Mother Nature is My Home Girl

Happy Earth Day, y’all!   (And thanks, Google… you always come through with your clever home screens right when I think I might forget medium important holidays and random botanists’ birthdays.)

But seriously, I love the planet, I love DIY, and it’s no secret that I love saving the murnies, so logically I love upcycling like nobody’s business.

Bring on the Earth-Day-themed-upcycling-posts-throwback-round-up-trip-down-memory-lane-smorgasbord-of-April-twenty-second’s love!


(Click on the image or the link above the image to take you to the original post!)

Vinyl Record Bowl

free dog toy toilet paper roll

Nice Knobs!  (Salvaged Crystal Door Knobs)


Vintage Yardsticks and Rulers

{Source: Corner House Blog}

Wine Cork Crafts

{Source: ewehoo!}


No-Sew Scarf Tutorial


Look what I made!


Now ask me some questions.  Ok?  Go!

You:  Courtney, did you have to use a sewing machine to make that fringed scarf?

Me:  Nope.

You:  Did you use a needle and thread?

Me:  Nope!

You:  Did you use… the force?

Me:  Always.

Ok, thanks for humoring me.  You’re too good.

So… If you’re not attuned to magical Star Wars powers, that’s ok.  You can still make this.  Ready?

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • An old shirt that you’re willing to part with (I used a tank top that had been ruined in the wash)
  • Scissors (for fabric)
  • About an hour of your time (I recommend doing this while watching TV)

1.  Cut off the top, just under the armholes so you end up with a tube shape.

2.  Cut thin and even strips of fringe about a third of the way up the “tube.”  I recommend really taking your time on this.  The first few I did were a little haphazard, before I realized it was not going to turn out well if I didn’t slow down (story of my life).  Cut the fringe all the way around the tube.

3.  Once you are done cutting, twist and pull each piece of fringe (so it actually resembles fringe and not so much cookie cutter strips of fabric).

4.  To get an even more shabby chic, fringe-y look, I recommend hand washing it, then hanging it up and letting it air dry (I wouldn’t machine wash it because then all of the fringe will tangle up).

Then you can wear it!



This was my very first attempt, and the shirt I used was a ribbed tank.  I think here it’s a little more obvious that it’s a shirt turned into a scarf, but I think it would work even better if it was a thinner cotton material, like the kind that a lot of women’s graphic tees are made of.  In my case, I used a women’s size small, so I’m guessing anything much bigger might be too big (unless you have an extraordinarily long torso).

My favorite thing about this project is that it reuses a shirt that would have been otherwise destined for the thrift store or garbage can.  Or in my case, just another addition to an already large collection of painting shirts (I mean, it’s kind of out of control).

Not to mention, there’s a scarf involved.  I mean, can you have too many scarves?!?!

(No, Josh.  The answer is “no,” you cannot have too many scarves.)

Because EVERYONE Loves a Bicycle Wheel

Hey, remember this post about all of the new additions to my crafty to do list?  Well, perhaps my favorite addition was this bicycle wheel organizer:

And it just so happens that I had recently found a bicycle wheel hanging out on the curb (this means the wheel was garbage, i.e., fair game).  At the time, I had no clear vision of what I wanted to do with it,  but I loved the clean, modern lines that are inherently “bicycle” and I knew that inspiration would eventually hit me.

So piggybacking on the idea of a bicycle wheel organizer, I decided to make a sort of bicycle wheel collage board for pictures.

And here it is:

Let’s discuss.

I was originally set on attaching this to the wall and using it as a sort of lazy Susan to do list.  However, when I started playing around with that idea, my interest began to wane, and I kept coming back to the idea of attaching black and white photos instead.  And so I did.

As I’d seen before, I used wooden clothespins to attach the pictures.  But since I was already using black and white photos, I wanted to add color somehow, so I painted the clothespins Tiffany blue.

That’s right, Rosario the paintbrush strikes again (twice in one week, y’all!).

Along with the pictures, I also attached our Save-the-Date and a love note from each of us.

I didn’t say these were long love notes.  :)

I’m pretty pleased with the end result, not to mention the rest of the re-organizing I did with the top of the dresser.

And yes, Josh makes fun of me for it (and you can, too), but I love color coordinating books that are on display.  I mean, it’s like free art, and I like to have it staged just so.  Woe to the man who doesn’t put them back in the predetermined color order (I’m talking to you, Josh).

Happy Bicycling/Upcycling!

P.S.  For those of you new to this blog, Josh is my husband.

Can’t you tell he’s a troublemaker?

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!

My Ever Growing Crafty To Do List

So, I spent the last week in Atlanta visiting family and friends, and per usual, “visiting” evolved into shopping with my lady family members.  And also per usual, “shopping” evolved into me getting camera phone happy, especially when we were in stores with really great merchandising, design, and decor — typically the boutiques.  Yes, I did some actual shopping — you know, where you exchange currency for goods? —  but mostly I was  window shopping, and like I said, snapping away some inspirational pics.

…Which means my already overflowing crafty to do list has grown a little longer.

On my first day in town, my mother took me to a few boutiques, as well as a really great “designer” consignment shop (where she proceeded to spoil me all in the name of “this is what the Easter Bunny will be giving you”).  Amidst the quasi shopping spree that results when you haven’t seen your only daughter in eight months, I got a few ideas.

My mom and I saw this chandelier in a boutique, and we both got our phones out in unison.  We thought it was pretty picture-worthy.

It’s made from three different circular-wire-metal things with vintage book pages clipped to each circle.  I think this idea would work especially well with old dictionary pages or sheet music.  And I’m guessing the paper is magically flame retardant or the light bulbs are really low wattage?  Not quite sure how to jump this hurdle.  Or the whole finding/making-circular-wire-metal things.  Or finding room for another light fixture in my already crowded shoebox apartment.  Ok… this project might be going to the bottom of the list.  But isn’t it cool?!

While at another boutique, I saw these fun necklaces made from jersey material:

I think I could easily duplicate these by cutting some long strips from old t-shirts (but I won’t tell that to the boutique owners who were charging $30 per necklace).

This same store had more jersey jewelry, including braided bracelets and headbands — but did I take any pictures?  Nope.  But here’s an example of what they looked like from an Etsy seller:

Multi-Color Braided T-Shirt Bracelet - Eco Friendly

{Source: Urban Creatures}

On my Shopping-But-Mostly-Hoarding-Crafty-Ideas Trip Part 2, I went with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to The Avenue, an open-air mall (they feature national retailers, but they also have local places).

At one boutique, I snapped this pic of a glitter tree and a fab dresser:

But more importantly, there was a glitter tree.  I don’t know what I’ll use it for, but I’ll be damned if I don’t make a glitter tree in the year 2012.  I’m pretty sure it will change my life.

Then, my mama-in-law, knowing how I love DIY, gave me a copy of Birds & Blooms, the Backyard Projects publication.  She told me that while she knew I had no backyard, no blooms, and no birds (city savvy pigeons don’t count), she loved all of the upcycling projects and knew I would, too (she was right).

Here’s a great gift idea I found:

{Source: Birds & Blooms}

Again, I have no green thumb, much less a place to plant green things, but I know many a gardener who would love their own plant markers.  (Hark!  Do I hear a holiday coming up on Sunday, May 13th?)

I couldn’t find the rest of the ideas on the Birds & Blooms website, so I got out my trusty scanner and did it up 90’s style.  (I know scanners are still totally practical, but  for some reason they remind me of fax machines, which are undeniably reminiscent of the 90’s).

Here’s a cool idea for a planter:

Again, I’m not going to be planting anything any time soon, but I’m a big fan of mailboxes-used-as-other-things in general:

Josh and I used this in our wedding on the gift table so guests had a place to put cards.  At the time, the handle was completely orange, but over time, the paint has chipped away.  Now it just holds toilet paper and hangs out in our bathroom.

More importantly, you were just privy to a picture of my toilet.  Now I feel so much closer to you…

And continuing my love for DIY lamps, here’s a great bamboo light shade:

I love it the way it is, but I think I’d like it even more if it was a bit shorter.

And, saving my favorite idea for last, here is a bicycle wheel organizer:

It looks like they’ve put some vintage seed packets in the spokes, but I would to-do-list the crap out of this thing.  I love the idea of using orange, green, and turquoise paper to write down reminders and ideas, then attaching them with clothespins.  And best of all, I could spin it!  It’d be like a lazy Susan to do list… I mean, how could that be bad?

And… it just so happens, I recently found a discarded bicycle wheel on the street in Brooklyn.  I had no idea what I wanted to do with it, but I knew crafty inspiration would strike.

Here’s my newly cleaned bicycle wheel, ready for my next project:

Oh boy!  Oh boy!

Happy Monday :)

Things that (P)inspire Me: Upcycled Suitcase Furniture

(Sorry for the two day absence — I’ve been on vacation visiting family in the ATL, and the general sense of warm fuzziness and good times distracted me.  However, as you are reading this, it is likely that most lingering feelings of  warm fuzziness have dissolved, as Josh and I are driving back to NYC — that’s 15 HOURS of interstate, y’all.  The one thing I do have to look forward to, aside from the dazzling company of my tall companion, is Bluegrass Junction on XM  radio… because it. is. the. JAM.  Yes!)

This Friday’s round-up features something that I first saw a little over a year ago while browsing around the ol’ Interwebz: Upcycled Suitcase Furniture.  I’ve always loved using suitcases as furniture or as a unique form of storage. Growing up in my parents’ house, my mom always had a stack of vintage suitcases that functioned both as storage and as an end table.  Carrying over that same idea, I’ve used a vintage suitcase both as a conversation piece and as a storage space for a couple of years:


However, this round-up takes it to the next level.  These artisans have crafted everything from suitcase chairs to suitcase dog beds.  Per usual, you can click on the pic below to go the original source (the websites are listed in the captions as well). Enjoy!

suitcase dog bed

Suitcase dog bed {Source: Houzz}

suitcase credenza

Stacked suitcase credenza {Source: Waterfront Hotel via Apartment Therapy}

suitcase chair

Suitcase chair {Source: Recreate}

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Suitcase cat bed {Source: Vintage Renaissance Etsy shop via Recyclart}

Suitcase dresser {Source: James Plumb via Modern Home Today}

suitcase end tables

Suitcase end tables {Source: Salvage Shack Etsy shop}

suitcase chair, katie thomspon, recycled suitcases, recycled materials, upcycled materias, samsonite suitcases, green chairs, recycled chairs, recycled seating design, diy

Suitcase chair {Source: Katie Thompson via Inhabitat}

Suitcase chair {Source: Recreate via homedit}

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Suitcase chair {Source: Recreate via Kaboodle}

recycled suitcase iOZBg 5638

Suitcase furniture {Source: Eco Friend}

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

Image URL:

Link URL:

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.


Things that (P)inspire me: Fused Plastic Projects

This week’s Pinterest round-up features fused plastic!  This stuff, made from plastic grocery bags is a great way to both recycle and create a free material, similar to a thin vinyl.  And the best part is, it can go through a sewing machine!  (Though I don’t sew, so this won’t be an avenue I’ll be exploring any time soon.)

Here are my findings!  As always, click on the image for a link back to the original source (gotta keep up the good blogging karma, y’all).

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Fused plastic tote.  Source:  Betz White

(Do you spy the Target bullseyes?  Yes!)

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Fused plastic lunch tote.  Source:  Upcycled Design Lab

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Fused plastic purse.  Source:

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Fused plastic wallet.  Source:

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Fused plastic wallet.  Source:  Figaflors i Braves

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Fused plastic tote.  Source:  Flickriver

(I think there’s a Home Depot bag in there somewhere…)

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Fused plastic flower necklace.  Source:  Emily Grace

Fused plastic bibs.  Source:  The Pretty Bean (Etsy shop)

(I looove the use of the bread bag!)

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Fused plastic tote bag.  Source:  Lark Crafts

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Fused plastic eyeglass case.  Source:  Eclecti

Then… I was so inspired, I tried my hand at the stuff!  Turns out, it’s super easy.  Check back next week for a full tutorial!

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

Image URL:

Link URL:

Other things that might inspire you…

Wine Cork Crafts

Recycling Tin Cans

Things That (P)inspire Me

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