Author Archives: Daniel Mintz

5 Things to Do with… Cassette Tapes

Wondering what to do with your collection of old cassette tapes? Perhaps one of these clever recycling projects will inspire you to put them to inventive good use.

Chances are good that in some remote corner of your home there lies a box full of dusty cassette tapes. Be honest: When’s the last time you listened to one? Now that digital music is the format of choice for the majority of music-lovers today, cassette tapes’ only real value is sentiment. With these cassette tape recycling projects, you can keep your collection for years to come, using it to create novel objects that have practical benefits not likely to be rendered obsolete anytime soon.



Cassette Tape Recycling - Chair


Back in 1987, you may have been dancing to the sounds of cassette tapes, but today you’re probably more interested in sitting down on your analog assets. Start with a wood chair frame. Using cable ties, lash tapes into panels—one to cover the seat, one to cover the back—then finish by fastening those panels to the frame.



Cassette Tape Recycling - Lamp Shade


Crafted almost entirely of the same types of cassette tapes that are currently hogging space in your too-small closet, this is no ordinary lampshade. To make your own, wire together a selection of tapes that have transparent plastic casings. Line the inside of the assembly with a layer of plastic sheeting, then fit the shade over a light bulb.



Cassette Tape Recycling - Carrying Case


Locate an empty box—cardboard, plastic, or wood—that features a hinged lid. Next, use a strong adhesive to cover the box on all sides with cassette tapes. Finally, glue a handle to the side that opens and closes. An equally easy alternative is to bind together a couple of dozen cassette tapes to create an open-topped crate.



Cassette Tape Recycling - Wallet


Transform a cassette tape into a one-of-a-kind, perfectly pocket-size wallet. Here’s how: Pry apart a tape casing so that it splits into halves. Next, glue a cut-to-size length of zippered fabric onto both halves. As a last step, seal the nonzippered side of the wallet enclosure with a narrow band of glued-on fabric.



Cassette Tape Recycling - Pencil Holder


To make a desktop pencil holder—or a small, open-topped box that’s useful for scores of miscellaneous purposes—you just need four cassette tapes and one compact disc. That’s it. The rest is a simple matter of applying enough glue to make all the components “jam” together.

Welcome to AT&T Digital Life: The New Smart Home Security Solution

Home security isn't just about peace of mind. It's about convenience and freedom. See how the new AT&T Digital Life has made home security, even smarter.

AT&T Digital Life Home Security

With AT&T Digital life, cameras mounted on the front porch let you see who is at the door or approaching the house.

When it comes to home security, we’ve certainly come a long, long way from hanging signs that caution “beware of dog”. Today’s high tech home security options offer homeowners a full range of features from keyless door locks and video doorbells to motion detector-activated alarm systems. And, while there are a good many gadgets, gizmos, products and apps on the market to support your security and automation needs, they are, for the most part, independently sourced and controlled. That is, at least, until now.

AT&T Digital Life is a 24/7 integrated professionally monitored system that lets you customize your home security and automation features to suit your specific needs.  Create programs based on daily routines, like automatically locking doors, turning lights off, adjusting the thermostat and arming the security system all from just about anywhere.  Or keep an eye on your property day and night with video monitoring outside and in—even when you’re away from home with the convenience of your smartphone, tablet or computer. Check on the kids, know when the housekeeper, dog walker, or pool man comes to the house, and get an email or SMS alert when the system detects a problem. It’s all about freedom, convenience and peace of mind.

AT&T Digital Life Motion Sensor

AT&T Digital Life motion sensors provide security ...

In addition to security benefits, AT&T Digital Life also provides automation packages that let you control lights, temperature and small appliances.  Everyone knows you can save money on your heating and cooling costs by simply resetting your thermostat when you are away from home.  But no one wants to return to a less than comfortable house after a long day at work. With AT&T Digital Life door and energy packages, you can raise the temperature to a comfortable 72 degrees and turn on the living room and kitchen lights even before you pull into the driveway, park the car in the garage that automatically opened with a motion sensor and simultaneously unlocked the front door.

AT&T Digital Life - Wall-mounted keypad

AT&T Digital Life's wall-mounted keypads provide in room convenience.

Since there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to home security, AT&T Digital Life let’s you choose the features that best suit your household needs.  The Simple Security package, starting at $29.99 a month (plus equipment costs and a two-year agreement), includes 24/7 monitoring, wall-mounted and key chain controls, remote arming and disarming of alarms, and contact sensors for doors and windows.

An upgrade to the Smart Security package ($39.99 a month, plus equipment costs and a two-year agreement) comes with everything you need to monitor and access your home’s security system from almost anywhere using your mobile phone, tablet and computer. With Smart Security you can also opt for a full range of automation add-ons, including cameras for video monitoring, automatic and remote door locks, energy control of lights, temperature and small appliances, and water shut off. In short, just the right solution for your family and household needs!

Note: AT&T Digital Life available in limited markets.  Two-year agreement and equipment purchase required with either Simple or Smart Security; service restrictions apply; see for details; optional automation packages only available with Smart Security package. See for license information.

This post has been brought to you by AT&T Digital Life. Its facts and opinions are those of

5 Things to Do with… Junk Mail

Don't get overwhelmed by the stacks of junk mail on your dining room table, get inspired! Try one of these 5 ingenious projects that will put your junk mail to creative use.

Everyone hates email spam, and rightfully so. It does have one redeeming factor, though: It’s relatively easy to manage. By comparison, bona fide front-door-jamming junk mail seems intractable, not to mention wasteful. The situation becomes manageable, however, if you choose to see junk mail not as an annoyance, but as an opportunity. There’s no shortage of junk mail projects that can bring beauty, utility, and fun into your home. Scroll down now to see five creative junk mail uses!



Junk Mail Uses - Envelope


With folding, snipping, and pasting, you can easily repurpose junk mail into a one-of-a-kind custom envelope that’s guaranteed to impress and delight whoever is on the receiving end. In addition to saving paper, this project further personalizes the birthday wishes or holiday greetings you are sending.



Junk Mail Uses - Garland


Some rooms call for a festive feel year-round. One way to cultivate a sense of celebration—on a shoestring budget—is tailoring your unwanted mail into a garland. To make yours, cut identical shapes from different-colored letters and envelopes. Fix those cutouts to a string, then drape it loosely along the wall.



Junk Mail Uses - Notebook


In stationery stores and bookshops, I’m always drawn to the section where charming blank notebooks are displayed—and every time, I’m amazed at their price tags. If only I’d discovered sooner that it’s possible to make your own pads of paper out of junk mail you would otherwise throw away. I could’ve saved a fortune!



Junk Mail Uses - Wall Art


Last time you looked at the stack of junk mail piled high on your kitchen table, chances are you didn’t think, “How gorgeous!” But the fact is that shredded junk mail lends itself perfectly to Jackson Pollock-like murals that couldn’t be easier to create. Besides canvas, all you need is a tube of glue and a pair of hands!



Junk Mail Uses - Basket


Rather than depositing all your junk mail into the trash, set some aside to make a small basket that you can use to store miscellaneous bits and baubles, such as paper clips and rubber bands. First, roll the junk mail paper into tight strands. Glue them into the shape you desire, then secure it with lengths of string.

Homemade Fertilizer Makes the Grass Always Greener

While it doesn't guarantee a lush, green lawn, applying your own homemade fertilizer is an inexpensive, satisfying step in the right direction.

Homemade Fertilizer for Lawns - Grass


Spring is near, and for many that means coaxing the lawn back into shape. Growing grass can be frustrating and rewarding in equal measure. There’s no fail-safe method of success, unfortunately, but if you are struggling to revive a patchy area, applying fertilizer may be your best best. Of course, you can buy fertilizer at your local garden supply store, but you can also take matters into your own hands. Dirt cheap to concoct, homemade fertilizer involves a short list of ingredients that you likely have on hand already. This homemade fertilizer has proven effective for countless homeowners, and it can work for you too.

- 1 can or bottle of beer
- 1 cup of of household ammonia
- 1 cup of baby shampoo (nonantibacterial variety)


Homemade Fertilizer for Lawns - Beer


Start by assembling all three ingredients, each one of which brings an important benefit to the table. Beer delivers nutrients not only to the grass itself, but also to the bacteria in the soil that prime the lawn for growth. Meanwhile, ammonia supplies a powerful infusion of nitrogen—something plants can’t live without. Finally, shampoo makes the ground more absorptive. Because soil bacteria are so important to lawn health, nonantibacterial shampoo is a must.



Homemade Fertilizer for Lawns - Mix


Pour the ingredients into a container large enough to accommodate them. On account of the ammonia, do this either outdoors or in a room with ample ventilation. Next, add the mixture to a hose-end sprayer (an inexpensive accessory) or to a lawn sprinkler outfitted with a fertilizer compartment.



Homemade Fertilizer for Lawns - Spray


Begin spraying the homemade fertilizer, taking care not to let the nozzle linger too long in one place. Given its high level of potency, the fertilizer should be applied as evenly as possible across all parts of the lawn you are treating. Mix a larger batch if you wish to fertilize all of an unusually large lawn.



Homemade Fertilizer for Lawns - Repeat


Apply the homemade fertilizer every two weeks or until you are satisfied with the progress your lawn has made. Beware of fertilizing too much or too often, as an excess can inhibit rather than promote grass growth. Meanwhile, keep close tabs on the pH of your soil; it should ideally be in the 6.0 to 6.5 pH range.

Have you used a homemade fertilizer with success? Share your own tried-and-true recipe in the comments below!

How To: Make Your Own Milk Paint

If you love the beauty of antique painted furniture, you can re-create that same pigment-rich, matte-finish look with milk paint—that you can make yourself.

Milk Paint Recipe - Furniture


Everyone knows that milk does a body good. But were you aware that milk also works wonders for walls and furniture? Yes! It’s the main ingredient in a finish aptly known as milk paint. A viable and sometimes preferred alternative to water- or oil-based products, nontoxic milk paint delivers a matte look that mimics the appearance of a seasoned, decades-old paint job. It can be found online or in stores, but with the following milk paint recipe, you can easily make your own.

- Skim milk
- Lime juice
- Cheesecloth
- Powdered pigments


Milk Paint Recipe - Curdling


Start by curdling the milk. You can do so in virtually any container; use whatever you have at ready disposal, be it a sauce pot or a frying pan. Pour in the liquids, using a half-cup of lime juice for every quart of skim milk, then wait. The curds must be allowed plenty of time to separate. Let the curdling milk sit overnight at room temperature.


Milk Paint Recipe - Collecting


Tie cheesecloth over a large mixing bowl or a sieve. Next, pour the curdled milk into your chosen receptacle. Watch as the cheesecloth separates the whey from the curds. Once they are strained, rinse the curds in water, then keep them moist. If the curds get too dry, your milk paint is liable to end up being gritty.


Milk Paint Recipe - Pigments


Having chosen the pigment you like best, add a sprinkle of the powder to the curds, then stir. Remember that the more pigment you use, the darker your milk paint is going to be. As a precaution, wear a dust mask when handling pigments; even the natural variety contains airborne particles that can irritate the lungs.


Milk Paint Recipe - Colors


Any porous surface (including wood) accepts milk paint. Because the stuff lightens a bit once it’s dry, a few coats may be necessary in order to get the color you want. Most important, waste little time before using the milk paint; it spoils within only a few days. And if you’re painting outdoors—or live somewhere with high humidity—it’s strongly recommended that you protect the paint job you’ve worked so hard to complete with a coat of water- or oil-based polyurethane sealer.

5 Things to Do with… Pegboard

While long relegated to workbenches and garages, today pegboard panels are cropping up throughout the house in a variety of new and clever uses. Here are 5 DIY projects to get you thinking.

People often peg pegboard as being fit only for the garage. Well, that theory sure has a lot of holes in it! As these DIY pegboard projects most emphatically suggest, there is potential for perforated wall panels in virtually every room of the house. Particularly for those with a fondness for order (or a weakness for creating clutter), pegboard is no mere practical option—it’s something more profound, like a small gift from heaven. Scroll down to see what all the fuss is about.



DIY Pegboard Projects - Kitchen


Even in a generously sized kitchen, there never seems to be enough space for cookware. How often have you stretched to reach a colander inconveniently stored in the recesses of your cabinetry? With this DIY pegboard project, those frequently used items always remain in your line of sight and within easy arm’s reach.



DIY Pegboard Projects - Office


Finding a paper clip needn’t be a scavenger hunt. DIY pegboard projects organize the home office as effectively as the woodworking shop. To install pegboard, nail furring strips into the wall studs (one strip for each side of the pegboard). Then mount the pegboard, outfitting the panel with your choice of accessories.



DIY Pegboard Projects - Headboard


When things go bump in the night, sometimes they’ve fallen off your bedside table. That would never happen, of course, if your headboard were a panel of painted pegboard. Short on floor space? Dispense with the nightstand altogether. After all, everything you need can go on a shelf or in a basket attached to the pegboard.



DIY Pegboard Projects - Charging Station


As technology has become a fixture in our lives, so too have unsightly wires and chargers. Hide them with this DIY pegboard project. Start by drilling into the bottom of a nice-looking case that’s big enough to hold a power strip. Put the power strip in the case, feeding its cord out through the drilled hole. Finish by fitting a piece of pegboard into the top of the case.



DIY Pegboard Projects - Gallery Wall


A typical gallery wall contains an arrangement of photos and artwork, each in its own frame. In a formal setting—the foyer or living room—nothing beats that approach. But elsewhere in the home, pegboard offers an easily modified decorative solution, one that is perfect for people who can never make up their mind.

5 Things to Do with… Cardboard Boxes

Got cardboard? We're sure you do! Grab a few of those old boxes and get to work on one of these ingenious, MacGyver-worthy projects.

Without cardboard boxes, what would the world be like? At times, it seems like cardboard is nearly as ubiquitous—and as essential to life—as the air that we breathe. Most people recycle these heavy-duty paper containers without thinking twice about their countless hidden uses. It’s amazing what creative people are capable of doing when they think—not outside the box, but about the potential of the box itself. For five of our favorite DIY cardboard project ideas, scroll down.



DIY Cardboard Projects - Shelving


Consider the blood, sweat, and tears of moving furniture up and down stairs. The prospect is daunting enough to make you reconsider purchasing that heavy new wooden dresser. Fortunately, there’s a low-hassle and unexpectedly stylish alternative: making your own storage piece, for next to no money, with cardboard and duct tape!



DIY Cardboard Projects - Laptop Stand


If hunching over the keyboard leaves you with poor posture and a strained neck, then here’s a DIY cardboard project your chiropractor would approve of—a laptop stand. Making one from cardboard is even easier than using Windows! All it takes is a cut here and a snip there, plus a little bit of glue and adhesive tape.



DIY Cardboard Projects - Lighting


When you craft a shade out of cardboard, the design possibilities are endless, but the required tools are few. With nothing more than adhesive (tape or glue) and a pair of scissors, you can light up your life with a low-cost, fully customized pendant or chandelier similar to this one, for sale from Graypants in Seattle.



DIY Cardboard Projects - Mailbox


This DIY cardboard project may not be the most practical one in the group, but it proves beyond doubt the range and versatility of this commonly available, too often underutilized material. To make your own mailbox like this, you don’t need training as a blacksmith, only some contents from your paper recycling bin.



DIY Cardboard Projects - Projector


If you have a smartphone or tablet that plays video, then believe it or not, you can instantly turn any room of your house into an improvised movie theater. Start with a cardboard box that completely closes up. Attach a magnifying glass to the box, then bend a paper clip into a stand for your device. That’s it—now start the show!

5 Things to Do with… Wine Corks

Got corks? Now that the holidays have passed, we bet you have plenty. Don't throw them out! Save them up instead to make one of these simple wine cork projects. We'll raise a glass (or two) to that!

In the wake of holiday office functions, neighborhood tree lightings, and, of course, New Year’s Eve parties, wine corks are sure to be littering bar areas, kitchen countertops, and filled-to-the-rim trash bins. My advice? Collect as many of these cylindrical stoppers as possible. Why? Because they’re useful for so many creative undertakings, most of which have nothing to do with drinking. Scroll down to see some wine cork projects that you should add to your 2014 to-do list.



Wine Cork Projects - Keychain


You’ll need less than 10 minutes to complete this out-of-the-ordinary keychain, a wine cork project we found on Cleverly Inspired. The first step is to dip a small screw eye into glue. Next, poke the screw into the cork. Attach a key ring, and you’re done! You’ll never again mistake your keys for anyone else’s.



Wine Cork Projects - Coasters


Here’s a wine cork project that will help you safeguard your coffee table from unsightly stains. First, gather about a dozen corks. Proceed to slice them in half before hot-gluing them all into a circular grouping. As a last step, add a strip of felt or burlap around the perimeter. Visit Creativebug for a step-by-step guide.



Wine Cork Projects - Planter


From Upcycle That, this wine cork project came as a pleasant surprise: Whoever thought you could plant a succulent in a “pot” small enough to function also as a refrigerator magnet? Hollow out the cork, pack in a pinch of soil, then insert the plant clipping. Use glue to attach a small magnet, if you want, and don’t forget to add water!



Wine Cork Projects - Birdhouse


Cheap cabernet may be for the birdsbut then again, so is that wine cork! With little more than hot glue, a carving knife, and a couple of cases’ worth of wine corks, you can build a birdhouse to hang from a tree branch in your backyard. Watch your new feathered friends through your windows, and come spring, enjoy their songs.



Wine Cork Projects - Bathmat


Had one too many glasses of wine? Be careful not to slip! Of course, one way to avoid accidents is to drink less, but this wine cork project offers another, perhaps preferable means of avoiding slip-and-falls. Slice approximately 150 wine corks in half lengthwise, then hot-glue them all onto a rug pad that you have precut to your ideal bath mat size.

5 Things to Do with… Pens

Don't just toss your dried-out pens! Save them up to use in one of these nifty projects that incorporate old ballpoints.

The pen is mightier than the sword, everyone knows that. But when a pen runs out of ink, its power diminishes—or does it? The rigid, cylindrical shape of these writing instruments, not to mention their ubiquity—it seems like there is a handful of ballpoints stashed in a drawer in every home—means they are perfect for a range of purposes around the house and yard. Scroll down to see five favorite DIY uses for pens that, even though they no longer write, should not be written off.




For pens with no ink, there’s a lamp at the end of the tunnel. To make one like this sample from the Spanish design firm En Pieza, find either a plastic or pliable metal band and size it to fit the lamp of your choice. Then use either glue or wire to attach a few packages’ worth of empty pens to your chosen frame.




Tangle-proof your adventures in sewing with a portable thread organizer. Start with a tiered block of wood (or three one-inch-thick pieces stacked like stairs). Next, drill holes to accommodate as many spools as you plan to store. Finish by staking pens into the holes you have drilled. Curbly provides the easy step-by-step guide.




Here’s a clever way to make the cheapest sprinkler you’ll ever own. After securing a connection between your garden hose and a plastic bottle cap, drill about a dozen holes into the container. Next, cut hollowed-out pens two inches from their tips. Slot the pens into the holes, then watch as water flows where ink once ran!




Turn a low-tech pen into a touchpad stylus! First, completely hollow out the pen, then wrap copper wire around a small piece of conductive foam. Thread the wire through the pen, forcing the foam to fit snugly through its point. Finish by coiling the remaining wire around the outside of the pen so that you can grip it during use.



Uses for Pens - Hand Print


When it’s time to head home after vacation, you can’t fit the beach in your carry-on, but you can try the next best thing: memorializing your handprints in the sand. Make a handprint, fill the indentation with plaster of Paris, then set a pen into the plaster, toward the base of the palm. Once dry, the pen hole makes it possible for you to hang the mold around a doorknob or on your holiday tree!

3 Simple Steps to a Backyard Ice Skating Rink

Whether you have ambitions of becoming an Olympic skater or just a capable one, you can refine your skills at home by building your own backyard ice skating rink.

Backyard Ice Rink


Over the snowy-white winter, adults and children make the most of the cold by taking part in a smorgasbord of seasonal activities—ice skating chief among them. If a member of your family loves to play hockey or pirouette, you can, with some effort and elbow grease, bring the enjoyment closer to home. That’s right, you can build a backyard ice rink! Don’t worry, advanced degrees in engineering are not a prerequisite; this is a simpler project than it seems, with just three steps from start to finish.

- Plastic tarp
- 2-inch-thick lumber
- Rebar stakes
- Garden hose (with spray nozzle)
- Staple gun



Backyard Ice Rink - Frame


Plan to make the frame for your backyard ice rink on the flattest part of your property. Why? Because each of the four corners of your frame ought to be on the same level. That’s easiest to achieve, of course, on an even surface, but it’s certainly possible to build a frame that corrects for the slopes and dips of changing terrain. In ideal circumstances, you would need to use only 2″ x 4″ boards. However, to correct for changes in ground elevation, you can buffet the construction with boards in other dimensions, say, 2″ x 6.” Once you’ve devised a plan, enlist a helper and set to work, bearing in mind that each piece of lumber should be secured with a rebar stake. (Most commonly employed to pitch tents on camping trips, rebar stakes brace the frame against the force exerted by expanding ice.)



Backyard Ice Rink - Tarp


Once you have succeeded in building a rink frame, proceed to line it with a white or clear tarp. (It’s essential to use a light-colored tarp, because dark colors naturally absorb heat, causing ice to become slush.) Push and smooth the tarp until it covers the bottom of the frame as well as its sides. Keep bunch-ups and wrinkles to a minimum. Extend the tarp over the edges of the frame and onto its exterior, leaving enough material so that you can staple the tarp into position. Secure it at the corners and at three-foot intervals along the sides. Trim away any excess, or simply roll the tarp against the frame, so nobody trips accidentally.



Backyard Ice Rink - Filling


You’re almost there. Resist the temptation to rush ahead, however, or you might end up skating on thin ice! When you’re ready to fill the rink with water, first check the weather forecast. Provided the next couple of days are expected to remain below freezing, go ahead and fill the tarp with about one inch of cold water. It should freeze within six to eight hours. Next, with the spray nozzle fixed to the end of your garden hose, apply one inch of hot water. Repeat the process until you have three to five inches of rock-solid ice. Test the ice for stability by tapping its surface all over with a broomstick—or a hockey stick, if you have one ready and waiting. Assuming that all has gone according to plan, the ice should now be ready to support you and the figure eights you’ve been itching to do since summer.

Tip: Don’t rush inside after you’re finished skating! Keep the ice surface smooth by shoveling up the shavings and spraying on an additional layer of hot water.