Category Archives: DIY

Do It Yourself projects to make from simple household items. Useful and Recycled!

DIY Mother’s Day Gifts!

It is Mother’s day again! I would think every day should be mother’s day and am sure my mom would agree =) I have been wondering what to do for mom this year. I being into green living have changed the way I do gifts for people close to me: I tend to make something special, useful and pretty {Mom likes pretty =)}

I have a list of 10 DIY projects I found online which you can create without much effort and please mom every day! Not just mother’s day =)

  1. A tee shirt tote for grocery shopping (this I find real easy and plan to do it ) – You know that favorite teeshirt you really don’t want to throw away though the edges have started fraying? This is the kind of project that tee was waiting for! It will help mom carry her groceries from here on forward. She will be happy you are rid of the tee and you will be happy it is still around! I love how simple it is to make. Follow This Link to the complete tutorial.

    Image courtesy Inhabitat.com

  2. Gardening – for the Green Thumb momma: Hanging garden for Mom done the Japanese way (Kokedama). I saw this and thought this would really be fun to do. It adds greenery to your living space even if you live in an apartment and are cramped for space. The author suggests using orchids in the mix; but I plan to stick to begonias and ferns (shade loving plants). You will also need sphagnum moss and bonsai soil (Akedama). Follow the Link for the whole tutorial.
  3. A DIY Laundry Bag in Mom’s favorite colors! – This is one cool tutorial if stitching is your thing. My mom has a small hoarding issue, so finding materials to work with will be a breeze for me. I plan to use a nice solid bed-sheet which is strong enough and colorful enough to her liking. The tutorial details how to make it very precisely. To check out the whole tutorial Follow this link.
  4. Candy Wrapper Jewelry – This is just too cool! I could not believe at first that it was candy wrapper which made such colorful beads!! The method is really simple and the result gorgeous! The wrappers are cut as per the template provided and rolled on toothpicks to create the beads! Ecouterre has the amazingly simple tutorial to create these one of a kind jewels, check it out here.
  5. Kitchen Essentials from stuff you already have – I really liked this idea because it was something mom could use for a long time and my mom never likes throwing away things, so I can pretty much find all the raw materials in her pantry/store room for sure. The Girl creative blogger has used clothes pins, an empty plastic canister, some glass marbles, dish cloth etc to create a basic kitchen essential set. She has used her creativity to make the everyday items look beautiful. For the detailed tutorial follow this link.

    Image courtesy Creative Girl

  6. The ruffle flip flop sandal for the hip mom – I saw this tutorial a little while back and thought it will make a neat adult sandals too. The tutorial converts a flip flop into a ruffled sandal. One could use it to renew a broken flip flop or to dress up a new plain one. Either way for the detailed tutorial .
    follow this link.  
  7. A ruffled clutch to go with it from Flamingotoes – She has transformed an old basic clutch to a stylish hip ruffled clutch with a few bits of fabric and stitching. It will go perfectly with the ruffled sandals above and will sure make mom smile when she heads out this summer. Follow this link to the detailed tutorial.
  8. DIY Picture tiles – I love this idea, a few pictures of the grandchildren and old pictures of her kids when they were young adorning the refrigerator should make every mom teary eyed with happiness =). All you need are digital pictures you want to print out, a few tiles (or use foam boards just in case you can’t find tiles), Printer, Scissors, Glue and magnets! Voila you have a perfect surprise! For the detailed tutorial follow this link. Like the Author says you will never buy a photo frame again =)
  9. Easy Flower vases from left over milk bottles (or any bottles with interesting shapes) – Remodelista a blogger has this amazing tutorial to reuse glass bottles and turn them into chic flower vases. She uses yarn from the store in her projects – I do think we could use any yarn left over from a knitting project etc… I used the yard from an old sweater which was fraying at the ends and loved the result. To make your own bottle flower vase follow this link.
  10. Bird feeders – Well I have one for you if mom has finches in her garden check out this link and this one which uses a juice or milk carton to create your very own feeder as a gift for mom.

When thinking about buying something for mom, I try sneaking in questions to figure out what she “needs” or “wants”… There is really nothing that she will mention and whatever I get her, I know she feels happy about it and says that over and over about how wonderful the gift is, but by the end of the next month that gift will also join all the other “stuff” my siblings and I have gifted her over the years.

So this year I thought I should make something for her (see when I make something for her she gives it a special place: not amongst the “stuff”.

So I will be making one of the things from this list I compiled, hope you find something too!

Happy Mother’s Day to you and your Mom! Cherish Mom’s every day!

The Solar Bottle Bulb

I have been meaning to write about this project for months now, just got around to it today. Back in September of 2011 I read about Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project in Manila powered by pop bottles and bleached water! A bottle with water is enough to light up a small room. In the poor neighborhoods of Manila shacks have dark roofs and hardly any daylight. Many of the homes are not connected to the electric grid and in third world countries continuous power availability is not a given.

This year i.e 2012 is the year they plan to complete lighting 1 million homes using this green technology. The clear water disperses the light in all directions through refraction, which can provide a luminosity that is equivalent to a 55-watt electric light bulb, according to the MyShelter Foundation.

The idea behind the Solar Water Bulb is the brainchild of Alfredo Moser a mechanic from Sao Paulo, Brazil; who came up with it during the 2002 power shortage in Brazil to light up his workshop for working during the day! Like Plato said Necessity is indeed the mother of invention!

MIT students have been instrumental in spreading the usage of this simple and virtually free technology to the third world countries as a remedy to light up dark areas during the day without windows! They disperse light to all the corners of the room unlike skylights which are pretty much unidirectional.

How to Make Your Own Solar Bottle Bulb?

Raw materials Needed
1. 1 liter Pet Bottle
2. Galvanized iron corrugated or flat roofing sheet size 9″ x 10″
3. Chlorine (10ml per liter)
4. Steel Brush or Sand Paper
5. Snipping tools to cut the sheet
6. Pliers to fold the sheet back
7. Rubber Sealant or Epoxy resin – to seal and attach the bottle
8. Screws to attach it to the roof securely
9. Filtered water

Directions

On the galvanized roof sheet piece cut a circle 2mm smaller than the diameter of the bottle. Make small cuts perpendicularly along the edge and fold them upwards. Take the bottle and rub the sides to make it rough enough for the glue to adhere. Pass the bottle through the hole and hold in place using the folded edges of the sheet (1/3rd of the bottle above the fold). Apply glue to the bottle and the folded edges to seal and attach them together. Now pour 10ml of Chlorine into the bottle and top it up with filtered water. Close the lid tightly.

Now cut a hole on the roof of the shack where the light is needed. Apply sealant or epoxy resin around the opening to cover an area equivalent to the 10″x9″ sheet. Press it down and secure with screws. The bottle top which will be exposed to the elements needs to be protected (use plastic tubing and sealant to protect it). The Solar Water Bulb is ready and spreading light. The bottle light is believed to have a life of up to 5 years!!

How Does it work?

Simple: water diffracts the light, letting it spread throughout the house instead of focusing on one point. The chlorine keeps the water clear and microbe-free.

Positive Attributes – One can make on ones own Solar Bottle Bulb from waste materials! It can be installed any place world over where there is a roof. It is easily portable and yes, there are a huge number of households world over which do not get enough light during the day.

For e.g 360 million people in India lack access to electricity!!

Negative Attributes – Does not work during night when people do need light. The bottles sticking out of the roof is not very aesthetically pleasing 🙂

I am amazed at the possibilities such a simple idea provides – It is Green, Eco friendly, Cost effective and Practical! Try it out!

Things to watch out for or remember-

Make sure you seal the roof properly to avoid water damage.

Cover the bottle cap to make sure it does not disintegrate.

It only works during the day when there is sunlight.

Sources:

Isang Litrong Liwanang

Making Jack’O’Lanterns for Halloween


It is pretty amazing how fast time goes… It seems like it was only yesterday that we were cleaning up snow and planting annuals… Last week I walked into a store and felt like I was on fast forward!! They already had aisles and aisles of Christmas decor on display!!

Every year around the first week of October out of the blue there will be these pumpkin patches which appear at strategic locations around town… you walk in pick a nice pumpkin, bring it home, carve it, light it and you have your own Jack ‘ o’ lantern!!!

I have been making one (and sometimes 2) every year since I moved to the US, so this is my 10th year carving Jack’o’lanterns, and based on this experience I thought why not write a blog 🙂 This year am yet to venture out though pumpkins showed up as usual on time, will mostly do it over the weekend. So my steps to a Jack”O”Lantern are as follows:

First and foremost look for a pumpkin without dents,cuts scrapes, dried patches etc…

To carve a pumpkin the first thing to do is clean it out, I use an ice-cream scoop 🙂 it really makes it very very easy and it also is easier on your hands. To access the inside we need to cut either the top or the bottom, I normally cut the top,try doing straight lines to get a hexagonal or a polygonal shaped cut. It will sit back as a lid better and it will also be easier to cut.

See the tools I use. For the details I use a smaller knife and I use the larger one for the main cuts. The icrcream scooper as I told you helps to clean out the inside.

Okie, Once I make the cut and remove the top I use the scooper to scoop out the seeds and the innards. Scrape the insides until it is around an inch thick. Once you clean up the inside it is time to pick a design. When starting it is better to use a simple design like this one…

I use a sharpie to draw the outline (sharpie/any permanent marker) I sketch freehand you can use a print out, paste it over the pumpkin using duct tape and draw over it using an empty ballpoint pen, once complete remove the paper and go over it with a sharpie. Once you have the design on the pumpkin start cutting.

Start with the smaller parts like in this design I start with the windows, then the door, then the outline and then the main outline. Cut using a sawing action. When you finish cutting a piece push it out from inside.

Once done clean the edges. Take a candle (or you can use a battery operated light) scoop out a bit from the base part to fit the candle. Light it and cover the top let it burn for a few minutes now remove the cap and drill a hole where the flame hits, this will allow heat to escape and keep your Jack’o’lantern burning longer.

This is my Jack O Lantern from 2008!! I am yet to go get my 2010 one and will update once am done with it.

Enjoy Halloween, don’t forget to blow off the candle when you are leaving your Jack’O’, Leaving a candle unattended can cause a fire.Happy Halloween everyone!

Some simple designs which you can download and use: (Click and it will take you to another website)

Video from DIY network on how to carve a pumpkin:

A DIY Solar Water Heater From Plastic Bottles

Solar water heaters are probably the most widely used solar product worldwide, especially in Asia and other parts of the developing world it is a constant with any new construction. Out of Brazil comes this plastic water bottle based water heater created by Jose Alano a retired mechanic. He created a simple, cheap, energy saving rooftop solar water heater which is benefiting thousands of people across Brazil. Alano refused to throw away plastic bottles and packaging to end up in the landfills. In his words “Being 59 years old, I have had the opportunity to witness the technological advances of science, which improved food storage. But nowadays, some packaging weighs almost the same than the food itself! Years ago, my wife and I realized that we were not prepared for this new form of consumption.

Using his basic knowledge of Solar water heaters he and his wife created the green alternative version making use of 100 plastic (PET) bottles and 100 Milk Cartons there by getting rid of their waste responsibly.

Alano’s water heater won the Superecologia prize, offered by the Superinteressante magazine for renewable projects in the not-for-profit sector. He has made his design patented and available to use as a not for profit design. The only restrictions are on industrial production and politicians claiming credit for it!

The Invention

The standard solar water heaters cost a couple of 1000$ and have copper as a main element. The Plastic Bottle solar water heater is based on the thermosyphon technology which is used in many solar water heaters. It makes use of the circulation of water based on density; hot water which is less dense moves upwards while the cold water which is denser moves down. Alano estimates that to heat water for a shower of one person, a 1m² panel would be enough.

Materials needed for construction:

The only material required to build a recycled water heater are:

  • 2L plastic bottles (60),
  • Cartons (50)
  • 100mm PVC pipe (70 cm)
  • 20mm PVC pipe (11.7m)
  • 90-degree 20 mm PVC elbows (4)
  • 20mm PVC T-connectors (20)
  • 20 mm PVC end caps (2)
  • PVC glue
  • Black matt paint
  • Paint Roller
  • Sand paper
  • Self-amalgamating tape
  • Tools – Rubber hammer, saw, wood or other material for the support.

Once you get everything ready check out the diagrams in this DIY Leaflet online (PDF format in Portuguese, but the diagrams are easy to follow). use the 100mm PVC pipe as a mold and cut off the bottom of the bottles. Cut the 20mm PVC pipes into 10 x 1m and 20 x 8.5 cm pieces, and assemble with the T-connectors. Cut and paint the cartons (page10-12), as well as the one-meter long pipes. Assemble according to figure B.

The panels must be placed at least 30 cm below the tank and be sited on a south facing wall or roof. To optimize heat absorption, the panels must be mounted at the angle of your latitude, plus 10°. In London, for instance, the panel’s inclination should be 61°. Alano recommends that the plastic bottles in the panels should be swapped for new ones every 5 years: ‘Over time, the plastic becomes opaque, which reduces the heat caption, while the black cartons can be repainted.’ So once the bottles become opaque it is time to replace the bottles and send the used ones to the recycle dump.

Check out a video of a Alano’s bottle solar heaters below:

Such a useful way to utilize plastic bottles: green, clean and energy efficient! Reduce Reuse Recycle the 3 R’s at work! Live Green!

Source for data and Pictures – The Ecologist

Simple DIY Green Projects For The Summer

Summer is here the perfect time for spending time outside the home and also the best time to be creative. I have put together youtube videos of some of my favorite DIY projects using everyday things. Check them out, use your creativity and do something unique and Green this summer!

Lanterns using Chinese takeout containers (the paper variety)
Who doesn’t like Chinese take out? Rice and noodles sometimes come in those white paper cotainers with the metal handles. Shiho Masuda has created these simple cool lanterns out of the takeout containers.
Materials:
* The paper takeout container
* A punch to cut holes (you can use your scrap book supplies too! stars etc.. would make it fancier)
* Acrylic colors to paint the box
* Small tea light candles for light (I suggest battery operated tealights for safety)
Now Check out the Video and remember with candles always be careful, DO NOT LEAVE BURNING CANDLES UNATTENDED.

How to Make a Friendship Bracelet
These days friendship bracelets are the rage and making one is a breeze and fun to do.
Materials:
* Knitting yarn or other yarn in colors of the child’s liking.
* A clip board helps to hold the threads in place when weaving.
Check out the video from expert village-

Non-Toxic Home made Sidewalk chalk
All children love drawing on the side walk. These days one has to worry about whether there is lead in the chalk too. I found this recipe to make your own home made chalk on Fun Family Edutcation
Simple to make and Safe n Fun for the kids!
Materials :
* 1 cup plaster of Paris
* 1 cup water
* Powdered tempera paint (I tried food color which works too!)
* Mold for chalk (small paper cups, ice cube trays, tissue rolls, etc.)
* Mixing bowl and spoon
In a Bowl mix together Plaster of Paris and Water, add color mix really well. Pour it into moulds (I like the tubular ice trays as the chalks look like real chalks, you can pretty much use any mould. Kids love animal shaped chalks!) I tend to leave it over night to air dry and take it out next day. If still wet let it dry a little bit more and now you have chalks for all the little artists!

Picture Source Lazy mom’s blog

A cool Green bag from your favorite Tee Shirt

See the bag below? How beautiful is it!! A very creative blogger Barbara Matthiessen has the simple steps to create this adorable bag! Your kids will have fun painting the flowers and personalizing their bags too!

Click on this Link to find out how you too can create a lovely, eco-friendly bag from your fav teeshirt!

Will add more soon. Enjoy Green Summer!!

DIY – Make A Bird Feeder Under 10 Minutes

Finch Feeder

I look forward to spring when I can see the gold finches back in their normal plumage. Always been a fan of backyard  birding so I plant plants which the birds like to eat and keep the feeders filled for  everything from the tiny humming bird to the Blue jays and Squirrels.

I am used to buying a new feeder every year after the squirrels gnaw through them! I buy sock feeders every year and by the end of the year it would have holes in them. Inspite of mending it hardly lasts more than 2 years in Ohio’s winters.

One day as I was emptying out the garlic from its package, it struck me this could work! My feeder for the finches from a plastic mesh cover which would other wise end up some where in a landfill.

5 Steps to making a simple finch feeder.

Things needed:

  • Garlic pack (don’t eat garlic? try using your old panty hose with the feet cut off works as well!)
  • a thread/shoe lace to tie it
  • scissors to trim tag
  • Lyger thistle

Garlic Pack

1. Take out the garlic from the mesh casing.

Trimming Excess

2. Trim the tag , make sure you keep the sealing intact.

Feeder Filled

3. Turn it inside out. Fill it with Thistle (I use Nyjer – buy mine from Wildbirds unlimited).

tie-up 4. Tie a knot at the top, make sure you can open it out to refill it. Use a shoe lace or rope to hang it from a tree branch (birds do prefer to be amongst greenery, makes them feel safer I guess)

feeder with a female gold finch There you have a feeder made under 10 minutes from something one would normally throw away and yeah you can  keep adding more feeders as you buy new garlic! Now all we need to do is wait for the finches to show up.

Male gold-finch

Happy Birding and Green Living!