It is hard to believe that we have been recycling now for 20 years. Of those 20 years, we were fortunate to have curbside pick-up only six of those years. The rest of the time, our garage looks like it does now: bags of pop cans, plastic bottles, glass bottles, and newspapers sit alongside piles of cardboard. Now if I could only get someone to take this stuff to the recycling center!
Along with recycling, we also reuse items when we can. For instance, I practice lasagna gardening, where many layers of newspapers are laid down on the ground, then compost and mulch are layered on top of that. After a few months, the new garden bed is ready to be planted and a natural resource is returned to the earth.
Recently, I was able to tour a garden in Southern Indiana, where recycling and reusing items took on a new meaning. We came upon an area that the owner described as a butterfly spa. Several wine bottles had been “planted” upside down in the garden, allowing rain water to collect in the dimpled bottoms. This provides enough water for butterflies and other insects, without the threat of them drowning. The gardener also suggested that string lights could be placed in the bottles, illuminating them at night. Thus far, I have several wine bottles put aside for my own garden. Not all wine bottles will work, as not all have the needed dimple.
In the kitchen, I used another wine bottle to solve another dilemma. Experts agree that olive oil should be kept in a dark bottle, but I have only been able to find clear decorative olive oil bottles in the stores. Add to that the fact that I was constantly refilling the bottle because it held so little oil and I was frustrated. Then I went shopping. I found an attractive wine bottle from our local winery and happily emptied the contents in preparation for its new life. A trip to a local kitchen store yielded a cork stopper with a metal spout in it. Carefully cleaning out the bottle, I let it dry thoroughly before filling it with the olive oil and capping it off. The old olive oil bottle now holds canola oil, which does not suffer from being exposed to the light.
Today was also the day I got to use my copper pan. I found a recipe for a mushroom and red wine sauce to accompany our steaks. The pan worked wonderfully, and clean up was a breeze as the pan had been deglazed during cooking. Though, my husband politely asked that I never make that particular sauce again, as he is not fond of red wine sauces. So I will keep looking for a recipe he hopefully will like.