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!


how does your garden grow?

Mine has been up and down…the weather has been anything but stable…covering, uncovering, planting, re-planting, attempting to harden-off young plants, though not too soon as we’ve had such cold, wet weather – though tomorrow the forecast is calling for 80+ degrees! What?

Todays weather was extraordinary! So while Finn napped I quickly planted nasturtiums and zinnias outside and started to transplant leeks, but the nap did not last long enough…there is always tomorrow and tomorrow will be sunny again…thankfully!

Here’s a glimpse at what is growing…

baby lettuce

baby lettuce

more baby lettuce aka mesclun mix

more baby lettuce
   aka mesclun mix

         baby spinach

baby spinach

close-up baby spinach

close-up baby spinach

       young kale

young kale

 swiss chard beginnings

swiss chard beginnings

tomato plants

tomato plants

cucumbers in waiting

cucumbers in waiting

scary scarecrowEvery garden needs a scarecrow, right? Hat and flannel, from the dump, of course…

snail on brick

Unfortunately, too many of these have made their way into the garden…too many – where do they all come from?

first harvest

first harvest

The first harvest of spinach was such a treat! It was a small harvest, but oh so appreciated…there’s nothing like picking veggies, out of your own garden, and then using them, immediately!

So much work, though so worth it…don’t have enough space for a backyard garden? Try container gardening…especially for the more expensive vegetables and herbs like tomatoes and basil. One plant can yield so much, why not give it a try?

Though, I must admit, I’ve had no luck with my red onions. I started them, in the ground, from seed and they never germinated… I’ve never grown onions before and this year, it seems I won’t be either…any suggestions?

Just because something doesn’t go according to plan the first time, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try again. Gardening is so much about trial and error and learning from others, why not start now? You can grow incredible vegetables and save money – all the while knowing what is in your food as well as where it came from…you can’t put a price on that.

enjoy and happy gardening!

garden beginnings and endings

We’re almost through the second week of November and my garden is showing it. It looks terrible, I know.

While I still have lettuce, spinach, parsley (this is one hardy herb) and carrots (not sure if they will mature in time) – the rest of the garden is in that sad state of needing to be cleaned-up.

Fallen leaves have taken over, strong and deep rooted weeds have infiltrated the area where the pumpkins once were…

Well, the pumpkins that made it through the attack of these little buggers;

Does anyone know what they are? And if so, how to keep them away, without chemicals?

I love my rustic backyard garden – its’ chicken wire fence, its’ aged front gate, the posts in need of repair, the yard it is surrounded by, the sound of the ocean in the background… It’s far from perfect, but it’s my garden. I can feed myself, my family and my friends with it – nothing is more beautiful than that.

I’ve expanded it over the years, it’s nearly four times it’s original size. If I had know we were going to be living on this property for as long as we have, I think I would have designed it differently, wider. But, it is what it is, and when everything is in full bloom, its’ simply charming.

A lot of planning, work and love needs to go into a backyard garden. The planting of seeds, months in advance,

transplanting baby seedlings.

transplanting the plants again,

and then finally moving each into the garden.

Organizing the layout of the garden, keeping in mind what was planted where the year before and which plants should be planted next to each other in the coming year. Companion planting is brilliant. It not only helps to minimize pests and maximize complimentary plant attributes,  but it is also cost effective and natural.

Late winter I begin preparing the soil; adding amendments, turning the soil with pitchfork, picking and cleaning the soil and then leveling with rake…

I then cover my entire garden with black plastic. I hate the fact that its plastic, but at least they are recycled lumber tarps…I get them for free, from our local small town lumber yard. I started using them a few years ago to help minimize weed growth and help to warm the soil. I need help dealing with the mosquitos (once the mosquitos are out, it’s no longer pleasurable to work in the garden) – I cover myself as much as possible and use citronella oil on my hands…and try to ignore the insane buzzing!

Minimizing my weeding time is beneficial to my sanity, plus, the sooner I can get seeds in the ground, the better. Once the ground and air temperatures are ready for more planting, I cut openings for each row of seeds or individual plants, mark with a stick (writing name of plant and date of planting), water and wait.

…then as the days and nights warm and one season blends into the next,  I continue adding more seeds and more plants,

until everything is planted and then enjoy the benefits…

until the seasons begin to change and the weather begins to turn cold…then the cycle begins again…

So until the garden looks like this again, I will continue to enjoy what’s left and look forward to what’s to come…

What’s your favorite vegetable to plant? What do you love about gardening?


green beans galore + heirlooms

The garden is finally looking lovely…

as a garden should, on the coast of Maine, by mid-August…and the green beans have been abundant.  It’s amazing how many beans grow on one bush, organically…here’s a super simple recipe for green beans and it’s yummy served warm or cold.

2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed

Zest of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp. lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper

2 ounces goat cheese, softened and crumbled

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add green beans. Cook 3 minutes; drain well. Set beans aside in colander; do not rinse (they will continue to cook).

Whisk together lemon zest, juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss with beans in large bowl.

Transfer to serving platter and sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese.

*This vinaigrette can be made up to a day in advance, covered, and refrigerated, and brought to room temperature before serving.
I just have to mention the heirloom tomatoes too. I picked (and enjoyed eating) my first ripened black krim tomato. They are so incredibly delicious and luscious I had to include them…everyone should be able to experience the taste of a REAL tomato – not one which has been trucked across the country, green, ready to ripen ‘on route’ – no.
A tomato which has truly been vine ripened, without chemicals, pesticides or been biologically mixed with some other life form…and not one which you have to take out a loan to afford…one you grow yourself. Simply slice, salt and enjoy – your taste buds will love you!

garden goings – on

late July is beautiful in Maine – everything is growing and growing. Lots of veggies are ready to be picked, blueberry season is here and so many more flowers are ready to burst – summertime…love it!

Today I picked my first crop of green beans and baby carrots…(and wasn’t eaten alive by mosquitos -a pleasant change to say the least) yeah for summer in Maine!

I’ve been enjoying lettuces, swiss chard, kale and beets on a daily basis for awhile now…

so to add carrots and green beans is exciting and a welcome addition – eating those crisp green beans straight from the bush is so summer to me! I’ve also been enjoying lots of basil and patiently waiting for the tomatoes to grow and ripen…

The satisfaction of being able to cultivate, plant, tend, pick, prepare and then enjoy my own home grown food is incredibly illuminating – the joy (and relief) of knowing where my food is from and what was put ‘into it’ – priceless…everyone should be so lucky.

Eat local food, eat well, be happy…enjoy.

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!