Creative living means making do

Creative living means making do, in a good way.

If I had a nickel for every time someone said to me ‘you’re so creative!’ I’d be rich…or whatever.

Little do they know that me ‘being creative’ means I make hundreds of quick mental calculations all day, just to figure out how things relate to each other.

I guess growing up in a time and place where there was no excess will teach you that.

These days it seems like there’s a solution for every single problem that we can imagine.

This past fall I asked my kids to help rake up the fallen leaves in the back yard. My request was met with some major balking, so I explained to them the importance of learning these practical skills for when they became homeowners in the future.

I was promptly informed that they would never need to such menial tasks when they get older since their robots would take care of it.

Well, shut the front door!

You’d best believe, they raked every leaf in the yard, to my satisfaction.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fantastic that we live in such an age of abundant options. Having these options readily available also means that we are conditioned to go out and buy, buy, buy. Which means we start to lose the ability to think of creative ways to use what we already have.

I’m guilty of this sometimes. If I really want to, I will invent a need for a (not so) quick run to ol’ blue and yellow . In the heat of my desire to visit the land of beauty and order, I will quickly forget that I have way too many storage knick-knacks that I don’t use.

I will then later suffer from buyer’s remorse as I go through yet another big purge.

In my old age, I am learning to slow down and think through my purchases.

A wise man once said (and by wise, I mean I don’t know who) that being creative is being able to see the connection between 2 seemingly unrelated things. By the same token, [tweetthis]living creatively means seeing connections between 2 unrelated things.[/tweetthis]

Here’s a look at my thought process when ‘being creative’.

Consider for instance, plain ol’ boring clear Contact Paper (aka shelf liner). Did you know that this thing is magic?

  1. You can use it as a privacy film on your windows.  If you’ve ever looked at ‘privacy film’ in the store, you will realize that it is essentially the same vinyl material. Sometimes there are designs on the surfaces. So go a step further and cut out some designs into the contact paper for a clean modern look.Window with contact paperwindow with contact paper

(Apologies for the sideways photos…there is some sort of glitch.)

  1. Use that same clear contact paper as a screenprinting stencil. Or use it as a wall, paper or fabric stencil. Like this smart lady did here. So, screen printing huh? You really just need something to make a mask on a piece of fabric. That something can be the self-adhesive contact paper. Perfect.
  2. This same contact paper can be used to transfer a vinyl design that I have cut on my silhouette machine to the wall or any other surface. I told you that lady was smart.  Why? well, have you looked at the transfer paper sold for the Silhouette machine? It’s really the same thing, but with slightly less adhesive. Remove some of the adhesive by sticking the contact paper onto another surface first.
  3. Laminate without a laminator with the same clear contact paper. Contact paper repels water. That is its sole reason for being. So repel some water off that printed paper!
  4. De-Lint your clothes with it in a pinch. Hey, you could do this before doing number 3, killing 2 birds with one stone!

See? for as low as $1 (dollar stores carry the stuff), the humble contact paper goes a very long way. You are welcome.

So next time you need something, think about what you already have that you can substitute. Sometimes you may have to walk around the house with a dreamy far-away look on your face while  looking at all your stuff before it comes to you. Your family will think you are crazy, but hey, you’re saving money!

So I’d love to hear from you! What are some things that you use in outside-the-box ways?

2 comments Add yours
  1. I’m not all that creative when it comes to household stuff. But I am working on it. I try to reuse things, and I try to buy items that can be used in multiple spaces over the years. For example, instead of buying a bathroom cabinet, I have several sets of foldable iron-and-bamboo shelves that can be used in any room of the house. As our family’s needs have changed, these shelves have migrated from room to room – in the living area, in my daughter’s play area, in the bedroom closet, in the bathrooms for towels and toiletries, in the foyer for shoes. They can even go outside on the patio for plants or what-have-you.

    Same thing for mason jars, low-lipped rattan baskets and little ceramic and wooden bowls. They can be picked up cheaply in second hand stores. My 7yo has been using my excess mason jars and old little pottery and wooden boxes for her ‘treasures’ since she was a toddler. Back then she’d use them for sorting games, and put them on her head, use them in her play kitchen. Now she uses them to store Pokémon cards, jewelry, tiny figurines, writing utensils, crafting and drawing supplies. The nice thing about this is that when you pick out things that you really like the looks of — that fit your aesthetic — you’re not in such a hurry to replace them. You *want* to hang on to them. You are less likely to ‘outgrow’ them because they are not so single-use.

    Another thing I started doing a few years ago was buying only clothes I really, really like, in colors that I really like (workout clothes excluded). What I found was that somehow, I could put any two or three clothing items together and looked put together because the same colors were running throughout, especially with the prints. I save a lot of money by not trying to put together ‘outfits,’ and being able to mix and match almost everything. It helps that I live in a temperate climate and can wear layers, and people here tend to dressed in a very subdued way, so now I *look* like some kind of bohemian just because I’m wearing more than one print at a time. But I love it.

  2. Hsofia,

    Yes, that is exactly it! My furniture has moved around and been repurposed so much! same for little containers and such. I don’t even tend to buy storage containers anymore (lovely as they are and beckon to me). I find that I can use cardboard boxes (nice sturdy ones from say, Sams Club), empty coffee cans, shoe boxes etc. I’ve always shopped the the thrift for my furniture and clothing too. I never got into putting together ‘outfits’ because I always just bought what I liked.

    So, yeah, you’ve got it, creative Mama! That’s how you do it. Buy what you like, buy quality, and never single use.

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