DIY Valentines Gift Ideas That Love The Planet Too!

I love love. Which is why I love Valentines Day. Some would argue that ‘Hallmark’ holidays are consumerist and I guess that can be true… but it doesn’t have to be. That’s the great thing about the eco-creativity movement; you can take any idea and paint it green. So how about making sure your Valentines Gifts are just as nice to the planet as they are to your loved one. Here is some inspiration…

(click the pictures to go through to the links!)

Sweet Green Eats

Your standard box of chocolates is unhealthy for everyone involved: unhealthy sugars and fats to clog your arteries and lots of unnecessary packaging to clog our waterways. So why not get creative and try these healthy romantic alternatives…

Box of Healthy Love Cookies

Don’t go buy a new gift box… you could use an old shoe box or maybe an upcycled cereal box?

And here is a healthy flourless cookie to make from one of my favorite food bloggers Delighted Momma.

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Heart Shaped Carrots

Float these healthy hearts in soup or mix them through a salad!

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Healthy Lunch Box Surprise

You could make the tags from old manila folders or wallets. A cute surprise for kids.

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A Healthy Hearty Dessert

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Upcycled Gifts

I don’t think anything says I love you like a handmade gift!

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

GORGEOUS. Plantable paper seed hearts! Imagine filling these with herb seeds. Flavoring their dishes with love! (I am sorry for that… it was really cheesy).

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Scrap Fabric Sweetheart Frame

A lovely thing to sit on your loved ones desk to remind them that they are still your sweetheart…

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Recycled Wood String Art

I am in love with this!!! Imagine using wood from an old pallet and some old shed scraps…

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A Love Note Poster

Something gorgeous for your loved one to stick up at their desk, made from an old book page.

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“Remember, I Love You’s”

An upcycled jar + some scrap fabrics = Cutest gift ever.

Hide these love hearts in secret places for your loved ones to find!

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The Alternative Bouquet

A bunch of flowers may be pretty but did you know they are often imported from other countries – often developing nations that are using precious resources to grow flowers instead of food! You can read more about that in my post here but in the meantime, how about rethinking the bouquet and  going for a more sustainable bunch of goodies.

Upcycled Magazine Flowers 

I made these flowers out of old magazines…

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A Bouquet of Buttons

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Felt Roses

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Cranberry Roses, anyone?

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The Living Bouquet 

What could be better than a bouquet that is 100% natural and lasts forever! Why not get a pot plant. My favourite would have to me the Chain of Hearts. Long vines of heart shaped flowers… divine.

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Eco Decorations

What a lovely way to make someone feel loved! Surprises are amazing… imagine walking in a house decorated with some of these things?

Love Heart Garland

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Wreath From Old Greeting Cards 

This would be the perfect way to use up all those old red Christmas cards!!!

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An Ambient Centerpiece

Use natural twine and love hearts made from magazines or book pages.

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A Heart Plaque Made from Spools

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Hopefully that gets you inspired to get creative this Valentines Day! And who says gifts should just be for your partner… spread the love far and wide. This world needs as many good vibes as it can get!

Happy Valentines Day from Me!

Olive’s Guide to Greening Your Cleaning!

My Dad is wonderful and quirky and funny and one of my absolute best friends in the world and we can quite happily while away many hours chatting, mucking about or just generally pottering. However there is one department where our rivalry is fierce and unyielding (until recently anyway)… Cleaning.

Me and my Farsher

Me and my Farsher enjoying a beverage!

A bit of background information to set the scene: my Dad is an absolute clean freak – he enjoys it and he is bloody good at it. He has a daughter (hello!) whose school reports always had two words in common – ‘bubbly’ and more to the point… ‘messy’. His nickname for her has always been Stinkbug. But it seems that this little Stinkbug has grown wings because she has developed her own little range of DIY cleaning products so effective that even my Papa Bear has endorsed them. And best bit? They are all much better for the health of the environment and your house than your standard bleach and fragrance laden concoctions.

If they can pass Dad’s test then they must be good so I wanted to share them with you all and explain how I go about my eco cleaning.

Essential Ingredients

My laundry cupboard

My laundry cupboard

Once you have these ingredients in your house there will be no mess you can’t annihilate. Your homemade products will be strong I assure you, but it is also worth noting that they may need a little extra elbow grease. The reason is that they aren’t full of toxic chemicals – a compromise I can handle! I think of it as a few extra muscles I’m toning.

  • Borax
  • Vinegar – White, Apple Cider or DIY Citrus (recipe link included in Standards section)
  • Bicarb Soda
  • Soda Crystals
  • Washing Soda
  • Lemons
  • Eucalyptus Oil – antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and deodoriser
  • Lavendar Oil – smells so pretty!
  • Other essential oils – Tea Tree, Lemon, any that take your fancy!!!
  • A good quality eco-dishwashing detergent
My DIY Citrus Vinegar

My DIY Citrus Vinegar

Important things to keep in mind;

  • Even though these are much more natural than your standard products they can still be harmful so always wear gloves and keep away from kids.
  • Washing Soda is not good for aluminium and will remove wax polish!
  • Vinegar makes marble cloudy.
  • Essential oils can be potent and some are dangerous to pregnant women, children or pets – ALWAYS CHECK THE BOTTLE.

Upcycled Cleaning Equipment

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Newspapers – Best stuff for plastic free bins and cleaning glass!

Spray Bottles – If you have cleaning products in spray bottles, keep those spray bottles and refill with your own solutions. However if you don’t have any go and buy them from a hardware (Bunnings has them) or homewares store.

Jar Shaker – In my “Olive’s Clean Everything Solution” (see under Standards section) I use a shaker. Now if you want you can go buy one or you can just get a jar with a tin lid and punch some holes into the top with a knife or hammer and nail.  Put the Bicarb into the jar, lid on and shake away!

Socks and Pantyhose – Isn’t it funny that you always seem to only lose one sock out of the pair! In my case it is less losing, more having them stolen…

Meet Allen.

Meet Allen.

Either way, keep your widowed socks and torn pantyhose. These are perfect tap cleaners and door knob buffers!!!

Toothbrushes – Keep all your old ones. They are great for scrubbing hard to reach places or delicate ornaments.

Old T-shirts and Sheets – Keep any fabric that can’t be given to an opshop for use as an old rag. When we had floorboards I used to elastic band them to my broom to make a swiffer mop for dust… worked a charm.

Old Towels – Cut these into small squares, overlock the edges and you, my friend, have the hardiest cleaning cloth in the business!

Standards

Citrus Vinegar, I LOVE YOU!

Citrus Vinegar, I LOVE YOU!

Citrus Vinegar

Citrus vinegar is unbelievably easy to make. All it takes is discarded citrus peel and vinegar. See my post on that here… I use it on everything

All-Purpose Cleaner

I use this for all counters and surfaces except my chopping boards (see what I do with chopping board below)

  • 4 Cups Water
  • 1 teaspoon liquid detergent
  • 1 teaspoon Borax
  • ¼ Cup Vinegar (Citrus Vinegar if available)
  • 10 – 20 drops of Essential Oils (Eucalyptus is good for the kitchen as it keeps away ants and cockroaches and smells nice too!)

Mix into a spray bottle. Shake before each use.

Olive’s Clean Everything Solution

Sprinkle Bicarb soda onto surface. Spray with vinegar until you hear fizz. Wipe off with rag/sponge. VOILA.

Window or Mirror Cleaner

  • 1 Cup White Vinegar (Citrus vinegar if you have it)
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 3 Cups Water

OR if you don’t like the smell of vinegar…

  • 1 Cup Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Vinegar (Citrus vinegar if you have it)
  • 3 Cups Water

Mix vinegar and lemon juice with water. Pour into a used spray bottle. Spray onto window/mirror and scrub with newspaper (don’t use paper towels – they will streak!)

Floor Cleaner

Two thirds hot water, one third vinegar. That’s it.

I (of course) like to use citrus vinegar for this but white is perfectly fine. If you have darker floors you can use apple cider. Apple Cider does taint floors slightly though so if you have white tiles don’t try it.

Kitchen

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I wipe down my main kitchen counter with the all purpose cleaner from above, but I also have a large wooden chopping board. I like to use a different cleaner for this as the All Purpose Cleaner contains Borax which is not meant to be ingested. I use the following mix …

Kitchen Counter Cleaner

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon liquid detergent
  • 10 drops Eucalyptus Oil

Mix into a spray bottle. Shake before each use.

If after using that you still have some stubborn smells hanging around (think onion, fish) I use this super simple mix to clean my chopping board which does so without tainting the food…

Chopping Board Cleaner

  • Tip a bit of washing soda onto a cloth or sponge and scrub the chopping board

Dishwashing Liquid/Dishwasher Tablets

Similar to clothes washing, I have not yet invented a washing powder or liquid that works to my liking. I have tried 1 Cup borax + 1 Cup baking soda + ½ Cup salt but sadly no luck – although others I have spoken to love this mix.

I also find the detergents from stores very useful as I often add a teaspoon or two to my mixes and they go an awfully long way! So (same as laundry) I use Eco Store, Ecover or Earth’s Choice – links and information about these companies in the Laundry section of this post.

Cleaning greasy pots and pans

Washing soda is the ultimate grease killer which makes it perfect for washing pots and pans.

  • Dampen your sponge and sprinkle washing soda onto it (quite liberally)
  • Scrub the greasy pan with the sponge
  • Rinse and wash as usual

Hardcore Greased up pan or BBQ

  • Make a paste from washing soda and water (2:1)
  • Apple the paste directly to the greasy area
  • Allow to sit for 30 mins then wash

Microwave Cleaner

  • Slice up a lemon and place in a microwave safe bowl of water
  • Zap in Microwave for 5 – 10 minutes
  • Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe the inside. The mess will wipe off really easily!

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My Hugh Jackman Oven Cleaner

Why Hugh Jackman you say? Take a walk with me…

Normal oven cleaners are extremely harsh and toxic like… hmm… I don’t know … a Wolverine!!! And even though a big dangerous Wolverine hunk with knives coming out his fists surely gets the job done it’s nice to also have a more sensitive side that when it comes down to it won’t hurt you… like the Drover. Wolverine (tough) + Drover (sensitive) = Hugh Jackman Oven Cleaner! And there you have it people, an insight into the slightly disturbed brain of Olive. Anyway –

  • 1 ½ cup baking soda
  • ¼ cup white vinegar (you can also use apple cider vinegar)
  • Water
  • Optional: 4 drops essential oil (you can use any scent you like)

Mix all the ingredients together to form a paste. Paint the paste onto the oven stains (I use a pastry brush but you could use an old paint brush!). Let it sit for at least 4 hours (aim for 6) and it will foam up. Then wash with a cloth and warm water. AMAZING! I haven’t met a mess it hasn’t fixed yet.

Cleaning Silverware

  • Line a container with aluminium foil
  • Fill the container with 1 cup Soda Crystals and a litre of boiling water
  • Submerge silverware and soak for 15 minutes. If the silverware is tarnished it will literally melt away. Rinse off
  • Buff… buff like David Hasselhoff damnammit!

Stovetops and Burners

  • Fill your kitchen sink with warm water and add ½ cup of washing soda
  • Place the greasy burner into the water and allow to soak for about 30 minutes
  • Remove the burner and rinse off any residue
  • Wash as per normal (with soap and water)
  • While doing this why not grab that exhaust fan down and do it in the same sink (I always used to get told off about my exhaust fan during home inspections… seriously, who notices that?)

Really Stubborn Stove Stains (also good for BBQ’s)

  • Sprinkle washing soda directly onto greasy areas of the stovetop
  • Use a damp sponge to scrub the mucky area
  • Rinse with a rag and warm water

Laundry

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Sadly I have not yet made a good DIY clothes washing liquid or powder… I will keep experimenting until I get there. There are some pretty good alternatives on the market though, not to mention some simple tips and tricks to reduce your impact…

Clothes Washing Powder/Liquid

I have 3 brands that I really trust… unfortunately it can be difficult to get my faves at the major supermarkets but I think they are starting to stock them nowadays. Here they are in order of fave.

Eco Store – Read their eco credentials here but in short: super concentrated so you don’t have to use much, not tested on animals, in recycled packaging. BOOM. They also do beauty products. (See the Eco Store website here)

Ecover – Made from natural, sustainable plant-based ingredients and with huge consideration put into their to have less impact on aquatic life. (See the Ecover website here)

NOTE: Keep an eye out for places that offer a refill service with these products! I keep my containers (or you can take your own) and refill them straight from a bulk container at either PAWS (Northbridge) or Manna Wholefoods (Fremantle).

Earths Choice – This is the most accessible option and what I consider my emergency cleaner. If I can’t get to an eco store (there aren’t many where I live) then I can always find this at the supermarket. Products are all free of phosphate, dye, bleach, ammonia and aggressive enzymes. (See the Natures Organics website here)

Olive’s Natural Clothes Washing Tips

Brighter whitesAdd 1 Cup of lemon juice to your regular wash OR soak clothes in hot water and 1 cup of lemon juice overnight then wash as normal. Dry them in the sun for added bright!!!

Darker darksPour two cups of strong black tea into your wash load during the rinse cycle to restore dark colours.(Obviously if you have any light clothes in this wash they will get stained!)

Prevent fading – Turning clothes inside out before washing helps prevent fading

Getting grease out of clothesAbsorb as much grease from fabric my dabbing (not rubbing) with a rag. Mix 4 Tablespoons of washing soda with ½ Cup of warm water in a bowl to form a paste then rub the paste into grease stains (wear gloves!). Wash as normal (add ½ cup to washing machine for particularly hardy stains). Check your item of material to see that grease is gone before drying (otherwise the heat may set it) and if some remains… repeat the process.

Use Less DetergentI add ½ cup of Soda Crystals to my washes which not only softens the water but also help to break down really nasty stains. It also means I can reduce the amount of detergent to the manufacturer’s instructions for soft water.

Wow! I am sure I have forgotten one of my solutions. If I have or you need any advice then please let me know in the comments. I’d also love to if you have any green cleaning solutions to share.

Happy Green Cleaning!

DIY Eco Wreath (from Toilet Rolls)

As I mentioned in my last tutorial (Making gift boxes from old greetings cards – see them here) I am determined to be frightfully festive without all the nasty waste that often comes along with it! I really want to prove to myself (and other people) that you can be a happy Christmas Greenie as apposed to a whingy eco version of this guy…

So I decided I would get going on my sustainable decorations at the very start…. my front door. There aint nothing better than a wreath. I had seen plenty of amazing wreaths on Pinterest (follow me here) but was particularly inspired by this one which I saw at Proverbs 31 craft blog. It also suited me as I save all my toilet rolls (they are very handy for all sorts of crafts and around-the-house uses). So I set off on my merry way and I have to say I am really, really proud of the results! Considering I made this whole thing from what would be considered waste products (old cardboard box, newspaper, toilet rolls, fabric off-cuts) it really proves that one woman’s junk is anothers’ treasure.

Equipment

  • Toilet rolls (depending on how big your wreath is you will need quite a few).
  • Cardboard (big enough to cut your wreath base out of – mine has a 40cms diameter)
  • Newspaper
  • 2 x pieces of fabric off-cuts (minimum 80cms length) or fat ribbon
  • Scissors and/or Stanley knife
  • Hot Glue Gun

Optional

  • Ruler
  • Spray paint
  • Glitter

Method

1. First make your wreath template. I have seen plenty of blogs that suggest buying a Styrofoam template… there really is no need to use that nasty material. All you need is some cardboard and newspaper. I traced out a large salad bowl shape (40cms diameter) and then traced around a smaller bowl before cutting it out to create the donut shape (this is where a Stanley Knife would come in handy).

2. Then to give your wreath some central body I scrunched up newspaper and glued it onto the donut. This is going to covered in toilet roll rosettes so don’t worry if it looks shabby! Voila.. you have your recycled wreath template.

3. Then you need to cut your toilet roll rings. I wanted my wreath to be a really pretty textural wreath with all different levels and lengths of rosettes. Therefore I cut my toilet rolls into thirds, fourths and fifths. You don’t have to rule these you can just cut away – it doesn’t need to be perfect.

Note: If you don’t have many toilet rolls you may want to cut the roll into fifths so that you get more bang for your buck out of each roll.

4. Once you have your rings you will make them into rosettes. Cut the ring to open them up and then roll. Again I varied rolling them very tightly and loosely.5. Now it’s time to start gluing the rosettes to your wreath. Blob hot glue onto the newspaper and press the rosettes onto them. I started by using the taller rosettes (the ones I had cut from thirds) and gluing them around the centre of the ring. I tried to angle them so the centre of the rosettes weren’t all just facing up and were looking in different directions (for added visual interest). At times you will need to dob bits of glue in between them so the rosettes use each other for added structure.

Once I had the taller central ring of rosettes I started gluing in the shorter ones around the edges until the wreath was completely covered.

Don’t worry if your wreath looks very grim at the beginning… persevere! The more you build the better and better it gets I promise…

6. I actually really like the toilet rolls left in their natural state… I think they looked deliciously rustic… but I also really felt the need for some sparkle. So I used some old spray paint I had left over from another project and gave the wreath a really fine spray until it was a creamy brown colour. One positive is that this will seal the wreath and protect it for next year!

Aerosols are unfortunately not great for the environment but you can get your hands on ‘friendlier’ alternatives for projects that really do require them. I favour Krylon’s H20 Latex Spray Paint (see the treehugger write up here) – it is an environmentally better option although sadly still not perfect. Here are some places you can get them in Australia.

7. While the paint was still wet I dusted some left over glitter onto the wet wreath. Fairy dust makes all the difference. Let the wreath dry.

8. Once your wreath has dried it is time to tie the bow onto it. I used fabric off-cuts though you could also use a fat ribbon if you do not have any. The pieces I used were very thick (approx 15cms) and therefore I needed them to be minimum 80cms long.

Tie the first piece around the top of your wreath – tie the knot tight as this will be what your wreath hangs from so you want it to be secure. Then thread the other piece between it and the toilet rolls. Tie a bow and fluff it up appropriately.Then cut the ribbon tails to the perfect size. The bow may take a couple of goes to get right.

I then quickly sewed the ends of the material together to form a loop and cut a small slice into the ribbon so that I could hang it on a screw in our door…

8. Merrily hang on your door while humming “Deck the halls”… because tis the season to be jolly! Be sure to take a step back and admire your wonderful crafty work!

DIY Gift Boxes from Recycled Cards

Last Christmas I was a bit of an Eco-Grinch. I got really grumpy at the fact that a time  that is meant to be about family and love and all that good stuff had morphed into a cash cow… an exercise in capitalism. But I still didn’t want to let Christmas go. I grew up in England with snowmen and amazing Christmas trees and dad dressing up like Santa – and being pregnant I want my little daughter to grow up with memories as lovely as mine. So I am on a mission to keep my festivities completely eco (and blog about it of course!).

In January – going off the theme that reuse is better than recycle – I asked all the people in my office to give me their unwanted Christmas cards. I took a whole lot down to the local school to use for crafts but was still left with a massive pile of them. I stored them with my Christmas decorations and hoped to think of something to do with them by Christmas time. And I did. Here is an ultra simple gift box that you can make from an old greetings card.

Equipment

  • Old greeting cards
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pen/Pencil
  • Glue (can just be a stick but Hot Glue Gun is far more resilient)
  • *If just using a glue stick you may also want pegs and paperclips

Instructions

1. Cut along the seam to separate the front of the card from the back.

2. Decide how thick/deep you want your box to be (look at the gift/item you are putting inside it to make sure it will fit!). Once decided rule a margin around the sides. I varied between 2 and 3cms (0.5 – 1″) for my boxes.

3. Fold along each line. I did this by placing my ruler along the line and then folding the paper over it… was a lot quicker and more precise.

4. Cut along the lines on 2 opposite ends only. What I mean by that is you don’t want to cut the corner squares out… you just want to create a flap. See next photo if you are unsure of what I mean.

5. Fold the flaps in and apply dobs of glue. Then pincer together to make your box shape. If you are just using a glue stick you may want to hold the flaps together with pegs or paperclips to ensure the box really sets and is sturdy. Hot glue gun is definitely preferable though.

6. And there you have one half of your box! ( Use the pretty front part of the card is the top of the box). Repeat the process to make the other half of your box.

7.  When I was drawing the margins in for the bottom half of the boxes I made the margins a couple of mm’s bigger than the top boxes so that it fit comfortably without needing to bend. E.g. my margin for the top was 3cms on each side, my margin for the bottom was 3.2cms on each side.

Other ideas…

Advent Calendar

If I had more time I would totally have made this advent calendar using the boxes and a pin up board…

From 2 Boys 2 Girls Painter Family

Tree Ornaments

You could also thread some ribbon through them and hang them from your tree filled with goodies.

Plastic Free Easter Egg Containers

Easter will be another hurdle in anti-consumerism! I have brill memories of Easter Egg hunts but how will I give these to my daughter without all that nasty foil and needless wrapping? You could bulk buy chocolates and place them in little boxes and hide them around the garden! WIN.

Stationery Holders

These could also be cute little DIY boxes to keeps your paperclips etc in!

More Sustainable Christmas Ideas

If you are looking for more sustainable Christmas ideas you may like some of these posts;

Upcycled Tin Cans

Since cutting plastic out of my life I don’t really have to deal with too much wasted food packaging. However, I am English which means there is some packaging that will never be truly banished from my world: the humble aluminium casing that temporarily houses my baked beans! Due to my jacket-tatty-with-beans addiction I have accumulated quite a few of these cans and while they are recyclable I much prefer to reuse where I can. Then while I was cruising the interwebs I spied the below picture and got all inspired…

What a sweet and clever idea! So I decided to expand on that and instead cover my cans with pretty paper – because my cans would not look as gorgeously rustic as those pictured… it would literally just be a big collection of Heinz beans cans! Either way I think the results are gorgeous and this would make a gorgeous eco solution for a wedding centerpieces which would hardly break the budget (the whole project cost me $12). Best thing about this project – it was unbelievably quick and simple.

What You’ll Need

  • Washed tin cans
  • Pretty paper (a standard can will get use half a sheet)
  • Ruler (Steel ruler would be best for accuracy)
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue gun

Method

Wash all your tin cans thoroughly and remove labels. Having little remnants of paper is fine – they may even help with the adhesion of the paper.

Without glue, wrap a sheet of paper around the width of the can (to see the amount you will need). I always allow for a 2cm overlap.

Fold the excess amount back over itself. You can then cut along the crease line.

Then measure the length of the can as accurately as possible. If you want to have a little leeway make sure you cut the paper a little thinner rather than leaving it a little too wide – you don’t want the paper taller than the can as it will fray and get messy.

Now you are ready to roll (literally). Apply a stripe of glue along one end of the paper (the shorter end that will go across the height of the can).

Carefully place and stick the paper onto the can keeping it as straight as possible.

Once the paper is stuck to the can, flip it over so that you can see the underside of the paper and apply 4 lines of glue – along the top, middle, bottom and side of the paper. Carefully (and as quickly as possible so the glue doesn’t dry) roll the paper around the can.

If the edge of the paper is not completely stuck down apply small blobs of glue to the corners. You don’t want the blobs to be too big as they may squish out and look untidy.

And Voila!!! Repeat this for each of your cans until you have a beautiful assortment of colours and patterns.

Once you have your assortment of cans fill them with flowers and/or tea lights and use them as a centre-piece for a table or a beautiful feature on a side table or shelf.

If filling them with flowers here are two things to consider;

  1. You will have to be very careful with water as the new coating is paper and will ruin if it is wet
  2. Try to avoid cut flowers from stores! As I explained in this post they are often imported and wrapped in plastic. The ones I have used in this picture are a mixture of weeds from the verge-side in my suburb or a few flowers from my own garden. I can’t wait until my lavender bushes really kick off for this very purpose!

Anyway… here are a few more pictures. Happy crafting!

Add some tea-lights for some extra pretty mood lighting!

Since completing this project I have seen that loads of people have done similar with their old tin cans. You can follow me on Pinterest here but for the moment here are some special mentions of some other gorgeous tin can upcycling projects…

Such a stunning arrangement for a baby shower from Bump Smitten.com

Pretty pen pots from Craft Gawker.com

More storage tins… this time with ribbons! From The Ornament Girl.com/blog/

Classic White Votive Tins from One Womens Haven.blogspot.com.au

I’ve Been A Busy-Bee!

Aloha! I am back in my blogging chair after my husband and I decided we were well in need of a Babymoon: basically our final romantic, responsibility-free break before the two of us become a three-piece set! It has been really lovely though unfortunately this little Bowerbird has officially caught the ‘nesting bug’ and so relaxing turned more into renovating, decorating and gardening. Here is what we got up to.

Stormy Skies

We launched the trip with a family getaway to Yallingup. Unfortunately we probably couldn’t have picked worse timing weatherwise and we were pretty much confined indoors due to some fairly hairy storm activity. This being said, is there anything more humbling and gob-smackingly beautiful than a really stormy beach? Walking along it reminded me of one of my all time favourite songs ‘I Like Giants’ by Kimya Dawson (honestly… treat yourself to this chirpy little tune here).:

I’m smaller than a poppy seed inside a great big bowl.

And the ocean is a giant that can swallow me whole!

So I swim for all salvation and I swim to save my soul.

But my soul is just a whisper trapped inside a tornado.

So I flip to my back and I float and I sing

“I am grounded, I am humble, I am one with everything!”

We did get a few rain free moments though;

And we also managed to fit in a few of my favourite pastimes of pregnant life. Namely… pancakes.

Lots of dECOrating

I never thought the ‘nesting’ phenomenon was a real thing but I can now categorically vouch for it. The greatest part is that you don’t need to sacrifice style or comfort when creating that dream eco sanctuary of yours. Over this holiday I have managed to score the most amazing treasures that are all low impact on the environment – in fact considering I have saved a lot from landfill they actually have done the environment a favour! I will be blogging more thoroughly about Eco Interiors later, but in the meantime here are some of my latest steals;

Finds, Frames and Family – Apart from the 7 black photo frames, everything on this wall has been found kerbside, in a secondhand store or one Gumtree. This was just a boring wall of nothingness and now it is full of treasures – each one with its own story. From my op-shop photo frames ($1 each) to the little brown suitcase that I found in the rain ($0) … this whole wall cost about $80.

The 60’s Buffet – We spotted this beauty on Gumtree for $80 and it was love at first sight. My husband and I are still in two minds whether to upcycle it to be more colourful (there is a certain charm in its original form) and we have already lost hours sitting together in front of it – cups of tea in hand – just pondering the possibilities. We will keep you posted.

Instagram @oliveonblonde

The Only Plastic Allowed In My House! I love colour and I am especially fond of blue! So this rug caught my eye for a number of reasons. Other than the gorgeous paisley pattern I was especially excited to discover it is made from 100% recycled straws. On our morning beach walks my husband and I pick up whatever rubbish we see (Take 3!!!) and I am always upset with the huuuge amount of straws I find. So turning trash into treasure married a lot of my favorite notions together into one bright, happy dream rug. You can see the whole selection of Fab Rugs here or read about them here. They are also reversible and because they are plastic can be used outside and hosed off if need be. Win, Win, WIN!

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The Trunk! – Without my glasses I am blind as a bat which makes me think that this little trunk belongs with me. I spotted it on a kerb, like a tiny snippet between two cars as we drove by at a fairly high speed. I mentioned that I thought I saw something great but the let it go as we were in a frustrating area to turn around. But the more I thought about it the more I knew there was a real diamond that was going to be scrapped so we turned around and I am so glad. This baby needs some love but I cannot wait to add some bright florals, clean up the metal and put it all back together. You literally pay hundreds for these in vintage stores!!!

Instagram @oliveonblonde

Oxfam 3things

I have also been spending a lot of time chatting to a lovely lady named Catherine from Oxfam. We have been chatting because I will now be their official blogger from the West posting about all things social justice, environment and general pop culture. 3Things is a fantastic initiative that asks everyone to consider this simple question;

What are 3things that you can do to help change the world?

It encourages everyday people to take matters into their own hands – ‘do stuff‘ and ‘learn stuff’.  Read all about here or maybe check out some of the 3things that everyday Aussies have committed to already (here). I am so excited to be part of the Oxfam team and after my training finishes will be blogging full steam ahead as of next week. What are your 3things?

Image courtesy of Oxfam

Creating An Edible Sanctuary

Just a light bit of reading.

What was once a fleeting aspiration has now developed into a full blown obsession – I dream of turning my despairing patch of grass into a plentiful, self-sustaining, wildlife sanctuary. This urge to grow all my own fruit and veg is a culmination of a lot of lifestyle choices – a desire to consume only organic produce, live plastic-free, have my daughter grow up foraging in our garden as well as saving our soon to be single-income. Besides these motivations though, there are also covenants attached to my grand plan. I want my garden to attract birds and bees with lots of native plants. I want it to be extremely water wise – this means goodbye to a fair share of the lawn! I want it to be a place that my family loves to be and spends most of our time together. And I want… for my darling husband… a pond that he can lose hours staring at!

Dreams in lead scratchings

I can’t wait to show you the progress over the next few months and prove to myself that you don’t have to be a green-thumb to be self-sustaining. I have already been out there with my beloved Dad turning my hundreds or sketches and measurements into realities. Unfortunately I may have pushed myself a little hard for a 6 month pregnant lass and that led to the final chapter of my holiday…

…Sick

As a constant reminder to listen to your body I am now very, very unwell. After such a busy busy holiday I am now bed ridden with a nasty cold, the return of the dreaded morning sickness and the onset of Braxton Hicks (which can come on from over-exertion – Whoops!). So (like the Wellness Warrior described in this post) I will for once listen to my body and remain cuddled in bed with my Pug and my Allen and take a bit of a Savasana. But I must say it has been great getting back to blogging (I genuinely miss it when I don’t!) and I can’t wait to share all my upcoming eco-adventures with you!