Archives for posts with tag: repurpose

Carpenter bee trap

I’ve had a hard time deciding to make this since carpenter bees are beneficial pollinators, but are also very destructive when it comes to the wooden parts of a house.

When we moved into our house, one of the things we knew we needed to repair was our garage. Almost every board in it has been replaced, there was a point when we used a truck to pull the back wall back to (almost) plumb, and a new roof was installed. In order to get rid of the old lumber, I cut it into smaller pieces and with each cut I found holes. These were big holes, about a half inch in diameter, and they had been made by carpenter bees. Some of the boards resembled Swiss cheese and I was surprised they had any structural integrity left.

Last year, I found the carpenter bee had returned. There were holes in the wood braces over our back door. I plugged them with steel wool and that seemed to prevent them from returning.


Bee hole plugged with steel wool

Last week we had a warm spell, and the bees were back. I am normally an advocate of outdoor insects, but with all the work we have done, I don’t want these guys to start building housing developments in our house or garage.

I decided to try making a carpenter bee trap. There are several versions of instructions on the internet, but I chose this one since it used a single 4×4 piece of wood rather than building a box.  A hole is drilled up the center, then holes along the side are made at a 45 degree angle. The idea is that after the bees crawl in, the upward angle prevents them from seeing light to get back out, so they move downward and into the glass jar.

We’ll see if it works.




Sometimes I keep projects in mind I want to try just because they look fun.

I liked the idea of a granny square skirt, but did not want to spend the time making the squares. Fortunately, local thrift shops often have crocheted afghans. This one I picked up last year, with this project in mind, was somewhere in the $4-6 range, so less money than if I had bought the yarn.

To make it, use the existing border for the bottom, then figure out how long you want it to be. Carefully separate the squares at the row that hits the desired length. For the waistband, it’s a row of single crochet as an anchor, then double crocheted rows, decreasing at every 10th stitch until it had snugged in enough to fit your waist. You could probably also weave a crocheted drawstring into it if you wanted to be extra secure.

I lined it with some stretchy swimsuit-lining fabric sewn just across the top under the waistband, but if you are the type to wear leggings under skirts, that part could be skipped.




Oil lamp

I save a lot of jars. They get used for a lot of storage, but there are always extra around to use for projects. I thought it would be fun to try to make an oil lamp out of one of them.

One problem in February…I don’t have any lamp oil, and I have to use only things I already have. After a quick search, I discovered that you can make them using olive oil, and one site even recommended scenting them with essential oils or with herbs.

Although we have had snow here, there are still some green branches on my rosemary.  The scent of rosemary is one of my favorites, so a few branches got clipped and added to the oil. I have a feeling the oil and herbs will need to sit a day or so to actually have any scent. I hope so anyway.  I also used some wick I had, but you could use any piece of cotton material. A thicker wick will provide more light if that is how you wanted to use these.

Shell candle

I love doing Thing-a-Day each February. This is my 5th year, and I’ll be working with the same challenge as I have in the past. Each project I make must be from items I already own or do not have to buy.

I’m starting off with something simple. I had pinned this project a while ago, but since then, the link has gone bad. Fortunately, it is pretty easy to figure out.  I melted the bottom bit of wax from an old jar candle. There was enough in there I was actually able to make a votive too.


I don’t often click through to other suggested videos on YouTube when I am done watching one, but this time I am glad I did.  I had just watched a short video about the importance of creating things with your hands and there was a suggestion for a stick weaving video. I had not heard of this before, and the video was also short, so I took a few extra minutes to watch it.

I was intrigued, and wanted to try it, but was not about to go purchase a set of sticks. I thought about cutting up some dowels, but that seemed like it would be wasteful if I ended up using them once.  I was sure I had something in the house I could use.  I grabbed a handful of chopsticks that had come with take out meals and headed to the drill press.

To try it out, I used 4 sticks.  Yarn is threaded through holes at the bottom of the sticks and acts as the warp. As you weave, you push the finished part down the sticks and eventually onto the warp strands. I made a piece long enough to be a bracelet or a cuff  which meant I did not have to push the woven piece off of the sticks completely until I was done.


Off the loom

One problem I had was that the chopsticks are slightly tapered, and as I was apparently weaving tightly, it was a bit of a struggle to push the piece down over the wider part. Traditional weaving sticks are straight and look kind of like knitting needles without the cap, so this would not be an issue.

Normally when I get off course I get annoyed with myself, although it happens far too often. I’m glad I let myself get distracted today.


Final product



I like having the scent of candles in the house. I usually buy jar candles, and I will admit I splurge on the name brands because the scent last through the entire candle. One thing that drive me nuts though, is the ring of wax left over once the jar candle burns out. I hate wasting it. Usually, I use an existing jar and melt down the wax to create a new candle. Sometimes this is layered, although I try to keep like scents together.

I’ve been saving the metal spice tins once they are empty, and recently, I saw them used to make a candle. Perfect. I have the tins, I have used-up jar candles, and I have the wicks.

It is easy to melt the wax in an old jar candle. Fill as pan part way full of water, put the jar in it, wait for it to melt, pull out the wick and there you go. i usually use a bamboo skewer to stir it around, and I do have a pot with a broken handle that I use just for crafting.

When you are making candles, you can fill the container the first time all the way to the brim, and it will still settle as it cools. This one was done with two pours and it still shrunk a bit after the second one. It is not much though, and I will be able to enjoy the scent of this candle a little bit longer.

Tshirt bag

I knew the afternoon was going to be busy so I figured in the morning I’d better grab the time I had  to make something.  I stuck with the quick, no-sew project theme, I decided to make a tote bag out of a t-shirt. I have seen this floating around the internet for a while but there was something in me that resisted cutting into a t-shirt in case it did not work out.  I had an extra giveaway t-shirt that I got when the Philadelphia Flyers were in the Stanley Cup (Go Flyers!) and since it was a duplicate,  it could be sacrificed.

Thee are tons of tutorials out there for this. To start, you cut off the sleeves, and cut a scoop at the neckline. Secure the bottom of the bag by cutting slits into the bottom of the shirt and knotting them. There are two ways you can make this bag. It can have fringe on the outside, or you can turn it inside out to do the knotting and keep the bottom fringe free.  I chose the fringe-free method and I am glad I did because the slits I cut were short and the fringe would have looked wonky and considerably non-fringe-like.

Although i have no shortage of bags in my house, I always find a way to use new ones. This will probably live in the trunk of my car to be used when I go to the grocery store as I always under estimate how many reusable bags I will need.


Lately, I’ve been walking into my craft room with the intention of cleaning and organizing it. Each time, I find some supply that I had misplaced or forgotten about and that distracts me from the task at hand. I’ve been trying to find a way to use the forgotten supplies as I come across them.  This sort of counts as cleaning it out.

Over the weekend I found the end of a pack of magnets that were completely in the wrong place. Then on Monday I read a blog post by Eyeballs by Day, Crafts by Night featuring some fantastic magnets that were made from buttons, birch discs and puzzle pieces.  That started the wheels turning. When the temperature hit 95f/35c I knew I wanted to work on something that did not involve yarn or fabric.  I dug through my button tins (which were in their correct spot) and found a few pretty single ones and decided to dress up my refrigerator with some new button magnets.

I used pliers/nippers to cut off the shank of the buttons that had them to give them a flatter back, then with a little bit of hot glue, the magnets were secured. I am one of those people who cover their fridge with photos, recipes and cartoons, so I can always use a few more magnets. Plus, one more item out of my stash has been used and does not need to be put away. Sometimes having a bit of clutter in the house means you get to have a mini treasure hunt whenever you start to try to sort it out.


Somewhere in my house there is a box that has a half dozen cut-glass cruets that would have been used for salad dressing back in the day. They came from my grandmother’s house, and I had them in a kitchen cabinet up until recently. When I was first laid off and needed to feel productive every day, I started cleaning out closets and cabinets.  Since I never used them, I boxed them up and put them somewhere safe. Somewhere so safe I couldn’t find them when I decided to give this project a try.

No worries, I know they are here somewhere, probably tucked in a cubby hole in the basement. While I was looking for them, I found this cranberry glass vase that also came from my grandmother. It has been on a closet shelf long enough and it has now been put to use.

Making the diffuser was simple. It’s a vessel and bamboo skewers.  There are two different ways to make the liquid.  You can use a carrier oil like safflower and add some essential oils, or you can use a 1 to 1 mixture of alcohol (either rubbing or vodka) and water with essential oil.

I did not want to use oil because cats + oily liquid in containers = potential oily spills, so I opted to use the alcohol and water mix. I have a small amount of “crafting vodka” (cheap bottom shelf stuff only used for making liqueurs or projects like this) left and decided to use that as it has less of a scent than rubbing alcohol.

Easy project, and one that could be made completely from items I already had in the house.

sea glass

Many times I see a project on Facebook or Pinterest and click through only to find there are no instructions provided, or very general ones. One of my non-crafty friends sent me a photo of glass candlesticks painted to look like sea glass and asked if I could help her make them. The instructions only said “mix Elmer’s glue with food coloring and paint on glass”. When I started Googling, there were many blogs that had the photo, but they all pretty much said the same thing: they had seen the photo but could not find the original post with instructions.

They had all tried their own versions of creating this magical paint with varying success. The two I saw most frequently used either straight glue, or glue mixed with a little bit of water to thin it out.  I decided to try it both ways and pulled out a few jelly jars to experiment.

The jar on the left was using just glue. I used about 2 tablespoons of glue, 3 drops of blue food coloring and 2 drops of green. Painting with a foam brush, I found it difficult to get a thin coat, but some of the tutorials said that you don’t have to worry about streaks, they disappear when the glue dries. They did not.

For the jar on the right, I added some water to the mix. This was much easier to paint on, and did have less streakiness when it dried, but it did not disappear completely. It is closer though, and gives me hope that eventually I’ll find the right mix to create the look.