31 March 2009

Pop the Cork...Then Save It!

This blog is all about recycling and the theme for the week is bottle caps & covers. I must admit that I have a habit of keeping a lot of odds & ends...hey, I always see the potential in mundane things! I like being a fairy godmother granting a wish to things destined for the garbage bin. Take these wine corks for instance. Once a blah...

...Forever a Tada!

I crowned the wine cork with beads & baubles using my favorite craft tool -- the glue gun. I use these corks with pizazz to top empty bottles that I can later fill with my favorite drinks, condiments, sauces and dressings. Don't you think they'll look pretty arranged on a shelf?

See you tomorrow for more blah to Tada! ideas!

30 March 2009

Caps & Covers

It's a brand new week and even if our lives are busy, busy, busy, I hope that recycling has become part of the daily routine. This week we'll see the transformation of bottle caps and covers from blah to Tada!

Today, instead of the doing the crafting myself, I'll take you on a little journey to show you how other people recycle. Our trip begins in Amsterdam...

...where a bottle cap was left stranded on a sidewalk.
I decided to rescue it as a free souvenir.
"It might be useful one day," I said to myself.

The journey continues in the city of Durban in South Africa where I stumbled upon this store bursting with personality. It's called ART AFRICA selling local crafts, many of them made with recycled objects. Another special thing about the crafts is that the people who made them suffer from poverty or are afflicted with AIDS. For them it's a way to earn some income and provides them with pride and purpose. Look how they've transformed humble bottle caps into refrigerator magnets! I love how they captured unique and colorful scenes from African life.

These small suitcases made from bottle caps (and another from shoe polish tins) are also sold at ART AFRICA. Use it as a purse, a lunch box or for storage.

These are some inspiring ideas I can use for my growing collection of bottle caps that started in Amsterdam! See you all tomorrow!

27 March 2009

Sash with Panache

A black cardigan is a basic piece found in the wardrobe of many women. It's an accessory worn to match any outfit and a practical one at that -- keeping one warm in air-conditioned room or on a chilly day. It's also easy to dress up by adding a chunky necklace or colorful brooch.

Another alternative is to use a silk sash, transforming a black blah into a terrific Tada!.

Go ahead and use a sash in your favorite color or print and don't be surprised if colleagues ask, "Is that a new sweater?" or "Where did you get it?". Then you can tell them your tale of achieving "The Look" for less!

Have a happy Tada! weekend!

26 March 2009

Ball and Chain

We're gearing up for the fabulous weather that springtime brings and moved the cardigans from the back of the closet to front and center. But admittedly, some cardigans need a little updating like this blah beige number.

I removed the buttons and replaced them with silver chains & beads. I also took the liberty of folding the sleeves, resulting in an edgier and younger look.

You can do the same by re-using an old necklace (cut in two-inch lengths) and beads of your choice (just make sure they are small enough to fit through the buttonholes). Otherwise, a visit to a craft store's jewelry-making section or a specialty bead shop can help you find all the materials you need -- chains, beads, findings, a wire cutter and pliers. Add needle and thread to the list if you don't have any.

With chains on your cardigan, who needs accessories?!
Now that's a what I call a Tada!.

25 March 2009

A Girl with Some Pearls

It's the third day of our "spruce-up-your-cardigan" week!

Today we'll do a subtle change by replacing the current clear & plain buttons...

...And swap them out for these pearl-like buttons with gold edging!
(I got them at a fabric store that was closing down
...a palm-full of buttons for just $1!)

It's a small change that adds a little sparkle.
Can you hear the cardigan say, "I feel
brand new!"?

24 March 2009

Cute as a Button

We're playing re-fashionista this week by updating old cardigans.

Buttons are an easy way to change the look of an old garment. It's a good excuse to visit a button shop (I found some in New York City's Fashion District or you can go on-line). A better idea, however, is to dip your hand into your button stash. Yes, you have one! You didn't know? Let me refresh your memory: when you buy a shirt or trousers, they come with extra buttons attached to them in a little bag or sewn on the shirt label. When you gather them together, Tada!: button stash! And so what if they're mismatched:

Sew them on using thread in a contrasting color...

...And a little switcheroo turns a blah into a Tada!

23 March 2009

Spring Sweaters

It's officially spring and while the weather outside is still in denial, I've invited my favorite light sweaters to come out of hiding. I find them oh-so reliable when I'm wearing my spring outfits. I'm proud to say I've had them for many years...I'm all for classic dressing!

I wanted to dress up this plain, white cardigan.

I got some inspiration from the colors (pinks & lilacs) of the new season and turned a blah into a Tada!. I simply added a fabric rosette that can easily be made with cloth scraps or ribbon, a needle, some thread and a safety pin.

Stop by tomorrow for another sweet-sweater idea! Happy Monday!

20 March 2009

Cooking Class

Mis-en-place (meez ahn plahs) is a French culinary term that means "everything in its place" or preparing tools & pre-measuring ingredients before actual cooking begins. It's a smart way of doing things...what a bummer it would be if half-way through cooking I find out that I only have 1/2 cup of milk when I need 1 cup or if the minced garlic is already browning in the pan but the other ingredients haven't been sliced yet! I can taste the bitterness of the burnt garlic already.

While I'm far from being a French chef, I like to use their kitchen tricks & techniques like the mis-en-place. I use small plastic bowls for both liquid & dry ingredients but I realized that I can use this plastic Bento Box (Japanese lunch box), too!

Once a blah, now a Tada!:

Whether for a soup or stir-fry, these veggies are ready (washed and chopped in uniform sizes) to dive into the pot.

Even if cooking won't take place until evening or later in the week, some ingredients can already be prepared beforehand, stored in the Bento Box, covered with the lid and stored in the fridge until ready to use!

May you have an exciting weekend ahead!

19 March 2009

Potluck Pal

When a party invitation indicates "potluck", go ahead and tell your host that you're in charge of appetizers!

Re-use this plastic Bento Box (lunch box) from a recent Japanese take-out dinner, wave your magic chopsticks and say "Tada!"...

Serve a variety of nibbles like chips, nuts, pistachios, dried fruit, cookies and crackers. Add some cheese or a yummy dip to keep your fellow guests happy. The box comes with a cover, making it easy to transport to any party and easily keeps left-overs (if there are any!).

18 March 2009

Scrapbook Central

This week we're coming up with ways to recycle a plastic Bento Box (a compartmentalized box used to serve Japanese restaurant meals). Before tossing it into the garbage bin, consider turning this blah into a Tada!:

Turn it into "scrapbook central", the hippest hang-out for all your scrapbooking (or crafting) supplies such as stamps, punches, brads, stickers, ribbon, glue, scissors, pens and glitter sticks. Take another one of these boxes to keep photos, caption sheets printed from a computer and quotes cut from a magazine so you're ready to assemble a page when you find the time. The box comes with a lid so it's easy to close, stack on top of each other and store in a drawer or cabinet.

If all your supplies are neatly organized and you can see all the tools you can work with, inspiration is never far behind!

17 March 2009

Kiddie Crafts

Here's another idea to turn a blah plastic Bento Box (Japanese lunch box) into a Tada!:

The compartments are perfect to hold materials for kiddie crafts like these fish-shaped foam boards, smaller foam pieces to decorate the fish and wiggly eyes for a sea-themed afternoon of crafting! Replace with other shapes and materials like stickers and pompoms to occupy little hands on a play date or a rainy day. Use this box to teach them to sort colors and shapes, too.

See you tomorrow for another recycling idea!

16 March 2009

Bento Box

If you've ever eaten at a Japanese restaurant, you'll be familiar with the BENTO BOX. It's a beautiful box made of lacquer with Japanese designs painted on it like flowers and fans. It arrives on your table sometimes with its cover on and served on a tray, giving a feeling that you've been presented with a gift. When you open it, it's your entire meal carefully and beautifully arranged!

Another characteristic of the Bento Box is its many compartments, segregating the protein form the carb, fruits, veg and dipping sauces. It has dividers so food don't touch each other. Not that it's a bad thing, but you don't want the sauce seeping into the rice now, would you?

You'll also find Bento Boxes at Japanese fast food restaurants where plastic replaces lacquer. Some of these boxes can even be microwaved for take-away orders. One day, I did just that after craving for a tasty Japanese lunch. My tummy was basking in Japanese heaven but I was left with this blah:

A plastic Bento Box that I cleaned inside & out and turned into:

Tada!...an organizer my jewelry-making hobby!
The compartments neatly hold beads & pearls grouped by type & color. It even has space for necessities like wire, a wire cutter, scissors & string. Then I put on the box cover when I'm not beading so the beads stay in place even if the box gets knocked over.

Have a good & productive week everyone!

13 March 2009

Inspiration on a String

How did we blah to Tada! this week?
We turned plastic name tags into things that add organization into our life -- luggage tags on Monday, door signs on Tuesday, a coupon/receipt organizer on Wednesday and a bus/subway pass holder on Thursday. Today we say goodbye to the plastic sleeve and focus on the clips. A forceful tug releases the clip from the plastic sleeve. If you have lots of clips (at least 3), then you can make this:

An instant inspiration board!
It's easy to make: just sew the clips on to a long piece of ribbon &
make a loop on one end so you can hang it from any room or office wall.

Use it to display postcards or birthday cards, photos, pages torn from a magazine, favorite quotes, notes and reminders...anything that will keep you inspired and happy!

This is my final entry to this month's ReadyMade Magazine MacGyver Challenge.

I wish you all a fun-filled Tada! weekend!

12 March 2009

A Commuter's Delight

Readymade Magazine's MacGyver section dared me to revamp this blah (plastic name tag) into a Tada!

I summoned what little fashion accessory-making skills I have & picked up some leather scraps from a fabric store.

If MacGyver fancies a Swiss Army Knife, then a glue gun is my weapon of choice. Throw in a pair of scissors and a needle & thread to complete my arsenal.

I worked my design around the "flaps" of the pre-cut leather. I attached one flap onto the other piece using my trusty glue gun.

When flipped over, it looks like a folding case!

I removed the metals clips from two plastic name tags
and glued one on each piece of leather. The glue gun will come in handy again, but be very careful because the hot glue can melt the plastic. Another alternative is to use crazy glue.

Then, I inserted a pretty patterned paper on each of the plastic sleeves to hide the glue marks.

Using a template, I traced floral patterns on the remaining piece of leather & cut them out.

I glued on the different sized-flowers on the face of the case...with a glue gun, of course!

I put snap-on buttons (velcro would work well, too) so I can close it.

And look what I've made!

It's a cute case to store my bus pass...no need to take it out of my wallet. All I need is to flash the pass. Subway cards are also welcome to make this their home!

11 March 2009

This one's for the coupon-lovers!

I love using coupons! I get a kick out of saving some dollars, especially these days. Every Sunday, you'll find me on the couch looking through coupons & supermarket fliers inserted in the newspaper. I stuff the coupons into my bag and they wait there until my trip to the store. They're very patient, these coupons, because many times I can't go to the store right away. The just hang-out but they get crumpled especially since they share the space with keys, pens and all the other things in my bag.

So I came up with a solution using two of these name tags:

And this old lanyard:

Turning two blahs into one fabulous Tada!:

It's a coupon and receipt holder!

Here's how I made it:

(1) Remove clips from plastic sleeves [I just used some force]. There will be holes in the plastic & that's totally okay. If you need to, you may reinforce the holes using a hole punch or a pen. (2) Insert a key ring [recycled from an old key chain] into both holes. (3) Trim the lanyard or cord into about half its original size [leaving the hook attachment on one end] and secure it to the key ring by making a knot. (4) Use one sleeve to keep coupons and the other sleeve to keep receipts or store discount cards.

Hook it onto a zipper handle in your bag, adding another level of organization!

This coupon & receipt holder is my third entry to this month's MacGyver Challenge over at ReadyMade Magazine. It might win me a year's subscription & a T-shirt...how cool is that?

See you tomorrow for another name tag transformation!