Tag Archive | recycle

Saturday Project: Smittens


While I have learned that cold is a very relative term, depending on where you live, the fact is that in January, most of us are experiencing a regional version of cold. Time to curl up with a hot cocoa and a good book. But for the days when I must go out, I want my hands to be warm. I will often wear a sweater or fleece, scarf, and a pair of gloves that I got at Old Navy 10 years ago but love because they are soft, thin and warm.

Recently I have been wanting something cozier. I got a lovely infinity scarf for Christmas, so now it is time for new hand protection. Enter Smittens. Thanks Pinterest. I simply must make these! Grab an old sweater or thrift store find and follow these easy instructions to make your own cozy, warm smittens.

TIP: These plus a pocket scarf make a great set or gift!

Saturday Project: Denim Placemats

6a0120a8a2f331970b015432de7346970c-800wiWe have a bin full of old “scrap” jeans. These are pants that knees have ripped out on or hems have frayed or have some other condition that make them non-wearable. But most of their fabric is still good and I am always looking for projects to do with them. Today’s project will use up a bunch of the jeans…by making placemats. Today’s Nest has great instructions for making denim placemats from jeans.

If you don’t have enough scrap jeans, consider hitting a thrift store or yard sale, where you can often pick them up for $2 a pair.

ALTERNATE IDEA: If you don’t want to do all the sewing or have full denim placemats consider adding just the pocket to existing placemats. Either pick up some inexpensive ones or use what you already have. Simply remove the back pockets from jeans and sew them on to existing placemats.

Reuse Idea: Cereal Boxes

We don’t eat a lot of cold cereal, but we still manage to go through 1-2 boxes a week as snacks or ingredient in other recipes. I hate to throw away all that great cardboard (even to recycling) so I began looking for ways to reuse cereal boxes. Here are thee of my favorite ideas:

Decorative Stars: I have made several of these country stars out of cereal boxes. A good coat of metallic paint, and no one knows cereal file boxthey are cardboard.

Paper Stacker: We have a ton of decorative and school papers to organize.  Glue together 3-6 cereal boxes with top flaps removed for a great paper storage tower. Cover with decorative paper or fabric to match room decor.

Folder or Magazine Storage: Cut off a cereal box at an angle (see picture in link) and use this for students to store folders, to keep magazines handy, or to keep papers together. Just cover with decorative fabric or paper if it will be left out (unless Cheerios goes with your decor!). TIP: You can also use this same shape to store packages of zipper bags or foils and wraps in a cabinet.

Recycling Broken Crayons

Around our house we have tons of broken, tiny crayon pieces. Between kids, school, and small groups, our DSCN2610crayon needs seem to be never-ending. As we were cleaning up the playroom one afternoon I decided to go through all the crayons (we literally have buckets-full!) and throw away all the broken bits. Then my frugal brain kicked in and we decided it was a waste to throw what amounted to a huge pile of crayons away. I put the kids to work sorting crayons by color and then we decided to melt down and reform the crayon bits into something that was once again useable.

You can sort crayons by color or just make a mix of colors in one shape but here are the basics to once again get useable crayons from broken bits.

  • Pre-heat your oven to 275°F.
  • Line muffin tin (or any small shaped pan) with liners. This step isn’t necessary but will keep any of the crayon dyes from staining your pans.
  • Fill muffin cups with crayons up to about 3/4 full. The actual size of the new crayon will be less. Try to make the tins equally filled to allow for the same cooking times.
  • Bake for 10-20 minutes until all crayons are liquified. Time will vary depending on the size and content of your crayons.
  • Let the crayons cool in the pan 1-2 hours until they are solidified.
  • The crayons should drop right out of an inverted pan thanks to the wax in them.


Saturday Project: Re-use Idea: Turning Jeans into a Skirt

We seem to wear out hems and knees of jeans quickly these days. And my girls are always asking for a denim skirt. So…enter the converted jeans skirt.

This is a pretty simple project. There are many tutorials out there and in the interest of not repeating what information is already around, here are a few links to great tutorials:

Old Jeans into A Skirt (kids)

5 Different Jeans to Skirt ideas

Jeans into a long skirt

Alternate Uses for an Over-the-Door Shoe Organizer

I love using things in creative ways to help with organization. We all know that an over-door shoe organizer can help corral shoes, but what other ways can we use them to organize?

TIP: If you don’t need to see the contents in the pockets easily, go ahead and invest the extra couple bucks in the cloth or canvas organizer. It will hold up to fairly heavy use and you will save money in the end over having to regularly replace the plastic ones!

#1. Front Closet – Hang an organizer over the front closet door, with the pockets facing into the closet. Assign each family member a row (littlest kids on the bottom, Dad on top). Fill the pockets with everyone’s gloves, hats, and scarves. Use extra pockets for pet leashes, sunscreen, bug spray, caps and visors, and all the things you like to have handy for going out but don’t want to show the world.

#2. Bathroom – Hang an organizer over the bathroom door or linen closet and keep extra toiletries, make-up, blow-dryer, curling iron, hair accessories, even first-aid items in it. This will free up cabinet and counter space for the smaller things that you really do use everyday.

#3. Kids Rooms – Put one on the kid’s bedroom and closet doors for much-needed extra storage. Keep small toys with many pieces in the lower pockets (great for Transformers, My Little Ponies or Barbies and accessories, Legos, Hot Wheels etc.). Roll sweat pants, tee-shirts, pajamas, or sweaters to free up drawer space. Store video games and system components in them to keep things tidy but accessible!

#4 Kitchen Pantry – If you are lucky enough to have a kitchen with a pantry door, hang an organizer over it to keep spices, cake decorating tools, and other kitchen items used regularly in the upper pockets. Put healthy snack choices for the kids in the lower pockets. Devote a row to zipper bags, plastic storage containers, and other things used for making lunches.

#5. Office/School/Craft – Hang in your office, school, or craft room (or a linen closet near that room) to store supplies and items frequently used that you don’t want on the desk or table. Or use the pockets to create a wrapping center and store your tags, bows and ribbon, tape, scissors, tissue paper, cards, and decorative gift bags.

#6. Guest Room – Place one in the guest room and fill it will all the things overnight guests will need: nice towels, extra shampoo, conditioner and fresh soap, extra toothbrush and toothpaste, snacks for the late-night cravings, supplies for a guest room coffee maker, and even a few good reading selections.

#7. Laundry/Utility Room – Hang on your laundry room door to hold various stain removers, cleaning supplies, and pet supplies. Keep the chemicals up high and away from little hands (and maybe the dog treats too!).

Do you have a creative way to use an over-the-door shoe organizer? Share it in the comments below or Submit Your Tip!

Saturday Project: Swim Suit Cover Ups

As I sew more, I am learning that not only do I actually like it but it comes in very handy. So I am looking for more and more sewing projects that have application to our lives. This one is perfect: The Towel Cover-Up!

The steps here are pretty easy and this is best when made from a thinner (and cheaper!) beach towel.


  • 1 beach towel per cover up (again – a thin towel is easier to work with and cheaper!)
  • elastic thread (1 spool of thread should make 2 cover ups)
  • Extra bobbins
  1. Take a beach towel fold it in half, wrong-side out, matching up the shorter sides. Think about how you wrap a towel around you when you dry off. If you are making this for a child, you may need to cut the towel down to a smaller size (or if it is for a larger person or you want a fuller skirt you may need to add up to 1/2 of a second towel).
  2. Sew the shorter sides together inside out to make a tube.
  3. Wind elastic thread by hand onto 3-4 bobbins. It will take that many to make 1 cover-up.
  4. Thread your needle with regular cotton thread that coordinates with your towel. Put the bobbin with elastic thread in your machine. You must use both types of thread together for this to work.
  5. Once you have made the tube wrap the towel around you and mark your waist or where you want the smocking to stop. For me that was between my waist and chest.
  6. Sew parallel vertical rows, starting at the top of the towel approximately 1/2″ apart. You don’t have to measure and mark each row. I just moved the material over the width of the presser foot.
  7. Stop sewing the parallel lines at the spot your marked in #5.
  8. Spray the elastic threads with water, then iron on the reverse side. You can also spray elastic threads and put the cover-up into the dryer (my choice!). The heat causes the elastic to pull together and “smock”.

TIP: You can add straps to the cover-up if needed. Simply take coordinating fabric or ribbon and sew straps. Be sure to measure the length of straps while you are wearing the cover-up to be sure the straps will fit properly.

TIP: You can add a ribbon under the last row of smocking to a solid color towel to add a punch of color or pattern.

Enjoy your new pool or beach cover-up!

Alternate Uses for a Toothbrush

The toothbrush is one of my favorite tools. Whether re-using one that has worn out (you should change your toothbrush every 3 months, or after being sick) or keeping inexpensive (dollar store) toothbrushes around for other things, I love using toothbrushes in non-traditional ways! Here are some great ways to use toothbrushes!

  1. Cleaning brush – This is especially great for a worn-out toothbrush. Use them to get into small areas and really scrub things clean. Just remember to mark anything that isn’t for use in mouths or that you use with chemicals. Great for grout and corners.
  2.  Cleaning corn – Use a new toothbrush to clean all the little hairs off of corn on the cob. Much cheaper than a veggie brush and works better!
  3. Painting – Let kids use a toothbrush to try all kinds of fun things with paint. Or use a toothbrush to help you distress a painted piece by adding flecks. Dip brush in paint and rub a finger over the bristles.
  4. Laundry – Use a toothbrush as a laundry brush to help scrub stubborn stains out.
  5. Jewelry – Use a toothbrush with this homemade jewelry cleaner to keep all your jewelry sparkling.

Do you have a tip for alternate uses for a toothbrush? Share it in the comments or Submit Your Tip!

Re-Use Idea: Dryer Sheet (USED)

Yes, you read that correctly. Ways to re-use dryer sheets that you have already used in the dryer. As promised in the Other Uses for Dryer Sheets (New)  post, here are some ideas for re-using dryer sheets that have already done their work in your dryer:

  1. Dusting electronics the used dryer sheets are especially great for dusting TVs and computers. It is better use the used sheet for this because the chemicals in a new sheet can potentially leave a film on your electronics.
  2. Kitchen Cleanup – Used dryer sheets are great for picking up kitchen spills such as flour, sugar, etc.
  3. Bug repellant – most used dryer sheets still have enough chemical left to work as a bug repellant. Just tuck them in your pockets, bag, or stroller.
  4. Offensive Odor – musty books or clothes that don’t smell fresh can be freshened by placing the item and a used dryer sheet in a zipper bag. The fragrance left will freshen your item.
  5. Vacuum – Place a used dryer sheet in your vacuum bag or canister to freshen your house as you sweep.
  6. Bathrooms – Use old dryer sheets to clean soap residue and chrome. Cleaning faucets, counters,  and glass with a used dryer sheet will also reduce the amount of dust or soap scum that adheres to a particular surface.
  7. Dusting Wood – Used dryer sheets are excellent for dusting wood furniture and getting into small carved areas.
  8. Cars – Freshen your car by placing a used dryer sheet under the seats. Dust the dash-board and clean the windows and chrome with a used dryer sheet.
  9. Scissors – wipe a used dryer sheet over scissor blades that aren’t cutting as well as they should. Now your scissors should cut much better.
  10. Shoes – a used dryer sheet will freshen up stinky shoes and one can be used to clean them up to a nice “new” shine.

Re-Use Idea: Pill Bottles

As we finish a prescription medicine I generally throw away the bottles. But as I go through this new habit of reusing and repurposing, I got to thinking about how these handy little bottles could be helpful to me in other areas. Here is a list of my favorite ways to re-use pill bottles.

TIP: Soak in warm, soapy water to remove all the labels.

  1. Antacids – Put a few antacids in a pill bottle for travel or in your purse. This allows you to buy in bulk.
  2. Breath Mints – much like #1 – buy them in larger portions and keep them in your purse in a pill bottle.
  3. Bobby Pins & Hair Bands – I keep a few of each in a pill bottle in my purse, the car, the beach bag, backpacks (can you tell we have girls?!)
  4. Craft and Office Supplies – use these to store beads, paper clips, staples, poms, and whatever other small craft or office supply you can think of!
  5. Bathroom – Use these to store cotton balls, cotton swabs, and other bathroom items that you buy in bulk in smaller amounts in your vanity.
  6. Bandages – Keep a few bandages in your purse or car in a pill bottle.
  7. Small Toys – Use these bottles to store Polly Pocket clothes & accessories, Barbie shoes, small Lego pieces that are specific to one set, etc. Just be sure to label the bottles so you know what each thing goes with!
  8. Game Pieces – We use pill bottles to store dice and other small game pieces to keep them from getting lost, when boxes break, or when we want to take the games with us when we go someplace.
  9. Matches – This makes great storage so matches don’t get wet and – bonus – most kids are already trained to stay away from pill bottles.
  10. Othodontic Bands – These bottles make great storage for rubber bands for those who wear braces.
  11. Pain Relief Medicines – Put ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and other over the counter medicines in a pill bottle to keep in your purse, car, or first aid kit. Be sure to label the bottles with the medicine and the strength.
  12. Workshop – Use these handy bottles to store screws, nails, nuts, picture hooks and all the little things you keep around your tools and workshop.
  13. Spices – Put smaller amounts of spices into these bottles when you buy in bulk. This will keep your pantry or spice cabinet organized. Be sure to label carefully!

How do you re-use pill bottles? Share your ideas in Submit Your Tip!