Posts Tagged ‘hand-me-downs’

Simple Pleasures

I was out in my garden this morning, rueing the fact that I had avoided weeding the watermelons for so long that the crab grass and other weeds that surround my garden had made that patch almost indistinguishable from my lawn.  It was the fact that the weeds were so dense they were hard to pull that bothered me, but at the same time, I found peace in weeding.  It’s a methodical, deliberate task, done in a quiet, uncluttered space.

I’ve mentioned my quest on this blog before – I want to live with purpose.  I may not end up famous, or rich, or popular, but I want to be content because I’ve chosen a path and lived it well.

This past year I was thrown for a loop.  I was going along well when all of a sudden we had three children.  And that third one was a big deal, because suddenly everything was different, harder.  Going from one to two was, for some reason, infinitely easier.

I found out later that it was, perhaps, the fact I was diagnosed with chronic major depression years ago and never did anything about it, coupled with post partum depression after Baby Girl was born.  My life was literally spinning out of control, and at the same time, Wee Essentials was growing with a lot of speed.

Fast forward to now, and I’m on medication and feeling better than I have since I was a young teenager.  I’ve created systems and routines and worked with my husband to schedule time for everything that has to be done.  It may sound like I’ve regimented my life, but what I’ve done is relearned how to live with purpose.

One of the major things that has helped has been a book called “Sink Reflections.” Many people know the author as the “FLYlady.”  I’ve learned a lot from her, but I think one of the most important things I’ve learned is that when your house is cluttered, your life is cluttered.  Your mind is cluttered.  And your spirit is cluttered.

We don’t have a cluttered house.  You wouldn’t call the TV show “Hoarders” to come help us.  But when I decided that if it’s not useful and if I don’t love it, it needs to go, more peace settled on my house.  I’m not done yet, but my spirit is lighter because my physical burden is lighter.


My challenge to you is to find 20 things in your house that you can do without, and throw or give them away.  Don’t save them for a yard sale, don’t think about freecycling them.  Just stick them in a box and then put them in the car.  Go to the Goodwill or the Salvation Army the next time you run errands.  Remember, if you are saving them “just in case” it’s likely you won’t use them.  Don’t be selfish and hang onto items other people could use!  (Trust me, I know personally how easy that one is.)  Good luck, and go!


Be Resourceful – Use What You Find!

Last winter, we were facing another cold season of high heating bills and increasing food costs, we got creative with what was available to us.  You can do the same by keeping your eyes and ears open!  By using under- or unutilized resources, you can save money while using nothing that isn’t readily available, decreasing strain on resources.
Our church here in NE Ohio bought a piece of property several years ago and has left it undeveloped.  We found out that the property had an apple tree that wasn’t being harvested.  With the elders’ permission, we went and picked – and picked up – three large buckets of apples.



Plus, G, who was 2-and-a-half at the time, loved eating them!

G eating our apples

G eating our apples

We didn’t stop there – with heating oil prices so high, we looked for cheaper ways to heat.  Now, I’ll admit  – our first goal was to keep decently warm.  However, we found that heating with locally and sustainably harvested wood was ecologically about the same as oil – which I’ll go into on a later post.  To keep warm, we searched out locals who had cut down trees on their property for other reasons than selling the wood, but who were selling the wood as a residual effect.  If we couldn’t find anyone in this situation (and with seasoned wood) we bought from local businesses who obtained their wood the same way, but were a little better at it than us!

Of course, there are lots of other resources – dumpsters (check your local codes for the legality of dumpster diving in your area), your community groups – churches, legions, freecycle, and guilds, and finally, your friends and family!

“Are You Green?”

That’s the question ModernMotive is asking Etsy sellers (and others) on her blog in the next couple weeks.  From people like me, who look for ways to skip disposable products to people who use only recycled materials to handcraft their wares, it should be interesting to see what creative ways people are helping conserve resources and lessen their impact on the earth.  Be sure to check it out and subscribe to her blog!
Speaking of being green, I thought I’d mention some things my household does that lessens our environmental impact.  And the wonderful thing is, not only are they “green” things to do, but they are financially friendly!  (We’re all feeling the squeeze right now!)  Of course, there are many common and obvious things we do, but I’d like to touch on some that may be new to some people:

~ we use cloth towels instead of paper towels.  More and more you hear the phrase “unpaper towels,” which is basically what we are using.  It does make you think, however, as to where we’ve gotten as a society when towels have become either “paper” or “unpaper,” doesn’t it?  However, paper towels are, to me, so passe, when I realized that it would cost me almost $16 at Sam’s Club for 12 rolls.  Ugh.

I’ve linked to the cloth towels I sell (they also make great burp rags – I’ve used them since day 1 for that) but you can make your own – scour garage sales, clearance after holidays, and thrift stores for any little kitchen towels on the cheap.  I get a lot of mine from my Mother-in-Law, who teaches third grade and can only use so many Santa-embellished dish towels.

~ I use cloth nursing pads, cloth pantyliners, and cloth menstrual pads. Sounds gross?  Well, it is.  But no grosser than using the paper pads.  Since when is our cycle a pretty thing?

Just throw them in the washer and you are done.  Benefits include not paying $8 or more for disposables every month, lighter, less painful periods, fewer infections, and being more comfortable in general.  Another great thing is that they can be made to fit your body.  Every pad designer makes them slightly different, and you can find the brand that’s best for you.  And they are often completely customizable!  So you can buy them or make your own – patterns abound on the internet.

~ And then, since this post is getting long, one more thing: We reuse, reuse, reuse, and then recycle.  (Or the other way around.)  Much of what we own is not new.  Our dining room table is not the one I would have picked out, but it is beautiful and an heirloom.  Contrary to the impression I get from many home decorating magazines (even “green” ones), my house doesn’t have to match perfectly.  There is something about being surrounded by things that you love – things that have a history.  The dining room table belonged originally to my great-aunt’s in-laws and was brought from California to North Carolina and now to Ohio.  The side table in the living room was something I picked out (and haggled for) at an antique shop in Stillwater, Minnesota shortly after I was married.  The memories are precious.  My mom’s Good Housekeeping cookbook sits on the shelf in the kitchen, and it’s rare for me to pick up any other book (not to mention it tells you how to cook things from scratch – another good “green” tip.)

When we are done with something, I try to think if it can serve any other useful purpose for us.  If not, and it’s still good, or if I won’t get around to doing anything with it soon, we give it away.  We get a lot of our things from other people who have gotten their use out of the item.  It’s a great way to reduce packaging, money flow, and trash!

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