It’s Earth Day! (almost)

Holy upcycling linkfest, Batman! It’s almost Earth Day!

It’s actually this Sunday, but since I don’t do the blog thing on weekends, today I thought I would do a little compilation of some of my more earth-friendly posts in lieu of the usual “Things that (P)inspire Me” post.  But brace your green, tree hugging self — it’s a list of 15 links featuring ways to upcycle everything from vinyl records to used egg cartons.  Not for the faint of heart crafting.

Hope these inspire you in the event that you’re feeling upcycle-crafty at any point between now and Sunday.  Or… ever.

Yay Earth!

Beer Cap Magnets (and other handmade goodies)

beer cap magnets

Vinyl Record Bowl

Wine Cork Crafts

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{Source: two twenty one}

Vintage Yardstick and Ruler Furniture

{Source: Corner House Blog}

Antique Singer Sewing Machine Dining Room Table

 Wooden Pallet Furniture

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{Source: My Friend Staci}

Paint Chip Projects

{Source: Joe Montano, Big Ass Book of Home Decor}

Tissue Paper Projects

{Source: Martha Stewart}

Fused Plastic Tutorial

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Beer Can Crafts

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{Source: Atomic Shrimp}

Upcycled Plastic Bottles

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{Source: Sarah Turner}

Ransom Note Art

Egg Carton Crafts 

egg carton flowers

{Source: Intimate Weddings}

Upcycled Suitcase Furniture

recycled suitcase iOZBg 5638

{Source: EcoFriend}

Now go hug a tree.

Happy (almost) Earth Day!


Fused Plastic Tutorial

Recently I brought you a Pinterest love-fest of Fused Plastic Projects.  Here a few highlights:

(Click on images to link back to the original source website)

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Source: Betz White

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Source: Emily Grace

Yeah, there are some crazy creative people out there.  With sewing skills.  (Which I lack.)

Anyways... inspired by the inventiveness of fused plastic and my own desire to do it myself, I did a little research.  Turns out, it’s super easy to make!  Best of all, it’s super cheap (darn close to free), it’s a quick process, and it’s upcycling a resource that’s often fated to a landfill: plastic bags.

I’m sure a lot of you go the reuseable-bag route  (I try to remember them, but I actually use the grocery bags as trash can liners, so I sometimes end up with a few extra ones, i.e., craft supplies!).  However, even if you opt out of the grocery bags, you probably still encounter other kinds of plastic bags from time to time (think of packaging for a loaf of bread, especially those retro-fabulous Wonder Bread bags).

For this particular project, I used black bodega bags.  These are especially fun because they have gold and silver metallic striping on one side, which I used to cut out a C and J (for Courtney and Josh… not K-Ci and Jo Jo… but good guess).

fused plastic

Then I took about 4 bags and cut off the handles and the bottom:

With the handles and bottom cut off, the bag can have a larger surface area to work with.  Open up bag, unfolding the sides, and lay flat.

See the difference in workable surface area?

fused plastic

After four bags are cut, opened, and layered, you should have a stack that is 8-ply (4 X 2 = 8).  I wouldn’t recommend anything thinner, otherwise you’ll end up with holes and the final material will not have as much structural integrity (yeah, that’s right: structural integrity).

And I tried a mere 6-ply, by the way:  lots of holes…

Yeah, that’s no fun.

Then I placed the layered bags (with the cut out C and J on top) in between two layers of parchment paper, then placed this parchment-plastic “sandwich” on an ironing board.

Sold in most grocery stores...

In a well-ventilated area, e.g., the fire escape, I ironed on high until plastic was fused.  Don’t let the brevity of that statement mislead you into thinking that this is a fast, fool-proof process.  It does take a little time, a little patience, and a lot of ironing.  You iron directly onto the parchment, making sure to never let the hot iron touch the actual plastic (or you’ll have gelatinous plastic goo… which is nearly impossible to clean up).

Iron all over the paper, never keeping the iron in one place for too long (this is how you get holes).  Occasionally peel back paper to see the plastic’s progress.  Remember, bubbly is bad:

Fused plastic with a lot of air bubbles will not be as durable, so if this is how your plastic is looking, replace the parchment and continue ironing.  The ideal texture should be something like raw silk or crepe.

After you’ve achieved the necessary texture, remove from parchment and allow to cool.  Then, you can cut it, sew it, glue it, love it, whatever your crafty heart desires!  As showcased in my Pinterest finds, this material can absolutely go through a sewing machine, and can be treated just like any kind of vinyl or thick crepe.

All “that’s what she said” jokes aside, see how thick and hard it is?  (I know, I know…)

And here are both of the finished products:

See?  This method doesn’t alter text or melt the ink, so bags with fun logos or messages can definitely be used for this project.

As you can see, I haven’t quite figured out what to do with this material yet (nor have I come up with a plan for the other 5 zillion plastic bags I’ve saved over the past few months, including ones with Target bullseyes, Wonder Bread logos, smiley faces, trees, kitschy phrases and… the list goes on).

Maybe I should take a sewing class…

…or two.

So, in summary:

How about you fine folks?  Have you recently tried your hand at an upcycling project?  Or a sewing project?  Or both?!  Share below in comment form, or e-mail me:

Other upcycling ideas…

Wooden Pallets

Wine Corks

Tin Cans

Beer Cans

Vinyl Records

Yardsticks and Rulers

Paint Chips

Beer Can Appreciation Day

Today is Beer Can Appreciation Day!

No, really.  That’s a real thing.

Though beer has been brewed for literally thousands of years (some archaeologists speculate as early as 4,500 B.C), the whole beer-in-a-can thing is a relatively new concept.

This years marks the 76th anniversary of canning beer, so I thought I would pause and do a little Google image/Pinterest search and showcase some fun things to do with used beer cans — because canned beer is always a cheaper and slightly greener option, but it still produces a lot of waste (that hopefully you choose to recycle or upcycle).

And while I was at it, I extended my search to soda cans and pull tabs as well…

As always, click on the image for a link back to the original source website.

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Box made from cans!

Source:  Atomic Shrimp

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Can Lantern Lights

Source:  RubyvVermillion

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Soda can lights

Source:  Diary of a Crafty Chica

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Source:  The Star Online

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Bracelets made from cans

Source:  Bubbley Boutique  (Etsy shop)

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Can car

Source:  Sandy’s CanCars

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Soda can ash tray or tealight holder


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Pull tab chandelier

Source:  Purple Homes  (designed by Mauricio Affonso

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Vase made from beer cans

Source:  Wonder How To

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Beer can butterflies

Source:  Gearfuse

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Beer can plane

Source:  Robot Nine

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Pull tab clutch

Source:  Design Boom

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Beer Can Chicken

Source:  E-Rcps

Ta da!  Hope you enjoyed these ideas.  And of course, if you have any of your own, feel free to share in comment form below.


Free dog toy using a toilet paper roll!

free dog toy toilet paper roll

Winter time is here, it’s cold outside, and if your furry family members are anything like mine, they are a bit reluctant when it comes to going outside.

really cute dogs

Well, Nola is, especially since she has almost no body fat.  Margeaux does a little better because she has a little extra “junk in the trunk.”  We affectionately refer to her as Extra Cargo Margeaux (just more of her to love!).

With temperatures often being too low to take them to the park and let them run and play (a wind chill of nine degrees just doesn’t sound safe to me), and with my own human unwillingness to be outside for more than the time it takes me to walk to the car or subway station, we are left with two dogs with a serious case of cabin fever (or shoebox-sized apartment fever, in this case).

Cabin/apartment/whatever-small-space fever does not suit dogs very well, particularly mine.

See Exhibit AMy wedding shoes.

NOT the kind of open toed shoes I had in mind.


I’d show you a pic of the other one, but it was chewed to smithereens.

Now, this type of destruction is rare, especially since our dogs are no longer puppies, but I still keep the shoe on our entertainment center as a constant reminder of the raw power of an unstimulated dog.

Of course, you don’t have to go spend a bunch of money on dog toys (though those are good too — try Dollar Tree and Rite Aid for $1-3 toys).  Dog toys can be made from many common household items!  You may remember my first post of this nature from a few months ago where we made a dog toy out of a plastic water bottle.

Today’s toy is also free and made from a material that you would otherwise trash or recycle: empty toilet paper rolls!

The method is super fast, easy, and — one more time, y’all — it’s free!

First take an empty toilet paper roll.

Fold it in at one end with your hands, making a triangle shape.

Fill with a treat(s) and close the other end in the same fashion.

Present to your dog and watch them work it out!


As with the plastic bottle dog toy, some dogs may struggle with it at first; others may open it immediately and find the treat.

If your dog is like Margeaux, she’ll use her paws and teeth to actually open the end of the toilet paper roll and daintily remove the treat (and then not so daintily eat it).

If your dog is like Nola, she’ll eviscerate the toilet paper roll, as well as the food inside, then she’ll try to eat the cardboard as well.


Yeah, we have to keep an eye on her.

While I’ve read from many sources that this kind of cardboard is relatively harmless if ingested, it’s always best to avoid it, so if you have a more Nola kind of dog, just throw away the rest when he or she is done with the actual edible components.  Hooray!  It’s a good brain workout for dogs, a confidence booster (once they actually succeed in removing the treat, that is), and definitely helps to expend a little bottled up energy  And it costs zero dollars (also known as free.  Hope your dogs enjoy it as much as mine do!

And in case you hadn’t gotten enough pictures of my dogs…


Other things you might enjoy…

Plastic water bottle dog toy

Upcycled tin cans

Wine cork crafts

Things that (P)inspire Me: Wine Cork Crafts

***Is (P)inspire a made up word?  Of course.  But it comes from Pinterest, a fabulous organizational and free website that you should check out (now) if you’ve never heard of it before!  Also, check out similar posts here.

My mother — you may remember her — recently gave me the challenge of researching crafty uses for wine corks.  She’s helping throw an Italian-themed dinner party for 67 ladies (I forget the details).  They have about 70 wine corks and wanted to make party favors, so that’s about one cork per guest.  Challenge:  Accepted!

I turned to the ol’ Google image search and Pinterest for inspiration (I had a few ideas up my sleeve, but I like to get inspiration from those who have gone before me).

Here are my finds; some of them only require one cork, others… a lot of corks.  I sort of went off on a multi-corked tangent.  Ah well.  Hopefully, if you have a burgeoning cork collection, like I do, you may find uses for them among these ideas.

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Cork place card holders

Source:  New England Fine Living

Corks in a Vase

Source:  Reuse- Create

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Cork Hurricane

Source:  Two Twenty One

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Cork Parson's Chair

Source:  Urban Objects

cork USB

Source:  Zedomax

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cork club chair

Source:  Recyclart

cork heart

Source:  ewehoo!

cork wreath

Source:  Sterling Wine Online

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cork sphere

Source:  Glam Granola

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Cork "cork board"

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

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champagne cork drawer pulls

Source:  Dollar Store Crafts

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Cork ink stamps

Source: DIY Life

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cork keychains

Source:  Cleverly Inspired

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cork in a vase with a candle

Source:  Love of the Sea

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cork monograms

Source:  Green is Universal

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Another variation of the cork board

Source:  Adventures in Creating

little cork planters, cute!!

cork planters

Source:  Piccsy

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Another variation of a cork place card holder

Source:  Party Frosting

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cork coffee table

Source:  Houzz

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Cork backsplash

Source:  Houzz

Grab a button if you were featured on this week’s round-up!

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Other things you might enjoy…

Vintage Yardstick and Ruler Crafts

Upcycled Can Projects

Champagne Taste Test

Things that (P)inspire Me: DIY Christmas Wreaths

It’s a Pinterest party up in here this week, and today I want to talk about DIY Christmas Wreaths!

(What’s Pinterest?  Go their website and/or read my spiel about it.  There.  All better now.)

You may remember my wreath from my previous decorating post:

Currently, this is hanging on my bedroom door, but I don’t yet have one for my front door.  The bell wreath was a gift, but I knew that I wanted to try my hand at making the next one.  Check out my latest Pinterest finds — all DIY and all cost-effective (because we like it that way).


(All images are linked to their original sources — Just Click!)

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A different take on a wreath -- a painted picture frame, with ornaments and a bow.

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Probably not the best choice for a front door, but I really like the method. Perhaps use Christmas cards instead?

OK, here’s where I derail… sort of.  So, I found those two lovely ideas (above) and then I remembered a concept I’d seen before:  paper cone wreaths.  I started searching for images so I could share with all of you — especially since I think this will be the kind of wreath I make — and somehow I ended up pinning nearly a dozen other paper cone wreaths.  Maybe this post should be called “Paper Cone Wreaths, Courtney’s New Obsession.”  I mean, seriously… it’s about to get a little silly.  So without further ado, my “sub post”:

Paper Cone Wreaths, Courtney’s New (slightly unhealthy) Obsession:

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One of the simpler versions. Still lovely.

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Another simple sheet music cone wreath.

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Similar to the one above, but with an angel figurine in the middle (That's the angel of the Lord, y'all!).

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Oooh... Now we're gettin' fancy! This was made with multiple cones at various angles (According to the website this came from, these are made from pages in an old book).

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Pretty girl... This wreath was made with pages from a romance novel (ooh la la!) and instead of rolling the pages into cones, she ruffled them by folding them in and attaching them to a styrofoam wreath base.

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Back to the cone idea, but this Etsy seller added colored paper around and inside some of the cones. Niiice... I think I've found the wreath I want to make :)

Yeah, that’s just some of them.  Like I said… I sort of got carried away.  Needless to say, there are MANY different types of wreaths out there… and many can be made  by YOU for next to nothing.

Once I get around to making mine (probably a version of the last one) I’ll definitely post pics here!

Grab a button if you were featured on this week’s round-up!

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Other stuff you might like…

Things That (P)inspire Me

Twelve Weeks of Christmas (on going series)

DIY Holiday Ornaments and Tree Toppers

DIY Garlands

This picture of my dogs

Things that (P)inspire me: Upcycled Cans

The holidays are upon us, and you know that with the holidays, usually comes delicious food…  Likely, a lot of this food will be homemade.  If so, you will undoubtedly incur a lot of food packaging waste.  Some will have to go straight to the garbage (re-using Styrofoam meat trays is not cute), but a lot of it can be recycled… or better yet, REPURPOSED!  (click on the link — you know you want to).

What turned me on to this whole idea in the first place was what I saw as I was walking down the streets o’ Brooklyn on trash day this past week.  Lots of bags of trash, lots of recycling, lots of… “what is that??”


And yeah, I know… Recycling is good.  But… UPcycling is fun!!!  And think of it this way: Free materials!  (because crafting supplies really can cost some serious money.)

So, I thought — and realized, after looking in my own recycling bin — that since a big majority of the food related recyclables are cans (think: cans of crushed tomatoes, pumpkin pie filling, beans, cranberry sauce, etc.) I needed to scrounge up some crafty-whacha-ma-call-its that require cans (you know, so I could sleep better at night).

Well… what could be a better place to look than Pinterest?

(I often turn to Pinterest in times like this…)

So, for your viewing pleasure, and hopefully crafting pleasure, here are my Pinterest finds — and some good ol’ fashioned Google search finds — that use cans.

(To redirect yourself to the original location of these ideas, click on the image.  And if you really like these ideas, repin them yourself!  Share the love!)


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Tin can table numbers. These would also be great with a monogram. Source: 100 Layer Cake I love how the inside is painted a different color and it shows through the numbers.

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Tiered vase. Everything looks better when spray painted. Source: Sweet Paul Magazine

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Cans wrapped in textured wallpaper. Source: Martha Stewart

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Spray paint and florals. Yes, please. Source: Luna and Chloe Weddings

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Tin cans for organization. Pretty... Looks like they just added lace, old sheet music or book pages, and some other stuff. Source: Shabby Chic Inspired

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This looks like it belongs in my mother's crafty room. Source: Cynthia Shaffer

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Tin can dog. I don't necessarily want one of these for myself, but it'd be great in a kid's room. Source: Martha Stewart

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Tin can luminary. I smell an outdoor wedding... Source: Viva Terra

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Tin can picture frame -- she just took the outside and unrolled it. Super creative! This would also be great if spray painted. Source: Gingerbread Snowflakes

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Tin can votive. Pretty. Hammer and nails are magic :) Source: Charlotte Upfield Cermics

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Herbs! These would make good teacher's gifts or wedding favors. Source: You are My Fave

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This may seem a bit obvious, but still lovely. Source:

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Tin can mugs with bent forks for handles. Except for the pastel part, these would be perfectly at home on a camping trip (but I wouldn't know). Source:

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Hanging votive.

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Tin can wine rack. Niiice. Source: Michelle Kaufman

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Wall art. Or a great wall organizer. Source: Green Upgrader

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Another tin can wall organizer. Source: HGTV

Grab a button if you were featured on this week’s round-up!

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