Category Archives: Naturally Creative

Naturally Crafty: DIY Father’s Day Card

Did you know that greeting cards were handmade up until the middle of the nineteenth century?  That was when advances in printing made it possible to reproduce a design relatively cheaply.

I can’t help but think sometimes that technology and the ability to mass-produce cheaply has turned many of us into mass consumers rather than creators.  Well, I say “NO” this year to a cheap, mass-produced Father’s Day card and “hello” to creating my own handmade greeting.  I also decided to make it mostly from materials destined for the bin.

When we get book inserts at work, they come wrapped in shrink wrap on these cardboard pieces to keep them from getting damaged in shipping.  Since my office building doesn’t recycle, I have been trying to find ways to reuse them.  Usually, I stick them in large envelopes to keep documents from getting bent in the mail but I have found they are also great for craft projects like making cards and journals.

Father's Day Card Materials smaller

All of the materials used in this card, except for the gold ribbon, the lettering, the white inner paper, the gold washi tape and the Velcro dot on the inner envelope, were saved from getting dumped in the bin at work.  (If you need orange envelopes…call me.)

Father's Day Card Front

The white heart was punched from a name tent from a past class.  The circle behind it is punched from a Thank you card someone was kind enough to give me.

Father's Day Card Inside

While it may not be perfect in the way that a commercial card is, making your own gives you an excellent opportunity to add fun embellishments or personalize your greeting to the recipient.

Lucy Envelope

I added this envelope in the back, so I could include a letter from my parents’ dog, Lucy.  (They receive correspondence from Lucy whenever they go on long trips.  Perhaps, not surprisingly, this began when I found myself with an over-abundance of orange paper and envelopes.)

Tell me, do you ever make your own cards?  Is it something you would consider?

Wishing all you fathers (of humans and furry kids) a very happy Father’s Day!

Many Blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

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Repair or Replace: Are You a Lamp-Saver?

What do you do when something breaks in your home? Fix it, forget it or replace it?

Recently, I was in my parents’ garage when I spied their bedside table lamp languishing in a corner. I remembered about a year or so ago that it stopped working. My father said he would fix it. Somehow, it migrated from the bedroom to the basement and eventually ended up in the garage a.k.a. “The land of forgotten best intentions.”

I picked up the glass shaded touch lamp and wondered how it would fair out in the outdoor storage area for long. Other than a coat of dust and a slightly bent finial, it seemed fine. It seemed too nice to eke out the rest of its existence, forgotten in the garage. I remembered Mom saying she liked it better than the replacement they picked up. I had no idea what was wrong with it or how to fix it but I seem to have a knack for figuring things out (My superhero name would probably be The Researcher. Sexy, no?)

A few quick google searches revealed that the little lamp was probably ailing from a dimmer switch that went bad. Apparently power surges are the main nemesis of touch lamps. The part was about $8 at Home Depot. (I wonder how much the new lamp was.) I picked it up and attempted to install it myself but was thwarted by the plastic caps on the end of the wires. Little suckers wouldn’t come off! So, I turned the project over to Dad and within an hour he restored it to working order.

The whole thing got me thinking about how people seem to have stopped repairing things like that. It’s just so easy to go out and pick up a new one, relatively cheaply. I wonder how many of us really even think twice about fixing anything that originally cost under a $100. We then start accumulating all of these broken items in garages, sheds and basements because we feel guilty, knowing they can be fixed and should be, but it just doesn’t happen. Eventually, we run out of room and these items either get moved to a storage facility or thrown out. If they get thrown out, they sit in landfills, taking many, many years to decompose or are incinerated, releasing toxins into the environment.

We don’t like to think about our waste or what it is doing to the planet. I get it. I am busy too. Sometimes, it seems like if I have to stop and consider the implications of everything I throw away, my head might explode. I forgot to bring a fork to work with my lunch the other day and ended up using a plastic one. It happens. I wasn’t about to eat chili mac with my hands. However… maybe when something like a lamp or something similar breaks, knowing it’s not a big, expensive repair, it’s worth considering the time and effort to save it. When you do, you are saving money, space, the environment and possibly giving a repairman much needed work if the job is outside your abilities. That’s a pretty great return on investment!

Are you a Lamp-Saver? I would love to hear about your home repair triumphs. Please share them in the comments section.

Many Blessings,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

 

Naturally Creative: The Perfect Gift

I love it when I get to make gifts for people.  I really try not to be annoying about it.  I mean I don’t make things to get out of buying things.  It is nice to save money when you are on a budget but I genuinely enjoy being creative.  So, when the stars line up affording me the time, opportunity and inspiration to make something I believe someone else will appreciate, truly, I am at my happiest.

Up until recently, I never had the chance to make anything for my dad.  Dad is a manly sort of guy!  I make jewelry, bath and body products, etc. While he enjoys my baked goods, I have never have been able to make him anything that lasts.  So, imagine my delight when I happened across this dragon egg tutorial from Accio Lacqueur!  So happy!

Just to give you a little background.  Dad is a very well-read cat, everything from classics to military history, sci-fi, thrillers, you name it BUT fantasy is one of his faves.  So, Dad is a big Game of Thrones fan.  In fact, Dad, my brother, sister and I, all started out reading the George RR Martin Series but I bowed out after two or three books.  (I need more dragons and magic, less gore; more romance, less creepy sex.  I digress…)  Dad has been an avid fan of the show since the beginning. When he took me to the Renaissance Festival last September, it seemed like every time we turned a corner, he was greeted with “Game of thrones!” or “Winter is Coming!” because he was sporting the coolest Family Stark tee shirt in all the realm.

We both like dragons.  Here are two of Dad’s snaps from that day:

Bigger DragonLittle Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty cool huh?

So, after after putting 5000+ tiny coats of varnish on 1000+ tacks over countless netflix sessions, this

image

 

Turned into:

Dragon Egg Two

So much fun!  I just had to share.

Do you ever make gifts for people?  Leave me a reply in the comments section.  I would love to hear all about them.

Many blessings,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

 

Naturally Generous: This Year’s Donation for Little Shelter

I mentioned a few times on here that I donate financially and also handmade jewelry to Little Shelter.  It’s almost time for their annual masquerade ball.  I created this piece especially for this event.

Little Shelter Auction

Click on image to see the full-sized photo.

This necklace is made with sodalite, sterling silver, blue lace agate and Swarovski crystals in an “alexandrite” finish.  These crystals have a little surprise!  They change color depending on the light.

The Masquerade Ball will take place at Water Mill Caterers in Smithtown on Thursday, October 29th from 6 to 11 PM.  Call 631-368-8770 ext. 26 for more information.  Please consider purchasing a ticket to the event or making a donation to Little Shelter.  Check out http://littleshelter.com for more information.

Many Blessings,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

Natural Beauty DIY: Better than Store-bought Facial Exfoliant

Most people know by now that commercial facial exfoliants with those little plastic micro beads are bad for the environment and have looked for alternatives.  Thank Goodness!

However, I don’t understand why people are willing to still buy products, containing other harmful ingredients, in packaging (that may or not be recyclable) and throw down a huge chunk of change to do it.  I just did a quick search and saw a dozen or so facial exfoliants, ranging in price from $5 to $50.  My facial exfoliant is all natural, only has two ingredients and costs practically nothing.  You can make it right now.

Honey-Sugar Facial Exfoliant

Pour approximately a tablespoon of honey onto a dish or in a small bowl.  Add a teaspoon of sugar. Mix them together.  Apply to damp skin in gentle circular motions with your fingertips.  Avoid your eye area.  (If any gets in your mouth, eat it!)  Rinse with warm water.  Voila! Beautiful smooth skin!

Sometimes, we seem to consume for no other reason than …just because.  Our inner child is lured by a shiny new package (destined to crowd landfills and pollute our oceans.)   We are looking for a quick fix to assuage our fears and insecurities.  So we buy something that we not only don’t need but may cause us harm either through artificial ingredients or by befouling Mama Earth.  Let’s top the madness; shall we?  Let’s take care of ourselves by being creative instead of blindly consuming.

How do exfoliate your skin?  Do you DIY your beauty products?  Leave me a reply.  I would love to hear from you.

Many blessings,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

Naturally Resourceful: The Second R, Reuse

I just finished this container of stevia:

Empty Stevia container

The easiest thing to do would be to toss it in the garbage. The second easiest thing to do would be to put it outside in the recycling bin. Everyone knows the phrase Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Reducing is a challenge for many of us Americans. We like stuff and having a lot of it!  Recycling,  we have gotten much better at. Reusing… I’m not sure most of us think about that one on a regular basis.

We don’t have a culture that supports fixing or reusing things. Everything is made so cheaply now that we don’t even think twice about running out and picking up whatever we need. You would be hard-pressed to find a convenient fix-it shop to take your broken electronics device to these days. Even if you could, buying a brand new one would probably cost little more than the repair. The same goes with storage containers. We don’t need to hold onto to bottles, coffee cans or jars these days because you can just bop over to the container store and get something cuter… or the dollar store if you are more thrifty.

I get it too! I really do. Who wants a bunch of empty bottles and jars hanging around? It can create clutter, especially if you have a small place. Stores already have staked a premium on our storage spaces by offering Buy One Get One deals (or buy 10 for $5!) We have a hard enough time storing containers with the contents still in them.

I have been trying to cultivate a more mindful practice of figuring out how I can reuse these containers before I use up the contents. The nice thing about this stevia container is that it already had a food product in it. So, I can reuse it for food again. (Since it is plastic, I would avoid using it for salad dressing or any other acid-based sauce that may cause leaching.) It’s also a great size. It’s small enough to fit in my lunch bag. It has a nice tight-fitting lid. So, there are no worries about anything falling out of it.

Here are some more items I can store in it:

  • Small craft supplies.
  • Contents from a larger container like a huge box of baking soda or bag of sugar.
  • Dried herbs from a garden.
  • Sewing tools like pins and safety pins.
  • Hair accessories like bobby pins or small barrettes.
  • DIY beauty treatments like bath salts, facial scrubs and scented oil.
  • Hardware supplies like nails, tacks and fasteners.
  • Office supplies like paper clips.
  • And more!

Do you reuse containers? Please share any unique tips you have. I would love to hear from you

Many blessings,

 

Cynthia.

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

Naturally Inspirational: Some of My Favorite YouTubers

It’s been a long day.  My neck has been acting up lately. (Teaser: I will be giving up some more arthritis coping tips in another blog post!)  So, I am going to keep this one short and sweet in the interest of not keeping my neck in an unnatural position, staring at the computer.  (The fact that I am currently sitting cross-legged on my bed and eating dinner as I type is besides the point…Good thing my chiropractor isn’t reading this!)  Let’s watch a little YouTube, shall we?

I want to share some other natural living bloggers with you, who also happen to be Vloggers.  I find the following YouTube Channels full of good info. on natural and healthy living.  I hope you do as well:

Sprout and Blossom

Sprout and Blossom is dedicated to to simple living.  Mary Harris is a college professor from New Jersey who is chuck full of tips on green living and holistic health.  Her channel definitely has a minimalist slant but she doesn’t take it to an unimaginable extreme.  Unfortunately, her “How To Zen Your Morning” video no longer appears to be available but she shares a lot of wonderful info. in her other videos

Ashley’s Green Life

Ashley’s Green Life is just as her title describes.  This busy mom of two, wife and kindergarten teacher shares her life and knowledge of green living with her audience.  She brings you everywhere on shopping trips, into the shower to demonstrate her no-poo hair cleaning method and even to her brother’s wedding to show you can enjoy family events while maintaining an organic, vegan, gluten-free diet.  She even demonstrated (in an appropriate way) how to use a squatty potty.  Ashley inspired me to up my chia seed consumption.  I am very grateful to her for that!

Frugal Green Girl

Are you guys sensing a trend in my viewing habits yet?  Frugal Green Girl is a tad more extreme than the previous two Vloggers I have mentioned thus far.  Oh my goodness is she full of great ideas!  “Green Living” has become quite chic over the last few years.  People end up spending a lot of money to be more Eco-conscious.   Frugal Green Girl proves that isn’t necessary with her amazing DIY solutions and money savers!

YouTips4U

I am going to change it up a little with this channel.  YouTips4U still offers some very interesting natural solutions but they are mixed into a potpourri of beauty tips, body language insights, fashion rules, crafts, exercise videos and even car maintenance advice.  This lady shares everything she knows and it works!  She also does some really lovely spoken word meditation videos.  Who knew a Long Island accent could be so calming?

I have a few more but I think that’s enough for today.  I need to put the laptop away and rest my neck.  I hope you check out and enjoy my selections!  Let me know what you think.

Many blessings,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

Naturally Crafty: Upcycled Cards and Gift Tags

Ever go to the card store and find yourself thinking,”Man, cards are really expensive!?” Ever go to the craft store and find yourself thinking, “Man, paper is really expensive!?” Yes? Excellent! I think you are going to like this upcycled solution.

tissue boxes

I started noticing some really nice designs on tissue boxes after watching a few of Jennibellie’s videos on YouTube.  Definitely, check her channel out for inspiration.  She creates truly beautiful projects and often incorporates pre-used materials into her designs.

I picked up a few punches from Michael’s and began making some creations of my own (which I would have photographed more of if I had known I was going to write this post. )  Punches are a good investment.  They save you time, as well as wear and tear on your scissors… and your hands!

tissue hearts

It’s a lot of fun making your own cards because they can be as simple or complex as you want or have time to make.  You can add hinges made from ribbon or brads.  You can also personalize them to suit your gift recipient by adding their name, embellishments and using their favorite colors.  You’re only limited by your imagination!

Use what you already have whenever you can!

Use what you already have whenever you can!

Once you start doing these types of upcycled projects, you develop an eagle for materials that can be made over like these old name tags from work.  Why not? The card stock is good quality.  They would only end up in the trash.  Why not flip them over and give them a second life?

punched out name

Before you know it, you’ve created a pretty little, thoughtful gift decoration and it cost you practically nothing!  You didn’t have to go to a store.  You got away from electronics for a little while.  You have exercised your creative muscles.  You have made choices that are kinder to Mama Earth.

Heart pearlmonogram pearl

Do you make your own cards and gift tags? Leave me a reply in the comments section and let me know.  I would love to hear from you.

Many blessings to all,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

 

Natural Lady: DIY Make-up Remover and Reusable Rounds

It took me a very long time to find an eye make-up remover that I liked.  A lot of them would sting my eyes or leave my skin chafed.  I found I really like the make-up remover wipes from Trader Joe’s but they were quite pricey. There were only 20 in a pack, requiring me to buy 2 a month.  All that plastic packaging and disposable material made me feel a little guilty.  So, I decided to try to make my own.

I culled through dozens of Do-it-yourself recipes on the internet.  They were wildly disparate and contradictory at times but three ingredients kept coming up over and over: witch hazel, water and some kind of oil.  Of course, I could find little consensus on how much to pour of each in order to make a bottle.  So, I decided not to use a bottle at all.

reusable rounds

I use a reusable round (mine are made out of bamboo and are really more oblong) and I put a drop of jojoba oil on it, followed by a drop of witch hazel and then I spritz it with rose water.  And voila! It works great and doesn’t sting.

Effectiveness is only one benefit.  There are others. I like keeping all these ingredients separate because I use them all separately as well.  By combining them as needed, on the spot, I am less likely to run out of anything and not have it available to use for another purpose.  Oh my goodness, the money you save!  I used to spend between around $10 a month on those wipes.  I have had that bottle of witch hazel for years.  Jojoba lasts a really long time too because you need to use so little of it.  The rose water I go through fairly quickly but that’s only because I like to spray all over my body from head to toe.

Do you think you will give it a try?  Do you have your own formula?  Leave me a reply in the comments section.

Many blessings,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

 

Naturally Eco-conscious: Upcycle that box!

May I ask you a personal question?  When you empty a box like this:

Finish Box

 

What do you do with it?  Do you throw it away?  Do you recycle it?  Would you like to know what I’m going to do with this one?  I am going to upcyle it into a mailer.  It’s so easy!

1. I open the bottom up:

open bottom

2. Then I gently open this inside seam:

inside seam

3. Then I am left with:

open flat

4.  Now, I flip it around and re-join the seam:

brighter join edges

 

5. Tape the seam closed with packing tape.  (Make sure you press it into the tape really thoroughly.)

Secure Edge with tape

 

6. Tuck in the bottom flaps and tape those with packing tape as well.

Finished Box

 

Voila!  A cute little, free mailer box is born.  I wasn’t ready to put the item in yet.  So, I just used the orginal tab closure on the box.  Of course, when It is ready to go, I will tape the top down as well.  You can write your adress right on the box with a permanent marker or use a label.  I saved money and re-used something that may have just gotten tossed.

Do you upcycle the packages that your household items come in?  Do you think you might try it?  Please leave me a reply in the comments section.  I would love to hear from you.

Many blessings to all,

 

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly