Thursday, December 24, 2009

#119 - #121 Recycled Sweater Crafts

Ok, somewhere I have a picture of the original sweater that most of these were made from. I made mittens for my daughter & son and my daughter's dolly, a pillow (stuffed with extra sweater pieces) for dolly, and leg warmers. I also used the remaining pieces of fleece that I used to make my son's blanket & pillow to make a blanket for my daughter's dolly.

I do plan to try more crafts where I re-purpose a sweater, as my husband has one that has a hole in it that is no longer fit to be worn. But I have to admit that these were a lot more time-consuming to make than what I thought they would be because of the sweater I chose to re-purpose. In the future I will use one that is either a wool or cashmere (I have one with a ripped seem that cannot be repaired) and a tighter weave (like the one from the hubby.)

The loose weave of this sweater and the multiple colors and especially the periodic sequins & beads used, proved to make it much more difficult to stitch. I kept breaking the thread when the needle would go through a sequin and the loose weave & multiple colored design made there be too many loose strands to get caught and made it not push through the machine as easy.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

#117 - #118 Using What You Have To Make Gifts

Sometimes being green means using what you have rather than purchasing something new. I made up this princess cone hat and magic wand as Christmas presents for my daughter out of all items I already owned.

I did re-purpose 2 metal frozen juice lids to make the top of the magic wand. But everything else you see is leftover crafting & sewing supplies from various & assorted projects.

I had planned to make this hat with a couple friends so that we could all give them as gifts to our daughters, but for personal reasons they were unable to come over the other night, but rather than have their daughters miss out on getting this fun dress-up hat, I had the supplies and made them each one. They happen to have birthdays coming up in the next month, so now my daughter has a fun, frugal & green gift to give her friends (she just doesn't know it yet, since she will get her own on Christmas Eve.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

#114-#116 Stationary Crafts

We have a little bit of everything with this project that my daughter & I worked on. We created these as Christmas presents for the staff in her preschool classroom.

Notebook: This is a composition notebook (bought on sale during back to school sales). It is important to buy something that you can wrap the fabric around in one piece. We used fabric that was all leftover from other project (chair upholstery, xmas stocking, & window swag) and stringed pearly beads (which were leftover as well). We simply applied glue to the front & back of the notebook and then applied the fabric. After it was dry, the fabric was trimmed to make clean edges. The beads were then applied with hot glue.

Pen Holder: We started out with a tin can, which we thorough cleaned. Then we applied spray adhesive to the fabric (same fabric to make a matching set) and rolled the can over the fabric, flush with the bottom edge, then folded the top edge to the inside of the can (about an inch). Then with hot glue we applied ribbon, beads & lace that we were leftover from other projects.

Flower Pens: This we started out with some pens that were bought during the back to school sales. We then used some reused flowers that we found at a rummage sale and bought some green floral tape. After we removed the end of the pen, we put a flower in the end, then attached the leaves with floral tape, which we extended down the pen to make it look like a stem.

This was a fun project to do with my daughter. I operated the hot glue gun, spray adhesive, scissors & floral tape. She applied the craft glue, applied trim & flowers to hot glue. Together we wrapped the cans & notebooks in fabric.

She also did the stamping on card stock to make little cards to go with her gifts. I let her pick out among all the stamps we had to make her cards. I have not bought any new stamps in several years, they are just ones I accumulated over a few years of projects. So, it was a great way to continue using what we have.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

#113 Two Turkey Crafts

Both of these things either reuse something or use something found in nature. The first one is a Paper Bag Turkey. We diverted from the instructions we were given from her preschool teachers (it was a suggested parent involvement activity that we do/keep at home) to make feathers our of colored construction paper. What you need is: 2 brown paper bags (one lunch size and one a grocery bag size), 2 googly eyes, a red balloon, a rubberband, a discarded newspaper and 2 sheets of colored construction paper (my daughter wanted red & yellow). Oh! And double-stick tape (we had leftover stuff from when we used to put plastic on windows - no longer have to do that since we got new windows.)

I traced a feather on to 8 strips of paper (4 of each color) and she cut out the feather. We set those aside and she crumpled up newspaper to fill each bag half full. Then we twisted the tops of each bag and secured the large bag shut with a rubber band. Then we slipped the twisted part of the small bag into the rubber band to attach the head to the body.

Then with small pieces of double stick tape she attached the googly eyes, beak (cut from scraps of construction paper), waddle/balloon, and feather.

And what's great about this project is that we had to use very little new products and everything can be recycled (bags, newspaper, & construction paper) or taken off & reused on another project (rubber band, googly eyes & balloon).

For this project we went outside and picked 4 small pinecones off one of our bushes. We also acquired 8 small google eyes, 1 popsicle stick (cut into 4 pieces to be glued on back to prop turkey upright), and 4 pipe cleaners to be cut & shaped to make the feathers, beak, waddle & feet. Oh! And a hot glue gun, so this was a project that mommy had to help with. I would apply the glue & she would stick on the pipe cleaners I had previously cut & shaped (see picture -- click on it to make it larger -- to get an idea of what the shaping looks like.)

She put her four little "baby" turkeys and set them in a picture window next to the paper bag "mommy" turkey. Guess we will have to come up with one more turkey craft so we can have a daddy turkey there too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

#112 Repurposed Fabric Ghosts

My daughter thought we needed more Halloween decorations, so we made nine small ghosts using an old sheet that I would periodically rip rags off of, but still had a lot left. And a small ball of yarn leftover, and some permanent marker. I balled up fabric to make the head and wrapped the square around it and ties it with the leftover white yarn. My daughter cut the yarn and decorated half of the ghosts. Then we hung them on the front porch on small hooks that are there for hanging wind chimes or Christmas lights on.

She is pretty pleased with her porch of Halloween decorations. Right now we have a jack-o-lantern that we grew in our garden, and the window has window clings we received from someone on Freecycle, a spider craft (on the window sill) she made at a class of hers, and now the ghosts.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

#111 Make Your Own Draft Dodgers

This was a work in process a while back and then I finally finished them today with my daughter. It really doesn't take that long to make these, I just took an extended break in making them because after the first half of the process we needed to go make & eat some lunch and I just finally got back to finishing them since we need them now that it is cold (seriously! we are supposed to get 3-4 inches of snow tomorrow in our part of MN).

Anyways, I don't have a specific pattern for these. I just made length measurements using a standard door frame and added an inch on each end . I cut the width of the fabric at 6 inches, allowing 1/2 inch on each side for seam edges. When I sewed them I tried to make an angled tail because my daughter really thought they needed to look like a snake. Actually, when I was cutting out & sewing these tubes, she really wanted to have her own snake to play with so I used some more of the excess fabric to make small ones. She wanted to have one for her, her brother & some gifts to give friends.

I used fabric that I had bought a long time ago for some other project but never used it. So, it was there taking up space and it was a nice heavyweight with a tight enough weave. The thread was leftover from another sewing project.

We used a funnel & scoop to put the sand in each of these. Then we had our extended break.

Today I stitched the other end and she glue on beads and yarn/pipe cleaners as eyes & tongues. Then we used a bunch of leftover fabric paint we had to put designs on the snakes. We made a total of 8 snakes, 4 small ones (for her, a xmas gift for her brother & 2 gifts for friends) and 4 large ones (2 for us & 2 others to give as gifts.)

The best thing is that we made these just at the cost of the sand. I bought play sand because we used about 1/3 of it to fill these snakes and then we just put the rest of her sand in the sandbox (which was losing it's sand rapidly over the summer.)

I have seen these sell for anywhere from $6-$15 (sometimes even more) in stores. And they are going to help keep drafts from getting through doors (or windows - just make sure you take measurements.) It helps to be able to keep the cold from getting in & cooling the house down during the winter months and will leave you feeling more comfortable.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

#110 Milk Jug Catch Game

Today we had a small playgroup of my daughter's friends over to make their own milk jug catch game. The idea came from this website. Although, I think next time I may use 1/2 gallon jugs and make the one on this website that includes handles made from toilet paper rolls.

The moms precut the bottles and we gave the kids permanent markers (other kinds will just wipe off) and a variety of stickers to use. I cut my jugs the opposite way that the website said because I thought they would work more efficiently cut the opposite way.

The balls were even re-used. I once got a huge bag of balls from someone on Freecycle and kept out a small bag of about 20 balls and passed on the rest of the balls to my mom so she could have a ball pit for the grandkids. We used them for a ball pit for a couple weeks, but seriously, picking them all up was annoying, better to let grandma have them and let her pick them up infrequently then me having to pick them up every day.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

#109 Reuse Plastic Containers to MYO Shrinky-Dinks

The idea on how to make your own shrinky-dinks came from this website. My mom originally sent me the idea. I actually had a difficult time finding #6 clear plastic containers, but if you are local to me, I found them at Nelson's Grocery Store. I thought it was a good way to have some danishes and reuse the container.

Monday, September 28, 2009

#108 Make a Recycle Magazine Holder

This was another fun & easy craft. I had to do the cutting, but she put on the contact paper and smoothed it all down. We gave it to daddy to put magazines in that he has in the bathroom (& get them off the floor).

We used an empty Cheerios (large box) box and some contact paper that the previous owners left in the house years ago. My daughter thought the excess pieces of the box looked like an airplane so she used the excess contact paper & cut it up and applied to her plane and then put ink stamps to decorate it. So, she was really recycling all of it.

* Gather materials (cereal box or some other box similar in size, contact paper {or you could paint the box or use used wrapping paper}, scissors, ruler & pen, if you need them.
* Draw lines to cut on box.
* Cut box as shown.
* Cut contact paper just larger than the box so that you can wrap the edges over. I cut the bottom piece separate and made that just larger than the bottom so it overlapped underneath the top layer.
* Apply contact paper. We put the bottom on first, then lined the bottom of the sides flush with the bottom of the box. The top sides there was overlap that folder over.
* It's ready to use.

***Click on picture to enlarge.***

Monday, September 21, 2009

Installing Our Rain Barrel

This is the rain barrel that I took a class on & assembled there. It was a great deal as the class included the rain barrel and was only $25. The city received some kind of grant to pay for part of the cost and the barrel were all donated by Coca-Cola (they used to hold Diet Coke syrup). So, you might want to consider talking to your local Coca-Cola plant about getting a barrel from them. And with a few more parts from a hardware store, we have ourselves a completed rain barrell.

This will be a nice way for my daughter to water the plants without having the hose running for a long time. Since we have a metal downspout with an elbow bend, we were able to just cut part of the long straight piece and reattach the elbow bend at the end at the height we needed it.

Now we just need some rain (seriously! we are in a drought now). Actually, I went to class 2 weeks ago and we have not had any rain since then. I don't know when we had rain last. It's been a while.

More Coupons

Coupons from Delicious Living (click on eCoupons)

BOGO Box of Nature's Path Organics

SO Delicious Kids Club

Aveda Hand Relief Sample Size

Saturday, September 19, 2009

#107 All-Natural Play Clay

This recipe came from the October 2009 issue of Family Fun magazine (p.18). We made this today and it was fun to make some Vikings Colors for her to play with. We made the recipe for the yellow using tumeric, but since we don't eat beets here I wasn't sure how I would make that one, but then today when I had thawed frozen blueberries It occured to me that I could use the juice from the blueberries to color it purple. I had about 1/4 C blueberry juice and added hot water to make it 3/8 C total of liquid.

1 C flour
3/8 C salt
1 T vegetable oil
Natural Dye (see below for colors)

In a bowl, combine flour and salt. Pour in oil & natural dye and stir well. Knead dough for a few minutes. If clay is too soft, add a bit more flour. Store clay in sirtight containers in the refrigerator.

Natural Dye
Brown: 3/8 C plus 1 T hot water, 4 T cocoa powder
Fushia: 3/8 C hot beet juice
Orange: 3/8 C hot water & 1 T paprika
Yellow: 3/8 C hot water & 1 tsp. tumeric

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Free Copy of "The Magic School Bus Gets Cleaned Up"

You need to call the EPA and request this item:

It was a very quick phone call.

I just called and ordered mine (& let my daughter's preschool teacher know about it as well) and they said it would arrive in 7-10 business days.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Get Some Free Re-usuable Shopping Bags from Menards

You can get up to 10 bags free after rebate this week through 9/27. If you are not familiar with Menard's rebates, they come in the form of merchandise credit, so you have to use them to buy more things at Menard's. Plus, they require you to spend an additional $10 on non-rebate items as well. Here is the ad so you can view.

#106 Recycled Placemat

This was a fun little craft project. We started out with the cardboard back to a used up tablet that was just going to be recycled, grabbed some magazines out of the recycling, some stickers (she really wanted to use sticker that day), some glue, scissors and clear contact paper.
My daughter & I cut different pictures out of magazines and she glued them on the cardboard and placed stickers on there as well. When we were finished I cut some clear contact paper out to size to place over both sides of the placemat to make it waterproof and then trimmed away the excess.
Finally, placed on top some other ideas of how you can reuse items for your child's kitchen supplies. First is a leftover milk jug from a McD's happy meal which she continues to use just as that - a milk jug - when she plays in her kitchen. Second is a box leftover from a pack of raisins, which I covered in clear contact paper to give it more stability (stop from being crushed so easily) and make it waterproof, but you could easily just use the box as is. And third is a little pie tin that was leftover from a minitaure pie we bought. Take a look at some of the items you might throw away or recycle from your kitchen. Some might be able to be cleaned up and used as toys for your children.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Check Out Re-Fest (Austin, MN)

Just a free plug for ReFest, as I appreciate the theme & intent.

I have not been to this as it has not worked into our schedule the past few years they have been doing it. But thought I would mention it in case anyone is in the area and wants to check it out.

Looks like there are some fun & interesting things to do and lots of learning tobe had.

#105 Recycle Crayons & Kudos to Crayola

Ok - I know, crayons are still made from paraffin, which is made from crude oil and this is not environmentally friendly. But in all honestly, environmentally crayons are not as readily available yet. I can't walk into Wal-Mart and purchase some and they are not part of recent penny deals that Office Depot was doing for back to school sales. I did find that Prang crayons are made from soybean oil, but that is not the purpose of this post.

What I wanted to do was give Kudos to Crayola for going solar. More & more companies are finding ways to go green and that is awesome. It certainly makes me feel better about using crayola products. We do lots of crafts in our household and it's sometimes easy to forget about the impact some of the products we are using even when we are trying to reuse as many items as possible.

And if you are like us and probably still going to continue to use our regular crayons, then make sure you are using up every bit of your crayons. Sometimes people throw out those broken pieces, ut if you just reuse a plastic sour cream container to store broken crayons in, over time you will soon have enough to do some other crafts like:

* Chunky Crayons
* Candles
* Fire Starters
* Stained Glass Project

Or you can also consider recycling your crayons (or purchasing new ones) from this crayon recycling progam called Crazy Crayons.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

#104 Napkin Rings Made Reusing Items

Gather your supplies:
* Cardboard tubes from paper towel (makes 8) or toilet paper (makes 4)
* Excess fabric (need 2”x6” strip for each ring)
* Spray adhesive
* Scissors
* Knife
* Measuring Cutting Mat
* Popsicle Stick
* Newspaper or some other type of paper to spray adhesive at

I am going to tell you how I did it and you can change it to make it work for you. Using a knife I cut the tubes into 1” sections using my measuring cutting mat as a guide. Then I cut leftover fabric from a different project into strips of 2”x6” using the mat. Then I sprayed adhesive on the backside of 3 strips of fabric (placed on top of newspaper) and waited a minute, then placed the rings on top, rolled them and used the popsicle stick to flatten the excess over the edges to the inside of the ring (you will need to make the fabric strips wider if you want them to cover all the way.) I had started out using my fingers, but that got too sticky and a popsicle stick worked rather well. Then let dry/cure.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Organic/Natural Food/Products Coupons

Here are some at Kiwi Magazine.

Annie Chun's

Organic Valley They currently have coupons for Nature's Bounty, Good Earth Coffee, Muir Glen & Cascadian Farms

Mambo Sprouts has a variety of printable coupons, plus you may find the paper booklets at your favorite natural foods grocery store or section.

Brown Cow Farms

Barbara's Bakery

Cascadian Farms

Dreamfields Pasta

Eden Foods

Earth's Best

Earthbound Farms

Seventh Generation

A Variety of Online Retailers of Natural/Organic Products




Stoneyfield Farms

Mrs Meyers

R.W. Knudsen

Simply Organic

Muir Glen

Nature's Path & Organic Valley (plus promotion details)

Annie's Naturals

Hodgson Mill (but online with their own sales & specials)


Friday, September 4, 2009

#103 Recycle Electronics @ Best Buy

Someone in my MOMS Club recently asked where she can recycle her old printer so it doesn't end up in a landfill and I told her about the Best Buy Recycling Program. I thought it would be a good idea to make sure my readers here know about this program too.

Just bring in your electronics items (some items they don't take, so check the website for details, for example they don't take a/c's) to any Best Buy store. You are limited to 2 items per day. Some items will have a $10 charge associated as a recycling fee, but they give you a $10 gift card to offset that cost, but many items are free to recycle.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

#102 Toilet Paper Roll Binoculars

Gather your supplies:

* 2 toilet paper rolls
* colored electrical tape
* markers, stickers, anything to decorate with
* (optional) small pieces of plastic wrap & a few pieces of clear tape
* hole puncher
* leftover/excess string or yarn
These are super simple to make and will provide much more entertainment than you can imagine. If you want to put “glass” at the end of your binoculars, then tape down 2 small pieces of plastic wrap on the ends with some clear tape. Secure the 2 rolls together with colored electrical tape (you could use other types if tape, but we had this and I liked that it added color to the binoculars) by wrapping a long piece around both rolls. We did this in 2 spots (she chose different colors) to make sure they stayed together. Punch holes on the outside of the binoculars on the end where you will look through and tie string/yarn through these holes to make a strap. Decorate with markers, stickers, or whatever you have.
Let them explore!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Let's Keep It Going – Recycled Crafts

Continuing on the Recycled Crafts Theme that I have had in many of the tips and as I head into the school year with my daughter and eagerly await the arrival of our son, I am going to change the direction of this blog.

Each week I plan to present you with a new craft that we have completed in our household by reusing items that might have otherwise ended up in a landfill. My daughter loves to do crafts and overtime the amount of supplies I may have to purchase could really add up, also the amount of packaging that these supplies came in would add up. We will still need to purchase some supplies, but we will present you with some recycled crafts that reuses items or repurposes items we already own.

I hope your will continue to periodically check in to this blog to see what we have been up to and give you some ideas. Some crafts may be targeted to kids, while others may be crafts that take adult skills. I will continue to post on both Twitter & Facebook when I have made new updates to this blog. I may throw in a few other tips here or there besides my recycled crafts ideas.

In the meantime, I will be working on adding labels to all the posts I have already made so that you can click on a label and find all releated posts. And if you are new to this blog, please go back to June 2009 and start reading my tips for how you can save money while being mindful or saving the environment.

Save Green Being Green!

#101 Plan Ahead

Often we need to plan ahead to be frugal and be green, either at the same time or separately. Actually, the post I had planned for today had to be postponed because I did not plan ahead. I had this craft planned for my daughter & I to complete and show you another way to reuse packaging materials, but as it turns out I did not have those food items in my pantry that I was going to use the packaging from (so, both dinner plans & crafting plans -- well, and blogging plans too) had to be changed.

As I went through my morning I started thinking about how planning ahead can save you money and also save you from comsuming additional resources. I started out by filling up my stainless steel water bottle with water from my tap and then adding some ice cubes and realized that if I didn't fill my ice cube tray frequently I might not have the ice I enjoy. And with a little bit of planning you can make sure you have a whole bunch of ice made up before a party or ona day you plan to make some frozen cocktails at home, otherwise you may feel compelled to run out & buy a bag of ice which causes you to spend money, use your car & gas, and create another plastic bag to be created & transported.

Then I spied the individual reuseable containers I had in the fridge with snacks & leftovers for my daughter. And it made me think about how much money & resources I save by using reusable containers and making snack size containers for her from larger containers of items rather than buying individually packaged snack items. And by having a few items ready to go, I can grab in a hurry and take along and be prepared for the call from the backseat saying "I'm hungry. Got anything to eat?" And then I don't feel compelled to buy anything from our destination or run through a drive-thru.

By planning ahead, you can try to incorporate several stops into one trip, thereby reducing how many individual car trips you need to make. If I am going to the gym in the nearby town, I try to make sure I plan playdates with friends there for right after the gym or we go to the library or run any errands while I am there so that I am not wasting my time, money for gas, or increasing my carbon footprint by taking multiple trips to the same town in one day. I know that is sometimes easier said than done and it is much easier to do with a preschooler than with a toddler or infant, or (probably) with more than one kid (I am soon to find this out). And if something comes up that I need to go to that town, I try to think about if it can wait a day or two until I am going there for something else.

I also need to do a little planning ahead when it comes to laundry if I want to hang clothes outside. When you consider I save about 50 cents per hour/load by line drying as opposed using dryer, those savings can really add up if if you are washing 7-10 loads a week. But I need to pay attention to the weather forecast and wash clothes on a day that it is not raining (or rain isn't in the forecast) and one where I will have the time to hang the clothes & take them off the line. I know sometimes you need to have something washed and it doesn't matter if you can hang it outside or not and you will have to dry.

Think about what conveniences you utlilize because you negelected to plan ahead. You might find out that with a little organization you can help save yourself some money and save the environment.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

#100 Put a Stone/Brick in Your Toilet

If you are unable to afford purchasing a new low-flow toilet or those dual-flush kind that use different amount of water depending upon what type of waste you are flushing, then consider putting a brick or a plastic bottle filled with sand in the tank of your toilet.

The average toilet will use 3-6 gallons of water per flush. It really all depends upon how much water fills in your tank. If space in your tank is filled with something else (like a brick) that won't flush, then less water is used. It is estimated that 30% of a household's water usage comes from flushing. So, it would reason a good way to reduce your water usage would be to cut back on how much is used with flushing. You really only need half as much water to flush efficiently.

#99 Reuse Baby Food Jars

Ok, so you didn't make your own baby food & instead bought jars of it, or maybe it was just a few jars. Let's make sure you reuse or recycle those jars. My sister recently used hers to store & organize all her spices.

I found this list that is pretty comprehensive of a TON of crafts you can make. I recycled mine from when my daughter ate pureed food, so I don't have any laying around, but with baby boy due in 2 months they will soon be come in the house. I know I said I was going to make my own this time, but probably not everytime. Sometimes it is nice to have a jar or 2 on hand or in the diaper bag since if they are kept sealed you can have them around and not worry about refrigeration.

And you can also use them to put some of your homemade baby food into.

#98 Make Your Own Baby Food

I have to admit, I didn't do much of this with my daughter when she was a baby. I did it a couple times and couldn't get it fine enough for her and she didn't seem to care for the texture. But this time around I plan to make most of the baby food. This time I have a baby food grinder, which I bought too late to use with my daughter. By the time I bought it she was quickly eating more & more finger food and it was not necessary and then started refusing pureed foods altogether.

Now, by buying baby food you are causing the necessary creation and distribution of the packaging materials (plastic, glass, paper or carboard on the outside of the container PLUS the boxes that each grouping of baby food containers are packaged in). And not to mention that you need drive some place to buy the food and the transportation related expenses and environmental impacts that are involved in getting it to the store.

I know you are probably wondering just how much money you will save and I found this handy comparison chart that tells you. Granted, I must comment that prices have risen on the cost of food, but it has risen across the board for both the frozen/fresh food you will buy & pureed and the jarred baby food. So, even if the cost per ounce is more, it will be more on all of them and the ratio of cost per ounce between them will still be about the same. The average on the chart is 3 CENTS an ounce if you make your own (prices look to be non-organic food) whereas buying jarred food will be 17-23 CENTS an ounce.

Every baby eats solids at a different rate, but if you take an average of 4-8 T of fruit and 4-8 of vegetables a day and use the savings of 20 cents per ounce (there is .5 fluid ounces in a tablespoon), then you will be saving 80 cents up to $1.60 on average a day. And even if you saved $1/ day off your food bill, that's $30/month and during the 6 months you would feed pureed baby food you would save $180. That really adds up. And if you kid eats more, you really start to see even more savings. You could save even more if you factor in making your own cereal, although I plan to buy iron-fortified cereal since I plan to breastfeed as long as possible again. I like to buy the Earth's Best Brand. My daughter loved it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

#97 Make a Wood Slice Vase/Pot

We haven't made this wood slice vase/pot yet. I bought pots & saved some sticks from the fire pit that were part of a recent tree, so now I am just waiting for the sticks to dry some so that they cut better. I tried cuttingt hem already but they don't cut as well when they are green and you are making such small slices. So, a picture will be yet to come.

Only 4 more posts until I have my 101 items, but do not fret, I plan to keep this blog going. Just not on the daily basis I have been doing now. So, stay tuned.

#96 Make a Recycled Toy Drum & Drumsticks

We just made this as a craft project entry for our county fair for my daughter. She actually did most of the work. We started out using an empty chip canister, some used tissue paper that came wrapped around something, some chopsticks that came with our chinese food, some ribbon we bought at a thrift store, a little glue, & a couple of marshmallows. She mixed up a mixture of water & glue to use as a decoupage, then applied a layer to the outside of the canister and started applying layers of ripped tissue paper and water/glue mixture. She also applied a couple pictures of the fair mascot which we had printed out. Then we set that aside to dry. Next was making the drumsticks, which we could simply just used chopsticks, but she thought they needed a large head on the end and came up with the idea to stick marshmallows at the end (of course we had to get a couple out for her to eat as well and she really wanted to eat the ones she put on). She was very proud of herself for coming up with that idea.

After it was dry, I made holes in the side to stick in the ribbon and helped he push through the ribbon. Then I tied knots on the ends on the inside and she replaced the cover and was ready to go. It will take a couple days for the marshmallows to harden, but then they will solidify on the chopsticks. Have fun!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

#95 Use a Laptop Instead of a Desktop

I don't know much about the energy efficiency of a laptop compared to a desktop, so I am going to refer you to this article. I have to admit all I know if that it is more energy efficient to use a laptop. But is it really if I am on there 4 times as much since I can watch tv and surf at the same time, whereas with the desktop I am removed from everything else and don't tend to stay on as long. These days I am not sure I can NOT multi-task while I watch commercial-free (thanks to the DVR) television.

#94 Print on Both Sides of the Paper

Basically, you are still using the same amount of ink, but you are saving 50% of your paper consumption. Which means 50% less trees need to be used and less new paper will be produced, treated & packaged. And using 50% less paper means you will save money on buying paper because you need to purchase it less often.

#93 Go on a Camping Vacation

So, what's so green about camping? You need a lot of supplies (which means waste), you still need to drive somewhere and you create a lot of waste with all the packaging used for food & other supplies.

So, let's talk about some ways that you can green up your camping, while saving your some money. If you are really concerned about having to drive somewhere, then pitch that tent in your backyard or go somewhere within biking distance. We have done a lot of daytime backyard camping this year and my daughter loves it.

The issue about needing a lot of supplies is that if you plan to camp with regular frequency, you can get a lot of use out of the items you buy (tent, sleeping bags, grilling items, flashlights, coolers, chairs, etc.) Like I said, we've been using our tent & sleeping bags all summer, and the other items are all things we use while we are at home or go to concerts in the park; they aren't just reserved for camping.

Here are some ways to green up your camping:

* Put rechargeable batteries in your flashlights.
* Buy food in bulk & separate at home into resuable containers and pack those.
* Share camping supplies with a friend or buy them used, thus creating less packaging waste on new purchases.
* Look for recycling receptacles at your campground, or bring your recycables home with you.
* Bring along unbreakable dishes that you will wash there, avoid disposable dishes.
* Follow the rules of the park & campground, they are there to make sure everyone can have an enjoyable time and that the park/campground are around for years to come.
* Use dish soap that is non-toxic, biodegradable, phosphate-free
* Use electrical items that are powered by crank, shake or solar power,if possible.
* Don't burn chemically treated wood, plastic or metal in your fires.
* Use an LED flashlight.
* Stay on the trails providing so your don't disturb or crush vegetation.

For a green camping craft, you can try making this camping lantern at home before you go.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

#92 Lower Your Water Heater Thermostat

Set your water heater at 120 degrees. It the lowest you can go and still be able to kill bacteria. Anything higher is just a waste of energy and can be dangerous, especially to infants, young children and elderly who have thinner skin and are more sensitive to higher temperatures. By lowering your water heater from 140 degrees to 120 degress you can trim off about 6% on your electric or gas bill.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

#91 Aluminum Can Christmas Ornaments

I made three of these aluminum can christmas ornaments this past winter, one for us and two for gifts. I thought they were relatively easy to make, you just need to make sure you are careful handling the metal because it can be sharp. My daughter helped me with picking out the beads and stringing them on (& to keep her busy while I handled the metal she made pony bead ornaments to give away.)

I like to make ornaments every year. We make a few new ones every year; it's kind of our tradition. Sometimes some get broken or damaged as they are stored and moved around, but it's nice to see all our homemade items on the tree.

I thought these turned out pretty and you would be proud to have them on your tree or to give away.

#90 Try Out Freepeats.Org

If you are in the market for items related to maternity, infants or children and live in or near a metro area, you should check out It's like Freecycle, but is specifically geared towards maternity, infants & children. It does cost $1 to join, but you can get that dollar back if you post 2 offers before the end of the month.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

#89 Teach Your Kids to Pick Up Litter

My 3 year-old daughter can't stand to see trash on the ground when we go to parks and sometimes she will spend half her time there running around picking up trash & throwing it into the ample trash cans. Why can't people walk a few feet to use a trash can? It's so annoying.

She will tell us "We have to take care of the Earth!" "We have to pick up the trash!" "We have to recycle!" Such a good little Earth-Crusader. I think all the books we read about recycling really help and it seems like every show on PBS has some episode about taking care of the earth.

Anyways, this weekend we went to go check out a new park they are slowly creating in a neighboring town. Right now it is just a small lake for catch & release fishing (which they stocked) with some trash barrells (2 of several happen to be right in the parking lot - THROW YOUR STUFF OUT AS YOU LEAVE PEOPLE!) and some picnic tables. There was so much trash around the place on Sunday that it was just digusting. Trash all over the parking area, trash in the lake & trash in the grassland. She really wanted to stay & pick it up, but we weren't dressed for the park since we had just come from church. So, we promised to come back later to go fishing & pick up trash.

On Monday, she & daddy made the trash pick-up sticks (which are necessary when trying to pick up things out of the lake or if you are pregnant and find it hard to bend over much anymore). It was daddy's idea and he used leftover items from other projects (wood, nails & paint) to make them with her. I guess I am not the only creative one in the family.

It's a simple idea. He just hammered a nail part way in the end of some scrap wood (made one adult size & one kid size) and then sawed off the head so that it had a pointy end. They then used leftover paint to make them look spiffy (plus as they are hanging in the garage we know what they are and don't mistake them for scrap wood).

She thought it was pretty fun to go back to the park and use her new trash stick to clean up the earth. I thought it was pretty neat that I could pick up plastic bags & stab cans in the lake and not have to touch them (or bend over!)

And you know what - it doesn't cost us a thing to pick up litter (or to throw away you trash in the first place), just a few moments of time. You could even make a game out of it and have your kids race to see who can get the most trash in their bags. Although, I draw the line at cigarette butts; I won't let her touch them. I wish people with that filthy habit could throw them away if they are going to do that (& why are you smoking in a public park?)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

#88 Save Your Own Seeds

It's that time of the year that we are getting to be up to our ears in produce, but try to think about next year. Save yourself some money and collect some seeds from your flowers and fruits this year and already be one step prepared for next year's garden. Some are easier to collect than others. So far I have already collected seeds from yellow squash, banana peppers, & cilatro. I still plan to collect some seeds from my zucchini, pumpkin, tomatoes, spaghetti squash, & watermelon.

If you go to the farmer's market to buy something you didn't grow this year, think about saving the seeds from that produce so that you can plant it next year. Not only will you get to eat the produce, but you can keep the seeds and save money and not have to buy those seeds next year.

Also, consider talking with fellow gardeners about swapping seeds. They you can really get a variety and save yourself money on seeds next spring. Some items you might like may be difficult to harvest seeds from, so you still might have to buy those seeds.

Monday, August 17, 2009

#87 Keeping a Healthy Lawn

I am by no way saying we have a perfect lawn because who is judging what “perfect” is, but we do try to keep a healthy lawn for ourselves and the earth.
The best way to have a healthy lawn is to let it grow a little. Set your lawn mower height to 2.5-3.I believe our is set at 2.5 all year long. Check out this article about mowing height & frequency.
And contrary to what you may think, you actually end up mowing the lawn less. By letting the grass grow, you are allowing it to establish a stronger root system and you will consequently have less weeds. Also, given normal rainfall, you will have to water less with longer grass because longer grass has longer roots and can go deeper into the ground to find water whereas short grass with short roots will dry out more quickly and tend to brown more quickly.
The other thing you should do is periodically mow right onto the lawn and NOT bag it. The grass clippings will mulch back into your lawn providing free & natural fertilizer for you lawn. We do bag it a few times, especially the last mowing with all the leaves on the ground as well so that w don't create to much thatch on the lawn, but the grass & leaves we bag get emptied right onto the garden to mulch there and help fertilize that.

And the best thing you can do for your lawn is Let Go of the Idea of a “Perfect” Lawn. Stop competing with your neighbor about who has a greener lawn or has it freshly cut more often. This competition only leads to making unhealthy decisions for you lawn and then you enter a cycle of more & more unhealthy decisions.

Don't be afraid of what you might think are “weeds” in your lawn. Some of them are not and are needed to help your lawn naturally keep a good balance. Consider white clover in your lawn it grows low, needs little if any maintenance and is soft on your feet like grass. You will need a combination of clover & grass for it to grow healthy. And if you salt or plow your driveway (or have salted areas from where the city plow truck came by), clover will take to those areas when grass has a hard time establishing.

That “perfect” lawn people think they need to strive for costs a lot of money to maintain and uses lots of chemicals that pollute our earth and also takes a considerable amount of time. I don't know about you, but I would rather play on my lawn with my daughter than spending time maintaining it to “perfection” and avoiding it because of the chemicals put on it.

And if you stick with your choice to maintain a healthy organic lawn, it might just catch on with your neighbors. They might be relieved to not have to compete and may even join in your organic lawn efforts.

#86 Reuse Business Magnets

This is one of my favorite ideas to share & pass on. It's so simple and those business magnets are plentiful. It seems like all sorts of businesses create these magnets as a cheap way to provide you with some sort of “freebie” that will advertise their business. I keep a few of them because they are businesses I patronize and I like to have their phone number & hours of business handy, but most are useless to me. So, what I do with them in cut them into smaller pieces and glue them to back of crafts or pieces of artwork my daughter does. Usually a whole magnet is excessive, so cutting it up into 3-4 pieces works well to attach to the back of a piece of paper artwork. And the magnet works stronger when it doesn't have to go through the paper (hence needing a smaller magnet surface area). And when you are done displaying the art/craft you can always take it off and glue to another item

Sunday, August 16, 2009

#85 Recycle Your Children's Artwork

We all know how fast this can and does accumulate and really, what do you do with all of them? You can only keep so many. We use paintings and drawings as wrapping paper. From time to time let them have a big sheet of packing paper or butcher paper and you will be able to wrap up those larger pieces. Everyone seems to love the personal touch of homemade wrapping paper and I get to save money on buying wrapping paper and can share the art work that they put the time into making. Sometimes we even specifically make artwork that will be used as wrapping paper and other times I just grab some out of the bin of artwork.

We do this with cards as well. Usually for cards, we specifically plan an art project that will involve us making card(s). Not only does my child get to be creative and have fun, but she works on creating something for someone special and I get to save money on buying a card. We all know that cards can be just a formality, especially when it is just something they read quickly once and then they get recycled. People seem to be more appreciative of the homemade card and have a tendency to hang on to them or display them rather than recycle them.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

#84 Uses for Leftover Coffee

Don't throw away your leftover coffee, the leftover grounds or the filter. First, compost that filter. You are not only saving it from spending years trying to decompose in a landfill pile, but you will help creat your own fertilizer for your garden.

Now, what to do with those grounds. Here are a few suggestions:
* Sprinkle the cooled grounds right on to the ground of outdoor & indoor plants. The grounds will give a slow-release of nitrogen that will help fertilize your plants. Plus it will help keep slugs away.
* Sprinkle on your lawn to help fertilize the lawn naturally.
* Compost the grounds right along with the filter.
* Let them dry out & put in a bowl to use as a deodorizer in your fridge/freezer
* Re-steep them and use to make a dye, great for eggs or crafts projects.
* Use as a body scrubs for arms & legs while in the shower.
* Rub them on your hands & rinse to remove garlic, onion or other smells.
* Put around plants that you don't wants cats near. Cats don't like the smell and it will deter them.
* Sprinkler whereever you have ants, inside or outside. It will naturally repel the ants.
* Make Coffee ground play-doh (I have not tried this yet)
* Make coffee ground fossils
* Make Dinosaur Digging Rocks/Eggs. This looks like a fun thing to do and you could use other small trinkets inside if your kids aren't into dinosaurs.
* Make homemade “sand”

Ok, so now you have use the filter & the grounds, what about the coffee. That list is almost endless.

* Reserve the liquid to use in most any muffin, bread, brownie or chocolate cake.
* Use to marinate meats, make a gravy or in stew.
* Use in making a BBQ sauce.
* Use to make a frosting.
* Make coffee ice cubes & serve iced coffees later. The coffee ice cubes will prevent it from getting watered down the way it would with regular ice cubes.
* Add to chili.
* Water your houseplants with it.

What do you do with your leftover coffee & grounds?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Free Subscription to Kiwi Magazine

Interested in getting Kiwi Magazine, they are still offering free subscriptions, which is how I started getting their email newsletter & get the magazine in the mail.

Click here to get your free subscription. In case you are wondering, it is a parenting magazine focused on being natural & organic living.

Another List of Tips from Kiwi Magazine

This came in the same email newsletter.

After it’s use as a baby food or spaghetti sauce container, what can you do with a glass jar? Here, four great ideas:
* Use the jars to grow your own sprouts at home
* Store items like oats or dried beans that are purchased from your market’s bulk section
* Make homemade salad dressing by shaking it up in the jars and storing them for later use
* Kids can cover jars in papier-mâché, then paint them to create an original container for pencils, markers, or crayons.

Tips from Kiwi Magazine

These tips came in an email newsletter I got from Kiwi Magazine:

Between car washes, pools, air conditioners, and fans, it can be hard to conserve water and energy during the summer. These tips will help you make the most of these precious resources:
* Run the dishwasher and washing machine in the morning or evening, so your air-conditioner won’t have to work extra hard to compensate for the heat of these appliances.
* When washing your car or letting your kids play in the sprinkler, do it in a place where the lawn needs watering anyway, rather than on the driveway or sidewalk.
* Ceiling fans are a great way to cool down, but remember that fans cool you, not the room, so turn them off every time you leave. (Click here for more tips on staying cool while going green.)
* Cover your pool when you’re not using it so the water won’t evaporate as quickly. Also, turn the heater off or down to prevent rapid evaporation (the warmer the water is, the quicker it will evaporate).

#83 Keep Those Hotel Toiletries

Many hotels throw them away if you leave them in the room, even if you didn't use them. They do this for sanitary reasons. So, if you don't use them or take them then not only will the packaging end up in a landfill, but the product too. If you want to be sure, just call the front desk and ask them.

These are great to have on hand to use when you go places that might not have these complimentary toiletry items, like camping. Or save them and put them out for your guests when they stay at your place. They may just feel like they are at a vacation destination when you include little things like that.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

#82 Make Marshmallow Sticks out of Hanger & Cork

We all probably have a few or more of these floating around in some closet in our homes. Some probably more than others if you frequently have items dry cleaned (btw – you can always return the hangers to the dry cleaner and they can reuse or recycle them). There are actually a lot of different craft ideas out there to make with wire hangers and this is just one.

But while I was at the gym the other day I was reading an article on re-purposing household items in the August 2009 issue of Woman's Day and they described making a marshmallow stick out of a wire coat hanger, but you can also find directions here.

The only difference was that the WD article had one additional tip and that was to use a discarded wine cork on the end to provide you protection from the heat.

I was thinking of making a couple of these to go along with the firestarters I made. Maybe even throw in a bag of marshmallows. It could be a whole themed gift package. :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

#81 Use Dehumidifier Water to Water Plants

This one is pretty easy and take less than 2 minutes. Actually, depending upon where your dehumidifier is located & where your plants are located it could be really quick. I timed myself the other day and it take me 15 seconds to empty the dehumidifier and replace the container. So, if you give yourself another minute or two you can pour it on your plants. You won't need to water your indoor plant as often as you need to empty it, but you can always pour it on your outdoor plants and landscaping (which is usually what I do with it when I have the time & energy to run up & down the stairs).

#80 Use a Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Don't buy bottled water if you don't have to. Fill up with nice cold water from your tap and add a few ice cubes if that is your fancy. If you buy a good quality stainless steel bottle you will find that it will actually keep your water colder longer than a plastic bottle. Skip the plastic, you don't want any leaching that comes from plastics in either a reusable bottle or the disposable water bottles. And by filling up from your tap, all you are paying is the water from your water bill which is minimal compared to the cost per bottled water. And by reusing your container again & again you are not creating any additional waste to fill up landfills.

Monday, August 10, 2009

#79 Make Your Own Reusable Lunch Bag

I made one of these reusable homemade plastic lunch bags for a dear friend a couple of Christmases ago. I thought it turned out cute and used it as the reusable “wrapping” for other gifts that I stuffed inside. Once I figured out the correct temperature on my iron to use, it was really easy and was made relatively quickly. You need to use thicker plastic bags that you generally get from clothing stores as grocery store bags are too thin. I have only made the one and have not had the opportunity to make another because you do need of these 4-8 large bags and I honestly don't collect that many of them. I do think I used closer to 8 when I made mine as I wanted to be sure it was very sturdy. And the only thing you need to buy is some velcro, which you already may have in your crafting/sewing supplies.

#78 Make Straw Beads

My daughter & I just made these. We re-used 4 straws from a restaurant we went to and some paper ads cut from a magazine. The other supplies you need is some glue, some kind of string, and a pair of scissors and you are ready to make homemade beads. 4 straws was enough to make a necklace and bracelet for a preschooler.

It's actually a pretty simple craft. I cut the paper from magazine ads before I assembled our supplies, and I cut the “beads”, but everything else was hers to do. She could have probably cut the beads with a little help.
* Assemble supplies (paper strips cut to size, straws, glue, scissors, plastic needle & string)
* Apply glue over the entire backside of the paper
* Roll straw over paper from one end to the other, covering the entire straw
* Allow to dry
* Cut into desired sized beads
* Cut desired length of string to make bracelet/necklace/etc.
* String beads using plastic needle (I used yarn, so it worked best with the needle) and string
* Tie ends together.
* TaDa!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

MN Centerpoint Customers - Free Low Flow Showerhead

Houses must be built before 1992 and you can't have received a showerhead before. What a nice find:

Save Green & Be Green in MN!

#77 Cut Down on Processed Food

Let's just think of the waste involved with buying a few snack items:

*Banana – a sticker on the bunch and that's it, unless you put it in a bag, which I never do and at about 50 cents a pound. The peel you will just compost.
*A box of cookies – are usually in a plastic container wrapped in plastic and sometimes even have a box around that and at $2-$3+ a pound.

Which sounds like the cheaper option and also has less waste? That's easy – the bananas.

*Carrots - in a plastic bag or just a tie if you buy with stems on and at $1 a pound if you buy baby carrots, cheaper still if you buy whole carrots & peel yourself.
*Goldfish Crackers – in a multi-layered paper bag which is about 8 ounces for $1.50, which is $3/ pound.

I think you get the's the carrots that are cheaper and have less waste.

Now let's try something similar, like oatmeal.

*A canister of oatmeal for about $2 for a couple pounds and were you have a lid & cardboard container to reuse (oatmeal containers have many creative uses for kids crafts.)
*Bulk Oatmeal can be bought using a bag & tie (or bring your own container & right on weight if store allow this) for 60-99 cents a pound depending upon if you buy organic or not.
*Instant Single Serve Packets come in a box of less than a pound for $2-3 and then you have each single serve waxed paper wrapper and a box.

With oatmeal you can have several different options on how to save money and save on waste.
The other thing is that processed food tends to have more sugar, salt & fat in it that whole foods, which tend to have more fiber and are lower in calories. So, if you tend to eat more processed food and less whole foods, you could have health issues that will cost you more money in the long run.

That's not to say we don't have processed food in our house, but I do try to make sure I have plenty of whole foods available and make sure I allow extra time to cook/prepare that might be needed instead of using processed convenience foods.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Make Your Own Clay

Making your own art supplies was part of Tip #61 and making your own clay was one of them. So, we finally decided to make some clay. It only takes flour, corn starch, & glue to make it. And now is the time to stock up on some glue since school supplies are cheap. Here is the recipe we used.

My daughter added some glitter to her clay to make it more fun to play with. "Sparkles are fun!" as she would say.

Anyways, if you store it in an airtight container you should be able to reuse it and reuse it. But we leftout her cutouts she did to dry so that we can paint them and add a magnet to the back and make some magnets.

We're in the process of making art projects for fair coming up, so she may enter these.

#76 Install a Rain Barrell

This will come in handy in times of water deprivation, like we are facing right now in MN. But it also saves you money on your water bill and prevents you from using more water during these time of water deprivation. Plus, rain water runoff is more ideal to provide to your plants than water that has been treated by a municipal source. To read about more benefits check out this article.

Friday, August 7, 2009

#75 Cook with Glass or Ceramic

Using glass or ceramic baking pans helps conserve energy: They warm up more quickly and retain heat longer than metal pans, so you can lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees. You are saving both on energy costs for yourself & the environment.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

#74 Install a Programmable Thermostat

By installing a programmable thermostat you are allowing yourself the capability to lower the temperature while you are away. Being able to lower (or raise) your thermostat while you are away so you are not paying to heat or cool can save you a considerable amount of money. You can get a programmable thermostat for as low as $30, although some systems may require a specific thermostat that costs more money. Regardless, you will quickly recover your costs by being able to program your thermostat. Some models will even allow you to program it so that your heat or central air come on within a specific range rather than kicking on every it drops or raises a degree.

Also, check with your local utility company. Some offer a rebate incentive to cover a portion of the cost of your thermostat. Our electric company will give us a rebate of up to $20 and I have seem them offer this rebate the last 3 years, including this year.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

#73 Read the Newspaper/Magazine Online

This is an easy one. Many newspapers are free online daily and many magazines are putting the content to their magazines online a month later (they still want to cash in on the newstand sales and subscriptions that come from people who want to read their content sooner). Newspapers and magazines are still making money from advertisers who advertise in print and online and by advertising online you will be exposed to those advertisements while reading the newspaper there. By reading these items online you are not creating a need to create more products (& have them delivered). The downside is that not all content from either may make it online and it might not be as easy to find particular articles or advertisements instead of being able to read cover to cover.

If you really want to read it cover to cover & not pay for it or cause more paper to be used, then go to the library. Libraries tend to have many magazines that you can check out and also get the daily paper. Or try a local coffee shop, as someone usually leaves the paper they bought sitting there for others to read after they have left and some coffee shops have a collection of magazine that people have bought & left there and other customers get the benefit of reading them.

Also, remember you can probably sit down and read a newspaper or magazine when you are at various medical or dental appointments or at the gym. The gym usually has a pretty large selection of magazines that they subscribe to for their patrons.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Done Doubling - Time for a Rest

Ok - today was my last double posting for a week. We are taking a little vacation and I will be back again on Wednesday next week to start posting more tips and finish out my 101 tips and ideas by the end of the August.

#72 Install Weather Stripping & Caulk Around Windows/Doors

By installing weather stripping and caulking around windows and doors you can prevent cold air from getting in and warm air escaping during the colder months and cold air from escaping and warm air getting in during the warmer months. No to mention you will feel more comfortable if you are able maintain a more constant temperature keep out drafts.

#71 Keep Your Fridge & Freezer Full

The more you can fill your fridge or freezer, the more efficient it will run. If a fridge or freezer has empty space it has to work harder to keep it cold, thus using more energy and costing you more money. So, why not pay attention to the sales at grocery stores and stock up on items for your fridge and freezer. Save money on energy and save money by stocking up on sale items.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

#70 Cook Using a Slow Cooker

This one may be a wash depending upon the size of your slow cooker. Just be sure to match the size of your slow cooker to the amount of food you are cooking. Larger units will cost more to use, so make sure you are filling that crockpot. And check out the wattage listed on your slow cooker, you may be able to find ones that are the same size but have a lower wattage, thus using less energy. The real way to save money with a slow cooker is by being able to buy cheaper cuts of meat that may be tougher but are tenderized through cooking all day. Also, slow cooker recipes tend to use more whole foods and less processed foods, thus reducing the preparation and packaging put into creating those processed foods. My favorite slow cooker recipe book is the series of Fix It and Forget It Recipe Books.

#69 Use Old T-shirts, Athletic Socks as Rags

I mentioned this already when I discussed multi-uses for t-shirts, but don't forget your athletic socks. These are great for just slipping them on your hands & dusting or wiping away. They work really well for when children want to help with cleaning because they just have to wipe and don't have to worry about holding on to the rag as well.

Monday, July 27, 2009

#68 Crafts with Reclaimed Lumber

This project was made with reclaimed lumber from an old barn. We went to a festival at which someone was branding numbers onto board for you to do what you wish with. We went with the birth years for our children and added hooks (that I bought at some time a while ago and had sitting around the house) so that we can hang it at an appropriate level for them & have a place for them to hang their jammies & robe (hanging from the hook over the door is too high, so this makes them more independent in taking care of their items.)

So, this can give you an idea of how to use reclaimed lumber to make a hanging rack or decorative piece. We chose to use the side with the weather paint on it, but the other side was wood grain & unfinished, so think about using wood from an old barn or shed.

Here is another idea of making a headboard.

Or how about a birdhouse made out of salvaged wood. Just follow these basic instructions from Lowes, but use salvaged wood instead. Often, you will see these types of birdhouses also reusing old license plates for the roof. These birdhouses can cost quite a bit of money if you buy them at a specialty or craft shop. Or here is another set of instructions.
This was actually posted about a week ago, but I noticed that my numbering was off & I had one number twice, but 2 different tips. So, I needed to move one and wanted it in numerical order.

#67 Give Up Paper Towels

I admit, I still have paper towels in my house, but for 2 reasons and the first is so that I can pick up & throw out those disgusting hairballs the cats puke up. It's disgusting enough as it is that I am not going to re-experience it by handing the cloth again when it gets washed. Gross! The second reason is because I know there are moms out there that have a “clean” issue and don't like to use hand towels to wipe their hands or towels. I only have paper towels in the kitchen, but I do want to be considerate of my guests and have them available if they think they need them.

But in our house, we used hand towels & washclothes in the kitchen and bathroom. I use reusable rags and towels to clean the house with as well. I know some may argue it still costs money & energy to wash them, but seriously, how often do you not have room for 1-2 rags in a load of laundry. When you are adding it to an existing load you are not accumulating anything extra. I have a basket by the washer (which is is just outside the kitchen, so it's convenient) that I throw my kitchen towels & cloth napkins in and I can easily grab what is in there every time I bring down a load of laundry from upstairs. And you are saving yourself money and the world natural resources by not continually consuming paper towels.

#66 Use Cloth Napkins

I love using cloth napkins. We started using them about 10 years ago and have never looked back. Actually, I still have & use those napkins we have bought back then, but we have accumulated more over the years. I actually think it's funny that some people think we are being “fancy” when I set the table with cloth napkins. But why shouldn't we feel “fancy” when we are enjoying our food, let's make the whole experience enjoyable and light a candle or two as well.

But back to cloth napkins – I personally like using cloth napkins so much better than paper napkins because they don't rip or soak through. I'm a dabber while I eat, just can't stand feeling something on my face. And if we are out somewhere where they give us paper napkins, I tend to use more than one, but at home I have just the one cloth napkin and it works perfectly and soaks up everything I dab or wipe.

By not buying napkins I am saving myself money and precious resources in the environment. And as I have mentioned, I still have & use the ones from 10 years ago. They do last! The few dollars you spend buying napkins will easily be re-cooped that first year of using them. And if you have some simple sewing skills, you can save even more money by stitching some yourself; are they are is a simple square. You might even have some leftover fabric from a project that you can reuse.

And you don't need to worry about napkin rings, unless you want to. But those too you can make yourself. Stay tuned for a post about homemade napkin rings as my daughter & I get creative. Not sure when we will do this craft, but we are reusing materials and will have some fun with it and I am sure she will be very proud of her project.

Also, consider reusing your cloth napkin for several meals. If you only wiped a small spot on it, flip it over & use it for the next meal. Most families/people have their “spots” at the table – you know what I'm talking about – just leave the ones that are mostly clean in their owner's spots and wash the ones that need washing.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

#65 Water Garden in the Morning

You should water when the air is coolest in the morning or evening in order to prevent too much evaporation. But you need to be careful about watering at night when water will sit on the plants for hours which can lead to rot & fungus in some plants. So, as a general rule of thumbs it's better to water early in the morning. And make sure you use a rain gauge or set a timer so that you don't over water your plants.

#64 Use Ceiling Fans & Other Fans Instead of A/C

Fans use less energy to operate than any type of A/C. The simple act of blowing air across your skin can provide you with a cooling sensation without the need to reduce the temperature in the room. Of course, this won't work well if you spending your days inside an air-conditioned place or if you are consistently keeping your home at a low temperature.

There was a day not too long ago that a neighbor friend was over to visit and she had a hard time tolerating the temperature in our house with the fans blowing because she has become accustomed to much lower temperature at her work and in her home because of central air. I had to laugh, because I thought it was just fine in our home and checked the thermostat after she left and it registered 78 degrees. But I guess it just goes to show you that it takes time to adjust the temperature in your home and you need to do it gradually or you could become discouraged.

#63 Open Windows @ Night to Cool Off House

Here in MN in July, there is a 20 degree difference between the daytime high and evening low. Why not turn off the A/C during when you go to bed and let the evening breeze push in cooler air that is probably cooler than what you have your central air set to. You could also stick a box fan in the window to help bring in more cool air and help circulate it more around the room (also, have those ceiling fans turned on to help circulate the air.)

Once it starts to warm up in the morning, be sure to take those fans out of the window so that you are not circulating in warm air. You might even consider closing the windows if it starts warming up. As long as your home is sufficiently insulated and you are not coming & going a lot & you keep shades drawn, you can help keep the temperature down in your home without having to turn on the central air.

#62 Use Rechargeable Batteries

This is a great article on why we all need to switch to rechargeable batteries where we can and the scientific research to back it. Here are the highlighted benefits to the environment that rechargeable batteries have according to this article:

  • Up to 23 TIMES less impact on non-renewable natural resources
  • Up to 28 TIMES less impact on global warming (CO2)
  • Up to 30 TIMES less impact on air pollution (ozone pollution)
  • Up to 9 TIMES less impact on air acidification
  • Up to 12 TIMES less impact on water pollution

Plus, you have the added benefit of not purchasing batteries continually. You can save money in the long run.

Friday, July 24, 2009

#61 Make Your Own Kids Art Supplies

You don't have to spend a lot of money to buy art supplies (& now with back to school sales it is a good time to buy some items). But not everything gets super cheap and you might need something mid-year. These aren't supplies you would send your kid to school with, but they are great to use at home and you can make them on a whim because you will generally have the supplies already and the great thing is no chemicals or additives are used in making these products, so you know they are non-toxic.

#60 Reuse Materials for Toys/Art Supplies

What do you do with all those plastic items that are not a #1 or #2 and your recycling facility won't take them – think about giving them to your child to create a project with.

I like to use small plastic or styrofoam containers to put paint or water for when we are doing projects. I have also reused the green plastic basket that comes with strawberries to make baskets to give away little items in. Magazines are great for cutting out pictures to make collages.

We also reuse our toilet paper rolls to make projects with them. And newspaper is used a variety of projects to do paper mache and create paper bowl.

Save those leftover fabric scraps, ribbons, or those extra buttons that come with your garments to make puppets (save those old athletic socks w/ a hole in the toe too!). Just set aside some other container (maybe an old whipped topping container) that you can throw these little items in as they happen and when it's time to create just put it out. Kids will love digging through it to see what they can choose from. You will be amazed at the things kids see in various items. They have fabulous imaginations.

And since it's summer, don't forget those popsicle sticks. Save them and create some popsicle are for free. Along with the summer theme, think about those small containers for yogurt or applesauce, they make perfect sized scoops in your sandbox or kiddie pool (or even as a bath toy).

I don't want to give you too many ideas quite yet, because what would I have to write about later. Actually, I was thinking that after I finish my 101 tips, I would continue with ideas for crafts to do yourself or with kids, but I don't know that it would be a daily thing, probably a weekly post. Anyways, here are 5 ideas of crafts/projects to make with your kids that we plan to do soon:

What other ideas do you have to share?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

#59 Choices for Fabric Softener

The cost of dryer sheets can add up over the course of a year. Ask yourself why you use it and what it is about dryer sheets or fabric softener that you enjoy. Most cost effective alternatives would be to add vinegar to the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener, cut dryer sheets in thirds, use dryer balls, or dab essential oil on rag & throw in dryer with clothes. You can also purchase eco-friendly made fabric softeners to use in the washer. When I need to, I use Seventh Generation fabric softener, but I regularly use my dryer balls and have used vinegar & essential oils. I haven't used dryer sheets in several years.

#58 Use Half a Baby Wipe or Make Your Own Reusable Ones

Seriously, you don't need a whole baby wipe most of the time. I will say “most” of the time, because sometimes there are jobs that even one or two won't suffice. You know, those times when you just want to cut the clothes off the kid and cut your losses on that outfit and then hose them down. But most of the time we don't have those types of incidents.

We're about to enter the baby wipe stage once again and I am sure my husband has forgotten about how I rip my baby wipes in half. In my book, I think he is wasteful with baby wipes, but I can't complain too loudly if he is changing.
You will find that some brands tear easier than other, so a pair of scissors might be in order.
If you are inclined to make your own reusable baby wipes, then try this website out, there are a bunch of “solution” recipes.

And the cloth part itself can be as simple as reusing your old t-shirts or sweatshirts. Just be sure to pick a fabric that won't unravel once you have cut it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

#57 Turn off unused lights

This is so simple. Leaving lights on wastes energy and money. When you leave the room, turn off the lights. If you are not in a room/closet/hallway then there is no need for the light. Why have it on? My hubby has been getting better at this, but there have been times I feel like I have to walk behind him to turn off every light he turned on as he leaves a room and will not be using that light anymore.

Monday, July 20, 2009

#56 Make Newspaper Bowls

Get creative with reusing your old newspapers and make a decorative bowl out of them. I took a class at our area nature center on how to make these and I thought it was such a fun project. I would say you need about two and a half hours to make one the size I did. The instructions on this website are pretty close to the ones we had in my class. You will use up quite a bit of newspaper, about three Sundays worth. See the picture at the bottom to see the paper bowl that I made out of rolled newspaper.

And if you don't get the newspaper or you need more than you have saved. Call an area hotel and ask them if you can get the leftovers they have, which is where ours came from for the class and they told our instructor to tell us to call & get some anytime we need some. They recycle their newspaper every week and always have leftovers that did not get distributed or were picked up by housecleaning.

Another use that I love for leftover newspaper is as a ground cover to trap out weeds before you cover with mulch, soil, rocks, compost, etc. The newspaper will eventually compost right into the soil but will be there long enough to help trap our weeds.

Another crafty idea for excess newspaper is to make a Newspaper Crown.

The paper bowl project I created with my daughter (in top picture) only uses a small amount of newspaper, but it's an easy one to create with kids. Unforunately, I don't have a picture of the dried product because my fat cat decided that while it was drying, it would be a good place to sleep, so it got crushed. Although, I think this next time we make it we will add a mittle starch. My daughter loved making this bowl and has asked several times in the last week to make another one.

#55 Separate Your Aluminum Cans

Yes, you can just recycle your aluminum cans with the rest of your recycling. But for a minimal amount of work, if you separate them you can turns them in to get some green for your pocket. Or if you feel like donating the aluminum cans, there are frequently non-profit organizations that collect them and turn them in as a fundraiser for their organization. Our church has a semi-permanent collection sit at a local grocery store called “Cans for Christ”.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

#54 Brew Your Own Coffee at Home

Why some people insist on spending $3-$5 a day at chain coffee shops will never be something I will understand. I appreciate it as an infrequent treat, but I have a hard time spending that much money every day when I can spend double that and buy a whole pound of beans from that coffee shop and make the same coffee at home. Or you can save even more money and buy a cheaper brand of coffee.

By making your own coffee at home, you eliminate the need for the production of a paper cup, a plastic cover, a stir stick and a cardboard sleeve or holder. That is a lot of waste for one cup of joe.

If you really have to get that coffee at a coffeeshop, consider supporting a local mom & pop business. Studies have shown that 60-80% of the money spent locally will stay local. And while you are there, order the organic and/or fair trade coffee. It generally won't cost you anymore and you are helping minimize your impact on the environment and are ensuring that workers are getting a fair wage.

And while you are at it, don't forget to bring your own mug so that you can at least refrain from creating more waste.

#53 Clean with Vinegar, Borax, Baking Soda, Water, Lemon, & Olive Oil

It's simple to make your own cleaners and you ensure that the ingredients used are non-toxic and biodegradeable. Plus all those items are relatively inexpensive and can create a cleaner that is not only safe to use but saves you money. I still have some Seventh Generation cleaners, but I use vinegar, borax, baking soda & essentials oils a lot in my cleaning. I have really noticed a difference in cleaning with non-toxic cleaners. If I am around people cleaning with the toxic stuff I notice it right away and my body reacts to it.

Check out this website for recipes/formulas/instructions on making your own cleaning supplies.

Friday, July 17, 2009

#52 Grill Corn in Husk Rather Than Aluminum Foil

This not only saves you money but time with food preparation. Corn grilled in the husk will create a steam effect and have corn that is cooked more evenly and is more tender and you refrain from wasting aluminum foil (which saves you from buying more aluminum foil.) And you also get the food from the pantry/fridge quicker since you skip the step of husking it prior to eating. This way everyone can husk their own corn. And don't to forget to compost those husks & cobs.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

#51 Use Reusable Car Air Filter

Rather that re-telling what is already out there on re-usable car air filters, I will just direct you to this website.

Not all makes/models have these available, but most do. I have one in my car and luckily, my husband takes care of remembering the regular maintenance on that for me. But I love that if I choose to take my car to a place with instant oil changes and they ask before they start “If your air filter is dirty, do you want us to change it” and I can say, “No, I have a re-usable air filter and will clean it at home.” If you regularly purchase air filter at these places as opposed to changing it at home with one you bought at a automotive store/department, you will see that you very quickly re-coup the cost. It will take a little longer if you purchase & install it yourself, but you will re-coup the cost and save money.
Whew! I am halfway done with my goal for the summer of 101 tips.

There will be several days coming up that I will start doubling up on tips because I will be gone a few days later on & won't have computer access. Guess I better start typing up access.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

#50 Use Reuseable Coffee Filters

For between $7-$16 you can find a re-usable coffee filter at your local Wal-Mart, Target or on Amazon. By buying a re-usable coffee filter you no longer have to buy the paper filters, this reducing your consumption of paper products, packaging & the transportation to get the product to you/your store. Considering that you spend $2-$4 on a package of paper filters (depending upon the size/brand you buy), it doesn't take long to re-coup your cost on this product.

Monday, July 13, 2009

#49 Read to your Child About the 3 R's

If you are reading to your child or grandchild anyways, why not choose some books that help reinforce the 3 R's. And while you are at it, check these books out of the library instead of buying them, unless you think it may become a beloved book or you may re-read it over & over. Here are some that we are reading that we got from the library or from our own collection at home:

  1. Lorax by Dr. Suess

  2. Whole World by Christopher Corr

  3. Earth-friendly Crafts by Kathy Ross

  4. Easy Earth-friendly Crafts in 5-Steps by Anna Plomer

  5. The Everything Green Book by Diane McDilda

  6. Follow the Line Around the World by Laura Ljungkvist

  7. Green Wilma by Todd Arnold

  8. I Can Save the Earth by Anita Holmes

  9. Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel

  10. Recycle Every Day by Nancy Wallace

  11. Recycled Crafts Box by Laura Martin

  12. Stuff: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by Steven Kroll

  13. Trash & Recycling by Stephanie Turnball

  14. A Walk in the Rainforest by Kristin Pratt

  15. The Whole Green World by Tony Johnston

The impact we have on our children & grandchildren is amazing. If we start reading to them young, they will enjoy reading. If we teach them about recycling when they are young, it will become a natural part of their life that they won't even have to think about.