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Archive for the ‘Frugal choices’ Category

In continuation of yesterday’s post, I’m going to share with you some more transformations I’ve been making in our home with objects found at garage/yard sales, thrift stores, antique stores and Craigslist.

I love the look of vintage birdcages, either in their rustic metal form or painted white.  But they are sooooo expensive in the antique malls (and I’m soon finding that while great for some finds, it’s technically “retail” on everything else and if I want to get things on the cheap, it’s gonna have to be elsewhere).

So last weekend, David and I took off on our first venture together going to garage sales up in the mountains.  We mapped out 7 locations that were publicized and found several more pop-ups on the way.  We were pooped by the end, but got some excellent deals on some small items.

One of them happened to be a decorative birdcage!  But it was hideous.  Case in point.

But you can start to see the potential in this concoction of metal and wood, right?

So I cleared it out, brought it to bare bones and….wait for it…painted it of course!

Much better, don’t you think?  So I got my birdcage and it only set me back 3 bucks.

I have it on my dresser now which I’ve also restyled.  Before it was a collection of rocks (I’m a rock hound and keep interesting found rocks in every room of our house), assorted picture frames, a wood jewelery box and a candle.

Now it contains the picture frame I talked about yesterday, some vintage book I found for .50 each, a vintage camera that I plan on using for TTV (through the viewfinder) photography but makes a great lil’ prop meantime (I love double uses for things!) and that wooden box that I remade a month or two ago (it was a hideous green and red and I painted a crackle white with sage green accents).

And then remember that wreath I made last week?  Well I can’t seem to stop making cones for more wreaths, so I hung up a couple off my mirror.  The sheets are from an early 1900 book that was falling apart that even the sheets are this beautiful translucent, aged quality (the brown crimped stuffing came in a tin can I bought at a garage sale, so instead of throwing in recycling bin, I used to fill these).

Easy peasy.  And too much fun.  I’m looking at every room in our house with a new lens.

So check out this great Craigslist find:

I’ve been on the lookout for an antique seltzer bottle but most of them are over $50 so I figured I’d let that idea go!  Lo and behold, some young guy was selling a beautiful blue, barely etched seltzer bottle paired with another beautiful blue canning mason jar together for $15!!!  We looked up the seltzer bottle online and it’s selling for upwards of $80.  When I asked the guy where he found it, he said goodwill.  Oh the treasure!  (I think the treasure hunter in me is what gets so excited at all of this, but I need to take care to not go overboard less I appear on a future episode of hoarders!).

I have another fantastic, if not quirky, Craiglist find to share with you, but it requires refurbishment, so that will be saved for a future date.

So tell me, what have been your favorite finds at the thrift store, at garage sales or on Craigslist?

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Oh, I’ve been on a spending bender.  The kind that even makes me feel a little woozy.  You see, I’ve found Craigslist.  I mean, I’ve used Craigslist in the past, but now I check it daily.  Baaaad.  And I also went to about 10, yes 10, garage/yard sales last weekend.  It’s really addicting, but I’ve got to watch my budget!!

The good news is that I didn’t really break the bank.  I’ve spent about $150 worth and all of it reused/old stuff, so nothing new and I’m giving second life to items.  And I’m having FUN! (but really, I’ve got to watch it!)

Anywho…I’ve been so busy working on projects that I didn’t paint anything for my shop…more for decor and possible items to sell down the road in my goodies shop as upcycled goods.  I’ve been able to get so much purchased and so many projects worked on that this will just have to be a multi-post.

Alright, enough yappy…here are the goods and transformations:

First I found this really heavy, albeit gaudy wood frame at the antique store a couple weeks back.

And painted/distressed it:

I love how the ornate corners pop out when distressed…

This guy was painted with a $1 quart of “oops” paint at the hardware store (love that!) and then a glaze (3 parts water to 1 part brown paint – I only use about 1 tbsp. water to 1 tsp. paint) was applied over and then wiped off before drying to give it that grungy/rustic look.  It came as just the open frame and I’m going to display it open as well for that shabby chic look.

I also had this photo frame I found at the thrift store for $2.

Actually not bad at all…but nothing is safe from me and my desire to PAINT!!

You can’t really tell, but it’s a light sage green (also an oops paint find).  But, this frame came with glass, so I painted right over it with a magnetic primer followed by chalkboard paint and voila – it’s now a framed magnetic chalkboard!

But then I decided to replace this odd ceramic tray on our dresser with it and put assorted metal hardware finds on it (as well as a great pair of “XO” letterpress letters) – of course, all used and very vintage.

Tomorrow I’ll show you more of how the rest of our dresser got transformed to fit our new look.  But first, another frame!!

This one, be-still-my-heart, was given to me free when I bought a pair of antique doors last year on Craiglist (and I’ll be showing you in another week or two just how those doors are being used!).  The woman who sold me her 1907 doors asked if I would want this gorgeous gilded frame?  Um, yes please!!

As you can see, I almost forgot to show you the before!

Don’t mind my old shower curtain turned drop cloth.

More beautiful, ornate corners…

I love the large cracks in the frame…shows its age but still has lots of life left to it!

I originally wanted to use it to frame my boring corkboard and just may do that in the future; but meantime, I love the look of empty frames on a shelf/mantle/tall dresser (don’t mind the terra cotta paint, it’s going to get a re-do too!)

Phew, and I’m not even a quarter of the way done showing you everything.  That’s why my dining room table/project area looks like this…

Oy vay.  I can hear my french mother groaning 2,000 miles away at my sharing this with you all.  What’s that saying about a well kept house is a sign of a misspent life?  ;)

Come back tomorrow for more updates!

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Yesterday I talked about how the other night I made one simple change in the kitchen and it cascaded into a mini-makeover that extended into the next day.

Here are some more of the changes I made (sorry I don’t have before pics – I always forget to do it and half the time I don’t realize I’m creating blog material until after the fact!):

I changed out our utensil caddy, which was previously a mission-style (if that exists in accessories?) metal container.  Not bad by any means, but no longer a fit for the theme I was aiming for, so in the donation pile it goes.

It then occurred to me that I had a tall, metallic container that I found at the thrift store a couple months ago for a dollar or two.  It was a pretty, galvanized-steel-looking container perfect for flowers…or a utensil caddy!  So I painted it, distressed it, added a fun, french label to it and voila!

I then addressed our overflowing, catch-all shelf at the kitchen window and minimized big time.  I placed one small, rustic birdhouse in the corner with a chippy paint spigot handle…

And on the other side, I took apart a tightly wrapped up bundle of lavender I picked up fresh from a street vendor in Santa Fe a while back and lo and behold, the colors and scent were still vibrant!

And I kept one live plant on the shelf (compared to the three we once had up there) and over the stubborn UPC bar code that was hard to remove, I placed a vintage stamp.  It serves to cover up the label and also adds a neat visual touch to the mug, I think!

And if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may recall when I found this soap dispenser at the thrift store for under a dollar.  I decoupaged the faux wood finish (see here), but decided to paint over it yet again and add another french label to it.  Talk about reusing!  :)

With an old metal colander I also picked up at the thrift store months ago (which I was planning on using to creatively merchandise some goods at a craft fair, which I still have yet to summons the courage and gumption for) I decided to use it for fruit/veggies on my island, if only I painted and distressed it as well as the sharp copper finish on the outside contrasted too much!

And finally I removed the faux pine garland from the tops of the cabinets and replaced with more previously-loved goods, including my giant milk can I found on my very first trip to an antique store!

See I told you it would still be a simplistic look and probably cost me about $25 total.  Sometimes change is good! :)

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I don’t know what’s come over me, but all of a sudden, I have this crazy urge to re-decorate our house.  People may find it odd that as an artist I don’t have a distinct design style or flair in our home.  We originally set out to make it very calm, very Zen-like, very nature-inspired – in other words, very simplistic.  And it certainly served our needs.

But the more I antique shop, the more I fall in love with a certain farmhouse-meets-shabby-chic-meets-french-cottage look.  I know, that sounds like a lot, but I promise it’s still a simplistic look I have in mind -  just with a little more antique flair.  And what I love most about decorating with antiques is that it’s the most eco-friendly way to decorate.  I love to look at each piece and wonder what the history is behind it.  Who did it belong to?  How did they use it?  Where did it once reside?

We made our weekly jaunt to an antique mall earlier in the week and found a couple neat, inexpensive things, one of them this beautiful, aged and fully functional scale that I knew I wanted to incorporate into the kitchen.

One thing led to another and next thing you know, I was transforming our kitchen with an entirely new look, utilizing my “new” old scale and pulling items from other rooms, repurposing buried items and doing a decorative recycling/reusing of goods already in my home.

Today, let me show you a dirty little secret – my spice and herb racks.  They are so caked with oil (as they sit next to my stovetop range) and then dirt naturally attracts/sticks to the oil.  It’s a hot mess and one I knew I needed to tackle.

Eww.  Gross.

I originally used my label maker (I know, I’m a dork) for labeling my herbs and spices.  So utilitarian yet soooo not stylish, but it accomplished the goal.  As you can see in the pic, the labels were starting to peel up.

And then I remembered that when I last made my recycled frame chalkboard that I had used a vinyl “chalkboard” product, kind of like contact paper (uber cheap as I wanted to just try out the option in addition to using chalk paint before committing to either method).  The vinyl was easy to use, but I decided I want to stick with chalk paint for future chalkboard projects, so it occurred to me that I could use the leftover vinyl chalkboard for labeling my containers.

I punched these out using my scalloped paper punch which I have on hand for making gift tags, but you could easily cut into any shape/size.  I then wrote on them with my white gel pen (you could use chalk, though will easily wipe off or with a chalk pen as well – which I’m thinking might be similar to a gel pen?).  Any mistakes were easily wiped off with rubbing alcohol and the actual vinyl sheets were reusable/replaceable so any changes that needed to be made were effortless.

Before and After.  Funny how a little thing can make a big difference, right?

Of course I did all this after scrubbing down each bottle to remove all the gunk and overall, I couldn’t be more pleased with how this project turned out.

And while I was at it, I decided to use mason jars to store my flour, sugar and salt (instead of the metal and plastic canisters that once held them and are now in the growing Goodwill donation pile).  So of course, I had to label these the same (these I wrote in chalk to give it a different look, though I’m sure after rubbing off a couple times, I’ll quickly switch to my gel pen!).  I like their simple look and they take up less space than my previous canisters.

Of course you can use chalk paint to paint your jars (either free-hand it for a rustic look or outline your space with painter’s or masking tape for a neater, straight-edged look).

Tomorrow I’ll show you the other things I switched out in the kitchen to bring my antique-inspired look together using items already in my home and a little creativity, so come back to check it out!

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Okay, so it’s not my tutorial…but I thought on Tuesdays, I’d mix up Etsy treasuries with tutorials that I’ve tried out (and maybe even create for you – I’d like to do more of that, it’s just time is not on my side, so most of the tutorials will be ones I’m directing you to and sharing my results).

So have you seen those french-inspired paper wreaths that scream shabby chic?  I LOVE them, oh yes I do.

Like this one for example:

From SimpleJoysPaperie on Etsy

Just. Stunning.

Here’s where the beauty of the internet comes in.  I simply googled “how to make paper wreath” and came upon a variety of blogs showcasing exactly how to do it.  I’m kinda wishing I went for a center piece like the above picture, but decided that for my first time, I’d follow a simple tutorial, like the one that that Michele graciously shares on her blog Primp (and she is fantastic at demonstrating each individual step with photos).  Overall, I’m pleased with the results of my open wreath…

…albeit shocked at the size of this monster.  It’s about 3 feet wide (I’m not kidding you!).  It doesn’t help that I used large music sheets from an out-of-circulation library book of nursery rhymes from around the world that I found at the used bookstore which when wrapped measured 16 inches long each! (the average size of most entire wreaths of this kind, so go with small pages if you want a normal sized wreath).

But it just so happens that we’ve had this 8 foot or so wide, empty space over our stairs that desperately needed some decoration, so I luckily had a space for a behemoth of a wreath!

Next time I’ll think I’ll make one with the tiny vintage french book I have and perhaps I’ll add a fun centerpiece to it now that I have the hang of it (it was ridiculously easy once I got the hang of shaping the cones; all in all, it took me about 90 minutes to make) .

Overall, this was an easy (and addictive) craft project and provided great results (and it helps that I had everything on hand, save for the foam wreath which I had to think outside of the box for…was a lil’ tricky but still worked and didn’t cost me a thing!).

If this is your kind of thing and you’ve got some paper you’re willing to part with, check out the above tutorial or google for one that catches your fancy.  Happy crafting! ;)

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Alright, I admit, we don’t have it that bad here.  Being up in the mountains practically guarantees that it will be 15-20 degrees cooler than down in Denver, which can easily reach 100+ in the summer.  So the hottest it typically gets here is about 90.  And true it is a dry heat – not that awful humidity that we’re used to on the East Coast (where it’s not unusual to find it 98 degrees with 98% humidity.  Bleh.)  *and I realize that it’s REALLY hot, like record-breaking hot, in some places right now, so 90 sounds like nuttin’ but keep in mind that we are blissfully happy when it’s snowing and zero degrees out, so hot weather is something we are not fond of in general*

We purchased a vinyl shade to pull down in front of our bamboo roman shades on our 5+ foot picture window which has reduced the sun/heat coming in dramatically

But 90 is still hot, especially since our house sits on the side of the mountain facing Southwest.  Perfect for passive solar heating in the winter, brutal in the summer.  And since we face a mountain range, we had to have tons of windows to capture the view (which is once again, brutal in the summer).  Logs typically are excellent insulators; windows as we all know are not.

We don’t have air conditioning nor an evaporative cooler (which is popular in these parts) so we have to come up with clever ways to keep cool when it gets hots up in thes parts.

In the a.m. we fling open all doors and windows upstairs to capture all the cool air (I don’t keep the balcony/deck doors open overnight because of the bear that likes to climb up our log posts onto our deck; if you missed that fun story, click here to read about the bear visit last summer).  As such, it can get a little toasty in the evening, so morning is our chance to let in all the cool air.

Then around 10 a.m. the sun is really coming up over the ridge and shining down so we close it all down.  Those white, vinyl light-blocking shades (I know, materials not so eco) do a fantastic job of blocking the sun and heat.

Every window, every door.  Every shade goes down and we even hang sheets over our french doors to add another layer of insulation.  (It really does help).

We grill outside or use the crock pot often to keep the temp. inside the house as cool as possible.

You can see the difference it makes.  Hey, 7 degrees is 7 degrees!

We are lucky to have a sanctuary downstairs where our sunken-in space remains 10-20 degrees cooler than upstairs (great in the summer, but consequently really frigid come winter).  I work in my studio during the daytime which keeps me cool and on really hot days where it’s 80+ upstairs, we’ll take our dinner downstairs where we plop on our guest bed and watch TV in our cool, dark room.

Ahhh, 72 is MUCH better!!

And when we return upstairs, we crank up the fans which really help us stay cool.

So that’s what we do to fight the heat; what ideas do you have on eco-friendly ways to keep cool?  Please share!

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I’m a big fat nerd when I travel.  The very thing that used to make me roll my eyes at my mom as a kid is what I do now.  I pack all my food when I travel.  My mom’s primary motivation was monetary (and that’s definitely part of the picture for me as I hate spending $20+ at the airport just on a bottle of water, a sandwich and a snack, I mean really?!??) but I am also strongly motivated by the environment and the disposable nature of airport dining.

So I always pack a snack bag and I make no apologies about it.  Moms do it all the time for their kids, so why don’t we do it for ourselves?  I’ve learned over the years that being environmentally conscious and/or frugal requires planning.  No instant gratification here.  But it really doesn’t take that much time and with some smart choices, you’ll be spending a LOT less and also using less resources.

Oftentimes people believe that strict TSA requirements = no food.  That’s not the case at all.  Sure, you can’t bring liquids totalling more than 3 ounces, but you can bring your own sandwiches, snacks, fruit, even fruit salad like I did.

On this trip I packed a PB sandwich (wrapped in a reusable sandwich wrap, like the ones you can find here), a fruit salad in a glass Pyrex bowl, slices of cheese, an apple and an oat bar.

I always bring my water bottle and fill it up at the water fountain once I pass security:

I bring my reusable coffee mug and stop by the coffee shop (iced coffee on this warm day):

I even bring my cloth napkin!  And sure, it may cause some to raise eyebrows, but frankly, I don’t really care (and actually was paid a compliment by my airplane neighbor!).

One thing I did roll the dice on (and lost unfortunately) was my choice of sandwich.  Because we didn’t have a lot of options in the house, I went with peanut butter, but soon learned we were on a peanut free flight due to an allergy (and last thing I want to do is cause a mid-flight emergency for someone!) so I wasn’t able to enjoy my sandwich until after I landed; luckily I brought enough goodies to hold me over otherwise.

So next time you’re preparing for a flight, why not do a little prep and planning and pack yourself a snack pack?  It may not seem like a big eco-step, but like I always say…every little step counts and the cumulative effects of a bunch of people taking little steps can make a huge difference!

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Sorry I’ve been MIA the past couple days.  Some time sensitive inquiries came in, including a FORCE fundraising order, so I was pretty much tied up the past few days and too pooped to blog.  And, even too busy to paint this week, hence no Whimsical Wednesday post.

But I still have some updates and/or random thoughts to share, so here we go.

First, in the spirit of “freecycling” I went through my stash of items that I rescued from the recycling bin (and thought I would use but never did) and offered ‘em up for free to fellow crafters/artisans.

Things like coffee bags:

Coffee bags you might be wondering?  Why was I saving those?  Well, I used to make some pretty unique gift bows with them…

But they were quite time intensive and there’s not really a rush on metallic eco-friendly bows made from coffee bags, if ya know what I mean.  And being that we’re hard core caffeine addicts and go through a bag a week, I had amassed many more than I could ever create with.

And so I went on the hunt and found an Etsy seller who makes cool tote bags and purses with coffee bags and she gladly accepted them!  She got some supplies to make her goods and I got a good conscience sending these off to someone who will make use of them in lieu of sending them off to the trash.

Click on the image to go to the shop of "Green Designs by Lisa"

And while I was at it, I also had some manilla folder/holders that once held atlas maps…and a keyboard…and random odds and ends…all able to find homes from fellow eco-crafters that could use them in their work.  I love it when that happens.

I also went through some tools and supplies that I wasn’t willing to part with for free, so I threw them up in my supplies shop on clearance (like paper punches and rubber stamps) and was able to unload quite a bit in the first 24 hours.  It feels good to continue the recycle/reuse phase with other folks.  They get a deal, I make a little cash back instead of having it sit motionless in my house for months or years and nothing new has to be made.  (If you’re interested in seeing what else I have on clearance or “destash” as we call it, click here or the image below)

It’s always good to regularly cull through your home and get rid of the things that you don’t use and that don’t bring you happiness.  The more you release and declutter, the more space you create for good things (not necessarily material) to come in to your space…

*****

So now here’s an interesting observation.  A grocery egg from a local, farm-raised egg – can you tell which is which?

The lady that I buy my eggs from doesn’t have enough to sell me the amount needed to satiate our needs (as well as the rest of the community clamoring for them), so we have to buy regular, free-range eggs at the store to complement those that we get from her on occasion.  What a difference.  Not only by the size and color, but the taste.  It behooves you to find a local egg supplier…you can find backyard chickens and egg suppliers even in urban dwellings so I urge you to look into it!

*****

Even though the fires in Arizona are a far distance from us, we were not without its effects.

Don’t laugh at my dusty, unused garden bed…me and high-altitude gardening (blistering sun during the day and freezing cold at night) aren’t the best of friends.  We’re not even on speaking terms, but that’s another matter.

This shot was taken earlier in the week.  Usually you can see about 6 levels of mountains from our deck.  Here you can see only 2 and it smelled so strong of smoke, you’d swear it was only a couple miles away.  So for about 3 days, the house had to stay sealed up and the dogs smelled like firefighters by the time they came back in after a 2 minute potty break, it was that strong.  That fire is really out of control and makes my wildfire-country-mountain-living sensitive soul a little sad.

But, as they say…

Luckily, the haze is heading out, the smell of smoke gone and the weather is a lovely sunny, breezy 75 degrees and this was my office yesterday:

I know, doesn’t suck.  Being able to sit out on the deck without freezing (or burning with this high-altitude sun) reminds me of why I love this time of year.  And why I love where we live (though I’m often scheming up the next place we’ll live and wondering if we’ll ever be able to sell this house in the current market).  I have no room to complain and I think that now that I’m over the cabin fever, I’m reminded of why we do love it up here.  It’s not always convenient, but it sure is pretty and relaxing.

And look!  Our too-close-to-the-house-aspens are in full bloom.

If you’re a gardening/landscaping snob, you better stop reading now, because I’m about to present to you our not-so-maintained-nor-pretty front yard.

But first a disclaimer.

We live in drought stricken mountains people…we’re not even supposed to have a garden hose/spigot attached to the house.  There is no watering of lawns or car washing really allowed (though we don’t have an HOA, there is just not enough water to do so up here!) so please shelve your suburban, manicured-lawn expectations before reading on, m’kay?

This is looking out our front door in the morning where we get some beautiful sunlight.  As you can see, our house is lower than our driveway and those steps…oh those damn steps.  In past years, we’ve weeded, we’ve wacked, we’ve ignored altogether.  But this week, we plan on trying out an eco-friendly DIY weed repellant we read about that uses tons of salt and vinegar.  Friendly to the earth, not so much on weeds (or anything green for that matter).  We’ll be sure to let you know how it goes and if it is a worthy eco-friendly solution.

This is the side of our house…covered in tumbleweeds.  The wind is so bad up here that tumbleweeds greet us at the door daily from winter to early spring and they eventually settle down right up against the house.  Time to pull ‘em out.  I hate them things!

This is our front yard.  When we first bought this place, it was a house on dirt.  The builder didn’t leave the requisite trees intact that we requested for privacy and he certainly didn’t include any landscaping in the deal.  Heck, he didn’t even clean up, so the first summer here we spent the entire time cleaning up pieces of 2×4′s, rusty nails and assorted home-building odds and ends.  Because erosion is such an issue here, we knew we’d need to throw some sort of seed down, so we spread a native mountain grass that would adapt to this unique climate as well as not require watering.  But it also grows wild…so trying to keep it from growing where we don’t want it to grow is a futile effort.

Even Zoe gets lost on what is supposed to be a passable trail around the front and side of the house.

Oh, we have work to do.  That’s one downside of home ownership…all the endless work that needs to be done.  Oy vay.  But we have a home and for that I’m grateful.  And I like to think that the au natural look lends to our eco-homestead, no?

So that’s what’s shaking up in our neck of the woods…trying not to sweat it too much.  There are far too many more important (and fun!) things to be expending our energy on, right? ;)

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Over a year ago, I wrote a post about how I discovered how to make my own eco-friendly laundry detergent on the cheap.  The 5 gallon bucket, which cost less than $5 to make lasted us almost 6 months.

Best.  DIY Invention.  Ever.

Today I had to make another batch as we were out, so I though to include pics and the recipe again for those of you who may have missed it the first time around.  It takes no more than 10-15 minutes to make and once you do make it and use it, you’ll never want to buy laundry detergent again.  Seriously.

What you need:

  • 1/4 c. borax (a natural mineral)
  • 1/2 c. washing soda (a close cousin of baking soda)
  • 1/2 bar of unscented castile soap
  • natural essential oils (or if you prefer, you can use a scented bar of castile soap in lieu of essential oils)
  • hot water

The borax and washing soda can easily be found in the laundry aisle of a conventional grocery store; the castile can be found in health food stores or some “natural” sections of a conventional grocery store.

How-to:

  1. Shred/grate down 1/2 of the bar of soap and melt in a pan with 4 c. of water over medium-low heat until completely dissolved (about 5 minutes)
  2. Fill 1/2 of a 5 gallon bucket with hot tap water and add the washing soda and borax and mix well
  3. Add the melted soap mixture to the bucket, mix again, cover and let sit overnight
  4. The next day the mixture will be somewhat gelatinous; mix again and add room temperature water to fill to the top of the bucket, add any essential oils (about 20-40 drops, to desired scent); mix well again (the mixture will be more watery now, but that’s okay – and it will also cause less build-up in your washer too!)
  5. You can either use straight from the bucket or pour into old, clean laundry containers
  6. Use 1/2 c. liquid for each load in a top-loading machines; 1/8 c. for front-loading machines

I don’t have pictures of the end product as I am making it today and it needs to sit overnight before more water is added but there’s not much to it.

See, wasn’t that easy?

Challenge yourself to DIY more and tread lighter on the environment!  Every little step in the right direction counts. xo

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That first week after vacation is always tricky, getting back into the swing of things.  And while I did a good job of lining up posts during my vacation, I’ve been playing catch up this entire week.  Not to mention that the fundraising campaign I’m working on with FORCE yielded 3 decent sized orders that I’ve been cranking out, seemingly non-stop.  It’s all for a good cause I remind myself.

Anyhow, I didn’t have anything to update you on yesterday for a Friday shop update and Saturdays are usually good for sharing what’s going on in the family.  So here’s our week told in photos…

Someone had an upset tummy and let’s just say, she made a mess of herself and needed a bath.  She shivers pretty bad after a bath, yet won’t let us near her with a hair dryer, so we just wrap her up like yoda…part old/frail, part sad and pathetic looking – all hilariously cute in my book.  But I’m her mama…of course I’m gonna think that!


And someone’s arthritis has really increased so we went to pick up her meds at the vet’s office…to the tune of $200 (say what?!).  That’s alright; this sweet girl is worth every cent.

Mmm...treats!

Zoe is Zoe, in need of Ritalin one moment and all sorts of sweet, cuddly squishiness the next.

She is the pain in our arse and the one that makes us laugh the most.  Can’t imagine our family without her.

This is the stash of books I loaned from the library and brought to the cabin last week.  Every once in a while we’ll pick a book to read out-loud to one another.  Some may think it corny, but it’s a bonding experience, we enjoy sharing a book together and it forces us to turn off the TV at night and spend time together.

The book we started reading to each other last week, The Bucolic Plague, is a memoir about the Beekman Boys (now a reality TV show on Planet Green) who as a Manhattan couple fall in love with the “bucolic” idea of a farm in upstate New York but soon learn that trying to run a farm on the weekends while maintaining full-time jobs in NYC nearly breaks them.  It’s a great read, lighthearted but touching and tugs on my someday-want-a-hobby-farm heartstrings.

Since returning, we’re also favoring games and quiet time with music on instead of the TV on at night…trying to maintain our own bucolic bliss of being at the quiet cabin at RMNP.

And get this…we actually got some rain this week!  I know many of you (my entire family in New England in fact) are bemoaning the rain as it has been coming down for far too long.  But up here, we maybe get one or two full-on rainy days a YEAR.  I used to hate the rain living on the East Coast, now I love its arrival because of its rarity.  The rain that does show up here typically arrives in brief showers then quickly surrenders to the Colorado sun.  Great for seasonal affective disorder, not so great for drought conditions.

Speaking of drought, our well ran dry 3 times right before we left for our vacation.  Talk about no bueno.  When the last spell lasted more than 2 days, we knew that we probably had a pump issue and sure enough we did.  Our yahoo builder (and yahoo intended as “moron” not as in celebratory yahoo) did not install a shut-off system with our pump so when the well went dry, the motor kept going.  And finally it burned out.  And to the tune of $2K.  Ouch.  Lots of folks are asking why so much…well the pump itself was only about $1K but with the shut-off mechanism that we did have them install on top of the many hours of labor that it takes to remove 600+ feet of pipes to get to our very deep well…and you quickly add-on another thousand. *sigh*  Home ownership is starting to weigh heavy on us.

And the rain eventually turned to more snow!  We’ll take it!

Oh and speaking of home ownership…nothing like getting served legal papers by a neighbor you don’t even know!  You know you’re in for no good when you get a big packet in the mail with the return address being a double last name like Hoosier and Hoosier (no, that’s not their name…sheesh, all I need is a claim of defamation now!).

We were suspicious of them when they moved in and installed 6+ foot fences around their entire property, added 4 100+ lb angry, salivating, viciously barking dogs, blocked all the windows with blinds always turned down or aluminum foil so you can’t see in at all and double padlocked the fences surrounding their house.  Quite a switch from the sunny disposition of the young Hawaiian family that once lived there.

Thing about legal documents is the legal-ease contained within.  You find yourself reading it over a dozen times and still don’t quite understand the claim.  Good news is that we’re not being singled out, but everyone on our entire road is named and it affects passage on our road (which has no outlet so we have to pass this neighbor to get to our house).  Should be interesting indeed.

On a totally different topic, I did a fridge clean-out which usually isn’t newsworthy, but because I hate food waste, I really try challenge myself to use up food in unique ways before it goes south.  Here’s what I was able to accomplish in a four-hour cooking marathon:

  • With the leftover bones/skin of the small roaster I cooked earlier in the week, I added a couple of bags of frozen veggie skins and cooked up a big ol’ pot of chicken broth
  • With the softening watermelon/cantaloupe that was no longer interesting to eat, I chopped up in cubes and froze to add flavor and thickness/frothiness to fruit smoothies down the road

  • With the wilting spinach I had in my veggie drawer, I made a quiche
  • With the browning mushrooms I bought in bulk during a great sale a couple weeks back, I made another quiche and a marsala sauce to go with chicken

  • With a head of cauliflower that was starting to spot, I trimmed the edges and roasted it with olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground pepper…wow,  yum!
  • And finally with the leftover pastrami we had that was getting a bit past due what I was comfortable eating, I added it to ground meat that I top the dog’s kibble with (they all seemed to enjoy that!)

The only thing I had to toss from the fridge was a small container of leftover chili that I just didn’t get to in time.  Overall, it was looking like a lot more was going to get tossed, so I was happy to save the rest and reincarnate them into new recipes.

Oh and look at that lovely bouquet of flowers.  I love fresh cut flowers, but they don’t fit into our budget so I rarely splurge on them.  And though David is plenty romantic, he’s not one to bring home flowers…unless he’s begging for forgiveness trying to win me over.  We had an um…”disagreement” about my business and my feelings were hurt.  Marriages are not perfect (although ours is pretty darn close) and even us lovebirds have our moments.  But all is good in the household and he no longer is in the dog house allowed me to share this story.  Love you honey!  Mean it!

Life, like this past week, ebbs and flows and it’s all a matter of balance and taking things in stride.  Hope your week is in balance as well ;)

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