Happy New Year!

I'm wishing you a very happy new year. May you experience great joy and happiness throughout 2009!

Looking forward to the new year!

Happy New Year! Just two more days...I can't wait! So many exciting possibilities await!

I came across this nifty little Web site with lots of great ideas for reducing what we buy and recycling our trash instead of sending it to the landfill/dump. has lots of great information. One section offers instruction for making a variety of toy musical instruments for kids from boxes, cartons, etc. Another page suggests alternative uses for everyday items (turn old clothes into seat cushions, for example).

There's even a blog. Much of the information there pertains to the UK, but some of it is useful no matter where you live. The Yoyo paper business that collects used paper from businesses and returns to them recycled paper sounds great!

Lots of great ideas for making the world a better place in 2009!

Let's play Christmas Tag!

I've been tagged by Natasha at Creative Nachos! She turned it into a game of Christmas Tag. She sure sounds like a fun person to be around at Christmas!

Like Natasha, I usually wake up early on that my daughter is 8, I have someone else to enjoy the early morning festivity with!

Here are my five Christmas-related tidbits:

1. I collect Santas. I have old ones, new ones, large ones, small ones. I have old-world Santas and new-world Santas. I have stuffed Santas, and I have porcelain Santas. I even have some dough-art Santas that I made myself. I love my Santas!

2. I think the real Santa wears green gloves. Well, they could be mittens, but "green gloves" sounds better. Many of the Santas in my collection have green gloves. No matter how many Santas I already have, I rarely pass up the chance to buy a new one with green gloves.

3. One of the "funnest" things to do at my parents house on Christmas is for me, my brother and my sister (likewise grown and with kids of their own) to search my parents' tree high and low for all those ornaments we made as kids. There's the one with Deena's first-grade picture on it! And, there's the one Kevin made out of Popsicle sticks! And, there's the one I found in the field on the way home from school! What fun!

4. My favorite traditional Christmas carol is "Away in the Manger." My favorite new Christmas song is "A Baby Changes Everything," sung by Faith Hill.

5. I also collect vintage Shiny Brite ornaments in their original packages. I usually won't buy them unless I find them cheap at thrift stores. I bought most of my collection for 50 cents, maybe 99 cents, a box. I usually just display them under the tree...boxes and all.

OK. Now for the next part of this game of Christmas Tag. I have to post the rules and then pick and notify six other bloggers.
Here's the rules:
1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 6 facts about yourself on your blog; some random, some weird.
3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as their links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they have been “tagged” by leaving a comment on their blog.

And, here are my picks:

Merry Christmas! Now, tell me about your favorite Christmas memories or traditions!

Staying 'green' on Dec. 26

I've always liked a "real" Christmas tree best, because of nostalgia, I guess. That's what I grew up with, and that's what makes it seem like Christmas to me. But, we decided this year to get a "living" Christmas tree, one that we could plant after the holidays. Alas, that didn't work out for us. The price tags on the few at the little local nursery were just out of our budget range.

The days ticked by, until it was really too late for us to do anything but put up a little artificial tree a friend gave us last year. We'll save the living tree for next year.

Fortunately, this year, we'll be at my parents' house for Christmas Day, and they have a big tree and lots of decorations up. So, our daughter, Anna, will be happy with the little tree at our house and the big tree at Ma and Pa's house.

In the past, though, we've always had a dilemma about what to do with our "real" tree after Christmas. I found some great ideas at It's a great Web site with ideas for Treecycling, post-holiday tree uses, and starting a Christmas tree recycling program in your community. Check it out!

And, have a very merry, green Christmas!

Dreaming of a 'Green' Christmas

If you're anything like me, you're dreading all of the trash that will be generated by the upcoming Christmas holiday. At our house, the wrapping paper, ribbon and packaging fills up at least one large trash bag, sometimes several. It's such a waste.

I found this great article on's all about Christmas Recycling!

There are some wonderful ideas there, like making your own gift bags. Read the article for lots more ideas.

One idea that I have is to get unused newsprint and decorate it yourself, or let your kids decorate it, with Crayons, rubber stamps, paints, etc. that you have on hand. Check with your local newspaper to see if they have "end rolls" to give away or to sell for not too much. See if you can look over their stock and pick out the biggest roll. If you don't use it all for Christmas, you'll have craft paper for the new year!

Here's wishing you a very, merry "Green" Christmas!

Crafting disaster

My 8-year-old daughter's third-grade class exchanged "Stocking Stuffers" today. Each child needed to bring 18 small gifts. They decorated Rudolph bags for the goodies.

She decided that she wanted to make handmade soap in Christmas shapes for everyone. No problem. We've never done it before, but with the glycerin, melt and pour soap, I figured it would be fairly easy. And, it was.

We found some molds and bought the soap, fragrance and dye. Anna had seen on that kids' show "Cake" that you could put glitter in the soap. So, she found some little glitter stars. Only, they weren't so little.

After we had all the soap made and packaged into 18 little bags with tags, I used one of the rejects. The little stars were made from razor-sharp metal! Not something we needed to be handing out to kids. As I tried to wash my hands, I could just envision screaming kids all over town as they tried to use Anna's gift.

So, at 6:30 this morning, I started making a new batch of the little soaps -- without the sparkles -- hoping it would harden fast enough. We got to school with just minutes to spare.

At least we figured it out beforehand and not after some irate parent called me up over the holidays!

The good news is, I have a little crafter on my hands. She can't wait to make more soap, and she wants to open her own Etsy shop. I told her I'll have to investigate all the rules and regulations about making and selling soap, even if it is just the melt-and-pour kind.

Check out The Gilded Bee on Etsy!

I came across The Gilded Bee Etsy shop and blog yesterday and just fell in love with the products Sasha Lynne North offers there. They are so pretty and romantic, that I just had to feature the shop on my blog! Be sure to click on over there and check out what she's offering.

Here's a little interview I did with Sasha:

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself….where are you from? What kind of art do you create? Etc.

I’m from Rural Southwest Iowa, USA, I’ve lived in the country since I was 2.
I make my own clothes, am a milliner, I cook and bake a lot, I write the recipes on this blog: I have a nice big garden so I can grow organic produce and flowers, I have 3 cats and a Collie, I draw and paint. I have been home schooled K-12 grades, as have my sisters and cousins. I love collage (think somerset studio) and those elements make their way into my projects often.

Q: Many of the items in your Etsy shop are made from paper…why do you choose to use paper in your projects?

I have many passions material-wise, I decided to do the paper items because I have worked with them the longest out of all the materials I have used, and I love working with them.

Q: What inspires your artwork?

Beautiful colors. I love to walk into a paper store, and hold up a solid sheet of paper and just imagine. Other things: My garden/the outdoors/David Austin Roses. Buildings, fish. Vintage artwork and ads, textiles, even something like a towel, Japanese papers etc. Almost anything…

Q: Your Etsy profile mentions your love for vintage things...what do you like best about antiques?

Mmm, the finishes are often times different, such as on vintage glass ornaments. The detail work on furnishings. I love the opulence of the Victorian/Edwardian Ages, the velvet, the silk, the tinsel, the flowers. I love to hunt for/collect vintage millinery flowers on my antiquing trips. I love the detail work on garments, and I am crazy about 50’s fashion. I’m in the process of starting another blog for fashion related stuff and handmade garments/hats and accessories.

Q: Your shop has an unusual name...what's behind the name “The Gilded Bee”?

I just thought of it a couple of years ago, I liked the way it sounded. I decided it would make a great name for a stationary shop. I came up with it long before I had heard of Etsy, and when the time came, it clicked.

Q: What can Gilded Bee fans expect to see in the near future? What are you working on now?

Oh my, my house is covered with glitter and crafting stuff everywhere, I have ideas coming out of my ears. Always more tags, I didn’t realize how addicted I was to them till I started listing more. Stationary with candy, cake and ice cream, more ribbons and trim, more envelopes, both solid and patterned and both large and miniature, thank you cards and invitations, more flowers, both ribbon/fabric and paper, gift and favor boxes, labels and stickers and whatever else I dream up.

Why buy 'recycled'

I doubt any of us need experts -- whether they're economists on the news or professional organizers on HGTV -- to tell us we have too much stuff and most of what we buy nowadays is junk. Now, some of us may be working to remedy the problem in our lives, but the problem still exists for most people.

If you haven't seen "The Story of Stuff," please do so now! Be sure to click on The Story of Stuff blog, too! It's very enlightening. And, it shows us why if we're going to buy more stuff, it's better to buy recycled, vintage, reused, repurposed, upcycled, etc.

While we're on the topic of recycling, visit this Web page for instructions on how to make a small-sized geodesic dome for kids to play with. The materials? Old newspapers!

We haven't made one, yet, but it looks like great fun!

I've been Tagged

Tag You’re It!

I’ve been “tagged” by Deckled Edge Bindery and Expressive Papers. Thanks! This is a fun way to see what’s out there, read some great blogs and see lots of pretty things. It’s perfect for right before the holidays.

Now it’s my turn and maybe yours. Here’s what you need to do.

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share seven facts about yourself on your blog – some random, some weird.
3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.

My list of random facts:
1. I have lived in 10 different towns (one of them twice) in three states.
2. I have been to 26 states and plan to visit the remaining 24.
3. I have been to 6 countries, including the US.
4. I am a collector - books, Santas, cat figurines, real cats, red and white enamelware, red-handled vintage kitchen utensils, old cookie cutters, and more.
5. I have 17 cats (at least), but I live out in the country, so it’s not so bad.
6. I love paper.
7. I love genealogy and have traced my family tree back many generations.

Here are the 7 people that I’m tagging: (If you've been tagged before, I apologize. But, this just gives us an opportunity to get to know you better!)
Expressions by Devin
In the Swan’s Shadow
One World Organic Clothing
The Card Tree
Little Red Cottage
These Are The Things That Occur To Me In My Dreams
Ben McFuzzylugs Crafty Bits and Dog Agility

Flickr's ReUse Project

I just love this site — The ReUse Project! There are so many great projects — and great ideas — here!

From a necklace made from magazine pages to napkin rings made from old wooden spools, from a collage postcard made from found art to cushions made from broken umbrellas, today's front page has lots of great items!

Check it out and get some great ideas!

New Christmas on my Etsy page

I've been away from my blog and my Etsy site for a few weeks, but I'm back on task now.

There are several new items in my Etsy shop. They're mostly vintage paper items. I hope someone will find them for scrapbooking, cardmaking or collage projects!

Many of these items also look great framed, as wall art!

Sale in my Etsy store!

Hurry! There's still time for sending Halloween greetings!

And, I have just the thing for you! Halloween stationery and stickers!

The best news is....they're all on sale! Check out my Etsy shop!

Still time!

There's still time to order some Halloween stationery or stickers! This black stationery set, complete with matching envelopes and stickers has just the right amount of spooky atmosphere! Visit my Etsy shop for this set and other Halloween items!

How wonderful!

I received the most delightful package in the mail yesterday....all the way from Surrey, England! It's a beautiful, customized stationery set from Giulia Mauri of The Card Tree.

I just love my writing set and can't wait to write some letters!

Thanks, Giulia!

How-to Make a Purse from a Magazine Page

I am always looking for different and exciting ways to reuse all the stuff I have.

This how-to is great at Henrietta's Handbags and Purse Patterns is great.

The site gives instructions for making a purse from magazine pages.

While you're there, go to the Site Map and scroll down to the Free Handbag Patterns and Purse Patterns link. There are several other eco-friendly ideas there. The site also sells purses and handbags made from a variety of materials.

Note to crafters: Please read the FAQ section on the Henrietta's site. The patterns are copyrighted, and crafters must sign an agreement to share the revenue you make.

The Card Tree shop is one of my favorites!

When I first saw Giulia's TheCardTree shop on Etsy, I fell in love with it! The shop is full of beautifully elegant notecards, cards and writing sets....all made from recycled paper! And, then there are the eco-friendly Fair Trade Organic Cotton tote bags, painted with some of Giulia's images.

Then, I saw some of Giulia's other art work. My favorite is The Card Tree, a watercolor. Her other works are beautiful, too, but maybe it is my own love for letter writing that draws me to her The Card Tree, see it to the right.

I sent Giulia a few questions about herself and her art, so that you, too, can get to know her better. Here are her answers:

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself….where are you from? What kind of art do you create? Etc.
My name is Giulia Mauri, I'm 23 years old and I come from Castelfranco Veneto, Italy. I studied Art at High School at Nove (Vicenza, Italy) and then graduated in Visual Arts from the Univerisity of Art & Design of Venice. At University I followed many different courses like history of dance, history of cinema, history of music, modern history and philosophy. I am pleased to have a solid background in which I can relate to my Art.

Q: What kind of art do you create?

Through watercolors I mainly tell stories of people - real and imaginative. I like to describe my feelings about those stories using colors and shapes. I do lots of monochrome paintings, and I'm very attentive to define characters' posture and their manners. I love working as a CD Cover Designer. I have done one project of this kind so far and it was a lot of fun! When designing for things such as CD Cover, Art is applied to everyday life objects and items. That's also why I like to create things to sell at The Card Tree shop, like writing sets, cards and reusable cotton bags.

Q: Many of the items in your Etsy shop are made from recycled materials…why did you choose to use recycled paper in your projects?
Actually all the paper goods in my shop are made of recycled paper.
I have chosen to make my arts and crafts totally Eco-friendly because it is an effective way to save the planet; plus it makes me feel good!
When buying or selling recycled paper items, you can effectively save the remains of the forest that we have left in the world. Trees are a limited resource, and we have to teach our children to appreciate and protect them.

Q: What inspires your artwork?
I get inspiration from stories and tales that draw my attention and certain colors - like red, turquoise, blue and green. I am also very lucky to live in a very beautiful area: surrounded by the nature and the animals. Nature is a great resource of inspiration, it is constantly changing with the weather and the seasons...

Q: What types of things do you think people can do in their everyday lives to be more "Eco-friendly"?
I was going to talk about Reduce-Reuse-Recycle, but I figured why not visit!

Q: I see that you have several writing sets in your shop, do you write letters regularly? What kind of a response do you get?
I love writing letters but I also understand that this might seem like an old fashion way of communicating. To me though, it's very personal and I just love it. In a letter you can fit so much more about yourself, than the ordinary card or postcard.
My friends love receiving mail from me, they say that my letters always hold a secret inside. I love receiving mail too, after about 10 years of correspondence with friends around the world I have boxes full of memories...

Q: What can Giulia Mauri art fans expect to see in the near future?
As my little Eco-friendly craft business grows, I would like to get my cards professionally printed on Eco-friendly cards and inks. I'd like to get involved in other Music-Art projects and get my personal web site up and running. This will have a gallery to view all my art works.

Q: I appreciate your taking the time for this interview! Do you have anything else you'd like to add?
Thank you very much Carla for giving me the opportunity to talk about my work!

Nothing is trash!

I just love the concept of not throwing things away!

I found this great blog on how to make a purse from potato chip bags or candy wrappers. Take a look at her detailed directions!

On the purse-making blog, she references this Web site that explains how to make the chains she uses for the purses — It's not hard...I've done it! While you're looking at Gary Duschl's Web site on how to make the gum wrapper chains, click to his Main Page (link is at the bottom of his page) and see what he's done!

With tricks like these, we can save almost anything and make something useful out of it!

New Etsy mini on page

Today, you'll find an Etsy mini for MyCozyCreations on this page. My Etsy mini is on her blog, too. Visit it at

The lunchbox napkins and cloth tote bags are definitely earth-friendly! And, they're cute, too!

While you're at Etsy, visit my shop and see the new Halloween items I listed yesterday and today, as well as the new repurposed envelopes! Keep checking back for new items as often as I can get them posted!

Great blog and how-to site

Here's a wonderful blog and how-to site in one:

She has photos of her projects, bags made from recycled plastic bags, plus a how-to and patterns section, showing you how to do it yourself. One page shows how to make "yarn" from plastic bags.

Plans for this blog

My plans for this blog include having a weekly Artist Spotlight, featuring information about a recycling artist and/or crafter who creates their work from recycled, reused, repurposed, etc. materials. If you'd like to suggest someone for the spotlight, please leave me a comment. I have a lot of favorites, but I'm always interested in someone new.

I'll also have a weekly Focus on How-To post, featuring some of the best how-to sites on the Internet, specifically how-to recycle, reuse, repurpose things into useful or decorative items. Again, if you have a favorite How-To segment out there, let me know, and I'll check it out.

At least once a week, I'll write a longer post, like yesterday's, about some of the things we do around our house to recycle, reuse and repurpose as much as we can. Additionally, I'll try to add shorter posts daily, mentioning some of my current projects.

This weekend, I'll be working on making handmade paper infused with Texas wildflowers.

I hope you'll be checking back regularly to see what I've posted on this blog.

The good and the bad

The positive, eco-friendly, 21st century spin on it is that instead of automatically throwing things away, I look at them from every angle to see if they can be re-used in some way. You know, the second of the three Rs — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Can this bag from the produce section be re-used? Why buy a fancy incense burner when the lid to this can of corn will work just as well?

The "you're just like your granny," 20th century, not-so-positive view is that I'm a pack rat, saving trash because it might be useful someday. The store sells new, clean plastic bags, if I need one, and that jagged piece of metal that was cut off of that can of corn is just garbage.

The pack-rat syndrome wasn't such a big deal when we lived in a big house in the city. We had a basement, a two-car garage, an attic and three walk-in closets in my master bedroom (the previous owner had a penchant for "adding on"). So, I had places to store all my stuff.

However, we left that house and all its space when we moved to the country. We have quite a bit more land to roam around on, but closet space is very limited. In fact, in the entire house, we have only two closets, and neither are big enough to be considered "walk-in."

Indeed, we do have a barn, but storing things out there requires Fort Knox-type security to prevent the wildlife — raccoons, opossums, rats, skunks, etc. — from digging in and making a fine nest out of a scrap of gold lamé.

So, we've trained ourselves to think "re-use" whenever possible. Some re-using practices are simple things that generations of my family have done, such as writing the grocery list on the back of a used envelope and then storing necessary coupons, notes, etc. in the envelope during your shopping trip. We use both sides of every piece of paper; we let our daughter use empty paper towel rolls and toilet paper rolls for art projects. Some things we do are straight out of decades-old Heloise the mesh produce bags (that contain grapes, lettuce and other fruit and vegetables) as dish scrubbers.

Other re-use ideas are a little more out-there — saving cardboard product boxes (cereal boxes, tea boxes, etc.), turning them inside-out and re-gluing them to make a perfectly usable, plain box; cutting up other product boxes into rectangles and re-using them as postcards; cutting and gluing magazine pages into envelopes; blending up scraps of paper in the blender and making new sheets of handmade paper.

When I found Etsy, I was ecstatic! So many of the artists on the site for buying and selling homemade things are into recycling, reusing and repurposing things that might otherwise be trash. I'm still working on getting my Etsy site full of products, but it's getting there.

Halloween stickers!

These stickers are the latest items on my Etsy site!

They are stickers made by me using handmade paper (made by me). I just stamped the Halloween image onto the handmade paper then tore out the images. Then, I ran the stamped pieces through my sticker maker, which was loaded with permanent, acid-free adhesive.

They're great for decorating letters, envelopes, scrapbook pages, and more!

This set is listed on my Etsy site: and includes three yellow stickers as well.

Recycling by reusing

This blog will focus on all the wonderful ways there are to recycle trash by creating something new from it rather than throwing it away.

Most of my projects involve paper, but I'll feature blogs, Web sites, etc. by others that make new things from all sorts of old things.

I have an Etsy shop at Please visit it and see what all is there!

Feel free to comment with your favorite recycling/reusing ideas or to let me know about an interesting shop or blog.
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