6 Tips for a Beautifully Organized Pantry

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then the pantry is what keeps it ticking. It’s no secret that a well-stocked pantry simplifies kitchen productions. The trick is organizing it — and keeping it organized — so that it becomes a joy to use, rather than a chore. Follow these six essential tips for maintaining a pretty pantry.

How to organize your pantry

1. Go Vertical

Use wall or stackable shelves to make use of empty vertical space. Don’t forget stackable drawers for larger items and, again, think “up” — instead of nestling them side-by-side, stack them up high (and secured to the wall) to free up valuable floor space. If your pantry has a door, a door organizer hung onto the back can hold unwieldy items like your Swifter, mop and even larger BBQ utensils. Not only will they have a home, but they’ll be out of sight.

2. Match It Up

It’s worth investing in matching containers, which will not only serve a purpose as storage, but also create a sense of unity and visual harmony. Large mason jars are a quick and inexpensive way to corral baking ingredients, for example. Plus, you can see immediately if you’re running low on anything.

For larger items, baskets are an attractive and efficient way to group things like crackers and snacks into subdivided categories: salty snacks, sweet snacks, kids’ snacks, etc.

3. Label It

Invest in a label maker and never misplace anything again. Labelling everything is absolutely necessary in a place like a pantry where turnover is high, and especially if more than one person has access. It all seems like a perfect system until somebody adds sesame seeds into the quinoa jar. Matching labels, like matching containers, help give your pantry a cohesive foundation that you’ll be more inclined to keep organized. If you’re more into freehand calligraphy or doodling, explore sticker labels.

Keep your pantry organized

4. Take Inventory

Keep track of what’s in your pantry by maintaining a general list of what’s in it, especially for items that have a shorter shelf life. Update this list as you plan for your week, adding ingredients you need to buy to complete your snacks and meals. You can do this on a device with a spreadsheet if you’re digitally inclined, but a simple dry erase board or chalk board can be a fun and even entertaining way to communicate with everyone in your household what needs to be replenished in the pantry.

5. The Fun Zone

Organize your pantry into zones the way your favourite supermarket does: grains and cereals, sweets and baking ingredients, canned goods, crunchy snacks, etc. We already know this system from decades of grocery shopping, so applying this method in your home pantry should make sorting and retrieving items much easier.

Also, don’t use up all the available space; give yourself some breathing room for special occasions that will need their own prepping zone. For example, you might audit your pantry once a year so a special bin for “eat now” items that are soon to expire is handy to have. Or when you’re planning a big holiday party or prepping for a camping trip, you’ll want some extra space for containers that will accommodate this sudden but short-lived abundance in groceries.

Tips to Organize Your Pantry

6. Something In, Something Out

Your pantry is not the walled version of your junk drawer. Once you’re happy with your supply level, implement a strict “something in, something out” rule. Bring something new in, take something out (unless you’re replacing something already gone). That way your net products will remain the same, so you’ll never be surprised to find a half-eaten bag of potato chips buried in the back, only to have to throw it away.

Looking for more organizing tips? Here’s a look at how to organize your home office.

Why You Should Digitize Your Old Photos and Memories

Why You Should Digitize Old Photos

If you were born in a certain era, you likely remember the days when snapping a photo meant pulling out your camera and winding the film along manually before taking the shot. You had no idea how the photo would turn out until days or weeks later when you finally finished the roll of film and dropped it off for processing at your local photo developing lab.

If you remember that, then you likely have a shoebox at the back of a closet full of old photos; pics of your first day of kindergarten, or your child’s birth, or your parents’ wedding day – precious memories collected over the years that you want to preserve.

Why You Should Digitize Old Photos

There are several reasons why you should consider digitizing that irreplaceable box of photos.

  1. Natural disasters: In the event of a natural disaster like a fire or flood, you won’t have time to rummage through your closets looking for that box of photos to save. It’ll be much easier to grab a USB key.
  2. Wear and tear: Over time, photos don’t hold up. The corners get bent, they can tear, and the colours fade.
  3. Shareability: Once you have your photos digitized, you can share them with other family members and they can share theirs with you.
  4. Ease of storing and organizing: They’re easier to organize and catalogue when they’re digitized. And no more bulky photo albums taking up valuable storage space.
  5. Photo books: With your digital photos you can create photo books, which make amazing gifts for family and friends.

You can digitize your photos yourself (DIY) or you can use a service that takes care of it for you.

Digitizing DIY

Depending on how many photos you have to digitize, you’ll need a good scanner for the job. You may choose to use a flatbed scanner to manually scan your photos, or a photo scanner like this high-speed scanner or this smaller one. It may feel like a laborious task, but look at it as a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Using a Photo Service

Our Photo Box Service takes the time-consuming manual labour out of the scanning process. You simply pick up a Photo Scanning Box from your closest London Drugs store, fill it with up to 800 photographs, and take it to one of our Photolabs. Then, we’ll do the scanning work for you and, within a week, you’ll receive a USB drive with all your scanned photos. You still get to sort through old photos and decide which ones to keep, but the bulk of the work is done for you.

However you decide to digitize your photos, it’s worthwhile to ensure your family’s history is preserved for generations to come.

Check out our full selection of scanners, or learn more about our Photo Box Service.


Beyond Zoodles: Super Good (For You) Spiralizer Recipes

If you’re serious about healthy cooking, you likely have already tried spiralized zucchini noodles. They’re healthy and delicious, and can take the place of high-carb foods. But one can only eat so many zoodles.

Did you know there are many other healthy and delicious fruits and veggies that go great in a spiralizer? Other spiral-friendly foods include broccoli, apples, beets, sweet potatoes, pears, parsnips, squash, carrots, potatoes, and yams, just to name a few. If you’re zoodled-out, we’ve got some fantastic recipes below that will inspire your spiralizer.


Spiralized Breakfast Casserole

Try this savoury and satisfying casserole on a weekend morning for a paleo, gluten free, low-carb treat.


Serves: 9 slices
Time: 50 min.

Get the full recipe at SkinnyFitalicious.com.

Spiced Pear Overnight Oats

If you’re on the meal prep train, this hearty breakfast will whisk you off to flavour station.


Serves: 2
Time: 10

Get the full recipe from Inspiralized.com.


Broccoli Caesar Salad with Chicken

This satisfying salad is easily packable for lunch on the go. Bonus – it’s keto-friendly and dairy-free, and vegan if you replace the chicken with a protein alternative.


Serves: 4
Time: 15 min. (not counting soaking cashews)

Get the full recipe from Inspiralized.com.

Vegan Thai Lemongrass Coconut Curry Soup

Your craving for takeout will be taken care of by this tangy and spicy soup with spiralized sweet potato, zucchini, and celery root.

Salt & Lavender

Serves: 4
Time: 30 min.

Get the full recipe from SaltAndLavender.com.

Wasabi Cucumber Avocado Dressing & Spiralized Cucumber Salad

The spicy wasabi dressing packs a lot of punch on this fresh and healthy salad.

Peas and Crayons

Serves: 4
Time: 20 min.

Get the full recipe from PeasAndCrayons.com.


Chicken Sausage and Peppers with Spiralized Dirty Rice

The “dirty rice” in this recipe is neither dirty nor is it rice (it’s actually sweet potatoes), but it is rich and delicious.


Serves: 4
Time: 50 min.

Get the full recipe from Inspiralized.com.

Ginger Beef Sweet Potato Noodles

This quick and tasty one-pan meal with lean beef and loads of veggies will be a hit with the whole family.


Serves: 4
Time: 35 min.

Get the full recipe from TheGirlOnBloor.com.

Som Tam – Thai Papaya Salad

If you’ve never cooked with unripe papaya before, welcome to a new world of flavour! This simple and vibrant salad can be thrown together in minutes, and can be served as a main or side.


Serves: 2 main dishes or 4 side dishes
Time: 15 min.

Get the full recipe from HerbavorCucina.blogspot.com



Mini Apple & Browned Butter Tarts

Okay, so this one isn’t so super-good for you, but we couldn’t resist these yummy little bites.

The Creative Bite

Yield: 14 tarts
Time: 1 hr 5 min

Get the full recipe from TheCreativeBite.com.


We hope these recipes help inspire you to spiralize everything! If you haven’t ventured into the world of spiralizing yet, London Drugs has tools that fit into every budget:


KitchenAid Spiralizer Attachment

Snap this onto your KitchenAid mixer and start spiralizing.





Hamilton Beach 4-in-1 Electric Spiralizer

This handy appliance has 4 different blades for an endless variety of new dishes to try.




Starfrit Spiral Vegetable Slicer

With ultra-sharp blades and easy clean-up, this hand crank model with save you time and electricity.




OXO Softworks Hand Held Spiralizer

If you want to start spiralizing without committing counterspace, this little gadget can accommodate both long or round vegetables, and will fit in your kitchen drawer.

Best Spots in Canada for Nature & Landscape Photography this Spring

Spring brings with it one of the best times in the year to head out and capture some beautiful, nature-rich landscape photographs. Lucky for us, in Canada we’re blessed from east coast to west coast with loads of picture-perfect locations to shoot! Planning a photography getaway with just you and your camera? Our LDExperts in the Photolab are sharing their must-visit places to capture stunning shots of Canada’s natural beauty this spring.

Dempster Highway

Planning a road trip this spring? The 740 km bucket list journey from Dawson City, Yukon to Inuvik, Northwest Territories offers incredible scenery, wide open spaces and remote beauty. It provides the perfect opportunity to cover all of Northern Canada in a single trip, and there are several picturesque locations to snap beautiful landscape shots. The best part of the journey? It even traverses the Arctic Circle! For aerial shots that capture the pure vastness of the terrain, consider bringing along a drone to take some epic shots from above.

Gros Morne National Park

For a diverse range of landscapes, look no further than Gros Morne National Park. A UNESCO World Heritage Site covering 1,805 square kilometres, it offers views like no other. Soaring fjords and moody mountains tower above a diverse panorama of beaches and bogs, forests and barren cliffs. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get a chance to capture a shot of some local nature, like a moose!

Kananaskis Country

Situated to the west of Calgary, in the foothills and front ranges of the Canadian Rockies, Kananaskis Country is a popular destination for Albertans looking for a wealth of landscape photo opps. Photographer Tyler Todesco captured this beautiful shot and had it printed on one of our aluminum mental panels: “I chose to print on aluminum because it gave the picture a lot of depth. I was really happy with how it turned out when blown up, the colors were extremely vivid.”

Vermillion Lakes

This year-round 4.3 km scenic road offers wildlife viewing opportunities and breathtaking scenery. With Mount Rundle creating the perfect backdrop, it’s no surprise this is a favorite destination among photographers. Spring brings the added beauty of snow-capped mountains and clear blue lakes against a beautiful sunset.

Cabot Trail

Rising from the sea and clinging to mountains, the Cabot Trail will take you through majestic ocean vistas and quiet fishing villages. It is one of the world’s most scenic drives and if you’re looking for something more adventurous, it offers hikers a great experience with a rewarding view. A trip around the Cabot Trail is not complete without seeing the highlands from the water. We guarantee you’ll be stopping every 5 minutes to snap a photograph along this route!

Grand Beach

Looking for a destination that offers great landscapes for photography and doubles as a beach vacation? Check out Grand Beach, Manitoba! Resting along the eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg, Grand Beach is a freshwater beach with white sand backed by sand dunes that are 30 ft high. It is truly an undiscovered treasure in southern Manitoba.

Fogo Island

With a long maritime history, Fogo Island is the largest offshore island of Newfoundland and Labrador. With bright-colored houses, sea-cliff footpaths, and a lush forest set against a striking coastline, it provides the perfect landscape for picturesque photographs.


Surrounded on three sides by saltwater and emerald islands, Tofino is a great spot to capture the West Coast in the spring. Perfect for a weekend getaway, Tofino offers photographers an opportunity to capture sandy beaches, vivid sunsets and beautiful waves. The spring season also marks the return of the whale migration with Pacific Gray Whales and possibly Humpback Whales.


If you’re looking to capture beautiful spring cherry blossoms, Victoria is the perfect destination. One of the most well-known places to photograph spring blossoms is along View Street in the heart of Downtown Victoria. North of Victoria, The Butchart Gardens erupts into a sea of vibrant colour each spring and offers tulip displays and fragrant blossoms. For photographers looking to capture the floral beauty of spring, Victoria is definitely a must-visit.


Don’t leave those gorgeous shots lying on your camera or laptop! At the London Drugs Photolab, we’ve got a wide range of printing and enlargement options. Or create a photo book to showcase your best spring photography. Our aluminum metal panels are also great for making the vibrant colors in your spring shots really pop.  Unsure of what the best option is for your pics? Head to your nearest London Drugs store and speak to one of our LDExperts in the photolab!

Real Expert Interview: World Travel Made Easier with Hecktic Travels’ Tips

Have you ever dreamed of quitting the nine-to-five, packing a bag, and exploring this big, beautiful planet in search of adventure and new experiences? You aren’t alone.

Dalene and Pete Heck, authors of the travel blog Hecktic Travels and proclaimed “Travelers of the Year” by National Geographic Traveler, felt the same way eight years ago. And they did something about it.

They didn’t start out with a lot of travel experience when their big adventure began. They had to learn as their boots hit dirt. Through their journeys, they’ve amassed a wealth of on-the-ground travel expertise. So, we asked them to share it.

Their story is one that resonates for so many of us, and their tips and advice are inspiring, if not indispensable.

Real Expert Interview: Useful Travel Tips with Travel Experts, Hecktic Travels

1. Everyone’s story is unique. Can you tell us a bit about how you came to be an expert in travelling?


Real Expert Interview: Useful Travel Tips with Travel Experts, Hecktic TravelsIt’s funny – neither Pete nor I travelled much growing up. Family vacations were very few, and for both of us, being away from home was usually only to play in sporting events around the province. When Pete and I first got married, he even said he didn’t understand why we needed to go anywhere when we could just spend every weekend camping!

But too late for him — the travel bug was biting me hard! Our first trip was to Puerto Vallarta for our honeymoon. Then I coerced him to take a tour of Europe. And THEN we took our very first backpacking trip to Costa Rica. That last trip was where it really hit home for both of us — we craved that adventurous style of travel and were always looking to do more. We loved how it pushed us out of our comfort zones and how much we really learned about every destination we visited.

Truthfully, our life was sent into a tailspin because of some personal tragedies, and travel is what pulled us out of it. We weren’t unhappy with the sort of nine-to-five lives we were living, but we knew we could do so much better.

We sold our house, quit our jobs, and decided to pursue our biggest travel ambitions. That was almost 10 years ago, and even though we recently settled back in Alberta, travel has continued to shape our lives and even our careers.

2. Travelling can be hard. Can you please share any growth moments or revelations you’ve experienced while travelling?


Without a doubt, the most powerful lesson we learned while traveling was how little we could actually live with. We went from having a 2,100-square-foot house to having only two backpacks that totalled 110 litres, and we lived that way for almost 8 years.

Now that we are settled again, we are much more conscious of things and the space they hold in our lives, and on the planet. Our purchases are much more thoughtful and we are careful not to fall into our former blind-consumerist mentality. It is very freeing to live so minimally!

Also, anyone who has ventured beyond the standard “all-inclusive” style vacation will learn this lesson: the world is not near as scary as it is made out to be.

We’ve had our scary moments, to be sure, but we know for certain that people the world over are genuinely good. We’ve had our passports returned to us when I left them on a bus in Chile. In Ecuador, I left my iPhone on a bed and the hotel flew it out to me the following day. In Turkey, we had locals get off their bus in order to walk us two blocks to where we needed to catch our bus. They waited to ensure we got on the right one, missing their own in the meantime. We learned the meaning of the word hospitality in countries far away from our own.

Real Expert Interview: Useful Travel Tips with Travel Experts, Hecktic Travels

3. Do you have any guidance for those wanting to travel more? Perhaps some preparation, tools, or mindset suggestions?


Despite our abundance of travel, we are actually the world’s WORST travellers… seriously, who leaves their passports on a bus in Chile?? THIS GAL. We are pretty scattered and often arrive at places unprepared, but somehow we manage to get by. I would advise you to keep that in mind if you go searching for travel tips on our blog!

But one thing I will say when it comes to mindset: as much as possible, go into a new destination or adventure with little to no expectations. We learned early that setting future travel destinations high on a pedestal almost certainly meant we would be disappointed in some way. Instead, we’ve been happily traipsing around the world being pleasantly surprised by everything, and letting our adventures unfold as they are meant to. There is no better way to learn than to go into a new place with a blank slate and just absorb all that is around you.

4. What are three things you can’t — or won’t — travel without?


For the first few years of our nomadic adventures, we traveled without a phone! There are many ways that we miss those early untethered days, but now we also find ourselves quite addicted to some of the tech that makes it all so much easier.

A few of our favourite apps include:

  • Google Translate: Google bought out the app “Word Lens” a few years ago and it is the handiest thing to point your phone camera at a foreign menu and have the words translated for you directly on the screen;
  • Maps.me: This is Pete’s favourite because the offline maps are better than Google and even include hiking paths. It also easily allows him to mark spots that he wants to return to in order to get photos in better light;
  • Trover: This app is sort of a “useful Instagram” in that it is full of beautiful photos but they are all geotagged and captions include helpful travel tips on how to find and best enjoy that spot.

5. What about items people tend to pack but don’t need? What are a couple things people should NOT travel with?


I think hidden money pouches are uncomfortable and a waste of space. We had one for the first year around South America but quickly disposed of it when we just didn’t see the point of it. We are very careful in how and where we travel (i.e. you won’t find us stumbling on a side street back to a hotel after a late night at a bar), and as long as you make smart decisions, I don’t think such a thing really helps. Money belts can also sometimes be easy to spot and an argument can be made that wearing them actually makes you more of a target.

Along that line, leave the flashy jewellery at home. Nobody needs to see big diamond rings or cares that you wear brand name sunglasses when you are travelling in a poorer country. Most crimes against tourists abroad are petty theft and only opportunistic in nature, so stop making yourself a target.

6. How do you decide what to pack, and what not to pack?


Weather is probably the biggest factor! We have had instances where we’ve gone from winter in Finland straight down to Guatemala, so we’ve had to be pretty careful about what we brought with us. Everything needs to be compact, and I usually pack with layers in mind. That cute cotton sundress is great in Guatemala, but I threw some leggings under it and it was wearable in Finland too. It all needs to be interchangeable, and easy to match with other things.

Real Expert Interview: Useful Travel Tips with Travel Experts, Hecktic Travels

7. For folks looking to skip the baggage carousel with just a carry-on, what advice or hacks do you have about travelling light?

We have never been able to master this — ha! Which is why we asked an expert to pen some tips for our website, because we are so terrible at it ourselves.

I wish we could be more helpful! Just know the struggle is real, and you are not alone.

8. What are a few unconventional, surprising, or quirky suggestions you have to pack like a pro?


Using packing cubes is the one packing tip we are certain is a good one! Stuffing our lives into luggage for almost eight years could not have been done without using packing cubes. We each carry a few and separate our items by type (shirts, pants, underwear, and socks). They keep everything compact and organized. And the added bonus is when we stay somewhere for an extended period they pop out and fit into the drawer where we are staying which makes unpacking easy.

Also, taking a sarong is a must, and not just to use as a cute piece of clothing. Use it as a skirt, a halter dress, a swimsuit cover, towel, blanket, headdress, scarf, or even a pillow. The best part is that it packs away quite small. You might as well take two!

Dalene and Pete Heck are the duo behind HeckticTravels.com, a narrative travel blog that follows their journeys around the globe and has garnered them many accolades, including being named “Travelers of the Year” by National Geographic Traveler. After eight continuous years on the road, they have since settled back in Lethbridge, Alberta, but continue to chase adventures as much as possible.

Connect with them on: their blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

For additional tips on how to pack like a pro, or for travel insurance, drop by your local London Drugs and talk to any of our in-store experts. 

5 Tips to Organize Your Home Office for Success

If you have a home office, you’re probably familiar with the challenge of keeping it organized. As a room that typically isn’t the focal point in most homes, it’s often the recipient of piles of disorganized items that get tucked away there “for later.” Except that later never really comes. Next thing you know, your office is cluttered with papers, boxes, and power cords, and is the last place in which you want to spend time. Sound familiar?

Does your home office inspire you to be productive? Or does it evoke feelings of stress and overwhelm?

Whether you’re working from home full-time or using your office space to keep the family organized, these five helpful tips to organize your home office will make it more efficient and visually appealing, leaving you more time for yourself and family, as well as enhancing the overall beauty of your home.

5 Tips to Organize Your Home Office for Success

1. Create stations


Just as trying to do too many things at once creates overwhelm (one step at a time!), so does trying to accomplish everything you need to do in one space. Your mind needs space to shift from task to task, and you can help facilitate that by creating different spaces for each one.

Different task, different station.

These workstations will vary based on what you want to use your home office for, but some common ones might include:

  • Printing station
  • Mail station
  • Writing station
  • Crafting station
  • Supplies station

Even with a small space, you can make multiple stations by separating them using the tools in the next step.

2. Vertically organize


Whether you’re creating stations or organizing established ones, you can save space by vertically organizing them. We usually think about setting up the rooms in our homes horizontally, and rarely do we make good use of them vertically.

Using wire baskets, wall-mounted filing bins, stacking drawers, or even a good trusty filing cabinet, you can create space that otherwise would have gone underused.

Take this a step further and colour code each station and bin for maximum efficiency. Use colour coding labels and sticky notes to make it super clear what each station is for and keep your system tidy.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Red – bills and finances
  • Orange – appointments
  • Yellow – family and pet items
  • Green – business tasks
  • Blue – auto and home
  • Purple – manuals, warranties

In addition to colour-coded stations, don’t forget your recycling bin! You can easily set a beautiful recycling or supply station set up using these Neatfreak bins and stackable shelf.

Whichever stations you decide on, be sure to label them so everyone in the family knows which area is for what. This will help keep things tidy well into the future.

3. Only keep essential items that provide real value


5 Tips to Organize Your Home Office for Success

For many, decluttering is the hard part. And for most, the hardest part is starting. So, just start somewhere. We suggest grabbing two boxes — one for items to keep, and one for recyclables. You’ll be surprised to discover how many things you can recycle, rather than just throw away.

Then, set aside half a day to sort items into the boxes. If you haven’t used it in six months, recycle it!

For the items you do keep, you can then organize them further and by placing them in the categorized bins or drawers you created in step two.

Categories might include:

  • Stickies – post-its, labels, stickers, label tape,
  • “Attachment” tools – paper clips, staples, binder clips, thumbtacks, magnets
  • Writing tools – pens, pencils, markers, highlighters
  • Mail – stamps, envelopes, address labels
  • Office tools – hole punch, ruler, calculator, label maker

Again, make sure you label them so everyone in the family knows which container is for what. This will help keep things tidy and efficient well into the future.

4. Create a command centre or system for organizing notes, bills, business cards, or other small papers


5 Tips to Organize Your Home Office for Success

Some of the trickiest things to keep organized in your home office are all the notes, bills, business cards, or other small papers. This can easily be transformed from piles of random papers to successful filing system with the use of a cork board, magnetic dry-erase white board, or clipboards.

Using your colour coding system from before, section the board into quarters or thirds, and tack items together based on their assigned colours. Not only will they be grouped together, but you’ll easily be able to review what needs attention at just a glance. Easy peasy!

To take this a step further and keep the whole family organized — especially if everyone has their own busy schedules and obligations — use individual boards for each family member! Remember to use your trusty label maker to label each one.

5. Make it pretty


5 Tips to Organize Your Home Office for Success

Even if your home office is basically a glorified storage closet without windows, you can still make it into a space you want to be in.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Add a plant. Even a fake one. NASA has proven houseplants provide many benefits, including purifying the air, improving mental health, concentration, memory, and productivity.
  • Place a couple of inspiring books on a shelf where you can see them. During a long day you may hit a rut in productivity. To keep the motivation momentum going, grab one and read a few lines. You never know what inspiration may be discovered.
  • Hang your favourite artwork. Just like with organization, you can beautify vertically by using wall space to hang a photo or painting of something you really love.
  • Hide cords or bind them with zapstraps or elastic bands.
  • Paint one of the walls! Blue is often thought to relax the mind, while yellow invigorates it, and pink makes us happy. Either way, pick one wall, a colour you love, and have fun with it!

Efficiency is important for success, but so is loving the space you’re in.  If you find your home office feels too cold or is uncomfortable to be in, you won’t use it. So make sure whatever you do to get it organized, be sure to give it your own style.


If you need help or supplies to organize your home office for success, we can help! Stop by your local London Drugs and pick up your essentials — we’d love to see you!

Upcycle This: 5 Cools Crafts to Do on a Cold Day

Upcycler Extraordinaire Denise CorcoranUpcycler and crafter extraordinaire Denise Corcoran (Thrifty By Design) has a passion for turning ‘junk’ into new and funky pieces. From refinishing furniture to repurposing discarded items like wine corks into jewellery, she believes there is no limit to what a bit of time and know-how can create and save from the landfill. Here Denise shares 5 of her favourite upcycled crafts.

Do you ever look in your recycle bin and think you could make crafty magic happen with your recyclables? I do. All the time!

So many items you find in your recycle bin can be repurposed into fun rainy day projects. From mason jars (which you can find at London Drugs!) to cereal boxes to tin cans… there are simple DIYs that turn used objects into treasure. And the bonus for all of us is that you help keep these objects out of the landfill. Here are a few easy upcycled crafts to get you started!

1. Mason Jar Lanterns

Mason jars are super trendy when it comes to upcycling. One easy project is to refashion the mason jar into a lantern. By decoupaging tissue paper on the outside then adding a tea light in the mason jar, you’ve crafted an easy lantern. You can even step it up a notch by taking a Sharpie and adding a face or design to the decoupage.

Step 1: Grab some mason jars of various sizes and ensure they are clean.

Upcycled mason jars


Step 2: Tear up pieces of tissue paper. Either use one colour or try mixing it up with various colours.

Upcycled crafts


Step 3: Add a coat of Mod Podge or liquid white glue to the mason jar.

Upcycled Crafts with Mason Jars


Step 4: Add pieces of tissue paper to the glued area. Then coat the tissue paper with more Mod Podge to smooth out the paper and seal it.

Upcycled Crafts with Mason Jars


Step 5: Continue step 3 and 4 until the mason jar is completely covered with tissue paper. Allow to dry.

Upcycled Crafts with Mason Jars


Step 6: Insert a regular or LED tea light into the mason jar to create a lantern.

Upcycled Crafts with Mason Jars

2. Cereal Box Organizers

One of my favourite go-to items from my recycle bin is cereal boxes. They’re perfect for DIY stationery, art, gift boxes, or gift tags. They’re also perfect for your office to organize your papers, magazines, or mail. It doesn’t take much to turn an empty box into a swanky organizer for your kitchen or office.

Step 1: You can use any size of cereal box to create your DIY office organizer.

Upcycled Crafts with Cereal Boxes


Step 2: Measure and mark where you want to trim the cereal box.

Upcycled Crafts with Cereal Boxes


Step 3: Use scissors or an X-acto knife to trim the box.

Upcycled Crafts with Cereal Boxes


Step 4: Cover the cereal box in old wrapping paper using a glue stick or Mod Podge.

Upcycled Crafts with Cereal Boxes


Step 5 (optional): Jazz up your organizer with ribbon or funky tape trim to add a bit more pizzazz.

Upcycled Crafts with Cereal Boxes

Step 6: Upcycle more boxes to create a set of organizers.

3. Wine Cork Stamps

There are some super fun DIYs out there when it comes to upcycling wine corks. You can turn wine corks into a boat, fridge magnets, or even repurpose them into jewelry. So many possibilities! On a cold day why not stay in, make wine cork stamps, then use them to decorate handwritten notes or to create your own stationery. Just be careful when creating your stamps since you’ll need an X-Acto knife.

Step 1: Find wine corks with dense cork to use for your stamps. With a pen, outline your stamp design. Also add a line about a 1/4 inch along the wine cork.

Upcycled Crafts with Wine Corks


Step 2: Cut your design out using an X-Acto knife. Cut into your design and then into the line along the side of the wine cork. This will remove the cork to create your stamp.

Upcycled Crafts with Wine Corks


Step 3: Keep cutting until you’ve fully exposed your design.

Upcycled Crafts with Wine Corks


Step 4: Start stamping! You can use an ink pad or acrylic paint to create your design for DIY cards, gift tags, etc.

Upcycled Crafts with Wine Corks

4. Tin Can Shaker

Depending on the size of the tin cans you have on hand, you can refashion them into a pencil holder, a planter, or maybe even a cute robot. I love turning a boring tin can into a musical instrument. All you need is rice and beans for the inside of the can, and a balloon and duct tape for the top. It’s that easy to take your junk and make some funk. One of my top go-to craft materials is duct tape. You can get patterned duct tape that is an easy way to jazz up your shaker.

Step 1: Grab a tin can from your recycle bin. You can use any size for your DIY shaker.

Upcycled Crafts with Tin Cans


Step 2: Fill it with rice, dried beans, or anything else that will be good for making music. You don’t need much — maybe 3-4 tablespoons.

Upcycled Crafts with Tin Cans


Step 3: Cut the opening of your balloon. You want to remove this since you’ll be stretching the balloon over the opening of the tin can.

Upcycled Crafts with Tin Cans


Step 4: Stretch the balloon over the opening of the tin can. Ensure it’s tight and that the balloon stretches down the tin can.

Upcycled Crafts with Tin Cans


Step 5: Cover the tin can with funky duct tape. This ensures the balloon stays in place plus adds some funk to your shaker. Feel free to add other embellishments.

Upcycled Crafts with Tin Cans

5. CD Mosaic Frame

You can take an old CD and make gold with it. CDs can be cute animals, coasters, or even art. You can even upcycle the CD case into a frame for your art! A cool but messy DIY would be to cut up old CDs and create a mosaic. You can dress up an old frame or table using repurposed CDs, adhesive, and craft paint. I use white craft paint to mimic grout around the pieces of CD.

Step 1: Take an old frame or score one from a thrift store that has a flat surface.

Upcycled Crafts with CDs


Step 2: Gather your supplies — a pair of scissors, old CDs, and some adhesive.

Upcycled Crafts with CDs


Step 3: Cut up your old CDs. This can be a bit messy so be prepared. Cut the CDs into a variety of sizes.

Upcycled Crafts with CDs


Step 4: Add glue to the surface of the frame then add your pieces of CD.

Upcycled Crafts with CDs


Step 5: Keep adding pieces until the frame is covered.

Upcycled Crafts with CDs


Step 6: Cover the frame with white acrylic paint. Allow to dry. Rub or scratch the CD pieces to remove the white paint. Then you’re done.

Upcycled Crafts with CDs

Based in North Vancouver, B.C., Denise Corcoran is the author is Raw Crafts: 40 Projects from Hemp, Jute, Burlap and Cork. Sharing her enthusiasm for crafting and upcycling, Denise facilitates ‘Crafternoons’ throughout Vancouver where participants of all ages and skill levels learn how to make things from unorthodox materials. She was a featured panelist at the Craft Council of BC talk called ‘Craft, The Environment & Our Community’. She was also the inaugural BC Champion for the fourth annual Culture Days, a national, nonprofit 3-day event promoting culture throughout Canada. Denise is also a Creative Expert for the Salvation Army Thrift Store, sharing thrifting tips and simple upcycling DIYs. 
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