Friday, April 18, 2008

Just Call Me MacGyver

Tip Of The Day: You see an empty coffee can, I see a piggy bank. You see an old sock, I see a dust rag. You see a pack of gum, I see the makings of a bomb… okay, maybe not the last one.
Today we’re looking at our stuff in a whole new way, and repurposing it for new, well, purposes.

Tip For The Weekend: If you were me (and clearly, you are not, seeing as how I am me and you are you. Whatever.), you would be getting your NERD on by working on your Ren Fest costumes this Saturday, 4 months before the Fest even starts.
I just like to be prepared. Ooooo, and shiny.

Further Elucidation Of My Cheap Deal: The other day I was in my shower – aka. The Land Where All Great Ideas Live – and I had, oddly enough, a Great Idea. Not a brilliant idea, like Blair from The Facts Of Life. (Is it just me, or did you want to SMACK HER SMUG FACE RIGHT UP every time she announced that she had another so-called brilliant idea? No? Oh.)

Anyway, there I was, in the shower. And I noticed that part of my shower curtain had turned pink. I touched it, and it was kinda slimy. My first thought was, ‘oh, that must be the residue from my shampoo.’

But then it occurred to me. I don’t HAVE pink shampoo, or conditioner, or soap. In fact, nothing pink at all has ever resided in my shower.

Then it slowly dawned on me, like John Mayer’s UTTER LACK OF TALENT may slowly dawn on him some day, that slime was not residue. Oh no. Oh no no no. That was mold. In my shower. Mere inches from my skin.

After the screaming and the spraying of bleach and the dousing with boiling water had ended, I decided I needed a new curtain anyway. Perhaps a pink one, to hide future mold issues. As I prepared to remove the offending curtain, part of my brain reminded me to keep it (post bleaching and drying, of course) for future use.

And THAT is when The Land Of Great Ideas shipped an evacuee to my brain. I would write a post about reusing and repurposing stuff you already have. To extend the life of the object, or use it in a new way. Because using what you’ve got, instead of buying something new, is not only frugal, it’s FREE.

So here you go –new uses for old stuff:

Old shower curtains: Ma and I use these as water-proof drop clothes when we paint. You can use them for any painting project – walls, furniture, kids finger-painting – and nothing leaks through. Just make sure the curtain doesn’t have any holes.

Office cork boards (below): You could use one to display notes or pictures or souvenirs. But I use mine to show off something a bit more near and dear to my heart – my shiny objects.
Shove a bunch of peg-shaped push pins into the board. Then artfully hang your necklaces and bracelets from them. This looks nice, and reminds you of all the cool accessories you already own – so you don’t forget and buy a duplicate.
Notice I didn’t tell you to rip off all these supplies (cork board, push pins) from your place of work. That’s between you and your conscience.

Hair styling implements: I use my blow dryer and curling iron as makeshift irons for my clothes. Once upon a time, I had to wear collared shirts to work, and the collars never dried straight. So I’d clamp the hot curling iron around the tip, hold for a moment, and voila! Neatly pressed collar.
I use the blow dryer to smooth out the lumps my hangers leave in my shirts at the shoulders. Just cup the material in your hand, and aim the dryer at it on full blast (be careful you don’t burn yourself). For particularly stubborn lumps, I put a bit of water on the spot first. Obviously, don’t do this with delicate fabrics like silk.

Jelly jars and other solid glass jars (below): I love the look of glass in my bathroom, but glass containers cost a fortune. So I just use leftover small glass food jars (washed and with the sticker removed, natch) to store stuff – make-up brushes, lip glosses, eye pencils, etc.

Empty closets: If you are lucky enough to have a wholly or partially empty closet, A. do a happy dance. Then, B. use it to air dry your clothes. As I’ve mentioned before, I air dry pretty much everything I wear, to prevent shrinkage and fading. I use the mostly empty closet in my spare bedroom as a massive drying rack.
If this tip makes you angry, because all of your closets are fill to the brim, sorry. I live alone, so I have extra space. Oooo, do you want to move in with me? We’d have fun! And also, margaritas!

The microwave:
First, I must admit, I TOTALLY stole this idea from Real Simple Magazine. But then, thievery is the most sincere form of flattery, right?
Use your microwave to sterilize your dishrag. Thoroughly dampen the rag, place it in the microwave, and nuke it on High for about 2-3 minutes. The water in the rag will boil, thus sterilizing it and killing most nasty germs. Just be VERY CAREFUL when you remove the rag – clearly, it will be hot.

Old booze bottles (below): My Ma uses old, long-necked beer bottles to water her indoor plants. The long, thin neck allows her to get the water right at the base of the plant, for maximum watering efficiency.
My former roommate, Zan, once used an old beer bottle to store her Scrunchies. She doesn’t wear them any more (and really? Neither should you.), but I always thought it was a clever idea. You can still use the bottle to hold non-Scrunchie circular hair binders.
Speaking of new uses for the remnants of last night’s bender – I use empty wine bottles as boot-shapers. Just pop the empty into your boot – it helps hold the boot’s shape and makes it stand up better.

Store-bought picture frames (below): Their standard use is for framing photos. I also use mine to frame artwork – either created by friends, or snipped from magazines, greeting cards, etc. This makes cool, cheap art that no one else owns.

Honestly, I could go on and on and on… but enough about my ideas. I’d like to hear from YOU. In what ways do you repurpose or reuse things? How do you use your stuff in new and creative ways? Inquiring minds want to know.


LaRue said...

You know, you could also use boots as places to HIDE the liquor you don't want members of your family to drink. But only if you are over 21, missy! Because Lord knows I never drank before I was 21. Its cause I'm a Puritan, you know.

I personally liked to put my green scrubby pad in the dishwasher every so often to sterilize it. I also do this with hairbrushes. If the idea of hair in with plates offends you, you can wash them in a separate load.

Also? Let's be honest here. The only reason we are working on Ren Fest costumes now is A) I am bossy and require everyone to wear something new every year and B) I sew most of the stuff and refuse to sew everything in a 72 hour window again. But really, its all my own fault.

But! There will be margaritas. My donation to the cause.

Marketing Mama said...

LOL about the scrunchie comment! (I only have one, and I only wear it in the middle of the night, in the dark - and never out of the house).

I used an old accordian-style coffee mug peg rack/hangie thing in my bedroom to hang necklaces from. Like your bulletin board idea, only, with pegs.

Amy the Mom said... know you can run that old shower curtain liner through your washer on the gentle cycle with some bleach and it gets that nasty pink mold right out. But that right there is why I no longer have shower curtains. Ish.

Okay, here's my favorite tip-
Cornstarch is the absolute best thing in the world to treat diaper rash-the cheapest, too. Nothing will relieve that discomfort for a baby faster. Whenever I go to a baby shower I give the new mom a box of it. Then I explain the use after they give me a puzzled look.

Mia said...

You can also make an office corkboard very nice-looking by covering it with fabric and strips of ribbon (to tuck photos and notes between) held down with flat thumbtacks.**

**By the way, I'm too lazy to do this. But I have SEEN my crafty coworker do this!

mia said...

Big clear glass or plastic jars (that originally held things like pickles, snacks, candy in bulk, etc.) are good for storing things like flour, sugar, pasta, and rice in the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

When you get a chance, google "TM 31 210" - its great reading, but less so when its required for class ;-)

El Jefe

mia said...

Altoid tins also make lovely homes for all kinds of crap (safety pins, aspirin, paper clips, etc.)

mia said...

This Altoids tin survival kit may be overkill, but it illustrates the possibilities of Altoid tins:

Michelle said...

I think you're better than Mac Gyver! Very impressed with your repurposing tips. Hmmm... about the only thing I really repurpose (I know, I know, shame on me) is my jeans. In the summer I cuff them and wear them as capris. I like to call them my poor man's capris.

Anonymous said...

I save on hot water by thinking in reverse. For example, when I'm showering and I want the water hotter, instead of turning up the hot water,I turn down the cold water. If I want it colder, I turn down the hot water. Since hot water is a key expense of energy bills, this can really add up. -- Karen U. from Grove City