Archive for the ‘waste not, want not’ Category

Sweater to skirt & legwarmers – Take 1

  • Cut off arms and just under neck opening (this is a size small adult sweater)
  • Sew elastic waistband in skirt
  • Sew thin elastic band into raw edge of leg warmers




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Kid Art Gift Bag

It feels like the girls have a birthday party to attend almost every weekend. For quite some time we have been using a roll of drawing paper to wrap gifts – lavishly decorating them with kid art – much like you mentioned in this post.

Recently, when we had a gift with several small parts, we decided to try something I had seen on Pinterest: A homemade gift bag. In this case, we used the same roll of drawing paper.

We cut a strip and taped the slightly-over-lapped edges together.


Fold up the bottom…


Open the fold and bring in the sides like this…


Fold the top and bottom to meet in the center and secure with tape…


We used a grocery store bag handle by taping it securely inside, but you could probably make a paper handle…


I punched a few holes in it to close it up with a bit of raffia.


This time we used (uncolored) pieces from a coloring book as birthday cards. The birthday girl or boy might have fun coloring in.



Your girls might not be going to too many birthday parties right now, but thought you might like to bookmark this for later.



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Having two kids in school means going to a lot of parties.  Parties that bounce and tumble, splash and crash, whoop and whiney.  Yes, birthday parties are a pretty big deal around here.

And, be warned, if you invite us to your birthday party, chances are you’ll get a handmade gift – whether you wanted one or not. 

You’re welcome  &/or  I’m sorry – depending on how you (and your brood) feel about homemade gifts.


The other thing you’re bound to get is handmade wrapping paper.  As I’ve mentioned before, I try not to buy gift wrap these days.  One reason is that I try hard not to support the made-for-immediate-disposal-industry – but also because I enjoy giving the girls time to adorn & decorate the gifts we give. I tend to make/buy most of these presents (without too much input from them).  So, at least, by decorating the paper they have a roll to play and can spend a (pre-party) moment focusing on their friend’s special day.  That way, it isn’t just about showing up and waiting for a goodie bag to get dropped into their hands.

Here are a few of our favorite wrapping ideas/supplies:

1. Brown packaging paper or art roll paper (like this one from Ikea).  We often save the drawings we make using our art roll paper and when a birthday comes along, we repurpose those same drawings into wrapping paper .

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2. Natural twine (here’s the one I have)


3. Stamps (we love our letter stamps, but any stamps will do) & ink.  I would (seriously!) recommend washable ink.

Letter stamps are ideal for letting them personalize the paper (as well as learn how to spell their friends’ names)…


Don’t have ink or stamps?  No problem.  Try a pencil eraser (or the like) and dip it into a food-coloring-covered sponge – like we did here:


We’ve made so many different kinds of wrapping paper over the years, but “crazy cakes” is one of our favorites.  To make it we use a birthday cake stamp, then the girls enjoy coloring all different kinds of combinations and giving them “crazy cake” names…


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We also like making designs/images with fingerprints – as long as you don’t mind having some temporarily inky fingers. {We don’t.}



So many gift-wrapping options – it’s a good thing we have SO many parties to practice for. <smile>


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When we lived in Idaho, we used to buy our milk in big glass bottles from a local dairy farm.  I miss that milk (…not to mention all that wide open space).  <*Sigh*>  I ‘m sure there must be a local farm SOMEWHERE on the fringe of this big city, but I haven’t found it yet.  So, meanwhile we’ve resorted to buying milk in plastic gallon jugs.

Last summer we made a watering can out of a couple of these and I recently went online searching for those How-To directions.  Instead, I saw a photo of a sandwich holder and was instantly smitten. 

I love projects that start (and end) in my recycling box.  No trips, no tools, no purchases necessary. 

Just a girl and her recycling box.  Oh yes – those projects suit me perfectly.

P1090276  P1090278They’ll be great for carting sandwiches to/from the pool this summer (waterproof!).  I’m also envisioning these going to school in lunchboxes sometime soon.  After all, I want to savor each and every moment that my daughters enjoy announcing to all their friends,

“Hey! My mom MADE this sandwich holder…this skirt…this backpack…these leg warmers…”

Etcetera, etcetera.  Because let’s be honest, there may come a day when they run at the sight of my newest creation.  A day when they beg for plastic from Target and gift cards from Macys. 

But for now – they think I’m a genius. <smile>  And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that… I. Love. That.

Here’s how I made ‘em:

1. Cut out a couple of cardboard templates, which look (sorta/kinda) like this:

P1090249 2. Trace these onto your milk containers.  You’ll trace the small one onto three edges and the large one onto one edge.

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3. Cut these out with a box cutter. VERY carefully.  You’ll have cartons that look like this:



4. Once the shape is right, take a thumb tack and punch tiny holes around the bottom edge of the three shorter flaps (not the larger flap/lid).  This helps them fold open and close easier.


5. Then add a small square of industrial-strength Velcro and you’re finished!

I also made a mini version from a yogurt container, which turned out really cute and would be perfect for fruit/snacks.

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Fill ‘em with anything you like. <smile>


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We have a lot of tiny baby socks around here…not to mention a pretty big collection of mismatches.  Some of them are so cute, so colorful and I’m sorry to see those little notions go to waste. 

Instead, I like to cut the top “cuff” off and use these as small stretchy fabric bands (of sorts).  Here are four ways we put baby (and/or mismatch) socks to use around our house. 

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Drip-catchers, thread-wrappers, ponytail-holders and sweet baby-safe bracelets (which they also love to wear to dance class as “fancy wristbands”).

New life for little socks.  Not exactly rocket science…but oh-how-i-love rising to the challenge of “using more and tossing less.”

{Settling back into life here on “our regular coast”.  What a strange feeling it is to be “home” and “homesick” at the same time…}


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You know those projects – the ones that just happen?  No planning, no pinning, no pattern.  Just you and a desire to make something new out of something old. {Those happen quite a bit around here.} 

With little people growing out-of-the-old and endlessly into-the-new (new shoes, new coats, new gloves, new socks) – I can often be found staring at a piece of fabric, a broken zipper, an outgrown coat, and pondering… 

What could this become?  What other purpose could this have?”

Spring is (practically) here.  Our daffodils have bloomed (past tense).  Our neighbors have their peas in the ground (we’ve been slow to seed around here).  Heavy winter coats have been stored (not too far away, but stored nonetheless) and we’re enjoying some warm vests-and-cardigans weather. 

But there are still crisp, cool mornings.  Mornings when hats are needed and gloves feel cozy.  This week the air felt especially cold while we walked to school and as someone started to cough, I wished I had an extra scarf to tuck around a chilly neck. 

But who wants to buy a scarf when Spring is knocking?

And so – later that day, after running into a pile of stained, broken-zippered jumpers and sweaters, I decided to make a scarf. 

A sweater scarf.


I just cut the sleeves off of three toddler sweaters and tucked one sleeve into the next.  A quick zigzag stitch to hold each one in place.


I’m pleased with the result (even though I’ve been referring to this as The Ugly Scarf).  It’s warm and free and made-by-me.  A great trio of adjectives, don’t you think?  As usual, I imagined how cute this might look if I spent more than 25 (hurried) minutes on it.  But (also as usual) my favorite kind of projects are (without a doubt) my finished projects.  True – it may be rushed and perhaps not ready for the runway.    But it always feels good (goodGOOD!) to make something new (and useful!) out of something old (and useless).     

And those little necks are warmer.  Which is always a good thing. 


p.s. I just cut up the rest of the sweaters and added them to the bag of fabric scraps I keep in the kitchen (otherwise known as my I-refuse-to-buy-&/or-use-papertowels collection).

Happy (practically) Spring!


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I know you must be busy enjoying the NW – so I thought I’d fill this space today.  Here are three frugal ideas you can take back to Denmark (and encourage mom to adopt while you’re here).

3 Things I Never Throw Away…  

1. The linings of cereal bags – Honestly these are insanely useful.  I use them to roll out dough, freeze things in individual servings, crush nuts.  Basically, use it for all the things you’d use wax paper for. 



I also use these to store/freeze uncooked bacon.  We rarely cook/eat bacon, but when a recipe calls for it, it’s nice to have a couple slices in the freezer.  Bacon emergencies – they happen.


2. Heavy duty zip locks –  Wash out the zip lock bags that your rice, dried fruit, etc. come in and reuse.  No further explanation necessary, right? 


3. Garlic Bags – You gave me the idea to reuse the little net bags that garlic, ginger, shallots, (etc.) come in.  They are PERFECT for cleaning a cheesy-dish, scrubbing out a skillet, etc.  Now I just keep them under the sink and use them all the time. 


{FYI: I clean my cast-iron pans with kosher salt, hot water and an old garlic bag…works like a charm}

All for now – Spring is in full swing around here…off to enjoy it!


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