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.

 

 

Spring Awakening

Although it seems like all’s been quiet on The Green Bin front for the last few weeks, there’s actually been so much happening behind the scenes!

Now that I’ve got a couple large commissioned projects finished and happily tucked away in their new homes, I’m ready to officially unveil a new The Green Bin website and logo!

They reflect the direction that The Green Bin has been taking for the past few months: a furniture and home goods upcycling business that blogs about eco related topics.

How did this happen?

Well, The Green Bin began as an eco blog.

At around the same time, I rediscovered my love for refinishing and upcycling furniture. Before long, I was selling pieces and having fun doing it.

It just made sense to combine the two elements under The Green Bin.

Upcycling falls into the green movement as it offers a more conscientious alternative to buying new goods.

Refusing to buy new products reduces our carbon footprint and upcycling keeps items with life left in them out of landfills.

It also helps reuse items no longer wanted or loved, repairs anything that needs attention and extends the life and beauty of furniture and home goods.

Plus, there are so many gorgeous, vintage, unique and custom pieces out there to find!

Welcome to the new and improved The Green Bin.

 

 

Mossy Obsession

Moss green is my latest colour obsession.

I’m not sure if I’m already anticipating spring, which is not a good sign because it’s mid-January in Canada, or simply just in love with this colour.

Either way, I just want to paint everything in various shades of this lovely green.

So I am.

I was attracted to this vintage dresser because of its waterfall front, detailed wood carving and lovely handles.


 I knew it would be amazing in moss. I wasn’t wrong.

To keep interest in the piece and add depth to the colour, I distressed it with sand paper then I very, very, very lightly painted what I purposely over-sanded.

But I did run into a problem: I have no room for it in my house!

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Shabby Chic Dresser

I was so pleased when I came across this dresser. It was in perfect condition.

There were no funky smells to get rid of, no wonky drawers to realign, no knobs to replace and no parts to repair.

With its dovetail joints, beautiful lines and amazing vintage handle pulls, it certainly was a dream piece to bring back to life.

Did it need to be redone?

It certainly did.

The pattern in the wood killed me.

IMG_1010“What exactly am I looking at here?”

Maybe I have a vivid imagination, maybe not.

But I certainly don’t think I’m alone in thinking that this dresser has the oddest wood pattern I can ever recall seeing on the front of a dresser.

So I painted right over top of it in a lovely antique white.

The first coat almost always ends with me seriously regretting my paint colour choice. There’s something ugly in a first coat of paint. With this project, I even seriously regretted it after the second coat.

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But by the time the third coat went on, I was so pleased with my decision to go with antique white that taking the paint off to distress it in a vintage shabby chic style was a tad painful.

But I did it anyways and I love the way it turned out.

And so does the lovely lady who gave it a new home in a place I had never thought to put a dresser: an office!

She said that she was surrounded by ugly office furniture and “needed something beautiful to look at all day”.

So this vintage dresser is now fulfilling the role of a filing cabinet and probably gets more attention that it ever would in a bedroom.

After

 

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Is Your Christmas Tree Still Around?

Ours certainly is.

But it’s not too late to do fun and beneficial things with the yet-to-be-disposed-of trees.

Check out some of these ideas:

Some local farms appreciate donated trees. Turns out that goats love them! So find a local goat farm and see if it wants your tree.

Tree trimmings make excellent wreaths so try your hand at making a winter-y themed wreath.

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Make a natural potpourri. Just grab a bunch of clippings, a quarter of an orange, a cinnamon stick and a few whole cloves and mix with water. Turn the stove on low and enjoy the seeping aroma. Do keep an eye on the water level though.

Put it in the backyard and load it up with bird friendly food. It’ll act as a sanctuary for small birds.

Have a bonfire.

I’ll be making another wreath and some potpourri before it’ll go in the backyard laden with treats for the birds.

We’ll bird watch until the snow melts away in the spring, then we’ll have a bonfire.

Happy New Year!

Jill

 

 

Jewelry Box Makeover

I found this very dated jewelry box at a second hand store in the summer and bought it with the intention of giving it a makeover and gifting it to my three year old for Christmas.


Naturally, I didn’t hide if very well and she found it (more than once). Every time she played with it, she told me how much she liked it. It was destined to be a hit.

I thought about reconstructing it to really make it unique but reason won. She’s three and a half and her little sister’s current nickname is “The Destroyer”.

I’ll be happy if the jewelry box makes it through to the end of January.

They will eventually each get an heirloom box but that can wait until they can appreciate, and not tear apart, pretty things.

For those reasons, I kept this makeover simple.

Luckily the itty bitty handle pulls are quite lovely and complement the colour I chose, “sovereign”, quite well.

I used four different but equally pretty pretty crafting paper I had kicking around. I applied Modge Podge to both glue and seal the paper to the glass.



On Christmas morning, it was a hit.

She loved the box and the bracelets I hid inside.

We bonded on a busy Christmas morning when I explained that was a special gift just for me to her. She understood.

Every time someone comes over, she brings them to show them her “special” jewelry box.

Awwww.

This was such a fun project to work on that I can’t wait to work on more custom jewelry boxes.

 

But Sometimes You Need to Buy Things

I’m tired of being told by advertisers and retailers when to shop, what to buy and what I need.

Stores filled with St-Valentine’s hearts in December, St-Patrick’s Day paraphernalia and plastic Easter baskets in mid-February, orange Halloween decorations in the summer, Christmas in September and mega-sales on bonafide holidays have driven me to spend my money elsewhere.

There’s nothing of quality in most the aforementioned holiday stuff. It’s all junk, made overseas, brought here by exhaust producing transport trucks and packaged in plastic. Once broken or used a couple of times, the garbage truck will bring the items to the dump where they won’t decompose or degrade for decades.

That’s a pretty grim reality for most things were buy.

The anti-consumerism movements that have taken off in recent years are amazing. And some are even retailer supported.

Patagonia, the California based outdoor clothing company, is encouraging people who own their clothing to repair and trade amongst themselves rather than buy new. There aren’t many retailers who support and encourage consumers to extend the life of their products.

And the Canadian who started Buy Nothing Day is a prince among thieves, in my opinion.

As a consumer who is aware of my carbon footprint, I buy a lot of pre-loved clothing, toys and wares, I upcycle furniture while maintaining a minimal impact, I don’t buy throw away goods and I reuse as much as I can.

The last few pieces of new clothing I can remember buying were maternity or pre-maternity. Since I only go to playgroups and paint stores now, I’ve mostly gotten away with it.

But when I realized that most of my clothing is ill-fitting, off season or paint stained, I decided it was time to shop for myself. I can’t wear my tight paint stained shorts during a Canadian January.

So we packed up for an outing to the mall today.

And, ouch.

I stood in front of the only retailer that I knew would have a few things that would fit, that I’d like, that would be reasonably price and that would get my kids home in time for lunch: The Gap.

Then I saw the sign: “50% Black Friday Sale”.

Sigh.

I went in anyways because outings with two young children in tow are difficult to manage. I went in because I desperately needed clothing, for myself. I went in because I didn’t go there expecting a sale. I went in because it was the Wednesday before Black Friday.

I bought a few things because I know my track record. I’ll repair them when they rip and the buttons fall off and, once I can’t repair them anymore, I’ll cut them into rags and use them to buff wax from my latest piece of furniture.

Because sometimes we need to buy things.

 

 

 

 

Paper Cup Chaos

The media seems obsessed with the Starbucks paper cup controversy and causing people to rethink the meaning of Christams and the colour red.

What a crock.

The whole debated is trivial and cause for distraction.

If anyone honestly thinks that Starbucks has the power to insult Christmas, it’s time to get their head out of corporate asses

What’s offensive are the paper cups themselves.

They’re a burden on our environment, a waste of precious resources and a prime example of how lazy and wasteful we’ve become. It’s time to shift away from our throw away culture and invest in long(er) term goods and services.

Ditch the paper cups. Get a mug. A pretty red one 🙂

Pickling Magic

Pickling is pure magic.

Not only does it extend the life of fresh food way longer than nature intended, it brings back my childhood memories of standing in my Memère’s kitchen while she made cucumber pickles.

It reminds me of a simpler time, when people preserved their harvest in anticipation of colder days and when ingredients were more natural.

Sure we live in modern times and buying pre-made items is easy.

But it seems that just about everything in a conventional grocery store is laden with questionable ingredients and made by just a handful of corporations.

The pickles that line the shelves seem so innocent yet they’re made with Polysorbate 80 and Tartrazine.

Polysorbate is also present in influenza vaccines and used as an ingredient to make ice cream melt slower. Makes ice cream melt slower? Yup, there’s a chemical that does that and it’s in your pickles (and ice cream!).

Tartrazine, the artificial yellow food dye also known as Yellow  5, is commonly associated with asthma and hyperactivity in children.

Those are not things needed in pickles!

Since I like real ingredients that are pronounceable and in my pantry, I just make my own pickles now.

I’m mostly always short on time lately so I don’t have a day to dedicate to making pickles for the winter. I can however dedicate ten minutes every couple of months to make refrigerator pickles.

This recipe takes no skill, time or special ingredients. Two large jars can be filled in five minutes — if you’re quick with the cooking knife.

If you’re more patient that I am, you’ll wait four days until the pickles have sat long enough to reach their optimal flavour. I, however, eat half a jar as soon as the pickles are cool enough to pop into my mouth. Of course they’re better after waiting a few days but what’s the fun in that?

I find these pickles are especially satisfying when the garlic, cucumber and onion come from the garden.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups sliced cucumbers
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 4 cloves thinly sliced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Method:

  • Sterilize two large jars and lids
  • Mix cucumbers and onions in a large heat proof bowl
  • Combine vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seeds, celery seeds, turmeric, ground red pepper, ground pepper    and garlic in a small saucepan
  • Stir well, bring to a boil and cook for one minute
  • Pour over cucumber and onion mixture
  • Allow to cool
  • Pour in sterilized jars
  • Let sit in the refrigerator for four days, or not.

Leave the Polysorbate 80 and Tartrazine at the grocery store.

Happy pickling!

Jill

The Mystery of Unwanted Clothing

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I think most of us are guilty of not giving a second thought to items we recycle, compost, sell or discard in the trash.

I certainly don’t ponder the fate of cans or boxes after they’re picked up by the recycling truck. I trust that they go off to the recycling plant and are crushed, melted or broken down before being turned into something shiny and useful.

But I am curious about the fate of textiles, particularly clothing. (And mattresses but that’s a topic for another day.)

I have a tendency to keep old ripped clothing that is unfit to be donated. I hope to do something magically crafty with it one day. I think it’s noble but apparently that makes me a bit of a hoarder.

One reason I do this is because I don’t know what else to do with it.

I won’t throw it out because it will sit in a landfill. I won’t donate it because it’s passing along broken junk that will probably get put in a landfill.

So it sits in a box in my basement next to my sewing machine that has had too little use.

I happily donate clothing that is in excellent condition. Those items will surely be sold or re-donated by the pre-loved clothing retailers or community services that receive them.

But what of the donated items that aren’t deemed good enough for that?

The old ripped shirts, sweaters with broken zippers, pants with worn pockets, socks that never found their mates and pajamas that have seen too many nights surely go somewhere.

But where?

Check out Unravel for some answers. It’s an award-winning short film about garment recycling and the workers behind the massive industry so many of us know little about.

It’s fascinating. Whether for good or bad, I’ll never think about donating clothing the same way again.

Happy viewing,

Jill