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Brenda has been writing since grade school. She attended journalism school where she majored in professional writing. She loves to decorate, garden, read and spend time with her Yorkies.

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The Value Of Upcycling: A $100 Gift Card



Some of you probably don't remember it, but there was a time when we bought appliances and had them fixed when they weren't working properly. Instead of tossing them, we’d replace them with new parts, and eventually they ended up in the landfill after many years of use. Things were different.


But now? Most things that aren't too expensive, we just get rid of them because it would cost too much to have them worked on. Even if we were lucky enough to find someone who would actually work on used appliances. 


Jim, from Crucial Vacuum, emailed me the other day. He told me that he sells replacement parts and accessories for home appliances and vacuum cleaners. He wondered if I'd like to hold a little competition. 

Crucial Vacuum would love to give a $100 Amazon gift card to a reader who has a good story to tell about fixing or upcycling something rather than tossing it and buying new. I said sure, I'd love to give one of you a gift like that!

I know you folks love a good deal. To upcycle. Turn trash into treasure. You're the perfect audience. 

So tell Crucial Vacuum (and me) a story about finding a way to keep instead of toss, and you'll be automatically entered. Please include photos if you can and we will be picking the winner!


Post in the comment section of this article to be entered!

Here's a little something about Crucial Vacuum and their DIY attitude:

Crucial Vacuum was founded with a REBELLIOUS SPIRIT and a lofty objective: to manufacture high-quality vacuum cleaner accessories at a revolutionary price point and sell them directly to the consumer via the Internet. Guess what? We’re doing it! We celebrate that DIY spirit and we’re happy to roll up our sleeves and get things done just like you!

NOTE: We will be picking the winner of the gift card three weeks from today.
Cozy Little House
38 Comments
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38 comments:

  1. We've had our wide screen TV repaired down the road at a local TV repair shop, my Oreck vaccum cleaner repaired time and time again and if I could post a picture here you would see my Oreck hand-held is needing another repair as the hose is split in two spots and taped at this time. When the tape gives way, I'll order another hose.
    We also have our shoes repaired, etc. We don't throw away unless we have to.
    Blessings,
    Cindy

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  2. When my crock pots stop working I drill holes in the ceramic bottom and use as garden planters.

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  3. Living on DH's family ranch that has been in the same family since 1896, most of our stuff is repaired recycled or upcycled. The newest piece of machinery we own is a hay baler from the 1970's. It is also the one we repair most often. My hope every spring is that it just holds on one more year. My favorite upcycled item however is something I made from an old wooden console tv. Removing the tv part was the hardest, there must have been a thousand nails, staples and screws in the thing. I attached a big mirror to the top, put a board in the bottom and put on the ventilated back. I then painted it red, rubbed it with black stain, and attached hooks around the mirror. I bought a cedar dog bed with pictures of Border Collies on the cover fabric. We took it to a show and no one looked at it. I even had dog leashes hanging from the hooks. Finally I made a small sign saying "Dog Box Hall Tree". It sold in about 1/2 an hour. The woman who bought it said she had an old Border Collie that was too old to sleep outside, but was very nervous about being inside. I heard from her later that the dog liked being right by the front door, and inside the box. If I had room I would make another.

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  4. I hate throwing away perfectly good things, and I can't get behind today's disposable outlook on our consumer goods, big and small. I also tend towards frugality in nature, and I actually get a kick out of using up all our food leftovers in various creative forms, and repurposing everything.

    Probably my favorite thing.....my mother hates to throw her old, keepsake items out, and for some reason I have offered to acquire them for her instead. One of these acquisitions was her old guitar case from when she was in college, complete with vintage flower fabric inside. I hung this on the wall and used it to pull a variety of small, framed prints together. I think that's probably the most creative thing I've ever done in repurposing an old item.......and this one happens to come with tons of meaning behind it which makes it extra special.

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  5. Oh goodness, I repurpose everything I possibly can. I just turned some old bread pans into planters for the baby succulents I am propagating. xo Laura

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  6. Oh gosh, my father in law was from Scotland. Needless to say, my husband fixes everything! We had a washing machine we bought used and I can't tell you how many times he fixed it. One Thanksgiving we had a house full of guest and the oven died. He pulled in out in the midst of all the activity and fixed it!! That was a life saver. We've been married 35 years. If there is something he tells me can't be fixed I'm like....what do you mean it can't be fixed??!!! Haha I'm pretty spoiled in that regard.

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  7. The Dyson $500 vacuum we purchased 6 years ago at our church broke. The Trustees held their meeting and decided to just purchase a regular $90 vacuum from Walmart and be done with it. Our custodian took the vacuum to a little mom & pop repair shop who fixed the machine for $45 and it's been working fine ever since. Lesson learned.....if it can be fixed - fix it!

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  8. Oh my dad is the king of this! You've seen pictures of the 100 year old house he refurbished. That is the spirit he has about every single thing I can think of. Recently, my dad was having his coffee and driving around his little town when he saw a stereo receiver in somebody's trash. He stopped and picked it up. He took it apart and cleaned it, plugged it in and it sounds like a symphony in his house. He has the ability to do that.

    On the other hand, our stereo receiver that is one year old just stopped working. When I took it to the Geeks to be repaired they said it wasn't financially feasible to fix it. I need my dad's touch on it. :)

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  9. I'm lucky that my husband can fix just about anything. We rarely throw anything out unless it costs more to repair than to buy new. We've re-purposed a few old window frames into mirrors, an antique door with wavy glass is now backed by a mirror and stands at the end of a long hallway to add interest and we took one side of an old French door and made it into a picture frame, it hangs horizontally in the hallway. We have container gardens made from old horse troughs and we even have a beautiful natural gas fire pit made from a horse trough that was sunk into the ground, It's has fireglass in it that looks like ice. I have pictures of everything, I just can't figure out how to attach them . .

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  10. I'm cheap so I try to repair if I can. I have a darling 76 year old man that comes and repairs and is so reasonably priced. I love him.

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  11. My parents always loved Electrolux vacuums and we always had them growing up. Because these canister vacuums are so big, as my parents got older, they had one upstairs and one downstairs. So didn't have to lug them up and down the stairs. These vacuums are pricey but they last forever. And fortunately there is a shop in my area that will repair them.
    So when my parents passed my sister took one of the Electroluxs and I took the other. I used it for about 5 years and then when my oldest daughter got her own place, I passed it down to her. So that vacuum has gone through 3 generations! And it's still going strong.

    ReplyDelete
  12. My electric lawn mower broke. It was the handle that provides the power. I went on line and found a video
    that showed how to fix it. I figured I had nothing to lose by trying. I was so happy it worked and I was
    able to fix it myself.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The control knob on my clothes dryer broke for the 3rd time. Even Gorilla Glue does not hold everything. I looked online and they were 25 to 30 dollars. Eek! So I took the knob off the front of the dryer that controls the buzzer when the clothes are dry. I never change that setting. It took a little experimentation to find the right spot, but the dryer works fine.

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  14. I have a story like Cathy about an Electrolux vacuum cleaner. Over 30 years ago, my husband told me I could pick out a new vacuum cleaner. Boy was he surprised when he came home to discover what I had purchased. I laugh that the vacuum cleaner has lasted longer than the husband. This past summer, I couldn't get the suction to work. I found a repair store and was told all it needed was a new hose. For $80 I had a vacuum cleaner that the clerk said would last longer than I will live. Why can't appliances last like that any more?

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  15. We have a small repair shop that works on vacuum cleaners. I had hoses run over by daughters--and then a hole. They would fix the hole and then clean the whole thing up--looked brand new once again. I had a refrigerator that was a hand me down from my sister. probably 20-25 years old. Nothing wrong with it-but I had been reading that I should up to new for the 5 star .....any way when I bought it I asked about the warranty or extended warranty--they said they don't usually do that since they have become throw away items. I gasped--since I just spent all that money!! Lucky my brother took the fridge for his garage.

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  16. We rarely buy anything new. We go to garage sales, rummage sales, flea markets and thrift stores.
    We like to garden and do a lot of upcycling in the garden. Our flower beds are all edged with bowling balls. We started out buying them at the thrift store on half price day but then a bowling alley started giving us all their old balls. I also grow all our herbs in old enamel stock pots.
    We save a lot buying doing our own repairs. We go online and watch videos. So far we have fixed the stove, the furnace, the vacuum cleaner and we installed a new thermostat.
    When we need something we ask around to all our friends. We needed a new stove and someone gave us one they had sitting in their garage, They had bought all new matching appliances. When our extra fridge died someone gave us one they weren't using. When we needed a new washer, someone gave us a washer and dryer so we gave our dryer to someone else who needed one.
    Through doing all these things we have saved thousands of dollars.

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  17. HI Brenda, Here's my little story. I have always enjoyed sewing, and so after marrying a man with two little girls I determined to make them and my own daughter dresses and long flannel nightgowns for our first Christmas together. But the old machine I had wasn't working worth a bean and I cried many tears getting those made in time for Christmas. One day I told my hubby about it and so for Valentines if he didn't buy me a brand new sewing machine! It lasted me over twenty four years and that was due to taking it to the repair shop for maintenance and repair time and time again. It's still humming today!

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  18. I love upcycling and repurposing anything I can! Just some examples from around my house...I wash and reuse glass jars in my pantry to hold dried beans, rice and grains. I use old coffee mugs as pen and pencil holders. I use old kitchen items - colanders, teapots, and bread pans - as flower planters outdoors. I took an old baking cooling rack and hung it on the wall above my stove and use 's' hooks to hold measuring spoons and even a little oil painting. Old tshirts are cut up and used as rags. Old sheets are used as painting drop cloths. I even have old wine bottles as a border in my butterfly garden.

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  19. Nearly all of our furniture was handed down from grandparents and parents, and we will pass it along to our children - four generations enjoying these beautiful old pieces.

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  20. My Mom was a young widow with 3 children. She taught us to fix everything which she learned from her thrifty Scottish Grandmother during the depression. One of our favorite fix it projects were our lamps and small appliances. She taught me to split the wires and for pennies attach new plugs and lamp sockets. To this day I never buy new lamps and my small appliances last for years. Thanks Mom!

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  21. I am thankful for a handy husband who can fix many things. The latest was my Samsung dryer last week. The drum has started to crack, and it is only 4 years old. :P Looking at the reviews now, it looks like that is a common problem with that dryer. My old dryer lasted 20+ years, but I doubt if anything manufactured these days is built to last.. Anyway, my husband epoxied a piece of steel over the crack, so hopefully the dryer will last a while longer.

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  23. Brenda, My mom died when she was 39 and I was pregnant with my second baby. I got half of her belongings and my sister got the other half. Since I was married and had a family I got the OLD Kirby vacuum cleaner. She loved that old Kirby. One day I accidentally picked up a penny while vacuuming and it blew a big hole in the body of the vacuum cleaner. I was heartsick, because I loved that old Kirby too. I stewed over it for a couple of days and then I took some of my son's modeling clay and pressed it into the hole. It worked so well that I continued to use that old vacuum cleaner for many, many more years. It finally wound up in a museum for old appliances when I traded it in for a brand new........you guessed it.........Kirby. Mama would have been so proud. :-)
    Sandra

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  24. Well this isn't a true use what you got story. We lived on a small island and had to take stuff to our local dump.Rather than the people tossing everything stuff sometimes was strategically placed for others to claim.This time my husband found a vacuum other the dump side. Guess they thought it worthless. He brought it home. Not a mark on it but it didn't work. It had been used for drywall compound clean-up. My husband took it apart and found a broken belt.So for a few bucks he repaired it. It is working wonderfully and that was about 10 yrs. ago
    sandy1949@shaw.ca


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  25. Brenda, I know that you know I'm not really an up-cycler and that I'm a restorer that uses things for their original purposes, but here's my story....

    I live a very vintage lifestyle and I try very hard to live by the motto "make due and mend". Not that I never buy anything, but when I do, it's almost always something that has been around for generations, because I know that it will last and I keep it forever or until it falls apart. There are some exceptions obviously, like computers, but my last one was a Mac that lasted 12 years with only minor repairs here and there. And guess what? I bought another Mac, because it lasted so long. It saddens me that we've become such a throwaway society. I guess all the lessons we learned from our ancestors have been forgotten.

    Nothing breaks my heart more than seeing an old house being torn down for a new build or gutted and then having everything replaced with a 'modern' look. I've restored and fixed the 'remuddling' that previous owners had done to 3 of my own houses (a 1940s home, a 1908 home, and the one I'm in now, built in 1930) and also, my mother's 1920 farmhouse. My dream would be to buy up every old house I could find and restore them to their former glory and then sell them. Maybe one day...

    I have so many stories about saving old things that I could write forever, but I chose just a few.

    I inherited my great grandmother's 1890s Singer sewing machine that didn't work and repaired it with spare parts off of eBay. I use it all the time to repair my vintage clothing and make things from vintage fabric and it works like a dream.

    I bought a 1930s sink and repaired the original faucet, and I bought a 1950s Hotpoint fridge and cleaned it up. They were found on craigslist for under $150 each and both of them are in my kitchen and working great.

    Lastly, in my old 1908 home, I found a few of the original light fixtures in the basement, had them rewired and rehung them. They were still working when I moved out.

    A couple of pieces of advice that I give to anyone that will listen: If you want to have a "modern" home, buy a new house. Don't destroy the integrity of an old one. And if you want to get rid of things that you consider old or outdated, please give them to a thrift store or sell them, because there are people out there, like me, that know the value of the past.

    PS I would have included pictures on here, but I'm not sure how to.

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  26. My parents and aunt were descendants of the depression in the 20's and 30's, so I learned from t hem to SAVE EVERYTHING and fix everything until it can no longer be fixed! I still carry on their ways to this day, at age 67. Whether it's an appliance, radio (yes I still have a radio!), kitchen things, clothes, sheets, etc., I stitch it up, repair ir, or make it into something else, before I get rid of it, and still don't throw it away... just donate it if it still may have a little life left! I even fix and repair shoes... I have a pair of leather suede bootie/shoes that I've had for probably 15 years, that I've had to restitch myself, have resoled, and fix the zipper on one side.... I love them so much that I will probably have them forever. I have coats that I've repaired zippers, restitched seams, shortened sleeves if it got frayed on the bottom. My son, who is 36, has learned well from me. He wears his jeans until there literally isn't another place to patch or repair - of course, I'm the one who does the patching and stitching! Of course, living on tight budgets does contribute to the fact that we recycle, reuse, repair, etc. I used to save EVERY stitch of clothing I had.. and had bags and bags of clothes thinking "one day I may need this" or "I can fix it or refurbish it someday"... but finally decided to donate so someone else could enjoy them and get use from them. I would include a picture of my black suede shoes but don't know how to put a picture in a comment! I give a big thumbs up to Crucial Vacuum for their philosophy of business!

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  27. I just made a post under "mj mcleod" and don't know if there's an email address for that account! So here is my post under pinkpapercottage which should lead you to an email address, "just in case" I win that gift card! Marilyn

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  28. I'm loving the vacuum stories. Way back in the early 70's I had just started my career as a court reporter here in Calif and I was sent way down near the Mexican border to do a hearing. There was an EQ that night that shook my hotel room like crazy. My nerves were rattled, but I went antiquing the next morning before my job and found these two old floor lamps with the fancy curly Q on the top where the shade goes on. Bought them both for $6 and hauled them home. I still have them beside my bed! I'll never part w/them. I often wonder about the people that had them before me.

    ReplyDelete
  29. My husband keeps vehicles going for as long as he can. He currently drives a 2001 Ford Ranger 4 x 4 truck with over 265,000 miles on it. The passenger side mirror is held on with electrical tape. The broken windows on the topper have been replaced with pieces of plexiglass. The broken console is held together with Velcro. When the mechanism broke on the driver's seat that keeps it in an upright position, he put a stack of milk crates behind the seat. These milk crates serve a dual purpose of keeping the seat in an upright position and also serve as storage shelves for tools, gloves, a flashlight and other such items. Old tennis balls are wedged into some crevises on the topper roof to keep ropes from getting hung up when he ties the canoe on top.

    For several years we have said, “Well, this could be the last winter for the truck.” But it keeps going. I'm a bit disappointed in my husband's repair methods on the Ranger, however. He hasn't used one piece of wood or rock for repairs. When he drove an old Isuzu Trooper, he used popsicle sticks to keep the side vent windows open, and a little twig to keep one of the louvers for the heater in an open position. Some rocks in back gave weight to the vehicle when driving in snow. We joked that the wood and rocks gave the Trooper the feeling of a mountain lodge. The Ranger has not achieved that level of rusticity yet. I think I'll go look at the truck right now and see if there is a problem that can be solved with a few toothpicks or some gravel.

    ReplyDelete
  30. We turn our trash to treasure by using the cardboard of the toilet paper roll to make gifts. (We use the roll by putting decorative paper on the outside and securing with ribbon after we've inserted candy or treats or fold it on the ends, flatten it and decorating it after inserting candy or treats. - shaunie
    contact by replying or twitter.com/sandyhills25

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  31. I used an old chest, painted it pink and made my daughter a toy box!

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  32. My Dad upcycled everything! He was a brilliant man and repaired lots of old TV's, radios, and things electronic.

    I am not into electronics! I recent found a rusty old bird bath that I sanded and spray painted, looks great!
    I do what I can and love crafting!

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  33. My husband and I are always hanging out at the local junkyard to rescue pieces of abandoned or wrecked vehicle parts and turn it into a treasure! He has taken a 1987 Chevy truck and had the seat reupholstered and given it new life! I have taken old Chevy wheel covers and I'm in the process of painting them to add to the man cave/garage as decorations/artwork! I saw so much possiblity in the junkyard to upcycle to something new and innovative! It costs $2 to get in and the costs per part are so minimal! Your imagination is your only limitation........oh and tools......you might need tools! haha

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  34. We do this with all our stuff, we repair and keep all out items, we have a electrolux canister that my mother in law got new in 1977 and she gave to us it is the best, we have updated parts as needed and it is super. We buy at thrift stores and clean up and re-purpose many items, this affords us the ability to take trips,save money..etc.. and I feel we are helping the world a little too :)

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  35. I had a piano that was not fixable and since i had been wanting a flower garder i stripped it, took all the brass insides out, filled it with potting soil and flowers and i must say i have a very beautiful flower bed coming again this spring/summer/fall!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Moving with my teenage daughter to an old home that was built in 1835 with an old barn in the back has been a fun experience finding all kinds of neat old tattered and broken things just waiting to be fixed or recycled ๐Ÿ˜ŠMy daughters favorite things were finding some old dolls and getting new clothes for them fixing body parts ( some had a leg or arm missing ) and fixing their hair making them pretty and donating to a local shelter along with old wooden airplanes and an old wagon my daughter painted and fixed the wheels on ‼️the children at the shelter were so thankful they all gave my daughter and I a hug and said Ty ,it was priceless ๐Ÿ˜Šthis spring when it warms up were going to look into the old barn to see what else is in there to fix and recycle or donate ๐Ÿ˜Š @alongcamemary1

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  37. Your post is really very nice and useful for everyone salsa classes in Philadelphia

    ReplyDelete

I always enjoy reading your comments and having you join the conversation here at Cozy Little House. It is like having a gathering of friends sitting in my cozy apartment. Enjoying coffee and dessert, chatting and having a good time. I appreciate each and every one of you!

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