Friday, December 31, 2010

Top Second Hand Finds of 2010

This globe was $5 at Salvation Army and is covering a watermark on my wood.

The time has come to reflect on the past year and gaze ahead. As those of you who read the contest announcement and will be treasure hunting with me know, I am looking ahead to the challenge of a year of second hand treasures. This has me thinking about my finds from 2010. Here are some of my favorites...

We set up a Montessori-like environment for the boys at home this year so many of my finds were to assist in that. Like this easel, $2 at a garage sale.
The chairs were $1 each, also at a garage sale:

I don't remember the exact price on the lamp, but we got it at a local resale shop for their "art table" which we got at the same shop. It's just an old coffee table but was so much more affordable than an art table from a catalog.

I got this light fixture from Craigslist for $30
This little lamp for my desk came from the village furnishings resale and cost $3.

These last ones are my most recent and in some ways my favorite. The pine cones were at the village antique mall and are Department 56, $8 for the three (made of heavy metal).

These wellies were a real find because I have rather large feet, so when I saw these fur lined men's size 11 for $3 at a garage sale I scooped them up quick. The hat was $1 at the village wearables resale.

What were your favorite finds of the year?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Contest Announcement: Treasure Hunt 2011

I have been teasing for a couple weeks now about a contest-and here it is! In 2011 I am challenging myself to buy as few new things as possible-and I am challenging you to do do the same in Green Gracious' Treasure Hunt 2011. Hopefully by now you know how buying things that have been pre-loved can help the do it for the Earth or your pocketbook, your creativity, or the love of the hunt, but please join me!

Here's how it works...

You get to rediscover your creativity and be a good steward of environmental and financial resources by treasure hunting. At the end of every month you will share your creativity, your savings, and your finds with us. For each month you participate, you receive an entry into the year-end random drawing for a fabulous treasure I have yet to discover and announce.

Contentment is a treasure in and of itself, so you don't have to buy anything new to enter. Feel free to share ways you realized you could do more with less or reuse something already in your possession. And of course, if you snag a fabulous resale deal on beautiful useful items-share them too!

I will be posting some tips and ideas as well as my top finds of 2010 in the next couple weeks and watch to link up at the end of January.

Who is with me?

Monday, December 27, 2010

What To Do With Broken Lights Reminder

As the time of year comes to dismantle the beautiful holiday decorations in your home, I wanted to quickly remind you that there is a great green solution for strands of lights which no longer twinkle. Don't forget, Holiday LEDs where you can send in old lights to be recycled and get a coupon for more energy efficient LED lights for next time!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Naughty and Nice

Well, Christmas is over and as always, with lots of lessons learned. On the naughty side, I learned that next year I want ONLY toys, games, and presents that don't require packaging, batteries, or plastic. This year proved once again, that my kids will ultimately most enjoy playing with the box and the papers. So next year I will plan ahead to make it or buy it second hand and make all of us a lot happier when the wrapping paper is all torn off.
We weren't without niceness though. The wooden train bought at a craft show from a local toy maker was a big hit. I reused boxes to take as flashcards to practice Tucker's homework in the car when we travel. I am reusing Christmas cards to make bookmarks as class gifts next year. And the traditional card games (Uno, Old Maid, Skip Bo) were a big hit that we will enjoy as a family for years to come.

What about you? Where did you end up on the naughty and nice side of things for your holidays this year? Any tips or ideas on how to reuse from this year and make next year better?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Wherever you are, however you celebrate, Happy Holidays from my family to yours!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"New" Wheels

Due to circumstances beyond my control (like being rear-ended last week), we had to replace a car this week. This was a totally unexpected, unwanted turn of events, but we tried to make the very most of it. We had planned on driving the "old" car, a 2003 Pontiac Vibe, until it would take us no further. That moment just came a little sooner than we thought.

Luckily, we had discussed what are next car would be, even when we thought it would be at least a few more years down the line. We had decided on a Mazda 5. Which brings me to why I post about this. Many people think that the best way to drive "green" is to run out and by the newest hybrid or electrical vehicle. And I am certainly not knocking that, but there are other options for those of us without the cash or compulsion to buy new, now.

Here are some things to consider when trying get the most for your money and the planet:

1. Buy used...isn't that always the way? But seriously, not only do you lose a lot of the cars value the moment you drive new off the lot-you also create another car in the grand scheme of things.
2. Get the smallest car you can. Big cars equal big gas mileage...even a hybrid SUV often can't compare to a sensible smaller car.
3. Drive it till it bites the dust (see #1).

Everyone has to do what works best for them and their family. Just try to expand your horizons a little when you are thinking about what that may be (Green Car is a very helpful resource). For us, it was going with the smallest, used "minivan" we could find. This gave us a third row option for the boys' friends as they get older, and a little more room for traveling, but gas mileage very similar to what the Vibe had.

Whatever you are driving, or are planning on driving, happy and safe travels this week!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

From Diapers to Dog Food

I have almost learned my lesson about getting rid of things. Being a clutter-phobe without a basement, I tend to relocate things as soon as I am done with them. One too many times of having this come back to bite me in the behind has taught me that if it could be useful in the future and I have the space to hang onto it, I should. Enter plastic garbage pail.

We used a pail very similar to this for our cloth diaper adventure until it was relegated to the closet. There it sat for a few months until I sat up one morning with the "ah ha" that if I put the dog food in that pail I won't have to fear a mouse bite each time I feed Precious. So the pail is in the garage and the mice are out of the dog food.

What have you hung onto just to find a way to reuse later?

Get thinking and get ready for a challenge in the new year! I am laying out the ground work for it and getting excited! I hope you will join me!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ummm...You Can Reuse That.

This is Tucker at his school holiday party I got to help with today. You might remember he recently made me proud by stating publicly that he takes responsibility for recycling. Well, he outdid himself again today.

This is him telling his lovely teacher that once she is done eating the cookies in the tin she just received, she can reuse that tin for something else. His unabashed environmentalism makes my heart sing. And he knows about the tin reuse because we recently packaged cookie exchange treats in tea tins.

How have you been reusing this holiday season? Have you received anything you plan on reusing?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snowed in Holiday Home Tour

We are snowed in today. So we are in pjs, making cookies, and having a Christmas movie marathon. I thought I would take the opportunity to also hop on the Holiday Home Tour train.

Regular readers will know that I am neither a. a photographer or b. an interior decorator. We tried to work with what we had this year and highlight the nature we live in.

We try to keep the tree simple and fun. It is a fresh cut tree from a local farm. Fresh cut trees provide oxygen and habitat for years before being cut and ours goes back into the woods to provide more habitat after New Year's. A new ornament every year for the boys (fair trade this year in the advent calendar). We picked up the garland 1/2 off the day after Christmas last year.

The garland on the stairs was a gift from my MIL and the stockings are all second-hand or gifts. A lot of the snowman stuff (including the upcycled ironing board) is from an annual craft show we attend the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Finishing up the living room, the Department 56 houses are also from my MIL and the moose scene is a piece of art from our local coffee shop, an upcycled candle jar, and a lantern I have had since high school (and neither you nor I wants to think about how many years that's been).

In the kitchen, the figurals are Harry Slatkin and Co., the light garland (is that called garland?) is 1/2 off day after Christmas too...and the birds, trees, snow, and nature, they are 100% God.

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dish Rack(et)

We have been in need of a new dish rack. Our old one has been in use for over 6 years. Between it's miniscule size and the hard water build up on the bottom, it was pretty much a goner. But when my mother-in-law brought the new and improved replacement last weekend, I couldn't quite stand to trash the old faithful.
Then I remembered a bag dryer I had been eyeing from Gaiam. I never purchased it because it really seemed quite superfluous a purchase to have a rack just for plastic baggies (even if we do use a lot of them). When I gave our old dishrack another look, I knew that I wouldn't have to trash all of it and I would have the baggie dryer I wanted. I have never been so joyful to do dishes.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Follow the Path of Good

I must share this with you. I have been fascinated for a while now by the idea that when you follow the path of good (good for you, good for others, etc...) you find along along that path more good (good for the planet, good for the animals, etc..). This piece on renowned chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill Farm, expresses that so beautifully. He articulates how when we want the best food for us in flavor, that is inherently the best food for the planet and our health. I never cease to be amazed at how something so common sense can be so magical and how far our world has strayed from the magic.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


The Winter season has arrived in Michigan. It took its time this year, with the first snow not on the ground until December 1st. Which, I suppose, is my excuse as to why I wasn't prepared with snow things for Tucker. Apparently boots, snow-pants, and winter coats don't just arrive on the doorstep with the first flakes.

After one morning of literal kicking and screaming, I cashed in some credit card rewards and ran off to Land's End to order new boots and coat. After plopping down over $74 for a new child-size coat and boots (with 40% off coupon AND free shipping), I came to my senses and went in search of a better way.

Two thrift stores later, I knew I had found it. My thrift store total for...
2 coats
2 pairs of snow-pants
1 pair of boots
= $55.

I am a lucky girl to have several consignment shops in the area. But if your life is lacking in resale, you might want to do a check of your local Good Will and Salvation Army if you haven't in a while. I was in our Salvation Army the other day and could not believe the selection. If these aren't even options, remember there are always online options like Ebay and I Like it Mama.

Happy Winter!