Thursday, March 26, 2015

An exercise for the soul and a Pizza Angel!

Well it has been a while since I posted on the blog, lots has been happening.

So what am I doing now?
Well the weather is starting to break and I have been starting to plan what I am going to do this spring and this is the list I have got!

To do list:

Work on house, build a studio work space, raise $10,000 to start the recycled rose program, build furniture, finish the kitchen,  collect a few 1000 pine cones and acorns, make a whole line of coffee burlap stuff, build a bunch of stuff from pallet wood, collect vintage fabric, re-launch on kickstarter, oh and somewhere in that mix I need to make a video and share my story....

And of all the things on that list the one thing I keep getting stuck on is "tell my story:" I have never hid from the fact that I was homeless, but the idea of  sharing my experience with the world scares me to death. Oh my God! I purposely took out the "ABOUT ME" section because I didn't want to write anything, why in the world would I wanna do it on film. Well that is exactly what I need to do, I need a video for kickstarter, explaining The Recycled Rose Program and why its important to me and I cannot explain that without explaining me!!! GRRRRR!

Practice Makes Perfect, Right?
Well I have practiced, 43 takes to be exact and I cannot get through it without crying. I have been NOT homeless for over a year and half now and just reading about other peoples stories gets me all emotional and gushy. WTF! is wrong with me? I should probably explain that last statement, I in no way think anything is wrong with me, but in no way shape or form am I the emotional type. I'm a Jersey Girl! Born and raised, sarcastic, I drop the f-bomb, in every other sentence, I don't hold my tongue, I say it like it is, I haven't sugar coated anything since I was like 10, I completely know who I am and am perfectly happy with who that person is, So WHY am I having such a hard time with this.

You need to get a grip, its just a freaking video
Leave it to a friend to point out the obvious.

Wise friend (aka camera girl) says "Hey Nicole, your crying cause it still hurts. Its always gonna hurt, ten years from now, its still gonna hurt. Its supposed to hurt. It should hurt everyone, but until you have experienced it , you don't understand it and that is why you have to share your story. I love you and sorry to break it to you but YES you have to do this, even if you tear up or cry, its real and honest and true and that is who you are.I have got news for you, you are a marshmallow wrapped in barbed wire."

Sarcastic me says, " I'm a what wrapped in what?(smirking), ok that's probably the best description of me EVER EVER EVER!"

Wise friend, " Umm but you do know that in order to tell the story, you have to be able to speak clearly,so all this crying and emotional stuff is gonna have to drop a notch or two, or this video is gonna turn into one of those crazy ladies crying on YouTube, its not a bloopers video!Maybe you should try some exercises for the soul."

An Exercise for the Soul:
 Some exercises for my what? So my wise friend suggested I do some exercises for my soul. What she suggested is that I get out some of the stories and some of the experiences that I experienced while being homeless, and to talk about  and share some of the angels I met along the way.

And pizza angel:
 So here it is: When I first moved into the shack house, I literally moved with nothing but clothes. I didn't move by myself I moved in with Joe ( I know I don't mention him often, but he is the other half, he is an angel for another post). The only thing we had was a blow up mattress we purchased to sleep on.  I had posted an ad on craigslist explaining our situation, where we had been, where we are going (very short blurb nothing at all like an all about me video) and that we were looking for some basic things( dishes pots pans maybe a few blankets) just enough to get us by until we could buy some things.

Joe and I fought over me putting the ad up, well partly for his false pride issues, but he also did not believe anyone would help us, because officially we were no longer homeless. And I don't honestly know why I did I just figured it couldn't hurt, so why not? But the whole time I kept thinking, I have been through so much in the last 2 years, that this, this is a cake walk. The entire time I was homeless I never gave up and I always had faith, and faith that was renewed every single day by a stranger angel. I know it totally sounds like "stranger danger", but lets just call is Stranger Angels. (Yes I totally made it up) . Point being I put the ad up anyway, because what harm could it do. I had included some pictures of what the house looked like in the post.We had gotten a ton of responses.

Well enter Mike (my pizza angel). He had called me and said he would like to stop by and take a look at what we were working with. Well he showed up, took a little tour, and then not less than 5 minutes later looks at me and was like, I'm gonna run home, but do you mind if I come back later. He was probably scared to death after looking at how bad the house was.  I didn't think he was gonna come back.But to my surprise, he showed back up about an hour later with a bunch of leftover paint, some wood, and some old tools that Joe could use, and as quick as he showed up, he left just as quick. He was a guy and I know most of em aren't talkers like me, and so again I thought that was the end of Mike.

Then two hours later, he knocks again, but this time Joe answered the door.Now of course they start talking and men speak some other kinda language. This time Mike showed up with a pick up truck and in it was a couch, 2 end tables, a lamp, a TV, a VCR, and a bunch of movies. He says he knows how boring it is to be in a house with no furniture, and no TV, he apologized for not bringing a nicer one, but said he figured we wouldn't mind and at least we would have something to watch and most of this was in his garage from when his daughter went to college. He also apologized for the color of the couch which was bright purple (used to be his daughters I assumed) .I thanked him profusely and he didn't really say all that much, he was not a talker, lol. But OMG I was so happy to have a place to sit. I mean we were just sitting on the mattress in our room just staring at the mod podge of colors on our ceiling. And everything else extra he brought was awesome,  Imean all I asked for were like spare dishes and stuff and now we had a blow up mattress and  had furniture...OH HAPPY DANCE!

Joe and I were so excited to have stuff again! Well we were getting ready for bed a few hours later and we hear a knock at the door. I of course laughed and was like its probably Mike again, nope not Mike, it was a dominoes delivery guy. I could hear Joe telling the guy he must have the wrong house, we just moved in that day, so he must have been confused. I hear the door close, and I didn't think anything of it, but not two seconds later I hear Joe: " Babe, you wont believe this."

I come out into the living and Joe's face had a funny look of shock. There Joe was in the living room with 2 boxes of stuff from dominoes and soda. On the box was a note that said " I noticed you didn't have a refrigerator or oven yet, dinner is on me. Welcome Home"...signed Mike.

And every evening for the next TWO weeks, until we got our refrigerator and oven delivered, we got the same knock at the door, with a very grateful heart.....dedicated to my pizza angel.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Before & After Totally Free Recycled Kitchen Pantry Makeover

Before & After Totally Free Pantry Make Over

Shack House Make Over

Pantry STATS:
Roughly 50 Square Feet, Had Existing Shelving on the Entire left Hand Side, and a Partial Continuation on the Right Hand Side, and well u can see from the photos, it needed some work..

Pantry GOAL:
Double duty, the left side I planned on using strictly for canned good, dry goods, and staples. The  right hand side will serve as extra craft and studio storage. I recycle everything so I have lots and lots of containers, tp rolls, paint galore, and a whole lot more.

Best Part: It was a FREE make over: I spent ZERO dollars on it. I placed an ad on craigslist that I needed supplies, thats how I got a box of gorgeous wood flooring. Not enough to do the whole house but enough to do the pantry. The paint I scored from a painting contractor who had a ton leftover, lots of partial gallons, but he dropped off about 10 different gallons. I am a big dumpster diver and I always grab wood if it is in good condition. I used lots of partial pieces to build out some extra bookcases.

Its reveal day and loads of photos....I hope you enjoy...

Before Photos....

Began with some color that I mixed up from the free paint ( I chose bright colors in the kitchen, yellow and bright blue)...going for a cottage chic farmhouse look but in Color! The kitchen and pantry is the tinyest ever but it is one of my FAVORITE rooms in the house, it opens up directly to the backyard.


Built and Extra Bookcase, Tall and Narrow and bumped it up against the wall on the right hand side to even out the shelving, so I have it on both sides...quick coat of paint...and.....

Added another little extra shelving...its actually a tiny bookcase I had found in the trash, its particle board which is not a favorite but it is slim enough to fit up against the other bookcase...I have moved that little thing around my house since I found it, now I found the perfect spot for it....

New Pantry Flooring... received one box for FREE just enough to re-do the floor...with a few extra boards leftover...

And a few minor cover wall with some foam insulation poorly put in, had to scrape it down smooth, Its in a strange spot in the pantry.
I just decided to cover it up with some cut pieces of wood, which I lightly painted..have plans to use them for some clever craft storage to hang some works in progress...
And for the door, Im only revealing the inside for now....the outside will come when I reveal to you my finished kitchen (another post too).Painted simply white....I will be utilizing the door for extra storage as well, I have to maximize my space! I dont have much!
And of course this is what my living room floor looked like when I emptied the pantry...
So now time to put everything back in...

 I totally reuse containers, so those are a few of the containers I use for my staples like flour and sugar.  I covered some formula containers for the bigger stuff. I really like using the clear juice containers for dry beans and rice.
And then I have some semblance of organization for my crafty things...and its really not a spot for embellishments and such, but for me Im a recycled artist, so I save EVERYTHING, and this pantry is a spot for my bases, my go to's, the things I always use...cereal boxes, pop tops, cardboard, containers, toilet paper rolls, and all sorts of stuff to alter...
I re-use coffee containers to hold my t-shirt bases, I make scarves out of them, but using the coffee containers I can see all my colors. Once I collect enough, I most likely will paint them and actually glue them down. But for now- it works!
And I have container now I have a whole shelf dedicated to all the containers I save.
And another shelf for my tins and found containers that are metal, tin,  wood and such... and of course a salad bowl filled with toilet paper rolls....
And a place for my lightbulbs........
And the very very very top shelf is reserved for all the cool bigger things I find that I want to alter...but not quite they dont need to be in hands reach...
And a big old box of cereal boxes, always a need for....
And a big old basket of pop tops.....and another for tin tabs...cause they are!
And then I save all clear jars for the things I wanna see, like fabric scraps, that I can use on tags, buttons, acorns, and caps, ribbon scraps, and such...
And I use my big shelf for paint- most is interior paint and stains.  but I cant collect enough of it- I use that as a base to make chalk paints which I constantly use for a big fan of oops paint, especially the little jars that are 50 cents in home tons of em...
And more paint.....paint is a staple for me!
I have another post coming soon on some of the recycled containers and interesting storage ideas...but now everything is in its spot...
 My organization and decorations come next...
I hope you enjoyed my little pantry tour....please leave me a comment I would love your thoughts....

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Trashy Tuesday Tutorial: Painted Cigarette Boxes & Smoke Smell Removal Recipe

Trashy Tuesday Tutorial: 09/23/2014

Altered Cigarette Treat Boxes

Cigarette Boxes (free)
Paint (free)
Old greeting Cards, Scraps, ribbon

Being a hoarder  crafter I find I save just about all of my scraps. I even hold onto a huge box  of tiny pieces of paper because I always think I could use it for another project. Well ladies, time to whip out those scraps. 

These are one of my staple crafts I love to make. I am a smoker, so I have a ton of these boxes and well I also know alot of smokers as well. If your not a smoker, below is a great tip on how to remove smoke smell from papers.

Here are a few sample ideas of how to decorate a cigarette box. Now Im a painter so I ALWAYS have paint lying around, so for the bases of all my boxes start with some paint, I just decorate the fronts of the boxes, very easy, very available,and a great little something.

I fill my boxes with all sorts of goodies, candies, hot chocolate, tea, crayon crafts, lace, fabric, pretty much whatever i can come up with.

If your not crafty, I do offer these in my etsy store, either filled or unfilled.
I do them in sets of 3, unfilled for $6.50, or filled for $10.

Great price point for a little something.....


**If you hate the smell of smoke, here is a super easy way to REMOVE smoke smell from just about anything!**

How To Remove Smoke Smell/ Scent Up Your Projects!
1 To get rid of the smoke smell: Mix 1 cup of water with 1tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp of vanilla. Using a brush, paint, the mixture on the inside and outside of the cigarette boxes. Place in your oven on LOW for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool ( kinda like baking cookies). When they are removed, the smoke smell will be gone, but they will now smell like cinnamon cookies.
(Tip* You can subsititute vanilla extract with any other flavored extracts, like peppermint, orange, lemon, anise, etc..)
(You can also add a few drops of food coloring if you want to "tint" your object. Red food coloring with cherry extract for Valentines Day, etc..
(Adjust the recipe to your "nose" add more or less depending on what you want to cover)
2. Its a great little technique if you want to add just a special scent to your project, it works great on plain manilla tags- you can do them peppermint for Christmas, cherry vanilla for valentines day, orange for Halloween, etc...

If your not a smoker, here is a link to a template to make the boxes.

Great way to recycle old greeting cards..

Made from reclaimed greeting cards,just cut and paste.

Made from old postcards

More greeting cards and leftover pieces of embossed cardstock...

Made from an old Thomas Kinkade Calendar.

Stay tuned for next weeks tutorial on how I made a garbage cover in my kitchen from leftover flooring and scrap wood!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dumpster Diving Treasures Episode 1

Im always amazed at what cool stuff I find in the trash and there aren't enough times in the day that people are amazed at the things I find. For goodness sake I am trying to refinish an entire house with a tiny tiny budget, The Shack House Make Over. 

So join me for Episode 1 of Dumpster Diving Treasures......

 A complete and full trellis fence piece, thinking of turning it into a lighted wall frame/headboard...
Love these... a pair of gorgeous ceramic planters..........&...............
Now I know looking at it you may wanna pass it up but I LOVE rustic and while the picture itself in the frame is anything but desirable, Im just completely in love with the rustic frame...maybe a new chalkboard...?
and for my personal favorite find of the weekend is this awesome trunk,it already has a black and white old school  toile design but I think I may change that....Its solid and wood which I love and the latch is still working, its missing 3 of the 4 decorative feet but that is an easy fix....and
my favorite part is that it is hinged and its got just as much potential inside as it does on the outside.... I have so many ideas already blossoming just imagining how I can design something new...
and gotta love old many things to do with these......

I hope you enjoyed my little tour of some of my dumpster diving treasures...stay tuned for another episode....

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Trashy Tuesday Tutorial: Kitchen Window Fakeover

 Trashy Tuesday Tutorial: August 25, 2014

Kitchen Window Fake-over

Total Project Cost: $0.00
Tile: Found $0.00
Paint: Found $0.00
Wood Trim: Found $0.00
Adhesive Grout: Leftover from another project $0.00
Liquid Nails: leftover from another project $0.00

This weekend I had found a bunch of leftover tile. It must have been leftover from a construction job and probably laying outside for a while due to the dirt build up. While it wasn't enough for me to do any major work with it, I just had to pick it up anyway,I could find some use for it, if not I could always make jewelry out of it...maybe another tutorial to come.

Before I even had a project in mind, I first needed to clean off the tile, so I soaked the sheets in hot water first and scrubbed them. Once clean I decided the cut them into squares like a 3x3 tile. I took o them again and soaked them a second time in hot water and bleach, let them dry.
Once dry I had decided to use them to fix up this tiny little kitchen window I have in our Shack House. You can read more about our Shack House Fake Over, which is a project to redo an existing home with a budget under $1,000 including furnishings all using as much reclaimed and re-purposed materials.
The window itself sits against the back side of the house which is concrete, which crumbles, and cracks all over the place. When we moved in we had to replace the glass which was not there anymore. What was left was an open window. I had tried previously to hang a little café curtain to cover it up but again the concrete crumbles, so I figured I may have to create a fake frame around it just to get a rod up, so that was the plan. But what to do about the big old holes.
Before Pictures:
Now for the Fake-over!
The first step was to measure out the tiles. I don't like to measure so I faked it, and counted out (9) squares on each side, which left me a tiny spot on the edge, which since the tiles were mesh tiles I could cut out smaller pieces to fill in the gaps. I began to apply a small dollup of adhesive caulk to the four corners of the tile, then spread it like frosting.
 Then just simply working from the bottom to the top I began to stick them against the sides of the window until both sides had tile going all the way up. Once tile was on both sides I placed the tile on the top of the window. These I took a little bit more time with and held them in place for about a minute each to make sure they were stuck so they didn't fall.

Once the tile was set I let it set for about an hour and began to paint the small strips of wood I found. I also used a bit of the leftover paint to paint the "sil" of the window white.
Now again I don't like measuring, so I just eyeballed it used a little marker, and cut two strips the same length (one for each side of the window), and then just measured a piece to fit in between and cut it to sandwich in between the two side pieces. I used a little bit of liquid nails and glued them together to make a faux frame.  I added a second piece on top because I do plan to add a little something extra on top of it (kitchen window treatment fakeover, soon to come in a later post). Once that dried, about an hour or so, I was able to attach my tiny little rod directly to the wood without causing any after effects like crumbling concrete.I put two extra coats of white paint on the trim and in between the tiling once dried.

And of course, always better after, not perfect by any means, but that's what a fake over is, just a way to make it a little bit better, without saying make over! Enjoy...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Business Lesson #1: Finding the Perfect Place Just Doesn't Exist...So I found an Ugly Old Shack!

It has been quite some time since I even have seen this blog let alone written a post. So many things have been happening in my life that I just needed to regroup and refocus. I definitely have "artists brain" and yes, that is my own word and most certainly my own definition. Basically put I have been super scatter brained for the last year, simply trying to do way too much. I have been trying to find retail space and a place to live and or both in the same, working on new products, getting samples down, photographed, making furniture, getting a good load of supplies again, finding a place to keep all that I collected because I hadn't decided on a place to live yet. Just a TON of things all over the place, all while trying to maintain an existing business,and starting a non profit. Frankly, I had too many things on my plate. So here are few things I have learned divided into a few different blog posts just letting everyone know that Creatively Green is back! We are changing. I thought I would share a little bit about the problems I was facing as well as the life lessons and solutions I have come to realize in order to grow my business.

Problem #1: Finding Retail Space
I planned on living and working in the same place, it just became and overwhelming task. The goal of finding retail space in Denver was a very difficult task for a variety of reasons.The purpose of retail space goal was to serve a variety of purposes: an active free art studio specializing in recycled crafts, a retail location to sell all things recycled, storage for my online business, as well as a starting point for a non profit employing women in transition, as well as a place to live. "Mixed Use" was the understatement of the century. I originally began looking for a warehouse that I could build out BUT warehouse space is typically in an industrial area, not what I was looking for. My core business is online so I looked into office space as well, but then the issue was where in an office space do I find the space to live. If I am was going to pay between $1500-$2000 I wouldn't be able to afford a place to live. Quite the conundrum for sure.

Lesson Learned: Finding the Perfect Place Doesn't Exist
In early January, I submitted a proposal for a space right on Colfax, it needed a ton of work but could be suitable for a mixed use facility. I loved the building and the location but the rent was around $1600 a month and it needed a tremendous amount of work and I couldn't foresee how I would get all the work done as well as be able to do all of t he other things I had planned for Creatively Green. So after much thought, I made the decision to withdraw my offer. I decided that in order for me to do all of the things I had planned I needed to narrow my focus to one thing I could do to improve my business, so I chose to look for a new place to live that had an extra bedroom that I could work from. The goal from this point forward was to find a place to live that could serve as a place to rebuild my brand, add more products, and truly showcase what Creatively Green was and will now be. I needed a place to regroup and re-focus. Trying to find a space that could immediately do all the things I wanted for my business was an impossible task. I was never going to find that perfect place, it was always up to me to create my own space. That lesson learned, what I needed to do was find a place to start from. And so the search began to find an affordable 2 bedroom apartment in  Denver, Colorado. Did I mention that the average rent on a 2 bedroom apartment in Denver is around $1200? Not an easy task.

Solution: I found an ugly old shack house!
Yes I said ugly....and ugly was a generous term! So in  mid March after months of looking at possible apartments at ridiculously high prices for ridiculously small places, I had a possibility. A friend of mines sister lived in a small complex right on the border of Denver. Someone was moving out and there was open place available. All I knew was that the rent was $600 for a 2 bedroom, that alone was worth the look, well how bad could it be? Well whatever I imagined, it was soooo much worse! The area was questionable at best, and was located right off Colfax, also relatively questionable. Walking to the house was an experience, every single house in the complex had broken or blacked out windows, I honestly thought they were abandoned houses, I mean who could live there? I didn't even wanna walk inside the outside scared me to death! Well omg, when I looked inside it was so much worse than the outside, every single window had been broken. But I didnt even notice that because I was too busy looking at all the trash inside the house and the 17 different colored walls, every wall was a different color and not just one color they got creative and added 2 or 3 different colors to each and every wall. I was completely in shock. But then a brief moment of ahhh I attempted to walk through the house (there are no floors by the way, just the sub: the previous renters took the floor with them as well as all the locks on the doors apparantly cause I walked right in): As I made my way to the kitchen all of a sudden I was hit by lime green walls but then I saw that they took the cabinet doors off so they were exposed, so for one brief second I envisioned a country kitchen with bright exposed cabinets. And then my mind just switched modes, I had been so dissapointed lately looking at places, that my mind had switched off of all creativity and for one brief second in this ugly little shack house it switched back on. Could it be? Was it true? Did I get my mojo back while standing it what could possibly the dirt ugliest house....why yes I did! now I am creating my own space in a little ugly shack house. My goal is to redo the entire house including all furniture for under $1,000 using as much reclaimed and recycled materials. So coming soon to Creatively Green is the Shack House Makeover!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

DIY Fall Acorn Wreath Tutorial: Easy Wreath for All Seasons

Fall is in full force in Denver, how about everyone else? Well I have been busy like a bee this month and thought I would share a very simple tutorial for a holiday wreath. I have made quite a few of these over the years and do sell some in my Etsy store. Why are they so popular?

Well that answer is clear, they are so versatile. They are simple and elegant and work for all seasons. By begining with a simple design, maybe a few coats here and there of spray paint, you can really make a statement, with a very simple project.

And well, now that fall is here, let me share a very easy way to get the same look as those high end Anthropology wreaths for a tenth of the cost.

Supplies Needed:
 * Acorns (or nuts or wooden beads)
* Floral wreath
* Hot Glue-gun

In just a few easy steps, a beautiful wreath is complete.

Step 1:  Gather a nice size bag of acorns, such as these. These are super plentiful in Colorado but you can purchase the acorns loosely online here if you dont have them readily available in your area. You will need a good sized bag, enough to cover and entire wreath, at least 100.

 Step 2: Begin by attaching the acorns, which have been cleaned and baked either diagonally or horizontally on the straw wreath. NOTE: Be very careful and glue directly onto the straw, take the wrapping off the wreath, hot glue does not work very well when glued to plastic. I like to begin in the center of the wreath and work my way to the outer walls. Just stay in the same direction, lining the acorns up one against the other.

Dont worry too much about doing the back side, noone sees it anyway and it helps the wreath to lay flat against the door. As you move towards the outside, just keep layering the acorns, in a row, and continue along until you are 100% covered all the way around.

Step 3: This is it, if you choose , paint the wreath, many colors work just fine, and add a ribbon. I like to give mine a quick once over with a can of sealant, easily purchased at a home store like Home Depot...and tahdah... a simple yet elegant wreath...

And if you want to get fancy, give it a coat of color....perhaps a winter white with a big red ribbon, perfect for Christmas!

Perhaps a Nice Sunflower Yellow

or a Crisp Green

Pretty In Pink?

However you choose it, its a simple understated wreath, change the color of the ribbon and you have a wreath for all seasons....dont have time to do it yourself, or not so worries..

We have them for sale in our etsy store, you choose your color and your ribbon choice...