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The Things I'll Do

I know that the Christmas season is well-underway, but today I thought I'd take a quick look back at the tablescape I created for my family's Thanksgiving dinner.

Why back-track, you might ask?  Well, I realized that I never shared with you the lengths I am willing to go to for creativity and design.  Trust me, this will all make sense when you see how low I stooped...

Would you believe me if I told you that I only spent $40.00 for this entire setup (and that includes the cost of the tulips themselves)? That's the beauty of finding ways to be resourceful...but I won't say that it doesn't come at a cost.  Sometimes, it means you've got to get your hands a bit dirty if you really want to save those pennies.

Here is a quick reminder for what the arrangement looked like...

Let me explain where I'm going with this...

First, you must know that what I'm about to tell you is quite embarrassing for me.  In fact, I debated whether or not to even share this information on the blog, but ultimately I reminded myself that this blog is intended to be a place for open and honest sharing of my design adventures...and this was nothing if not an adventure!  Actually, as I look back, this could possibly be classified as one of the biggest adventures I've ever dived into on this blog.

So, with that being said...a few of you have asked me about the bottles I used to hold the branches for the centerpiece.  Well, before I can tell you that, I first have to tell you a little story about my inspiration for the arrangement.  Remember this?

Do you see that image in the top left-hand corner where all of the bottles are used as candle holders? Well, I found that image on Pinterest quite some time ago, and I fell in love with the idea.

But, sadly, there was a teensy-weensy problem with the idea...Mark and I only purchase wine to use for cooking purposes.  So for me to collect that many wine bottles, it would take over a year...

I couldn't wait that long!

But then I took a little road trip back to my hometown for my friend's wedding reception (the one I decorated the bridal shower for).  It was such a beautiful summer day, during our monsoon season, so the sky was filled with fluffy clouds that hovered over the desert landscape.  I couldn't help but stop every so often to take some pictures of what I was seeing.

But, one of those stops left me with a dilemma...

As I looked around at this particular stop I realized I had happened upon a desert "party zone." Apparently, this particular area was a popular place where people liked to go to drink the night away, and the bottles that were scattered all across the ground were proof of that.

Now, most people who stumbled across this scene would simply see disgusting bottles lying across the ground...but when I stumbled across this scene, this is what I saw...

Yep, I'm sick, I know...but when I saw all of those bottles I immediately thought of the many projects I had in mind that involved bottles...and so, I started scavenging.

I call it scavenging because I felt a bit like a vulture as I combed the area looking for bottles that might work for the projects I needed.  I steered clear of bottles that had any liquid in them (and when I say any liquid I mean that literally...some of those bottles had stuff in them that I don't care to discuss), and went for bottles that may have been dirty, but at least were dry.

After the trip, the bottles sat in garbage bags out in the garage for several months until I finally had an opportunity to use them.  And so, it was bleach time!  Each of the bottles took a bleach bath before they ever made an appearance on my table.


...bath time!...

...yep, it's a bubble bath...

Those guys soaked for an entire day before I felt they were sanitized enough to come out, and even after they came out of the bleach bath, I scrubbed them down with dish soap.  

Once they were all cleaned up, they made a lovely addition to the table.

Now here's the deal...I only felt comfortable using these bottles because I knew they would not come in contact with any people or food.  All along, the bottles were only intended to hold branches, candles, or flowers...so I didn't think it would matter too much if the bottles came from an unconventional source.

But, I have to throw my disclaimer out there...if you are planning on using bottles for projects that will come in contact with food or people, I do not...let me repeat that...do not...recommend using this resourceful method to collect the bottles that you need!

And, as for the branches...those were free too.  Remember when I told you about the dead tree we inherited when we purchased the house?  Well, when we removed the tree to plant a new one I saved the branches just in case I stumbled across a project that might need branches.  With just a few coats of yellow spray-paint, these branches worked out perfectly!

So there you have it.  I'm blushing from embarrassment now that you know the things I'll do in the name of creativity.  I hope you don't think any less of me, but if you do, I completely understand.  Perhaps I can gain some points for doing my part to clean up the environment?  I know it's a stretch, but at this point I'll take anything I can get.

Well, if any of you have similar stories it would sure boost my spirits to hear about them.  Has anyone else found materials for their projects in locations that were a bit unconventional? I'm hoping that I'm not alone in this!  



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Reader Comments (3)


What you did is called a dumpster dive without the dumpster. There is nothing wrong with that! Instead of being embarrassed, just think of the service you provided to the enviroment. I, personnally, pull bottles out of recycling bins to use in projects. Think about the enviromental impact to bottles were having in that area - how long does it take for glass to break down? Suppose this area was going to be developed; think about the broken glass that would need to be cleaned up to be safe for children and other living beings. And I know that there will be plenty more to replace the ones you took but at least there are a few less in that spot.
Also, I was a cook and took safe food handling classes. To reuse an item, there is a specific precentage of bleach particles per water molicules to sterilize cooking/working surfaces. Right now I don't remember the specific number - it's like 1-2 Tbsp. per gallon of bleach. (I quit my job nine months age and for the past four years we used a purchased premixed product to do the sterilizing and didn't have to weasure bleach and water.) The time and method you used was perfectly fine to make the bottles serviceable. Whether or not you use them for food is entirely up to you. I see no reason why though, that they can't be used for craft and decorating purposes. It becomes a matter of personnal squeamishness and your comfort level.
So after all this, I say, don't be embarrassed; think "Score!" and enjoy your find.


December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaureen

Thanks Maureen!

This is so good to hear. In my mind I was thinking "score!", but I wasn't sure what other people would think. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who feels that way! haha!

Who knows, I might be doing another "desert cleanup session" in the near future. It worked so well this time, and I definitely have more projects in mind that could use some bottles.

Thanks for checking in!

xo, Kelli

December 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterAHPCH

Thanks Jacky! I can't believe how fast the holiday season has flown by! Only one week left to enjoy the tree, but that's what I get for procrastinating.

I'm hoping the craft room will give me a place to call my own for all my creative adventures. I'm very excited!

Thanks for stopping by!

Xo, Kelli

December 19, 2011 | Registered CommenterAHPCH

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