Table of Contents

  1. Make vs Buy
  2. Where is the nearest store?
  3. This is the beauty of upcycling.
  4. 10 days later…
  5. Another 10 days later…
  6. Post Script

This post was originally written in February, 2020. These days, there are very few options to buy items with stores shuttering temporarily due to stay-home measures to slow down the spread of coronavirus. This message becomes all the more relevant for those of you who would like to take stock of what you have around you, and MacGuyver it up!

Make vs Buy

It’s been about 10 days since I began to bullet journal. So far, it’s going well. I’m taking a somewhat minimalist approach so that I build pages as I need them. And I try not to do anything too fancy or flowery.

I do however have to carry a small cache of writing supplies, which can be awkward.


Typically when a need arises, we generally think about buying a product. It’s a pretty ingrained habit that we all share. We all live in towns where there are plenty of places that would be delighted to sell you their wares. So it is perfectly natural to hop in your car, drive to the nearest store, and purchase whatever it is you need.

Now think about being in the middle of an ocean when a need arises.

Cabo Rico 38. Photo by Neville Hockley
Cabo Rico 38. Photo by Neville Hockley

Where is the nearest store?

Maybe if you’re lucky, it’s a few days away.

But maybe you’ll be in the middle of passage making, and you’ll have to improvise a solution to your need before you reach shore. While needing a pencil case and being stuck in the middle of an ocean seem like two unrelated topics, they marry up in my mind as follows:

Here is an opportunity to break a habit. Rather than instinctually driving to the nearest Michael’s, Office Depot, etc., why don’t I look around my house and create a solution based on what I already have?

This is the beauty of upcycling.

Current items around you suddenly become raw material to be transformed into something else which serves a better use.

I’m a sucker for life hacks and upcycling videos, so when I came across a youtube video from WhatsUpMoms that seemed to serve my need, I went about and assembled the supplies: duct tape, ziploc bag, and scissors.

Five minutes later, I had a pencil case. I felt pretty proud of myself being resourceful.

10 days later…

The duct-taped ziploc case turned out to be rather flimsy. In my haste, I had chosen a ziploc bag that had already been used for my knitting projects, so the zipper had a tendency to go off the rails (so to speak). It was time to improvise another solution.

Ironically, my first instinct kicked in. My brain fixated on a cute pencil case at Michael’s with the tag line: “Stay Humble. Work Hard. Pet Cats.” I had to shut down that thought and challenge myself to be resourceful.


So, the next idea was to knit a pencil carrying case. I scoured the nets for patterns and settled on a felted pencil case pattern from Lion Brand Yarns. I went into my stash of 100% wool yarns, selected a skein of black Patons worsted weight yarn, doubled up the strands and happily began to knit this project. Two days and two loads of laundry later (in order to felt the finished object), I have a new pencil case. It’s in need of a button to secure the opening, but other than that, I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Another 10 days later…

The pencil case is still holding up well. While it may not have a cute tag line, there’s nothing to stop me from embroidering a design and making it not only my own but stylish.


Post Script

Six weeks ago when I wrote this post, who could have envisioned the world and circumstances we live in today? Many businesses shuttered temporarily; some may be going out of business as they don’t have sufficient working capital. We are donating and financially supporting some of our favorite businesses, because we see the long term value in them or believe in their mission. This is part and parcel of serenadewind’s non-profit charter.

However, when the services and products are not available, we are also left with the choice of giving up or doing something about it. We choose the latter.

As individuals hunkered down at home, here is an opportunity to not be a victim to a situation. Necessity is the mother of invention. Improvise a solution based on what you have at home. If you are short on ideas, there are so many life hack videos to help out with that. Here are links to life hacks or upcycle ideas to get you started. Check out MacGuyver episodes (original or reboot) to find inspiration.

The point is to feel empowered, take action and stay positive.

If you would like to delve deeper into our adventure as it unfolds, please consider joining the Serenade Wind Crew. Our sister site provides more information on what it means to be part of the crew, unlock the pirate’s booty, and receive other exclusive access and benefits.The first 50 members have a gift waiting.