a view from the laundry pile…

…it's all about perspective.

Repost: More Ways To Reuse Glass Bottles

I love to reuse, repurpose, and upcycle whenever I can find or come up with ways to do it and, when I came across this post today, I thought it had some rather clever ideas to try. Here are a few of my favorites!

Vacation Memory Jars

Vacation Memory Jars

Baby Food Jar Hanging Vases

Baby Food Jar Hanging Vases

Sewing Kits

Sewing Kits

Stacked Storage

Stacked Storage

Here is the link to the full post with credits and sources for making your own!


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The Garage Door Project

Between the move and figuring out what to do with the 5 acres of property (and I am certainly not complaining. It’s a glorious space!), it’s been a very busy summer for us.
We’ve been working on a lot of various projects, most of which would probably bore people to tears, but a few have been pretty fun.
As you may know, we like to reuse
and recycle whenever possible. So, when I came across this at a local junk shop, the lightbulb went on in my head and I knew, exactly, what I wanted it for.
We are putting up a potting shed next to the berry patch. My original idea was to put up a half wall with old hanging windows above it. After spending a lot of time looking, and realizing that old windows are getting really hard to find, I found this garage door piece and, I believe, it works even better! (And that’s not just something I’m saying because I couldn’t find windows…).
This is a mixed media piece that’s visible from both sides. I painted the tree branch to look like stained glass (many tutorials on this out there) and added acrylic pieces for the flowers. Then I coated it with a clear polyurethane since it was going to be outside.
To hang it, we left the original metal connector pieces (at the top) and added three more to the other side (otherwise it won’t hang straight).
And that’s it! A custom piece of artwork for our new (still in progress) potting shed!

Before & after.


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Birdhouse Fence

Over the last few years we’ve been growing and propagating plants with the intention of selling some (to fund our garden habit) and keeping some to plant at the property.

Now that we’re on the property, we can start really making it our own.

We wanted a bit of privacy from the people driving down the road past our place so we thought the plants would be a great barrier. However, the thing we didn’t think about was that the plants are only about 2′ high right now and won’t really hide much.

So, we came up with a new plan — a small fence. We looked at many ideas to build, and those we could purchase, but decided to do something uniquely “us,” so off to the dump we went…er, that didn’t come out right, but you get the idea…

This birdhouse fence is what we came up with in the end. $5 worth of beat up old planks and boards, cut to look like various, old fence pieces,  screwed together with cross pieces on the back.  We added a couple of smaller wood pieces to make the three “birdhouse-looking roofs,” used bolts for perches, and heavy fabric cut-out pieces screwed on for the “holes/openings.”

All that’s left is to hang one of the recycled bird feeders that we made on a shepherds hook that Fred made from a salvaged piece of rebar and we are good to go!


We realize this won’t last forever but it should last until the plants have had a chance to grow – and we think it turned out really cute!

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New ideas for old things

Fred and I had our “Garden Art and Plant Sale” last weekend. It went very well! Along with a lot of garden plants, all of his art sold except one little dragonfly stake and he’s happily making more. I had a pretty good day, too. My “upcycled” planters were a big hit and I just finished a few more.

planter coke tinI found a couple of “vintage-look” Coke tins (maybe used for cookies or candy?) and knew they’d be adorable as planters — especially as they weather and age. I had to drill a few drain holes in the bottom but that was about all these needed besides a good cleaning.

planter flour sifterA vintage flour sifter seems perfect for this. With the bottom meshed it’s already got “built-in” drainage! I used Portulaca (one of my most favorite flowers) because it does very well if it gets a little dry between waterings, flowers non-stop, and needs little to no care (you see why I like it?).

planter popcornI have no idea how old this piece is – a ceramic popcorn holder – but it makes a super cute planter! There were no drain holes so I used about 3″ of florist moss at the bottom in case there’s an overflow of water.

planter red shoesI just love these little Mary Janes. The insides aren’t in the greatest shape (probably why they were up for grabs) but they have the cutest little fabric flowers on the strap and the color is a nice ruby-red (perhaps Dorothy’s when she was younger?). Don’t tell Fred but I’m kind of hoping these don’t sell and I’ll have to keep them…

 planter lampThis is the one I like the best, so far. I saw this ugly, broken table lamp and knew it’d make a delightful planter. After the wiring was out, I sanded off the old black, chippy paint and re-finished it to look like the old red enamel (barn red with white “spots”), added a weight so it won’t tip over – and I love the way it came out.

I consider these just another option in the upcycling process — that just happens to incorporate my love of gardening.


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Yard & Garden Art Sale Sneak Peek

Fred and I have been making various yard and garden “art” for our own home, for years now, with most of it being “experimental.” After being asked, by several people now, where they could get some of the items they’ve seen around our place, we decided to make some things to sell. Though some of the ideas are not “new” (it’s just a wild guess here that more than one person has come up with the idea of making a bench or bird feeder…), we’ve managed to put our own “twist” on them, such as design and artwork, to make it our own. We’re quite proud of what we’ve come up with so far. And, the best part? Most of this is done with scrap wood & re/upcycled pieces!

art composit

(Starting upper left, circling right; a bird house & birdie banner, bird feeder, large planter pot, small planter pots, one of the 3 upcycled wood benches that Fred made that I hand painted & sealed)

In addition to the items here, I’ve also done a few more recycled wood signs, box planters, bird houses, other not yet finished yard art and plants that we nurtured and grew ourselves! I think this will be fun!

(All the artwork is my own but I will share how I did the large cream/brown planter pot (middle right photo)…mostly because this will, more than likely, be the only one I ever do of this. I got the “brilliant” idea to glue lace (yes, actual lace) onto a pot then paint it to give it a “dimensional” look. Had I known it would take SIX coats of paint to finish this, I never would’ve started. However, I think it really turned out pretty and perhaps, if you try it yourself, you’ll come up with a better way to do this!).

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When it rains…

It’s amazing how life can go from “zero to 60” in such a short amount of time. Just when I thought my days were already packed, I received 3 new projects to work on — which is also the reason why I’ve not been posting very much lately (and you’ve missed me terribly, I’m sure…).

The first is artwork for a friend of mine who’s developing a cool software application. I’m quite excited about it and will be doing a special post about this, when it’s released, to give it a “formal” introduction!

The second is another friend of mine who has a business, here in town, and wants me to come up with a “display” to feature some of my photo cards! I was so flattered when she asked me. I think I have all the parts and pieces I need and am just waiting on the printer to send the cards I’ve chosen for her shop.

The third project is making some things to sell at a garden and yard art sale this June. I’ve had more fun coming up with different ideas — and the best part is that Fred is doing it with me! With the few days off he’s had, recently, he’s been happily “playing” in his shop to create some wonderful yard art (nothing is finished so he won’t let me take photos, yet!). 

Of course it wouldn’t be like me not to paint so I decided to do some garden-themed signs (I love painting signs). Here’s what I’ve come up with, so far…

Garden Signs

I like the way they’re coming out and I’m using up some of my nice, old wood “collection” (aka “saved from the burn pile”), to boot. Painting flowers has never been my strong suit so this has been a good challenge for me. I’ve been teaching myself a few new techniques and, although Donna Dewberry has nothing to worry about, just yet, I think I’ll get better with time and practice.

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Stuff I never would’ve thought of…

My nephew posted this on his Facebook page last week. I’d seen some of these before but some were also new to me (especially the pop tabs and the can opener)! All of them worth re-posting, though! Thanks, Bryce! 
I believe these were found on lolspots.com – not sure if these ideas/photos are original to them or not – but there are some good’uns! 

Reusing a tin canister

As a lot of people, I love old tin canisters. I think about when they were made, what they held, and wonder about the people who had them before. They’re getting harder and harder to find as they grow in popularity making them nearly impossible to get ahold of anymore — at least, for a decent price. So, when I do visit yard sales and thrift stores I always look for large and/or interestingly shaped tins that are in good condition (ie; no weird smells or unknown goo on them…). A few weeks ago I struck gold (by my standards, anyway) and got 5 tins for around $5.  They range in size from a gallon down to about a pint. Two of them were genuine old tins and the other three were new. Fred thought I was nuts (nothing new here) when I bought the “christmas” tin but I really liked the shape and thought it would be perfect to hold my tea, once I “redecorated” it.

The first thing I did, after washing & drying it, was to apply a (gray) primer (I did not take a photo of this. However, if you look just behind and to the left of the picture here, you can see another tin I have primed). I used a spray primer that was for wood, plastic, metal, etc. in order to keep the next layers from peeling off.  Then I sprayed on a coat of cream color for my base. It took a few layers in order to cover the primer and I made sure to let them dry well, in between.

I found some sticker paper that would work in my ink jet printer then went online and found a couple of old French labels that were available to print out and use for my project. Of course, my color ink was low and the three labels I printed came out with no green. But, I rather liked the look of one of them and decided to use it, anyway (right after I ordered more ink cartridges…). 

The sticker paper is quite forgiving and it was easy to use. I did have to glue down the two edges that needed to go around the corners but that was no big deal.  A dab or two of tacky glue and I was set. I liked the way it looked but felt it was too “new” for what I wanted so I decided to ‘antique it a bit. I’ve done this, in the past, two different ways; either by brushing on a dark brown paint then rubbing the excess off with a cloth or adding some pigment (in the form of acrylic paint) to the sealer. For this project I chose to add a bit of brown acrylic to my matte varnish (I like this method better as I have better control over the amount of antiquing it gets. If you paint over varnish, it acts as a barrier to keep the paint/pigment from soaking in and drying too fast). 

I brushed this all over the tin with a paint brush (first the lid, then the container) and blotted it with a clean  dry cloth to smooth out any obvious brush marks (then I went back and picked out all the dog hairs. You may not have to do this in your house). I did two coats of this, letting each one dry in between (I wish I could get paid for waiting for paint to dry. I’d be rich…). Then I did a wet rub using solid brown acrylic paint (take a dab of paint on a wet rag and rub it all over the surface, removing the excess as you go). Once that was finished and dry, I applied a coat of clear, matte varnish to keep it all in place. I think this will look great on my shelf or out on my counter!

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My Psychotic Friends

I know some…okay, maybe a lot…of the reason I’m always pressed for time is because I take on too many new projects. But there are just so many cool things out there to do!

My latest project is using leftover pieces of 2×4’s from the construction of one of our haunted houses (oh, didn’t I mention this? Yes, Fred and I have owned and operated a professional haunted house for the last 4 years…but that’s another blog for another day…). The pieces of wood, numbering around 80, are each about 3-1/2″ square. Fred’s initial thought was to use them as firewood but I rescued them from the burn pile and, with Fred’s help, have been diligently sanding them to a nice, paintable surface.

I created these characters, called “My Psychotic Friends” (yes, art does imitate life), years ago and have been using and developing them over that time. They’ve shown up mostly in greeting cards but have been known to make an appearance on pottery and in other assorted projects. I thought the wood blocks would be a perfect venue for them.

I only have a couple done and up for sale in my online shop (yes, more of that shameless self-promotion…LBDK.etsy.com, in case you forgot *cough*) but am in the process of doing more. I like the idea of each one having a name and a little blurb to go with it. Like the beginning of some great story…

“Betty knew, once the make-up was on, she was still the Queen…”

“Hilde looked hot as she strut down the beach in her new push-up bandeau…”

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Upcycling an audio cassette

I know I’m not ‘inventing the wheel’ on this one but taking unwanted or unused items and making them useful again is always a good share (and I think this is kinda cute…).

Audio Cassette Business Card Holder

The first thing you’ll want to do, even if you decide not to embellish it, is break out the little tabs that go in the wheels of the cassette. If you don’t, you won’t be able to hold more than 1 or 2 business cards in your new holder. The first one I tried (yes, a little bit of “trial and error” here), I just ‘popped’ it off with a pair of needle nose pliers which left rather large cracks in the case (you can see the results in the middle photo). But I did figure out that, if you hold the cassette tightly down against a flat surface and grab the tab as close to the bottom as possible with your pliers, you can gently and slowly pop it off and you should be able to avoid any cracking this way (and, if it does crack, a little, I doubt anyone will notice). File down what’s left of the tab to smooth it out (I used a paper emery board and it worked fine).

I used one of the metal file drawers from a previous project (my “file cabinet turned tool holder”) as a small paint booth and gave the cassette a couple of coats of primer, drying well in between. I did spray it, inside and out, because I wanted to make sure that whatever I did next (ie; decorate it) would have a good surface to stick to.

I’m sure there are tons of ways to decorate this to make it work for you. I came up with a few that might get you started. You can paint right on the holder (1st photo) or, if you want to “multi-use” it with different business cards, take the cardboard insert from the original cassette (2nd photo) and use it as a template to cut out other (lightweight) cardboard inserts that can be decorated with markers, pens, or paints to match your business cards. You can also glue on a favorite photo (3rd photo) or go through a magazine to find interesting or business-relevant pictures (either glue them on a template or right to the holder).

Expanding on the first idea (painting it), I thought of adding writing to the front — to further promote your business or as a personal message that you’d like to extend to current and future customers. It might be a good way to catch their eye. (I just added the words via Photoshop — if this had been what I chose for mine, I would’ve hand-painted it. This was just to give you an idea of what it could look like).

What I finally ended up with, for my first card holder, was based on my business cards, themselves. The cards are rather ornately done in various shades of purple flowers so I wanted something a little “subdued” (but, if you have more plain business cards, more detail might be nice). I love to do faux finishes so I did a quasi “marble-like” finish in purple and green with a clear finish to preserve the paint. I think it turned out rather well and am excited to do the others…

Now, what to do with the rest of the cassette? I’ve been poking around the internet and have found that you can use the tape in place of twine (to bind newspapers, for example) or crochet it into bags and other useful items (check with anyone you know who crochets – they might have a use for it). I’ve also seen the cassettes made into lamp shades (really cute) and small storage boxes.  If they’re still usable, donate them to a charity or thrift store. One of the most clever uses I saw was weaving them in to “fabric” (textile). You can read their story here: http://www.sonicfabric.com/about.html (they also accept tapes as donations if you’re looking to get rid of some).


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