Chicken Stew.

I hope you enjoyed our gastronomic journey into the world of the Recipe Recyclers. Do you try your hand at recipe recycling? I'd love to hear about your food experiments. Leave a note in the Comments section below and, if you've written a story about your recycled recipe, share the link to your recipe.

Until next time, be safe, buy real food and eat well!


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Handmade Mother's Day Gifts

Happy Mother's Day!

Moms never get too old to enjoy those Made by Hand and Handcrafted with Love gifts from their children. And, children should never get too old to create those one of a kind presents that have so much meaning to their parents.

For our mom's birthday and for Mother's Day, my brother and I crafted together to create a unique and upcycled present for mom. We found ourselves Recycling Memories of Love and Flowers. My brother pressed and dried a bouquet of flowers. I learned how to Recycle a Rusted Metal Picture Frame and Watch It Shine.

This turned out to be an easy project and mom spent hours deciding where to hang her framed work of childhood art. My brother's pressed flowers turned out really well for his first time. Here's how he did it:
  • Place a piece of parchment paper on a hard and flat surface. Select a spot that is cool and shaded.
  • Arrange the cut flowers on the parchment paper. Lay the leaves flat and bend flower stems to "pose" the flowers.
  • Place another piece of parchment paper over the flowers.
  • Cover with a flat board.
  • Evenly stack books or bricks on the board. Start with just a few bricks so that the flowers are not crushed.
  • Check on the flowers every day. Add more bricks to slowly press the flowers.

Recycled flowers and upcycled picture frames aren't the only ways to impress a mom. Most moms love jewelry, too. Here's some crafting talent that is waiting to help you create something special for your mom.
Show your mom some love. Give a present that is handmade from the heart.

Until next time, be safe, be well and Happy Mother's Day!


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Going Green for Earth Month

Hello Friends of the Earth!

I hope you have been enjoying Earth Month and finding fun activities that keep our planet clean and green. 

This month we're celebrating our Mother Earth, sharing ways to ensure the future of her health and promoting Nature Literacy. We've been having a great time!

And, we aren't the only ones having fun! Today, I'd like to introduce you to some friends that are committed to growing a healthy and green planet.

Let's start with healthy food for a healthy planet. Healthy food makes healthy bodies and we need healthy bodies to be good stewards of the earth. Graceonline starts her healthy journey by buying fresh foods and foods in bulk. She's not only reduced the paper and plastic garbage from her lifestyle, she's reduced packaged foods from her meals. Eating healthy isn't time-consuming, Graceonline has a great idea for a quick and easy meal.

One way to eat a healthier diet is to grow our own food. Grammieo knows that we don't have to spend a lot of time or have a lot of space to grow a garden. If you don't know much about gardening, Grammieo will get you started with her Basic Information for Newbie Gardeners.

It's easy being green, as RenaissanceWoman2010 shows us. Being green is a part of her everyday life. She's all about living off the grid and being self-sufficient. She shows us that we can stretch our garden growing season with her recommendations of Greenhouses To Build that are inexpensive and efficient.

Being green is also fun. MissMerFaery finds all kinds of ways to recycle everyday items into fun crafting projects for her and her children. Kids and adults will love to set sail on a sea of dreams with her tutorial on How to Make a Bottle Boat.

April 25th is Arbor Day, a day that celebrates Mother Earth's greatest recyclers, the trees. Trees recycle the air and the water. I love trees and being in the forest. But, I love living in the city. My town allows me to have my city living and enjoy my trees, too! The photo above is the street view from my new home. We are blocks from downtown and we are surrounded by trees. Urban forestry works in our town because homeowners take care to Plant the Right Tree the Right Way.

How are you spending your Earth Month?

Until next time, be safe and be well.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Year of Storytelling on Squidoo

Squidoo is a really cool place to write. Squidoo promotes quality and community. Squidoo provides opportunity and training. Squidoo sparks ideas and creativity. Squidoo Rocks! This is the path the Recycle Contributor on Squidoo followed to go from an unknown writer to a member of Squidoo's contributor community in just one short year. 

Hello Storytellers!

In a few days, I will celebrate my first anniversary on Squidoo and I never imagined that this journey would be wild, wacky and wonderful. Squidoo has helped me come out of my timid shell, develop a storytelling writing style and promote my writing in a way that I never imagined.

Squidoo has been a great fit for me and it might be a great fit for you. Do you have a skill or a craft you'd like to teach to others? Do you like to recommend books, movies and products? Do you like to share your favorite recipes? Join me on Squidoo and you can write about all these things and more!

I'd like to share with you the programs offered by Squidoo that have helped me grow my writing craft, build a social media following and gain credibility in the online world. These avenues are available to anyone with the drive and desire to become a successful web writer.

NOTE:  On August 15, 2014, Squidoo announced that it was being acquired by HubPages. These programs are no longer available.

When I joined Squidoo, I wanted to improve my writing portfolio. I searched for an upstanding writing platform and a place that allowed me the freedom to express myself. I selected Squidoo because of their commitment to content that is Unique, Useful and Updated.

Squidoo looked impressive from the outside. I didn't have any idea that it was even more impressive from the inside.

A week after I joined Squidoo, I started my first lens. This new writing platform was a bit intimidating, so I took my time. After another week of writing and learning, I was ready to press the Publish button.

Not only did my first lens go live, I received a notice from Squidoo that I was eligible for their RocketSquid program. The name was intriguing, so I checked out Squidoo's web writing bootcamp exclusively for their members. I'm glad I joined.

The program helped me search my brain for writing ideas and maintain a consistent flow of writing. The people in charge of the program were always sending encouraging messages. And, the best writing was awarded with Purple Stars and spotlights on the Squidoo homepage. The recognition and promotion did wonders for my confidence. I felt rewarded for my hard work and a job well done.

Five months and 25 lenses later, it was time for my RocketSquid graduation. I was sad to leave the group. I would miss the mentoring from the RocketSquid Greeters, the weekly writing challenges and the daily inspiration from Squidoo headquarters. I was beginning to find a direction in the online world and I didn't want to lose sight while traveling the rocky road ahead.

I really had nothing to fear. The support and motivation from Squidoo didn't stop there. With 25 quality lenses to my credit, it was time to go to the next level and apply to the Squidoo Giant program. I became a Giant Squid just in time for the launch of Squidoo's new lens formats and a list of other improvements to the platform.

It took me a while to warm up to the new and shorter formats. Adapting to change is not always easy. After several weeks and the incentive of a cash award, I took the plunge and wrote my first movie review. My review was selected for one of the prizes and I loved writing it. These new formats make it fast and easy to write informative how-to articles, insightful product reviews and delicious recipes.

In January, Squidoo announced their Contributor program and offered 100 Giant Squids the opportunity to build a niche for themselves and to help promote Squidoo as a fun place to write. After reading about the program, I felt this was the perfect way for me to narrow my favorite topics of home and gardening into a niche that would fit the expectations of the Web. And, I was totally head over heels in love with Squidoo. When I saw that a contributor role for recycling was available, I gave it my best pitch.

I loved being the Recycler Contributor. The support from Squidoo was incredible and I made many new online friends. Recycling has always been a part of my frugal lifestyle and it makes me feel good to know that I am contributing to making the world a better place for all of us.

Until next time, be safe and be well.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Celebrate Earth Month

It's springtime in April, the Earth's having a birthday. Clean up our environment, plant a tree. Make this world a better place for everybody.

Hello Friends of the Earth!

Welcome to April and the warming rays of the springtime season. Springtime is my favorite time of the year. The air is fresh, the birds are singing and the plants are sprouting new blossoms. As I finish the Spring Cleaning Challenge of the Century, I look forward to the clean and environmentally friendly events yet to come this month.

Showcase Your Best Upcycled and Recycled Easter Crafts

Easter brings a wealth of opportunities to celebrate the rejuvenation of the earth by reusing what we have to celebrate the holiday. The Recycler Network is hosting an Easter Crafters hashtag event. Do you have an upcycled and recycled Easter craft that you'd like to share with the world? It's easy to be seen.

To enter, you'll need a Twitter account (or a friend who Tweets). Just tweet your Easter craft along with the  hashtag, #EasterCrafts between 12 am Eastern time on Monday, April 14, and 11 pm on Friday, April 18. You'll find more information about the event at The Recycler Network News.

Find Creative Ways to Recycle Everyday Items

Springtime holidays and spring cleaning bring opportunities to reduce the clutter around the house. Before you throw your unwanted stuff into the garbage, Find Inspiration to Turn Trash into Treasure. I put together a list of books that will spark idea after idea to make something new out of something old. If you read one of the books on this list, I'd love to share your review.

BritFlorida was the first to tell us about her favorite recycled crafting book. She finds inspiration while browing the pages of Eco Craft. A book to inspire you to make recycled home decor items. This crafting book has some unique projects that you won't find any place else.

I hope you enjoyed today's recycling stories and found some inspiration to recycle more in your own every day life.

Until next time, be happy and be well!

The Recycler

The Recycler likes to have fun and wants you to have fun, too!
Let's get together and turn trash into treasure.
Join The Recycler Network
Ask questions. Share stories. Get inspired.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Operation Sunbeam

Solar Oven (Photo Credit)
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a spy.  How I loved all those top-secret codes and 007 spy gadgets.  Of course, one of my favorite TV shows was Mission Impossible.

Today, my mission, which I have chosen to accept, is far different from those Jim was offered over the course of the series.  Though the overall operation has changed, there are still zeros in my aspirations.  These days I am working on zero waste and zero emissions—perhaps the Ground Zero of those seeking the ultimate green lifestyle.  Just imagine how our world would be different if everyone accepted that mission.

I recently wrote a review of a book, Cooking Green, about how we might each reduce our cookprints (our kitchen’s carbon footprint).  In that book, author Kate Heyhoe compared our ovens to Humvees because of their horrible waste of energy.  She really got me thinking about how I might create greater efficiencies with my cooking.

Kate mentioned that the closest we can get to zero emissions when baking is to use a solar oven.  That thought has been bouncing around in my brain for several days now.  Intrigued with the thought of building and using my own solar oven, I have been a woman on a mission. 

First, I gathered up resources for learning more about solar cooking.  A topic search of web pages led me to many excellent resources.  I’ve since checked out solar cookery guides and cookbooks from my library and have conducted a number of Internet searches.  These combined resources have only increased my enthusiasm for making my cooking as green as possible. 

Curious?  Your mission, which I hope you will accept, is to take a minute or two to explore the potential for tapping into the greatest underutilized power source on the planet (sunshine).  I encourage you to think about the possibilities by visiting How to Make and Use a Solar Oven.  Don't delay.  This link may self-destruct in 30 seconds.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Beetle Mania

Permission via Creative Commons -
Photo by Tuchodi
There's something you should know about me.  I'm a locabore (not to be confused with loco or boring).  Are you wondering why you've never heard this term before?  It's because I just made it up.  I do that a lot.

Perhaps you have heard of a locavore—a person dedicated to eating local foods whenever possible.  So what in the world is a locabore?  It’s a person who makes a commitment to using local beetle kill wood for a wide variety of construction projects.  The “loca” is for local and the “bore” is for the beetle activity that leads to a tree’s untimely death.  It’s a growing problem in my state (Colorado) and beyond.

I have been reading about green remodeling practices.  One of the important things we can do when building or remodeling is to use reclaimed wood.  When lumber is harvested nearby, the ecological impact is reduced significantly.  There is no need to transport the wood cross-country (which eliminates a much larger carbon footprint). 

Because dead trees are already dry and seasoned, there is no need to burn fossil fuels for the kilns that would normally be required to lower the moisture content of freshly cut living trees.  And, by using dead trees, we can lower the dependence on harvesting trees that are better left in the forest doing their best to keep our environment healthy.

This weekend, as I was purchasing supplies for a couple of ongoing home renovation projects, I found beetle kill pine boards on sale.  That made my choice very easy.  When I build with local woods, the advantages go well beyond financial and ecological gain.  Things that grow here look good in my home.  They are a natural fit.  You would expect to see native woods like aspen, pine, and fir inside a house that is surrounded by those kinds of forests.  There is a harmony that is both seen and felt.

Even if you live in an urban area, there are always sources of reclaimed timber and other architectural elements.  A source to consider is your local Habitat for Humanity Restore.  They stock recycled construction materials.  Always think “re” first as you aim for greener living and building (reclaimed, recycled, repurposed).

Let's learn how to be good to the place we call home.  We only get one chance at this.  Unless we want to be dead standing, it's "Do or Di" time.  

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cultivating Green

Window Farm Photo by Josh Kalish
In a world of constant change, there are some things that remain with us over the course of our lives.  In my case, two of those enduring things, which aren’t really things at all, are a love for words and farming.  Since I was a young girl, I have had an abiding need for planting words and seeds.

Though I live in the country now, that wasn’t always the case.  For much of my life I lived in some of the largest urban centers in our country (Chicago, Houston, and San Antonio).  I never imagined living or thriving while surrounded by vast acres of concrete.  It seems one does adapt when necessary.

As Squidoo’s Green Living Contributor, I often receive comments on my articles from those who yearn to live as I do—off the grid, in the country, surrounded by wide, open spaces.  I often hear it said that it isn’t possible to live green at the moment.  Sometimes it is a matter of needing to be near family or work.  These green yearning souls have set their own longings aside, having deferred their dreams (perhaps indefinitely).

What I have learned, though, is that urban farming is not only entirely possible, it is a hugely popular phenomenon that could ultimately be one of the most important movements of our generation.  Without much more than eight square feet of light, these city dwellers, known as “window farmers,” have found a way to cultivate their green (both an inner and outer greening).

This week, as I read Paradise Lot, a book about two plant geeks who converted a desolate city space into an abundantly thriving garden of Eden, I thought of others who have created their own means of cultivating green wherever they happen to dwell.

My friend Dawn Rae shows you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.  She gardens in a big city apartment. LindaJM presents the possibilities of Window Farming 101.  Kari Spencer, of the Micro Farm Project, demonstrates how she turned her small urban yard into a true showcase.

As I sit here by the window tapping away on my laptop, nurturing little wordlings, still just tiny sprouts, I am cultivating the kind of green that makes my life a garden paradise.  How will you cultivate your green today? 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

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