On the Road

I took a little road trip with my girls recently and we had a blast.

Now that my youngest is two, and much more manageable than she used to be, overnight trips are becoming much more interesting.

Not only did we have a blast hanging out with family and friends that we hardly ever get to see, but I managed to squeeze in two refinishing projects that my mom has wanted me to do for a while.

The first project was a pair of two beautiful tall end tables from Pier 1 a couple of years ago and wanted to change them up a bit.

I have to admit, I was hesitant. The wood was still quite pretty but she felt they were bland and needed updating.

Off we went to a local crazy huge box store for paint.

The two ladies working behind the cash might have been new to the paint department and kinda messed up my request for “black” paint. Instead I got a deep charcoal in an eggshell finish, rather than my usual flat finish.

The first coat was meh while the second coat was absolutely glorious.

It didn’t take long for the paint to the dry on a deck on a hot summer morning. Before long I was sanding the sides and corners with 220, 400 and 600 grit sandpaper.

A coat of wax with my newly acquired (and luxurious!) wax brush quickly sent this project to a beautiful finish line.

It was my first on the road project and it was so fun.

 

 

 

Rustic Growth Charts

Kids grow fast, there’s no doubt about it.

I wanted a clever and cute way to monitor just how fast my own girls were growing so I set out and bought number stencils when my second born was six months old.

Apparently, having a baby and a toddler delays plans.

About a year later, still busy as can be and with the kids growing faster than I could ever imagine, my growth chart ideas never materalized.

Luckily my sister was going to three baby showers this past spring and needed gift ideas. The notion of growth charts re-emerged.

I did three for her and (finally) one for me.

Hers have been long since delivered, as well as the babies who received them, while I still haven’t settled on a final location for mine. Lol. Such is the life of someone who has far too many ideas for her own good.

However, now that I’m making these like mad, they’re happily hanging in other families’ homes.

They’ve become one of my favourite little projects and allow for a spectrum of creativity.

I have rustic growth charts in-stock growth charts and can offer custom made charts too. These are amazing birthday, baby shower or anytime gifts!

Send me an e-mail at jill@thegreenbin.org. 

Happy growing!

Salvaged Beauty

I picked up the homeliest little table on the curb one day.

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I contemplated leaving it right there in the rain but finally decided to bring it home.

All it needed was a little bit of love.

Love in this case meant gluing, clamping, removing random staples on the top’s underside and sanding.

My intention was to paint the whole thing after sanding but once I got the top layers off, this table showed me her true beauty.

I ditched my original plan and stained the top in walnut.

And I’m so glad that I did.

 

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Table top after staining in walnut

Look at how that grain pops!

I wanted this table to be a really cool, funky and original accent table so I chose nocturne, a lovely shade of blue.

And it goes brilliantly with the walnut top. Together they bring out the decorative brass detailing that blended in too well before this transformation.

I finished it off with a dark finishing wax to bring out the grain even more.

As is the case in so many pieces I’ve worked on, I wish I had the room for it in my house. She’s a real beauty.

Before & After

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“Don’t judge a book by its cover” – George Eliot

This piece is currently for sale.

 

 

Pop Up Sale

The Green Bin is having a Spring Pop Up Sale this Saturday, April 30th, from 8am to 1pm.

It’s happening at the same time as a street-wide garage sale so I’m taking advantage of extra traffic on my otherwise quiet street to put out my current inventory!

If you’re interested in either the garage sale or the Pop Up Sale, please send a message and I’ll send you my address.

Hope to see you there 🙂

No Junk Mail, Please

My hang up with ads, flyers and junk mail is long standing.

They are a misuse of resources.

“But Jill, they’re recyclable,” I’ve heard.

Yes, they certainly are.

What’s better than recycling? Not having to recycle.

The junk that shows up in mailboxes and doorsteps is a waste of resources, plain and simple.

Junk mail is a waste of trees, paper, water, ink, tiny plastic windows in envelops, thick plasticky bands that bind the piles together in distribution centres, gas, exhaust fumes and time spent on getting them out to households.

Ads, flyers and junk mail often contain information on services I don’t want, stores I don’t spend my money at, products I’ll never buy and political faces I don’t want to see in my mailbox.

Living in this technological world means easier access to the products we do want, at stores we frequent and for services we need.

We have apps and websites at our fingerprints that allow us to cherry pick what is of interest to us.

Stopping junk mail distribution is easy.

If you’re getting a pile of flyers on your doorstep at the same time as your free weekly local newspaper, call the distribution department and ask them to stop delivery.

If it’s in your mailbox, put a sign on it (or on the inside of your community box) asking for no unaddressed mail.

Save time. Save resources. Ditch the junk mail.

 

Turning Trash Into Puppy Love

Two local ladies are helping Ottawa’s pets in need by recycling and upcycling just about anything they can get their paws on.

Barbara Poulin and Melody Lachance run Empties for Paws – Barrhaven & Area, a not-for-profit group.

They turn appliances, textiles, empties (including wine box bladders!) into cash and supplies to help rescued cats and dogs.

The duo pick up, collect and sort broken Christmas lights, power cords, coffee makers, telephones and e-waste. 

They bring what they’ve collected to the scrap yard, where they are paid by the pound.

Local groups that benefit from the Barrhaven chapter of Empties for Paws include Adopt Me Cat Rescue, Safe Pet Ottawa, Pet Resource Bank and Vanier Street Cat Project.

The money helps the groups to get animals spayed or neutered, provide young kittens without their mothers with specialty food, assist seniors and low income pet owners with transportation to get to the vet and foster animals that need a home while their family members leave abusive situations.

The ladies have raised nearly 2,000$ since March 2015.

But it’s not all about the money.

Donations are another major factor in their achievements.

They pick up, collect and distribute donated carrying cases, cages, crates, beds, food, cat litter, litter boxes and toys.

These ladies are also crafty and creative. They upcycle gifted textiles, fabrics, towels and bedding; transforming them into animal beds, pads, toys and tuggs.

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Upcycled tuggs and beds.

I love this program. Helping local pets in need through a recycling and upcycling program has my two thumbs up.

So don’t throw out those random cords or telephones that don’t work! Don’t stick your beer cans in the recycling!

They have another purpose to serve: helping animals in need.

If you have anything that could help Barb and Melody on their mission with Ottawa rescued cats and dogs, please send me a message or be in touch with them directly.

They can be reached via the Empties for Paws – Barrhaven and area Facebook page.

If you’re reading this and are no where near Ottawa but would like to help, place a call to your local animal shelters or pet rescue organizations.

Super Duper Double Compost Fail

We operate two different compost bins and they were both absolute disasters last week.

I’m only able to write about it now because I’m finally starting to recover from the experience.

Compost bin number one, the city run compost program, gets the dirty compost — the meat, the questionable leftovers and anything that has oil and/or dairy.

It lives in the garage. Between barbecuing, toddler activities in the driveway, gardening and outdoor chores, the garage door is often open. So the flies come visit.

The bin was covered in maggots two weeks ago. Ewwwwwwww. Luckily for me, my partner put himself in charge of cleaning it up. The maggoty compost had to go somewhere so it was stuffed into two, or five, garbage bags. It’s time like these that you give up on composting THAT pile and chuck it to the trash.

With a garbage pick up every two weeks, things just got nasty in the summer heat.

My poor partner had to “deal with it” a couple more times before the garbage was finally picked up.

At the same time, compost bin number two, the outdoor compost, was exploding with fruit flies. This is the one I dealt with.

I thought I had a good ratio down but I needed much more brown material (dry leaves, shredded paper, coffee grinds, wood ash and dirt) for the amount of green material (egg shells, fruit and vegetable scraps) that I was putting in.

The fruit flies loved us.

So I remedied the issue and loaded the bin with much needed brown matter. Balance seems to be restored.

This week’s very steep learning curve made me question why I bother composting. The best answer I came up with was feeding nutritious earth to my garden and that’s only mildly motivating when dealing with two separate bug infestations.

As I heading outside with a bowl of vegetable scraps yesterday, my three year old said, “Are you going to the compost bin? Can I come see?”

And then it came back to me. I compost because I care where my food comes from and where it goes. I want my girls to care too.

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“And remember not to over think it. Everything rots eventually!”

Eating Out of Styrofoam

Well it looks like styrofoam is still a go to container in take-out restaurants and food festivals.

And I’m ashamed to say that I ate out of the dirty containers twice this weekend.

In fact, my whole weekend was pretty glutenous and I’m stuck somewhere between a bad hang over and shame.

Friday was a family reunion of sorts. Between my two busy kids, a handful of adults, a messy house and a few sore throats, pho, the Vietnamese soup of champions, seemed an easy solution. We got take-out and then got stuck with four giant styrofoam containers — which are not recyclable.

According to Clevland State Univeristy, it takes more than one million years for styrofoam to break down. One million years.

Is one million years worth the 15 minutes of convenience to have a lukewarm bowl pho in your kitchen? Not for a nanosecond.

With the styrofoam safely tucked away in a garbage bag in the garage and the guilt of the pho behind me, I went downtown for family reunion of sorts part II.

We met at the Ottawa Poutinefest on Sparks Street. For those not in the know, poutine is a highly celebrated Canadian concoction of french fries, cheese curds and gravy. Poutinefest vendors add a variety of new and innovative ingredients and mixes the beloved deep fried dish.

So we pick a food truck and order. Suddenly, I’m holding a styrofoam container and a plastic water bottle. Oops. And the guilt comes pouring down.

Now this guilt was two fold: first for the styrofoam and secondly for the incredible amount of grease, fat and over-the-top indulgence I’ve just ingested.

Had I just paid closer attention to each vendor stand, I would have noticed the type of containers the poutine was served in and could have gone to a vendor who gave out cardboard instead. I could have diverted at least one piece of styrofoam from the landfill.

Oh, but wait. Where are the recycling bins? They must be here somewhere. Nope, none in sight. I didn’t see even one recycling bin and I was looking for one. I even asked someone from my group if she noticed any.

She shook her head.

In the end, all the containers went into the garbage bin that day. Only the people who brought their cardboard, cans or bottles home recycled.

I’ve been to enough festivals, concerts and special events all over the world to know that some places are more mindful of the waste created during these gatherings than others. Cities like Amsterdam, Berlin and Tokyo do it right. There are recycling bins everywhere and everyone seems to do their part to keep their cities clean.

Unfortunately my own city, Ottawa, just keeps missing the mark.

And I missed the mark too. I don’t usually get faced with styrofoam. I don’t usually need to buy bottled water. I don’t usually go to food festivals downtown. I don’t usually eat so much awful food.

But I did this weekend. And it won’t happen like that again.