Category Archives: Back Creek Design

Repurpose This: Delicious Wallet

I was waiting until the pup was definitely, positively, absolutely past the sneaky chewing stage before I replaced this wallet.

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It finally stopped working for the purpose for which it was intended…and when a wallet starts losing money, it’s ready for a “Repurpose This” challenge.

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So what can you make from a rectangle of golden yellow leather? I’ve been working on a new collection of Angel’s Share jewelry for Ridgely Retreat, so I am obsessed with accessories right now. Get inspired by these creations, and start thinking.

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This stunning “Bloom” necklace by Fleur Fatale caught my eye. What a nifty way to use irregular scraps! Bonus: there’s finally a way to showcase a pretty stud earring that’s lost it’s partner.

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Do you have a serviceable, but boring, wallet? Jazz it up with some leather strips like this one from Found By Nicki. It’s too attractive to be stuck in a dark purse…consider adding a strap to turn it into a wristlet.

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I toyed with the idea of cutting the wallet into strips to use as cuffs for my own glass cabochons. But I just don’t have the space right now to delve into a new material. This beaded cuff from Junk in the Trunk Studio is just what I had in mind.

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This bracelet by Febra Rose uses repurposed copper as well as leather. How gorgeous can trash get?

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Finally, feast your eyes on these copper and leather earrings by Melissa Lowery. I admit, I do covet them.

Chime in with your creative ideas for repurposing this sad little wallet.

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You don’t have to stick with accessories. The sky is the limit!

As always, I’ll be posting this wallet on FreeCycle later on. But if you are in Anne Arundel County and would like to adopt it yourself, just let me know in the Comment section.

Happy Repurposing!

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Repurpose This: Wallpaper

For the past few weeks, I’ve been a bit stymied in trying to give this wallpaper away. It’s been up on FreeCycle in a few locations, and gotten some interest. I email back and forth to the Freecyclers, and set up a pickup plan. And then…without fail ( well, of course, or I wouldn’t be writing about it now) each one has been a no-show. I’m not sure why the wallpaper has elicited such an unusual response. Perhaps it’s such a visually strong object that it draws people in, people who like it, and think therefore they want it, but don’t really need it. And once faced with car keys, boots, and de-icing the car, are no longer interested in actually acquiring it.

But I’d wish they’d figure that out before we schedule a meeting!

So, with the goal of increasing the perceived value of 3 and 1/2 rolls of premium, vinyl-coated wallpaper, here are some ideas for using it, apart from the perfectly wonderful idea of putting it on the wall.

 

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( this is the wallpaper on offer…very elegant, and with a matte vinyl coating)

Some very simple projects include:
Lining drawers
Matting for artwork
Scrapbook pages
Book covers

Here are some other ways to repurpose wallpaper, which may take a bit more planning, but are quite striking.

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From Better Homes and Gardens, decoupage a tabletop. Really pretty! And imagine having a tablescape that links to your wall art or bookshelf….something like this? (also from BHG)

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I just think that’s a beautiful way to accent with a bold pattern.

Can you imagine the lovely notes you could write while you were lounging in this BHG-inspired bed…

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…and inspired by your repurposed-wallpaper stationery?

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(photo courtesy of Singing Mommy )
Too predictable? Okay, how about beautifying the dumpsters in your neighborhood? There may not be enough wallpaper in my offer for an entire bin, but it could certainly provide an eye-catching start. ( Any Community Association rules that specifically disallow that?)

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(thanks to CNN for sharing this version of street art)

Jump right in with your ideas, modest or crazy. Let’s create a need for these few rolls of wallpaper, and find a better home for them!

In response to some online coaching tips, this post was written entirely with the WordPress iPad app.  There’s quite a bit of a learning curve, including my struggle to center the images, and add captions.  Please be patient with this student blogger!

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Repurpose This: Glass Quart Jars

Our farm co-op no longer has the room to take back glass quart jars, among other packaging materials. Right now, I’m using all the egg cartons I can get my hands on for seed starting, so that’s no problem. I use the veggie boxes to package items for consignment. The straight-sided jars go into the studio for storage. But these small-mouthed quart jars with shoulders are piling up. I have a zillion ideas for repurposing them, but I am really trying to pare down supplies here. So here’s some pictures to get you inspired. And if you have any more thoughts, fire away! As always, they are available for local pickup, through this blog or through the Anne Arundel Freecycle boards.

20130224-153225.jpgI was trying to stay away from plain-old storage ideas. But this photo from Roadkill Rescue is so enticing. A bit of etching cream and some time is all it takes to create some customized bottles.

20130224-153645.jpgSlow Your Home has a mini-tutorial on turning old jars into hanging candle holders. Gorgeous!

20130224-153953.jpgThis idea from Indulgy is a repurposing trifecta! Jars, candleholders, and lids all find a new purpose as canisters on pedestals. I’m so impressed!

20130224-154342.jpgOver on Etsy, ARTful Salvage creates birdfeeders from glass jars, dishes, and assorted hardware. They’re quite elaborate. Luckily, they’re for sale, as well as for inspiration.

20130224-154828.jpgAnd finally, Rikki Hibbert uses her jars as a really unique way to display photos. Check out her site for details.

Ahhh, if only I had the room and the time, I would try all of these ideas! If you try any of them, please share your results. I’d love to see them.

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Repurpose This: Working TV

This television set was actually our own, here at the No Acre Homestead. But a while back, Mike got his heart set on one of those giant, fancy flat-screens. I thought that we could actually make use of two TVs, but we really don’t have the room. So here is a working TV, cable and HD-ready, with an actual remote. Free to a good home, if anyone bothers to watch a not-flat-screen TV anymore.

The TV available today is silver, not black.  And a Panasonic, not Magnavox.  And it's not as furry.  But other than that, it's pretty much the same.

The TV available today is silver, not black. And a Panasonic, not Magnavox. And it’s not as furry. But other than that, it’s pretty much the same.

Yeah. I didn’t think so.

I figure, in a larger, child-oriented home, a second TV could be used in a family room as a dedicated game system or DVD player. I bet, with an HDMI cable (see how much I’ve been learning about these things since I started blogging?) you could make a permanent spot for watching videos through your mobile device. (Right? I think I’ve got that right.) Or use it as a dedicated monitor for your home security system.

How about a TV just for the dog to watch while the humans are out doing their human activities?

Want more pet-related ideas? These involve taking the guts out of the unit. (Guts…that’s a tech-y term.) If you do this, please dispose of the innards carefully. There may be some sketchy ingredients inside electronics.

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Gutted and painted, this TV makes a groovy pad for a cool cat. (photo courtesy of Fresh Home)

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This old floor unit is full of retro charm. It’s a simple job to turn it into a crate for a small pooch. (photo courtesy of Manteresting)

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I’ve read the instructions, and believe it or not, it doesn’t look too tricky to make and aquarium out of an old TV set. (photo courtesy of Aquahobby)

So, if you are nearby and want to pick up this television, just drop me a line. And keep your eyes out on the Anne Arundel County Freecycle boards, too.

 

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Recycled Kisses

I feel privileged that I was there to see this moment. Jake, a recently rescued black Lab mix, partially blind and skittish, is learning to trust his new owner. Little is known of his history, except that he was found wandering in the woods, injured and starving.  It was obvious his experiences with humans were not pleasant.  Yet over the past few months, Jake  has learned that he is safe, again or at last. When I witnessed this scene, he was slowly allowing himself to be vulnerable, good eye hidden and head nuzzled into his owner’s shoulder. No reward was promised, other than a kiss, and someone to lean on.

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The resilience of dogs continues to amaze me. A being with such willingness to trust, despite a history that would cement fear into a human heart, must truly be physical proof of unconditional love. The interactions between animals and their loving owners melts my heart.  And it breaks my heart to learn of an animal being deliberately hurt, or cast away, at the whim of a human.

Jake was adopted through a local Lab rescue. Our own pup came through Akita rescue. There are probably lonely dogs and cats in shelters close to you, full of love and kisses and looking for someone to share them with. Please consider opening your home and your heart to an animal in need.

Is there an animal rescue that you support?  Please feel free to post it in the Comments below!

I’m wishing everyone at least one moment of unconditional love today.

This post was inspired both by a wonderful encounter I had with a fellow Free-cycler and by the WordPress Weekly photo challenge. More interpretations to the assignment “Kiss” can be found below.   

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Why I Love FreeCycle

We (as Back Creek Design) renovate two to three neglected properties each year. Sometimes we find that the houses have been completely stripped.  Not only appliances, but plumbing, wiring, and architectural details have been ripped out without regard to preserving the remaining structure.

Sometimes the houses are full beyond belief with the accumulation of a lifetime.  Or more than a lifetime…it seems like more properties we find these days have been havens for hoarders, who have passed on and left the comfort of their possessions.

In either case, stripped or crammed, or even in that rare condition of ‘broom-swept clean’, we find things that we don’t need, can’t use, and which have no resale value.

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Sample portfolios of roofing and siding material. (photo courtesy of Back Creek Design)

I usually can find a treasure or two for our own home or garden.  I’ve gotten some great mixing bowls, flower pots, and even an unopened bottle of premium tequila by sifting through debris.  But I try hard not to accumulate clutter. (Yes, it’s a very hard challenge!)  We donate what we can to Habitat for Humanity, but often the condition or quantity of the debris is not worth their limited shelf space.

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Just a few squares each of three sizes of ceramic tile. (photo courtesy of Back Creek Design)

We in Anne Arundel County are so fortunate to have curbside trash, bulk trash, and recycling pickup included in our County budget.  So sometimes it is almost too easy to toss things out. And yet, I hate to throw things in the dump.  (There are three county landfills in AACo.  That’s a lot of trash!) That’s just shifting the junk from one location to another.  Out of sight, but not beyond my responsibility.

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A few square feet of tile in a discontinued color. Useful, but too small for any of our needs. (photo courtesy of Back Creek Design)

As we renovate each property, we accumulate odds and ends of material.  I’ve saved the scraps in our shed over the years, with the intention of using them ‘in the next house’.  But invariably, there’s no place for that tile, or the color of the paint won’t work with the existing woodwork, or….

And so the shed becomes full, as well as the back of my car, and the back porch, with samples, scraps, and good intentions, as we work through each project.

Thank goodness for FreeCycle.

I try to join a group nearest to each project to keep driving to a minimum.  Staying local, besides keeping things out of the landfill, is part of the FreeCycle philosophy.   Anne Arundel County is fortunate to have many active locations.  I usually gravitate towards Annapolis or Severna Park.  But Odenton and Glen Burnie are also hopping.  There are lots of crafty, thrifty, and creative people in this part of the world.  Have you seen my ‘Repurpose This’ series?  Stuff gets snapped up through FreeCycle for uses that I would never have imagined.  Sometimes the number of responses for this ‘junk’ gets overwhelming.  Thank goodness I can keep up a steady stream of empty CBRC coffee cans!

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This pile of ‘garbage’ is just a portion of what was re-homed through FreeCycle in one afternoon. You can see the sought-after CBRC coffee cans in the lower right. (photo courtesy of Back Creek Design)

All the items pictured here were picked up, quickly, in one afternoon by fellow FreeCyclers.  And there were more things that I didn’t think to take pictures of.  Just read the great ways that these are going to be reused…

The ceramic tile is going to be used in a mother-daughter project.  All the scraps are in the same color family, so they are going to mix and match them to make a custom mosaic backsplash for their kitchen.  Mom promises to share pictures when they are done.  Love it!

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There are probably a half-dozen different patterns of tile in this pile. Creativity and patience will turn these scraps into a gorgeous backsplash. (photo courtesy of Back Creek Design)

The coffee cans went to two places.  A garden club is going to make a project based on the “Garden Edition” post.  I am so happy!  And an art teacher in the local elementary school will be using some cans as storage for supplies.

The portfolios of roofing and vinyl siding samples will be torn down to use as craft supplies…final project as yet undetermined.  Whatever it is, it will last for a long time…there’s a 20-year warranty on that material.  A really good reason to keep it out of the landfill!

Do you have a Freecycle near you?  Did you know that you can request free items, as well as post offers?  I have met people who have patiently completed an entire renovation project with material and furnishings entirely from FreeCycle.

What a wonderful way to be part of the community.

 

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Repurpose This: Brass Courting Candleholder

Want proof that this mechanical oddity is a candleholder? Just take a look at all the melted wax coiled on the saucer.

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Such an interesting device. Besides a candleholder, what could you make of it?

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Courting candles were used in earlier times as curfew devices. When a suitor came to call, a girl’s parents pulled the taper up through the clamp and lit the wick. When the candle burned down to the metal, it would go out, and the date was officially over.

I don’t have any examples for repurposing it. But I can imagine it working as a holder for a taper candle, or a single flower. It’s clamp and spring design make it perfect for post-industrial decor. Could it work as a unique incense burner?

If you are clever with candle making yourself, perhaps you could fashion another coiled candle and return it to its original use.

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A courting candle in all it’s original glory ( photo courtesy of the Sundance Catalog)

I’m always interested in our ideas, so brainstorm away! Let me know if you’d
like to pick it up in the Annapolis area. I’ll post it on FreeCycle as well.

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Repurpose This: Broken Pottery

Yes, it’s been a long and crazy week here, and I’ve neglected the blog for a few days. Rest assured, however, that cooking, eating, and rummaging have gone on during my Internet absence. I’ve got some new recipes, and new thoughts, to share with you later on. But for now, can we think of a use for this treasure-in-the-rough? It’s presence on my kitchen table over the past few days has me feeling guilty.

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Originally a very well-made candle holder, it is crafted from very sturdy pottery. (Although not sturdy enough, apparently, for whatever extreme mishap it underwent once upon a time…the cup to hold the taper has broken off and gone missing) About 6 inches across and with a very deep bowl, it could be used as a pillar candle holder with the addition of some pebbles or sea glass, I’m sure.

It is glazed with a transparent taupe color. The cobalt blue details are thickly applied, and have dimension. It’s really quite lovely, and except for the handle, seems almost Japanese in shape. I am aware it’s most probable future is to be smashed with a hammer and used for mosaic, but I’m still wondering what ideas you have for using it intact.

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As always, it’s available for pickup in the Anne Arundel area. I will also share it with the local FreeCycle group. But even if you are not local, your creative thoughts are always welcome!

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Repurpose This: Coffee Cans, Garden Edition

As I mentioned last week, I was surprised, and thrilled, to find out how popular the topic of upcycling coffee cans has become. I am a super-achiever when it comes to creating empty coffee cans! But after honest self-assessment, I realized that all my fantastic ideas for repurposing them myself would not come to fruition unless I was also able to achieve power over the laws of time and space. Thank goodness for creative blog-readers and FreeCycle for giving these nifty cans new homes.

These are the Best Coffee Cans ever...smooth sides, paper label, and metal lid. The coffee's pretty good, too. (photo by Back Creek Design)

These are the Best Coffee Cans ever…smooth sides, paper label, and metal lid. The coffee’s pretty good, too. (photo by Back Creek Design)

With time drawing near to start planning spring planting, here are some ideas for using coffee cans in the garden.

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Hanging planters made from coffee cans. I love how there are two cans per chain, slung over a rafter. Dynamic! (photo courtesy of Dishfunctional Designs)

There are a zillion garden storage uses. The CBRC cans I have come with metal lids. They can last for at least a season exposed to the elements, and make a great place to stash plant tags, twine, and gloves.

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Another version of hanging planters, with all the cans strung on one line. This is so cute, and makes fresh herbs so accessible. (photo courtesy of Cheap Crafty Mama )

I also use them as vessels for seedlings, and for planting cuttings to use as gifts. With the ends removed, coffee cans make sturdy plant guards to protect tender seedlings from traffic and prowling kitties.

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I love this wall of flowers! The skinniest space can get dressed up with an arrangement like this. (photo courtesy of Happy Sleepy )

Coffee cans make handy scoops for compost and soil amendments during transplanting. And don’t overlook the pre-garden prep work…a lidded coffee can makes a great compost bucket in the kitchen.

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Add some screws and a handle, and some empty cans become a lovely flower caddy. (photo courtesy of Under the Table and Dreaming)

So put on that thinking cap and those garden gloves, and share some more ideas for coffee cans in the garden. Spring is just around the corner, I promise!

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Beyond Back Creek, 2012 In Review

A few days ago, I got the statistics from Beyond Back Creek 2012, our inaugural year.  There’s some pretty arcane information that I’m not quite sure how to use (most of my posts are read at 6am on Mondays, for example).  But there’s some data that I can use right away, too.  For instance, the most popular general topic was Kitchen Renovations, in all its variations. The second most popular topic was Raising Chickens.  Both of these make sense to me, as they are very much ongoing topics of conversation and the news here in Anne Arundel County.  And I’m very sure that we here in AACo speak for the rest of the world (insert winky emoticon here)

One of the many creek-side neighborhoods in Anne Arundel County (photo by Back Creek Design)

One of the many creek-side neighborhoods in Anne Arundel County (photo by Back Creek Design)

I am also not surprised that the Repurpose This series was so popular.  I started that specifically because of all the emails I was getting with ideas for recycling salvaged treasures.  But what IS almost shocking to me is the search engine information.  That’s the combination of words that people type that leads them to the Beyond Back Creek site.  Number one: “Giallo Ornamental granite“.  I knew granite was popular in kitchens, but had no idea it was so popular on keyboards!  Especially that specific color. Note to self…write a lot more about granite! (and we’ll keep on putting it into our rehabs.)

Giallo Ornamental granite looking lovely in light pools cast by the undercabinet halogens. (photo by Back Creek Design)

Giallo Ornamental granite looking lovely in light pools cast by the undercabinet halogens. (photo by Back Creek Design)

Even more surprising is the number two search engine entry…”Reusing Coffee Cans“.  I am flabbergasted, and also impressed and inspired.  There’s a lot of people creating fun and function out of empty cans. I’m happy to do what I can to further the cause.  Another note to self…drink more coffee.

Tragically empty coffee cups found a happy new life when they were featured on 'Repurpose This' in 2012 (photo by Back Creek Design)

Tragically empty coffee cups found a happy new life when they were featured on ‘Repurpose This’ in 2012 (photo by Back Creek Design)

I’m slowly recovering from the holiday lull, and my creative juices are flowing again.  Look forward to more posts addressing your favorite topics.  In fact, with this oddly mild weather, I am starting to get garden fever, so my next Repurpose This post will be about using coffee cans for gardening.  If you have any ideas and pictures, send them my way!  I’ll be happy to give you credit for them.  Sharing information is what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Thanks for a wonderful 2012.  I’m looking forward to learning more about each other in 2013.

Update: after I scheduled this post to publish, WordPress posted yet another timely article.  This one is about keeping the blogroll relevant and user-friendly….and I am making (another) commitment to doing a better job on that in the next few weeks.  I’d love to make it easier to share the sites I enjoy with the people who enjoy what I have to share :)

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