How Tos

Upcycling vs Recycling

Are you an advocate of making sure all those empty plastic water bottles at work are thrown in the recycle bin in hopes it is turned into a “new” plastic item rather than finding their way to a land fill somewhere?  What about taking an old milk jug and making it into a convenient paint holder while you put the finishing touches on that new paint job? download (2)

Or what about taking those old glass bottles and turning it into a new light in your kitchen?   images222Now while Mother Earth thanks you for thinking of ways to produce less waste do you know which one differs from the rest?




Recycling is taking an old item, most of the time this is a plastic, paper or glass, and breaking it down to produce something new.  In most cases the new item is of a lesser quality or is mixed with additional materials to make stronger.


Upcycling is the process of taking that old item, any form, shape or material, and making it into a new, useful and most times more esthetically appealing item.  When upcycling you do not need to breakdown the original form of the item and while it may have a different look and purpose it is likely to keep the same quality as before.  Upcycling will also give the item a better purpose and is not destined for the trash.


In going back to our scenarios from before, the first two are examples of recycling due to the fact that the items were being discarded and hopefully turned into another items, one which would have lesser quality; even the milk jug turned into a paint dish would see the trash in the near future. The third example, the glass bottles being turned into a new light would be upcycling – taking an item and keeping it in its original form to make something more beautiful and useful in a new way.

Want some ideas on what to use in upcycling – and auction is a perfect place!   Our personal property auctions are full of items which may not be useful any more to the owner or even worn out on its original way of use but can be used for a great new item.


Take a look at some of these great ideas

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Some Simple Life Rules

1. Wake Up. Show Up. Pay Attention

2. Be Happy and Have Fun!
– Life is a trip, enjoy the journey.

3. Learn, Master, and Play by the Rules

4. Get an Education
– Knowledge and wisdom are the key.

5. Work Hard. Work Smart. Never Quit.
– Nothing good comes easy.

6. The “Circle Theory” is in Effect. 
– Integrity. Never lie, cheat or steal, especially yourself.

7. Know Your Weaknesses & Overcome Them
– Power is when you ask for help and use it.

8. Learn a Skill, Trade or Profession You Love and Master It

9. Deadly Sins
– Pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony, lust, alcohol/drugs, doing wrong when you KNOW right.

10. Don’t Judge and Learn How to Forgive
– Surrender to win

11. Never Sweat the Small Stuff 
– Most of it is small stuff

12. Treat All with Dignity and Respect 
– Especially yourself

13, Acquire Patience and Serenity
– Learn to be still, be quite, be at peace and meditate

14. Make a Negative a Positive and Learn From the Past

15. To Thine Own Self Be True.  Develop Self Discipline. 
– Do what you’re supposed to do, not what you want to do, until what you’re supposed to is what you want to do.





Spring Cleaning – How you can make sure you’re really getting results.


Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

An article appeared in Real Simple Magazine discussing cleaning faux pas that the author seemed to think were so common many of us have no idea we’re even making the mistake.

After passing it around the office we realized that many of us were guilty of some, if not all, of these faulty methods. So we decided to share the wealth. Here is a breakdown of the common mistakes made around the house when you are scrubbing, vacuuming and disinfecting your world according to Sarah Stebbins from Real Simple.

The Problem: Using Funky Smelling Sponges

This is one I’m sure we are all guilty of. You think that because you’re using soap and you rinse it then it’s fine, but according to the article this mistake could be the difference between a kitchen that looks clean and one that actually is clean.

The Solution: Rinse it. Ring it. Even Microwave it.

Changing your sponge every 2-3 weeks seems like the best practice, but sponges are expensive and so easy to forget on your list of grocery store must haves. One way to get a little more life out of your sponge is by rinsing it in hot water after every use and being sure you ring it out fully. But the most interesting method was microwaving it. The author says if you take a damp sponge and microwave it for a minute it’ll sterilize the sponge. She also recommends running your sponge through the dishwasher.

The Problem: Taking the Same Route with the Vacuum

Apparently if you take the same route with the vacuum every time dust, dirt and whatever else can get stuck in places the vacuum never pulls up. It seems simple, but it’s not something you always think about.

The Solution: Isn’t it Obvious?

Change your tune. Take a new route every other time that you vacuum. Nobody wants to go to all the work of vacuuming if you’re not getting it done the right way.

The Problem: Never Cleaning the Closet

Buildup of dust attracts moths. It may sound a little silly, but this is one mistake I’d be willing to bet many of us make. We spend so little time in the closet, and what time we do spend is rarely messy; it’s easy to forget it needs cleaning too. But moths eating your clothes isn’t what you want so I guess it’s time to clean our closets.

The Solution: Yearly Overhaul

The author suggests removing everything from your closet once a year, giving it a good scrub down, and then restocking it. This would be a good time to go through some old clothes that a charity may have more use for. One simple way to help downsize in situations like that is to give away anything without sentimental value if you haven’t worn it in a year. Whether you take this opportunity to organize is up to you, but it sounds like cleaning out the closet maybe more important than we thought.

The aforementioned article titled “Clean Up Your Act” appeared in the January 2012 issue of Real Simple Magazine. 

Spray Paint – Easy and Fast

Put away your messy brushes and forget streaky, splotchy paint jobs there is an easier way to give old furniture the new look you want.

Spray painting is an easy and effective way to take old drab furniture out of its rut and back into your house. With all of the recent developments in spray paint, such as color matching, you can have any color you choose made into spray paint form. This makes spray painting seem more appealing right?

Once you’ve picked the paint color you want there are only a few easy steps to getting your furniture spring ready.


The first thing you’ll want to do is remove all hardware from your furniture of choice. This is important because no matter how steady your hand may be, you don’t want to take any chances. This may also be a good time to update your hardware or give it a good cleaning.


Stop by your local hardware store and pick up some fine sandpaper. Sand the furniture on all surfaces, especially creases and hard to reach places. This step is important because many pieces of furniture have some sort of protective glaze that will inhibit your new color from soaking in.

Almost as important as the sanding, make sure you wipe the shavings off of the furniture. They sell a cloth for this at hardware stores, however using a dampened paper towel or cloth is just as effective. If you fail to do this step you’ll be spray painting dust onto your furniture, which will make the paint, if it will even stick, splotch and uneven.


Priming your piece of furniture is very important. You want to pull the smoothest color possible and primer will make a world of difference. Prime the furniture and let it sit for an hour.


Before starting to paint put an old sheet, tarp or newspaper below your furniture. This will ensure that the only thing painted is your furniture. It’s also always a good idea, especially when dealing with spray paint, to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting paint on.

Once your set up is done you’re ready to start painting.

Shake the can well and spray about 10 inches away from the furniture to keep from spraying too hard or creating pooling excesses of paint. Run evenly back and forward across each surface. Going with the wood grain, if you’re painting wooden furniture, is best. If you aren’t, or don’t want to go with the grain, try and keep your stokes consistent throughout the process.

Two or even three coats is recommended to get the color on the can, however if you’ve reached your desired color and look then stopping after one or two coats is just fine.


Sealing in your paint is also crucial. This will not only protect your furniture from everyday use, but it will also give it a shinny polished look. Pick up any spray sealant or gloss to create the effect. Spray the furniture much like you painted it in even smooth lines.

Once you’ve put your seal on the furniture now all there is left to do is wait for paint to dry. But one reason why using spray paint is so great is because it doesn’t take nearly as long to dry as traditional paint.  Let it sit for about six hours and your newly painted furniture is ready for its debut.

Good Luck!