The main thing I do is use secondhand things. The picture below is of two of my recent finds.
We drug the cubby home from the neighbor's trash last week. Jeff hated every moment of it, but it was too heavy and bulky for me to carry by myself. And my sister wasn't here.
*Off subject comments
Jenny can always be counted on to shamelessly help drag trash/treasure from the curb. Once she and I hauled away 5 rolls of carpet from her in-law's neighborhood. Brad was mortified that we were doing it, but on the second load, the people called to thank us for taking it. (We had left them a note with our phone number) I think she and I learned this habit from our mom; I have a very clear memory of helping our mom load lots of river rocks into the back of our van. They had been unearthed during construction of a nearby road and she was in the process of building a walkway. It turned out pretty nice.
*Resume relevant comments
This cubby shelving cost us nothing, except Jeff's pride. It's pretty grubby now, but once I clean it and sand it and paint it, it's going into the kids' play area. Eventually, it'll probably end up in my craft area.
I bought the sheets on top from the thrift store for about 3 bucks each. I plan to make fabric grocery bags out of them, inspired by Jane Little on the Flickr group. Hopefully, there'll be more about those by the end of the week.
I've also acquired a huge tractor tire and one mini trampoline from CraigsList, both for free. These two things represent the best part about repurposed items... you gotta be creative. One of them I think I've come up with a creative solution for, the other, not so much.
I plan to dig down in the grass and put the trampoline flush with ground level. And hope to acquire more trampolines and do the same with them, all in a row, then the kids can bounce from one to the next in a line, like an obstacle course. A friend of ours that works in insurance told me that it is one of the worst ideas she's ever heard. How can that be worse than a regular trampoline? I guess people might not see it and step onto it accidentally. Anyway, I'll put up lots of signs when I do it, so nobody breaks their ankles. Also maybe some fencing and the signs can say, "Watch out for dangerous trampolines." He he, I'm just joshin, Beccy.
I don't know what to do with the tire. I originally planned to bury it upright in the ground and let the kids clammor on it, but I'd have to remove an awful lot of dirt to do that and Sean hasn't been in serious trouble for months, so no free labor. Then I thought of making it into a sandbox, but my kids are a bit old for that. Anybody have any suggestions?
And, finally, I would like to mention the concept of a "Buy Nothing Month" (or week). This is not something that we have done. Yet. I'm working on Jeff, but it's daunting. Basically, it involves buying nothing except for food and toiletries (and I assume gas, although maybe not) for the set amount of time. I think that doing this would drastically change how we view shopping. I know we'd realize how much of what we do is simply done out of habit, without much thought. I also read about a group in San Francisco (can't find the link, grrr) that are doing this for a year. They *can* buy all the secondhand stuff they want, so that's gotta make it easier. And more fun. I was thrilled to find the sheets pictured above, after all.
Added note- I just am listening to the song Coat of Many Colors (originally by Dolly Parton, this one's by Alison Krauss) and was struck by the appropriateness. It speaks to the embarrassment of reusing materials, something that many people still associate with the word secondhand, but more importantly it tells how much love someone can put into a handmade item, something I've encountered again and again on the blogs I read. So here are some of the lyrics...
I recall a box of rags that someone gave us
And how my momma put the rags to use
There were rags of many colors
Every piece was small
And I didn’t have a coat
And it was way down in the fall
Momma sewed the rags together
Sewin every piece with love
She made my coat of many colors
That I was so proud of
As she sewed, she told a story
From the bible, she had read
About a coat of many colors
Joseph wore and then she said
Perhaps this coat will bring you
Good luck and happiness
And I just couldn’t wait to wear it
And momma blessed it with a kiss
So with patches on my britches
Holes in both my shoes
In my coat of many colors
I hurried off to school
Just to find the others laughing
And making fun of me
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me
And oh I couldn’t understand it
For I felt I was rich
And I told them of the love
My momma sewed in every stitch
And I told em all the story
Momma told me while she sewed
And how my coat of many colors
Was worth more than all their clothes