Or New Ideas for Everyday Things.  And folded into this subject is re-purposing, recycling, using your imagination and being ‘green’:  Saving old t-shirts for your kids to wear when they are finger-painting, cutting down bath towels to use in the kitchen or for dustcloths, rinsing a ketchup bottle and filling it with pancake batter for a perfectly mess-free dispenser, making purses out of old denim jeans, creating bookcases out of old stereo cabinets & lamps out of vases, putting Christmas ornaments in egg cartons. 

Ever make a daisy-chain out of gum wrappers?  There are bags for sale these days made out of juice boxes and gum wrappers and soda pop-top rings.  Purses out of old seatbelts and tires.

http://www.nahuoillin.com Many bags in coordinated colors

http://www.savetheworlddesigns.com These were less expensive but not color coordinated.


One of my favorite things to do is read about new uses for old things.  Various magazines, such as Good Housekeeping, Real Simple and Fresh Home have frequent articles on this subject.  I can spend hours just wandering these sites looking for inspiration.

 Quite often the ‘new’ use is really going back to your grandmother’s way of doing things…for instance, did you know you can use vinegar to clean your windows?  Well, duh.  Or baking soda to brush your teeth?  Duh, again.  Lemon juice to remove fishy smells on your hands?  This is very important to remember if you ever host a crawfish boil…I still remember what fun we had at our cousins’ place, Ginger and Tom inBaton Rouge.  My niece, Roni, who was about 4 yrs of age and wouldn’t eat anything that wasn’t garlic bread and french fries, loved crawfish, of all things!  We had to pull off the heads and shell them for her and shell them, but she loved those spicy bits!  A recipe is at the bottom of this post.


I like being reminded about those old-fashioned solutions to problems.  Add equal parts baking soda and cream of tartar and add a little lemon juice together to tackle stains on porcelain.  I always wondered what cream of tartar is for.  I have a little jar of it and never use it.  Do you?  What for?

Anyone remember that old TV series ‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman’?  I do because a) it was a fave of mine back then and b) once in a while someone will sometimes, even, lo, these many years later, accidentally call me Mary or say ‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman’, such wit. 

Anyway, that series was a comedy about a woman whose life was falling to pieces around her.  She would experience some tragic event and then look down at her kitchen floor and say, with much concern “Do I have waxy, yellow buildup?”  You might not believe this but we did a lot of ROTFL at that show.

 I loved reading in some mag about Jamie Lee Curtis and her speedy way of mopping the kitchen floors.  We have much in common, her and me!  (I was going to say ‘she and I’ but my MS Word spellcheck made me change it!)  I spritz the floor with whatever product is at hand – Windex, 409, water, spit – and then throw down a handtowel and skate around the floor.  I hate the idea of using a mop and then rinsing it out in my kitchen sink – disgusting.  I’ve always wanted a big industrial sink in the garage or laundry room, sigh, such a little thing but it’s always eluded me.

 But, I’ve wandered again…back to new uses for everyday things.

 My mom gave me a cute green jar made of tiny glass tiles.  I keep the sponge for my bathroom sink in it.  I have a small vase that an orchid came in (from Carol Woodard, thank you).  The orchid is long gone -it lasted 2 years but never bloomed again – and now my kitchen dish brush stands up nicely in it.

 Our bathroom is large, but when we remodeled it, we didn’t realize we’d be living here one day (it was an office bathroom) so there isn’t a lot of storage.  The clawfoot bathtub is lovely but it’s hard for each of us to have our stuff in the tub when there isn’t an edge or ledge or cubby for bottles and shavers and combs, etc.  We have one of those chrome racks that spans from one side of the tub to another and its great but little things fall through.  So, I put my razors and small soaps etc. in a pretty scrubby glove and hang it from the curtain.

mine is striped green and white...

My flashdrives are always getting lost in the piles of paper on my desk so I keep them in a little bowl I bought in Acapulco.  I love being reminded of our trip there everytime I rummage through it.

Clothespins make great chip clips.  I use binder clips, too, when something needs a  stronger clasp.  And here is a way to close your chip bag without needing a clip at all !  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rB6bf8DqMQ 

The knob at the bottom of the pullchain for the light fixture in our closet broke off.  I only need to glue it back in place but I found a fabric lei and took off the flowers and threaded them onto the pull chain.  I had a ceramic bead in the shape of a bumble bee that I added  and now I think of spring (and Hawaii) every time I go in my closet!

 I found a few coins stashed away after a trip to Romania.  I am drilling holes through them and am going to put them on a necklace and bracelet.

 We are using a sunporch for our closet – our bedroom didn’t come with a closet – which means I can’t get a regular closet organizer in there easily.  So I have some bookshelves that I’m using as storage.  And plastic bins and toy baskets are holding my tank tops, socks, jammies and unmentionables.  I’m kinda hoping I never have to move because my closet is HUGE. 

Don’t have enough candlesticks?  Use small drinking glasses to hold tea candles, stack them bottom-to-bottom for height – add pebbles, marbles, sand, and the like for added color.  In the bottom glass you could place crumpled tissue paper or a pine cone or seashells or an Easter egg for color, too.  Once you get started, you’ll never stop!

Turn champagne flutes upside down and put candles on the bottoms! Thanks, Real Simple!

 Give presents wrapped in lunch boxes, tote bags, small purses, baskets, towels, cigar boxes, scarves.  Two presents in one!  Or use roadmaps, paper bags, coffee tins or Sunday comics for your present.  


                                     I invariably run out (or, to be honest, simply can’t find) gift tags, so I make them out of used Christmas/Birthday/Thankyou cards or even cardstock.  Cut out a fun shape from the image on the card or a simple square.  You can tape it onto the package or use a hole-punch and attach it to the package with ribbon.

I also cut cards in half along the bend and use them as post-cards.

One year I wrapped every Christmas present in blueprint paper and tied them with hemp cord and fresh sprigs of ivy.   It looked pretty cool, if I do say so myself.  Usually, I’m wrapping presents weeks in advance – I really love it.  But, that year all the ivy was cut and attached just a couple days prior to Christmas – a bit of a rush that I don’t recommend for a huge pile of gifts.

Take ornaments and place them in big glass vases for a quick, festive decoration for your fireplace mantle or buffet.  I’ve done that a bunch and here’s a great site with quick tutorials for elegant, often easy, ideas for inexpensive decorating:   http://www.howdini.com/howdini-video-8654123.html    There is also info on how to set a table, recushion a chair, create a wreath, make a bow, choose a paint color and even design your kitchen remodel. 

All those staples in the ceiling were a challenge to remove, though.

I did this one year – took glass ornaments and hung them from the ceiling with curling ribbon.  Another year I took those same ornaments and hung them from the inside top of the windows in our office.  I even did it with silver stars (8″ big) hanging from the ceiling for a New Year’s Eve party.  One year I hung strand after strand of tiny white lights from the top of our vaulted ceiling down to the fireplace wall.  It was gorgeous!  But getting that ladder up there was a bit scary.  In fact, it was my idea but I delegated the task of actually hanging the lights to someone else 😉

I repurposed a boot tray, normally used in mudrooms and entry halls for your wet wellies, for the cat’s food and water dishes; it helps keep the kibble from straying.  You could also use a very large one under the litterbox.

I have two old brass test tube racks and use them to hold flowers.

While looking for ideas to repurpose household items, I discovered quite a few sites that not only have cheap uses for things like ketchup bottles, but also crafty re-uses of things when you are good with tools and sewing machines. 

Tell me, what imaginative things have you come up with?  😉 

Seems pretty labor-intensive to me...www.funlobby.com

Wow, a bench made of tennis balls http://www.greenecoservices.com


This site had ideas for things to do with old tennis balls:  www.greenecoservices.com

And these people were entirely too inventive with their ideas for tennis balls:  http://www.funlobby.com/index.php/201104042130/how-recycled-tennis-balls-can-be-used-21-images.html  I can’t imagine taking that kind of time to recycle a tennis ball or two or three.

This company will accept your old tennis balls…here’s the link to their page with instructions:  http://www.rebounces.com/site1/page/Recycle-Old-Tennis-Ball-With-Us.aspx

 Here are a few more sites for inspiration:

Real Simple Magazine http://www.realsimple.com/new-uses-for-old-things/index.html

Fresh Home Magazine  http://www.freshhomeideas.com/

Crawfish boil recipe:  http://whatscookingamerica.net/Seafood/CrawfishBoil.htm

Wrapping ideas  http://www.underworldmagazines.com/creative-gift-wrapping-for-this-christmas/