Quick Tip Tuesday: Spice up your gift wrapping

Image

It is possible to be environmentally conscious and still present a well-wrapped gift that doesn’t get newsprint all over the fingers of the recipient (and the wrapper).  The best bet is to use upcycled paper bags or craft paper.  At the very least choose wrapping paper without the glossy coating so it can be recycled (as shown here).  Typical gift ribbons can also be replaced by real ribbon or, in this case, bias tape.  It gives the gift a much more polished look and can be reused by the recipient in a craft project or to wrap another gift (or stolen back by the giver to use again).

Also, you don’t have to wrap every part of the gift.  I made a nice little arrangement, with a couple wrapped gifts and the card, and some extra gifts (that would have been hard to wrap or taken a lot of extra paper.

Image

Of course, parents and grandparents always love things that are decorated or written on by their kids/grandkids.  For this one, I had our boy label the packages and then color on some warmed-up rocks with crayon (it makes a nice, melty effect).  The rocks served as the “bows”.

ImageAnd incorporating something unexpected in your wrapping, like the palm branch from a recent Palm Sunday, is really the icing on the cake.

Quick Tip Tuesday: Scratch pad

ImageThe city I live in has a great, single-stream recycling program for residents, but does absolutely nothing for businesses.  It’s really frustrating.  My company, despite having adopted an Electronic Medical Record and going “paperless” a year ago, still seems to created a ton of paper that ends up being thrown away.  Everything with confidential information on it can be put in the shred bin and end up being recycled, but they’re a bit stingy about things that don’t, technically, need to be shredded (probably because they pay by the pound for that stuff).  So, I try to print front/back, bring home as much paper as I can to recycle, and find other things to do with the paper I have left.  One use for the blank sides of papers is making these little scratch pads.  I just cut or tear them up into quarters and use a binder clip to hold them together.  I take all my phone messages on these little pads and even use them instead of post-its when I can- just paperclipping the scrap page onto something that I’d normally stick a post-it on.

I even thought to decorate a binder clip to make things a little prettier.  I mod-podged on a piece of a lacy cloth napkin that I tea-dyed and then used silver marker paint on the left over black edges.  Little touches like this really add some fun to my workday and make me feel better about my own “footprint”.

Quick Tip Tuesday

IMG_8469Tuesdays are hard.  I spend half the day Monday trying to pick up where I left off on Friday and the rest of the day trying to find new ways to procrastinate for the week.  So, by Tuesday, I’m completely under water.  If there’s a Monday holiday… forget about it!  I might as well just take off the whole week.  I have all these quick “tips” on things I’ve tried to save time, the environment, sanity, that I thought I could do a “Quick Tip Tuesday” thing for a while (until I get sick of it or run out of ideas).

My first “Quick Tip” involves the mini bars of soap they give you in hotels.  I’ve always hated the idea of them just being thrown away after we leave (especially if we’re only there for a night), but they’re usually too small to do much else with.  On our last trip, I decided just to take them home (partially because they were Aveda, which I love but totally can’t afford).  I rinsed them off really well (both to get them wet and to get them as “clean” as possible) and then wrapped them in the cellophane that had been on one of the drinking cups my wife used and threw them in my suitcase.  By the time I unpacked (admittedly, a couple days after we got home), they were completely fused together and had formed almost a regular bar of soap, size-wise.

 

Heaven… I’m in Heaven

Mary, of Be Creative Mary fame, posted about this amazing place a couple weeks ago and I’ve been planning a trip every since:  http://becreativemary.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/day-226-goodwill-hunting-reusing-and-recyling/

The Resources for Rhode Island Educators, http://www.rrie.org/, is an amazing non-profit that takes materials from manufacturers to sell to the public for pennies a pound.  It can be anything from finished products (there were a lot of Martha Stewart Office things) to random do-dads used to make things.  For a $10 donation, we got a one day membership (a full year is $60, but it’s about 1 1/2 hours away so I’m not sure how often we’ll be going), and then most of the stuff they have is 40 cents a pound (some things are priced individually, but not much).  It was a veritable cornucopia of stuff for upcycling projects.

Image

There are some samples of things, here and there, that people have made, but there wasn’t much fancy about this place.  It just leaves everything up to your imagination.  The staff was nice and it’s amazing that so many business are willing to participate.  It was really stocked to the gills.

Image

So, for the unbelievable sum of $12.50 (plus the $10 I gave them for the try-out membership and a little extra I gave for a donation), here was my amazing haul:

ImageImage

I don’t really have specific ideas for a lot of it, but here’s what I was initially thinking when I saw some of this.  The tiles and glass are sure to become some kind of mosaic.  I’m going to give a lot of the sticky notes to my boy’s teacher (they were on her classroom “wish-list”).  I’ve been wanting some of those tags for ages and there was a whole bin of Martha Stewart Office stuff- I wonder if her company donated them or if they came from a retailer who hadn’t been able to sell them.  I’m thinking of making something for a friend of mine who loves horses out of some of the ribbon- it was from a huge barrel that seemed to have come from a company that makes prize ribbons.  I got a ton, so I’m sure I’ll donate a lot of it to my favorite local upcycling store, Knack (http://www.knack.org/) (if you didn’t see my post about it, please check it out- it’s my absolute favorite place in the world: https://craftymadre.com/2013/07/19/knack-my-new-favorite-place/)  I’m also planning to donate the conical spools to Knack.  They have kids craft workshops every other weekend and I was thinking these would make a great Christmas tree project.  The random knick-knacks and bottle tops were mostly my boy’s idea.  He kept picking up things out of bins and saying “I could use that.”  (A boy after my own heart.)  I did pick out the gold bottle tops to make Christmas ornaments for family this year (based on a craft workshop at Knack that’s in the above post).  And the sheets of paper are absolutely awesome.  The silver is sticky on the back (if I’d realized it, I probably would have gotten more).  I’ll have wrapping paper for a year.

My boy had as much fun as me, finding random things and suggesting what he would do with them.  This is my favorite find of his, a piece of clear plexiglass with a blue rectangle across the middle, which I’m going to try to make into an outdoor gardening bench (he calls himself “Luigi-Sam” in this picture:

Image

There was so, so, so much more that I wanted and my amazing wife gave me $60 to spend.  But, I knew I’d have no where to put it when I got it home.  I’m sure that we’ll be back again soon, though.  The bonus- there’s a Dave and Buster’s nearby, so I can always promise my wife a trip there when we go (which is where we spent the rest of the afternoon as a final hurrah before the boy starts school).  I’m so glad I saw Mary’s post about this amazing place!