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Trashy Treasure: The Shelving Unit

Trashy Treasure: The Shelving Unit

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

IKEA makes its millions with fiberboard furniture. Use it up, break it and throw it out… go back and buy some new fiberboard thing to replace it. It is a waste and creates A LOT of waste. Where do people think it goes when you throw it out? Sadly, there are not a million of me out there to reuse it (insert sly wink here).

I am often teased for the junk I bring home from people’s alley garbage. I don’t dig through cans but if I see an item or piece of furniture that I think still has some life left I will grab it. So when I saw this dilapidated IKEA shelving unit, covered in snow, leaning to the side, shelves hanging off and the back barely hanging on I knew I needed it. No, seriously, I needed it. We have been needing a shelving unit for our guest room for some time now but I could not justify spending money on something I figured I could whip together somehow. I had already planned out a crate creation when I saw this lil guy in the alley.

I am fortunate that while my boyfriend does not always see the potential in the items I bring home, he does appreciate my ability to repair, reuse and recreate. He trusts that I have a plan, even if he doesn’t see it. He of course teases, makes fun and is mystified by my selections but is also always shocked and seemingly happy with the outcome of my trashy treasures.

The cost to revamp this pile of crap? $5.00

I already had the 20 screws, 10 tack nails, 1/2 cup of wood glue, a piece of wood (leftover from baseboards that I cut into two pieces) and a little paint left over from a past roommate. Thanks, Sherri!

I had JUST bought a roll of shelf liner paper the week before $5.00


Did I mentioned I like trash??? Want to see some more garbage?


That gold tray was a free wooden picture frame from the 80’s that I spray painted gold.

The black perforated fabric was also free. It was left over from one of the beautiful designs by the clothing company, Lily & Migs. One of the talented designers, Jenn gave me some scraps that I love dearly. You should definitely check them out and “like” them on Facebook while you are at it!

In the corner of the pic you can see a bottle of jelly beans. That is an old liquor bottle with the top of the cap painted to make a delicious decoration.

Next to it is an old candle jar with mini lotions in it for our guests. Reuse. Reuse. Reuse.

I got a case of the blues for the bedroom…




There’s that old dart board again!

Found it in the trash several years ago and turned it into a sunglasses rack.



I rarely wear nail polish. In fact, I have never used even half of a bottle of polish before it has turned into a hard plastic. If you add a couple drops of paint thinner to the polish bottle and mix it for 2 minutes it will extend the shelf life by a lot. A lesson learned a little late for my bottles of cement but maybe it can help you.

Use up the last of a bottle:

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Some smart people created accessories with a little wire and nail polish. I bet you could make some really cool stuff with this process. You could also use the thicker dry cleaner wire hangers too, I bet. If you try this let me know how it worked out for you!


Earth Day bonus! Tired of your colors or just run out? Annually Zoya runs an Earth Day Promotion. You can send your old used bottles of nail polish to Zoya for a 50% discount on new polish purchases. The 2015 promotion has not been announced yet on their site, so check back HERE.  A Zoya representative notified me that the annual special would more than likely be brought back and to check back in with the site towards the end of April for details.




  • Dress for Success An organization which “provides suits and makeup for disadvantaged women to wear to job interviews and then, later, to work”.
  • Glass Slipper Project An organization that gives away free prom dresses and accessories to high school juniors and seniors in Chicago and the surrounding areas.
  • Polished Girlz Takes nail art parties to girls with special needs or severe illnesses.


Get inspired!

Well Polished, a natural beauty bar and nail salon used nail polish bottles to make a chandelier statement piece.

Well Polished


Get creative and recreate these vintage Christmas looks this year with nail polish!

Christmas Kitsch

CB Cement Event

CB Cement Event

Crafty Beavers Chicago-Crafting for a cause. 

Women meeting monthly to socialize, make art & crafts while donating goods, our time, and money to charities in need.

Last week the beautiful women of Crafty Beavers played with cement. From votives and desk organizers to book ends and jewelry dishes, they got messy as well as creative.

Here are some great cement & concrete craft ideas with links to tutorials if you want to try your hand at concrete or cement crafts at home:

Monetary Donation:

We are proud to support Spirit of America. The money will be used towards purchasing warning sirens for towns in Syria, to give civilians time to find cover from bombings. “In Syria, the Assad regime is using airstrikes to devastating effect, bombing its citizens indiscriminately to force them into submission. ”


Because they do not have electricity they best solution is simple hand-cranked sirens.


Item Donation:

This month we collected blankets, towels, sheets, toys, dog beds and newspapers for the CACC (Chicago Animal Care & Control). Check out the lot donated by the friends and family of the Beavers.


Remember that as you are doing your spring cleaning the CACC is always looking for these items as well as toys, treats, and clean litter boxes & scoops. Check out their wish list for more.




See you next month and stay crafty!


Giardiniera Extraordinaire

Giardiniera Extraordinaire

If you are from Chicago you know giardiniera. We put it on Italian beef sandwiches, brats, sausages, French dips, pastas, pizzas and use it to spice up fish. I even put it in our eggs in the morning. It is the one stop, spicy shop condiment. If you don’t live in Chicago you may have been missing out… until now that is.

We usually buy our giard from Fiore’s Deli in our neighborhood. The giardiniera is really inexpensive to buy there, I am mildly obsessed with it. Their pepper and egg sandwich is also drool worthy and the employees are fantastic and funny. I heart this place BIG TIME, if you can’t tell.  Still, we wanted to try to make our own giard at home, fully aware that if it turned out bad we would be stuck consuming jar upon jar of this stuff for months. Thankfully it turned out great!

I cannot tell you how many servings this makes because that depends on you and how much you use. I will tell you that this made about 5 (12-16oz) jars. I reused old jam and spaghetti sauce jars plus a couple of mason jars that were previously from Fiore’s giardinera.

Final Giardiniera


Here is the recipe we used: 

Note: We like it spicy so we added extra peppers. YUM!
  • 2 large green bell peppers, diced

  • 2 large red bell peppers, diced

  • fresh jalapeño peppers, sliced

  • 8 serrano peppers, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced* 
  • 1 medium carrot, diced

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 1/2 cup fresh cauliflower florets* 

  • 1/2 cup salt

  • water to cover

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped**

  • 1  1/4 cup olive oil***
  • 1  1/4 cup white vinegar***
*We added an extra celery stalk and an additional 1/2 cup of cauliflower. I love my veggies!
**Instead of chopping the garlic we smashed whole, small cloves and placed one in the bottom of each of the jars.
***We added an extra 1/2 cup olive oil and vinegar to our giard because we use the spicy oil mixture for other recipes daily.  I told you we love this stuff.




  1. Place into a bowl the green and red peppers, jalapeños, celery, carrots, onion, and cauliflower. Stir in salt, and fill with enough cold water to cover. Place plastic wrap or aluminum foil over the bowl, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day, drain salty water, and rinse vegetables. In a bowl, mix together garlic (if you decide to follow the original recipe), oregano, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Pour in vinegar and olive oil, and mix well. Combine with vegetable mixture, cover, and refrigerate for 2 days before canning and using.


How did we remove labels and sterilize the jars for the canning process?

To remove the labels I placed the old jars into a large pot of cold water and brought this to a boil. I let it bowl for about ten minutes. I turned off the heat and let it sit just enough until I was able to handle the jars. One by one I took them out and the labels just slid right off. I used dish soap to remove the “gunk” left on some of them.


To sterilize we placed the jars, standing up on a cookie sheet and baked at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. I did the same with the lids, making sure that the top of the lids were face down on the cookie sheet.

TA DA! All done and delicious! Now let’s eat!!!

The More You Know:

Did you know that you can regrow food from your scraps? You can! Place the root of celery, lettuce, green onion in water and place near sunlight. Pictured is our “window foods”. We have regrown that onion three times now from the same bulbs. As you can see this batch did not get as much sun. Sad onions, but look at that lettuce go! Give it a try.

…I Love You More

…I Love You More


In the wise words of Roger Murtaugh, “I’m too old for this shit!”.

(I originally wrote this in 2013 and unfortunately, it is still true today.)

We are too old to be bitter, jealous, backstabbing and cruel to our fellow females. This is coming from someone who went as far as tattooing, “true friends stab you in the front” along the back of her shoulders. A permanent statement I was making to a friend almost seven years ago. A statement that I still thank Oscar Wilde for daily.  Women are born with a skill for competitiveness and cruelty towards other women. I don’t know why this is but I have had enough! It is really easy to be a great girlfriend. Really, I swear it is. Friendships are relationships and sometimes they require time, patience, some nurturing, and a good sense of humor. Sometimes they also require a box of tissues, waterproof mascara, ten minutes of hugging it out and a dump truck of apologies followed by a sickening amount of  “I love you. I love you more”.

Here is my view on how to be a good girlfriend:

Step 1: Be happy for her when she is happy. Your bestie got a promotion? How awesome is that!!! Be proud of her and her mad skills doing whatever it is she does. She worked hard for it and deserves it. (Even if you have no idea what her job really is) Whether she published a book, made a baby, got hitched, or finally figured out how to draw her eyebrows on straight. We all have different accomplishments in our lives and those big events for them should also be big events for us.

Step 2: Fake it. Women are really good at faking it. It’s true, I hear about this all the time. Oh but I am sure it wasn’t with you. Uhhhhh. Any way, sometimes you aren’t stoked about something that your friend is really happy about. Perhaps a pregnancy? If you aren’t elated at the idea and whelling up with tears at the thought of your friend as a mom, fake it. Fake it until you mean it.

Step 3: It’s not you, it’s me. The truth is that the reason you had to fake it in the above scenario probably had more to do with you then your friend. Bitches be jealous, judgey, bitchy and selfish. Jealous-You thought you would get prego first. Maybe you only mildly hate that she already has a great job, husband and home and now a baby!!!! How does she do it? Judgey-She can’t even take care of her cat. What the hell is she going to do with a kid?! Bitchy-insert eye roll here. Selfish: You already have a hard enough time fitting in a girl’s night. If she has a baby you will never see her again!!!! This could mean the end of your Law & Order and wine marathons together. This is the part where you have your pity party of one. Now get over it.

Step 4: She can’t even take care of her cat! If you have reasons to be concerned for her about choices she is making, voice them. Try not to sound like you spiking the baby ball right in her face. If she is happy about it then obviously it is something she wants and has thought it through. You should feel honored to be someone whose opinion she respects, she listens to you, maybe she is your “sister from another mister”.  Use a little finesse and a lot of love and understanding when you dive into this ocean. After all when she is happy, you are happy!

Step 5: Go ahead and get all Anne of Green Gables on her. When you met her you thought she was amazing, enchanting, funny, gorgeous, talented and you just knew you would be friends forever. Maybe she is your version of a “kindred spirit”. Remember that it was those things that made you love her and love being around her. Why would you use those exact things as reasons to treat her poorly? Cut it out! Sure she is bat-shit crazy and it’s awesome!!!!

Step 6: Oh you don’t think bat-shit crazy is awesome? Well someone else does and rather than be a crappy, backstabbing, shit talking friend just cut her loose for both of your sakes. Otherwise just take her for who she is and all of her fabulous flaws. Eh hem. You have quite a few of those as well.

Step 7: Is she lost in relationship land? Good for her! You did the exact same thing when you had a special someone and if you didn’t disappear for bedroom marathons I feel sorry for you. You haven’t been replaced because no one could ever replace you. Relationship land is also college land, family land, work land or candy land. The point is that life happens and you don’t need to see your friend every day to have the bond that you do. I haven’t seen my friend Gena in person in almost ten years and I would still chop my right arm off for her if she decided to become a cannibal. You are friends because of the times you shared, good and bad, hysterically almost peeing in your pants and sobbing so hard that snot drips in your mouth. You are friends because she is awesome and you are awesome and life is awesome when you are together. Nothing will change that. When you are together life will still be awesome, even if it isn’t every weekend anymore.

Step 8: There is no limit on someones pain. Death and break ups are the worst. You don’t know how to console them. You want to take away the pain. While a death is completely different from a break up it expects the same attention. “You don’t die from a broken heart” but damn does it feel like it. Maybe she was married, maybe it was only a few months. Whatever it was you will never fully feel her heartbreak. Give her the time she needs not only the time you want to give her.

Step 9: Let go. Your biggest friendship hang up is yourself. Sometimes a friend doesn’t live up to your expectations. They are yours though and that means you can change them because you would never want to change your friends. Right? Don’t expect the world of someone, unless you intend to give it back in return. We are all wonderful imperfectly perfect human beings and that’s what makes us great. Perfect is so boring.

So enough with the bad mouthing, backstabbing cattiness. The only one it makes look bad, is you.

If you realize that you have a sucky friend and think it is time to dump her please read my bestie, Emily Miller’s blog on how to break up with your friend. Also, you should subscribe to Drinkers With Writing Problems because she is hilarious!

Coffee Talk

Coffee Talk

Coffee is my life source. I am an empty, personality-less skin suit without my morning coffee. I will never belittle your relationship with coffee. I am merely here to help you regulate the amount of waste that comes with that deep, deep love.

Keurig Talk: In 2014 there were enough K-Cups sold to encircle the globe at least 10.5 times. INSANE! John Sylvan, the Keurig inventor looks back on his creation and has said “I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it”.  A huge issue is that the cups are made of #7 plastic which most plants will not recycle. Plus, #7 plastic contains BPA, but don’t all plastics? The cups also have a foil lid that consumers need to remove in order to be recycled and that more than likely never happens.

Fear not my caffeine addict friends, there is a company that produces bio-degradable coffee pods for your Keurig, Cuisinart, Bunn and Breville machine. Word on the street is that OneCup is just as good at giving you that tasty morning high.

Mike Hachey, head of Egg Studios created a Cloverfield-esque short about the wastefulness K Cups.

Pot Talk: Are you like me, one of those pot drinkers? Get your head out of the gutter! We go through two 10 cup pots of coffee a day in our apartment. Paper filters can add up, one a day or 3 a day, it is just a waste. Why repeatedly buy paper filters when you can purchase a reusable coffee filter basket just once for under $6? Here, I will even include a link to an Amazon page full of them… CLICK HERE TO SAVE MONEY AND STOP MAKING MORE GARBAGE!


Grounds Talk: So you drank your coffee and you are walking on sunshine. What should you do with all that energy and left over coffee grounds???

Need MORE coffee grounds for all of the fun uses I have posted? Did you know that almost all of the coffee shops around Chicago will gladly give you theirs? They will, gladly, just stop on by and ask and those are some quality grounds!


Can Talk: Woah! Did you know that you can make bread in a 1 lb. metal coffee can? I repeat, METAL coffee can. It is called steamed bread and you make it on your stove top. I swear, this is a real thing and is apparently delicious.

  • Duh! Store those old coffee grounds.
  • Reuse your old coffee can for food scrap compost (keep those ants at bay this summer).
  • Store those out of control grocery bags under your kitchen sink.
  • Use the tin coffee cans for lanterns outdoors.
  • An indoor firefly lamp for the kids.
  • Organize screws, nails, etc in the garage.
  • Keep your homemade laundry soap in one. (DIY Laundry soap recipes to come)
  • Storage. Storage. Storage.


Storage CaddyAnimal Print UpdateHerb PlanterCute Storage


“Drinking coffee can lower the risk of melanoma by 20 percent, according to a new study.”

The more you know (insert rainbow of knowledge and shooting star with chimey music here)

Floral Flair

Floral Flair

From the trash can to the centerpiece…A spaghetti jar, an old candle container and discarded vase are given new life with a little paint, a bit of glitter and some cheap broken earrings. Pour a little paint into the jars and rolled it around to cover the inside. Once the paint dried I applied Mod Podge to the top edge of the jars. Immediately after I rolling each jar in glitter then left to dry. Ending with a final coat with Mod Podge to seal the glitter in. I picked up a couple succulents and flowers out from Sprout Home  to plant. I think they turned out a little bad ass and a little beautiful.

Planter 1     planter 2     studs

planter 5     planter 6     planter 4

planter 3

Polymer Clay Jewelry

Polymer Clay Jewelry

Last night was the first Crafty Beaver event we have hosted in months and it was perfect. The attendees were small in numbers but it really gave me a chance to spend some quality time with my ladies. All in all it was a fantastic event.

I found a few great blogs on how to make poly clay jewelry; Henry Happened, Dismount Creative and Minted Strawberry. I always like to add a recycling or an upcycling factor to our crafts and encouraged the ladies to bring old jewelry parts to reuse in their new pieces. We used FIMO clay I picked up at our local craft store, Joanns. The first batch of necklaces I followed the directions perfectly, 230 degrees for 30 minutes. The second batch I messed up and baked them for the proper 30 minutes but accidentally bumped the temperature to around 320. Honestly, the mistake in temp turned the clay a Silly Putty color and was more pliable. It seemed brittle then the earlier versions. I can see why Henry Happened’s blog altered their instructions from ones suggested by FIMO. You don’t need a lot a of clay to make a lot of fun stuff either. If you reuse old jewelry pieces this craft can cost as little as $2.40 to make several items. This craft was a definite win!

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BATCH TWO: I did not get a chance to take photos with the earring backs on and chains on the necklaces. I can assure you that they all turned out beautiful though. I really love the Deathly Hallows pin!

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It is the beginning of the school year for some and so this month we wanted to focus on education. We would like to encourage you to support Pencils of Promise Pencils of Promise, also known as PoP for short, is a non-profit organization that builds schools and increases educational opportunities in the developing world.

Stay Crafty!

Good Luck

Good Luck

Adventures in basement hunting. I love our creepy old basement because I always find something awesome down there. Our landlord is in poor health and so she has not been inside our building in over ten years, if things need fixing we just do it ourselves. When I moved in over three years ago I found a hoarders dream of probably 20+ years of renters crap in the basement. If you read my last post you know that my inner weirdo could not tend to my laundry and not try to clean up while I was down there. I finally called the landlord and asked her if I had her permission to clean it all out for her. Since she did not know about the mess she was grateful for my help. While I did find a couple gems to keep like a shelving unit and a projector screen the rest was craigslist worthy or headed to the alley for pickers. There were a couple items I left alone because they weren’t in the way and they were pretty self-contained. An old rusty filing cabinet was one of them. The drawers were so hard to open that I just didn’t bother…until yesterday that is. I couldn’t help myself, I just had to know what was in there after all of these years. I found a 1930’s bird lice treatment container, some old plumbing parts, fridge bins and racks and horseshoes. Horseshoes? What luck! No really, they are supposed to be lucky if you hang them above your door.

The tradition of putting a horseshoe over the door to bring good luck and keep the devil away has long been tradition. The story behind this tradition has many variations. This is one of them: Once upon a time, a wise old blacksmith was hard at work making horseshoes. The sound of the anvil attracted the attention of the devil. He saw that the smith was making horseshoes, and he thought it would be a good idea to get his own hoofs shod. So the devil made a deal with the smith and stood to be shod. The wise blacksmith saw with whom he was dealing, and so he nailed on a red-hot shoe, driving the nails square into the center of the devil’s hoof. The devil then paid him and left; but the honest blacksmith threw the money into the forge fire, knowing it would bring him bad luck. Meanwhile, the devil walked some distance and began to suffer the greatest torture from the new shoes. The more he danced and pranced and kicked and swore, the more they hurt him. finally, after he had gone through the most fearful agony, he tore them off and threw them away. From that time to this, whenever the devil sees a horseshoe he turns and runs–anxious to keep out of the way of those torturous devices. (Dr. Doug Butler’s book, The Principles of Horseshoeing)

Another lore is that if you hang the horseshoe above the door it was god luck. Legs up meant it is good luck for all who live within, if you face it downward it was believed your luck would run out. However others did/do believed that if you hang it legs down that good luck will pour down over all who enter. In most of Europe, the Middle-East, and Spanish-colonial Latin America protective horseshoes are placed in a downward facing position. Americans of English and Irish descent prefer to display horseshoes upward; those of German, Austrian, Italian, Spanish, and Balkan descent generally hang them downward. 

So I guess you can hang it however you want. “What IS important is that the horseshoe was actually used — worn and discarded by a horse — that it was found in the road or in a field, not purchased, and that the person who enters the door can touch it.” What I want to know is if it decreases its lucky power if I glitter the crap out of it. Lucky for me I found two horseshoes(insert sly wink here).

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