Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Water Station Recyclables

As the weather warms dramatically, we're spending every day outdoors soaking up the sun. But there are only so many popcicles you can feed a toddler to cool off before chaos ensues! So I've raided our recycling bin once again to create a water wall against a fence for hours of cooling fun.

It's best to find a fairly large bin to collect the water, otherwise your hose will be running non-stop. I found an old, long, flat Rubbermaid bin that works perfectly. Using 1/4" screws, I attached large plastic tubs to the fence above the flat bin and loosely enough to let the tub rotate. Make very sure you're not introducing screws farther than the depth of your fence, creating a dangerous situation for your neighbours!
Both of these large plastic tubs are affixed loosely enough to rotate pouring water from one to the other and into the bin at the bottom.
With a second plastic tub, I first drilled holes in the bottom so the water would slowly drain out.
Use a very small drill bit to make holes in the bottom of a container, allowing water to slowly drain. My son also discovered that adding sand to the containers slowed the draining process. How exciting to make these small discoveries!

I cut the bottom off a juice container and positioned it firmly upside-down so that it could fill if the lid were shut or drain when opened.
This orange juice jug is perfect to work fine motor skills by opening and closing the stubborn lid. When done successfully, my son is rewarded with a gush of water.

I used zip ties and eye screws, both found in our tool room, to fix an old soap bottle against the fence.
I added red food dye to the bottle for some colour mixing. 
The station is adjacent to the sandbox, so my son can play with his toys and make mud pies to his heart's content. I've since planted some ground cover around the area so the roots can suck up the spills.
I don't have to water the plants in this little corner of our yard thanks to all the spillage!

We've also introduced food colouring, to the amazement of my son. I put a few drops of each colour into each container and let him mix away.
The water's trajectory from bin to bin, colours mixing along the way.

What materials would you introduce to stimulate a budding hydrologist? Comment below to help grow our water wall this year!

Ellen (Volunteer) 

*All photos provided by Ellen 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Father's Day Gift Ideas - Reuse Style

With Father’s Day right around the corner, you may be wondering what kind of creative gift you could give – I’ve suggested three of my favourites. These gifts are not only thoughtful, but also incorporate a reuse theme! Another added bonus, is that these gifts shouldn’t take too long to make.

Recycled Tie Photo Album

Does your Dad have a few ties hanging in the back of his closest that he no longer wears? This tie photo album is a great way to use them to create a meaningful gift. You can print out some photos of you and your Dad to put in the album as well – he will love it!

This idea does require you to purchase a 4” x 6” photo album, unless you have one at home already. Other supplies required include sew on snaps and fusible interfacing.

For the full tutorial, check out lilblueboo.com

 Image Credit: lilblueboo.com

 Dad’s Coupon Book

I love the simple yet thoughtful idea behind this gift. My dad is always telling me that all he wants is to spend time with me rather than material gifts. With the coupon book, you can suggest fun activities that the two of you can do together, or perhaps chores where you can offer to help.

The main item you will need for this gift is paper to use for the coupons. Old newspapers or pages from a book that’s no longer being used work great. Essentially, all you need to do is cut the paper into a number of small rectangles (using a ruler to measure them, so they’re the same size), choose one to be the cover, and add the activities/items you’d like to share with your father on each page. Feel free to personalize the pages and jazz them up a little! Then you can either staple the pages or punch holes in them and loop a piece of string/twine through so the book holds together. Check out Crafting a Green World for full details.

 Image Credit: Crafting a Green World

No-Sew Slipper Socks

These cozy socks are a perfect gift for anyone, really. My dad loves slippers, so naturally this is one of the first thoughts I had. This idea involves adding a sole to an old pair of socks to make them into slippers.

Items you will need include sueded fabric and fusible webbing (a material that bonds fabrics together).

Standing on a piece of cardboard in your chosen socks, trace and cut out an outline of your feet. After you cut out the cardboard template, trace the pattern onto the sueded fabric and fusible webbing with a sewing pencil; cut those out as well. Position the cardboard template inside the sock where you’d like the sole to go, place the fusible webbing over the sock, and then the sueded fabric at the top. Iron according to the instructions that come with the webbing, and then remove cardboard. Voila, you have a new pair of slippers!

Visit marthastewart.com for full instructions.

 Image Credit: marthastewart.com
Happy Father's Day! 

- Tamara (Volunteer)

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Reuse-It Featured Item - Cables

Old computer and phone cords can be a nuisance, cluttering up storage bins and becoming a tangled mess with old electronics. These annoying cables can actually be used to create beautiful and useful items around the house. Here our some examples of unique and practical ways to reuse and repurpose old computer and electronics cables.


With the wide variety of colours, thicknesses, and even patterns that electrical cables have, they make a great material for any kind of yarn or string-based art. This crocheted wall hanging is made entirely out of used wires from old telephone and electronics cords!

Image credit: Crochet Concupiscence


While there are many ways to up-cycle cables, this idea posted on makezine.com is my favourite. You can see from the supplies list that there is nothing that you would need that you wouldn't be able to find at any craft store!


* Epoxy resin, clear formula for crafting or jewelry-making

* Cables

* Mold release and conditioner


* Resin mixing cups, stir sticks, and brushes set

* Nail file with shine and buff surfaces or ultra-fine sandpaper

* Kraft paper or newspaper to protect your worktable

* Masking tape

* Extra straight pin or toothpick to position the items in the resin

With a finished project that looks like this, it's a great way to spend a rainy weekend indoors crafting beautiful jewelry!

Image Credit: makezine.com


Although it might take a bit of time, the end result looks super cool: DIY coasters out of old cables.

These are two good websites with instructions that look relatively straightforward to follow. Both of them involve using a piece of strong tape to stick on the start of your coil, and then continue wrapping around.

1. Mother Jones, uses materials that most people will likely have at home already.

2. Sierra Club 
This tutorial explains how to braid the colorful strands found inside a piece of cable for a unique presentation. I like the ironing described at the end. This is a smart way to prevent the coaster from coming apart.

Image Source: Sierra Club


When your rat’s nest of cables gets packed up and moved to three different addresses all while modem, firewire, and telephone technology advances by several generations, it’s time to let go of the mess. I decided to make some jewelry with my embarrassingly large stash of unused wires.

I picked the oldest looking cable in my stash and cut each end, then sliced into the plastic coating and ripped it off. I was left with four sets of two wires wound around each other: red, blue, green, and grey.

Next, I tediously unwound the sets of wires. This took a long time and flirted with the line between peacefully therapeutic and utterly maddening. I folded the eight kinky wires in half and used just a few of the wires to wrap around the neck and make a knot. Then I simply started wrapping wires around the group. I alternated between wrapping one at a time and two at a time for a different effect. 

When my piece reached the desired length for a necklace, I used one wire to tie a few knots at the end. I used the longest piece of wire to create a makeshift bar to slip into the loop. It works, but I may replace the bar with a bead which would be sturdier.

I’m calling this craft the "Blast from the Past" upcycled necklace because not only is it retro looking but it also invoked memories of campground friendship bracelets as a child. Playful, unique, and thrifty, my kind of jewelry!
Image Source: Ellen


This cute basket is made of coloured cables that were destined for the Eco Station. You can use the basket for pretty much anything, keys, jewelry, or even spare change. For details on how to make your own, visit atomicshrimp.com

Image Source: atomicshrimp.com

Share your thoughts on ways to reuse cables in the comments section.