Upcycled shades into DIY solar lights

I L♥VE vintage light shades. Whenever I see them cheap at garage sales or the ReStore, I buy them. These shades cost between fifty cents and a dollar each.

I knew I wanted to repurpose them in some way and this is what I came up with.

I bought some inexpensive plastic solar lights ($10.11 for 8 lights) from Amazon and just used the solar lids. The lid has the solar panel, light bulb and battery compartment.You could also buy outdoor solar lights at the dollar store, but they never have them at mine. In the past, I’ve used old solar lids off of broken/weathered lights. It’s easy and inexpensive to replace the batteries if they’ve stopped recharging.

I measured the bottom inside of the shades, then used a compass to mark circles on scrap wood and cut them out on the band saw. They don’t need to be perfect, just approximately the right size, as long as they fit under the shade.

Then I sprayed the wood circles with adhesive and applied some aluminum foil to the circles. You need to spray adhesive both the wood and the foil, then let dry for a few minutes until tacky. As you can probably tell, I also recycled some used foil, instead of using brand new. The aluminum foil helps reflect the light off of the soil under the shade.

We live in a very windy area, so the caps need to be attached somehow. I  applied silicone to the tops of the shades, placed the solar caps on top and weighted them down while the silicone dried. I used silicone so that I would be able to remove the lid when the batteries wear out and need to be replaced.

One of my favorite parts of this project was getting to use an antique compass that belonged to my grandfather!

Place the foil wrapped circles on the ground (foil side up) and place the shade over the circle. The light will reflect off of the foil and light up the shade.

The lights turned out wonderful. I placed them around our yard and near the entrance gate.

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They look good during the day and awesome at night!

These DIY solar lights cost me about $8 for all four. $1.26 each for the lights lids and $3.00 for all of the shades. I had everything else in the shop. Plus, I still have four more lids to use in the future.

What do you think? Do you like them?

Vi snakkes! (“See you later” in Norwegian)

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Making a new crate look vintage by staining with tea

I picked up a new, inexpensive crate on sale at Michael’s for only $3.99. I wanted it to look old, so I surfed around on the internet for a good, non-toxic way to stain it. I’ve heard of staining wood with tea (black tea contains tannins, which can darken wood), but I’ve never tried it before. I thought I’d give it a whirl. It turned out wonderful and it was so great to do it all without gross, toxic chemicals!

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First, you take a little steel wool and soak it in some white vinegar (enough to cover the steel wool) for a few days. I let mine sit in a mason jar (with the cap just sitting on top) for 3 days. The steel wool will partially disintegrate, but not completely.

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Second, you need some used tea bags. I make a 3 quart pitcher of iced tea every day, so I saved the used tea bags in a bowl for about 5-6 days. That means I had about15-18 family size tea bags all together.

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When the steel wool/vinegar mixture is ready to use, place your tea bags in a separate container or bowl. Boil some water, pour the hot water over the tea bags and leave to steep for a few hours.

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Discard the tea bags. Brush the tea mixture onto your entire prepped wood project. The tea contains tannic acid that is transferred to the wood.The tea mixture does not need to stay hot for this to work. The color will not really change, it will just look wet. Let the wood dry.

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After the entire piece is dry, brush the steel wool/vinegar mixture onto your piece, the color will immediately start to change and will continue to darken as it dries. Let it dry completely. You can sand it afterward (to lighten the color) or leave it as is.

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While I was at it, I also stained a little star sign that I picked up at Michael’s for.. you guessed it… $3.99. The star was pre-aged, but the little sign was plain, unstained wood.

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Tips:

Wear gloves.

Cover your work surface (if you care about it)

I’m planning to sand the crate just a little and then add some character to it (not sure what yet). I’ll post an update when I do.

Vi snakkes! (“See you later” in Norwegian)

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We have… cilantro??

 

I love the smell of rosemary. At one of our prior homes, the previous occupant had planted rosemary and mint, and both of the plants were huge. I loved it.

So, when I happened to come across rosemary seeds at my local home improvement store, I bought them. I was planning to plant only heirloom seeds, but I caved in and bought these seeds anyway. My reasoning was that, since we rarely cook with rosemary, this plant would be purely ornamental. Lame excuse, I know.

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I planted the rosemary seeds… or what I thought were rosemary seeds over a month ago. As the plant started sprouting, I thought to myself “That doesn’t look like rosemary”. It continued to grow and it is indeed NOT rosemary, it’s cilantro! I pulled off a leaf and it is very tasty cilantro, but not at all rosemary. I’ve never had this happen before. Have you?

 

 

The goods news is that we do a LOT of cooking with Cilantro! I now have rosemary growing as well.

 

 

Happy Planting,

Regrown Veggie Update

Sorry, I haven’t posted in a while. My mom came for a visit and I didn’t post while she was here. After she left, I was busy with Spring Break, yard work, going to garage sales (Fridays and Saturdays!), and everything around the house.

Anyhow, I wanted to update you all on our vegetable regrowing efforts.

Green Onions: We LOVE having green onions always available in the kitchen! It’s so great to just grab the kitchen shears and clip some green onions for a salad, baked potato, or whatever. It’s really handy.

Napa Cabbage: The plant has grown very tall and has really pretty yellow flowers. I haven’t seen any seeds to save, but I really enjoy having this beautiful plant growing in my kitchen window. I’m going to keep regrowing these.

Green Cabbage: The first green cabbage has regrown leaves (as you can see below). I’m not sure where we are going to end up, but it’s also a pretty windowsill plant just the same. The second one has just started growing new leaves.

Celery: We’ve been regrowing 3 different celery bases. They are growing slowly, but you can see the celery stalks growing. This afternoon, I saw a post somewhere and the person had buried and completely covered the celery base in soil. It seemed to be working better. I’ll try that next time.

I hope you had an awesome April,

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… and Regrow Veggies?

Have you ever read an article entitled “10 ways to save money and the planet” (or something similar)? Then, as you read the same old suggestions such as “Change all your bulbs to CFL’s” or “Don’t buy bottled water”, you think “I already do ALL of this stuff! (and who doesn’t??)”. I do that all the time. I’m always looking for something new… and then I heard about this.

Did you know that you can regrow certain veggies? I didn’t, until recently. As soon as I read about it, we started experimenting and it works.

We started with green onions and romaine lettuce. The onions grow like crazy. Just cut off the root end of your onion. We don’t use the white part of the onion, so we cut it off right where the green turns white.  Some people cut them almost all the way to the roots, so whatever works for you. Soak the onion root ends in a bowl, glass or jar of water. You can do this for a few hours or a few days, whatever works for you. The onions will grow in just water, but do way better after being planted in some good potting soil. We had some in just water for a week, some for a little longer and some for just a few days before being potted.

If you hover your mouse over the photos below, you’ll see how long these had been growing.

After 1 day

After 2 days

After 3 days

After 5 days

As you can see below, we also experimented with Napa Cabbage (in the Tropicana bottle) and Romaine Lettuce (in the Greek Yogurt container).  You can see where they were cut and the re-growth so far.  In this photo the lettuce and cabbage were about 9 days along. The onions on the left have been growing for 8 days in that glass, the onions on the right for one day in the bowl.

After 8 days

After 22 days (inner) & 15 days (outer)

As you can see the inner onions aren’t as long or big around as the outer onions, which grew for 7 days less. I’m not sure if it’s because the onions soaked in a bowl of water, as opposed to a glass, or because the first bunch wasn’t as fresh when I cut them. The roots were pretty intertwined from being in a small glass, so I planted them close together. I have noticed that the third bunch I’m starting seems to be doing very well in a bowl of water.

The romaine has been doing okay. It grew pretty fast (as you can see), but it was tall and there were only a hand full of leaves. I just cut off the re-growth last night and planted the base in soil. I had been waiting for it to have more root growth, but I read yesterday that most people just soak for a short time and then plant in soil.

After 22 days

Trimmed and planted

The Napa cabbage has also grown into a tall shoot and flowered. I read more about it and when Napa Cabbage gets cold, it “bolts”, which means it goes to seed. I was waiting for roots to grow and they did, but it shot up at the same time. I don’t think it would do any good to plant it now. I’m going to try to save and use the seeds. Wish me luck!

Napa Cabbage Bolted

Napa Cabbage Flowers/Seeds

Napa Cabbage roots

These celery roots soaked in water for 14 and 20 days, respectively. They weren’t growing any roots, so I read more about it and decided to pot them in soil. We’ll see how they do.

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We’ve also just started experimenting with good old Green Cabbage. Nothing to report so far.

We gave the green onions a trim last night and used them in our dinner. We had Chinese Chicken Salad and it was extra delicious. I think that may be because we used something that we actually grew ourselves… sort of!

I’ll post the recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad soon.

Happy Growing,

 

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Free Heirloom Seeds

My free heirloom seeds arrived today from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds! I was so delighted to see the envelope in the mailbox.They sent me free seeds because I signed up for the Grow it Forward Seed Contest.

As you can see below, we received Asparagus Beans, German Lunchbox Tomatoes, Giant Yellow Bell Peppers,  White Belgian Carrots, and Phlox Beauty Flower seeds. They will be such a wonderful accompaniment to the seeds we’ve already started for our first garden this year.

Free Heirloom Seeds

About four years ago, I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and got really interested in the local food and heirloom seed movements. The more I learned about Monsanto and GMO’s, the more I wanted to use only heirloom seeds and join a seed saver club.

Did you know an estimated 75 to 80% of processed food in the U.S. contains GMOs? For the past 15 years, Americans have been denied the basic right to know what’s in our food, despite the fact that more than 50 countries around the world already require labeling of genetically engineered food.

Now that we own our own acre of land, I’m excited at the prospect of growing and raising our own food. This is going to be a great year!

For more information on the seed contest, you can click on the link below:

Happy planting!

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Shop small businesses!

I posted this before the holidays, but I think it should be followed throughout the entire year, so I’m posting it again! 

Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of

cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor.

This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans.

There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It’s time to think outside the box, people.

Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love

to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamines on a Chinese made flat-screen?

Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or

driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates.

And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint.

Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town

Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal.

Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves.

They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Buying a piece of furniture for the holidays?

Don’t buy “imported” cheap crap from IKEA,

Ashley, LaZBoy or some other mega chain store.

Buy a piece of furniture that was lovingly handmade by a local furniture maker and will last forever.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip.

And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house?

When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community.

If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city.

Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow

their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities,

and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine.

THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

Share this! Forward this to everyone on your mailing list — post it to discussion

groups — throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in

your city — send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations,

and TV news departments.

This is a revolution of caring about each other,

and isn’t that what Christmas is about?

   

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