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How to Make Hooks or Hangers From Soda Bottles

8 Jun

After the complete tedium of the no go fabric/ plastic rugs, I needed a quick and easy for my soul to regain the feeling of accomplishment and control.

I had been saving plastic bottles for another project I had in mind, but since we have a collection center for plastic bottles near by, and they really are easy to come by in largish quantities, I decided to sacrifice 6 of them for my quick and easy.

 The concept is  the same as with my tuna can hooks  except it is even faster and easier to do, and it has the added advantage of permanently removing some of the never-played-with little knick-knacks off the ever growing pile of toys on the floor.  No doubt and all around win-win situation.

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 Making them is very easy. Just cut of the top of the bottle, leaving at least 2 inches and a tab you can use to hang it from, with a screw or nail, (depending what you will be using them for), Collect all the knick- knacks you need and go wild.

 A few points to ponder:

 Design wise the sky is the limit.

Because of the star shaped bottom most soda bottles have, it is a bit hard to see the details of the design face on. Make sure the sides look good too.

The deeper you make it, the easier it will be to hang stuff on it. As opposed to the tuna cans, the edges on the bottles are curved, so for some things to hang well and not slip off you might need some depth.

I don’t expect these to last as long as the tuna can hooks. Plastic is softer and weaker and it will probably break if abused to much.

I don’t think that that is necessarily a bad thing when it comes to décor in kids rooms.

Anyway, the kids love them, and I love the fact that they were quick and easy, with both a start and a finish.


When Trash Becomes Treasure, or Supply and Demand

31 May upholstery detail

Its been a while since I put pen to paper (literally). In fact, other than the odd check or weekly supermarket lists, its been years.

It will probably happen with greater frequency over the course of the summer as I sit by the pool, amidst the screams and splashes of joyous kids, while my kids frolic in the water.

I haven’t written a post in quite a while, not because I have been slacking, on the contrary. The pile of unfinished projects in the corner of the studio is growing just as fast as the materials needed to complete them is dwindling, once again proving the point that the value we assign objects is subjective and subject to change at any given moment.

One moment they are shopping bags stuffed listlessly, and guiltily under the sink and in the next they are a valuable material that has been totally used up, every last one pull out of every nook and cranny in the house, and I still find myself about 500 short of completing the carpet. Into the corner goes the half finished carpet and while I wait for the bags to multiply once again and out come the chairs from my old shop that I need to reupholster, and the pile of jeans I intend to use to do so. Once again the amount of jeans I had set aside for the project fell just short of what I needed to complete the fabric for the chairs, and they too joined the pile in the corner.

 upholstery detail

Out came to old, torn, ugly sheets, soon to be place mats and carpets and once again, all to soon they find themselves half finished in the corner.

detail sheet carpet

I have been upcycling quite intensively for just over 6 months now, and something needs to change in the way I am working. I need to find a way to source materials in decent quantities, for free, so that I can work a project, or a series from beginning to end without having to wait till I grow to fat or to thin for my current pairs of jeans. It would be wonderful if all of this could happen for free.

Cause and Result – Solar Cake!

13 May

 Well what do you know! The cake I was waiting on when I was writing the previous post did bake and was devoured before I could say Jack Robinson!

 OK, I said Jack Robinson many times before the cake was ready, but once it was it didn’t last long.

 On Friday night I went to bed knowing that first thing Saturday morning I would be putting the solar oven together and making my first sun cooked dish ever. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to make…. I love slow cooked stews and pot roasts, but as a novice I am still a little weary of cooking meat in the oven, although it is done all over the world, and the internet is full of recipes to prove it.

Anyway, I woke up on Saturday, not very bright and not very early, at 0900, which is quite late for me, especially if I need to get an unknown dish ready to go….

Due to my dwindling pantry contents , I had no choice but to make a cake.

 I had one technical problem I hadn’t solved yet, and that was the question of the pot lid.

In a solar oven, while the foil reflects the heat and light of the sun, the pot  in needs to be black so that it can trap the heat, and not reflect it back to the foil like a white or steel colored pot would do. I do have an old black pot, but it doesn’t have a lid, so I usually use a lid from a white pot I have which is of a similar size.

This wouldn’t do today, so I had to improvise a lid out of the bottom of an adjustable baking pan.

 I think that this had some effect on the time it took for my cake to bake, but more on that later.


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Anyway, I made my batter, and chose a spot in the garden where shade falls latest in the day, and positioned my ‘cookit’ on the cart I had previously used for my seedlings, (Life has a way of working out like that. If I had made the oven earlier, I wouldn’t have been able to use this cart, which conveniently has wheels on it.) making sure the longest shadow it created was directly behind it. I wasn’t quite sure what angle to position the lower front flap. So I just let it do what came natural, and I think that also had an effect on the length of time it took for the cake to bake.

In the pdf from solar, it says  it should take about double the time to cook any thing in the solar cooker, so I estimated, since this cake takes about 45-50 minutes in the oven, it would take at least 2 hours in the cookit, if not more.

I started it at 1050, and at about 1300 took a look to see how it was doing. There was condensation on the inside of the plastic bag in which the pot sits, effectively acting as a heat trap, and the pot was very hot to the touch, both good signs, but the cake was not done. I could see that something was happening, because it had bubbles on the top, so it was obviously rising. An hour later it peeped again (and when I say peep – I mean peep…just lift the lid slightly, peep quickly and close it all up again) it looked like nothing had changed. I am sorry that I didn’t touch the surface with my finger to see how it felt – if it was more viscous than it was when I first started baking it.

To pass the time, I decided a siesta was in order, and at about 1500, I woke up and went to see if I could have some cake with my coffee, and it turns out that I could!!

It had turned to a lovely golden brown, and was obviously ready (this time I did check with my finger.)

When I bake a cake in the oven, a thin crust forms on the top when it is ready, and the middle is higher than the edges. In this case, there was no crust at all, and it seemed to have risen evenly, except for the fact that the pot it was in had been sitting on a slant, so the cake came out slanted as well.

Did I get to eat it with my coffee? No, not quite. It got devoured by R and the Kids before the kettle had time to boil! (Yes, they did have lunch! It was just that good J)

How To Make A Solar Oven

12 May

I have been thinking about solar cooking for a long time, ever since I found out about it.

Last week I finally found a piece of cardboard large enough to make a solar cooker according to these plans from

So yesterday, after I had finally finished planting my garden, and had run out of plastic bags for a carpet I’m making (more on that to come) I decided it was time to make my Cookit. Solar cooking .org has a pretty detailed layout, both in metric and inches, though the inches are easier to go by in this case and your result will be more accurate (the grid under the layout plan is by inches).

Anyway, I don’t have inch rulers, so I had to calculate the measurements when not clearly stated in centimeters, which was a bit of a pain.

While measuring cutting and measuring again, I also had to contend with our local lion, which deemed the cardboard, the ruler, the exacto knife and everything else worthy of battle.


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I will not go into the whole process of making it – the instructions on solar cooking org are quite clear but I will offer a few tips.

1. make sure your cardboard is flat. Mine got warped from being outside in the dew and the sun for a few days, so I had to take time to flatten it first (if it’s warped, the sun won’t bounce of it in the right direction)

2. Unlike me, take time to glue the aluminum foil on properly. As I was making it, I realized that I was being a bit lax with it. If the foil isn’t glued on properly it will have a marked effect on how long the solar oven lasts.

3. Have wipes handy and close.

4. I don’t know why, but my foil, crinkled after I had glued it. I was fine when I left it yesterday afternoon, but when I came to check on it and put it into action this morning, the foil was a bit crinkly. I am sure this is not a good thing, and will have an effect on how well it reflects the sun and what direction it sends the rays, but the extent of the effect remains to be seen.

Another problem I had was finding a cooky bag big enough to hold my pot, (which is not a very big pot). I am sure that if I search the internet hard and long I will be able to find some for purchase, but since I  am impatient to start solar cooking, I just took a couple of the oven bags I had on hand, opened them up and sewed time into a double sized bag. Once again, the needle pricks might make this less efficient than a factory made bag, but it seems to me that the effect will be minimal.

As I write this post, my cake, is busy baking in the sun…..Stay tuned to see if it baked well!

Also, while you are biting your nails in suspense, waiting to see if this worked or not, check out Julies solar box cooker.   I might  give that one a try too.

Anyone got a good source for slow cooking recipes?

Paper Mache Planter

28 Apr

A long time ago, back in the dark of winter, I wrote a post called How To Make A Paper Mache Light Fitting – Part 1 and never wrote part 2.

Don’t get all excited – I am still not writing part 2, but I have finally found a use for at least one of the paper mache spheres that I made way back when.

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that since the beginning of spring I have been on a garden kick. I have sown seeds, and will soon be planting a vegetable garden, I have finally fixed some old garden chairs I plucked from a dumpster and I have a 2do list as long as my arm as far as outdoor, spring / summer projects go.

Anyway, I also find myself wading into the studio every time I want to get something or god forbid actually make some work, and something needs to to be done about making some space for me.

I have already gotten rid of all the cardboard I collected to make cardboard furniture – my space is just to small and my kids to curious for me to be doing that right now (that is kind of unfortunate, because now that I don’t have it anymore, I need a big strong piece for the solar oven I need to build but can’t find anything but small and or flimsy). Even so, I still have a pile of unfinished and ‘halfway’ projects, and something needs to be done about it.

Although I was stumped as to how to make the paper mache spheres into light fittings to my liking, I do love the forms, and how imperfect they are.

I decided that I would transform one of the larger ones into a planter, and carry on dressing up my front porch, turning it into a pleasant place to have a cup of coffee.


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I had a lavender plant looking for a home and I thought it was the perfect combination.

I didn’t want to paint the sphere in just one block of color – I wanted to experiment and create some more interest so before priming it, I taped a line of masking tape around it and primed and painted only bellow that line.

Since the chairs are definitely present in their bright purple, the sphere needed to be a quieter color. I mixed a quiet bluish gray that complimented it and would also compliment the lavender plant.

I gave it 3 layers of polyurethane to water proof it, so that it wouldn’t melt into a pile of mush leaving the lavender homeless once again.

Just before I planted the lavender I decided to do a little test run to see what would have happened if I had decided to use it as a light shade. In the background you can see a fitting I made out of plastic cups which I never posted about here.

So what do you think – does it work as a light fitting?

Hear Yea Hear Yea….

25 Apr

I have been meaning to post on the blog all week. I have so much to talk about, but because I am so busy doing bloggy things elsewhere, it seems as if the last place I can actually get to is the blog.

I have been blogging for about 6 months now, time to look around and take stock, and maybe start behaving like a good blogger, posting more often (yeah right), commenting on other blogs and so on.


photo credit creative commons license Lbo

Toward that end I have added a blog roll to my side bar. I have posted links to my favorite blogs, and if you enjoy reading my blog, I am sure you will enjoy reading theirs as well. Please check them out.

 Also, I have finally gotten over my aversion (ok, I lie, but in Rome…) of facebook and have opened a page for upcyclingruth. I am still trying to figure it out, for example, how I get my blog posts feed to work there, and so on. If anyone has any advice for me on the facebook issue, I would love to know how you run your face book page. Is it your personal page as well or just your blog page? Any insights will be appreciated.

Also, I would of course love it if you all popped over and liked me and friended me (if that is what you do on facebook J).

OK. Now please join me in praying that the feed will work and this will be published on facebook!

Change Your Point Of View!

20 Apr

When I talk about the relationship we have with objects, the disrespect we have for materials and work invested in making them into objects, I am not talking about this:

This should become a religion, using things as they were intended and in about 30 other ways per thing.

I love this, Don’t you?

Via the fantastic Blue Velvet chair