Author Archives: Rebecca

To DIY or Not to DIY?


As rewarding and inexpensive as it can be to rework something yourself, sometimes it’s just not worth the time and inevitable headache that comes from taking on a big project.InfographicImage

This site provides a good guide for determining whether or not a project is worth doing yourself: What Projects Should Never Be DIY

In short, if you need lots of tools you don’t already own, water/electricity/heavy materials are involved, you don’t have significant amounts of time to spend on the project, or you’re not an expert plumber/mechanic/welder/builder, it’s probably best to let someone with experience handle it.


Reworking Gift Guide


Whether looking for an eco-friendly gift or just searching for a unique present for the person on your list who has it all, reworked and recycled gifts can help you give without giving up on your budget.

Pinterest and are hugely popular sites for DIY gift inspiration. The best part? Users are quick to offer recommendations and point out when a project is difficult to do.

The 36th Avenue is a blog full of clever and easy-to-make gift ideas, particularly for Christmas.

No time to DIY? No problem. Lots of recycled, reworked gifts are available for reasonable prices online.


Uncommon Goods is great website for finding creatively reused gifts.

Hipcycle is one of my favorite websites for finding recycled gifts. There is a large selection of well-designed yet affordable products including housewares, clothing & jewelry, furniture, and office supplies. Check out what they create with spare bike parts!

Wrist Rest


Anyone who’s ever sat at a computer all day knows how uncomfortable your wrists and back can feel after a while. Proper posture and support are necessary to prevent painful repetitive stress injuries.

The project below quickly solves the problem of sore wrists while typing. Thanks to my friend and fellow office employee, Rebecca Hoetger, for the guest post!

You’ll need a foam mouse pad, scissors, and super glue for this project.

Fold the mouse pad in half, and trim it to fit the area on your desk where you’ll use the mouse.

Seal the edges of the folded mouse pad using the super glue, and allow it to completely dry. For a thicker wrist pad, add an extra piece of foam inside for more support. Once dry, the wrist pad is ready to use.

For less practical, more devious ways to reuse office supplies, check out “Extreme Office Crafts”available here:

How to Party without Parting with Your Cash


In the midst of the holiday season, it’s easy to go into celebration overdrive. Stores and shopping malls are decked out in elaborate displays (some places since October) and the air is filled with goodwill and the scent of sweet treats.

If you’re planning to host a party, you can save a lot of money by decorating with objects you already have.

Fill varying shapes and sizes of jars and vases with items  that reflect your party’s theme. Below are a few suggestions and photos:

Party Theme: Items to Fill Vases/Jars:
Christmas Various ornaments, pine cones, homemade paper snowflakes
Kid’s Party Leggos, marbles, Matchbox cars, party favors/noisemakers
Birthday Curled ribbon, confetti, small balloons, small wrapped candy, Pixie Stix, marshmallows, Twizzlers, or M
Dinner Party Lemons, apples, dry pasta
Thanksgiving Mini pumpkins or gourds, fall vegetables

Birthday party

Italian-themed dinner party

Children’s birthday party

Need more table space for your guests? A door laid across two smaller tables (or other sturdy objects) instantly expands your seating capacity. Cover the table with brown craft paper (large rolls are available at most home improvement stores) and set out markers or crayons for an inexpensive yet entertaining party.

When it comes to planning a menu, don’t feel you need to break your budget to impress your friends. Breakfast staples like pancakes, waffles, and crepes make for fun yet budget-friendly dinner parties. Invite guests to bring their favorite toppings, fruits, or vegetables (for savory crepes) and let everyone make their own custom creation. The same method works for pizza or pasta parties, too. Just prepare a large batch of pizza dough or cooked pasta, and have guests add their own toppings.

What are your go-to tricks for hosting a party on a budget?

Trick or Retreat


Hurricane Sandy put a damper on trick-or-treating this year, leaving me with LOTS of leftover candy. While I have no problem treating myself to “fun size” candy bars and handfuls of M&Ms, it’s fun to turn leftover candy into new confections. Candy bark makes use of whatever holiday sweets you have on hand.

To make it, line a jelly roll pan or other baking dish (8×8″ or larger works well) with a sheet of wax or parchment paper. Melt white, milk, or dark chocolate (or a combination) using a double-boiler or by microwaving on high in 30-second intervals, stirring in between. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the wax or parchment paper. Top with candy corn, M&Ms, orange and white sprinkles, broken-up Halloween Oreos, small pretzel sticks, miniature peanut butter cups, or whatever other candy you have on hand. Allow the chocolate bark to cool and set up in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Break the hardened chocolate bark into uneven pieces using a fork or sharp knife. Store chocolate bark in an airtight container. This treat can easily be adjusted for other holidays and themes.

What’s your favorite Halloween candy?

The Teacher Gift


If you’re a parent of school-age children, you’ve likely been faced with the task of finding a gift for your child’s teacher more than once. Read below for an A+ way to show your thanks and recycle.

Thanks to my guest blogger, Rebecca Campbell, a certified super mom of 3, wife, graduate student, and reworker, for this week’s problem-s0lving post!

The Teacher’s Gift

I have plenty of friends who are teachers.  It is somewhat humorous to hear them discuss the gifts they receive from their students at the holidays:  Another neck tie, scented candle, or body lotion. My one friend joked about opening a candle store with all the candles she had received over the years that were now in a closet. 

Taking the subtle hint, my children’s teachers will not be receiving any of the above items.  I have to admit that it bothers me when autumn arrives and the plants that I have so tenderly nurtured over the summer go to waste over the winter months. This year they are all getting a bit of spring early…..ok, it really is leftover summer. 

Supply list: 

  • Empty coffee cans from recycle bin
  • Hammer and nail 
  • Hand shovel 
  • Yard plants 
  • Aluminum foil 
  • Ribbon 
  • Bright window

Step One: 

Rescue an empty coffee can from the recycle bin. With the hammer and nail punch holes in the bottom of it.  Holes are necessary for drainage of water and aeration. 

coffee can

 Step Two:

Locate plant and removal all flowers, leaves, mulch and debris from the plant.  It is a good time to trim the plant check it for insects.


 Step Three:

Fill bottom of coffee can with a small amount of dirt.  Clear away mulch from plant base.  Dig around the base of the plant with hand shovel and make sure you get a good amount of root. Put plant in coffee can and fill the rest of the can with dirt. Water the plant.


Step Four:

Wrap can and plant in sheet of aluminum foil.

can with foil

Step Five:

Add ribbon. Place in sunny window.

plant with ribbon

The plant will go through a bit of shock.  Keep it watered and it bounce back and look great for the Holidays.

What do you usually give teachers as a thank-you gift? Share your comments below.

Magazine Madness


If you profess to having any sort of hobby or special interest–be it cooking, cars, crafts, cats, or even Kardashians–odds are you’ve had a magazine subscription or two or three at one point. And even if you don’t have a subscription, it’s pretty likely there’s a stack of old magazines taking up space somewhere in your residence. My personal collection of Bon Appetit puts any dentist’s office to shame.


What to do with all the piles of periodicals? They’re easy to recycle, donate to local libraries or trade with friends, but more fun to rework!

High-quality, glossy images make magazines the perfect source for craft projects. Here are some of my favorite ways to rework magazines:

  • Fold a large piece of white or colored poster board in half lengthwise to form a giant card. Decorate the inside with cutout photos of flowers, animals, foods, or other cheerful images. Add a message inside the card, and write a friend’s address in large print using a permanent marker on the front of the card. You’ll need to take it to the post office to mail it, but because postage is based on weight, your friend will receive an unforgettable greeting for less than $1.
  • Strips of magazine pages rolled up or folded and glued into long “reeds” are a sturdy and versatile way to create mats, baskets, bowls, or even umbrella holders.
magazine bowl

Originally from Patricia Zapata, author of “A Little Hut”




Colorful magazines and several sizes of paper punches can make dramatic wall art in minutes.



What do you do with old magazines? Share your ideas in the comments section.