Archive for the ‘Crafts’ Category

A reader recently wrote in asking for ideas to repurpose a leaky garden hose. To my surprise, there are quite a few!


hosePhoto by dno1967.


Furniture. If you’re skilled, like this artist, try your hand at using a hose to make a new chair.


Refashion a handle. Works well for anything heavy — a bucket, luggage, a box with a homemade handle. Cut a section of the hose and slit it down the side. Slip it over the handle and use duct tape or electrical tape to secure it shut. This sounds a lot like something my Grandpa would do.


Garden hose wreath. Pull out your crafty hat for this one! Take a look at some examples here and here.


Leaky, holey hose? If you can’t beat em, join em! Make a soaker hose for your garden.


And, quite possibly one of the best ideas: fix it! After all “repair” is considered the 4th “R” after reduce, reuse, recycle.


Have you reused an old or leaky garden hose? Leave a comment and tell us how! 



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…with this new site I found, just today: Dollar Store Crafts. Ok so, yes, some of the crafts involve buying things (on the way-way cheap) from the dollar store, but many of them involve repurposing things you already own! For example:


Make a gadget case using an old tie.


Make a recycled t-shirt necklace (no really, it’s cool, take a look!).


Make a rolled paper wreath (another use for junk mail and old magazines).


Make a credit card bracelet (the ultimate in recession friendly).


Make curtain tiebacks from an old necklace.


And there are many, many more. I’ve already spent too much time looking… go check it out!

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Summer is coming. And with that, comes the all-too-familiar sighs of “Moo-ooom, I’m boooored. What can we do?” I don’t yet have school aged children, but I can remember uttering those words as a child. I was told: “Go read a book!” If (like me) your child shutters at the thought of quietly reading a book, maybe one of these crafts — using repurposed materials, of course — will pique your interests.


Sandwich box monster. This one would work well with an old tissue box too.


Pet rock. Classic, but yet it never fails to amuse children.


strawberry_necklaceStrawberry necklace. And you thought peach pits were useless! Such a neat little craft idea.


Paper beads. Kill two birds with this one: get rid of junk mail flyers and entertain your kids!


Rain sticks. Not that you need more noise in a house filled with the music of children, but at least this project engages their sense of creativity too!

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If you’ve recently moved from a house with shower curtains to a house with shower doors, then you’ve found yourself with a few extra shower curtains and liners. Or perhaps you’re in the midst of revamping a bathroom and the old curtain no longer fits the bill. If they’re the vinyl type (as opposed to cloth), here are 4 ways to reuse them.




How to repurpose a shower curtain or liner


1. Drop cloth. Use a shower curtain or liner as a drop cloth for a painting project, underneath a messy child’s high chair or underneath your crafting table. Also works well spread out on the floor for kids to sit on while they’re playing with Play Doh.


2. Waterproof picnic blanket. If you’ve ever taken a blanket out for a picnic, concert or other outdoor event, you’ve probably experienced the wet blanket phenomenon. To create a waterproof blanket, lay an old blanket or bed sheet on top of a shower curtain or liner. Cut them both down to the same size and sew the edges together. That’s it! (While you could hand sew this project, a sewing machine would save you loads of time.)


3. Line cabinets and drawers. Cut down an old curtain or liner to line the bottom of your cabinets or drawers. Use double sided tape or rubber cement to adhere them to your cabinets.


4. Protect car seats and trunk. Carting a dog in your car and frequent trips to the garden aisle at Home Depot can make a mess out of your car’s upholstery. To protect your vehicle, use an old shower curtain or liner to cover the back seat of your car or the bottom of your trunk. (Note: The trunk reference is for gardening supplies, NOT for your dog.)


Photo by House of Sims.

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I’m assuming that those of you reading this blog already print on both sides of your computer paper at home, so I didn’t bother with a post on that tip. (If you don’t, please start — it just makes sense!) That being said, once both sides are printed and done being used, what do you do with used up paper?


At my house, in which a freelance editor and a masters’ student both reside, we accumulate a good amount of double-side printed paper. I keep a box in my office where I stockpile used up paper. Sure, I could just recycle it, but that’s so un-repurposeful.



8 ways to repurpose shredded paper

1. Compost it. Simple, easy and an excellent choice for documents with sensitive or financial information.


2. Packing material. Best only for paper that does not contain personal or financial information.


3. Kitty litter alternative. Cheaper, safer and better for your household environment. On the down side, you’ll probably have to change the box more often.


4. Animal bedding. For caged critters or, on a larger scale, farm animals.


5. Gift bag/gift basket liner. Nice alternative to store-bought tissue paper. Would also work well in place of Easter basket grass (I hate that stuff!). For a more colorful and decorative look, shred the newspaper comics section, colorful advertising circulars or repurpose your children’s artwork (I’m sure you can afford to sacrifice a few of the thousand pieces you’re saving).


6. Worm food. Perfect for your vermiculture project.


7. Make homemade paper. Here’s a cool tutorial.


8. Rainy day fun. Fill a kiddie pool or large box full of shredded paper and let your kids go to town. Yes, the result will be messy, but your kids will have a blast and you’ll get some extra time to check e-mail or put your feet up.


Photo by Joe Shlabotnik.

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(Sorry for the punny title, but it’s practically unavoidable.)


With Easter just two weeks away, there will be many a dozen eggs bought and used for coloring eggs, making devilled eggs and decorating blown out eggs. With all of those eggs come a lot of egg shells. Instead of discarding the egg shells resulting from this year’s festivities, consider reusing them in fun, decorative and practical ways around your house.



How to reuse egg shells


To decorate

Mini flower arrangement. Leave it to Martha to come up with such a cool idea like this. Makes a sweet and simple table centerpiece. 


Votive candles. This one take a little more effort and craftiness, but if you can pull it off, these eggshell votives would be a nice addition to your Easter decor. 


In the garden & around the house

Slug and snail deterrent. Crush up eggshells and sprinkle them around the base of plants in your yard and garden to help prevent snails and slugs. The idea is that these soft-bodied creatures will not slither over the sharp eggshells.


Plant food. Mix together dried coffee grounds and dried, crushed eggshells and add to potted and outdoor plants as a boost of nutrients.


Plant water. After making hard boiled eggs, use the cooled leftover water to water your plants. Plants will benefit from the extra eggshell nutrients leached into the water.


Seedling planters. Start new seeds in an eggshell. When the seedling is too big, you can replant the whole thing in your garden.


Compost. Add eggshells to your compost pile. Simple!


Bird feed. Sounds strange, but true. Bake at 250 degrees until dry (not brown), crumble and set out for the birds.


Calcium for dogs. Eggshells provide an excellent source of calcium. When prepared properly, eggshells are a great addition to your dog’s diet.


Clean vases. When broken into small pieces, eggshells can work wonders on cleaning items with caked on grime in hard to reach places, like vases. Also works well with a well-used travel coffee mug. Add crushed up shells, water and dish soap to your vase or coffee mug and shake well.


For fun

Eggshell egg heads. The kids will have fun with this idea. Gives you another opportunity to repurpose toilet paper tubes too!


Eggshell mosaic. Save the shells from colored Easter eggs for a rainy day project with your kids. They’ll love creating these colorful mosaics.


Know how to reuse eggshells in a way that I haven’t listed? Leave a comment and let us know!

Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography.

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Yes, you read it right: DRYER LINT. Believe it or not, there are some practical uses for the grey-ish white-ish puffy fluff that you clean from your lint trap.



Kindling. Dryer lint has long been known in the Boy Scouts culture as an excellent fire starter.* Check out these simple instructions and take some lint along on your next camping trip.


Nesting material. Pet stores sell this stuff, but you can find it for free in your dryer! Works well for hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, rats and other similar creatures.


Compost material. Lint from organic material (cotton, wool) can be added to your compost pile.


Crafts. Really, truly — you can make clay, papier mache and paper from lint. Here are instructions for all three.


*Because dryer lint is highly flammable, you should clean your lint trap as often as possible (after every load is best). This will prevent build up that can start a fire and allow your dryer work more efficiently. And since dryer lint is so flammable, it should not be used as stuffing for toys or pillows.

Photo by ewige.

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If left untamed, art supplies (your children’s or your own) can take on a life of their own. Even if you have a designated cabinet or closet, they still seem to creep, crawl, scatter and sprawl all over the place. But, you can get organized and you can do it for FREE! Look no further than your own recycle bin to get started.


Clean up your art closet and find new tools using recyclables

Paint pots:

  • single-serve yogurt cups
  • jar lids
  • soda bottle cap
  • mini Play Doh containers
  • egg cartons

Paint brush water pots:

  • single-serve yogurt cups
  • large Play Doh containers
  • tin cans (be sure there are no sharp edges)

Paint brushes:

  • store wet brushes with an altered yogurt tub
  • store dry brushes in an old silverware tray

Markers, crayons, colored pencils:

Coloring books and magazines:

  • turn a cereal box into a book and magazine holder


  • for a paper tray, cut out the front and one end piece of a cereal box 
  • to make a storage tray system, cut off only one end of several cereal boxes and stack them


Bits and bobs (beads, googley eyes, etc.):

  • spice jars (please only use plastic spice jars for younger kids),
  • baby food jars or baby food plastic containers (again, only plastic for the kiddos)
  • old or unused tool box or tackle box

Finished artwork:

  • line dry artwork with a hung piece of string and binder clips
  • create a custom art clip rack
  • store completed artwork on a clip board
  • roll up finished art and store it in a cardboard tube (from paper towel or wrapping paper)

To protect surfaces:

  • an old shower curtain or curtain liner
  • a vinyl placemat
  • newspapers or grocery store circulars
  • an old t-shirt or men’s button down dress shirt works well as a smock


If you’re organizing for children, keep in mind not to over-organize. The fewer containers there are to put things away, the easier it is for them to clean up… and therefore, the more likely it is that they will clean up [hopefully].


Photo by kissyface.

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Here’s an idea that came to me in a dream. (Well, maybe not in a dream, but I did think it up seemingly out of nowhere!)


This could work for all types of paint brushes.


From yogurt tub to paint brush holder



1. Wash and dry an empty yogurt tub.


2. Fill it 1/3 full with either sand or [clean] kitty litter. This helps weigh down the tub and absorb any trickles of water.


3. Apply the lid.


4. Using scissors, a sharp knife or an exacto knife, cut a few X-shaped slits into the lid. You’ll have to play with the size, depending on the size of your paint brushes.


5. Insert wet paint brushes (brush end up) and voilà, a handy drying and storage spot for your artistry tools!

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Sometimes, Life is just a bowl of Cheerios. And then there are those days when you think, well, that’s just the way the Cookie Crisp crumbles!


Apart from recreating [really witty] new sayings, cereal boxes, or any food box, can be repurposed into both practical tools and fun projects.

    2. Drawer and desk organizers. Cut off the bottom 3-4 inches of several cereal or food boxes. Arrange them in a drawer to keep thumb tacks, rubber bands, pens and paper clips neatly organized. Bella Dia has a great photo tutorial. You can also use them for desktop organizers, per Martha Stewart’s suggestion.
    3. Postcards/greeting cards. I remember doing this project in grade school. Cut down a colorful cereal box into mailable postcards or greeting cards. This is a fun (and cheap) way to encourage children to write thank-you notes.  Go here for USPS size requirements to mail postcards.
    4. Magazine holder. With a few simple cuts, a cereal box-turned magazine rack can help tame the clutter in your house. If you want to get extra fancy, cover the box in contact paper or scrapbook paper. Check out this simple set of instructions at RePlayground.
    5. Giant building blocks. Kids just love blocks. Save a bunch of food boxes in varying sizes. Be sure to tape the open end of the box. When you have about 8 or more accumulated, hand them over to your aspiring architect and let her imagination fly!
    6. Document/photo protector. Cut two pieces of cardboard from a cereal box to protect a photograph or document when mailing or storing.



Don’t toss the cereal bag into the recycle bin! You can reuse a cereal bag for snack storage, to pack away frozen food, as separators between frozen food (cut down into smaller shapes), in place of wax paper (if it is a typical waxy-style bag), for packing lunch items…or to store almost anything! It will save you money on purchasing Ziploc bags, not to mention cut down on your need for extra plastic.

Photo by Bubble Pop 2007.

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