The first time I really noticed leftovers, was when a good friend of mine, Sandi, introduced me to the crafts world. I was amazed to find out that one could snip all the flowers off of a steam of plastic and utilize them for something else entirely! It opened a brand new world of creativity for me.

We both lived on the West Coast, and she was planning a trip to the USA to visit a massive craft supply outlet. I went along out of curiosity and was truly impressed with their collection of supplies. It was impossible, for me anyway, to walk through there without coming up with something I wanted to create.

Here was a little red Santa sleigh, and toys sized just right to fit into it! A spinning top, a scooter, candy canes, shopping bags, a hobby horse, a sled. WOW! I just had to do this. I needed to make this miniature Christmas sleigh full of toys. It would be a decoration for the ages!

It better be, as by the time I got to the checkout with my dear little project components, it was over $30 US!

(Please forgive this poor quality image!)

And it is. It has become a mainstay of my holiday décor, and likely due to the amounts of hot glue I used to assemble it, it has even stayed together. That’s all well and good, right? Successful project completed. HOWEVER… The wee shopping bags came in a package of six. I used two for the sleigh. Little tops, and teddy bears aren’t sold as one-of’s, but are packaged by twos or threes. The snow-tipped branches for finishing the sleigh of course came as a big branch, about a tenth of which was required. And so, of course, these became LEFTOVERS.

And for awhile I tried to use all the leftovers to make something else, but a new element is always required, and then there are leftovers of THAT.

I bought paint ten years ago for a project that never got off the ground. Because I wanted to use the colors of my logo at the time, the paint had to be specially mixed to match, and I had to take a full litre can rather the small cans that would have more than sufficed. I’ve moved the same three cans of paint six times so far, and have used some of two of the three colors. My most recent effort to use these leftovers was this spring when I was dressing up my planters and a new front porch that came with my latest move. I have a turquoise chair, and one of the paint colors is turquoise as well. You can see in the pics that the colors don’t exactly match, but if I’d purchased some white to make it lighter, there would have been leftovers of that, and I just couldn’t do it.

And speaking of the plants, I needed to buy a bag of dirt to accommodate all the receptacles I had lined up, and of course there are leftovers of that dirt. In a way, it’s a good thing, as I’ve had to transplant something I’ve actually kept alive over two years, and now the planter it came out of needs a new plant, and I actually have the dirt on hand. The other piece of this is that I must now go find and purchase a suitable plant for a planter that size. There is the plant that will soon outgrow the teacup I have it in, but then I’ll need to find and purchases something small and appropriate enough for the teacup. I find that I’m just never done with the challenge of leftovers!

Then there was the “paint can” container that was leftover when the flowers a friend had sent to me died away. I put a $7 succulent into that one with my leftover dirt, and took it to the office. Phew!

There are always leftovers. I’m sure I’m not the only one who keeps the small pieces of giftwrap that you’ve cut off the roll to fit the gift you’re wrapping. It’s good to keep those bits, as you never know when you’re going to have a tiny box that requires exactly that size of giftwrap.

And FOOD? Now there is a constant battle with leftovers. My Scottish ancestry keeps me from throwing away the smallest portions. It is only possible for me to relinquish them to trash after they have grown a fuzzy experiment of some sort in the fridge.

My first mother-in-law was brilliant at making real meals out of leftovers. The ingredients would magically form a brand new dish! I learned a lot from her and am ever grateful for my time with Toini, the Finnish cook. One time she decided to clean out the fridge. She took the wee bits at the bottom of several jars – jam, relish, mayo, whatever it was; celery that had gone soft, carrots, the last of the buttermilk, etc., and she made a cake! It was not only edible, but delicious! She just knew things!

So thank you to Sandi for helping me find crafty creative energy, and to Toini who helped me find cooking creative energy. They both can lift me out of a blue funk and make me happy. And they ALWAYS give me the opportunity to find the creative energy needed to deal with the leftovers.