Author Archive

Reusing Food Containers

Posted: April 21, 2011 by txmarina44 in Crafts, Kids, White Trash with a Purpose

Living out here, I can’t easily run to the store for plastic containers for the food I want to keep fresh. And, our waste service does not include any sort of recycling. Whenever I finish with a good-sized, sound, plastic or even tin+cardboard container, I keep it for reuse for another food (having given it a thorough scrubdown first, of course).
Back when I was blending my own fruit yogurts for my boy (before we discovered his lactose intolerance), I saved the larger (32 oz.) containers for the various snacks he consumed, and after we started treating his gluten intolerance, they came in handy for the various alternative baking ingredients. One currently holds his animal crackers, and a few others have powdered milk (these are from the dairy days–husband used it in bread machine baking–and need to be emptied). Since we haven’t baked bread in forever, I’ll easily find something else to fill them. I used the single-serve yogurt containers to pack boy’s lunch components in when they still had lids–now that most brands use foil or plastic film, they’re mostly good only for bathtime/water table play. Anyway, I never had to worry about whether or not they returned home (my boy, at age 3, would often forget, and throw them away). Since they hadn’t been an investment, their loss wasn’t as hard to stomach.
I’m a huge fan of Ghirardelli chocolate–it’s part of our family history–it doesn’t use high fructose corn syrup as the sweetener. Their hot cocoa tins are perfect for storing pre-bagged teas that would normally fade in their boxes. I’ve used my girl’s baby cereal tins to store smaller bags of pasta, like stars and alphabet letters. I have old, larger, powdered iced tea tins that are currently storing small craft projects and materials.
Altoid (or other hard candy) tins are popular with the smoking crowd–most of my camping friends always have one on hand to safely stash their butts. I have one in my purse to store the points stickers from our local grocery store for the kids to save up for the cooler prizes. Also, I have a friend who makes micro-altar art pieces with them as the base. I’m rolling around an interpretation of my own in my head. Y’all will be the first to know if I manage to make something documentable.

Anyone remember film canisters? Although not from, nor for, food, I have several in my sewing kit which hold such things as buttons retrieved from worn-beyond-donating clothes, safety pins, and bobbins. I used to keep one full of quarters in my purse when I used to park in downtown Austin often enough to justify maintaining that stash.


Workbook rack

Posted: April 7, 2011 by txmarina44 in Kids, White Trash with a Purpose
Tags: ,

Yesterday, peggylynn showed us how she converted a yard implement display into a dish drainer/storage rack. I was stuck for what to post (I won’t be able to start my next project until tomorrow, when I can get supervision). and I took a tour around my house to see what was my most creative yet simple repurposed item. I found what I needed in my living room: I’d taken my old dishrack (which hadn’t fit well over our double sink) and used it to store my boy’s various workbooks, folders of coloring pages, and portfolios. The wires that would normally hold up dishes are perfect for keeping things upright, and it’s easy to read the spines and grab the one we need.

Of course, this begs a few questions: why do we need so many workbooks for a kindergartener? and, why not use a bookshelf? Adding more bookshelves to the house is no longer an option (and those we have now are jam-packed); I’ve moved half of them out and my husband still complains about the ones that remain. As I’ve mentioned in my intro, my son was identified at 2 1/2 as having special needs (autism, severe language delay). His special ed preschool program was very heavy on paperwork. Their focus was educational and not social, so they had him doing seatwork instead of playing with others who could model proper social behavior and creative use of toys. So, in addition to making up for the lack of neurotypical peers, we also had to reinforce and build on extending his focus and attention span for activity pages and sequence projects (commonly passed off as art/crafts) whenever he had a break from school (weekends and seasonal breaks). Gathering everything into one portable yet accessible container makes it easy for us to change the workspace venue when necessary (during sister’s naptime, we head out to the picnic table on the side patio). Even when we build the actual classroom/therapy space, I’m sure we’ll keep the dish drainer for its new purpose.

These re-uses were too short to stand alone, so I’ve put them together for a special two-fer.

Back when we had 3 indoor cats (and 2 litterboxes), I had to buy litter by the bucket in order to keep up with… the demand. These days, we are down to one house cat, but we still have many of these buckets around the homestead, and we’ve gotten moderately creative at repurposing them. We’ve collected rainwater (after having given them a good scrubbing, of course), carried kindling and small logs into the house for the 1 or 2 times a year we actually light our fireplace. We also keep one to store newspapers, dryer lint, and some of our daughter’s artwork for starting said fires. Don’t worry, she produces more than enough for all the grandparents and the greats–no one is missing out on any real masterpieces. We’ve also stored camping gear (with those we’ve remembered to save the lids), corralled sandbox and water toys from the driveway, and have even turned them upside down for a serviceable sit-upon.

As I’ve mentioned on my home blog (A Grrl and Her Trash), my house is a Mess. That capital m is not a typo. In raising a special needs child, many things get put down to be dealt with “later.” Unfortunately, this “later” tends to occur around 1 AM, when I should have already been asleep for 3 hours if I’m to be awake at 6:30 to get the boy ready for school. So, things pile up.

The quick and easy solution to this starts with the multitude of dried-fruit boxes that have accumulated in the 3 years that my children have been powering down the individual packets. After I cut away the top flaps, they’re ready to use for sorting the piles; this helps me get a handle on the enormity of the task. Right now, I have two full boxes from the last time I purged the coffee table (my main workspace); one has papers to file, the other has objects that need a proper putting-away. I have at least two full of my boy’s school papers, and one has freebie magazines (most of which will get tossed soon).

I also use these when I clean out the litterbox. Lining one of these boxes with a few plastic grocery bags makes for a more stable throwaway container–without the box, I have been afraid that the bags will break en route to the big can. I have several boxes scattered around the house with plastic grocery bags that I use for lining our smaller wastebaskets, and I have one in my trunk for diaper disposal when we’re on the road.

Lately, Ive also been using them to sort the children’s toys. The boxes stack well, so I can sometimes gain back a few square feet of space for the day. And lastly, I have  place for unmatched socks to wait for their mates to get through the laundry cycle. If I wanted to Martha Stewart this project, I’d cover them with wrapping paper, and perhaps even coordinate it with each room’s decor. But, I’m a Trashy Grrl, and would rather use that time to clean my gun 🙂


New *Kid on the Blog

Posted: March 24, 2011 by txmarina44 in An Introduction

Greetings Dear Readers:

This is my second attempt at an introduction of myself, the homestead, and this chapter of my life. That other page-and-a-half will go elsewhere (waste not, right?), and it clearly needed purging out of my brain, but I couldn’t live with myself if I had you land in the middle of things with no roadmap. It may take a special kind of crazy to live this sort of life, but that is for each one of us to develop on our own. *wink* I’m not here to make anyone else’s worse [you hush Erin].

So, call me Marina. I live on 11 acres in the Texas Hill Country, south and west of a little town that might barely escape becoming yet another bedroom community for Austin. My husband (known as DearHusband to most) commutes to his software-development job that is tied to the oil and gas industry, and I remain on the homestead to raise our two children: Boy (5 1/2, has Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Integration issues, loves Kindergarten) and Grrl (2 1/2, neurotypical, loves her brother and **pigs). We moved out here in the summer of 2003 to escape the big city, and to try our hand at farm life. It hasn’t quite worked out that way, for many reasons. That other page-and-a-half touches on those.

Since it looks as though we are here for a fairly long haul, my main focus will be on getting rid of the true clutter, finding some way to make the rest of it fit in the space we have, and perhaps learning how to improve our quality of life with what is already here. I look forward to being inspired and supported by my fellow contributors, and to hearing your ideas, stories, and questions, Dear Readers.

Purgingly Yours,

Marina of Browncoat Acres

*Not really a kid, I just turned 44. OF COURSE I’m panicking

**not that we have farm animals now, nor will we in the forseeable future, but we’re banned from raising pigs per our deed.