Waste Not, Want Not
January 23, 2004

Throughout the home…

Mail-Order Catalogs
Do you love to shop?
I do too, however getting a small business off of the ground can be quite expensive and doesn’t leave you any discretionary income to splurge at the mall! I have discovered a little trick that satisfies my shopping habit and doesn’t cost me a red-copper cent! What’s my trick? Mail order catalogs! I have found that I can shop “vicariously” by browsing through their pages. I think that you will find that this method really helps if you tend to fall victim to impulse buying...it will give you time to really consider the purchase and then comparison shop for the best price. 

Inundated with mail-order catalogs?
I have to admit…catalogs are one of my weaknesses! I really feel guilty when I think of the natural resources that go into producing them. A solution for me was to find additional uses for them after I had used them for my “shopping”. Here are just a few ideas to get you started…
Take them to special recycling centers that will accept them. These centers, (different from those for newspaper recycling) should also accept your out of date phone books and old magazines, as well. 

Share them with family, friends and coworkers... 
Be sure to remove or scratch through all areas where your address label appears. That includes the order blanks inside the catalog. Sometimes they also include special credit card offers that you need to remove and destroy. Remember that identity theft is rampant…you don’t want your personal info to accidentally wind up in the hands of someone you don’t know! 

Use them to get your creative juices flowing, to stimulate the “birthing” of new ideas and thinking outside of the box! 
(For the entrepreneur, this concept can be an invaluable product development tool!)
I love to cook! 
Some of my favorite catalogs related to this hobby/passion/career of mine are Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, Martha Stewart’s Living, etc. They are absolutely ripe with delicious recipes, serving and presentation ideas, party tablescape and decorating ideas, craft ideas, ideas for gift baskets, etc. I could go on and on. I also have gotten some great ideas for developing my original recipes & food preparation techniques just by reading the descriptions of the expensive gourmet food items sold in the catalogs. 
Along those lines…look for Williams-Sonoma’s Holiday/Christmas catalog for spectacular ideas for hors d’oeuvres, desserts and other party food. (Oh, what you can do with a package of Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry sheets!!!) Even the cover has a wonderful idea…slabs of candy roughly broken into “brittle-like” pieces…it’s only a layer of dark chocolate, topped with a layer of white chocolate, topped with small pieces of crushed peppermint candy… hum…a little peppermint schnapps to flavor the chocolate…and so easy to make! Bet a chunk of the stuff would be awesome melting in a mug of piping-hot chocolate too! 
Ummm…I feel a gift basket idea coming on… 
Another idea is their Eggnog Torte…three thin layers of almond sponge cake, a white chocolate truffle filling (i.e. melted white chocolate, cream, maybe a teaspoon or so of Bailey’s Crème Liqueur, rum flavoring, nutmeg…flavors that make you think of eggnog). Once the cake layers are assembled, it’s covered with a white chocolate ganache then a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg…WOW! Use the basic idea to make a chocolate variation…only this time add Crème de Cacao liqueur and some Grand Marnier to the mix…maybe add some chopped candied orange peel & toasted chopped almonds to the chocolate ganache filling??? Yum! Chocolate and oranges, one of my favorite flavor combinations. 
For those of you with fruit trees…How about paper-thin slices of pear, dipped in Meyer lemon or key lime juice, then dried in your oven or food dehydrator until crisp. Then, you guessed it…the fruit slices were dipped into bittersweet chocolate! I’m thinking dried apple slices dipped in creamy caramel then in cinnamon-spiked milk chocolate, a sprinkling of chopped toasted nuts…

I love to decorate my home too! 
Catalogs such as French County Living, Home Decorators Collection, Ballard Designs, Crate & Barrel, Calico Corners, Van Dyke’s Restorers…are just a few of my favorites in this arena. (Determine the decorating style that you love then do a little research on the internet to locate companies that fit the bill for you!)
Learn to look beyond the merchandise to see the whole effect on each page…notice the display of paint colors, wall treatments, fabrics, accessories and how they’re all coordinated together for the best effect. 
You will find that they offer just as many lovely decorating ideas for you to “borrow” and use in your home as do the $5.00 -$10.00 decorating magazines available on the market. 
Some examples...
I just saw a beautiful rectangular braided rug that would look great in my kitchen…I love everything about it…colors, shape, but not the exorbitant price tag! It’s will take some work and planning, but I know that I can make it myself a lot cheaper than the catalog price. Plus, since it will be of my own design, I can make it just the exact size that I need and I can choose washable fabrics. The original rug requires dry cleaning. Can you imagine how much that would cost twice a year???

I have fallen in love with the look of the antique half-tester bed, but cannot afford one. Instead, I’ll borrow a few design ideas here and there from some of my catalogs and come up with something that will give me the same look for a tiny fraction of the antique’s $10,000.00 price tag. It will involve a bit of furniture grade mahogany, splurging on some carved hardwood appliqués and a crest for the decorative effect that I want, a little stain, a little elbow grease…in the end, I hope to wind up with a lovely mahogany cornice that will bolt into the wall studs above my bed. From it, I’ll hang valances and curtains to create the half-canopy look that I crave. I know that I can make it for far less than the antique and it will be an original, one of a kind piece that I crafted myself! (Isn’t this FUN?) My next project will be a tufted headboard to match! 

Calico Corners, Calico Corners, Calico Corners, Calico Corners, Calico Corners!  (Click on line to visit their website where you can request a catalog)
Check out this catalog for some absolutely beautiful design ideas…
decorative and different ways to upholster furniture 
wall & window treatments 
bed linens
throw pillows 
Then shop for bargains at your favorite fabric store...choose washable fabrics in the colors that you love and that fit your budget and décor!

The Ultimate in Recycling
Last but not least, use your catalogs as raw materials to craft something new and useful. 
Handmade Paper...
Create your own lovely papers for scrapbooking, extra-special invitations, mats for photographs & art, etc.
Check out http://www.botanicalpaperworks.com/ for some lovely ideas on making your own handmade paper I particularly love their idea of adding dried flower petals and wildflower seeds to the paper pulp. The resulting paper is then made into wedding invitations. When the invitations are "planted', they bloom into a beautiful pot of wildflowers. 
What a lovely idea for handmade valentines! Refer to the Victorians' "Language of Flowers" to include seeds & petals of the particular flowers or herbs that convey the feelings in your heart...Rosemary for rembrance, Bluebells for constancy, Red Rose for passion, French Marigolds for jealousy, etc. 
See http://www.apocalypse.org/pub/u/hilda/flang.html &
http://www.pioneerthinking.com/flowerlanguage.html for more romantic floral nuances 
Add a quote from one of Shakespeare's love sonnets...a few of my personal favorites... 
"If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and
which will not, speak then unto me." 
"My crown is called content, a crown that seldom kings enjoy."
"They do not love that do not show their love." 
"They say miracles are past." 
"What is past is prologue." 
or pen your very own prose... 
(Another note to the entrepreneur...I remember a Martha Stewart segment on a company that made exclusive, handmade paper wedding invitations such as these. Those folks were doing a booming business!)

Paper Mache bowls, objects d'art, etc...
(I saw this idea on Christopher Lowell’s show last year.) Look for the glossy catalogs…the paper they are made of contain clay and will yield the best results. Remove all staples and any “plain” paper. Run through a paper shredder…the finer the better. Place catalog confetti in a large container of warm water. Allow to soak overnight until the confetti has “melted” into pulp. Drain well. Combine pulp with powdered wall paper paste and water until the mixture reaches a modeling clay consistency. Mold paper clay over a balloon. Allow to dry thoroughly. Prick balloon with a pin and remove from your clay vase, bowl, etc. Paint and decorate as you like. Allow to dry. Spray inside and out with several coats of acrylic spray. Makes inexpensive vases/containers for floral arrangements or other decorative objects d’art, piñatas, etc. 

An extra bonus…these paper crafts are non-toxic and kids love to do paper mache projects too! 

In the Garden…
Need some advice for your garden?
Check out the websites for all of the major seed growers…Burpee, Park Seed, etc. and sign up for their free newsletters. They have excellent sections at their sites for problem solving, growing prize-winning vegetables, etc. Excellent advice from the experts…let’s face it, they have a vested interest in helping you to be a successful gardener…and it’s absolutely free! 
P.S. Check out the most recent newsletter from the Park Seed Company. It has some awesome info on growing tomatoes!
Need some garden design ideas?
Look through your gardening catalogs for design ideas on shade gardens, herb gardens, fruit & nut orchards...

In the Kitchen…
It’s citrus season here in Texas and I’ve really been enjoying the sweet navel oranges and ruby red grapefruit from our Rio Grande river valley growers. I’m not composting right now and I have hated throwing away all of those wonderful citrus peels! Here are some great ideas on using the whole fruit…wasting nothing!

Before peeling and eating your citrus snack, wash the fruit and then…
Grate the peel. Carefully wrap & freeze the zest to use in recipes. No more buying a piece of fruit just because you need a teaspoon here and there of grated zest! Keep this in mind during the summertime when making your fresh-squeezed lemonade too! 
Cut the peel into strips and make marmalade! Is there anything more sublime in the morning than hot buttered scones slathered with your own homemade marmalade?
Cut the peel into strips and make candied citrus peel! The process will preserve your golden peels almost indefinitely. Use them in recipes (cookies, candy, cakes) or as a decorative garnish. Gift Idea: Dip the jewel-like strips in your favorite chocolate for a delicious gift for your favorite hostess, teacher, neighbor or friend. 
Party Dessert Idea: Serve alongside a decadent chocolate fondue with cubes of poundcake, fresh strawberries, fresh pineapple spears, etc. (Never had chocolate dipped pineapple??? Ohhh...it's to die for!) 
Check out my Cuisine de Meres recipe section for recipes that will put your lovely citrus zest and peels to good use! 
(P.S. I use only immaculately clean, organically grown produce in any recipe that involves eating the peelings or skins of fruits and veggies!)

Winter Air Freshener or Potpourri...
Place the peels in a pan of water on your stove. The water will add moisture to the air and the peels will permeate the room with their wonderful, clean fragrance. Or, tear the peel into pieces and slowly dry in your oven or dehydrator. The fragrant oils in the peel will concentrate and make it a great addition to your homemade potpourri!