24 April 2008

Can-Can Container Planting

This type of container - a circular cardboard/steel affair - must be native to the US as I don't remember seeing them in Canada. But suddenly my cupboards are overflowing with these empty coffee and oatmeal containers (don't worry, I finally found a decent bulk foods store). Then, for a variety of health reasons, I had to start buying formula for my baby daughter and the rapidly piling up empty cans added to the guilt I already felt about not being able to continue breastfeeding. It was time to make these cans into something useful and beautiful and declutter my psyche along with my cupboards.

Here's what I did:

I had some leftover ice blue paint from a backyard furniture project (Baby Bonnet by Glidden) so I spent an hour or so gathering up the containers and painting their exteriors. Be careful, try not to slather too much paint on or the paper shell will buckle a little.

Once painted, I drove a nail 4 or 5 times in the bottom of the can to make drainage holes.

I wanted to use white paint for the lettering but a quick root through my paint box only brought up a zinc oxide white - too transparent for this
project. Instead I chose Naples Yellow and used my set of rubber letter stamps to label the cans. I'm transplanting a bunch of seedlings later this month and want to be sure to remember what I planted. Suddenly container gardening is inexpensive and rather pretty.

In the background of the first photo, you can see my makeshift starter greenhouse for my seedlings - essentially Jiffy Pellets left to soak in a spare muffin tin. I put them in an East facing window and after planting the seeds, I covered the pellets with clear plastic containers (ex-salsa containers) and wrote the name of the plant-to-be in dry erase marker on the top.

I confess I have, if not a black thumb, than a scarily mordant grey thumb. I'll let you know in a few weeks if they actually grow...

I'm using some other cans as pantry cannisters. What do you use yours for?

21 April 2008

Join the Make Do Revolution

Make Do is:

A Movement.
A Manifesto.
A Way of Life.
A Revolution.

Get by with what you have.
Resist the urge to upgrade.
A "Depression" mentality that isn't depressing.
But also -

Limit options and expand your creativity.

I scribbled these words down on the back of a mail-in rebate card while sitting in a library some months ago and have kept them close ever since, knowing they somehow encapsulate some very specific truths and important values that I have. My greatest feelings of accomplishment and bursts of creativity stem from the times when I had to make it work, found a new use for an old object or create a delicious dinner from the tired leftovers in the fridge. My husband jokingly accuses me of growing up in the Depression (I also have a serious saving issue that unfortunately doesn't extend to money) but I take a small pride in my '30's ways. Not to say that I throw out less than one cubic inch of garbage a week or have completely stopped shopping at Target, much as I try. Or don't covet new shoes. Or say screw it when I look in my seemingly empty fridge and eat at the Cookout for dinner. You will not , I hope, find a sanctimonious attitude here. But maybe a few ideas from myself and hopefully some like-minded friends.

Enough blather. A blank canvas frightens me. Repurposing invigorates me. It's a win-win-win equation: creativity + thriftiness + environmental responsibility = Make!Do!
Won't you join me?