Counting scrappy blessings …

From the November 2015 edition of Two-Lane Livin’

Most of our gardens are finished producing, and we begin looking forward to the holiday season. Here at the Holstein household, the holiday lover in me wants new, fresh decorations. The tightwad in me doesn’t want to spend money on plastic stuff from China. Continue Reading →

Upcycled Snowman Family

Oh! This is a FUN project! It’s easy. It isn’t too messy, and it is quick.

This upcycled snowman family is made of non-dairy creamer containers and pill bottles. What you need:

  1. Non-dairy creamer containers
  2. Pill bottles
  3. Spray paint
  4. Permanent markers
  5. Acrylic paint

Simply remove any labels or stickers from your containers. Non-dairy creamer container labels are primarily shrink-wrap plastics. They tear off pretty easily once you get a small split started. Pill bottles may take a little more work.

Spray the lids black. If you want the females to have different colors knock yourself out. Use some glitter glue and acrylic paints to decorate the hats, or hot glue some accessories on.

snowman, family, upcycle

Since my containers are all white, I don’t need to spray them with white paint. If your containers are not white, test your spray paint to see if it will adhere to your plastics. If not, get some plastic primer at the box store.

Use a variety of permanent markers to draw and color in facial features. I did use a dab of acrylic paints for some highlights and special touches.


By Robin Holstein
Robin’s Upcycle is located in Kanawha County, WV. Open by appointment.
Phone 304-460-5NEW (5639).
For info, visit

Pill bottle upcycle

Plastic pill bottles. With the Baby Boomers aging, plastic pill bottles are everywhere and end up in landfills by the thousands every month. Here is a little upcycle project you may want to do with the kids.

You will need:

  1. Pill bottles
  2. Permanent markers
  3. Acrylic paints
  4. Plastic primer
  5. Spray paint
  6. Spray sealant

As with most of my upcycle projects, thoroughly wash the bottles, and remove the labels. Dry completely inside and out.

Most slick plastics need primer before painting. This can be purchased in the painting section of most box stores, and particularly home improvement stores. It is a clear spray that makes the plastic receptive to paint. Use according to directions, paying attention to drying times.

To get an even finish, use spray paints as the base colors for the bottles and lids. Be sure to let each coat dry completely before moving on.

A black, permanent marker may be used to outline your holiday design, in this case a selection of Jack-O-Lantern faces. White acrylic paint was used to create the eyes and teeth, and to add a few highlights.

Allow to dry and finish off with sealant. Add your choice of special touches, ribbons, stems, leaves, etc.

pill bottles painted


By Robin Holstein
Robin’s Upcycle is located in Kanawha County, WV. Open by appointment.
Phone 304-460-5NEW (5639).
For info, visit

Autumn Colors –

This is my column from the September 2015 edition of Two-Lane Livin’ – West Virginia’s Largest Grassroots Magazine.

Autumn Colors

As I write this month’s article home canning season is just about in full swing. Canning jars line the aisles of the box stores, from department, to farm supply, to deep discount. The home canner has a range of choices of bands and rings. Manufacturers offer single colors and cute patterns to adorn your goodies. That is as it should be.

Mason Candy Corn

I make no secret that I do not think using canning jars for decoration or crafting is a good idea. Jars are not cheap, and craft stores inflate the prices. The frugal me sees no sense in wasting them. However, jars do get chipped.

Chipped jars are not safe for home canning and possibly will not properly seal. These jars may make good upcyling project jars. For this project, I took canning jars with small chips along the lips and made autumn themed vases.

What you will need:

  • Jars
  • Sandpaper – 80, 120, 200 grit
  • Rotary tool with sanding drums (optional)
  • Spray paint – white, yellow, orange
  • Spray sealant
  • Safety goggles, dust mask

Any jar will do. You do not specifically need canning jars. In fact, using a variety of jars, alternating color patterns and sizes, can make a lovely display of your fall flowers. Make sure jars are not cracked. Cracked jars should be saved for the recycling center, unless the jars are colored. Colored glass can be used for later projects.

The chips should not be large. You want to smooth them with wet sanding. I suggest starting with 80 grit, then 120, and finish with 200 grit sandpaper. You may choose to use a rotary tool, such as a Dremel, with sanding drums. Eliminate any sharp or jagged areas that may cut a finger or palm when handling the jar.

Always wear safety goggles when working with glass. Hand sanding will not guarantee a shard does not fly off. Wear a dust mask especially when using a rotary tool and sanding drum. Once the glass is smooth, wash the jar in soapy water and dry completely.

Gather together your trusty, quality spray paint. I would be careful about using generic paint on this project. Not all spray paint will adhere to glass, and there is no sense wasting the money. You may choose any combination of colors for your jar. Here, I chose white, yellow, and orange to mimic candy corn. Spray in thirds, allowing a small bit of overlap to make the transition smooth. Spray with sealant after all the paint is dry.

Garnish with your favorite autumn flowers, fresh or artificial, and enjoy!

I would love to hear your thoughts. Visit the Facebook page for Robin’s Upcycle and leave a comment.

Robin’s Upcycle is located in Kanawha County, WV. Open by appointment. Phone 304-460-5NEW (5639). For info, visit

The Headboard Bench –

This is my column from the August 2015 issue of Two-Lane Livin’ WV’s Largest Grassroots Magazine!

The Headboard Bench

The heat of summer is upon us. After a long hot day, finding a comfy spot in the shade is a great evening treat. It is even better if you made the seat yourself.

Benches made from old head and foot boards are in fashion right now. They are not difficult to make, but they do take a bit of time and planning.

Bench 2


An old headboard or foot board is needed for the basic frame of the bench. You also need lumber to complete the frame and provide support for the seat. Wood screws are preferred over nails, but nails are fine. A piece of plywood for the seat, and paint will complete the project.

Basic Process

Stripping the paint is optional for your bench, it a matter of preference. The headboard and footboard I used had many layers of paint. The topmost layer was a shade of blue somewhere between navy and periwinkle. Underneath was a dark brown covering the original dark stain popular in furniture back in the 1980’s.

I opted to strip the wood as much as possible. This took a lot of time because of the spindles, and knobs. The finished white bench is a testament to the effort invested.

The width of the headboard will set the width of the bench. You will need to decide the depth of the seat. I measured a porch swing seat for size. Then cut the plywood to fit.

For this particular bench I turned the footboard upside down. This was due to the shape. With the footboard is in the normal position there is a hump that would hurt the legs. The only other way to address that problem is to cut off the bottoms of the posts. This creates another challenge of the seat being positioned above the footboard, destroying the look.

With the footboard upside down, I only needed to remove a small portion of the top spindle and smooth the ball by sanding. A little filler in the new top spindle hides the fact it was previously the bottom.

Screwing boards on the back of the footboard and front of the headboard provides the support for the plywood seat. Cut the lumber to the desired size and build the bench sides. Two boards on each side, one at the seat and one at the feet, create stability and additional support.

Painting the bench is a matter of choice. My bench is exposed to the elements, on an uncovered porch, so I wanted a paint made for the outdoors. Adding a cushion gives a bit more flare and comfort.

Head and footboards can be found at yard sales, flea markets, and used furniture stores. In true upcycle fashion mine came from the trash, discarded by someone moving out of a rental unit.


By Robin Holstein
Robin’s Upcycle is located in Kanawha County, WV. Open by appointment.
Phone 304-460-5NEW (5639).
For info, visit