Grandma’s Green Corner

Today is housekeeping day. I went through my stuff and sorted which goes into which box. I had to do a small inventory of things reusable for this Christmas.  Top on my list are the tin cans and cardboard boxes I saved.  Since there is concerted effort to reuse and to recycle, my theme for the holidays  is always  “Up, Up and Upcycle Away..”


Christmas is just around the corner.  I started making my list of names and gifts to give. Top on my list are the kids, as Christmas is for the young and young at heart, or so they say.  And to see if my list is workable, I decided to go for a walk to check what is happening around the neighborhood.  A little window shopping would help narrow down this Christmas list.  I would have to keep my list very practical, reasonable, functional and  eco-friendly.

At the mall I noticed the flashy store displays, glittering Christmas ornaments, big signage of discounts and freebies. I also took note of the price tags on some grocery items I would need  in my cooking for the holidays. I bought a few items to keep in my pantry because I don’t want to be with the crowd during holiday rush. I learned my lesson last year when everybody was at the mall making last minute purchases. It was horrible, I wished for  Christmas past when there were only few people.

From the mall, I went to the wet market. I usually buy my grocery at the supermarket because of  convenience and accessibility.  It’s been a while since I went to the wet market and I am to happy to see that they don’t use plastic bags in Marikina Wet Market anymore. Almost all stores and stalls sell ecobags.  If you forgot to bring one, you can buy  for a very minimal cost ranging from Php10 for small ones and up to Php30 for bigger bags.  But the best way to save money is to keep an ecobag handy in your  bag because you never know when you’ll end up shopping.

That’s a huge step towards saving Marikina River and  even our environment. This program is long overdue. We might have prevented disasters like flooding, landslides and  other calamities months ago had the community pushed programs like these reducing risks to health and environment.

This gave  me an idea.. I hear the Green Bells ringing at the back of my head. Tossing my handy eco bag over my shoulder , I went to find my sister’s house to salvage some compost soil, PET bottles and a young oregano plant. It’s Green Time for some backyard  gardening.


Thirty years ago I was already into recycling. We are a big family, so my Mom always reminded us to save what we can.  I remember  how I made notebooks from used computer paper. These were the continuous paper used for big computer line printers back then. It was perforated and has  green and white on it too.   Instead of buying colored notebooks, my siblings and I make our own.  We grew up with paper in the house for drawing , painting, writing , coloring , arts and crafts too. It was nice because we just fold them, glue them together and make our notebooks  as thick as we could carry in our bags.  With my pen or my typewriter, I used it many times for my drafts too. Back then when the PC is not yet a household appliance to keep and print backup files for your journal, this was luxury as its finest.



I have managed to keep most of my husband’s empty cigar tin boxes. He used to ask me what use do I have for these.  I said, “For now I don’t know. But I will keep them anyways because it could be used for anything later on.”

Today I sorted my  things and rearranged the tin boxes. My mind just went to work, as my hands went to manual labor  deep cleaning and housekeeping. Don’t get me wrong, but I like doing my room even when I have helper to do it. It’s a good habit to clean your own house.

Here’s a few ideas how you can reuse boxes and tin cans :

  1. If you don’t have a tool box, you can use  it as utility box for  small items like screws, nails, or any other small hardware items.
  2. Use it as a travel sewing kit. Make sure you  keep  a few needles, pins  and threads  of different colors.
  3. Use it as a cigarette case . You don’t have to worry about your cigarettes getting crushed when you buy  a few sticks from a retail store. You can also put a pack and  it will keep it from getting stale.
  4. Use the tin as your coin box to put spare change and coins.
  5. Use it as an ashtray that you can keep handy in your bag or purse.
  6. You can keep your  sim cards, bluetooth headset, or other small accessories for your devices.
  7. Use it as a jewelry or bling box to  organize  your  fashion accessories and jewelries. You can personalize and decorate it with colorful sequins and decoupage.
  8. Use it as a memory box to keep small items that remind you of special time in it like ticket stubs, small birthday cards and tags.
  9. Use it as desk organizer to keep your paper clips, thumb tacks, screws and  small hooks
  10. Use it as a gift box. You could put in a gift certificate as a give away.



I wonder if anyone noticed these things too?  Below zero weather started, holiday bargains and bazaars everywhere, tinsels and lights glittering, and long Christmas lists drafted and edited. Could someone please  give me a pinch! We are officially on the last month of the year..December!  I wonder where I left my coat ?  Oh well, let me  give you an update on my holiday theme “Up, Up and Upcycle Away..” christmas tree 2012 094

I started early with my decorations.  But even as I worked on my projects, I still get ideas how to upcycle decors. My desk is not its usual sight. It’s more a crafter’s table than a writer’s desk. Here’s a few items on my table today : used boxes, scrap boards, two bottles of glue, a pair of scissors, a small pair of pliers, rag cloth, my desk calendar, my notepad, some used paper and magazines, and my Canon 600D. Don’t you think that’s quite a few? I still have my eco green bag with some old computer cables, empty milk cartons, electrical tape, twist ties, empty coffee sachets, another set of pliers,  wires, plastic medicine bottles and other found objects and knick knacks.

paper beads 01 005My colorful paper beads may not be as fancy as the paper bead jewelries they have on Etsy, but these beads challenged my patience,my fingers adn eyes as I was making them. It even made me admire other crafters, thinking how many beads they have made and collected throughout the year. My googling even brought me to links for community livelihood projects using these paper beads.

And more questions came to my mind. How much are they paid to do the beads? How fast can they make the beads? How many should they make to bring home a day’s earning?

And then there is my half finished hanger Christmas tree.

half finished xmas tree and some colorful gift boxes
half finished xmas tree and some colorful gift boxes

First attempt I put the hooks wrong side up, so I had to unwind and untie everything. Lesson for the day was : read through the instructions or don’t complain just call it your own crafting. Luckily I managed to do two small trees from the dozen hangers without causing too much damage to my fingernails. My son even asked,” What are you doing there Ma? You always seem to be tinkering and doing something.” And I answered casually,” Of course! I am an Einstein.”

Simple and plain , my little Christmas tree don’t require too much emc2 or photoelectric effects to light up. It’s as good as it is with my holiday theme “Up, Up and Upcycle Away..”  Like my writing, my crafting is another avenue for my creativity. I like how my project looks at the end, evolving from scrap to an upcycled something.

Reuse old magazines and boxes
Reuse old magazines and boxes

For the next five days I will keep myself in my artsy-crafty mode. Then finished or not yet finished, all things must be packed away. It’s not really that I need to use all my projects to decorate the house. It’s more a way to fill up my lethargic hours during the day. But mind you, it doesn’t mean I’m free of daily chores, I chase my dogs and even babysit my grannykids during commercial breaks. Next coming days, Grandma Glasses projects will be in the kitchen with  Holiday Cooking with the Swedish Chef.. 

grandma glasses dec 2012 032


Reuse scrap fabric and make Kanzashi Fabric Flowers..and use buttons for ornaments

Kanzashi flower grandma glasses_crafts and hobbies 012

 bookbinding project 01

Using colored paper, cardboard and old gift paper you can make it into journal or scrapbook

bookbinding project 02

Handmade notebook using cardboard and colored gift paper for cover, white paper for pages, and colored thread to bookbind this project


Passport holder made from scrap leather,  gold elastic band and colored thread


Many things we can make from recyclable materials

reusing dinner bags

ReUse paper bags and restaurant to-go bags and make them into notebooks, journals or scrapbooks
These are some of my projects in Kuwait. They still use plastic bags for shopping and grocery bags and I have accumulated a lot. So I used those plastics bags for my plarn and crochet projects


These are common found objects and materials you can use creatively for your ReUse ReCycle RePurpose Upcycle ReFashion projects


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