Decor Recycling - Spring on the Balcony

Posted on May 14, 2016 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (2)

I love spring because it means that I get to decorate my balcony and my studio with an eclectic mix of vintage and found objects that have been stored away over winter. The warmer weather allows me to expand my living space. Here are a few of my balcony ideas.

I invite bird visitors to my balcony, not with bird feeders (these only attract pigeons!) but with bird baths - both water and sand. Birds like to take a dip into the sand bath to rid themselves of any pesky little insects that hide amongs their feathers. I make both types of bird baths using clay pots and saucers. I attach the saucers to the pots with velcro - that way I can undo them easily for storage or use for my extra plants.

Because wasps and hornets can be a problem when eating al fresco, I hang little jars of sugared water (flat coke works, too) a few feet away from where I will be dining. That way, the insects get their meal while I enjoy mine. By the way, the insects survive their little dip and I set them free once I've finished my meal.

I like to have a pot or two of herbs on my patio table while I work and usually pot these up in whatever container I have handy. This year, I potted my Italian parsley in empty maple syrup tins. This way I get to nibble on something while I work and the scent of herbs can be soothing.

When the sun goes down, I light up my patio with candles set in small vintage yogurt jars and topped with a few vintage cheese graters. I place these on an old laundry bench that I picked up in England.

As you can see, it's really easy to create a unique and personal atmosphere on your balcony or even in a small garden space just by using what you have on hand.

Tomorrow - what I do inside my studio.

Garden Recycling - Plastic Containers 1

Posted on May 11, 2016 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (0)

I'm getting so impatient to start my little balcony garden. I've managed to start chives, garlic, and thyme plants this year and have kept these nice and warm under my kitchen sink. Now it's time to get them outside. However, here in Ottawa it's still a little too cool to put out my plants. My plastic milk containers, all in a row, are ready to be filled. 

I slipped a bamboo rod throw the handles of each container to hold them in place and then added two over-the-door hooks to secure the rod to my balcony railing. I love this time of gardening as it saves me lots of room on my long, but very narrow, balcony. And it's portable, too, so I can move it when the plants need more sunshine. Once the plants are too big for the containers, I will transplant them into bigger garden pots. 

Spring Weekend Recycling Projects

Posted on April 23, 2016 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

The weekend's just started and if you want to get outside and do something, but nothing too strenuous, how about these four projects?

I've got a collection of vintage trucks that I use for all kinds of things, including this one. Just plunk a couple of potted plants in the truck and you're done. The little guy loves these truck plant pots and spends hours pushing them around the back green garden. 

Make a statement with these bashed and banged up tin cans. Just paint with any leftover paint you have on hand, plunk in some daffodil bulbs and wait for the flowers to appear.

For a little indoor spring project magic, this little frame is just the ticket. I photocopied a page from an old French lease that I found in Paris and decoupaged it onto a charity shop frame. I found the fern lying on the ground in a neighbour's yard, pressed it, and stuck it in the frame.  

This entire project uses recycled material. I have a terranium that's overflowing with moss (I can't remember what it's called, unfortunately) so I removed some. Then I took some Styrofoam computer packaging, shaped it, smoothed on some soil and then applied the moss. I twisted some bits of wire into U-shapes and used these to hold the moss in place. Twigs support the plant and the basket is one I found in a tip during one of my morning walks. Took a bit of time to look this good as the moss had to settle. To maintain the moss I just spritz it daily with water.

Try any of these ideas (or make up your own) and your friends will be amazed by your creativity and your wallet will stay filled with green.

Earth Day Every Day

Posted on April 22, 2016 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (0)

If we all practice Earth Day every day, we will make a difference. All it takes is one small step - whether it's donating to or volunteering for a local non-profit environmental organization; whether you decide to cycle or walk instead of using your car; whether you decide to plant a tree; whether it's refusing plastic packaging - whatever your action, it will make a differenc. Start now and keep on.

Earth Day Project - Don't Buy More Clothes

Posted on April 21, 2016 at 7:20 AM Comments comments (0)

I know that I promised a recycling clothes post, but I've decided to rant about used clothing instead!.

A friend of my daughter's, a nurse, spends six months a year volunteering at an AIDS hospital in Africa. Many of the families of AIDS victims (mostly women with kids) are the poorest of the poor in their communities. She helped to set up a local initiative for these women to make fashionable accessories from the little bits of leftover fabric made at a local, traditional, textile manufacturer. The accessories, mostly small bags, are beautifully handmade by the village women using eco-friendly treadle sewing machines (remember those?). These bags are made to be sold at local markets. 

However, the influx of tons and tons of used clothing (purses and shoes), from North America and Europe, selling at low prices makes it extremely difficult for these women to sell their products. And what, you ask, is the source of these castoffs? Well, our charity shops, for one. Tons of clothes that are 'recycled' by charity shops are destined for developing countries where they are sold at local markets so cheaply that local clothing makers can't survive. In sending our old mass-produced garments to Africa, we are depriving people there of a viable locally-based livelihood, and at the same also destroying traditional clothing manufacturing.

Do we really need to buy new outfits every season? Is it so important to be in 'style' and toss out perfectly good clothing before heading out to buy more? The irony in all this is that if you are in need of a new coat, sweater, blouse, etc, one of the best places to buy good quality are charity shops in your home town.

If you sew, you can make a second-hand good quality outfit fit better or be more fashion-forward. Or you can repurpose that outfit into something else: the internet is bursting with sites that offer thousands of ways for you to repurpose those castoffs: turn a t-shirt into a bag, jeans into a pillow cover, make pillow covers from old shirts, etc., etc. If you don't sew yourself, hire a local seamstress to do it for you.

Any used clothing that does not end up in the ragtrade or  in developing countries, ends up in landfills - another reason to keep clothes buying to a minimum. According to the Triple Pundit website, "Decomposing clothing releases methane, a harmful greenhouse gas and a significant contributor to global warming. There are dyes and chemicals in fabric and other components of clothing and shoes that can leach into the soil, contaminating both surface and groundwater."

You''ll not only be helping to keep used clothing from being dumped abroad but also landfills, but give someone in your hometown a job. 

Think about it and then read about the impact your your discarded clothes have on poor countries.

Where do your old clothes go?  

What Happens to Your Used Clothing?

The hidden trade in our second-hand clothes given to charity. 

Let's keep clothing out of the landfills.

Earth Day Project - Wood Recycling

Posted on April 19, 2016 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

I live in downtown Ottawa and it seems new building construction sites keep popping up here, there and everywhere. On my morning walks, I often find piles of leftover lumber left for rubbish at the curbside. Often the pieces are too big for me to take home (although I have upon occasion dragged a few home, much to the consternation of our building's concierge). It's a shame to throw wood into the landfill when there are so many other options. If you've just finished a remodeling or rebuilding job or just have a horde taking up space in the garage, rather than throwing out the wood, get creative and repurpose it instead.

Why not build a birdhouse, a picture frame, or make wooden toys for your kids?

If you're handy with a hammer and saw, build a bookshelf or clothes hanger.

Create a raised vegetable garden patch or put together a trellis for your garden. If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, you can use untreated wood for firewood.

If you’d rather get rid of it, donate your leftover lumber to Habitat for Humanity, a scrapyard, or a high-school woodworking shop; put it on Freecycle, Kijiji, or Gumtree.

You can also check with your city or your local recycling facility to see what any other options are available. Some facilities will put clean wood through a chipper and mix it with other materials to use as a soil enhancer.

These are only a few steps that can be taken to keep wood from piling up at landfills and save a few trees. There are tons of inventive and creative ideas all over the internet. Take the time to look and see what you can do with your piles (pun intended).