green tip #11 | sustainability | donate or DIY crafts with your used holiday & thank you cards

green tip #11 | sustainability | donate or DIY crafts with your used holiday & thank you cards

For those who are wondering what to do with used cards you receive from loved ones or new ones you don’t plan on using, here’s a suggestion: donate them. I only just learned of this today and I’m happy I came across this. An organization called St. Jude’s Ranch for Children have a used (& new) card recycling program. They accept cards all year round for all occasions. Here is a link to find out more information about this organization: https://www.stjudesranch.org/about-us/

Here is their mission:

“Transforming the lives of abused and at-risk children, young adults and families by empowering them to create new chances, new choices and new hope in a caring community.”

For those who would like to get some DIY crafts going and perhaps use for next year’s holidays, I’ve linked a few resources I found online. I saw some really cool and interesting things!

Martha Stewart Holiday Card Ornaments
Good Housekeeping 8 Ways to Get Crafty with Old Cards
Care2 18 Surprising Ways to Reuse Greeting Cards
Artists Helping Children Recycle and Reuse Christmas Cards with Crafts for Kids

green tip #10 | sustainability | 5 ways to reuse this packaging box

green tip #10 | sustainability | 5 ways to reuse this packaging box

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Thinking about how to be more eco-friendly really stretches my creativity. I start to see every day items and give it new meaning. I think about their purpose and the materials it is made of. For instance, this box used to carry bottles of water. In the past, I would see packaging and immediately just recycle. Without a thought of what it could be used for in another way.

Then, I would go to a mega-chain store and purchase organizational furniture or products that could easily be made from the packaging we get all the time: empty boxes, yogurt containers, fruit jam glass jars and even plastic take-out containers. Those yogurt containers could be washed out clean and used as pens/pencils/paint brush holders or planting pots for flowers. They usually have a cute & colorful design anyway. The glass jars could be used to carry extra change or office supplies. Turn your cereal boxes into magazine holders or paper organizers.

After reading this post, I am more cautious with what plastic items to re-use (some plastics cannot be re-used and should be recycled after one use).

Since they are packaging material, they are usually made very well. They are durable and sturdy. Yes, they aren’t the most visually appealing when it comes to decorating your home, but this is where the creativity and fun comes in. Get some inspiration from what you would have purchased and go from there. Paint it or design with magazine pictures or photographs or other items of memories.

Regarding the box pictured above, I have a few ideas to re-use it.

1. Fold in the two flaps on the sides, turn it horizontal and it can now be used as a shoe organizer. I have a metal shoe organizer that cost me money and it may even rust later. But this one is free, does the same job and no rusting since it’s paper. (This is actually what I used this box for.)

2. Take more of these boxes and stack them on top of each other. Stick them to each other by glue or tape and cut away the flaps. Now it can be a book shelf, a DVD/CD/video games shelf.

3. Use this box for transporting items that can’t be separated. The slots make it snug for less moving and the divide keeps the items together, but organized.

4. Turn this box into a memory or toy box. Decorate it with amusing fun images from previous travel trips or toys for your children. Maybe store your old yearbooks or scrapbooks.

5. If you have a cat, see if it can be a fun little toy for him or her. Maru the cat loves playing in boxes. Here’s a cute video of him.

Practice this exercise next time you put something in recycling or the trash. Could this be useful somewhere else?

Gallery

DIY: felt square coasters (originally posted Jan 2016)

Hi friends, I am reblogging this in case anyone wants to make something personalized for any last minute gifts out there. I made this DIY coaster tutorial a while ago, but figured it might be fun for some of you if you missed it. Best wishes everyone :)

the portfolio - in progress

I have been wanting to make this post for a LONG time because I love crafting and wanted to try writing a diy post. Some of you may have remembered a post I did, “felt coaster virtual art gallery I.” They were photographs of most, if not all, the felt coasters I’ve made. Some friends, relatives and co-workers received these as gifts for birthdays, holidays and celebration for a new home and they all thought these were cute. If you happen to make one yourself, please let me know! I’d love to see your creations! :) Also, this was really fun to write up and a good learning experience for me since I didn’t know the technical terms for the sewing techniques. I learn something new every day! Have fun!

You will need:IMG_4866

  • Ruler
  • Thread (color depends on your preference)
  • 2 square pieces of felt (4-inch or 10-cm…

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green tip #8 | sustainability | handmade mini journal with pressed flowers

green tip #8 | sustainability | handmade mini journal with pressed flowers

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I had a bouquet of flowers nearing their final life stages and I didn’t want to just throw them out. I decided to look up how to press flowers. Unfortunately, I didn’t use fresh ones as many sources suggested, but I did it anyway. I waited a few weeks as they were placed between pages of my huge dictionary stacked under other heavy books and things. I did find a tutorial using a microwave method, which I haven’t done, but I’ll leave the link below. Along with it are a few tutorials of how to make your own journals. Again, I didn’t use these, but will probably some day. I think making journals by hand is great because it’s so versatile and earth loving. I see myself making personalized ones for family & friends as gifts or for myself.

Eco-friendly notes:
-This was made entirely with materials I already had at home and many of which were ones I upcycled.
-Alternative to throwing out flowers is to simply compost.
-Alternative to making your own is to buy from a local vendor who uses eco-friendly practices and materials.

Materials this journal was created from: pressed flowers, cardboard from empty pasta box, junk mail envelopes, scrap paper, unused/blank pages from previous journals/planners, stickers, plastic covering from an old planner, clear packaging tape and string I already had in my craft box.


I love it so much. I’m already using it and know that the materials I used to make it is put to better use.

Some pressed flowers tutorials I found online:

How to Press Flowers (Rookie Magazine)
Pressed Flower Tutorial (Modest Maven, microwave method)

Some journal-making tutorials I found online:

journals (curiously crafty.)
Bind Your Own Book (Instructables)

green tip #7 | sustainability | gift card holder from a toilet paper roll

green tip #7 | sustainability | gift card holder from a toilet paper roll

“If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.”

(comment on holiday waste according to a Standford website)

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Hello friends, happy December 1st. As you may have noticed, I’ve been on a sustainability trail for a few months now. To continue on, I’ve decided to make a gift card holder from a toilet paper roll. This can be used for any gift giving events, especially this holiday season. The visual steps that I took to make this gift card holder is in the slideshow below (you can pause and skip to photos if you want to).

Materials/Tools:
-Scissors
-Scrap paper (to draw the image on)
-Markers, crayons or colored pencils
-Acrylic paint (I used white and dark blue)
-Paintbrush
-Paint Palette
-Pen
-Glue or Tape
-Ribbon or stapler or washi tape (to enclose the ends)

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A few tips:
-After each paint session, let the cardboard dry completely. Otherwise, the paper will be less sturdy and paint may chip off.
-If you don’t like the acrylic texture of the cardboard, stick on clear shipping tape over it; like lamination. The surface will be smoother and will protect the cardboard.
-To make the crease more effective, place a heavy book or object on top of the card holder.
-You can fold the cardboard into a gift box, too, if gift card isn’t appropriate.
-Personalize however you like. If it’s for a birthday, draw a cake or cupcake. If it’s for a graduation, write the year in decorative font. It can cater to whatever style/design you want.

If you want some inspiration with making gift boxes out of upcycled materials, feel free to check out my post green tip #4.

green tip #4 | sustainability | gift boxes from upcycling & facts on holiday waste

green tip #4 | sustainability | gift boxes from upcycling & facts on holiday waste

I had these baby cereal boxes and thought I could create something with them. I thought of an idea that if I inverted the box, it could easily become a gift box. This could also be the case with regular-sized boxes, too. I bet pasta boxes, shoe boxes and all kinds of packaging could work. Here are pictures of some inspiration of how to decorate the box, too. I figured this would be helpful in the upcoming holiday season. The paper I used were from junk envelopes. Needless to say, this could not only save waste, it upcycles the cardboard and makes it into something useful and creative.

Here are some quick facts on holiday waste, (according to a Standford website)

“Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week!”

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“If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.”

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“If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.”

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“The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.”

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Additional websites I found helpful in giving ideas on how to enjoy the holiday season with loved ones without contributing to the harmfulness of the planet.

Standford’s FAQ on how to prevent holiday waste
RecycleWorks Facts on holiday waste

paper-related items

paper-related items

hey everyone, i recently made my own paper! nothing too grand or pretty for that matter. i didn’t use a blender so the paper looked all kinds of weird & the texture was bumpy. i’m hoping that the next paper experiment i do, it’ll come out a lot better. if you ever feel inspired to, it feels nice knowing that none of the paper is going to a landfill and rather being reused immediately. i’ve seen some videos and photographs of some really beautiful and unique looking handmade paper. one blog i really like following is Brittany Spencer’s blog. she’s an amazing papermaking artist and she also shows art from her students who are extremely talented!

another paper-related item is that i made my 2017 planner. it’s a lot toned down from last year. really basic and simple. it was also a quick project. only took me about a couple of hours to finish everything. i hand wrote everything and didn’t use a ruler and the binding is made with floss i found in a junk drawer. yep, pretty rebellious. here are some photographs:

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the 2017 planner was made from: cardboard included with my bedding sheets package, white floss i found in a junk drawer–i didn’t feel comfortable using for hygienic purposes, paper too wrinkly to print on, photographs i’ve taken, scrap paper from flyers, magazine cutouts, envelope scraps, yarn i got at a thrift store, paper found in picture frames, washi tape, tape, black pen & markers

some 2016 planner photographs:

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DIY: fresh summer rolls

DIY: fresh summer rolls

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Still learning and clearly not a pro in wrapping, but still delicious!

I love my mom’s cooking. Currently, I am slowly, yet surely, making some dishes she makes for our family. Still on the list to make is her curry Vietnamese pancake, grilled eggplant in seasoned sauce, her VERY YUMMY egg rolls and the list goes on. My mom has always been such a great cook and she always prefer cooking at home than eating or ordering out. If you ask her why, she’ll always say that it’s way more delicious and it doesn’t cost a lot to make. Since I was raised as a vegetarian growing up, many of her dishes can be substituted with or without meat. This post is based on her fresh summer rolls tutorial. I love how refreshing, filling and adaptable this recipe is. Here we go!

You will need (makes about 6-7 fresh rolls, but can be adjusted to your preference)

  • 6-7 spring roll skins (made out of rice flour, tapioca starch, water and salt)
  • 2 “squares” of rice noodles (refer to left image above)
  • Eggs (I used two, but use however many you like)
  • Chopped chicken pieces (I used two chicken breasts, but use however many you like)
  • Fresh salad greens (as many as your heart desires)
  • Heated water to soften spring roll skin (enough to cover bottom of a large pan)
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter (for dipping sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce (for dipping sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce (for dipping sauce)
  • a few drops of Sriracha (for dipping sauce, optional)
  • Chopped green onions (for dipping sauce, optional)

Notes:
-I’ve used shrimp with this and it’s very delicious
-Dipping sauce should be geared towards your preference. The sauce I make is different every time, but the above calculations are based on the one I most recently made. It may be too peanut buttery, but I liked it like that.
-Sauces, rice noodles and spring roll skin can be most likely found in your local Asian supermarket.
-Serving size is based on how many you want to make. One spring roll skin makes one serving. Make sure to cook enough filling for the amount you plan on making. Since the spring roll skin is made one at a time, you’ll be able to see how much filling you have left without wasting any food!
-Have fun!

Dipping sauce:

Combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, Sriracha and green onions in a small bowl. Mix well. Taste and adjust to your preference. Remember that the fresh rolls will also balance out the strong flavors of the sauce.

 Directions:

1. Cook the chicken (I seasoned with salt and pepper and/or soy sauce), but it can be cooked plain if you want), rice noodles (according to package) and eggs (scrambled style)

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2. Assemble the cooked chicken, mixed dipping sauce, a handful of salad greens, cooked rice noodles and scrambled eggs on a table.

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3. Heat up water in a large pan (large enough to fit a spring roll skin). I like to fill the water a little above the line (refer to right photograph below). I waited until there was a soft boil and then decreased the temperature to very low to keep the water warm. Be careful, this part can be tough because you can’t leave the spring roll skin in for too long (just for 1 or 2 seconds) or it’ll start to break apart. Also, it can be very hot!

4. Place the spring roll skin on a plate (making sure to keep the shape flat and not folded, however, it may be tricky for beginners because the spring roll skin is a bit sticky). Quickly add the assembled ingredients just below the center. You don’t want the spring roll skin to dry out.

 

5. Here’s the wrapping part. I’m not good at this yet, but practice makes perfect! Either way, no matter what shape your roll ends up looking, it’ll taste super yummy! Follow the photographs below for how I wrap.

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Lift the bottom section towards the center. Make sure to cover all the filling you just placed with the bottom flap.
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Fold the left and right side flaps to the center. The skin is sticky so take your time!
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Finish up the wrap by rolling it upwards and making sure the filling is secured tight.

6. Now it’s time to eat! Dip them into the sauce and enjoy! You’ll be surprised how full you feel just eating a few. They’re pretty addicting and fun to make, too. This recipe is very adaptable, so feel free to change up the meat or adjust the sauce or take out or add more. It’s all up to you.

DIY: felt square coasters

DIY: felt square coasters

I have been wanting to make this post for a LONG time because I love crafting and wanted to try writing a diy post. Some of you may have remembered a post I did, “felt coaster virtual art gallery I.” They were photographs of most, if not all, the felt coasters I’ve made. Some friends, relatives and co-workers received these as gifts for birthdays, holidays and celebration for a new home and they all thought these were cute. If you happen to make one yourself, please let me know! I’d love to see your creations! :) Also, this was really fun to write up and a good learning experience for me since I didn’t know the technical terms for the sewing techniques. I learn something new every day! Have fun!

You will need: IMG_4866

  • Ruler
  • Thread (color depends on your preference)
  • 2 square pieces of felt (4-inch or 10-cm each side) (any colors)
  • Additional felt for decorating (I’m using a heart shape piece) (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Embroidery thread (any color)
  • Pins (optional)
  • 2 Needles (1 for thread and 1 for the embroidery thread, refer to image below)

Ideal experience/technique: hand sewing or sewing machine, blanket stitch, running/straight stitch

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Assemble your pieces
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The red felt is hiding behind the blue one. First, we’re going to work on attaching the heart felt piece to the blue piece.
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I don’t usually use pins, but decided to use this time since they do keep the felt from moving.
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Sew a running/straight stitch all around the edge of the heart. I hand sew because I’m not familiar with sewing machines. Feel free to use one if you are.
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As you move along the edges, remove any pins in sections already sewed down. We want the felt to be flat and neat as possible.
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When you’ve finished, make sure to end at the back of the felt to hid any messy-looking knots.
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Voila! You’re done with the first part!
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Assemble the pieces again
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This time, attach the red felt piece to the blue one with pins.
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Start sewing a blanket stitch around the edges of the square pieces. Use the embroidery thread for this.

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Remember to take out the pins as you sew along.
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Voila! You’re almost done! We’re going to do a little bit of cleaning of the edges.
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Look at the corners and if you have any that look like this..
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…simply use scissors and cut that piece off. Be careful to cut just the felt and not the thread!
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You’re done! To be honest, I could have done better in sewing the heart edges and color choices, but I like it all the same!
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Here’s a photograph of the back. This is what it would look like if you didn’t add any additional felt.
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New friends/buddies!
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Here’s what it would look like being used.