Posted in Uncategorized

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.

GoDaddy Website Builder for $1/mo.!

     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!”

Paper Crafts Supplies

     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.
Posted in Dollar Tree, Handmade Christmas Ornaments, Recycled Art, Coffee Cup View Master, Uncategorized

Dollar Store Savings…

(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.  Plastic Flannel Table ClothTable 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,  . 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,, that I have found, and my husband says he likes the scent, and he only buys name brand cologne. I typically buy two to EcUni European American Designsthree 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 ma182386_v1gnets. 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. 





Posted in Uncategorized

Gardening:Veggies and Flowers

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. 



Posted in Uncategorized

We are still in planting season for most zones…

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.

Posted in Dollar Tree, Glass and Mixed media mosaics for art and jewelry, Uncategorized

Tile and Glass mosaic Jewelry

Online Jewelry Making Classes

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 

Posted in Recycled Art, Coffee Cup View Master, Uncategorized

Starbucks Gift Card View Master

This was idea came to me the other day, when I realized I had a bunch of Starbucks cards that I never threw away or re-used for future purchases or gift giving. I think that if they made cards differently with more images that worked with my viewer that it might be a neat idea for fun. This idea is more constructive fun for creative types and perhaps for parents create with their children. It could easily be applied to any beverage cup and one could use any image paper.

I made a Starbucks Gift Card View Master using one Starbucks “Venti” Hot Beverage Cup.

starbucks venti

I measured the width of an average cup lid. Next I cut slits on either side of the lid the same width of a gift card.  Then I cut the same width on the surface of the lid, but kept enough plastic so as to hold the gift card in place and act like two light guards.


Then I poked a hole in the bottom of the


I put the lid back on. Slid a gift card with a fun “scene” sliding the card facing towards the inside of the cup. Put the cup up to a bright light source and appreciated the card. Certainly anyone can just hold the card up to the light using their hands, but I thought this would be a simple fun project, teaching others about recycling and to appreciate the spent gift cards in a way that would keep both the cards and cup from the trash heap. IMG_0831

Then I tried first a card pictured above, that revealed a steaming hot beverage: IMG_0832

But I used a “cafe” Starbucks scene, with a window scene for the best view. This could be a fun rainy day project for kids or creative spirits. Drawing images on paper and sliding them through the cup could be a fun idea and children could write a story about the images they created. Have fun you guys, and thanks again for stopping by


Posted in Uncategorized

Garden a plenty.

So my garden this year was better than last year. I grew 5 kinds of tomatoes, bell pepper, hot pepper, three kinds of climbing beans, carrots, peas, cantaloupe, sweet dumpling delicata squash, and more. Last year I bought dollar tree seed and planted late in August, but did rather well, (trick, nature has a way of catching up on some things.


This year I planted seeds in tissue paper rolls filled with soil, while while watching the sag awards, or was it the oscars.toilet paper rolls


Anyhoo, nearly everything came up and did splendidly.

I encourage everyone to try their hand at growing vegetables from Dollar Tree Seeds. There is nothing wrong with the seeds and they are not GMO seed. 4 packets for a dollar is fantastic. Wait until August, and they often reduce them to 10 for a dollar. Wait until September, and they sell them for 5 cents a piece.


With a long shelf life, most veggies seeds can be stored to grow for years to come. So I bought my favorites for spring planting next year. I live in Zone 8 and planted more beans, lettuce and some brassicas for an early fall harvest.

Growing plants is so relaxing and I love the challenge of bring vegetables to a yield. I can hardly wait until next spring to plant more curbita on espaliers all over my yard. I also planted carrots, and we pulled them at the near end of November, and they were the sweetest carrots you could have eaten.

Screen Shot 2018-11-08 at 2.16.31 PM

Experiment. Save carrot tops from the grocery store, you can root them in water and transfer them to the ground during a normal growing season. This can also be done with lettuce, onions, and many other vegetables. Have Fun!

Posted in Uncategorized


     I like to draw, sew, craft, glue, stitch, sculpt, plan and paint. Occasionally I will design one of a kind clutch purses as a hobby. The market is saturated with designer bags and even handmade handbags that getting noticed for your work is very difficult. I don’t own a special sewing machine or special tools to make my clutch purses. I like the challenge in being a guy with little experience in the couture world, creating clutch purses that someone might want. I have made about 25 embellished totes and sold 20 of them at past shows, which was quite unexpected. I also made two mini clutch purses out of some art pieces of mine that were canvas paintings from previous art shows, painted in acrylic paint. The paintings became the design for the outside cover of the mini clutch purses. I also took a polka dotted place mat from a dollar tree store and created a tiny clutch purse complete with zipper and used a shoe lace for the handle. It was fun to make. I sold one art mini clutch at the tail end of show because a woman liked the animal images that she saw in the painting. She picked it up and said, “How cute. It’s a zoo purse”. I sold it to her for $10.00. I was impressed that she liked it. I love, love, love hand made purses made from alternative resources.

I think my drive to make things comes from quite honestly, growing up around a family of artisans. The satisfaction of thinking of a design or and being able to create it to present is immeasurable. I credit my parents with showing my brother and I no limits when it comes to doing it yourself, because they learned it from their parents. Please look at my other pages for ideas on what I like do make. Some ideas are silly, but going through the work of seeing it to end is part of my process, its not every artists process as it may seem tedious, but for myself, trial and error yields answers for other things. My brain is unusual in that most of the time, unless I am tired,  or under extreme duress, recall most anything I have ever seen. So what may seem like a wasted project to some, I will recall of other ideas later on.