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.

Recycling My Stuff - Molding Ideas

Posted on January 18, 2016 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

A while ago (okay, years ago) I talked myself into buying a stash of metal molds -– the kind used to shape puddings, jello, cakes, and things in aspic (shudder!).  The fashion for forcing food into elaborate shapes has been around for a long time (centuries, I discovered) but it appears to have gone out of vogue these days.

With all the moves I had to make over the past few years, I never got around to using my horde in any way and promptly forgot about them. Clearing out my storage unit uncovered the molds in a pile of junk stuff yet to be recycled,  and never finding a use for these molds, it’s time to let them go. Before I do that, however, I wanted to see what useful possibilities, if any, were out there.

A quick search online and I found some pretty appealing ideas.

Plant Pot Idea #1

I found this idea at Boot n Gus, an Etsy online shop and it shows you the possibilities for this type copper tone mold. It appears all you need to make it is some twine (heavy duty, I suspect, and an electric drill to make the holes. I have the identical one in my stash but I don't have a drill.

Plant Pot Idea #2

Another idea, and one I really like, is from yet another Etsy shop, Armory Art and Antiques. These Etsy owners are a busy and creative lot. This idea for holding plants is just one of their ideas. These cute little molds could be used for organizing your bits and bobs, hold candles, or anything else you can think of. Again, I have at least a dozen of these so this may be a possible. And no drill required. You know me, if it's easy-peasy, I'm there!

Pinning Away

A very practical idea if you're a sewer or mender. Not me. Again, yet another Etsy find. You may be able find it at Smile Mercantile if it hasn't been sold


Caveat: Please note that the above items from the Etsy shops may no longer be available.

Oh, Christmas Tree

I know, I know, Christmas is over, Maybe a project for next year. Just pile the molds on top of each other and voila, a tabletop tree to adorn your kitchen table. Nice idea for a foodie. I found this on Merchant Design, a French design blog, but in checking, it looks like the site no longer exists. 

Light Up

This lighting idea will work all year round if you can get your hands on a few dozen of the small molds. This project is from Farm Fresh Therapy.  I like this one but you need a drill.

Mold History

If you're interested in finding out more about the history of molds, Ivan Day over at Historic Food provides all the information you need and recipes, too!

Recycling My Stuff - The Key Thing

Posted on January 1, 2016 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I've decided to start the new year off by trying (again) to download more of my bits and bobs. I found these keys in a small box tucked away on the floor of my storage unit. How and where I came to acquire them is a mystery to me. Maybe they came with the storage unit and have always been here. I know that I could have been really clever and recycled or upcycled these keys myself had I the inclination, the time, or the energy, but I don't. My little voice tells me to let someone else do it. By the way, these keys are resting on an eviction notice for a house in Paris ca. 1815. That I'm keeping.

Stylish Hardware

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, keys can be used to make nice hardware for your cutie to wear around his/her neck.  You can buy a similar chain to the one shown at any hardware store - cheaper than craft stores. This particular one was found at an online shop - - but the necklace and the website are no longer available.

Under Lock and Key

Love this idea - use it to keep the clasp of a diary closed from prying eyes - yeah, this will work! From an Etsy shop - Binding Bee. I think it's already gone but there's loads of other examples.

Tomorrow I'm talking molds - not the virus kind - the making jelly molds kind.

Upcycling Your Halloween Pumpkins

Posted on September 22, 2015 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

If you’re anything like me, the easier it is to decorate for any holiday, the more time you’ve got to actually enjoy the holiday. And this is especially, for me at least, during Halloween. Now, I know, that there are literally thousands of ideas you can find online but I don’t have the time usually or the inclination to do much searching. I tend to get a bit dizzy and need liquid refreshment to help me out. So, as usual, I rely on my readers to help me out. This year this faithful band sent me loads of images and links.

I especially liked the ones that saved me having to carve up the pumpkin and whenever possible, able to use what I have on hand for the decoration – no heading to the mall or the dollar store for me. By the way, I’m not a great fan of the truly creepy and ghoulish, so my likes are usually pretty – well, actually – just pretty.

Here are a few of my favourites:

Office Supply Pumpkins

No doubt the easiest to do as you can be as klutzy as me and still create something beautiful. I happen to have loads of brads and pushpins on hand and will find these a delight to make. And, oh, goody, you can dress up your office desk in five minutes flat. Here's the link.

Fanciful Pumpkins

A lovely Halloween centrepiece and so easy-peasy to make. I've masked a lot of pumpkins in the past but haven't used butterflies as well. It may be a bit of a pain to cut out all those butterflies but hey, it looks great. Any guests of yours will be envious of your talent. Of course, if you're a purist,  you could substitute bats for the butterflies. To check out these pumpkins and 46 more pumpkin decorating ideas, click here.

Lace Pumpkin

Definitely a more romantic way to decorate your pumpkin. This one is covered by a lace stocking but you could also use lace doilies, etc. Whatever you've got on hand is the idea. Check it out here.

Washi Tape Pumpkins

No fuss, no muss. These little pumpkins are decorated with double-sided tape and patterned ribbon but washi tape would do the trick as well. For this idea and more no-carve decorating ideas, click here.

Book Page Pumpkin

So what happens when you haven't had time to get to the market to pick up some pumpkins? Don't you worry, don't you fret - just head for your bookshelf and see if you've got a long-neglected, unread book taking up space. Et voila, a pumpkin centrepiece like not other. And you can use it for Thanksgiving, too. Find out how here.

Construction Paper Pumpkin

One for the kids - a pumpkin made from strips of orange construction paper. Easy-peasy instructions here.

Disguised as Pumpkins

My own version of faux pumpkins. I got a good deal on grapefruit at the market recently and decided that before being eaten, a few could easily substitute as wee pumpkins. Adding a witchy paper hat and mask was an easy way to make these look a little sinister - okay, they're not scary, just cute.