Tag Archives: Recycling

Repurposing Plastics

7 Dec

Yes, I eat Smart Ones and Lean Cuisine frozen entrees for lunch at work/home at times.  What do I do with those plastic plates/trays???  I keep some of them and repurpose them for my 5 year-olds breakfast/snack on the go!  Of course, due to BPA concerns, we hand wash them and do not heat them in the microwave again.  But these are super handy for her to eat scrambled eggs, mini-waffles, cheese bread, veggie sticks with hummus, etc.  Another plastic that I repurpose is the Advil/Tylenol measuring & dispensing cups/caps!  These are perfect to hold her gummie vitamins (and sometimes a treat, like M&Ms or Skittles)!

So, this is my latest simple repurposing tip!  Share your tips by leaving a comment!


Let Your Child Declutter Their Artwork – You May Be Surprised!

16 Aug

I’ve written a couple posts on “what to do with your child‘s artwork.”  We had artwork coming out of our ears not to forget  crafts of all sizes, shapes and colors.  Although I would like to think that in the area of sentimentality, we rate ourselves on the more average scale, this summer my wife and I discovered that our five year-old daughter, Julia, is actually less attached to her “master-pieces” than we are!

We are big believers in getting the child involved in household chores, some decisions, etc., so when it came time to sort through the pile of artwork that accumulated in a box and around her art area, we had Julia decide what to keep in her “memory box” and what to place in the recycle bin.  We were amazed at how casually she kept saying “toss it” or “recycle.”  My wife admitted herself that she would have kept about 50% of the pieces whereas Julia only said “keep” to less than 10%!  This made us realize that for kids (Julia is 5), their attachment to their art is really the “process” of creating and perhaps the admiring of the latest piece for a day or week.  After that, they have totally moved on to the next project/activity!  We are glad we got her started in this process early rather than later.

Our daughter's now semi-empty art window - ready for the new school year!

So, we still initially held on to “mom & dad’s” favorite pieces to be photographed, etc.  But only Julia’s selections will go into her memory box (actually, more like a big tote as it gets filled with certificates, ticket stubs, playbills, etc.).

Lessons learned:

  1. Children may not be as attached to their art work as parents think they are, especially as time passes and new creations/techniques are mastered.
  2. Your child may be better, much better, at de-cluttering that pile of artwork and letting go then dear old mom and dad!
  3. By starting them earlier rather than later, you might be able to foster better habits of ‘letting go’ than if you wait till they are older.

Of course, now due to Julia’s diligence in getting rid of almost everything –  my wife has started her own memory box.  Some things won’t change ;0)

Happy organizing!

Repurpose Cardboard Boxes into Kid Crafts/Toys!

28 Feb

WOW – (from one of my absolute favorite parenting websites – Parents.Com) check out these amazing repurposing ideas for cardboard boxes, disposable plates, straws etc.  I personally will try to do the doll bed and castle!

Cute Cardboard Box Crafts

Cardboard box game
Cardboard Box Shape Sorter

Put together this smart cardboard shape sorter to help your toddler learn shapes and sizes.

What you’ll need: 18x18x18-inch box, circle compass, ruler, pencil, cutting mat, X-Acto knife, adhesive contact paper, colored masking tape, hot-glue gun

Make it: While box is flat, draw desired shapes on all six sides using a compass and/or ruler and pencil. Slide cutting mat behind shapes and cut out using an X-Acto knife. Trace each cutout circle onto contact paper, then use a compass to draw a circle around it that is 1 inch larger in diameter. Cut out the ring and adhere it to the corresponding circle cutout on the cardboard box. Repeat for other circles. To outline squares, use strips of colored masking tape. Use hot-glue gun to seal the box shut on both ends. Give your child play balls and toys to put through the holes.

Doll bed
Cardboard Box Doll Bed

A crafted cardboard bed will give your child’s fave doll some serious slumber. Plus, it’s so E-Zzz to make.

What you’ll need: 17x11x11-inch box, scissors, paper, tape, pencil, crafts knife, cutting mat, hot-glue gun, pom-poms, large sequins

Make it: While box is flat, cut off the four top flaps. Fold a piece of paper in half so it measures 8 1/2×5 1/2 inches. Hold folded paper vertically and cut a decorative design across the top portion. Unfold, tape to one of the short side panels of the box, and trace design. Use X-Acto knife and cutting mat to create headboard design in cardboard. Repeat to create footboard design on opposite side panel. Assemble the bottom of box and secure shut with hot-glue gun. Embellish the bedposts with pom-poms and the frame with sequins; secure with glue.

Cardboard castle
Cardboard Box Castle

Cut notches along the top of an extra-large box to make a cardboard castle. Add tiny knights and toy horses for hours of play. The only thing missing from this fantastic fortress is a moat.

What you’ll need: 20x20x20-inch box, scissors, ruler, pencil, X-Acto knife, cutting mat, hot-glue gun, gray acrylic or tempera paint, paintbrush, 2 or 3 small cardboard boxes, red string, chenille stems, striped drinking straws, small pom-poms, felt

Make it: While box is flat, cut off the four top flaps. To cut towers at corners, draw a 6×11-inch rectangle centered at the top of each side and cut out using an X-Acto knife and cutting mat. Create a crenellated edge by making 1×1-inch notches around the top edge of the box with an X-Acto knife and cutting mat. Draw a 7-inch-tall drawbridge door, as shown, and cut so the bottom is still attached to the box. Use a pencil to poke two sets of corresponding holes on either side of the door and frame. Cut out 1-inch squares for windows where desired using an x-Acto knife and cutting mat. Assemble box and hot-glue bottom closed. Paint outside of box with two coats of gray paint and let dry. Place assembled, smaller boxes inside castle to create height and hallways for figures. Cut two 6-inch lengths of string and thread through corresponding holes on door and frame; knot to secure. To make flags, insert a chenille stem into a straw and glue a pom-pom to one end. Cut a triangular flag shape from felt and glue short side underneath pom-pom. Attach flags to the box by pushing the chenille stems through the cardboard and bending.

Cardboard car and gas pump
Cardboard Box Car and Gas Pump

A fun cardboard car and gas pump combo will drive your kids wild!

Cardboard car steering wheel
Cardboard Box Car: Steering Wheel

Kids will think it’s wheely awesome when they find a real key in the ignition of this cardboard car.

What you’ll need: 30x16x14-inch box, scissors, hot-glue gun, black electrical tape, blue painter’s tape, self-adhesive utility lights (available at hardware stores), 2 large yellow and 3 red plastic jar lids, 2 large red pom-poms, 2 tin cupcake liners, black marker, colored paper, yellow masking tape, blue plastic dinner plate, key, 4 large blue plastic jar lids, 4 large black coffee can lids, 1 plastic ketchup flip top

Make it: Position assembled box so that flaps are on top and bottom. Hot-glue bottom of box shut and glue the two longer top flaps down inside the box. Cut the remaining two flaps so the rear is 3 1/2 inches long and the front is 7 inches long. Bend the front flap in half at a right angle to create a triangular dashboard. Cut two 3 1/2-inch triangles from scrap cardboard and glue to each end of dashboard; secure with hot-glue gun. Adhere two horizontal strips of black electrical tape to front of dashboard for windshield wipers, and use strips of blue painter’s tape to create a grille, car doors, and door handles, as shown. Mount each self-adhesive utility light to a yellow plastic jar lid and hot-glue to the front of car for headlights. Hot-glue two red plastic jar lids to back of car for taillights, and glue a large red pom-pom inside each. Glue a metal cupcake liner above each red taillight. Use marker to draw a license plate on colored paper and attach between taillights using yellow tape. Hot-glue the remaining red plastic jar lid to the center of a blue dinner plate and glue onto dashboard for a steering wheel. Push key into cardboard to the right of steering wheel. Glue a blue plastic jar lid to the center of a black plastic coffee can lid; repeat to make four wheels, and hot-glue each in place. Hot-glue a ketchup cap to the back left side of car for a gas tank.

Cardboard car bumper
Cardboard Box Car: Back Bumper

Have your tot personalize his cardboard car by helping him create a fun license plate.

Cardboard gas pump
Cardboard Box Gas Pump

The best part about this cute cardboard gas pump? Every fill-up is free!

What you’ll need: 10x8x12-inch box, 12x10x10-inch box, hot-glue gun, scissors, green paper, double-stick tape, black contact paper, X-Acto knife, 5 feet of 1/2-inch clear plastic tubing (available at hardware stores), spray bottle, green masking tape, assorted office supply stickers and labels

Make it: Assemble both boxes and hot-glue flaps shut. Position the smaller box vertically on the floor and place the larger box on top horizontally; secure in place with hot-glue gun. Cut a 6-inch square of green paper and adhere to front of bottom box, as shown, with double-stick tape. Cut the letters G, A, and S and a 3×5-inch rectangle from black contact paper. Place the letters over the green square on front and stick the rectangle on the right side panel of the top box. Use an X-Acto knife to cut a 1-inch square in the right side panel of the top box and a 1-inch hole in the top of the right side panel of the bottom box. Hot-glue one end of the clear plastic tubing to the bottom of the spray bottle and insert handle into the 1-inch square on top box to hang. Insert the opposite end of tube into the 1-inch hole in the bottom box; secure with hot-glue gun. Attach a piece of green paper to the front of the top box and secure with green masking tape. Embellish paper with assorted stickers and labels as shown.

Cardboard kitchen
Cardboard Box Kitchen

Your mini chefs are bound to cook up some fun in this pint-size cardboard kitchen.

Cardboard fridge
Cardboard Box Fridge

Stock this fab cardboard refrigerator with faux food for hours of pretend play.

What you’ll need: 16x12x28-inch box, 16x12x9-inch box, X-Acto knife, hot-glue gun, crafts knife, thick rope

Make it: Assemble both boxes and place the smaller box on top of the larger box so the top of the larger box is the same length and width as the bottom of the smaller box; secure together with hot-glue gun. Use an X-Acto knife to cut the top, bottom, and right edges of the front panel of each box to create fridge and freezer doors. Cut two holes, about 6 inches apart, in the freezer door and two holes, about 9 inches apart, in the fridge door. Thread a length of rope through each set of holes to make handles and knot in back to secure.

Cardboard kitchen sink
Cardboard Box Kitchen Sink

You may not be able to get your child to put his dishes in the real sink, but we promise he’ll spend plenty of time at this cardboard one.

What you’ll need: 18x12x22-inch box, small metal or plastic bowl with lip, pencil, X-Acto knife, cutting mat, hot-glue gun, small Play-Doh container, 2 large plastic bottle caps, bubble container, thick rope, fabric panels or pillowcases

Make it: Position flat box so flaps are in front and back. On a short side panel of the box (this will be the top), turn the bowl upside down on the left side and trace rim. Cut out the circle, about 1/4 inch inside the traced line, using an X-Acto knife and cutting mat. Cut a 1-inch hole in the top right and top left corners of the front of the sink; thread a length of rope through, and knot each end behind to secure. Assemble box and close flaps with hot-glue gun. Rest the bowl inside the round cutout on top of the sink. Behind the bowl, place an upside-down Play-Doh container between two plastic bottle caps and secure all with hot-glue gun. Attach an empty bubble container to the Play-Doh container with hot-glue to create a faucet. Hang fabric panels or pillowcases from rope to create a curtain.

Cardboard kitchen stove
Cardboard Box Kitchen Stove

This cardboard stove will be a hot hit with your tot chef.

What you’ll need: 12x12x22-inch box, X-Acto knife, cutting mat, thick rope, 3 brads, 3 Play-Doh lids, 3 plastic caps, 4 CDs, 20×12-inch piece of cardboard, scissors, 3 adhesive-backed kitchen hooks

Make it: Position flat box so flaps will be at right and left sides. Use an X-Acto knife and cutting mat to cut an oven door, as shown. Cut two 1-inch holes, about 6 inches apart, on oven door for handle; thread a thick rope through and knot in back to secure. Push a brad through the center of each plastic Play-Doh lid and use to secure to the front of the stove for controls above the oven door. Hot-glue a plastic cap over each brad. Assemble box and hot-glue flaps shut. Glue the four CDs to the top of the box for burners. Bend the right and left 4 inches of the 20×12-inch cardboard piece at right angles to create a backsplash about 12×12 inches. Trim bent side sections into triangular shapes, keeping the full width at the base. Round off the top of the middle section with scissors and hot-glue to back of stove, as shown. Adhere plastic kitchen hooks to backsplash to hold play utensils.

Originally published in the January 2011 issue of Parents magazine.  


http://www.parents.comBringing together the power of respected magazine brands including American Baby and Parents, the Parents Network is your go-to destination for parenting information. From first kicks to first steps and on to the first day of school, we are here to help you celebrate the joys and navigate the challenges of parenthood.

Tips to De-clutter that stack of magazines!

22 Dec

Do you love to read?  Enjoy catching up on entertainment, sports, fashion, news with a good magazine?  My wife and I do too!  But in a busy household with two active kids, it’s challenging to find the time to get through our magazines and the pile/clutter starts to build… 

So here’s my recommendations/guidelines on de-cluttering that stack of magazines:

  1. If the magazine is older than 2-3 months, it’s OLD/past season!  Flip through it quickly and only keep the pages of articles you “really” want to read.  A few pages is more inviting and less intimidating than an entire stack of magazines.  Also, keep the reading material where you will read it – bathroom, bedside, by your favorite chair, where you eat breakfast or lunch, etc.
  2. If you keep/collect magazines – like cooking, Chicago, National Geographic, etc – for future reference, store them properly and keep them organized!  When we lived in Chicago and subscribed to Chicago Magazine, we’d keep the annual edition of Best Schools, Best Doctors, Best Restaurants, Where To Fix It, etc. and found these inexpensive magazine files from Ikea to be super helpful!  The Container Store has some more expensive magazine files as well.  See the photos below for a sample of what is available at Ikea and The Container Store.
  3. Repurpose magazines and cut out and use pictures from magazines for kid crafts!  We do this for our daughter and keep cut outs of food, flowers, people, furniture, etc. in a ziplock bag and she makes photo collages out of them – simple glue stick, sheet of paper or cardboard and creativity!  If you have young kids or grandkids in school, check with the teacher/school to see if they want magazine donations for their arts and crafts!
  4. Recycle!  Save some trees and be green – recycle your magazines and newspapers.  If your town doesn’t offer curb side recycling with waste/garbage service, many school districts or churches have recycling drop off station.
  5. Changes to on-line subscriptions!  Double bonus – go green and prevent clutter!  Switch to on-line subscriptions of your publications and read on your computer, laptop or iPad!
  6. If you want to save money and go green, see if your public library has the publications you read and schedule time to go and read the magazines there.

Have any other tips or recommendations?  Please share and leave a comment!  Thanks!

Repurpose Glass Jars!

1 Dec

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Glass jars can be repurposed as a vase or to help you de-clutter and organize! For example, my wife loves the bottled Starbucks Frapuccinos with some added milk to tone down the sweetness in the morning.  These bottles are a nice size to repurpose as a vase – my preschooler loved placing flowers from our yard into the bottle on our dining room table during the Spring and Summer!  Another example is how my wife uses a glass spaghetti sauce jar to store home-made jam/preserves!

Also, the glass jars from Earth’s Best baby food are great when repurposed to bring out a daily amount of Cheerios/dry snacks for your infant/toddler.  These small jars fit easily into a diaper bag!  Remember, glass is BPA free! We also use these small glass jars to de-clutter and organize craft items – great containers for beads, buttons, etc or to rinse out paint brushes when your child is doing art at home!  Additionally, we use these jars to hold the “fancy” toothpicks and skewers for our daughter’s bento style lunch box!

Another great repurposing idea I came across is from Rikkihibbert.co.za – she has a great blog post of using glass jars as photo frames.  It’s super cool!  Be sure to check it out!

So, think about repurposing glass jars in your home – it’s useful recycling that can help you de-clutter and organize!