My Upcycled Halloween - E.A.Poe Homage

Posted on October 9, 2016 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

I am not a big fan of anything too macabre come Halloween - definitely no zombies or ghastly ghouls (okay, I confess, I scare easily). When I thought about what I wanted for my party, I thought that an Edgar Allen Poe homage theme would be perfect.  When figuring out what I needed for my decorations, I routed through my recycling bin and cupboards and realized I could save myself trips to the Dollar or craft stores because I already had stuff on hand that could easily be revamped in a Halloweenish way with this underlying theme. 

You’d be amazed at how many items around your home (both inside and out) can be repurposed into Halloween decor pieces. Like my stuff they may just need to be dolled up a little bit.

How I did it!

First I needed a tablecloth. Taking an old white bed sheet, I covered my hands with blood red poster paint and scrunched the sheet until it was covered with splotches of 'blood'. No worries, I was able to wash off the poster paint quite easily.

Next, I needed some table accessories. 

To add some interest and height, I pulled out a few of my book folding samples left over from a previous workshop. Instead of heading to the Dollar store for crows/ravens, I opted to copy Poe-inspired ones from an old book and printed these in colour on black card weight paper. Printing the images in colour rather than black and white made the details on the ravens stand out. For more support, I glued wooden skewer to each bird and then stuck them (the birds) into my folded books. 

The picture frame was rescued from our building tip and the picture of Edgar was copied from a biography on him, I scanned, enlarged, and printed it out at my local copy shop. 

For the libations, I shopped my recycling bin (again) to retrieve glass bottles with interesting shapes, mostly olive oil containers, to make perfectly spooky potion bottles. After cleaning the bottle labels off with warm, soapy water, I glued on the creepiest (free) paper labels that I find online (there are oodles of them). 

I couldn't resist making these dessert toppers to decorate my (store-bought) cheesecake treats. EAP and his favourite bird, the raven, were perfect. I made the cake stands by glueing old plastic plates to (really ugly) candlesticks and painted these all black.

The bloody splotched napkins were torn from a couple of old pillowcases. The napkin holders are simply luggage locks and keys holding a bit of 'chain' links (leftover from an old project - I throw little out!) around the napkins.

My only cost was for photocopying - $4.50. And that's all.


Street Finds

Posted on October 8, 2016 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I needed to get food supplies today and on my way I noticed quite a few discarded couches and mattresses. I also spotted this metal bedframe and immediately pictured it back in use as a garden trellis.

Like this

The one pictured above is actually made of wood, but I think using an abandoned bedframe support would save you time and money should you stumble across one and need a trellis. You'd have to add chicken or concrete wire or even string to hold up your growing beans, peas, cukes, etc.

Now how about this against a garden wall.

An instant upgrade to a blank backyard or side of the house wall. Again, this one is made of wood and it's for sale at Foter's. The bedframe would be spectacular with climbing roses, or other climbing flowers. Hey, I'm just saying ...

If you have the skills and the time, tranform the bedframe into a work table.

My other find and one I did take home was this Stephen King encyclopedia. Who could resist? Not I, for one!

Because I'm holding a few private Halloween workshops, I can see a lot of possibilities for this book.

The graphics alone make it a huge find for me.

Street Finds

Posted on September 2, 2016 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (4)

Okay, it's the end of the month and people are moving away to new locations and as a result there are tons (yes, literally), tons of old furniture littering the sidewalks of Ottawa. In just a short 7 block walk, I spotted enough furniture to furnish a few rooms - dressers, chairs, sofas, tables, etc. And all bound for the landfill. What a waste, folks. 

Here are a couple of things I found that could easily be rehabilitated and reused:

This looks like an Ikea double dresser (see below) and, upon my inspection, was in very good nick. Just a bit of wipe and it's ready to go.

I think I'd have repainted it an eggshell white had I had the energy to lug it home. You'll find plenty of examples online for redoing dressers. 

This old sofa also looked in perfect condition. A good vaccuming would probably be needed and you'd have to check if there are any residents lurking somewhere inside. This sofa could be stripped completely and reupholstered and then would better than new. Look at some of these upholstery possibilities.

You could do this if you sew using bits of material you may already have on hand:

Or this if you're more conservative:

Or even this if you're creative:

If you don't have upholstering skills, check with your local community colleges or hire someone who can and you'll have a sofa that's worth more than you can buy but it won't cost you (clever you) so much.

IDEA: Picking up furniture off the streets and transforming them into something new and wonderful would be a great side business if you've got a truck and some muscles.


Street Finds - More Goodies on the Street

Posted on August 16, 2016 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Yup, another day of great street finds. It's been pouring rain today but I had to run out to finish up some chores and, to my surprise, stumbled upon another treasure trove at the same location where I found the discarded Ikea drawers. Among the items on the curb were things I actually needed. It's so weird that I'm beginning to think I'm either the luckiest gal around or someone somewhere really likes me.

I dragged home a black patio table, a white plastic garbage pail ( just what I needed for storing my plant pots once my balcony garden has been shut down for winter), a small black and rusted watering can, and what I originally thought was a Victorian mirror frame.

The patio table is a perfect replacement for my large round patio table, which I recently sold. It was just too big for my balcony and took up too much room inside when I brought it in once summer's over. When I sold my original table, I figured I could find something smaller at a charity shop but never seemed to have the time to go and look.

And there it was this morning: small, dark, and handsome, leaning so casually against a tree. Just what I needed so how could I resist. I was missing my early morning coffee on the balcony and now I can enjoy it once more before the weather changes.

The round 'frame' turned out to be the metal bottom of what I think was a lampstand. When I saw it I knew what I could make with it despite the fact that it's not really a frame. People will freak out when they see what I'll be doing with it for a future workshop.

Not exactly a street find - I pilfered these apples still attached to branches from a crab apple tree in the park. The groundskeepers saw me and merely shrugged and then laughed when I told them how I planned to use branches of apples - again for a future workshop. 

The real reason why I went out this morning in the torrential rain and again, not really a street find. I find that shoe boxes are just perfect for Christmas gifts and decided to head out to beg for a few from local shoe shops. Little did I know that nowadays, the shops no longer keep the empty boxes customers don't want when they purchase shoes. They're flattened (the boxes, not the customers) and destroyed. I think shoe manufacturers instruct shops to do this because they're are afraid counterfeiters will use the authentic boxes for their counterfeit knockoffs. 

However, once I explained why I wanted them, a few shop employees were gracious enough to give me what they had - even providing me with bags to carry the boxes in. They all asked me not to name them in my blog as they were afraid, I think, of crowds coming and begging for the same. But I am grateful they did give me what they could.

Street Finds - Wood for Cutting Boards

Posted on August 13, 2016 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Do you ever find that you think about something you need, then put it out of your mind to find it arrives at some unexpected moment? It happens to me a lot and again yesterday. 

It was garbage day and across street from my building I spotted a some interesting materials put out ready for the taking. So, of course, I dashed over to see what I could pick through and found an Ikea chest of drawers that had been taken apart and set out on the curb. 

What a surprise. I've been thinking about Christmas and what to give my friends who have EVERYTHING already. There was a post on Ikea's Livet Hemma site about dressing up cutting boards with leather. Of course, they were flogging their own cutting boards but I thought, AH HA, there's an idea. Why not gift my friends this year with custom made cutting boards? All I needed was some wood. 

Et voilà! I dashed across the street and found a motherlode of wood. I nabbed one of the drawers (heavier than I thought but heck, it was pure pine!). Once home, I took the drawer apart and found I had enough boards to make at least half a dozen cutting boards. Now I'm just am waiting for a friend to bring over some tools I can use. 

To top off my day, I found esy-to-follow DIY instructions for making your own cutting board over at A Beautiful Mess. Yay! For instructions, click here. 

I'll be showing off my own cutting boards soon. First, I have to find a saw!


Garden Recycling - Plastic Containers 2

Posted on May 24, 2016 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

For those who were wondering if my plastic container garden was ever completed, wonder no more. Over this past long weekend, the weather warmed up and I found the time to repot into my recycled plastic containers. It was surprising to see how quickly the plants resettled in. Once the plants are sturdy enough, I will repot them up permanently in my larger metal garden containers - old kettles and pails. With more warmer weather on the way, it won't be long.

This year I've planted sage, tomato, flat-leaf parsley, oregano, thyme, chives, some garlic, rosemary, and mint from seed. All of these were started off in empty eggshells 'pots', then each one placed back into egg cartons. If my egg cartons had been those paper ones, I would have simpled planted the seeds into the carton compartments but mine are clear plastic and I like to reuse these over and over again. I stored the carton 'incubators' under the kitchen sink cupboard - a nice dark and cosy place for seedlings to sprout. Once the seedlings had grew a few inches, I transplanted the little fellows into plastic milk containers (the ones I used for the pizza gardens last year).

Note that before transplanting, I gently crush each eggshell and then place each in the new container. Even though the eggshells will soften in the new pots, it's still a good idea to crush them as it allows the seedling roots to quickly reach out and settle in new soil. Because it was too cold to put these outside, I placed the plastic containers in front of a sunny window near the heating ducts. When it was warm enough outdoors, I moved the containers onto to their bamboo perch.

This is such a simple way for anyone to garden. The kids that live in my apartment building are already working on this year's balcony gardens (I gave each one my surplus seedling plants) and were, again this year, eager to see the results. Note you don't have to use plastic containers - waxed milk containers work just as well. So do tin cans. If you are using tin cans, remember to put something under each can to prevent rust showing up on your patio or balcony. An old saucer or plastic lids work well.

Also you don't have to start off your seedlings in eggshells - egg cartons (as I mentioned above), newspapers or cardboard toilet rolls work just as well. Use what you have and get the kids involved. As with the eggshells, you should make tears in the toilet roll pots and open up the bottom as cardboard takes a long time to disintegrate and this can stunt the seedling roots. Newspaper on the other hand falls apart quickly.

Enjoy your gardening!