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Recycling is a way of life that I learned growing up. Its a necessity.

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.

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     My father was in construction and my mother was an accounting manager.  My parents with a couple of their best friends built our my childhood home. I also spent my school days with my grandparents who lived behind my elementary school. I spent many days watching my grandfather build shelves, make chairs and tables or anything as he needed. One year he needed to update his front door, with a modern one, but he didn’t throw out the old front door, instead he put putty in the nicks and scratches and also filled in the space where the doorknob and deadbolt holes were,  sanded it down and primed and painted it. He turned the old front door into an in-ground back yard table, sealed with all-weather paint and it became a place to relax or have outside dinners in the backyard. Perhaps my grandfather who grew up on a chicken farm in rural Utah which eventually became part of BYU also learned resourcefulness growing up there. His family were beekeepers and sold hens and eggs. They definitely knew about recycling as I recall reading in my grandfather’s autobiography how his grandfather converted a farmhouse into a dwelling for their whole family and bartered to make a hen house with other locals in the neighborhood using reclaimed fence wood and siding.
     My grandmother cross-stitched, tatted with a shuttle, and painted by number. I always thought painting by number was cheating, but sometimes she cheated back and mixed up the numbers on purpose to get a new design. I tried it and never bothered with the numbers and painted the outlined areas, however way I wanted. Perhaps she saw me paying attention and was trying to inspire to be creative.
     My mother learned how to sew and taught both myself and my brother how to sew. I have never made any outfits, but my mom was very savvy. She would buy modern shirt patterns from the local sewing supplies store and sewed several of the outfits we wore in grade school. No one knew any difference between our school outfits and popular outfits available at Gemco, Sears, and other clothing department stores like Mervyn’s.  We fit-in and those clothes fit. That was really all that mattered. I was marveled by the fact that, “Hey, my mom made this shirt herself! How awesome is that, and no on can tell!”

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     One my earliest memories of recycling was noticing when my mom washed dishes that she would put the dishwashing sponge in a little strawberry green basket. She was so clever she cut a hole slightly larger than that of the round stainless steel dishwasher vent/overflow valve that sits to the right of the sink. She put the strawberry basket over the vent and it hung there where she would store the sponge. It was perfect. The plastic green basket would drain and hold the sponge so it could dry out and not get moldy or sour. I like the concept even better than the one my husband and I purchased at a craft booth one year made of clay ceramic with a slot for the sponge. With that you still have to drain and clean the ceramic holder. Some things are not always better than,  repurposed items. It’s a beautiful sponge holder that we bought, and is more sentimental because we bought it in Arizona at an art festival visiting friends in Fountain Hills.  But I guess the repurposed one is not attractive as much as it is practical, although really it’s not unattractive it’s just a basic design to be invisible to sell strawberries.
See the stenciled cut-out diagram in the strawberry basket above. This is where you cut out the hole for the vent.  It might be smaller than you think. Just one little basket can sit and hold a sponge and a nail scrubber too.


I am an artist specializing in handmade art, recycled projects, jewelry making, painting holiday and season ornaments. Some items are not recycled but are alternately purposed art pieces.

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