Monday, April 29, 2013

Where the Rubber Meets the (Garden) Road

{reduce, reuse, recycle, reclaim, repurpose, 

Recycling and reusing tires has been around probably as long as tires have. 

Before sitting down to begin this week's feature on earth-friendly ideas, I went searching for an early 1960s photo that was taken of me flying high, standing, on a tire swing in my grandmother's back yard. 

Probably better I didn't find it. I seem to recall blue cat glasses and peddle-pushers (what we now call capris) with sneakers and white socks. What a dork!

I also hoped to find pictures of my grandparents' flower gardens ringed by giant tractor tires. No luck, there either. Not in the box I thought they were in.

My grandparents used both tractor and truck tires to create flower beds. Some were painted white, some  au naturale. Some were cut around the top edge to look like flower petals.

The tire swing of today makes my modest model of yesterday seem awfully mundane. What kid wouldn't want one of these?

Recycled tire planters have come a long way since the '60s, too. 

Rochelle at Studio G features a super tutorial for making your own whimsical planter from tires that no longer tread on asphalt.

A few other recycled tire projects I love:

You wouldn't know by looking, but Apartment Therapy's beautiful ottoman indeed started out as a plain ole tire.

Not for everyone, but I like these innovative tables and chairs.

Next time your tread wears thin, consider making your tires a part of your landscape (or living room).

Make it a great day!
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It's a Vintage Cover-Up

It's a wonder that because my mom was an accomplished and prolific seamstress the first sewing project I completed was in 8th-grade Home Ec class. I suppose it may have been a good thing that Mom waited to let someone else teach me to sew. It may have saved some frustration and hurt feelings for both of us. That mother/daughter thing, you know.

My first project was a simple apron. Nothing fancy. Just basic straight stitching. It even had a self hem--no hand hemming.

Oh, did I love the fabric I chose! I've always been a butterfly lover. These winged beauties are straight out of the '60s. Pink, orange, avocado glory.

When I completed that first sewing project, I felt as if I'd been crowned Queen for a Day. I don't think I realized it then, but I know now that sewing gave me a special bond to my mom. I never became the exceptional seamstress she was, but I definitely know my way around a bolt of fabric and a sewing machine. I've done all right and Mom always was the biggest fan of my creations.

My first sewing project has served me well--for 45 years. It's experienced a bit of the kitchen, but cooking isn't my strong suit. Instead, my apron grew old and thin in the craft room and serving at money pouch and catch-all at my many garage sales over the years. The pockets are amazing. I can pack a week's worth of goodies in those roomy pouches.

Over the years, that first sewing project has taken a beating. I've had to restitch the pockets numerous times, as the stitching wore thin. It had a run-in with a Sharpie pen a while back. And, yet, it remains my Old Reliable.

On my more recent thrift adventures, I've lucked into some lovely vintage cover-ups. And, while I personally don't need any more aprons, I'm drawn to them like a fly to honey. For me, vintage aprons conjure smells of fresh baked bread, oven fried chicken and applesauce cake. Not to mention remembrances of summer days on the farm, church picnics and picking fresh vegetables for dinner.

Each carefully crafted gem reminds me of my mom and my grandma, neither of whom ever worked in the kitchen without a nice, handmade cover-up.  They made their aprons from flour or feed sacks and trimmed nearly every one with coordinating rick rack like this lovely one I found at an estate sale last summer.

Grandma, a farm wife, favored the full cover-up, similar to these. Every Monday, she churned butter in her apron. Tuesdays, she baked enough bread to last for the week. Wednesdays, she baked the week's pies and cakes. Other days, she canned meat or fruit and vegetables. That kind of messy kitchen work called for full coverage.

My daughter inherited her love of aprons from the older women in her life. A barista at a small, local coffee shop, she cultivates her unique image behind the bar with a variety of wonderful vintage aprons she's personally collected or received as gifts. A couple of weeks ago, I found a fun candy stripe full apron at a sale and gave it to her for her birthday this past weekend. Red is her favorite color.

I love the soda shoppe feel of the fabric and color. Grandma would have loved it, too. It's trimmed in matching rick rack.

Grandma taught me to crochet when I was nine. My mother also crocheted. But, I don't recall Mom or Grandma crocheting one of these beautiful aprons. I haven't made one, either. Yet.

This was a recent Goodwill find.

Some of these sweet throwbacks I've found will end up in my shop. They simply must, as I could so easily become a vintage apron hoarder.

So many cute styles, heartwarming fabrics and creative twists on the old standard. Of course, you know a few will make their way into my personal collection anyway.

Make it a great day!
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Every Day Is Earth Day

{reduce, reuse, recycle, reclaim, repurpose,            respect}

Until a man duplicates a blade of grass, Nature can laugh at his so-called scientific knowledge. Remedies from chemicals will never stand in favorable comparison with the products of Nature, the living cell of a plant, the final result of the rays of the sun, the mother of all life.

~ Thomas Alva Edison

Make it a great day!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pansy Power

Sassy. That's how I describe the pansy. That wonderful velvety face, in colors so deep one could get lost in them, teases of spring and beckons boldly from garden bed and front porch planter before the frost is fully finished.

For centuries, pansy images have adorned postcards and wallpaper, china and linens, fabric and artwork. When I was a child, pansies led the flower parade in my mother's garden every spring. And, since my childhood, pansies have remained a favorite of mine.

This past weekend, I picked up several treasures at a couple of estate sales. One was a large, handmade tool caddy. When I grabbed it, I planned to use it in the garden later this spring--after the threat of frost is long past.  But, I kept wishing I could plant flowers in it now, to bring some much-needed relief from the dreary gray, cold days we've had the past several weeks.

Wait! Why not? This is the perfect weather for the sweet and sassy countenance of the pansy.

The rough and rugged tool caddy makes a substantial planter.

Despite its well-worn exterior, the classic caddy gives a warm welcome to these pretty pansies.

A lovely touch of spring. The only touch of spring in our neck of the woods.

Make it a great day!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Look What I Found

It's been a while since I shared any vintage finds. A number of excellent estate sales over the past few weekends have made shopping interesting. This time of year, though, I usually pull back a little on purchasing treasures. Maybe it's in anticipation of garage sale season. Maybe I just need a breather after the holidays.

A couple of my favorite recent finds are these two metal cabinets. Hubby and I found the taller one at Fred & Ethel's on a recent trip to Rock Island, Ill. When my son purchased one just like this last year, I have to admit I wanted it so bad. Now I have my very own!

The smaller cabinet was an estate sale find. The paint is pretty chipped up and the decals have got to go! Both pieces could benefit from a nice coat of jewel-tone paint.

Other estate sale goodies:

A wonderful lot of 96 tiny tart tins. Can you believe the entire bunch cost $2.00? Whoo-hoo. Many of these will reappear with an entirely different look for the holidays later this year.

A vintage April Showers powder tin is perfect for the rainy weather we've been experiencing the past several days (it's snowing this evening, though). I love the pretty shade of spring green.

I've always had a soft spot for these crocheted bonnet pincushions. Sweet spring colors and each is embellished with small crocheted and straw flowers. A nice addition to my sewing space.

I'll save a few other treasures for another post. What treasures have you found lately?

Make it a great day!
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Monday, April 8, 2013

Dumpster Dive--at the Office

{reduce, reuse, recycle, reclaim, repurpose, respect}

At work, the floor on which I'm located soon will be undergoing a renovation. In preparation for that event, we are cleaning house--actually cubicle--now.

We are a department of creatives--writers, graphic and Web designers, multi-media producers, photographers--so it should be no surprise that when the trash and recycle bins started to fill up on our first day of clean-up, those of us who are into reusing and repurposing went diving!

From the trash bin I pulled four of those old wooden file organizers. They're well-used and certainly not in perfect shape. Loose dividers, nicks and chips, years of sticky label build-up, but nothing a bit of glue,  a coat of paint and some cool images from The Graphics Fairy won't fix.

After a face lift, these old organizers will help corral all the ephemera and miscellaneous paper goods I've collected for making my ephemera journals/notebooks. Those shown below are filled with reclaimed paper goods from my attic, thrift stores and garage sales, estate sales and donations from friends and family.

And, speaking of paper goods, the recycle bins offered a plethora of cast-offs: outdated stationery, both plain and fancy, envelopes and folders with obsolete information or addresses. No problem here. I'll cut around all that.

Someone had tossed an entire box of odd-sized vellum envelopes. Oh, goody! A premium item, indeed.

I rescued a sturdy set of black metal bookends that were superficially scraped up. Those will get a fresh coat of paint and a lovely, decorative facade--maybe something done with frames. Or maybe shadow boxes. Or game boards. I've always wanted to do something with the vintage boards I've saved up.

Today, our office is cleaner, a lot of poundage is headed to the recycling center and some of us came home with some items that we'll breathe new life into. Have you ever dumpster dived at your office?

Make it a great day!
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