Monthly Archives: June 2015

Garage Sale Treasures


I’m so excited. I mentioned the other day that I was going to go yard sale hopping with my dad, and boy did I ever come home with a treasure trove of goodies!!  I spent $35 total and found… 3 large glass carboys to be resold for wedding décor, 2 smaller carboys (large jars with narrow openings), some bike training wheels that will work amazing as further support for our double wide chain link gates, a hose holder, a new can opener (you can only imagine how mad I get when my old can opener stops working, half way around the can!), two little pairs of rubber boots and a handful of books for Junior, all of which are classics that I grew up with. The other few finds deserve their own little blurb.

Since the garden dream is soon to become a reality, I’m starting to think of what tools I will need to find to make my life easier. I’m a tall curvy woman, so spending hours and hours on my knees pulling weeds and back breaking sections of time tilling soil are not times I am looking forward to. I don’t know what the proper names of most tools are, but I know I wanted a narrow rake type tool on the end of a long handle. It was on my birthday wish list.

But there it was, at a garage sale in the big city. A rake type tool on the end of a long pole. I tried to look up what it was called, but couldn’t find anything. It looks like a mini version of a piece of farm equipment, made to till and turn up the soil. It’s rusted and the handle is well worn and smooth. I paid $5 for it.

My second find was a steal of a deal and I really felt like yelling “Start the car!! Start the car!!!” to my dad as we carried it back, nonchalantly to his packed van. A dust covered, spider web filled early era Underwood type writer, also for the new low price of $5. Now my little business is all about weddings, and trendy brides scour antique shops for just such a prize. It doesn’t have to work, it just has to look pretty, and add to the atmosphere of their big wedding day. I knew I could find a bride who wanted a vintage wedding. Picture this old type writer sitting on a guest signing table as an inspiration to those leaving notes for the happy couple. Within an hour of being home, and between reading Junior some of his new books, I had the little type writer cleaned up. The mud came off the keys to reveal vintage font, and a pinecone emerged from the inside, a left over from a squirrel’s cache. Missing two little legs, and the front ruler being damaged only made this little piece even more darling. I posted pictures and a very flowery description of it on the wedding selling site I’m part of and within minutes it was snatched up to the tune of $60. A nice little profit that I can put towards todays Father’s Day dinner of Chinese food. Yes, normally, the money would be spent on bills, but I wasn’t able to splurge on Hubby this year, and I know how much he would enjoy a meal like this!

My dad was well-behaved and quite reserved with his shopping. He came out with a new pair of wiper blades, a wine rack and some placemats. A good day with dad, and a perfect father’s day!



Ask and you may receive

So with one income, it can be hard to get things done, finish projects or even splurge. We really need to prioritize where our money goes. I’m trying to find a way to still feel human out here with no guaranteed income. I’ve had to become quite resourceful. You’ve read before about how many people out here have embraced the art of bartering, and we’ve taken that one step further and have learned to ask for help, and even for items for free.

For example, since the shed has arrived I placed an ad on a local social media site asking for a list of items that people might have kicking around that might help us finish the shed and the projects surrounding it. The list varied from things we NEED to things that we WANT. There is no harm in asking. I also noted that we were on a budget and free would be awesome, but if not, to let me know their price.

Here is the list: 20’ of eaves trough, a single kitchen sink, a single step or wood to make one, can of exterior paint.

Within a day I had responses from locals who had some items laying around, so for FREE, I am able to pick up my kitchen sink, which I intend to make an outdoor potting bench with a sink to wash my hands (using rain water), and a set of old deck stairs that we can cut down to fit the smaller man door on the shed. Those people who contacted me asked for no money, and were genuinely happy to help, so if you go this route, you must then be genuinely happy to receive and of course appreciative. I’m planning on bringing them a coffee when I come to collect the items.

Another example of our thrifty ways out here is to borrow. From the lawn roller we borrowed from a co-worker, to the atv and trailer the neighbours let us use for the day.  The key is to return these items promptly, and in great condition. This reminds me to make some bread for the farmers as thanks.

Hubby and I have a wedding to attend in a few weeks and I’ve found that I still have quite the tummy (no excuses), so all my outfits made me feel quite slobbish. I had to be a bit creative so I went with two basics from my closet that I wouldn’t normally wear together, a black dress and a red blazer. Hmmm, now the hard part, I needed a piece of jewelry to make the outfit pop, but nothing I had matched. I couldn’t rationalize buying a new piece, since a nice statement necklace can run up to $25, I had to become even more creative. So I asked.

Back to the local social media site, I asked to borrow a statement necklace, and within the hour I had a young lady who lived close, driving over to lend me a selection of her necklaces. I genuinely thanked her and she brushed it off. It seems to be the way of the country. I don’t even know where she lives, but I have her necklaces in hand for the next few weeks and she isn’t the slightest worried I’ll run away with them.

Now, not all the items we get are free or borrowed, and we do spend on things we want and need, but we try to be reasonable. For example, for the shed, I wanted a gardening bench to go inside, for potting and for extra storage. No worries, I didn’t buy new. But locally I found someone selling an old bar which would have worked perfectly. I made an offer, but the seller asked for $10 more and I would need to pick it up, which is no small fee with the absence of a trailer.  Sigh, I really wanted it but would need to pass. A few days later I received a message from someone who had bought the bar for themselves. Upon getting it home they found their spouse quite disgusted by the purchase. They wanted to know if I still wanted the bar, as he would sell it to me for $30. I of course said yes, but told them I could not pick it up. No problem. They would deliver it for free. Later that night a young man pulled up with his pick up truck and he even drove it back to the shed to unload it. I offered him a few nice items we had left over from our garage sale a few weeks ago, a huge new candle and a beautiful carved candle holder. The items would have been dropped off at a thrift store anyways, so I offered them as a peace offering to his wife. He gladly accepted my “payment” for delivery.  Now I have an amazing storage unit for all my gardening supplies.

And don’t think I’m just a “taker”. I always thank the lender, giver, or seller with my thanks, a coffee, items I might be able to barter or services such as babysitting. From split hostas for someone’s garden, to a few hours of watching someone’s kids, I also provide for others, it’s what the community is built on.

Father’s Day

I smell a skunk. Seriously? We just got the shed and it seems a little bugger has been sniffing around the base of it. I’ve contacted another neighbour/friend for some chicken wire!

It’s Father’s day this weekend, and there are many dads to celebrate with. For my own dad, we’re spending some daddy daughter time picking through junk. Yup, we’re going yard sale hunting! I’ve saved up some crumpled bills and we’ll chart our course (seriously we will have a map of garage sales), coffees in hand (since it will be 7am) and try to find some awesome treasures in the suburbs around his house. My little sister will watch Junior while we’re out hunting. My dad and I are serious deal finders, thrifters, and treasure seekers. We may not have the money to buy all of the cool things we find, nor the places to store them, but we certainly try the best we can. My dad likes to search for tools and parts, and he always seems to have at least 4 of everything, which is a running joke in the family. Myself, I search for things I can resell in my business like metal buckets, or wooden ladders, and I now definitely need to find some storage for the garage and shed and some gardening supplies.  Oh and I have another kitchen storage issue I want to fix…I’ll save that for another blog though!

For Hubby I made some Father’s Day crafts with Junior which I can’t disclose til after the weekend in case Hubby plans to read my blog before he opens his gift, and we’ll spend the day making a ramp for the shed and perhaps for supper, if I haven’t spent all my crumpled bills on yard sales, we’ll splurge on Hubby’s fav, Chinese food.

Holidays like this don’t need expensive gifts to please the ones you love. Just simply give them a call, spend time with them or make a craft that they will appreciate.

The Shed


Well it’s here. The shed has arrived! The day started off with waiting for Grandma to come by to watch Junior. Hubby and I are pretty efficient, but I wanted to be hands on today (aka make sure no one got hurt and nothing got broken), so an extra set of hands was superb. When Grandma arrived I put her to work chasing Junior around the yard. The day had started off muggy and overcast, then it suddenly turned muggy and full sun, which if you are wondering, is NOT a great forecast for my ginger skin. Yup, I’m a red head and I am very forgetful to put on sunscreen. No worries, I always remember to slather Junior with some, but when it comes to myself, nope. Grandma has a hard time with hot temps as well, so Hubby filled the little pool and soon Grandma was enjoying the splashings of Junior as he ran in circles in the 6 inch deep water.

A few days ago we received a shipment of gravel to make the bed for the shed. Hubby and I then proceeded to argue over everything from how to move it all the way to the back of the property, to how thick the base should be. The hot weather and the strenuous work did not lighten our moods. Only when our farmer neighbour knocked on our door to say we could borrow their atv and trailer did Hubby buck up (I might also add that Hubby is stubborn and refused to ask for help, it was I who contacted the neighbours to see what our options were). Moving a load of gravel by wheelbarrow is a painful process. (Originally the driver was supposed to drive to the back and dump it in place, but as per our luck, it had rained for several days and the driver , with good cause, refused to tear up our lawn). Once Hubby sat upon the atv (he loves them) his mood improved and we made several loads to create a big base for the shed to come. Remind me later a pie or fresh loaf of bread is in order as thanks for the atv.

So back to yesterday, with Junior splashing in his pool, Grandma sweltering under the shade of our only tree, and Hubby and I becoming puddles as we raked our driveway, laid gravel on pathways and cleaned up the garage, the shed, in all its glory arrived.

Hubby and I have been fighting a lot lately and stress always makes it worse. So another of our “debates” has been if the shed will actually fit through our double gate.  Hubby refused to measure the opening and kept brushing off others’ concerns saying the opening was 12-16’ wide. In serious doubt, I would counter with 10-12’, and not knowing how wide the trailer would be that the shed was on was making us very on edge. We both called the local shed shop, with no call back. The shed would be 10’ but how much space did it need? So since Hubby refused to measure, I ran out and took a wobbly measuring tape to the opening. At the base was 10’. Phew (as long as the trailer was less). We would be okay. The next day, Hubby went out, and for some reason he was coming up with 9’6”. Hmm. It took some debate but we figured out that neither of us were idiots. I had measured the base of the opening and he had measured the top where the poles angled in slightly. We figured that we could pull the poles wider at the top if need be.

So did it fit? One would say it fit like a 300lbs lady putting on nylon stockings.  We pushed, pried, bent, and shoved that shed through our fence opening. The fence was partially dismantled (but later fixed with the help of the shed guys) and the poles had to be bent and pulled out of the way. But it made it. Within minutes of pushing through the gates the guys had the shed in place, levelled and out they squeezed back through the gates. We later measured the shed and its 10’6” and nearly a foot longer than we expected. No complaining here!

Hubby and I made many trips, dragging rakes, shovels, shelving units and toboggans to their new home and within an hour we had it set up as much as we could. We still need to make a ramp in order to get the mower in, but there is still plenty of room. Hubby has given me the go ahead to search for a garden bench to put in there and now we can get the ball rolling on the garden fence. Oh and we need to add some chicken wire on the bottom to keep the cats, skunks, and coons out from under it. All in good time!

Our shed is coming!

We’re like kids before Christmas. The anticipation is killing us, as the shed is due to arrive this week! We have some gravel coming over the weekend in preparation for our new little building, so it has a nice bed to rest on and the list of things that we want to transfer from the garage to the shed is growing (sadly).

I’m not sure if it’s living out in the country or just our luck (someone knock on wood for me please), but just like the chain link fence, the business we purchased our shed from seems to not care that we have only put the down payment on it. We plan on paying very hefty payments over the next few months which is almost too good to be true, but here it comes. We chose a local company (stay local!) to design, build and deliver our shed to us. We shook hands, handed over a small wad of crumpled cash (okay, it was an email money transfer, but that just doesn’t have the same romantic vibe to it), and now here we are, planning and prepping for an outbuilding of our own.

When searching for our dream home, I imagined coming across a few houses with sheds, barns or detached garages that I could turn into gardening zones, or future houses for chickens, but alas, only one house had such a shed, and unfortunately the shed was larger than the house. Our dream house, did not have a shed, but this only meant we could design our own. Our shed will rest lengthwise along our side fence between us and our neighbours and it will be placed about three quarters of the way back towards the south end of the yard, allowing my future garden to rest in the very corner. When facing it, we have double doors on the right hand side, a window in the middle and then a single door on the left. And if I recall correctly we have a second window on the short side (which will face the garden).

I plan on finding an old shelving unit or work bench and it will be designated for gardening. We’ll set up my rain barrels to catch the water coming off the shed (still need to find some used eaves trough) and perhaps I will even set up a trickle irrigation system in the future).  As soon as the shed arrives we can finally finally install my garden fence, which so far consists of some old 4×4 posts I acquired and a roll of 2×4 wire fencing that is about 4 feet tall. I may need to buy more wire fencing, and later on I plan on buying (or finding used) some 1x6x8’ planks to make fence slats to finish it off and add some stability. I’m planning on having two gates to my garden, so that’s another project to make, and eventually this will be a haven for perhaps a few chickens or ducks, but we’re now looking at a few years before I have enough free time to be gardening and chasing poultry around.

Hubby wants to use the other end of the shed for storing all gardening supplies and equipment including our lawn tractor and snow blower. We will fill the rafters with toboggans and use the space along the back wall for an old wooden shelving unit my dad made me which will then hold bins of gardening items, bulbs, seeds, shovels etc.

We’ll also eventually looking into have two solar powered lights installed, one over my gardening bench (although two windows should provide ample light) and another over the lawn tractor area. We’ll have to immediately build a ramp for the shed, and attach chicken wire along the bottom so no critters start making their homes under our new addition (the shed sits on wooden “skis” so there is a nice dark crawl space for furry friends).

My only concern is the width of the trailer and shed is supposedly 10’ wide… and the opening to our yard through our double fence is 10’ wide. So please say a little prayer for us that we can indeed squeeze our shed through our beautifully installed chain link fence!