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Earth Day

Posted on April 22, 2017 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)



As I dash off to my morning workshop, here's something I did last night and will present to each of our workshop participants - a soy wax candle in discarded vintage patisserie moulds. These moulds are really tiny - less than 1/2 inch high, but because of the wax I used and the wick (low smoke, cotton soy waxed), it actually goes for over 6 hours! Pretty good, for a little thing - and that's the point.


Why a candle? Well, it's to remind us that we are constantly losing so much of our planet Earth - species are disappearing, forests and fields are desecrated, our air and water is polluted as is the food we consume; all, by the way, in the name of consumerism. We are hurtling through space on the ONLY home we have and we treat it like a garbage dump. We have to have more, more and more no matter what the cost. Someone else will take care of it, right? NO - it's up to each on of us to take on the responsibility of caring for our planet.


Sorry, I just get so riled up and sometimes find it hard to contain myself. Hope you have a thoughtful day and start something that will start to heal our world - even if it's just in a small way. Every little helps ...


Earth Day Recycling Fun

Posted on April 21, 2017 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

If you think the whole of idea of recycling is too much work and no fun, you may want to think again. Take a lesson from kids, for example. When my daughter was little, she often preferred the box that her gift came in to the gift itself. Something we should all consider because it's often the little things actually make the difference and each one of us can at least consider that one little thing we can do each day and even have a little fun in the process.


Since I'm holding workshops on the day (with a little help), we had an early Earth Day at our place. We all scoured the cupboards and closets and the recycling bin for stuff and challenged each other to recycle what we found in fun (and useful) ways. We unearthed (no pun intended) old paperback books, unused glass ware, loo rolls, drinking straws washed and saved from smoothies and lattes, twist tops from milk and juice cartons, and plastic milk jugs were some of our materials.


And here's what we did:


Balloon-powered Racers



Okay, we cheated a little here, the balloons are new. We did have fun racing these in our apartment building hallway!


Map Gift Wrap



All this from an old torn up map - envelopes, gift wrap, paper boat, map covered notebooks and pencils, even buttons. All perfect material for a party or for gift giving. Makes you think, doesn't it?


Sippy Pots from Mayo Jars


 


An unbreakable, non-spillable sippy jar from a PET mayonnaise jar. How to do it here.


Glassware Cake Stands




Unused glassware and plates merged into these cute little cake stands. Miss Piggy would approve.


Paperback Book Cakes



If you've got cake stands, you need cakes, right? So, I made a few of them by cutting and folding some old paperback books. A lot of fun and not a calorie in sight!


Hanging Gardens



Kids really love this type of gardening - I think they like the idea of being able to move the plants around. Anyway, we did cheat a little here and used grocery store herbs instead of waiting for seeds to sprout. But it shows that anyone can have a garden no matter how small a place they've got.


Sprouting Eggs



You can start a garden in anything. These little sprouts can go directly into your garden or garden container. Just remember to crush the eggshell slightly so the roots can get out.


Hope your Earth Day is special and keep on recycling all year round.


Decor Recycling - Past Treasures

Posted on May 21, 2016 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (0)

There's a lot going on right now. We've held a giant 'garage' sale in our building's community room on the roof to raise funds for the people of Fort MacMurray where the fire is still going strong. A few of us as well are going to the 'Beet It, Monsanto' march on Major's Hill Park here in Ottawa that's going on today at 1:30 pm. Still I did promise a spring decorating post and here it is - although it is not about my current home but a lovely apartment I once had that overlooked a garden and a park, surrounded by gorgeous oak and maple trees.



The living room slash office of the apartment was filled with second hand furniture and accessories. Starting way back when I was a university student, I haunted flea markets, charity shops, and church bazaars as well as the occasional garage sale for stuff. The great fun of this is that you never know what treasure you will find. And, boy, did I find treasures. The tables (I cut the legs of one to make a sort of storage cum coffee table) both came from the Library of Parliament and were just the right size for all my 'creative' endeavours. I got them at a second-hand office furniture shop for under $50 for both. The large mirror was made using an old frame that was a street find. I had a beveled mirror made for it because I knew this would look better than a flat one. This was pricey but worth every penny. The 'chalkboard' frame was also a street find. See - going for walks in the evening does pay off sometimes.


As for the chalkboard itself, it's actually a piece of black foam core board that I still use to make my blackboards. It's lightweight and costs very little. Only drawback - you can't use a wet cloth to clean it. 



For some reason fishing gear - fishing rods, baskets, pictures, whatever - always caught my eye when I went out foraging. I was lucky enough to have a friend, an antiques picker, who found and gave me most of the fishing poles you can just see in the photo. I used an old garden rake as a fishing rod holder - that was in a neighbour's trash can minus the wooden handle.



The fish specimen drawings were purchased at a framing shop on Bank Street years ago. They had been removed from a vintage book on fish species - tearing pictures out of old books was something a lot of dealers used to do as it was easier (and more profitable) to sell individual images than the whole book. Mine were kept in storage until I found frames for them, which I finally did at Ikea (so the frames were new). I picked up the fishing baskets at a flea market. One was in bad shape, so it was free. The small footstool in the photo was made by using a sturdy picture frame (again a street find - why I find frames on the street is one of life's mysteries - when I can't I head for Ikea) and covered with a quilt remnant. The feet are curtain finials which I picked up in Paris at the BHV (a DIYer's heaven, with lots of French flair) - who knows why I do these things. For the footstool how-to instructions, go here.



The seating area in front of the window overlooking some beautiful Victorian buildings across the street was kept pretty much minimal. A great place to lie down, read a book, and contemplate life. The antique foldable wrought iron daybed was purchased at an auction for a military cadet school in Montreal (now defunct) when I was a student myself (but not at the military school!). It weighs a ton and I was (and still am) lucky enough to have friends who had the muscle to help me get it up to my flat via a curved stairway. The mattress and pillow bolsters were covered in material picked up in my travels in France. A friend kindly did the sewing as I didn't and don't have a sewing machine. The fabric came from factory in Lyon where I also picked up some pearl-beaded silk fabric that is quite similar to the material used in Princess Di's famous Elvis dress. I still have this piece of silk and am still not sure what to do with it.


The rug is a silk and wool one that I found in an old barn. It was pretty wet and dirty but I could see the potential. I cleaned it with a big brush and lots of soap. Took over a week to dry but look at the result. Sometimes, you just have to go for it. If it turns out to be a dud at least you got some exercise in!



My desk held vintage Victorian gardening clay pots (bought at a car boot sale in London) and garden tools (purchased at the Vanves flea market in Paris) to keep me organized. The desk may look neat and tidy here but, in a few hours, it always ended up looking like a storm blew in. I never could keep tidy for too long.



When it's something I like, I look for ways to reuse it when it's original function is done. I bought this particular brand of coffee (Multatuli) because of the image on the can (yes, it was very good coffee but, unfortunately, no longer available!) and I knew that I would reuse the image - and here it is enlarged in another Ikea frame (they're inexpensive, come with a mat, and make framing easy). Cost was less than $8.00 and the cans were reused as pencil and art supply holders.



Finally, the bathroom. This little hot water bottle had a small hole near the top which leaked water whenever I used it in bed so it was no longer useful for that function. However, the bathroom wall needed something so I stuck a tulip in the bottle and hung it up. Easy-peasy repurposing. Cost $0 - I picked the flower from a neighbour's yard (with her permission).


My point in sharing this post is that you can have a very nice, very personal space if you know where to look and look and look (you gotta go more than once) and it won't cost you the earth. Don't be afraid to bring something home from curbside trash - it may be a treasure in disguise and will cost you nothing (okay, time, as you may have to clean and/or repaint it). By reusing second-hand stuff, repurposing what you already own, and/or making accessories yourself saves you money, yes, but maybe, just maybe, it will also help to keep the landfill smaller. And you'll have an original home.

Decor Recycling - Spring on the Balcony

Posted on May 14, 2016 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (2)


I love spring because it means that I get to decorate my balcony and my studio with an eclectic mix of vintage and found objects that have been stored away over winter. The warmer weather allows me to expand my living space. Here are a few of my balcony ideas.



I invite bird visitors to my balcony, not with bird feeders (these only attract pigeons!) but with bird baths - both water and sand. Birds like to take a dip into the sand bath to rid themselves of any pesky little insects that hide amongs their feathers. I make both types of bird baths using clay pots and saucers. I attach the saucers to the pots with velcro - that way I can undo them easily for storage or use for my extra plants.



Because wasps and hornets can be a problem when eating al fresco, I hang little jars of sugared water (flat coke works, too) a few feet away from where I will be dining. That way, the insects get their meal while I enjoy mine. By the way, the insects survive their little dip and I set them free once I've finished my meal.



I like to have a pot or two of herbs on my patio table while I work and usually pot these up in whatever container I have handy. This year, I potted my Italian parsley in empty maple syrup tins. This way I get to nibble on something while I work and the scent of herbs can be soothing.




When the sun goes down, I light up my patio with candles set in small vintage yogurt jars and topped with a few vintage cheese graters. I place these on an old laundry bench that I picked up in England.


As you can see, it's really easy to create a unique and personal atmosphere on your balcony or even in a small garden space just by using what you have on hand.


Tomorrow - what I do inside my studio.


Spring Weekend Recycling Projects

Posted on April 23, 2016 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

The weekend's just started and if you want to get outside and do something, but nothing too strenuous, how about these four projects?



I've got a collection of vintage trucks that I use for all kinds of things, including this one. Just plunk a couple of potted plants in the truck and you're done. The little guy loves these truck plant pots and spends hours pushing them around the back green garden. 



Make a statement with these bashed and banged up tin cans. Just paint with any leftover paint you have on hand, plunk in some daffodil bulbs and wait for the flowers to appear.




For a little indoor spring project magic, this little frame is just the ticket. I photocopied a page from an old French lease that I found in Paris and decoupaged it onto a charity shop frame. I found the fern lying on the ground in a neighbour's yard, pressed it, and stuck it in the frame.  




This entire project uses recycled material. I have a terranium that's overflowing with moss (I can't remember what it's called, unfortunately) so I removed some. Then I took some Styrofoam computer packaging, shaped it, smoothed on some soil and then applied the moss. I twisted some bits of wire into U-shapes and used these to hold the moss in place. Twigs support the plant and the basket is one I found in a tip during one of my morning walks. Took a bit of time to look this good as the moss had to settle. To maintain the moss I just spritz it daily with water.


Try any of these ideas (or make up your own) and your friends will be amazed by your creativity and your wallet will stay filled with green.


Earth Day April 22 2016

Posted on April 15, 2016 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)



Earth Day is April 22. The Nature Conservancy organization is urging us to make it an Earth Month. A branch of this organization exists in almost all counties (visit the website to find your location) and is dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. 


But shouldn't every day be an Earth Day? Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, written in 1962, was a wakeup call to the damage being done to our planet. Now under scrutiny for some of her claims, it, nevertheless, provides many valuable lessons for us as stewards of Earth. I have just finished reading Dave Goulson's, A Buzz in the Meadow, and fifty years after publication of Carson's book, it looks like things haven't changed much. 



To find out more about the demise of bumblebees and its effect, visit Goulson's Bumblebee Conservation Trust site.  


If you want to turn your kids into nature lovers, I would also recommend any book by Gerald Durrell


Go to the Nature Conservancy website, to find ways that you and your family can, not just on April 22, but from now on, find ways to ease the destruction of this lovely earth.