Archive for August, 2010

You know you have them…after that roll of t.p. is finished and after your paper towels have been used up (though hopefully you use cloth rags to offset the need for too many paper towels).  So what to do with those leftover tubes?  Here are some ideas that can help you extend the life of these guys before they make their way to the trash.

  1. planters – cut tubes to about 3-4 inches, fold in the sides at one end to make a flat bottom to hold in the soil; fill with soil and seeds as directed by the seed company; the absorbent quality of the cardboard will help to keep the soil hydrated yet can also help to dry out if too wet
  2. cord organizer – hate the way cords look behind the TV or computer?  Fold ‘em up and place inside tubes to conceal and organize leftover cords (works well for Christmas lights as well)
  3. document/kids painting holder - using a paper towel roll you can roll up documents and place inside; or you can roll up kids paintings/artwork inside for safe storage/transit
  4. storage of tapers and supplies – store tapered candles inside paper towel tubes to keep them from getting dinged up; store tall slender items like paint brushes or even kitchen utensils to keep them safe or separate from other items (works great for long knives you keep in drawers that children could have access to)
  5. gift pouch/container – use tubes to “house” small/slender objects and wrap up with decorative paper and twist at the end (like a piece of candy); you can also pinch at one end and seal the other end; decorate for gift giving
  6. napkin rings – cut tube into 2-3″ pieces and decorate with paint, paper, ribbons, twine, etc.  You can make these elegant and artistic or have your kids decorate as a project to make them fun/whimsical (you can decorate for each season/holiday)
  7. fire starters – if you have a fireplace, you can stuff these with dry leaves, pine needles, shredded paper or dryer lint and wrap with newspaper and twist the ends (like a piece of candy)
  8. kids crafts – there are just too many to mention, but Google it and I guarantee you’ll find plenty to do!  If you don’t have kids, contact your local school to see if their art department could utilize these for their art projects/crafts
  9. toys for pets – guinea pigs, sugar gliders like to play with/gnaw on these things; contact your local animal shelter to see if they could use these
  10. feminine hygiene disposal -ladies can use tubes to conceal feminine hygiene products in without having to use tons and tons of t.p.  Because we have septic and can’t flush anything down, I keep these handy for this purpose.  ‘Nuff said.  ;)

Certainly there are tons and tons more ideas, but I found these 10 to be the most common uses.  Did this list trigger any ideas?  Do you use your tubes/rolls for other uses around your house?  Please share!

Hopefully these gave you some ideas and inspiration to think outside the box when it comes to giving a second life to common household items.

As always, reduce, reuse then recycle!

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I know I’ve been a bit quiet this week.  I find that it’s often feast or famine when it comes to blog ideas.  Last week feast, this week famine.  It was also a busy week in terms of orders, many of them custom.  And David was out of town for business and though I always think it will mean more time for me to do work, crafting, leisure activities, I’m always surprised by how the opposite is true *scratching head*.  However it was a great week for getting together with girlfriends and that in itself is such a charge to the proverbial batteries.

Though this doesn’t really tie in with the theme of this blog, I just wanted to share with you this frightening creature I found in my shower today after I already got in:

I know the scale is difficult to tell but let me assure you, this guy is huge (about 2 inches in diameter – which is about the length of my pinky finger) and nearly sent me into a panicked frenzy.

You see, I don’t have the typical fear of bugs.  So long as they don’t fly in my face or hair, then I’m okay (but if they do, well…it’s game over).  We have lots of large moths that come in at night as we don’t have screens on our doors/windows (there are no mosquitoes up here) and we usually have them flung open at night to cool off the house from the full on sun exposure that we get during the day at 8,300 feet closer-to-the-sun.  As such, the moths flock inside and I have no issues grabbing them gently and escorting them back outside.  Same with beetles, stink bugs and other creepy-crawlies, so long as they don’t fly into me (‘cause then the unconscious, involuntary side kicks in and self-preservation – or at least that’s what I must be thinking at the time when I go all psycho on the bug – prevails).

Since moving to this house, we’ve had all sorts of bug issues and I attribute it to the fact that when they were building it (a log home), our builder kept the logs outside on the ground for a couple weeks before building with them and then took another couple week before putting in windows/doors and sealing up the house.  I’m certain that all sorts of creatures in the woods here set up shop in our logs and each year for the first couple years it was as if certain bugs hatched from the walls (sounds gross and it is but we quickly learned to seal up our logs, if not for energy savings itself).  So the first year, we had a terrible fly issue, then the following year it was grasshoppers galore (although the grasshoppers tend to stay downstairs and I’ve seen them come out of the drains so I suspect they’re not so much from the logs, but from the drainage/septic/well system).  Ahh, country living.

And then there are the spiders, which are an entirely different class to me and have been setting up shop in our house every year, all year long.  It can be gently falling from a web in a plant, 10 feet away and I go crazy.  I can’t see them or know their presence is in the house.  David, on the other hand, is fascinated with insects, especially spiders and will even try to find a bumbling fly to “feed” the spider with by dropping into its web.  Usually I call on him to take care of any spiders I spot, which he will easily cup in his hands and attach it to a plant outside (I don’t know how he can touch it!).  Perhaps it was “Arachnophobia”  - the movie – that I saw, no less, on an IMAX 360 theater (the only one I’ve ever seen in my life when on a trip to CA when I was 15) that scarred me.  Can you imagine spiders coming at you from all directions?  Damaging, I say.

So you can imagine what courage it took for me not to go all texas-chainsaw-massacre on this guy with a giant shoe.  Instead, I knew I had to save this specimen for David who I’m picking up today at the airport.  I know he’ll be intrigued and impressed with my bravery.  This spider is like a mini tarantula and looking at him now in this glass jar only inches away from the keyboard sends shivers up my spine.

If nothing else, I’m trying to remember that spiders are important and help control the other insects that have made their way out of the wood and into our house.  But still, they freak . me. out.

Tell me I’m not the only one…what “bugs” you?  Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun. ;)

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I may sometimes come across as all zipped up.  Let me assure you, this is most often not the case.  Especially when it comes to artwork, I am very messy, jumping from one thing to the next, working on creative projects then stopping to fill and package an order.  I have creative ADD.  And as much as I try (I really do!) to clean up after each task or maintain daily, I often approach cleaning with an all or nothing point of view.  It amasses, it piles up, then I go through like a Tasmanian devil and get this place spotless.

Right now, I’m in the former stage.  My studio is wrecked and I’ve now taken over the dining room table, which is traditionally my painting spot.  Here’s the overwhelming stage that it’s currently in:

Ouch; today is cleaning day…I mean the whole dang house!  As an aside check out these great finds from the thrift store.  This place has now become my crack.

A great big ball o’twine (don’t laugh, I use this often!):

Great copper-esque metallic frames (I found 4 and they originally were mirrors but I removed them out and plan to use these to frame some artwork):

As well as wooden frames that I plan to distress and also use to frame some pieces.  Although I failed to take a picture of the before, this frame was formerly dark green and held a glass covered image of a illustration of an herb.  I painted over that image which was on a mat, distressed the frame and here’s what I came up with.  Voila, recycled art:

"She has music in her heart"

I’ll be adding this lady to my Etsy shop very soon as she’s all done (my other works still need finishing up).  But before that I want to scan her so that I can sell the prints in the future.  Now if only I can find my thumb drive…

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Here are two pieces that I’ve drawn out, but need to create the background for:

Here’s a piece that looks finished, but it’s not – still need to shade/blend, etc.  I’m just not content with it yet but it was inspired by a website that challenges artists to create a piece based on a different theme each week and this last week’s theme was stargazing:

I’m really trying to follow my muse and not churn out pieces but instead draw/paint when the inspiration strikes.  And I’m loving every minute of it!

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I’ve often heard of people going “antique-ing” – that is, shopping for antiques.  For the longest time, I thought of antiques as boring pieces of furniture, dishes and other “junk.”  Oh, how I’ve changed my ways.  I’ve really developed an appreciation for vintage items in recent years and now that I’ve been doing so much mixed media, I’ve been seeing how much artists use antique paper ephemera in their work.

Last weekend on our way back home from dropping our nieces off at the airport, we stopped at this huge antique warehouse that we’ve driven by a hundred times.  I’ve always been curious but I’m always trying not to buy things we don’t need.  “But these would be business purchases,” I rationalized and in we went.  We were there for hours. This place was magnificent and I’m so glad we stopped.

Sure, there were a lot of things I was totally not interested in, but other items just enraptured me.  I was particularly intrigued by old, paint-peeling, rustic pieces of wood, particularly doors.  I also love the look of rustic, galvanized steel like you see in old wash bins, washboards and corrugated roofs.  There was lots of paper ephemera too.  We were both surprised at all the great stuff under the roof of this warehouse that was roughly the size of a big box store.

In addition to old paper and pictures, I was on the hunt for unique items to store/show my goods in for upcoming craft shows.  I went to a holiday craft show last year to “check things out” and was so enthralled with this one artist’s booth – it wasn’t your standard table with table cloth.  She was incredibly creative, had all sorts of antique props in which to hang her goods and I was in awe.  It really changed my view of how to set up a booth.

One idea that I plan on “borrowing” from her (alright, I’m downright taking her idea) is to use branches from my yard arranged in a canister to then hang items off of.  Here’s a fabulous old school, heavy steel creamer can that I believe is from the 20′s or 30′s that I found for this use for under $30:

And since I’ve ordered photo mats/bags and am starting to get my new Green Earth Images shop ready to launch on Etsy, I need crates to display at shows.  Plastic just will not do and why buy new items when there is beautiful, old goods waiting for reuse?  Here are 2 boxes I found – one to hold my matted photos, the other a cigar box for photo cards ($15 and $5 respectively):

And here are just some of the vintage music sheets, old photos and old postcards I purchased for use in my art:

I can see how “antique-ing” could be downright dangerous for me.  I saw a lot more things/ideas there that I’d like to eventually add to my “craft booth” collection so that when the time comes, I’ll have an aesthetically pleasing and intriguing set-up to draw folks in.  Not to mention that it will be eco-friendly, which it should be coming from an eco-artist, right?!

What has been your best antique find?  Have you found antique shops, flea markets, estate sales or garage sales to be the best sources?  Please share!

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Friday shop update

So here are the newer things that went into my shop since my last update from a couple weeks ago.  I’m also shortening the format with collage pictures.  If you wish to see more, click on the picture to be taken to that section of the shop!

Hair Pins (button bobby pins are made with vintage buttons from my mom’s and grandmother’s stash):

Photo cards - sets of photo cards mounted on 100% post-consumer recycled content cardstock:

Gift Wrap accessories - gift tags made with recycled maps/calendars/card stock :

Stationery - envelopes seals/stickers made from recycled maps or images downloaded onto recycled FSC sticker paper:

Coffee or Tea Sleeves/Cozies - thrifted fabric sleeves to protect your hands from super hot or cold to-go beverages:

Thanks for checking out my goods and have a great weekend!

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Name that fruit!

Giant cherry or baby apple?

It’s an apple!  Maybe a crab apple?  Bugger was tart but reminds me that fall is around the corner and not a moment too soon!

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What in your life is calling you?

When all the noise is silenced,

the meetings adjourned,

the lists laid aside…

What still pulls at your soul?

- the Terma Collective

If money was no object, what would you be doing with your life?  What steps can you take to get you closer to that goal?  What’s *really* your calling?  You may not be able to make the leap today but with creative strategy and planning as well as intention, you can start going down the path of your dreams.

What are you waiting for?  Release your fears and doubts and karate chop your own roadblocks!

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So I say confidence boosting because the thought of making cinnamon rolls before always intimidated me.  I had heard that they were very time consuming and difficult to make.  So when one of my favorite bloggers talked about how often she made them, I decided to give them a go and you know what?  These were easy and didn’t take long to make.  Even more, they are delicious and have been a big hit with everyone I’ve made them for.

Some other merits to this recipe is that they are called overnight rolls because you can make them the night before and have them ready to throw in the oven in the morning or you can make and bake right away.  Another merit is that this recipe makes a large batch, so you can freeze half for another time.  And finally, unlike the ready-to-go rolls you find in the canisters in your grocer’s cooler, these rolls reheat really well in the microwave and are just as tender after 30 seconds in the microwave as they are out of the oven.

For the reasons stated above (not to mention they are most certainly less expensive to make than to purchase), I think these are the perfect cinnamon rolls!  Here is the original recipe from The Frugal Girl.

You really ought to give these a try – you’ll find it worth it!

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You’ve heard me numerous times talk about transitioning to a single income and how that has meant making some major as well as seemingly minor frugal choices.  Major things like not having cable or super high speed internet, cutting out our eating to nearly nil and sticking to a tight budget.  Minor things like coupons, waiting for sales to buy food items as well as household items, turning the thermostat waaaaay down, making my own cleaning supplies as well as favorite foods and waiting for BOGO’s/discounts when eating out (just to name a few).

I know this may sound like a hassle and surely it isn’t necessarily convenient but it allows us to still live comfortably (by our standards) on a single income (as my profits are still paying start-up costs) and just as important…it allows us to spend money on the things WE FIND VALUABLE.  I say we, because our version of valuable is different from everyone else.  The things we’re willing to sacrifice on may be things you would never consider, just as there are some things we would gladly splurge on that others might find spendthrift.  That’s the beauty of life.  We have choices and we can choose what we value.

So when our nieces announced that they were able to come visit us with only a month’s notice, I quieted the inner frugal and jumped at the opportunity.  Because of the short notice (my niece had to arrange for time off from a new job), the two tickets cost us $900 – nothing to sneeze at.  My mom balked at this amount and said that I should have said no.  But the way I see it, in a couple of years, they will likely be fully invested in college/careers/life and then their own families.  The time together, the experience and the memories are PRICELESS.

When they are here our budget goes out the window and just about anything goes.  Some frugalistas might consider this reckless, but this is precisely why we pinch our proverbial pennies – so that we have the money saved to do the things that matter to us.  By the time this week is over, we’ve spent close to $2000 but the memories will last forever.

One of the things that we splurged on was a trip to a very lovely Aveda spa.  This place is heaven, it smells so welcoming the minute you walk in, they change you into plush robes once you arrive, they let you relax in a gorgeous seating area with a giant fireplace, lots of windows, ethereal music piping in, cucumber water and herbal tea flowing, access to the outdoor patio with beautiful mountain views and waterfalls to soothe the senses.  And then there are the actual services.  Divine.  You are treated like royalty and are allowed to stay as long as you want, even enjoy a meal on site.

This luxury comes at a price but it’s something that is valuable to me so I’m willing to spend hours planning meals, clipping coupons and shopping sales in order to save the money for times like these.  To this day, I don’t ever recount the girls saying to me, “remember that time you bought us…” rather I often hear, “do we remember when we did…” or “remember when we went to…”  It’s the experiences they remember.  And the fact that they were willing to sacrifice their time with their boyfriends and their friends in order to stay a couple extra days with us (which unfortunately didn’t pan out) means the world to us coming from teenagers.  I know they value these times too.

So it comes down to what’s important to you.  If you save money in certain areas of your life, it allows you to splurge in other areas.  It’s about balance – give and take.   So determine what conveniences or spending you’re willing to give up in order to have the money to spend on the joyous things in life.

For me, I’ll take experience and memories over material possessions any day.  The memory of this week I will cherish forever.

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