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?


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?


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.


life these days

We’re still in the ‘re-adjusting stage’ of being back home and have been busy catching-up with the business and getting back into our daily routine, slowly that is … I haven’t had much time to cook anything different (the ease of preparing meals which I’ve done a dozen times before is much more inviting at the moment than experimenting – though this will pass, I know), thus no new recipes and not much else to comment on – though I have started more seeds and am getting excited about the warmer (warmer for here that is) weather which seems to be coming in – though a daily (and nightly) fire is still needed…

Here’s a few photos of life around here – at the moment of course – everything changes…

red beans

pears on plate

planting seeds


seeds to start

sheets drying in the wind

snow dropsbulbs pushing throughhelping

moving wood

Happy Easter everyone!


too many ripe bananas?

We had a bowlful of super ripe bananas and quite a few kids wanting a sweet treat – so what did we do? We baked some delicious banana bread! Who doesn’t like banana bread?

bananas in bowl

It’s easy to prepare, it can be frozen and enjoyed on another day or eaten right away.  It’s perfect for breakfast or as a snack. Serve with freshly whipped cream, butter or simply on its’ own. Banana bread is also great for picnics, traveling (think muffins or thick slabs) or given as a gift – who wouldn’t love to receive a loaf of freshly baked banana bread?

Also, if your short on time, but have some overly ripe bananas – don’t throw them away, simply peel and freeze. Frozen ripe bananas work great for banana bread too!

Here’s what you’ll need;

4-5 ripe bananas, smashed

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup sugar (or less if you’d prefer)

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

dash of cinnamon and raw can sugar (if desired)

Here’s what to do;

Smash bananas.

Beat the egg.

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.

dry ingrediants

Using a wooden spoon mix melted butter and vanilla with bananas, then add to dry ingredients just until moistened.

wet + dry ingrediants

That’s it for mixing then,

pouring batter

pour into buttered loaf pan.

sugar sprinkle

and, if desired, sprinkle with raw can sugar and a dash of cinnamon for added texture, crunch and flavor. Serving a crowd? Double recipe (as we did) and use a sheet pan…

Bake at 350F for one hour.

slice and enjoy

Cool on rack. Slice and serve.


PS. Apologies to those of you wanting to print without all the photos. While I’ve learned it’s possible, I’m still needing to learn how, so until then, my apologies…

small is big

I’ve recently come across this quote by Margaret Cho…

“Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways, it can change someone else’s life forever.”

What a lovely reminder…

Little things can make a big difference.


planting bulbs indoors – all winter long…

Do you miss the scents and sights of flowers outdoors? I do. I live in Maine and winter is quickly approaching, thus flowers are but a distant memory…so what is a flower lover to do? Plant flowers indoors. It’s easier than you think, low maintenance and inexpensive. I personally love Paperwhite Narcissus and Amaryllis.

While Amaryllis are more common to find, boxed with ‘everything you need’ – paperwhites (above) are just as simple, with less waste (no packaging and no plastic pot). You only need four things – of which, two may be used year after year – bulbs, rocks, vase and water – that’s it.  Simple beauty, love it!

Now to start. Gather what you’ll need;

The bulbs (about .80 each), a small vase (think individual bud vase), small stones/rocks (5 lb. bag white rocks $2.99) and water. The stones can be rinsed and re-used for years – I’ve been rinsing and re-using mine for about four years. The water and the bulb will need to be discarded or composted once the flowers have past.

It’s done in 4 easy steps. Pour rocks, place bulb, pour a few more rocks, pour water. It’s that simple, really.

Here you go;

If using new stones, rinse stones first. Place about 1-2″ of stones in vase – amount is dependent upon height of vase. This flower tends to flop over, so the taller and narrower the vase, the better (you can always stake and tie the stem if using a more stout vase).

Place bulb, root side down on top of rocks.

Pour a small amount of stones over the top and sides of bulb, not completely covering bulb, but enough to help weigh it down (again, it’s a top heavy plant, so once roots start shooting downwards and the stem upwards, the stones will aid its’ ability to stand upright). If the vase is quite tall and slender, less rocks are needed on top, if any. (I always like to use a small amount of stones on top, simply to help keep the bulb in place, regardless of vase style).

Then add enough water to cover/reach the root base.

It’s that simple. Be sure to place in area where it will receive indirect sunlight and can enjoy cooler temperatures (60-65 F ) and that’s it – really. Maintain water level and only add when it falls beneath the root line (careful not to overfill as rot may set in), check it about once a week…then watch it grow.

The best part of forcing bulbs indoors is that you can plant subsequent plantings and have fresh flowers all winter long – regardless of your hemisphere! Narcissus typically flower at around 4-6 weeks after planting (depending on conditions), so if you plant every 3 weeks your guaranteed to have sweet scents week after week – even throughout the doldrums of a dark, cold New England winter….The other practical side to plating paperwhites during the winter is that they like cooler temps and indirect sunlight – which is great news for those of us in New England as it is cold and sunshine is fleeting…love this idea below too.

Incredibly scented flowers atop slender bright green stems what’s not beautiful about that? These bulbs also look fabulous planted as a group of 2 or more, in one larger container – just remember to space each bulb and place rocks between each.

Looking for an inexpensive, simple, yet lovely gift? Plant a bulb (or two or more) two weeks prior to gift giving and wrap vase with a bit of red ribbon, the recipient will enjoy loveliness for weeks to come…as will you.

Narcissus planted now, will become divine in December…enjoy.

there’s no place like…

home. After being away for awhile, I am thankful to be home, in Maine.

We took a road trip to visit with my grandmother (Finn’s great-grandmother) at her beach house on Long Beach Island NJ.

We also decided to break up the trip and stop off to visit with Michaels parents in Connecticut too – it’s a long trip for a two year old…The drive reminded me of how differently we live here – what we’re exposed to and not exposed to – Maine is vasty different than the states we drove through as well as the states we stayed in…and while we had fun among all the busyness on the Jersey Shore (no boardwalk, thankfully) and catching up with everyone (and watching everyone trying to keep up with Finn), I am appreciative to be back home, in Maine, where life is little less populated…and a little more grounded…far from perfect I must say, but for now, just right for me.

I’ve realized I like less populated areas more than overpopulated areas – granted I love NYC, San Francisco, Boston, Portland (both) and enjoy all the things a city has to offer, but, for now, I prefer living in a more rural area…well, maybe not so rural…rural enough to enjoy quiet natural surroundings and open spaces, but not so rural that it takes 30 minutes to get to the nearest town (as it does for us at the moment). While it’s not easy living, I do enjoy having space to think.

Home has been many different places for me throughout my life. I wasn’t the kid who grew up in the same house, on the same street and had the same friends throughout childhood and then into adulthood. My parents divorced when I was young (they were young too –  parents at age 17, yikes, not easy to say the least) – my mother had primary custody of us and for one reason or another (I think mostly financial), we moved around a lot. Never very far, but far enough that we needed to change schools, make new friends and basically ‘start all over’ in the world of school and neighborhoods – life was often turned upside down.

Two constants in my life (in terms of home) were houses owned by my grandparents (on both sides). One, on a small lake in Mid Coast Maine (the lake house) and the other on the very busy island, Long Beach Island, on the coast of New Jersey (the beach house). I was fortunate. I had a beach house and a lake house. We weren’t always able to visit both – for a few years we didn’t visit either, but I knew they were there…

Both places always felt like ‘home’ to me; each holds it’s own nostalgia for me – and more so now that I can share them with my son…these two homes mean so much more to me than simply being the family beach/lake house. They are a part of my past, they are a part of me. Theses are places I can share with him – places which always feel like ‘home’ – places I could always depend on, they were always there…they were my constants.

Until the age of 34 I never lived anywhere for more than two years. Granted, I did live in Boston for three years while attending college, but only stayed during the school year – I would move for the summer break – not back ‘home’ as many other students would – I didn’t have that home – but I did have the constants…thankfully.

I’ve called many places home up until now – Massachusetts, NJ, Pennsylvania, Washington and Florida are a few of the states I’ve lived in as an adult and while traveling I experienced a variety of homes. I called my tent home for months while in Australia, a small flat in Rarotonga, my 1970 VW camper while traveling across the U.S., and a three bedroom home in Mexico while I was teaching there, as well as a 20 foot sailboat in the Caribbean, and now a 200+ year old farmhouse on the the coast of Maine – home, to me, is where you want to be, or where you are now…

We’ve made this house we call home, home – at least for now that is…we chose to fix it up and make it ‘ours’. I feel wherever you are living, you should make it yours.

Having said all this, I also know it is not my permanent home. I’m not sure I will ever be the type of person who ‘settles’ into a house and never moves, perhaps I will?  Maybe I just haven’t found that place or perhaps I am destined to enjoy a variety of homes/living situations throughout my lifetime…who knows – all I know is I am appreciative of where I live now, how I got here and where I’ve been.  I also look forward to finding and making my next home…wherever that may be.


Enjoy the weekend and enjoy being home…wherever that may be.


‘My ideas usually come not at my desk writing, but in the midst of living.’

Anais Nin

I love this quote…I have been away from my computer as well as my daily life – visiting with family, traveling out of state and simply living life differently than usual… I’ve had many ideas for new posts, as well as an appreciation for my life and how I choose to live it -so until more time is available I offer the above quote… enjoy life and live it as you like!



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.