Giving in to my Inner Scrounger

My Beta Babes and I went out to eat at Pasta House in St. Louis.

I tried to behave, really I did. We had a great lunch and fun talking with each other.

But I started lusting after the plastic butter tubs. And the margarine containers. I kept imagining ways I could use them.

Then I said to myself, “What will they think of me if I start collecting trash?”

I decided, “I don’t care. That’s who I am. That’s what I do. Either they like me for myself or not.”

So I asked the person next to me for her empty margarine containers. She kindly handed them over. Soon everyone was handing me empty plastic containers. I filled my purse with them. One of the husbands tried to give me the rest of the full tubs in front of his place. (Bless his heart. He was so sweet. I had to explain that the butter wasn’t the point.)

I carefully cleaned them in my hotel room, packed them in a box, and had them mailed to me with a bunch of other supplies.

Last night I began putting together a kitchen cabinet from a kit. As usual, I modified the kit a lot. The way they were constructing the sink was silly. It wouldn’t look good!

Then I remembered my margarine containers.

One of them worked perfectly.

I am so glad I gave in to my inner creative scrounger. Yes, I was a bit embarrassed by my greed for garbage. But if I hadn’t have asked, I wouldn’t have had the butter tubs for my project. I also wouldn’t have saved those tubs from the recycling bin.

And I wouldn’t have been true to myself. I would have pretended to be someone I’m not. I’m not too proud to ask for what I need.

How about you? What crafting supply do you find impossible to resist? When have you embarrassed yourself for the sake of a craft?

Love, Crafts, and the Fine Art of Dumpster Diving

Two days ago, I noticed a big red Dumpster behind our apartment complex. It looked to be empty.

That’s interesting, I thought.

Yesterday evening, my husband and I were walking Jax when I noticed the Dumpster had been filled to the brim. Looks to me like the apartment management evicted someone, sending their furniture packing as well. A red sofa extended above pieces of wood, paper, and articles you’d have to examine closely to identify.

That made me sad. Once upon a time, a bank threatened to evict my mother, my sisters, and me. I don’t think that any of us will ever forget that bleak period in our lives.

Then it made me wonder. Was there any good that could come out of this ugly situation? While I was pondering this, thinking deep thoughts, David and Jax kept walking. “Honey?” called my husband. “Come on. Leave it alone.”

He knows me too well.

Because by then, I’d decided to investigate. I climbed up on the ledge surrounding the big red trash container. I’m short so I couldn’t look deep inside, but I did see a piece of board sticking out. A big piece of wood.

Big enough to serve as a base for my dollhouse and the potting shed.

Big enough and sturdy enough that I wouldn’t have to go to Home Depot and buy a piece of plywood and pay for them to cut it to size.

Big and free.

Even freer after I tugged it out.

David, I must confess, was mortified. He started walking in the other direction with body language that clearly stated, “I don’t know that woman!”

I tugged and tugged. I had to reach in and move a couple of other boards around. Luckily for me, I’ve kept up with my tetanus shots, because that big piece of wood had nails sticking out. But once I began to extricate it (classy word for trash-picking, eh?), I was determined that it would be MINE.

David didn’t offer to help. Instead, he said, “Oh, honey…” in that tone of voice that means, “I love you, but right now, I would cheerfully pretend we aren’t married.”

So I dragged it home. I do mean drag, because it’s heavy. I put it in the spare bedroom. I waited until today when David’s at work. I hauled it out. Knocked down the nails. Pried off a half dozen small squares of excess wood that served as braces. Put it up on our kitchen island. And started making plans. BIG plans for my dollhouse.

The way I see it, I saved something from the landfill, I saved money, and I’m moving ahead with my crafts. Next time I walk past that Dumpster, I might just vault over the side and poke around a little more.

Have you ever been Dumpster Diving?

Upcycle Styrofoam into a Great Coaster

The portions in most restaurants are far too large for me, so I always ask for a carry-out container. Sadly, most of these are made of Styrofoam, or polystyrene, a product that takes nearly forever to breakdown in our landfills.

So I’ve been searching for ways to reuse my Styrofoam containers, and this idea is so simple and easy that I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before!

Since I love potted plants and vases full of flowers, I often find ugly circles on my furniture where the damp pots and vases touch the wood. Even glazed pots somehow transfer moisture. I used to put plates under the pots. Then I bought those stupid thin plastic pot “bottoms.” But they got really ugly and often fell apart. One day I realized that all I really needed was a coaster of an impervious material. Enter Styrofoam!

Here’s how the finished project looks–

You can barely see the white Styrofoam coaster under this orchid, but it is there–and it’s protecting the surface of my wooden chest.

TIME:
Takes at most ten minutes.

SUPPLIES:
An empty Styrofoam “clamshell” container, a ballpoint pen, scissors, and a sanding block.

METHOD:

1. Divide your container into two parts. You’ll be using the flat portion without partitions.

I’ll be using the portion on the left. I simply took a knife and cut the container in half.

2. Carefully clean and dry your Styrofoam container. I’ve noticed that you practically have to pour dish detergent right on the Styrofoam because oils love to cling to it.

3. Set your vase or pot on top of the flat portion. Use a ballpoint pen and trace around the base of your vase/pot. The tip of the pen will lightly carve into the foam. Cut out the shape. (I like to use kitchen shears for this.)

The pen point actually makes a small groove as you follow the curve of your vessel.

4. Use a sanding block to file down the rough edges of the circle and make it more symmetrical.

5. Slide it under your pot or vase. If you did it right, it should barely show.

Look at you, you crafty thing!