old shelf – new shelf

We’ve been in need of some shelving for Finn’s reading nook… It’s a very small nook at the top of the stairs (it used to be my office) and while its been his ‘space’ for the past year, it was in need of a little re-do. It needed shelves and it needed white paint on the floor (it had been a dark red not a nice red).

So I re-painted the floors (with floor paint we already had) and then hoped for some type of shelving or bookcase – something to keep books and toys on, while keeping things organized and easily accessible…and as luck happens, I found one. In the wood pile. At the dump. The very next day…

shelf - before

shelf – before

Now, this was certainly no beauty – obviously… Oh no. Typically I wouldn’t even had noticed it, but as I was walking past the wood pile – I thought, “I wonder what a coat of paint will do for that?” Then I thought, “I do need shelving for Finn’s reading nook…” My next thought was, “If it fits in the back of my car, I’m taking it.” And it did.

As I was unloading it and hauling it across the lawn, Michael says, “Wow, that’s nice…” Can you hear the sarcasm…? My immediate response was, “I know, I know – it’s not my style (at all) but just wait and see!”

So I got right to it. I scrubbed it, bleached it, lightly sanded it and then asked Finn to help me paint it and he was so excited to help, that we finished both coats, in one day (don’t worry, we were outside and it was a VOC free paint).

finn painting

finn painting 2

So two coats later and some gingham contact paper ($2.00 for the roll) and we now have a (useful and sturdy) ‘new’ shelf in the space.

shelf - after

shelf – after

Too bad it didn’t fit next to the window, instead of being slightly over the frame…

reading nook

Oh well, things don’t have to be perfect to be lovely…and in the end, it was free, useful and needed.  It didn’t end up in the wood chipper (see here for the other shelf I saved from the wood chipper). I didn’t drive all over looking for the ‘right’ shelving and I’m going to use the rest of the contact paper to re-cover the interior shelves in my pantry; money (and time) well spent I’d say.

contact paper

Added bonus, the shelf is not only useful now, but it could (at some point) be used elsewhere in the house (thinking laundry room), or we could add more shelves to allow for varied storage abilities or even paint the sides with chalkboard paint or magnetic paint and Finn could play away…free, versatile and useful, what’s not to love?

What have you turned into treasure lately?


transfer station treasures

Dump shopping is my favorite kind of shopping. To be factual, my town transfer station is my favorite shopping destination. A big part of the transfer station is the ‘freebie barn.’  It’s a trailer set aside to house free (but good) stuff that residents no longer want/need…Who doesn’t like a deal? And a free deal, is the best deal around, right? Added bonus, this stuff isn’t ending up in the landfill or worse…why don’t more towns and cities incorporate this into their budgets? It boggles my mind – if my little town can do it, surely others can too…it’s another form of freecycle – but centrally located versus driving all over – what’s not to love about that? Extra added bonus – the savings. Childrens books and toys add up (everything adds up doesn’t it?), money saved is money available for other things, or simply more time to do more things…money equals time, the less money you need, the more time you can have (sort of – everything has its trade-offs) to do what it is you want to do. We’ve chosen to live on a much tighter budget than most, though these past years spent raising my son are worth so much more than money could ever buy…and shopping is so much more fun this way.

Here’s a few recent finds…amazing huh? It’s nothing, yet so much, all at the same time…


I just love these little etched vintage glasses – a whole set of 12 – perfect for little man. Estimated savings, at least $20.

childrens booksMore books. We read a lot around here, so new books are always welcome – estimated savings, easily $40.

childrens illustrations

These are the first two illustrations of ‘Animal Stories’ seen above – they are beautiful in person and will look great framed. Free art – estimated savings, $40.

childs puzzle

Finn is getting into puzzles and he LOVES trains, so when I found this (new, still in box!) I had to pick it up. Estimated savings – $12.

kitchen tools

Finn is also really into cooking, so when I found a bunch of kitchen tools (some even kid sized!) I had to take them too! Here’s Finn enjoying his latest treasures. Bonus they were all metal or wood (spatula, spoons, pie server, tongs, ice cream scooper (vintage), whisk, honey spoon)! Even the little people joining him were found at the dump (of course!). Estimated savings – $25.

play barn yard

Yet another plastic toy saved from landfill – even the batteries still work as do the sounds and songs which are played when the doors open and close…little animals were free too. So much plastic in the world – it’s frightening…estimated savings – $35.

file sorter

File sorter. I can always use something like this, but I won’t buy this type because they are plastic, but I’ll use it and then recycle it when I’m done. And when I say recycle, I mean I’ll give them away to someone who wants them or return them to the ‘freebie barn.’ Estimated savings – $15.

sea shell book

And finally, this cool (vintage) book about shells. I love shells, I always have. I had to pick it up, the illustrations were too cool…estimated savings – $8.

Total estimated savings  – $195.

Savings to the planet, priceless.

Other ways to save money and resources -check out flea markets, freecycle, craigslist, consignment shops, stay out of the mall and big box stores, trade with friends, shop for big items during annual sales, check your local newspaper… you just never know what you may find.

Also, visit your local library. Books, music, newspapers, magazines, movies – are all available for you to use (and borrow) for free…ok, not ‘free’ the town has to pay for all those books, movies, newspapers, etc. and the library itself, but then, its’ citizens (including and most importantly, children) get to enjoy all those ‘free’ treasures…money and time well spent I’d say.


winter savings

Tag sales, thrift stores, garage sales, auctions, charity shops, the dump, the curb, hand me downs, consignment shops – why pay full retail when you don’t have to? Granted, I do buy some things new – like undergarments and beds, but for a lot of my needs, I will search second hand, before buying new, or I’ll simply do without. It’s not as hard as it may sound. You just need a bit of patience. For me, the fun part is the serendipity of my finds and the knowledge that I’ve kept us on budget – or under – and, let me tell you, we have a small budget.

I have been in need of a winter coat – one cannot do without a winter coat in Maine. I’ve checked out a few thrift shops and consignment shops, but no luck. I am picky – I’m not one to settle, I’d rather layer, than wear a bad coat. But, it did start to get cold…

Then, I came across this great fleece jacket;

fleece jacket

at the dump (freebie barn). It is so cozy and warm, but I was still in need of a proper winter jacket – then I found this one, below, now I’m stylish and warm. This jacket set me back $7.  I love the color – it’s charcoal. Not black, not brown, charcoal – and the extra wide platinum zipper, love it. Plus, it’s down, and down is so needed here. It was picked up at a local church charity shop. All proceeds go back into the community.

down jacket

The dressmakers bust seen in the above photos, I picked up for $75 at auction, years ago.  The ‘slipcover’ (piece of fabric placed over and tucked into cushions) seen behind the bust, I picked up at Goodwill for $4. The chair was a hand-me-down from my grandmother. And the lovely antique bread bowl on floor, seen to the left, scored at a flea market, $65. The curtains were free, as was the side stump table (made by Michael from a fallen 100 yr. old apple tree). The prints on the wall behind, were part of a larger collection we won at auction, $5. Frames, $2 each, thrift stores finds, painted black.

I love this quote from Katy Wolk-Stanley, the non consumer advocate;

“Still squeamish about used stuff? Consider these used things that you use without a second thought. Restaurant napkins, silver wear and dishes; hotel sheets and towels; bowling shoes, your hairstylist’s drape. Then, get over yourself.”

I am SO glad I’m not one of those unfortunate souls (squeamish about used stuff). Though, I’m not impervious to buying new – I almost spent A LOT of money on a new winter coat and a number of things I eventually found for much less, if not free. See, patience and persistence does pay off. Not only for our wallets, but for the entire planet…here’s a few more free things I’ve recently picked up for free;

Blender – I couldn’t believe it.


Mine recently broke (was given to me, new – lasted, 6 months – what a waste!). I missed my blender…and there it was – even better than the last blender, this one is glass, not plastic… I love it. And this sweet little pitcher – perfect for maple syrup or cream…

Oh, and the usual suspects – plastic toys. Finn loves them and I’m glad they’re not in the landfill!

kids tools

Free pinecones (I do live in the woods, in Maine)

bowl of pineconeslook lovely in a wooden bowl this time of year…the beautiful bowl, yes, free from the dump too…

I realize not everyone has a freebie barn as I do, but there is freecycle, craigslist, yard sales, auctions, curbsides (don’t laugh, I found our deep, double sided, kohler, cast iron sink, curbside) and your local newspaper. Can’t find something you need, ask family and friends – maybe they want to get rid of just the thing your in need of. And don’t forget thrift shops. Goodwill and Salvation Army are not the only ones out there…check your phone book for possible additional listings…most importantly, don’t just buy – think.

As Katy Wolk-Stanley says, “Frugality is not about having more for less. Frugality is about doing more with less.” So true.

junking jackpot

Recently, I felt like I’d hit the jackpot during one of my weekly ‘dump runs’;  a.k.a. bringing our trash and recyclables to the dump (transfer station). OK, maybe not quite the jackpot feeling – but exciting nonetheless…I always have to check out what’s new in the freebie barn. Some days – nothing, other days – mediocre and every now and again there’s an exceptional day – this day was an exceptional day. Check out what I came across…

Safety earmuffs. Always good to have on hand.

Kids binoculars – just what little man needed.

Safety kit (new in package) – Michael is always in need of a mask and one can never have too many safety glasses, especially when power tools are involved…

A child’s toboggan – Finn has outgrown his other toboggan so I was psyched when I saw this one being dropped off…we may just get a lot of use out of this year – I hear it’s going to be a snowy winter.

A nearly full box of hand rolled cigars (macbeth) – I know – What? I don’t smoke cigars, (I’ve tried one or two in the past), but Michael does enjoy a cigar every now and then. Right into his humidor they went…

Natural rubber boots – Michaels’ size – (Le Chameau). I wasn’t familiar with the maker of the boot, but I could tell they were quality boots. I was right. These boots are very well made and with the highest quality materials. Oddly (serendipity again with the dump treasures), Michael was needing a new pair of boots – waterproof boots – and he was planning on buying a new pair and then I found this pair of Le Chameau.  Now, that money can be used for other things or simply be saved.

Sidewalk chalk – fun stuff to have around.

A bunch of kids books. Finn loves books – we can never have too many books…

And a bright orange bucket with two shovels – when you live near the beach, you need buckets and shovels to share…

Easily over $300 worth of stuff – saved…resources saved, money saved. Plus, it’s fun!

This past Saturday I found this lovely teapot. I’m not sure how old it is, I still need to research its’ marking. I just had to have it, it’s beautiful. Plus, it looks great in my pantry.

Earlier this year I found this super cool antique polaroid camera, it was tossed in a box amongst a bunch of other stuff.

I just love the dump; well, maybe the word love is a bit strong, but it’s a fun place to ‘rummage around’  – you just never know what you might find and you never know what it may be worth…who doesn’t like something for free?

Don’t have such a place in your town?  Try and start one. Host a swap party. Check out and then join freecycle. Look in your local paper, most have a free section in the classifieds. These sources are also perfect to use when you want to get rid of stuff too. Instead of throwing things away, pass them along…

You will not only be helping someone and recycling, you’ll be making an effort towards minimizing the impact on our limited resources…Plus, you may just have the exact thing someone else needs – even if they don’t really need it.

The best things in life are free…

2 days a week

That’s how often my favorite shopping haunt is now open – 2 days a week. Winter hours. Winter hours? What? Already? Oh my.

My transfer station (aka – the dump) is now only open 2 days a week. Wednesdays and Saturdays. The busyness of summer has passed, the fair weather residents have moved on, thus the population has decreased significantly – so, no need for 4 days a week now… two days it is.

I hadn’t found anything spectacular since the sweet little pink piggy bank – until just recently. I found a few great old children’s books. Happy Birthday to you, by Dr. Seuss, 1959 and Walt Disney’s, Bambi, based on the original story by Felix Salten, copyright, 1949. The illustrations are lovely…

I also came across a Richard Scarry’s, Fun with Words, 1971. Dumbo, 1968 and My Friend Mac, by May McNeer & Kynd Ward, 1964.

These books are fabulously nostalgic and in decent condition. I’m not sure a Kindle version would last quite as long or be as memorable…

I’ve also recently come across a Thermos travel mug,

the usual plastic toys (at least they are getting recycled and not in the land fill – if only all plastic toys could be recycled or at least, be made of recycled product…),

a handmade wooden toy truck, (the dog puppet was picked-up at a thrift shop, $1 – the little bunny, a handmade gift)

a boogie board,

cross country skis,

a ball of string,

a hula hoop

and a simple, old, wood framed, chalkboard and eraser – even the old blue mason jar holding the sunflowers is from the dump!

I certainly didn’t need any of these things, but they are fun to have all the same. Treasures I like to say… I am recycling, re-using and best of all not consuming. Fun for free – what’s not beautiful about that?

If only every town had a transfer station like this, how lucky we’d all be…


walnut pesto

Pesto has been one of my many reasons for growing basil (from seed) this year…it takes a bit of patience and time (the seeds were planted back in late February).

They grew on my window sills while the ground lay frozen outside…

…but look now – all that time paid off – they are incredibly abundant with vibrant leaves and just right for pesto making. They are thriving in the garden.


Ingredients + how to;

1/4 +/- grated parmesan, asiago or pecorino

2 good ‘go arounds’ of olive oil + a bit more if needed (go around the food processor that is)

a dash of cracked pepper and salt

1/4 +/- walnuts, sunflower seeds or the traditional pine nuts

1-3 garlic cloves (depending on personal tastes)





Two – three handfuls fresh basil leaves

Pulse garlic until finely chopped then add nuts and pulse ’till ground.







add basil leaves top with olive oil, cheese, salt and pepper –








pulse together until smooth and pesto like…







The beauty of pesto (other than its color and flavor) is its’ versatility…I have always used pine nuts, but didn’t have any on hand so I experimented with what I did have on hand, walnuts. Turns out, walnuts and sunflower seeds make a fine pesto too.

It also freezes well. Make a batch, freeze then store. What’s more lovely than the taste of fresh pesto on a cold autumn evening…It’s simple;

Spoon one tablespoon into each cube tray – cover and freeze – enjoy now or later!

Use on pasta, grilled sandwiches, kabobs, pizza, in soups, spread on bread with goat cheese and fresh tomatoes…the ideas are endless…enjoy!

*fun side note – the ice cube tray, the food processor, the strainer and the wooden bowls (all seen above) were all found at my local freebie barn.

this little piggy went…

to the transfer station and this little piggy came home…

this sweet pink piggy bank was a recent find from our local transfer station, I just love it! Her big eyes and chubby tummy are the perfect place for little hands (and mind) to learn about the joys (and benefits) of saving money…here are also a few other pieces I’ve saved money with – being a frequent shopper at our local ‘freebie barn’ has certainly added to my savings as well as the planets!

This chair (below) I picked up a few years ago . I love the lines and the thrush seat. The grass blind behind was also a score a few years back, I use it as a wall covering on a small wall in a long hallway – it really breaks up the space and warms it.

The wicker chair I found last year. I use it during the summer months with a sheep skin throw over the back and it makes for a super comfy extra chair in our dining room…

The bamboo chair (below) was a great find too. I used old beautiful ticking (I picked up the ticking at Brimfield years ago) to recover the seat (very simple project – fabric, scissors, staple gun). I also found the fabric for the curtains at our freebie barn. They originally were one large curtain, I simply cut it in half and finished the edges – voila, two curtains! The floor fan I found last fall and it has certainly come in handy this year and the bamboo blind, also a freebie – I found it in its’ original packaging, it was never opened. Lastly, the oval mirror on the right, also free. Wow!

I just love recycling!