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Monday, December 27, 2010

How to Recycle, Repurpose a Coffee Can

Make a Decorated Holder for a Plunger

One day, I got consumed with the large plunger used for unstopping sinks and toilets. It was setting in the corner of our bathroom like an ugly ornament I wanted to throw away. I decided it was time to make a decorated holder to house the unattractive piece.

Fortunately, I had an empty thirty-three ounce coffee can that I decided to decorate and make into a holder for the plunger. It was an easy project and took no time at all.

I happened to have lovely green wrapping paper with no designs which matched the green in our bathroom rugs and window curtain. I measured the can from the top rim to bottom rim then around the outside circumference, transferred the measurements to the wrapping paper drawing cut lines with a pencil on the back side of the paper.

Next, I cut out the shape and with a rubber stamp, I stamped the outside of the paper.

I applied rubber cement to the outside of the coffee can and to the back of the wrapping paper. It is important to apply rubber cement to both the can and wrapping paper otherwise the paper will not remain adhered to the can.

After rolling the can up in the wrapping paper, I measured the circumference of the plunger handle, eyeballed the center of the lid and made two marks on the lid with a marker. If the handle is an inch in diameter, lay the ruler at the one half inch mark at the center of the lid. Make a mark on the lid at the end of the ruler then another mark at the inch mark on the ruler. Draw a circle the width of the two marks then cut a hole in the plastic lid of the coffee can.

It doesn't have to be perfect. Now slide the plastic coffee can lid down the handle of the plunger. You will find you will not need to remove the lid from the plunger handle when you need to use it because you can slide the lid up out of the way. If your hole is bigger than the handle then you'll have to problem removing the lid when you need to use the plunger.

Put the plunger into your decorated coffee can and snap the lid into place on the can.

Voila! You now have a holder for your plunger!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Make Your Own Labels for Baggies/Sandwich Bags

I quit buying Christmas gifts a few years back for my kids and parents. No, I'm not a Scrooge. My kids are grown and make their own money, parents buy anything they want or need. I do gift but I make the gifts and they are gifts of food.

To make the gifts even more personal, instead of wrapping the plastic bags of food in store bought wrapping paper I designed labels then stapled them to the the tops of the bags. The labels add a delightful touch and I have been told the gifts look as though they've been purchased from the store. You could even get the kids involved and have them draw the labels with markers or wax colors.

The regular sized sandwich bags require a 6 1/2 inch wide x 4 inch tall label. You can set the dimensions up in your word program. You can either use the clipart provided by your word program, buy clipart, trace a picture or go to the hobby store and buy stickers. Type the words Merry Christmas and/or label what is in the bag then add your art (or if you bought stickers add them after you've printed the label).

I sent cinnamon candy and pineapple muffins so each of my labels said either Homemade Cinnamon Candy or Homemade Pineapple Muffins. The labels don't have to be fancy. They can simply say what you want them to say with no art at all. Just pick a font and pick a color.

And remember personalized labels or wrappers don't have to be only for Christmas. They're also terrific for birthdays, anniversaries, births, showers and any holiday.

Need help? Have a question about how to do labels or wrappers, leave me a comment. Need clipart? I have some on my website. Just type in Miller's Wrapped Expression and you'll find many but I'm not done adding clipart as I create new pieces everyday. I can also draw most anything you need.

Do something extraordinary!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Repurpose, Reuse & Recycle Cardboard Boxes

With my baking and candy-making finished, I began wondering how I was going to send all the goodies to the various states in which my family live. Not much was going into each box for a total of nine boxes; a few ounces of hard candy and muffins. That was it.

"Maybe you can find boxes at the UPS store," my husband suggested.

"I'll take care of it," I replied. I was remembering last year when I tried stuffing candy and baked goods into the smallest flat rate box the post office offered. I couldn't and ended up running back to the post office to get medium sized boxes.

With everything packed into the boxes, I headed off to mail them. Imagine my surprise when I found out that each medium sized box was going to cost over ten dollars to ship! So much for the good deal in flat rate shipping which is how the postal service makes it sound.

Well, it's not a good deal. So, after recalling last year's episode of shipping off Christmas presents I did a little research. I found if I used my own boxes and ship parcel post, I would save money. The search for boxes began. I managed to find eight boxes plus one used padded envelope in which I could pack several ounces of food.

I found an old computer keyboard box, boxes I had used as storage but no longer stored stuff in; I found boxes I had packed for moving and boxes for stuff I had ordered on the internet. Why, I had boxes galore! And to tell the truth, I didn't realize I had so many that were taking up space. They were in our spare bedroom and our garage. Without intending to, I managed to create extra space by using the pre-used boxes. Not only that, but I managed to generate less trash.

What was the average cost to mail each package parcel post (not flat rate)? Seven dollars and sixty six cents per box. That was a savings of two dollars and fifty four cents per box and a total savings of nearly twenty three dollars!

Lesson: If you are shipping light items, double check flat rate shipping rates versus first class. Most importantly, re-use those empty boxes you have laying around.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Decorative Things to do With Old Windows

To earn a little extra income, I placed an ad on Craigslist for holiday window painting. It's an art that is slowly going by the wayside.

I was happily surprised by a response from a lady who had two windows for me to paint for her. I thought it odd she would ask that I come pick them up and take them home with me. When I arrived at her home and saw them propped against the garage, I then understood: She was repurposing old windows she had either removed from her own house or had purchased.

It's a clever idea, really and what a great way to decorate either the inside or outside of a home. I used acrylic craft paint to paint both windows, splitting the entire scene between six panes. Several layers were required to successfully cover the glass and the paint doesn't do well is the paint brush isn't loaded to the max with lots of paint the lightly applied over the first coat.

Each pane measure eight inches by twelve inches so would accommodate a nice sized photograph so the windows could be used to frame six pictures by simply holding them with a small glue dot. Stapling one large piece or six individual pieces of fabric to the backside of the frame would be a nice decorative element as would six coordinating scrapbook papers.

This brings me to another idea of creating scrapbook pages and mounting them to the window frame. In fact, you wouldn't even have to cover all six frames. A couple or three could be left "blank".

To hang these, I would buy a picture hanging kit that included both wire and anchors that screw into wood. And, I would buy a picture hanging hook that could bare quite a bit of weight; at least five to ten pounds.

As you can see by the frame with the cardinal painting, my customer removed the old paint down to bare wood, painted or sprayed a fine layer of lacquer on it then stapled artificial garland to the frame and hot glued pine cones on to the garland.

Next time you run across old windows, don't be in too much of a hurry to walk away from them. Have fun decorating one then give it as a gift.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Daddy Shot Santa by David Graham

Daddy Shot Santa

Twas the night before Christmas and all ‘cross the farm

The critters had settled with no cause for alarm.

Our stockings we hung on our bedroom doorknobs

In hopes that Santa would bring trinkets and bobs.

The tree, just put up, seemed slender and slight,

But shined of great promise with each Christmas tree light.

The cookies and milk we displayed quite exquisite

As Mama read soft tones of Santa’s famed visit.

The hour grew late and our bedtime grew nigh,

Our excitement did brim as the minutes dragged by.

Mama’s chores done, her children bathed and fed,

Did herd us like cats to each waiting bed.

We filed up the stairs wishing Daddy Christmas goodnight,

But his whispered response gave us considerable fright.

“That old man better not come, I told him last year,

I told him ‘Stay away,’ he’s not welcome here.

“I called him a thief, a scoundrel, a dastard.

If he comes ‘round here I’ll shoot the ol’ bastard.”

Our lips did quiver; our sobs we did stifle.

For it was much too late to hide father’s old rifle.

Calm and composed, Mother tucked us with care

And wished us sleep tight with a kiss and a prayer.

Her soft steps betrayed by the squeak of each stair

“Stay in bed, be quiet, don’t make me come up there.”

Her warning we heeded for a minute or two,

‘Til silent night broke, “What shall we do?”

“Will Daddy shoot Santa,” the sister did dread.

The youngest chimed in, “I don’t want Santa dead.”

Entranced I gazed through frosted glass pane,

I puzzled and pondered and contorted my brain.

This couldn’t be true; it wasn’t quite right.

You can’t shoot Santa on Christmas Eve night.

Like the blaze of a star streaking a moonless sky

I realized in a moment there was no reason to cry.

“Don’t give it a worry, there’s no cause to whimper.

It’s only a joke,” I said with a simper.

With sighs of relief our fears were allayed,

We nestled warm blankets, no longer afraid.

When outside such racket atop our own roof.

Were those pebbles on shingles or each prancing hoof?

We moved not a muscle, our breath quite bated,

We strained to hear more and nervously waited.

Father’s heavy steps, a slamming screen door,

Shouted harsh words, “Yer not welcome no more.”

“I told you last year, stay off’n my place.

Yer a cheat, a liar, a louse-bound disgrace.

I got ol’ Betsy an’ a bad trigger twitch.

I’ll shoot yer ass now, ya ol’ som-bitch.”

What happened next I’m loathe to tell,

But Daddy shot twice, and began to yell.

“I shot the ol’ man,” our father did hoot.

“I winged the ol’ bastard; I got the ol’ coot.”

A shocked icy silence befell the homestead.

Had Daddy shot Santa; had he filled him with lead?

Not a word was spoken, not even a peep

As each child slipped into a worried, fitful sleep.

No visions of candy canes, no hopes of that toy.

We’d all grow up in a world without joy.

In morning we gathered scrubbing sleep from our eyes,

To venture downstairs to witness Santa’s demise.

But what to our weary eyes did we see?

A pile of wrapped presents under the tree.

And off in the corner sat Daddy quite smug.

He dismissed our new bounty with a wink and a shrug.

“For a fat old elf, he’s nimble and quick.

You gotta be sharp to get ol’ St. Nick.

I fired twice; he sure lit outta here,

Cursin’ and whippin’ each tiny reindeer.

“In his hurry from off his back

Fell all these gifts out of his pack.

So, merry Christmas, be of good cheer.

I’ll try it again this time next year.”

Copyright 2010 David Graham

Friday, December 3, 2010

Recycle, Repurpose Items From Your Local Donation Store

Recycling and repurposing doesn't mean always mean finding things around your house to re-use. I have done curb-side shopping. This is literally finding something sitting on the curb that someone has discarded. I have found some great old wooden chairs that I brought home, and repainted and recovered.

But my favorite place to find items to recycle or repurpose is a local donation store. I visit it once a week or when I specifically need something. During one of my weekly visits, I found a beautiful Christmas table runner tucked away between blankets and towels. I felt I had won the lottery. It was in perfect shape; no tears, stains or snags. I immediately began searching for matching place mats and napkins. Although I didn't find place mats, I found four napkins in a deep emerald color perfectly matching the table runner. They too were flawless. I couldn't believe I had scored yet again and decided that such great finds should be gifted so I mailed them to my daughter who absolutely loved them.

This week, I went in search of a throw pillow at the donation store. I found several that would have been useful for my purpose and settled on one of them that was fully stuffed, not over used, torn or stained. It cost me one whole dollar. This will also be gifted once I am finished recovering it with scrap suede leather I have stored away.

After measuring the pillow I purchased and cutting the suede, I will trace an image of a wolf's face then -  using my wood burning tools - burn in pencil-like details on the smooth side of the suede. Once I'm done burning the image, it will look like a pencil drawing complete with shading and fur characteristics. Then I'll use either my old treadle sewing machine (I will have to buy a specific needle sharp enough to go through the leather) to sew the two pieces of suede into a pillow cover or quilt stitch them by hand.

The newly covered and recycled throw pillow will be a perfect Christmas gift for my parents whose home is decorated western style. And it will have cost under five dollars.