I had completely forgotten about this until this latest reply.
Some time back I found a great program called minibin. You can find it here: MiniBin by Mike Edward Moras (e-sushi)
It's an icon that sits in your system tray that gives you quick access to the Recycle Bin to open and empty it. When the icon is empty the Recycle Bin is empty. When you delete something the minibin icon starts to fill up. You can hover the mouse over the icon and it'll show a tooltip that displays how much is in there. Double click the icon will ask if you want to empty the Recycle Bin, which you can disable both settings if you want. You can right-click and choose Open, allowing you to open the Recycle Bin to see what is there and to do whatever.
It works on Windows 2000 and up to Windows 8. I'm still running a version from early 2011 and I see now that is was recently updated. There are instructions on making a portable version as well. You can also customize the icons for both full and empty.
I have found this to be better looking than the method explained here. No offense.