, , , , , ,

I’ve been busy busy busy with repurposing! The latest and greatest item came to my front door and was wrapped around the twin mattress for my daughter(big girl gets big bed). Not to mention the twin mattress was rolled up, placed in a vacuum sealed bag and delivered in a small box! The innovation of less packaging and a smaller environmental impact=amazing! Note: The mattress was a real 8″ thick, individual coil spring twin mattress, not an air mattress or foam mattress. It gained it’s form back within seconds and is comfy enough for even me.

So the wrap that was around the mattress was a pleasant brown color and was the same “fabric” used to make those cheap re-useable grocery bags. I could not just toss it in the dumpster.  It was a clean piece of fabric used to protect a mattress and it was not landfill friendly.

*BING*! Enter exciting ideas rushing through my head. I could make some grocery bags. Too cliche. I could make some wash-free clothing. Unlikely and weird(unless it’s wool). I could make…re-useable gift wrap!

I really dislike throwing away wrapping paper, but I do it because once it is ripped off of the package, it is mostly unusable. I do keep decorative bags and re-gift those. Even from a young age my mom kept a stack of funnies so I could use them to wrap gifts in. Why buy wrapping paper? Wrap a gift in a bunch of $1 bills. That would be awesome  and more appreciated/useful. Or you could implement re-useable gift bags and “unpaper”! It stores flat and is pest resistant, so no issues in a dark attic or damp basement.

The final product design ended up being a 16″ X 16″ drawstring bag on which I machine appliqued some scraps of felt to make it look more inviting. All I did was use a 16″ X  32″ (plus seam allowance) rectangle, folded it in half and sewed the sides to make a big pocket. Then I turned over a 1 1/2″ piece at the open end and sewed it to make a casing for the drawstring (scrap ribbon). I reinforced the opening with some vertical stitches, turned it inside out and voila, we have a re-useable gift bag. I call it REwrap!

If you don’t feel like making it on your own, check it out in my Old Life Redesigned store. You can even pair it with a blue jean gift card holder :).

I will also do custom orders if you need several bags, gift card holders, or want different sizes or appliques. Just email me at

What are you doing this year to cut down on disposable gift wrap?


Now Open: Old Life Redesigned


, ,


Wow! It is quite a feat to start a business, let alone start it Don’t Buy A Thing style!

Over the last few months I have been considering opening an online store that carries products from my blog as well as other products I have been making. After much prayer, I felt I should go ahead with it and I did!

I hope you will check it out and give some feedback! I am still adding products, so right now the choices are limited, but I am so excited to be creating and sharing my everyday items with the world (well, just the US for now).

You can reach the new store at or by clicking on the picture above.

Don’t Be a Packrat


, , ,

Reusing and upcycling in projects does not give you a free ticket to become a pack rat.

I spent all day cleaning and de-cluttering my office in preparation for baby #2 to move out of our bedroom and into his own room. It is a nightmare trying to figure out what to do with everything, mostly junk, that I don’t need or want but can’t seem to get rid of.

You know you are a pack rat if:

  • You have more than 5 things in your home that you haven’t used or looked at in more than 3 months
  • You have boxes that were never unpacked at the previous move
  • You find yourself saying, “I could use this someday. I can’t just throw it away.”
  • You also find yourself saying, “This is too interesting to throw away.”
  • You have a least one box of “stuff” that is just memorabilia that never made it into a scrapbook. Face it, how can you get rid of pictures even if they are really out of focus?

Lately I have been really enjoying repurposing items around the house. However, there is more freedom in being able to let go of an object (throw it away, recycle it outside of your home, give it away, etc.) than in keeping it in hopes that you will work it into your schedule. There is more freedom in knowing that you can say “no” to stuff lingering in the corners, filling the closets, and causing love ones to stumble. There is more freedom in having a clean, uncluttered room, than in having a room filled with junk you don’t know the extent of.

Can you say no to stuff? It is so hard, but it is SO much better.

In Luke 18, Jesus meets a rich man who wants to have eternal life. Jesus encourages him to follow the ten commandments, but the man says he has followed them from a very young age. Verse 22 says, “So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.'” Strange for Jesus to tell the man to sell all of his stuff? Why would Jesus say this? Finally verse 23 says, “But when he heard this, he(the rich man) because very sorrowful, for he was very rich.”(NIV)

This passage says more than just becoming poor in order to be a Christian. Jesus knows that because the rich man is “very rich”, the man is more focused on keeping his stuff than what is really important, following Jesus completely. He is a good man, but can he really get rid of his distracting possessions in order to commit to the truth?

Having too much stuff is confining whether you believe in Jesus or not. It can take time away from your family because you have to clean all the time. It can be stressful and cause health issues if your house is not very clean, or if there is mildew growing.

I have too much stuff. I grew up in a family that kept stuff. It is heredetary. It is easy. It is UNNECESSARY. I am still working on it and still have too much of it. I am not perfect and I know that stuff is causing problems in my life. Oh to live simply!

Get rid of your stuff. Don’t be a pack rat.


Repurposing in the Garden


, , , , ,

If anyone needs some leaf lettuce, I have SO MUCH GROWING! It came from an enormous package of seeds and while I did not plant them all, I certainly did not plant them sparingly either.

When I started the garden I knew I didn’t want to spend much money(if any). I got creative and resourceful and the following is what happened!

1. Gates for tomatoes

I didn’t want to spend $2-$4/cage for my tomato plants plus another $1-$3/plant for stakes. Instead, I searched the shed behind the house(anyone need a pair of spider-filled old high tops?) and found two chain link gate pieces. The height was perfect, the chrome was shiny, and they made a great way to trellis my tomatoes. Total cost was $4 since I bought two 10-foot pieces of electrical conduit, cut both in half and used them to anchor the gates. I used the super-long, heavy-duty twisty ties off of the soaker hose package to tie the gate to the conduit “stakes.”

2. T-Shirt ties

My Tomatoes needed to be secured to the gate trellis and I could not find that green soft-covered wire I used to have. Instead I used leftover t-shirt scraps that are two small to sew with. They will be soft on the plant’s stem and are 100% cotton, which is biodegradable.

3. Garden Borders

I found these in the shed too. They were marked $4 each for a piece of decorative plastic. It creates a nice boundary line for my two year old not to trespass over! You could easily use thick straight branches, rocks, a border of flowers, etc.

Garden Cost:

  • Tilled plot: Free by a neighbor
  • Tomato “cages” (fence pieces): Free
  • Conduit “stakes”: $2/each, total $4
  • Decorative border: Free
  • 2 bags organic compost(could be free if you have your own): $1.25/each, total $2.50
  • 2 bags topsoil: $1.25/each, total $2.50
  • 1 soaker hose: $11
  • 8 Tomato plants: Free from a neighbor
  • 3 Pepper plants: 3/$2, total $2
  • 2 pumpkin plants: Free from a friend
  • Seeds for cilantro, dill, beets, carrots, spinach:4/$1, total $1.25
  • Seeds for lettuce, bush cucumber, yellow squash:$1.69/each, total $5.07
  • Seeds for Peas, green beans: Free from previous garden

Total Cost: $28.32(The Don’t Buy a Thing Garden post said I had spent less than $25. I had forgotten to add the conduit stakes in to the total)

I will definitely grow more than $30 of vegetables this summer! After I installed the garden, I remembered how much stress it can relieve to play in the dirt. So not only will it help us save money by produce healthy fruits and veggies, it will also assist in avoiding stress-related health problems!

When are you going to begin your garden?

The Don’t Buy a Thing Garden


, , , , ,

The garden is in! It is planted and thriving! I have not had the time for a garden the last 2 years because of having a baby in August 2010 and moving to a new state May 2011. I almost did not have one this year because I had trouble justifying a set-up cost of $200 when I was probably not going to yield as much.

My garden did cost some money, but it was under $25(Correction: $30) I am proud to say, and would have been cheaper if I still had equipment from the old house. Hopefully I can pass on some garden thriftiness to you in the next few Garden Edition posts!


So, my garden was going to take place as a patio bucket garden, because I did not have the time to cultivate the clay soil and weeds in the rental house yard. In talking to my neighbor, he offered to till me a plot! It was wonderful! He even did a double pass. He also gave us some free tomato plants that he was not going to use. Another friend was so gracious and gave me two home-grown pumpkin plants. I love pumpkin.


What do you eat the most of? We eat a lot of Roma tomatoes because of all the Mexican dishes we make, so that was a must-have. We also eat pounds and pounds of tatuma squash(a type of zucchini) but I couldn’t find the seed variety in stores and bought yellow squash seeds instead. We needed some fresh herbs. They are cheap to grow, but can be expensive to buy fresh, so picking your own from as local a source as your yard is very nice.

Choose the few plants that you will really use and ask around. Many people buy 4 or 6-packs of plants but don’t need them all. Pair up with a friend! Especially pair up on seed packets or get your seeds at a discount somewhere. The dollar store had half-size seed packets, 4/$1. Do I seriously need 100 cucumber seeds when I only have space for 3 plants?


So you’ve never grown a thing in your life. Or maybe your green thumb is not quite as green as you would like. DON’T BE AFRAID! Just try it. There are two most common gardening problems: Forgetting to water your plants and overanalyzing how they should be growing. Just put the seeds or plants in the ground, water them daily until they have a good start, and then use some common sense. Or connect with someone that has good garden sense that can help you. God created plants to grow in spite of me. I am so thankful for this!


Yes it is June. Yes, the dollar store lady asked me why I was still trying to start a garden when I bought seeds the last week in May. But really, the plants I accumulated take 60ish days to bear good fruit. That means I will have yummy veggies in July! And August, and Sepetember depending on when the frost comest this year. Not to mention I bought the seeds when vacationing in Texas. Their growing season can go well into October, so go ahead and plant. It’s not too late to start.

Stay tuned to the Don’t Buy a Thing Garden.  The next post will include some tips for repurposing items for use in your garden!

“Happy Burpee” and Giveaway Winner!


, , ,

My daughter, who will be two in August, has been practicing her words all the time. Sometimes at night we hear, “Si mama. Si papa. Si mama,” coming from her room. Her most recent words have been “Happy Burpee” in celebration of her Abuelita’s birthday today! How much we love her is beyond words. Isn’t it amazing how the best gifts usually don’t cost money?

Congratulations to MooneeMum, the winner of the T-Shirt diaper giveaway!

Stay tuned for upcoming posts about the Don’t Buy a Thing garden, more with kids, and a skirt I will be upcycling!