DIY fall decor using upcycled items from thrift stores

September 14, 2018 by  
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Fall is a great time to bust out new decorations, but you don’t have to break the bank to make your house stand out. Making DIY fall decor is a great way to save money and help the environment at the same time. From floating shelves to fall clothing accessories, here are eight autumn decorations you can make from common thrift store items or materials in your craft drawer. Cake Stand Pumpkin Display Nothing says fall like fresh pumpkins . You can proudly display these seasonal staples ( before you cook them up for dinner ) using an old cake stand, or you can build your own from old plates and a candlestick holder. If you are building one, simply mount the candlestick holder between two plates and paint them as desired. Glue down the plates to hold everything securely in place. You can build as many of these as you like, using different sizes holders to vary the heights. Related: Fall decorating ideas Floating Bookshelves Floating bookshelves can add a cozy and mysterious feel to a room, and you can build these imaginative holders with a few old hardcovers and a metal bracket. With a floating bookshelf, the bottom book holds everything in place while concealing the support bracket. Once completed, the shelf makes it appear like the books are floating on their own. For this project, all you need are a few metal brackets and some hardcover books. Start by attaching the bottom of the hardcover book to a metal bracket with a piece of fabric fastener. The fabric fastener should be attached so that it holds the bottom cover in place. The rest of the hardcover book should rest on top of the bracket. Then screw the bracket in place and install the bottom book. You can stack multiple books on top of the first one, just make sure the weight isn’t more than the metal bracket can handle. Stagger as many of these floating bookshelves on your wall to complete the look, and top each with your favorite knick-knacks. Sweater Pumpkins Cable knit sweaters make great DIY pumpkins that won’t rot if you forget about them. You can make these adorable fall decorations with a cable knit sweater, stuffing, yarn, twine and a sewing needle. Start by cutting the sweater in half at the armpits. Then, use the needle and yarn to create a running stitch along the bottom of the fabric, pulling it tight as you work around. With the bottom closed, fill the fabric with your stuffing material, leaving around 5 inches of sweater on top. The stuffing should turn the sweater into a rounded shape. Close the sweater with another running stitch around the top and add a piece of twine for a stem. Lastly, run some twine in sections from the top of the sweater to the bottom to create ridges, pulling tight for a more pumpkin-like appearance. Related: Front porch decorating for fall Basket Storage We could all use some extra storage around the house. Instead of buying new plastic totes, you can convert an old basket to serve as decorative storage space for all the seasonal items taking over your house, like blankets, scarves and boots. All you have to do is take an old basket and repaint it a solid color to match your existing decor. You can also paint a pattern on the basket to really make it stand out. Attach thick rope to the top of the basket to serve as handles, making a basket full of scarves, coats or blankets easier to move from the living room to the laundry room. Fall Clothing There are plenty of things around the house or at your local thrift store that you can upcycle and wear in the cooler fall weather. If you have any sweaters that are beyond repair, you can cut off the sleeves and use them as leg warmers, knit socks or tall boot socks. You can even make several pairs using just one sweater, depending on the size. If you have a blanket that has seen better days, cutting it just right can turn it into your new favorite scarf. The key is to getting the right dimensions. If you have another scarf on hand, use it as a reference point. Traditional scarves are anywhere between 55 and 82 inches long and 5 to 10 inches wide. Depending on the condition and size of the blanket, you should be able to get multiple scarves out of one piece. Seasonal Throw Pillows Take your love for fall to the next level by making throw pillow covers with old sweaters or flannel shirts. Start by cutting off the sleeves of the sweater or flannel, carefully following the seams. Then, put the pillow inside the shirt to get an idea of the best placement. Try to center the pillows with the pockets or buttons, which will lend these covers extra charm. Trim around the pillow, leaving an inch of fabric all the way around. Flip the fabric inside out and sew all of the sides together. Avoid sewing shut the buttons, as this is where you will insert the pillow. Once everything is sewed together, turn the shirt the right side out, unbutton the front, insert the pillow and re-button the cover. If your top of choice doesn’t have buttons, sew in buttons or a zipper on one side of the pillow cover. Related: Refresh your furnishings for fall Mason Jar Pumpkins You can make super cute DIY fall decor using old glass jars. All you need are the glass jars, non-toxic paint , twine and some faux leaves and corks for the stems. Start by painting the lids brown and the jars a dark orange. Once they have dried, screw the lids on the jars and use a piece of twine to tie around the jar just below the base of the lids. Add faux leaves and corks to the top of the lids, and feel free to paint on some fun Jack O’Lantern faces as well. Patio Lights Turning old tin cans into patio lights is a lot easier than you might think. All you need are some snips or shears, a hole punch, paint and tea lights. Start by removing any labels from the cans and cleaning them thoroughly. Use a strong hole punch to create patterns on the cans and paint them a warm fall color. If you do not have a hole punch on hand, you can carefully use a hammer and nail to create the same effect. Simply insert the tea light into the cans and place them around your patio, porch or even indoors. Images via Kamelia Hayati ,  John M. P. Knox , Sarah Dorweiler , Max Conrad , Shutterstock

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DIY fall decor using upcycled items from thrift stores

Henning Larsen unveils green, mountain-inspired buildings for Shanghai

September 14, 2018 by  
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Henning Larsen Architects has unveiled designs for the first phase of the “The Springs,” a mixed-use development currently underway in Shanghai that aims to embrace green living. Inspired by a style of traditional Chinese landscape painting called ‘shan shui,’ the Danish architecture firm crafted the buildings in the image of the dramatic, mountainous landscapes found throughout rural China. Trees and gardens will grow on top and around the stepped towers to create an immersive urban oasis of green. Developed for real estate company Tishman Speyer , The Springs is located on a 66-acre plot in Shanghai’s Yangpu district and will incorporate a mix of residential, commercial and retail. With a proposed 40 percent green ratio and a 33-acre wetland eco-park next door, the planned development embraces green living in both its surroundings and its design. At its core, Henning Larsen designed a series of terraced high-rises layered with greenery and clustered around a green public square to create a sheltered microclimate for improving air quality , reducing noise pollution and promoting natural light. “We wanted to create a protected environment in this city center that contributes to the potential for this development to become a new focus that generates and attracts public life in uptown Shanghai,” said Claude Bøjer Godefroy, design director and partner at Henning Larsen. “We understand sustainability in broad terms. It is important to offer people an environmentally friendly surrounding while at the same time developing a building that stages human interaction.” Related: MAD Architects-designed residences rise like mountains in a UNESCO Heritage site According to Tishman Speyer, The Springs will feature LEED Gold certification for the Core & Shell of the first phase. Public health will be promoted through a pedestrian-friendly design that boasts abundant open space and excellent transportation infrastructure.The Springs development broke ground July 12, 2018 and is slated for completion in 2020. + Henning Larsen Architects Images via Henning Larsen Architects

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Henning Larsen unveils green, mountain-inspired buildings for Shanghai

How can I reuse or recycle margarine tub lids/cream cheese tub lids?

February 3, 2012 by  
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Whitney has emailed us, asking about margarine tub lids: i’m trying to do my part and make sure that i recycle everything that i can, or at least find a way to reuse it. i recycle my #5 containers of cream cheese, margarine, etc, but have nothing to do with the lids, which even if they are also #5 they are not accepted in my recycling. any ideas of what i can do with them? typically i just put them under plant pots, but i can only have so many plants. and i thought about making coasters, but i don’t really use coasters, so i’m open to some new ideas! When we get this type of tub, we tend to keep both the lid & the tub to reuse for leftovers instead of Tupperware or use as small storage boxes in other parts of the house (eg, we’ve got one for batteries, one for fuses and one for shoe polish in our misc cupboard). But there are a lot more uses for the tub part than the lids so I imagine there are a lot of lids going in the bin — let’s see what we can do with them 🙂 Funnily enough, a lot of my ideas are the same as the ones from Monday’s handicapped tags – add them to your tool box for use while decorating/painting, cut them up for plant markers in the garden, cut the rim off and shape the remaining plastic to use as a dough scrapper etc. Anyone got any more original ideas though? 🙂 (Photo by cogdogblog )

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How can I reuse or recycle margarine tub lids/cream cheese tub lids?

Listed buildings & green issues: what are your thoughts?

February 2, 2012 by  
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(This isn’t strictly a recycling issue but I was thinking about it the other day and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter!) A few miles down the road from me is a village called Saltaire . It is a Victorian model village founded by a local mill owner (Sir Titus Salt) so his employees had somewhere nice to live compared to the slums around mills in the rest of Bradford. It’s still a nice place to live – rows upon rows of well built Yorkshire-stone houses, with a lovely park, a very pretty church, lots of independent shops and the old mill, which is now home to an art gallery, restaurants & cafés, and more specialist shops. The whole area has survived the last 160 years in a remarkable complete state and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, which means that the government has a duty to protect the site from future development. Without the World Heritage Site protection (and the listed status all the individual buildings around the village as well), various parts of the village would probably have been redeveloped or demolished in the name of progress – for example, there is a traffic crunch point just near the village and various people are crying out for a bypass or a tunnel underneath the whole area. With regards to that sort of thing – and to preserve our cultural history, I’m all in support of having listed buildings and the Heritage Site protection but… I was passing through the village the other day and I noticed that most of the houses & shops still have old, single glazed windows. A lot of the windows have pretty curved tops – like in the picture – so I imagine they’d be expensive to replace anyway, before getting into issues of whether or not it’s allowed. (There are some houses in a less picturesque part of the city which have clearly just had rectangular windows placed en masse behind the arched stone window – but that does look bodgy and would definitely not be allowed in Saltaire.) A few houses seemed to have secondary glazing inside which helps a bit but I imagine the rest are losing a fair bit of heat through the single glazed windows and are probably draughty too. Similarly, a lot of the smaller terrace houses don’t have a hallway – their front doors open straight into their living rooms – and from living in a house like that for ten years, I can tell you for sure that it can be a draughty heat-sink even when you don’t actually open and close the door. Many of the houses in Saltaire face east-west so they wouldn’t be optimal for solar panels anyway but even if they had south-facing roofs, I’m guessing that wouldn’t be allowed — any listed building is likely to require “listed building consent” before solar panels can be installed and it’s often refused if it’s felt the panels would “detract from the appearance and character” of the building or area or “disturb or destroy the historical fabric”. The situation would be similar for micro wind turbines or biomass flues etc. Of course, these issues aren’t specific to this village – there are over 370,000 listed buildings in England alone – but passing through Saltaire got me thinking and I wondered what you thought about it. While most of us want to do so to stop wasting energy & money, a lot of people with listed houses can’t do the same. Do you think the properties that represent our past should be protected above all else? Or should there be a focus on energy-awareness for the present & the future instead? Do you live in a listed building? Have you had any problems making it more energy efficient? Or conversely, is it easier than it seems like it’ll be? (Photo from Wikipedia )

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Listed buildings & green issues: what are your thoughts?

How can I reuse/use up really, really old coffee beans?

February 1, 2012 by  
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I mentioned in passing on my simple/frugal living blog that we’re having our kitchen ceiling replastered at the moment. Ahead of the plasterer starting on Monday, we had to tidy off all the work surfaces and tops of cupboards – quite a challenge for hoarders like us with many, many culinary hobbies! Anyway, among our tidying, I found a couple of half-used bags of coffee beans in an old biscuit tin. My boyfriend John bought them from an expensive coffee bean shop but didn’t really like them – he couldn’t bring himself to throw them away though, better to keep them as a back-up just in case he runs out of his preferred ones. That sounds like a good plan, doesn’t it? Except they’ve been waiting in reserve for quite a while now. So long so that I had to search my old email to find out when we went to the place we bought the beans from (Lincoln). 2007. Five years. Gosh. They do still smell quite coffee-ish but I suspect they’re long, long, long past their prime! They could go on the compost heap but I’d rather reuse them in some other way rather than just letting them rot. They could be ground and used in the same way you can reuse any coffee grounds — the magical internet tells me I can use it for dyeing fabric/yarn or even my hair, and I imagine these virgin beans would result in a deeper colour than already used once ones. But does anyone have any ideas for ways I could use them whole? Crafty ideas or practical ones?

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How can I reuse/use up really, really old coffee beans?

How can I reuse or recycle plastic handicap car parking tags?

January 30, 2012 by  
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Ages and ages ago on the Suggest An Item page, Carolyn asked about reusing handicap parking tags – but I missed it until Raynor recently comment last week. Sorry – not sure how it slipped by me! Anyway, better late than never, Carolyn asked: Every two years my husband’s blue handicap tags for the vehicles expire. The county gives him new ones at no cost. What can we do with the expired tags, made of heavy but flexible plastic? They are about 3.5? x 6.75? plus another 2.5? for the hook at the top. Raynor suggested cutting them into strips and using them as plant markers in the garden /allotment, since they’ll be weather proof. Philip also had a suggestion: “I’d put them with your tools and they will come in handy sooner or later.” I imagine that’s what we’d do with them too – I always need stuff like that when I’m filler-ing holes before painting . Speaking of painting, last week I was doing some painting-as-art painting rather than DIY and I could have used something like that as a mixing palette (I ended up using some old plastic packaging instead but it was always to hold). At this time of year, my seed stash is full to bursting and I like to organise it by sowing date – those tags would be just about the right size to use as dividers in my seed box — and would work much better than the too small bits of cardboard I’m using now. Flat pieces of heavy yet slightly flexible plastic are useful as dough scrappers when baking or doing any similar crafts (like salt dough or even clay pottery) where you need to scrap your material from the worksurface sometimes. Finally, one more suggestion from me, ask your county/council if they’ll take them back for recycling . Everyone with the tags in the area will be in a similar position and will need to dispose of them some how – depending on the type of plastic, they might find it easier to get them recycled in bulk than someone relying on consumer recycling services. Any other suggestions? What would you do with them?

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How can I reuse or recycle plastic handicap car parking tags?

How can I reuse or recycle leftover chips?

January 25, 2012 by  
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Mari has emailed asking about leftover chips – as in English chips eaten hot, thick fries not potato chips/crisps – saying her family nearly always have “eyes bigger than their bellies” when they order fish’n’chips and end up with some leftovers: Good thick chips not just tiny hard scraps. It’s such a waste. Can anything be done with them? Obviously the first thing here is to reduce the amount she & her family buy in the first place – but I realise chip portions are a variable thing. I read about a study recently that found that portion sizes could vary from between 250g (half a pound) to 1kg (2.2lbs!) depending on the shop and server. I think most families would have leftovers even if they bought just one bag of the latter! Whenever my father (not) in law has leftover chips, he wraps them back up in their paper again and freezes them for a snack at a later time. I’m not sure how he defrosts/reheats them (and admittedly, he’s not got particularly high standards when it comes to cooking) but it might be worth experimenting with if you have them leftover regularly. At the end of the day though, they’re just leftover fried potato – and can be reused like any other leftover potato. Mash up the softer ones – they could be used in fish cakes or a hash/bubble & squeak. The little hard ones could be chopped up and used as a crispy coating/topping. Here, they’d go in our “misc stuff for the chickens” pile. What would you do with leftover chips?

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How can I reuse or recycle leftover chips?

Caroma Makes A Toilet With Sink Look Elegant

November 16, 2009 by  
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We have been showing toilets with sinks built into the lids of the tanks for years, including home-made and aftermarket plastic versions. Now Caroma gives us a dual flush toilet that they claim will save a family of four 30,000 gallons of water per year over an older toilet

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Caroma Makes A Toilet With Sink Look Elegant

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