so much trash

There is so much trash in the world. I see it on the side of the road, on the beach, in parking lots, on sidewalks – it’s unfortunately, everywhere. Though some of the ‘trash’ I see at my local transfer station is not really trash at all, well, at least not in my eyes...

It’s actually perfectly good stuff no longer wanted or needed by its previous owner. And our wise town transfer station has created an area specifically for these hand-me-downs…everyone wins. The town saves money, the earth is spared (at least a little) and goods are recycled, upcycled and simple re-used by another.


Here are just a few of the fun things I’ve come across this summer…my house is filled with free stuff. It’s actually quite amazing what people throw out…

baseball mittdump truck

letter holder

monkey clock

pop-up book

glass candlesticks

free dishes


So before you get rid of something, think of donating or giving it away. You just never know, your trash could very well become someone’s treasure.



out with the ‘old’, in with the ‘new’…

I thought I’d end this year by talking about my favorite place – the freebie barn!

The freebie barn, swap shop, transfer station, call it what you will, it’s a fabulous resource!

Granted, not all transfer stations allow ‘shopping’, and that’s a shame. Mine does and I call it the ‘freebie barn’, though the sign on the outside calls it, the ‘swap shop’…

Why not set aside a space for residents to drop off unwantedbut good stuff – for others to use…instead of trucking it away, to be dumped into a large hole in the ground (planet earth), to only eventually leach out into everything…? Why not invest in a ‘swap shop’ area?

Wouldn’t a space such as this help a town save on expenditures for removal of said stuff? All the while allowing residents to utilize perfectly good stuff someone else simply tired of – thus, maximizing the re-use of already consumed goods, which in turn minimizes consumerism? Which, ultimately, lessens our impact on the world around us?

I realize a resource such as this improves things ever so slightly, yet, it’s a step in the right direction…how can anyone disagree with that?

Every piece of ‘junk’ removed by another resident (recycled) vs. an outsourced company, is so much better for everyone…why not have an area designated for this?

Finn and I visit our transfer station once a week (at minimum). It’s the place we take our trash and recyclables as well our time to visit the ‘Swap Trailer.’ I love this place.

I’ve picked up such cool stuff here.

And not only is everything being recycled, it’s also free. Free and recycled. What a fun combination!

I also realize not everyone shares my sentiment about re-using, and that’s ok. Everyone’s different. If you don’t want to ‘pick’, don’t.  But do drop off your good stuff, versus just chucking it in the trash. Don’t have a local transfer station, why not consider donating?

I’ve shared photos of things that I’ve found over the years, though I’ve never shown the space in which I find my treasures…it’s quite the place…Here’s one of the signs viewed upon entering.

swap trailer

enter at own risk

And here, is another…

The swap shop is a trailer. A tractor trailer, an 18 wheeler kind of trailer, but on the ground.

One end is open, with double doors. Each door proclaiming a sign…that’s the entrance.

Various shelving is found along the two long walls…

shelf of stuff

books on shelf

And things are piled in, around, and on these shelves…clothing, shoes, utensils, ice skates, skis, furniture, toys, books, candle stick holders, glassware, dishes, books, small appliances, instruments, picture frames, baskets, cameras, rugs, framed prints, tools, lamps, curtains, baking pans, gardening tools, boots, antiques, mirrors – are a few of the things one might find on any given day…the list is endless – seriously.

I have found SO many great things here!

Granted, some things really should be trashed, like the badly chipped vase viewed in the photo above…though, that’s my opinion…I guess someone could argue it’s still usable – I wouldn’t use it, but that’s my opinion… who’s to say what’s trash and what isn’t?

One man’s trash is another’s treasure!

You just never know what you might find…

tic tac toast


Below are a few more recent acquisitions…love ’em, especially the metal ice cube trays…and the vintage pyrex mixing bowls!

metal ice cube trays pyrex bowls + metal mixers

turquoise pyrex

muffin tins + baking sheet

I wish I could have taken this (imagine it, cleaned, painted and with new hardware) from the outdoor covered area – too bad I had no where to store it! What a sideboard it could have made!!

side board

Do you like to recycle and go ‘junking’? If so, I’d love to hear from you!

All the best to everyone in 2014, may it be a prosperous and peaceful year for all!

Happy New Year!


recycling at its best


A lot of people do it.

And, unfortunately, a lot of people, don’t. Why one wouldn’t is beyond me…

Anyway, I am someone who does. I love recycling, repurposing and general re-use of good quality items. Why not right?

My town has a brilliant concept – it’s called a swap trailer. It’s a place where townspeople can drop off unwanted but good items, for another townsperson to take home and use. Brilliant.

The photos you see above are some the recent finds I’ve scored over the past few months…to see more treasures, go here.

The swap trailer is conveniently located at our local transfer station…so people can drop off their recycling (cardboard, cans, bottles, etc.) their trash as well as their unwanted stuff.

I love our swap trailer (aka freebie barn). I have found some great things over the years, so much so that the NYTimes took notice…it’s still surreal that my house was in the NYTimes…

Regardless of who takes notice or not, it’s a resource which is beneficial for people of all income brackets as well as the planet. Simple. Brilliant. Fun.

Try starting a swap shop of sorts in your town…you just never know what you may find!


these old drawers

0. drawer in place

While walking past the wood pile, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted two drawers. Two drawers that were obviously old, yet useful and practical for what I had in mind.

These beauties in disguise were tossed atop dilapidated doors, scraps of wood, disintegrating decking, bait tainted pallets, broken chairs – wood rubbish – they were part of the enormous pyramid shaped mound of wood – known around here as the ‘wood pile’.

2.drawer 1  3.drawer 2

I knew, instantly, I had to have them. They had to come home with me. Just like this had to come home with me a few weeks ago too…oh, the things I drag home…

So, I stepped carefully onto a few bits of heaped rubble and then steadied myself while leaning in to reach them. I picked each one up, inspected more closely and decided, yes, they are worth taking…they were haggard (obviously), but I saw their potential; train track storage.

1.both drawers in place

Finn loves trains. Train play is so much more fun now that Finn has a train table (Michael built it). Assembling wooden train tracks on floors which are anything but level (we live in a 200+ yr. old Maine farmhouse), is a struggle no child or parent should experience – children’s train tracks should not require shims…nor elicit tears…

So, now that the train table has been built (thanks Michael!), a whole new love of train play has ensued and more storage was needed…especially since we’ve recently scored all this track and plethora of bridges; also picked up for free during one of our weekly jaunts to our local transfer station

free track

We had quite a bit of track and accouterments already, though train play can always be expanded upon…

In come these old drawers…

They were the perfect width, depth and height to fit under the newly built train table. And the best part of all was that one of the drawers already had partitions! Organizing the  track types, while making them easily accessible has never been easier!

4. inside drawer 1

Yeah for the dump! (:

A bit of wood putty, a light sanding, two coats of paint, a little help with the castors and some fun contact paper and Finn now has some super cool track storage, which fit perfectly under his custom train table…and best of all, they make organizing and accessibility easy and fun – especially for a three year old!

Recycling and re-inventing at its best!

6.castors going on5.finished 7.drawer in use


1.both drawers in place

Try this idea under a bed or anywhere low drawers would fit…storage solutions made affordable, easy and fun.


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?


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…


Junking – I love it. Finding things others discard and putting them to good use, I love it. I’m not talking about trash, I’m referring to perfectly good objects people simply tire of…recycling, upcycling, re-purposing, whatever you want to call it – I call it smart.  It’s also about being aware of the precious resources taken to create whatever it was which was discarded and being savvy enough to realize it’s not really trash, it’s simply something someone no longer wanted.  It’s also being respectful of the planet and its’ finite resources. It’s also a great way to save money. I realize buying/finding second hand isn’t for everyone and that some things are better new (mattresses for example), but many many many things can be and should be either given away, traded, consigned or left outside with a ‘free’ sign on it – some things are better given away than thrown away…childrens toys are one of those things. Especially plastic ones. There are SO many plastic childrens toys out there, it’s frightening. Add to that the battery operated plastic ones and well, it’s disturbing. Where do they all end up? Think about it – it’s disturbing. Why not give it away (if it’s still in good condition) or consign it? Everyone wins…. And for all those ‘other things’ out there that could be given away, recycled, gifted, donated, etc., do the same – simply think twice before disposing of something that could vey well be appreciated by another.

We have a great space at our local transfer station where residents can do just this – I call it the ‘freebie barn’, other towns have ‘swap shops’, call it what you wish – it’s a place for residents to leave and take household objects, for free.  A fantastic resource to say the least! As mentioned in earlier posts, I love the dump (transfer station). Finn and I go twice a week and search for treasures…here are just a few of our recent and not so recent finds…we really are quite the recyclers…enjoy.

I found this chair on a visit to the dump – it had a horrible fabric on it, but I took it because I liked its’ lines – and then the following week I found this great fabric (it’s embroidered) and thought, ‘perfect for that chair I found last week!’. I still have enough fabric for a few pillow covers too.

Plastic toys – uggg – but Finn loves it and it’s not in the landfill and it doesn’t require batteries…

The wonderful part of my junking is the serendipity of my finds…it seems that when I am need of something, it presents itself…just as we were transitioning from the high chair to a booster seat – there was a booster seat. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t settle for just anything, it needs to suit my aesthetic. While I would have preferred a wooden one (I’m not a big fan of plastic) this plastic one presented itself and the bright primary colors are a fun addition to our kitchen – and it’s not in the landfill! The bolt of fabric below was just found today. Normally I wouldn’t have taken it, but oddly enough I was in need of red fabric. Tomorrow we’re attending a pirate rendevous and Finn’s costume was in need of a red swath, voila, now I have enough red for his costume and some future dress up capes too. Serendipity….love it.


Driftwood is a part of my daily life…approaching our home you can’t help but notice our rather large collection outside and once inside you’ll find driftwood mirrors, sculptures and furniture throughout the house…you see, I co-own a small driftwood based business with my partner, Michael. He collects, designs and then builds art and furniture from this found wood and I take care of all the ‘business’ stuff. That’s not to say I don’t help out with the design end of things, I certainly do; we collaborate, he builds. This weekend he just completed an incredible folk art style running horse for a client in DC. It’s pretty cool that he takes pieces like this (below)…

And turns them into this…

This piece needs to be packed and shipped out early next week so thankfully the weather was perfect yesterday for a photo session – not too windy and not to cloudy. We set-up the barn for the shoot and I photographed throughout the day utilizing the natural light coming through the open barn doors…

while I was shooting I also needed to ensure our son (who is 2 and a half) was happily busy…Michael had the brilliant idea to turn the photo paper tube into a ‘tunnel’ for Finn’s toy car collection – Finn kept busy ‘working’ behind the scenes…

while I captured some incredible shots of this beautiful piece…

Finn also couldn’t help but take a peak around the corner…he loves to ‘help’ – he is a part of everything we do from gardening to cooking to furniture making to finding treasures at our local transfer station.

We are the ultimate recycling family…what do you love to recycle?


saved from the wood chipper

Here is a photo of a ‘gem’ in disguise…I picked it up, literally right out of the back of a pick-up a truck. I was driving into my transfer station to drop off a few things and pulling in ahead of me was a truck with this in the back – I instantly thought to myself, “I want that shelf!” So, once she parked, I parked and jumped out of my truck to approach her to ask if she was getting rid of the shelf, she replied yes and then helped me unload the piece from her truck into mine! I was so psyched. I realize not many people would be excited about a shelf in the state it was in, but I could see its’ potential…

After a good scrub, removal of a few screws (I didnt’ even need a screwdriver they were that loose), a light sanding and a few coats of white paint, voila’ – a much needed fun shelf – saved from the wood chipper it was destined for…

growing and growing

The baby’s are growing up – the baby plants that is…the basil is becoming so incredibly fragrant (and big), the tomato plants have that wonderful green tomato smell which reminds me so much of summer, the parsley leaves are a good inch across, the sunflowers are getting taller, the marigolds are growing steadily, cilantro is just starting to take off and the cucumber seeds were just planted yesterday…Outside things are really taking off too – not at all like indoors, but seedlings are finally beginning to appear (I was beginning to worry…) the swiss chard is just popping it’s crimson head through the soil, the kale seedlings each have two leaves, the lettuce is really beginning to look like lettuce allowing me to know for sure, they aren’t just weeds growing, the beets are also pushing through…oh I love beets – homegrown roasted beet, goat cheese and walnut salad – YUM!

OK, I love most vegetables – roasted fennel, green beans slightly steamed and then topped with lemon butter (fennel + green beans planted when warmer), swiss chard sauteed with caramelized onions topped with ricotta on puff pastry, kale and potato soup, spinach with nearly everything, freshly picked corn on the cob, vine ripened fresh from the garden (not the stuff trucked across America) tomatoes sliced and sprinkled with just a bit of sea salt – WOW – or even better – the classic, thickly sliced just picked tomato topped with thinly sliced fresh mozzarella (not the shredded stuff) and then ribbons of basil tossed on top with a drizzle of balsamic and olive oil – divine – this is why I grow vegetables – it’s a labor of love – plant seeds, tend them, eat, be happy.

Baby basil then…

Baby basil now…

I use recycled cardboard egg cartons topped with plastic wrap (I re-use plastic wrap for additional plantings) to start the seedlings, then I transplant into plastic pots which I picked up at my local transfer station for free – recycling at its best. Even the plastic boxes holding all the individual boxes were recycled, as were the wooden crates I use to house other fledgling plants until the are ready to move outdoors…

I thoroughly wash each pot after each season and store away to use for the next season…even my garden shovel, wheelbarrow, hose and nozzle, the gate to the entrance of my garden and the posts on either side and some of my fencing have been free via my local swap shop…if you buy potted plants, give the plastic pots to someone who grows their own or try and re-use them yourself or ask the garden center when you purchase, if they recycle pots…get creative.