So many of my thoughts about recycling stemmed from two very resourceful parents who raised our family on a budget. My father was a general contractor for many years and my mother was in accounting for a company for over 30 years. Sometimes my parents cut costs during the lean years to make ends meet, but I didn’t necessarily know it was happening as things seemed seamless, but I know there were times where we didn’t have some things that many take for granted. As a young child I didn’t notice any difference between what my parents provide in our household and what other kids may have had. I always thought that the things my parents did in some case were pretty nifty. My brother and I didn’t have the latest and greatest electronic toys, but we were not really into those games, as we just loved playing outside and both being creative types in a creative family, we were usually outside making our own toys or building go carts.
Every year since as long as I can remember me or my family would make homemade Christmas ornaments. One of our longtime family friends Jane S. made homemade salt and flour hard ornaments that she painted. My mother still has some of these original ornaments that have withstood moving, insects, rodents, and moisture. Jane made several for her own son and family friends like she did for us. From whimsical little Santa Claus and elf figures, to diamond shaped jewels, gifts, and reindeer, these ornaments stood out to me as young boy. I was completely in awe how both Jane and my mother made these ornaments, similar to these pieces seen on .
I understand baking and cooking, papier-mache and other modeling forms used to make home made crafts. Still, however, I thought as a young mind at about 5 years old, “so i can mix stuff and cook it, and paint it, and put a hole in and presto, an ornament.” Papier-mache alone is another concept I think rules the world as its not just for piñatas. Being hispanic myself piñatas are very familiar in my childhood memories. My mom once made me a piñata for my 5th birthday that I shared in kindergarden. It was a big blue bird complete with wings, blue eyes and a yellow beak. I remember her making it and thinking it was kind of messy. Starting off with the balloon made me laugh, but then the bird body took shape. I wouldn’t grasp the concept of papier-mache in the art world until my first summer recreation in the 6th grade where we made papier-mache art pieces and then did I understand that papier-mache is what many art crafts are made of basically.
The home made ornaments that I grew up with were not limited to salted white flour dough baked in the oven. My mom, Carmen, taught both me and my brother how to sew by hand and on a sewing machine, although as I have mentioned previously, I prefer to hand sew, hands down, over the use of a machine. In the lean years, although I didn’t realize we were living in lean years. My mother saved bits of pieces of things we would normally through a way and showed my brother and I how to make snow man ornaments. She saved half and half creamers from a local off the freeway diner, we frequented called, Cindy’s, and then from a hobby store bought a pack of 2″ inch styrofoam balls and a pack of mini plastic glue on eyeballs.
Using regular elmer’s glue and magic mark pen she made little snowman ornaments. I was totally hooked on crafting from that point on. She colored the plastic half-and-half cups and the cardboard squares black using the big pen magic marker. Next she glued graduated styrofoam balls to the cardboard after the ink dried. We all glued the the eyes on and hats to the snowman, and then decorated the buttons using the pen to draw coal buttons. She often used red or green ribbon to make a scarf for the snowmen. The cardboard squares allowed the base to all the the snowman to stand on a table, but sometimes she would attach string or ribbon to the snowman’s hat to make a hanger for the Christmas three.
This is a great idea to teach kids how to be resourceful and make ornaments from scratch. Happy Crafting!!!
(While reading my blog, think about what you could make with awesome ideas and products, I have been making clutch purses for a long time, and Dollar Tree and these resources are true gems Zip It Up: Easy Techniques for Zippered Bags)
I highly recommend Dollar Tree Stores for the crafters, stagers, and for casual purchases of staple items. Dollar Tree doesn’t necessarily sell cheaply made products, rather it sells things that are actually uncommon or resold to them from the bigger box stores and grocery stores. From a craft standpoint, I have mentioned before, that depending on what you are making or needing for your crafting or staging is to buy the merchandise that is most versatile or has the most fabric, solution or product size. You might be buying something for a dollar that is barely 1″x1″ such as a student’s eraser, or a 5 pack of chewing gum. What I look for if needing fabric material is the strongest easiest to manipulate fabric or material. Depending on the project, I may only need fabric-like material, but not cotton. Fabric-like material is products like vinyl, plastic, jute, mesh, and nylon.
Vinyl shower curtains and thin plastic table cloths are great sources for numerous uses. I often use Dollar Tree Vinyl shower curtains as tarps to wrap my fruit trees in the winter. The added bonus is I can pull twine or thin rope through the shower curtain grommets and tighten the curtain tarps around my lemon trees and keep them from blowing away in the wind. Table clothes do not tend to last long wrapped around my trees, however, these thin plastic often holiday tablecloths with soft thin .mm type padded backs make great gift bags. I also have made holiday decorations and wine bags out of plastic table cloth covers.
Some of the things that brings to mind for my complete overall savings from making purchases at the Dollar Tree is end result. Will it full fill my project goals? How much waste will there be? I am into recycling and repurposing. A big failure on my part would be to purchase to make something and have a big percentage of it thrown away. I try to utilize the biggest product and minimize intended waste. Its hard to know what someone else will do with what I create, but saving the planet starts with me. I can only strongly recommend that someone not throw it away.
I buy shampoo, shaving cream, 3 blade disposable shavers, deodorant, toothpaste, tooth brushes and hair gel, all at the Dollar Tree store. At the prices that most department and grocery stores charge for these products, it seems foolish to not take advantage of these savings.
I used to buy Colgate mint fresh toothpaste with Tricolsan, for anti-gingivitis, from target, for a 3-6 ounce tube, on average, for $2.69 each. However, Triclosan, even in small doses is extremely toxic to humans and animals;[citation http://www.beyondpesticides.org/programs/antibacterials/triclosan, . Even washing our hands with it is questionable, but I still do wash my hands with Triclosan antibacterial soap. Since I have eliminated Triclosan toothpaste from use, toothpaste is much cheaper. Regular generic toothpaste, such as Colgate Gel, Aim, and MaxFresh are less expensive at Target and even cheaper of course at good old Dollar Tree. I can also buy my preferred toothbrush softness in a 5 pack’s at Dollar Tree, and when I am done with my tooth brushes they go into a bin for art projects and cleaning tough stains in difficult places. I use and reuse as I can. Old toothe brushes make excellent fingernail brushes too.
My cologne is a Dollar Tree special. I only buy one kind and its the closest impostor scent to Lacoste, https://www.perfume.com/lacoste, that I have found, and my husband says he likes the scent, and he only buys name brand cologne. I typically buy two to three bottles at a time. These bottles go fast at Dollar Tree and are not always in stock. The caps that cover the bottle sprayer are rudimentary and four packaging purposes only. They do not stay on, and I do not use them. They do get thrown away with the packaging. The brand I use is called EcUni and is produced by European American Designs.
Dollar Tree has greeting cards too, and often two for a dollar and they are really beautiful greeting cards. The best way to shop at Dollar Tree is to shop frequently and to shop at the same stores. Get to know products and how they are displayed. Think about what you need and when to buy it. Do not wait until the last minute of a holiday as products fly off the shelves as soon as the holiday seasons start.
Lastly, another thing I have found quite by accident, was Dollar Tree fridge magnets. I was needing more magnet material for glass magnets I was making. I was thinking that I could just buy the dollar tree magnets that are thin magnetic plastic with themes on them, cut them down and make them into magnets. It didn’t work out because the magnetic material were minor magnetic and somewhat use a static clean and magnetic properties to stick to the fridge. When I tried to use them as magnetics to hold heavier objects, they fell under the weight. Usually Dollar Tree magnets have 5-7 magnets on a 10×10 sheet of mixed themes, heritage designs, or holiday icons, with at least two magnets that are 4-6 inches wide with smaller ones. After I realized I couldn’t use them for magnets, I set my bottle of ice water on one for a moment to collect my thoughts and I realized they make excellent beverage coasters. They actually work better as coasters, then working refrigerator magnets as they do not have much strength to hold up anything. But they are beautiful and crafty.
I grew up gardening. My grandparents and my parents taught me gardening techniques. Some years were better than others, but I have learned to refine my techniques and not get over zealous and max out the soil areas I have. I had two previous poor years, with one flower bed that faced a street side fence near bushes, and one bed that didn’t. The street side bed always seemed to have failures, until I dug down about 6 inches and learned that my bed was LOADED with cut worms, and not like a few, i ended up pulling out about 200 cut worms in the bed.
I purchased a wire basket from Dollar Tree and sifted out the entire 2 foot by 8 foot by 2 foot deep bed, of soil that was loaded with cut worms. Every two feet or so, I would lift out the soil, sift out the cut worms and put them in a pail. The soil became very fine and hearty. Later when I was done, I took the cut worms and stuck through them out onto the street, and watched all birds go crazy and eat them.
After my bed was well turned over and cut worm free, I amended the soil with new gardening soil and then planted dollar tree seeds. 4 for a $1.oo. I am sure you have seen the kind. I never bought any before, because I figured in the past that there must be something wrong with them. This year. I took a chance and not only were these seeds hearty, they sprouted up in less then 30 days. Every single seed I planted has grown. I now have English Cucumbers, American Cucumbers, Bell Peppers, Marigold Seed, Sweet peas, Stringless beans, crookneck squash, butternut squash and Japanese Wax Peppers. I was amazed at how well they are doing. Knock On wood. The proof is the pudding. But the picture below is only a week old, and they cucumbers have climbed the wires and are setting buds. I encourage everyone try with dollar tree seeds. I have purchased seeds at a premium, only to have them fail. Why pay so much for no yields. Save your money, and you might be surprised what you get. Something else I do, is collect dried Marigold seeds from gas station and strip mall planters, the drier the seeds the better they are at growing. I plant them out and transfer them into the garden beds, when they are leafed out, as they are an excellent natural bug repellant.
Feeling that its too late to garden? I can tell you that nature picks up where we leave off, and often in record speed. Squash can’t be planted too late, because they usually need 80-90 days or more to grown and produce, even with 100 days of light, the light won’t help them if they are fall days, but most other veggies can be planted late. But April-May is the time to get your garden, whether its by seeds or by Home Depot or Lowe’s plants. I have waited until June to plant veggies, and got an okay yield. But this year I am early, or I should say I am on time.
Just because you have limited space, is not a reason to forgo a garden, especially if you really enjoy gardening. Even when I lived in an apartment, I planted tomatoes right inside a soil back, by cutting a hole in the top of the back, and then I poked holes in the bottom, and just left it on our apartment balcony. (The things you do in your 20’s) Also, I have a big yard, but most of it is concrete, decomposed granite walks and paver bricks as the canvas for our designed yard. But I follow limited space gardening videos on youtube. You can plant vegetables in anything. No yard to small.
I purchased more Vegetable seeds this season, ahead of schedule 5 weeks before April. The normal planting time for my zone is about late March to Early May. I started seeds tissue paper rolls, that can be planted in the ground once they sprout, in the tubes and they will disintegrate as they root. A great way to recycle. They seemed to have more choices for planting seeds from the Dollar Tree this year. I purchased Large Cherry Tomato, Cucumber, Onion, Basil, Pumpkin, Acorn Squash, Zucchini, Beef Stake Tomato, Bell Pepper, Wax Pepper, and Jalapeño Pepper, Cantaloupe, Crookneck Zucchini, and Straight Neck Zucchini, Watermelon, Egg Plant, Iceberg Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, and Snapped Peas.
It’s pretty incredible the amazing luck I had buying seeds last year from the Dollar Tree from the American Seed company. Many people scoffed and said, “What are they from Japan after the earthquake, which wasn’t really funny or positive?” Or they said, “Are they made with radiation? Or What’s wrong with them< Are they GMO’s.” I said, I doubt anything is wrong with them. They are probably just smaller seeds or second quality (smaller, etc), as they don’t have very many seeds in a packet. To me, I think they are just starter seeds. You actually get to buy 4 packets for a dollar. But really, if you like to plant veggies like I do, you don’t need very many. I planted a Fava Bean seed, last October, and one huge plant has grown and overwintered, FROM ONE SEED Pod, which is fantastic. So if you plant them correctly, you can get a great crop with just a few seeds.
American Seeds form American Seed Company, are considered Promotional Seeds. They are often smaller, or last season seeds, or surplus. To think that every seed purchased has to be planted the following season, however it is wasteful and erroneous to think that seeds won’t grow, without trying. Sure seeds are most vital, they sooner they can be planted. But I remember finding a seed packet, unopened from 2 years ago, that I planted in a pot. Some of the seeds were viable and some didn’t produce. I think would have better luck with promotional seeds, then seeds that were just plane old. Promotional seed packets are a cost effective way to grow seeds.
What I found on the web by http://www.Plantationproducts.com, is great testimonials, and company statements, they make them Nostalgic American Seed packets and they are great for use as “giveaways for store openings, shower and wedding favors, gift baskets, mailer inserts and as a token from any special occasion!. Great quality, and affordable. ” The vintage style is made to appeal in the gift or giveaway feel.
3/21/17 Update: Dollar Tree seed packets, are actually less likely to be Hybrid GMO’s because most of the time GMO seeds are mass produced and sold to Corporations. These are either same year or second year promotional seeds. My seeds have all come up and are performing as well as last year. I planted my seeds late in the season last year, but they caught up with the nature. They only seeds that did not do well were any of bell pepper seeds or pumpkins, which makes sense. The bell peppers need warm soil, but not hot soil, and the pumpkins need 60-80 days to mature, I gave them only 30 days, and then by late fall, they had the wrong sun and heat to grow. If are an experience grower, hobbyist grower, or a first timer, I recommend strongly getting your veggie and flower seeds from Dollar Tree. Around April to June, at some point, there will be a mark down on the seeds. Normally Dollar Tree sells season seeds for your current planting year for 4 for a dollar. But once the season heads into summer, they mark them down for ten for a dollar. I snapped up as many flower and veggie seeds as I could. It’s such a great deal, and everyone knows seeds last a long time. You should check out the video on your youtube, of the gardener that planted seeds from framed art piece that 87 year old seeds that he was able to sprout, 87 YEARS OLD!!!. That’s why I don’t immediately toss out year old seeds or even two year old seeds, because nature has a way of coming through and giving a great yield no matter what. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeQRrj6YTQQ, and the second video for the the results, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0I47Qe2bEJk, not that I want to try to find 87 year old seeds, but this is proof that old seeds are often still viable. I like how Mlgardener | Simple Organic Gardening & Sustainable Living, showed us that heirloom crops that have been missing came back in his experiment even after 8 decades. Pretty amazing.
I began making jewelry after a fellow artist and friend got me interested in learning to make glass pendant necklaces from kits in a glass oven with templates that she had made the past several years and sold them on line and at art shows. I thought that I was going to excel at making glass pendants, even though I made a couple and sold them to some friends, I found that the time and space required to work with high fire temperature glass mini ovens was something I was not quite ready to commit to. I didn’t have the space or attention to give to managing a hot glass oven nor invest in the resources.
I am inherently a “work-around” problem solver. I wanted a hand made glass look and being that my focus has always been recycled art designs, my work around to the glass firing kits was to use other resources. I have worked as an in-house design consultant in a leading tile & stone design retail showroom in Sacramento, Ca and have access to many glass and mixed media mosaics. Often a glass mosaic line becomes discontinued and after we have sold the remaining available stock, we are often have left over sheets which my manager lets me purchase at a reduced cost.
I have made several pendants using a glass jewelry industrial adhesive to make the same look of the glass oven jewelry with beautiful results. They are fun to make and involve artwork “fused” between glass pieces or pieces “fused” on top of one another. The lower right photo is actually a vintage image of a swallow behind a translucent glass tile.
The technique is not novel, but its a safer way for me to make jewelry that doesn’t take a high powered glass oven to make, because the glass has already been made, and I feel I am doing my part by not making more glass pieces, but instead am reusing ones that normally might be thrown away. These pendants and many more are similar to the styles I have been able to create. If interested in seeing these and some of the kit necklaces I have available for sale please contact me at www.instagram.com/gluispdesigns