Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Kace's Carousel Ain't over 'til it's over!

First posted 00:43am (Mla time) Mar 11, 2006
By KC Concepcion

Editor's Note: Published on page C2 of the March 11, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

SOMEONE always used to remind me that you have to do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Filipinos out here are extremely good at doing this, all the while keeping their dignity despite hardships in their lives while in a foreign land. Of course most OFWs are concerned with more serious issues that have little to do with figuring out how to recreate home stuff through the arts and crafts, but, we might learn a little something from their resourcefulness and abilidad!

To think we’re from a place where if you can afford something basic like eat 3 full meals a day, then you are already considered lucky, sometimes we just need to calm down on the wanting and the buying, and feeling guilty for not having the latest version of something. Yes I’m quite aware that this is coming from a product endorser, but, in the end, we just really do not have to have it all! Okay, for some I should at least say … we don’t need to have it all, ALL the time! Tsk tsk! Make use of what you already have, reinvent it, and feel good about it! Here are 10 happy ways to reuse things around the house ’cos the second time can surely be sweeter! Have fun!

Eyeglass frames

If you have kid sisters or brothers who have outgrown old but super fun children’s sunglasses, you don’t need to throw them out or give them away just yet. If they’ve lost the glass lenses, then even better, because you can use the lens parts of the eye glass frame as picture frames for close up shots or wideshots of nice views from places you’ve been to. Colors like hot pink or red, for example, work well with glossy black and white photos.


Scrap CDs can be strung together with nylon strings and hung up as retro curtains. Others use beads, while others use old CDs -- mostly CDs that contained documents and word files instead of something sacred like music. You can ask your colleagues or someone who works in an office to compile old CD-ROMs for you. The most interesting part is when the sun reflects on the discs and bounces onto your walls like bubbles. The first time I saw the effect it reminded me of how I would play with the “dancing bubbles” reflecting on airplane seats while light from the windows bounced off my lolo’s watch. Kids could have fun with this!


When funky earrings go out of style and you would hate to throw them away, you can turn them into table napkin rings! Just remove the backs with pliers, hot-glue them onto a cord and tie them into a circle to form the rings. They will make table settings look special even when using cheap paper napkins.

‘Bayongs’ and baskets

Medium-sized fruit baskets or little bayongs mounted on the wall or resting on a desk can make for a cute, functional, contained spot for invitations, notes, pictures, bills, incoming and outgoing letters, catalogues, or magazines. You can mount the baskets up on the wall, one on top of the other or in a row, about four inches apart, using nails and screws. You can sew things into them for a subtle personal touch, too. Just make hand-written or computerized labels that you can attach to the baskets with masking tapes (“Bills,” “Mail,” “Sketch Designs,” “Ideas,” “Don’t Forget,” etc.). For younger sisters and brothers, you can hit two birds with one stone: Have bonding time fun and motivate them to do homework, too. Ask them to help you paint the baskets, or color the labels for them, then show them their new homework in-box! I’m sure my sister would enjoy doing her super cool preschool homework if she sees it popping out of a big, red, ladybug!


Speaking of magazines, my mother and I can (ridiculously) fill up a whole attic with just old beauty and teen magazines alone. If you are like us, then it might be a good idea to spend one whole day sorting out the articles you still find useful, putting them into clear folders or plastic portfolios, and then separating the parts of the magazines you won’t read anymore. Once you’ve done that, you can send them to Samahan ng Muling Pagkabuhay Multipurpose Cooperative (727-0681) to make woven paper boxes and creations that you can use for gifts, gatherings, or give-aways for events. Three years ago, for my debut giveaways, we sent them the stacks of old magazines that ranged from the 1980s black and white prints in English to the neon pop colors you find in Japanese mags of the year 2000. It made it interesting for us to see them make containers out of these dusty reads, but in the end when the boxes were made, we filled them up with scented poutpourri and crystal bracelets/necklaces for all the girls at the party. The attic was cleared up in no time and the giveaways were fabulous! Heads up though -- people who receive these magazine paper creations will surely see what you’re reading!


Take-out plastic Tupperwares, trinkets and things over here, Chinese take-out doesn’t come in NY fashion. Instead of tall cardboard boxes with aluminum wires, we get plastic Tupperware-type containers. What’s nice about them (especially the hard-plastic ones that come with a decent cover) is that you can clean up the containers, and reuse them as jewelry boxes, a piggybank, candy bowls, key holders, or as open storage for things like tea bags. You can wrap them up and staple some felt paper (black, wine red, dark orange, or purple work well) around the containers, then hot-glue trinkets and things to cover them up with style. Seashells, pieces of broken glass, colored beads that came from broken bracelets and accessories … anything small or light or eccentric enough, really … It all depends on your theme! You can even take a wine-cork and stick it at the center of the plastic lid (hopefully your take out came with one) to use as a fancy handle to open up your new memory box, which would hold all the tickets from your favorite concerts, plays, and shows.

Shot glasses

For an inuman session or pica-pica dinner, it could be fun to fill up your extra shot glasses with rock or iodized salt, herbs (like rosemary, oregano, parsley) or chili flakes and other spices. Otherwise, you can use them as ash trays, candle holders, or plate holders if you turn several of them over, put them together to make a stable plane, then have the plates rest on their bottoms.

Baby bottles

I don’t know if you are one to try this out, but just to give you an extra idea to see how far you can go with this … There is a strange bar here that serves alcoholic beverages in baby bottles. Weird? Well, the basic point of it is that alcohol hits you harder when you down it in this way -- so, partygoer, are you one to dance and drink the night away, sucking in the vodka through a tsupon? Hmm … I don’t know!

Wine bottles

It would be sad to throw wine bottles away! They work well as nice carafes (instead of pitchers) for water, iced tea, juices for breakfast, or chilled cocktail mixes ready to serve. You can also use them as flower vases. Long-stemmed flowers work well, orchids look classy in translucent olive green bottles. Paint over the glass bottles, tie a ribbon or old necklaces around the bottle necks, or strip the labels and leave the bottles as they are for a simple, elegant, organic look that will go with any table setting.

T-shirt quilt

I remember the comfort of our mayor doma’s homemade quilt from when I was 12 years old living in Boston. Knowing she sewed together pieces of her old dusters with her very hands made it cozier to sleep in. Putting together favorite pambahay T-shirts you’ve outgrown, or cutting out squares from your favorite T-shirt designs could be a little bit of work but with a little patience you’ll have the advantage of reliving happy moments in your dreams! Sewing together a kind of quilt from old, worn-out, but fabulous T-shirts that you don’t want to get rid of, might have the power to put you back in a great mood every time you get cozy with it on a roadtrip to the beach, the mountains, and other travels.

The results will all depend on what kind of person you are and what kind of world you move in, but the philosophy is the same for everyone: Work with what you have, here and now, and hopefully you get what you want out of life when you’ve done this long enough. There is so much more you can create and reuse -- just look around and remember the whole purpose of doing this is so that nothing, which still has the potential to be something great, is thrown to waste. Bisous, beautiful ones, and ciao for now!

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