simple living

If you’ve been with me for awhile, then you know I love cooking, baking, gardening and the dump!

Yes, the dump.

Well, it’s not actually the dump, it’s actually a transfer station, but I lovingly (though incorrectly) refer to it as the dump. It’s just what I call it.

It’s where I take my trash and recyclables. I’ve lived in a few areas (and states) where residents can choose to use a service or take care of their own trash, meaning, go to the transfer station (dump) themselves.  I’ve always opted for the later. Why?

Well, first off, it’s free, secondly, it’s no big deal for me to take care of myself (and my trash, which, by the way is quite minimal…) and usually, there is an area for ‘free’ items.  It’s an area where residents can leave unwanted, yet good items, for others to take and enjoy…what’s not brilliant about that? My town has such a place.

I call it the ‘freebie barn’. I love it. Lots of residents do. I have found countless items there…toys, shoes, dishes, beach toys, chairs, tables, televisions, radios, rugs, silver ware (real silver), glasses, fabric, grills, telephones, old cameras … the list goes on and on – sometimes I look around my house and think, ‘Wow, I’ve scored so much cool stuff, for free!’ I love the dump.

It’s second hand stuff, without the price tag. Squeamish about second hand? Well, if you’ve ever eaten at a restaurant or slept in a hotel – you’ve experienced, ‘second hand’… get over it.

More areas need this resource. There are too many things being wasted. Lots of people would just love to have what others are ‘throwing away’ – too many good things (and well made things) get ‘tossed’ simply because another tires of it…thankfully, where I live, good things don’t go to waste.

So, the next time your driving down the road and see a table or chair on the side of the road and it’s got great lines, is well built and could use a good clean or a fresh coat of paint – don’t think twice. Pick it up. Fix it up. And enjoy it.

Why not? You’ll not only save yourself some money, (while adding to or changing your living space), but you’ve repurposed a completely good and useful piece of furniture or whatever it may be, that someone else simply tired of...don’t let well made items go to waste. Use them and enjoy them!

Here’s a look at a few things I’ve recently scored for free from my local transfer station…

fisher price elevatorVintage toys are always fun to find. This piece is great. All parts work, the bell dings (without batteries!) while the elevator moves up (and down) and it’s great fun for Finn to push his cars up and down the ramps while allowing ‘passengers’ on and off the elevator.

beach chairsWhen you live near the beach, one can never have too many beach chairs. I love how low these are – perfect for sitting at the waters edge…cocktails anyone?

glassware

I have scored such a variety of glasses from the dump and here’s a few more I’ve added to my never ending collection…one can never have too many glasses either…I love entertaining and having a plethora of glassware to choose from – and if one breaks (which, they inevitably do), I don’t fret…I will always find more…again, cocktails anyone?

his and hisNow, these were a fabulous (and serendipitous) find. Finn has been enamored with mowing the lawn (and we have a BIG lawn to take care of)…though, he’s only 3, so no real mowers, for a long time…though he’s been asking for a toy mower (his own mower)… most are plastic and I didn’t want to buy plastic (there’s too much plastic as it is, without consuming it, new!) so when we found this one (above) – he and I were so happy! He, because he finally had his mower and I, because we’ve recycled it (despite it being plastic), and we will recycle it, again. The red mower in the back, I also picked up! It needed a new spark plug and that’s it – it started right up – $200 mower, free. Love it!

mower + wheelbarrowHere’s the real mower again and the wheelbarrow in the back, was also, you guessed it, free.

tool tray

This (plastic – I know) tool tray we also picked up with these fun tools (below)! I know, more plastic (frightening!), but at least it’s being re-used – even the drills (below) still had (good) batteries in them! What?

tools

Now, I much prefer wooden toys (that is all I choose to buy) so when I spotted all these (below), I had to pick them up! Great additions for play dough play…not only does Finn enjoy working with play dough, but he also enjoys helping me make it! It’s very simple (and fun) to do, see here.

wooden toys

So while second hand may not be for everyone, it is for me.

It’s great for the planet and great for my wallet. You don’t have to spend a lot, to have a lot.

Do you love second hand things as much as I do? If so, I’d love to hear from you!

Share your thoughts, finds and most favorite ‘scores’ below.

enjoy.

cheap or frugal?

I’ve never been fond of these descriptives. I’ve also never been fond of the images associated with these words and I certainly would not categorize myself as either cheap or frugal. Surprised? 

I prefer to think in terms of being conscious or being aware. In other words, thrifty. Thrifty is defined as – (of a person or their behavior) using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully. That’s the key for me – not wastefully.  I’m neither cheap nor frugal – I’m thrifty.

I think the reason I struggle with the word ‘cheap’ is the fact that a lot ‘cheap’ stuff is just that ‘cheap’ – or of inferior quality and wasteful. Cheap isn’t always associated with quality or respect for our finite resources, actually, oftentimes, just the opposite…just look at how many ‘cheap’ plastic toys break just after one use?

The word, frugal is defined as – sparing or economical with regard to money or food. While being frugal is wonderful, it can come across as being a bit dull or limiting (not true I know, but some do fear this)…Now some may think this is silly – it’s simply a matter of semantics, right? Perhaps you are right, but for me, the word ‘thrifty’ is all about being aware of our money and our finite resources and I’m all about that.

I think if everyone was a bit more ‘thrifty’ (mindful), we’d all be a bit better off…it’s an advantageous lifestyle – not only for our own individual selves and others, but the planet as well.

 What do you think? Are you thrifty?

birthday express…

I have been busy with the fabulous festivities of a boy turning 3! We celebrated Finn’s 3rd. birthday this past Friday (hence, no post). The day started off with a VERY early morning wake-up…(I went to bed at 1 AM – so it felt VERY early to me!) – I should say, a sprint down the stairs is how it actually started – and I wasn’t the one sprinting…

presents

I had been up, late the night before, creating a train cake complete with wheels, track, cargo and a chocolate covered smoke stack. Not the best time of day for photographs…hence the not so great lighting…

train + little people

Then busy wrapping presents and helping Michael hang streamers, blow-up balloons and create the party atmosphere so vital to the morning ‘of’ that I had no time to post…

presests + bear

nemo

…it was a lovely day of simple pleasures… breakfast and opening presents (just the three of us) then a drive down to Portland to visit to the children’s museum – funny enough, serendipity and its willingness to ‘give’ – gave us free passes to the museum – Finns birthday was ‘Free day’ at the children’s museum – we had no idea, what a fun surprise for us (and our wallet) – as Finns’ grandparents and great-grandparents met us there too!

future farmer? fireman finn

little chef

Celebrating a birthday doesn’t have to break the bank. I picked up streamers, balloons, wrapping paper, fun party napkins and plates all from the $1 store. I baked the cake, prepared the icing (no food coloring used) and purchased small amounts of candy (for the cargo) from my local health food store (no chemicals here)… the total cost was about $15, a far cry from a store or bakery bought, chemical laden cake…The passengers are from Finn’s train set as are the little trees and house.

Going out to eat after the museum did cost more than dining at home, though we wanted to celebrate with family who had traveled so far to meet us in Portland – so out for Mexican it was! Appetizers to share kept the bill low (relatively speaking) and decorating the table and chairs with balloons, party hats and festive napkins made it fun – being able to enjoy the cake in the restaurant made the night complete!

Decorating your house for the morning of is easy enough (use stuffed animals with leis or party favors to stand in as friends – until the real ones arrive), hang streamers, balloons and birthday banners. If your going to have a party at home – keep it simple and remember, bouncy castles aren’t a requirement for fun – creativity is. Kids love bubbles, art supplies, music, face painting and fun food – so why not keep it simple while keeping your budget in tact?  Happy Birthday little man – I’m so happy you chose me to be your momma!

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.

blender

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.