Cedar Reindeer Rescue

The At the end of August I drove past a number of items that had been placed curbside.

I saw potential in several pieces, including the two cedar reindeer.

They are similar but not an exact match. Even the wood is different colours. And those fuzzy pink noses! A cross between Rudolph and Pinocchio.

I used nail polish remover to remove the pink noses and the plastic neck ribbons. I also removed the plastic eyes which had been glued on crudely, and one of which was missing.

Then I watered down some white latex paint and gave them a quick whitewash. The cedar was untreated, so it absorbed almost all of the wash in some spots, which added to the rustic, country look.

The whitewash made them look a tad more like a matching pair.


Highchair Tray to Shabby Chic Sign

While scouting around taking photos of abused farmland a couple of months ago I found this plastic highchair tray next to a truck highway.


Tire marks all over it… and normally I don’t like working with plastic, but I did love the shape and thought it had sign potential. I just had to figure out a way to disguise the plastic aspect.

So I applied two coats of thick homemade chalk paint, which gave it a nice plaster kind of feeling.

hazel-sign-2 Then I tore up a scrap  of wallpaper I rescued from behind a paint and wallpaper store. I applied it with a generous coat Modge Podge (although not so generous around the edges).

Several of the strips were bent over the edge of the surface with the aim of creating the effect that the entire piece had once been covered.


The sign is going to be for a little girl’s bedroom. I used my home computer to choose the font and size I want and printed it off. Then used artist’s tracing paper (carbon paper or graphite paper) to trace the lettering onto the sign.

Because some parts of the lettering are very narrow and I have rapidly aging eyes, I used a fine point Sharpie to fill in the letters.


Then it was time to sand to further the aged & distressed look. Mostly I used a sanding block, but on the edges of the sign I used the dull edge of a butter knife – and selectively.

The sanding block was old and kinda grubby – which gave the paper edges a more convincing aged look.  Notice in some places I left the edges of the paper curled – again, to look more convincingly aged.

The lettering didn’t sand effectively- an important different between ink and  paint, I guess. Note to self.


Nature’s Spider Repellants: Horse Chestnuts

It’s autumn and with the crisp, fresh air and trick-or-treaters comes the annual invasion of spiders into our homes.

The link between indoor insecticides and blood cancers in children reported by the Harvard School of Public Health in 2015  should be of concern to us all.  of

I understand that spiders are an extremely beneficial insect, but if I’m footing the bills I want to have some say over roommates. And since infancy I’ve had a major aversion to spiders.

Now, there is always the catch-and-release approach, or the tissue-to-toilet disposal method, but there is a way to vastly diminish the number of spiders in our homes without either chemicals or confrontation.

Simply place a few Horse Chestnuts at the foot of door jams on doors leading outside and on windowsills and you should see far fewer, if any spiders. Be sure to replace them each autumn.

The good news is that if you know someone who has a Horse Chestnut tree, they’ll likely welcome you to take all you want. They present challenges.

The outer shell usually opens and releases the chestnut shortly after it falls to the ground and then quickly breaks down. But until then they are spiky and a bit dangerous for children and pets galloping around the yard..

The chestnuts themselves are very slippery – especially when wet – and present their own potential hazards on a busy lawn or walkway.

Don’t get me wrong. The trees are worth it. They are spectacular to look at and the spikes of scented blossoms in May are dizzyingly lovely.

A friend’s sixth grader has to come up with something he can make and sell each year at his school’s Christmas craft fair. In an effort to get him to consider selling Horse Chestnuts I picked a sack full.

Then I scrounged around the house for materials to create this display.








Antique Apothecary Vase

In my DIY Junk Thanksgiving Cards I posted one card using the label of an antique apothecary bottle I was given (translation: told to throw in the garbage) because it was quite badly cracked.

I had other plans.

I can’t find the before photo, but when I do I’ll post it. But as you’ll see there was absolutely no reason to toss this little treasure in the trash.

Martha Stewart popularized the idea of repurposing antique apothecary bottles as outdoor lights by filling them with lamp oil and wicks. But that wouldn’t work for me because of the cracks.

We’ve all been in Pier 1 and Winners and such and seen the bottles used as vases for dried flowers. That’s what I needed to do.

To help disguise the cracks I mixed up a batch of homemade chalkpaint but added a lot of extra Plaster of  Paris to make it really soupy.  I wanted the dried paint to be very textured.

apothecarybottle1  It took 3 good coats of goopy chalk paint but the cracks are only visible if you know they are there and look hard for them.

I added some dried hydrangeas that I spray painted earlier in the summer…

I am lovin’ it on my nightstand.


Since posting this I found another great apothecary bottle vase project at Knick of Time – check it out!





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Duo Repurpose for Binocular Case

Does watching the Hoarders tv show make you nervous? Me, too.

So, I’m resolved to selling or consigning or donating all of the projects I’ve completed that are crowding my life a bit uncomfortably before doing any more junking.

Last night I did a curbside pickup of a seatless, bashed up but cute adult bicycle. It would have been a cute garden planter, but for a couple of years on Car Free Day and Bike to Work Week I have fantasized about creating a refreshment station: baskets  filled with fresh fruit and granola bars (donated, of course) on the handlebars and where the seat would otherwise be. Paniers filled with cold drinks.

You get where I’m going…environmental benefits on so many levels. The bike I picked up last night would have been perfect, BUT I would have been tripping over it for the next 6 months. I’m proud to say I took it back this morning.

This binocular case is an example of the slippery slope to hoarding. I’ve had it for years. When it came to me it no strap and my original plan was to get a new, longer than normal strap and use it as a purse.


Never happened. And over time it got too bashed up to use for that particular purpose. But leather items like this are not recyclable, so the kindest waste management method is reuse or repurpose.

It could have been used for a funky storage container… anything that you can put stuff in can be used for storage.

But in these last days of Indian summer my thoughts turned outdoors.

Surrounded as I am by my hydrangea haul, I saw cute autumn wreath potential. I used a length of jute to replace the leather strap and stuffed it full of Hydrangeas and end-of-season Lavender.


The wreath was short-lived.

Fall weather means it is time to get out our birdfeeders and help our migrating birds fatten up a bit for their long flights, and let our feathered friends who will winter with us know where the cafeteria is going to be.


Now that the lid is down you can see what I mean about this case being a little the worse for wear…

I drilled a hole near the bottom of the case.  I don’t always like to have a catch basin for seed that falls out. There are a lot of ground feeding birds, and I’m fine with squirrels and the occasional raccoon helping themselves to some nuts and seeds. They’re all God’s creatures.


This feeder is going to a seniors’ housing complex. This particular complex doesn’t permit pets, but most of the residents love critters. There are three “stray” cats that have patrolled the grounds for a year or more, and many of the residents have some kind of bird feeding, even if it is just scattering seed on the ground.

I think they are going to love the idea of spoon feeding the birds


The clasped lid keeps the seed inside clean and dry, and it seeps out as the spoon empties.



Autumn Teacup Wreath

I just couldn’t stand to see these antique Royal Albert Crown China (Devonshire Lace pattern – 1930s) teacups thrown away – even though they had cracks on their insides.



They were a Craigslist freebie – the ad said if no one replied by that evening they were going in the trash. I couldn’t bear the thought.

Among other considerations, these types of dishes cannot go in our recycling bins. They go to landfill.  No way!


So I gathered some autumn rust coloured hydrangeas (yes – I cheated and added a couple of Dahlias for filler because I temporarily ran out of hydrangeas and have to wait for more to start to dry – too hard to handle when they are fresh fresh) from the garden and made a teacup wreath.

But you get the idea.  Not including the harvest and drying of hydrangeas, this project took a whopping 15 minutes to make and cost nothing (I used a grapevine wreath that I had on hand. I bought 3 for 75 cents at a yard sale a year and a half ago but I have used them several times already).


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Fresh Bread Delivery

Did you know bread stays fresher in a breadbox than it does in the refrigerator? Wikipedia says so

This mailbox was rescued from the side of a formerly rural road where a huge condo development was getting started.

As explained in a previous post, under the previous government Canada Post was replacing individual mailboxes in rural areas with group boxes that area residents have to walk or drive to in order to get their mail.


I had been thinking for a while about using old mailboxes for kitchen storage, and in particular that they would make adorable bread boxes, but the ones I found were usually in such a state that there would be health concerns using them for food.

But this one was nice and clean inside – just needed a good wash and dry. (I would still only used for wrapped baked goods, but that is true of kitchen cupboards, as well).


I scrubbed it down, sanded off as much of the rust as I could, then mixed up a batch of  homemade chalk paint.

I wanted this project to be a gift of appreciation to a local organic bakery I have a lot of respect for (and several waistline inches!). I picked this blue paint that is very close to one of A Bread Affair’s corporate colours.

In between coats of paint (I rarely need more than 2, but this took 3), I played with signage.


As much as possible I like to create a unique look, so I blended lettering styles including the very traditional 2″ stationery store stencils and an oversized stylized “B” to give it a one-of-a-kind look.

For whatever reason, my traditional technique of using artist tracing paper to transfer the outline to the mailbox didn’t work so I retraced it onto a plastic sheet and created my own stencil.

  (I don’t know what I would do without Sharpies!)

I was so excited by the end result I started taking photos before the paint was dry.



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Songbird: Child’s Guitar Repurposed as Birdhouse




A pink child’s guitar rescued from my neighbour’s garbage can repurposes almost effortlessly to a birdhouse.songbird-sept-21-2016

A little paint, a spare cupboard door knob for a perch. A little sanding to distress…

Some wording added using the packing tape method… (not perfectly centred, but close enough)

Accidental technique: I left the painted guitar outside while I went indoors to print the wording.

It began to rain… and I mistakenly thought the guitar was fully covered by the house eaves. In some areas the paint blistered and started to crackle giving a naturally distressed look I couldn’t have planned.



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10 Junk Altered Autumn Cards

Old lace, fabric scraps (including the seams that are of no use as dust cloths!), old buttons, belt buckles, bottle caps, corn husks, candy wrappers, old keys and broken jewelery pieces…

When most people do a cleaning purge such items go the trash.  With me they go on cards.

I recently took the opportunity to get a jump on my holiday (Thanksgiving/Christmas) cards.   Boy I  had fun!

I’m getting a lot more confident in my multi-material play at the same time.

And since the cards frequently include something more, I pulled out to include with my cousin’s card this antique autograph book that belonged to our  Grandma.



I enjoy the benefits of the internet as much as the next guy. But I swoon over hand-written cards  and letters.

I don’t receive a lot these days, but here’s a sample of what my family and friends can look for in their mailboxes over the next few weeks.













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