Many times we think of recycling as saving our cans, plastic bags, bottles, etc., because often times that is what we are familiar with.  But we don't realize that there's plenty of recycling, reducing and re-using that we can do right at home, with what we have been putting away or storing away.  Many of us who are "do-it-your-selfers" inevitably end up with a lot of left over materials from projects.  There's always some new material that must be bought in order to complete a new project.  Often times we have some amount of material that is left over.  Those of us who feel guilty every time we put something in the trash will understand this, there's always the feeling that I bet I can use this at some point in the future.  So, we keep it, store it away in the garage, a closet, what have you, and we then quickly proceed to forget all about it, or just never get around to using it again.  Next time we have a similar project we go ahead and get more material, perhaps because we don't remember what we have or if we do the material that we have is not really the right color, shape, what have you, for the next project.  So the cycle repeats itself again.  We end up with more left over material that just lives "somewhere" in the garage or closet.

Well, I must say I'm one of the guilty ones in this respect.  My goal as of lately is to try to do projects without buying anything new at all, or at the very least, very little.  I like the challenge of trying to see if I can accomplish this and see how far I can push myself to make what I have work.  My latest venture in this arena was a tiling project in my front porch.  Through the years we had accumulated tile from several projects around the house including the bathroom, the kitchen, the foyer, etc.  The result was a bucket of broken tile pieces, remnants and some whole pieces of tile as well.  There was not enough of any one type of tile to make a whole project but putting them all together there was enough to make something.  Fortunately the colors coordinated well together and could be combined.  In this case the easiest thing to do was to do a broken tile project.  By combining all the tile together I could be better assured that I would have an even distribution of all the different colors and variations in the tile.

As you can see by the picture the project ended up well at the end, but it sure had its challenges along the way.

First of all, I thought I had gathered all the tile we had around the house and I was really hoping that it would be enough.  When you are dealing with left overs it is hard to really measure how much you have.  I even asked my husband if he knew of any other tile pieces we had that I had not found.  He said no so I proceeded.  As luck would have it, nearing the end of the project I realized I would not have enough but I was so close!  So I had to go to the hardware store and find 3 more tiles that were as close as possible to what I had been using.  Thank God, that this type of project is so forgiving.  There are so many variations in the tiles I was working with,  that my choices did not have to be an exact match.  Just after I had placed all the new tile, trying to combine it with the small batch I had of my old pieces to help with the "blend", my husband found another bucket of left over tile!!  If I had known this earlier it would have saved me having to buy some more. . .but oh well...

First step was to come up with a design and then draw it on the floor.  Fortunately I did have enough of 2 types of mortar to place down first, so I did not have to buy any of that.  When all the tile was mortared in place, and it came time to grouting it got trickier.  I had a lot of a very light grout and some smaller amounts of dark colored grouts.  I thought of combining everything, but once again my husband convinced me not to do so, and just use the white.  I did not like the idea of using white grout for an exterior project so I opted to combine the dark grout I had and again hoped for the best!  I figured I could use it on the outside part of the design and keep the medallion with only the white grout, which would also help it to stand apart from the rest.  That way also, if we ever needed the white grout again, it was still usable.  As luck would have it once again, I almost made it but ended up not having enough grout.  I ran through the house (since my grout was still wet, decisions had to be made quickly!!) to see if I had forgotten any possible grout bag.  I found black and grey which were just not going to work, but also found a bag of a camel colored non sanded grout.  I figured it was as close as I could come, but since the color was so much lighter than the previous one I ended up having to re-grout the entire area again, to make sure the color was even throughout.

It turned out better than expected, and it looked pretty good once it dried.  The front step was a problem though and looked unfinished.  And although it violated my requirement of not buying anything new, I decided it was worth it.  Since by then then I was totally out of grout,  I bought yet a different color of grout (since of course I could not find an exact match) and grouted the front step.  At least I did have enough tile so I didn't have to buy any more and was able to complete the step.  Finally once the project was completed it all looked quite even, and if I didn't tell anyone, they would never know there are about 5 different colors of grout!!

It just goes to show you that you can make a treasure out of trash. . .and that if you remember where you put what you put away. . . .it can come in handy, and you can make something beautiful out of what otherwise would have been discarded.  So I hope this inspires all of you to go searching through your garages, closets etc. and see what you can make with all those little scraps of materials that you have laying around.  You may surprise yourself. . .I sure did.