Wednesday, 31 July 2013


Our current consumptive culture is creating a generation of people that are conditioned to buy versus creatively and resourcefully make what they need and want.  Money seems to rule all and the rampant (rabid?) retail frenzy is in full swing.   All around us, we see the "ideal life" pictured ~ a big new house, 2 cars, lots of "toys" (for the adults, too), tropical holidays in winter, never ending electronic upgrades, frequent meals out, fashionable clothing, spa treatments, gym memberships, daily drive-through special coffees...     I read a great article on Verge Permaculture's blog that explains exactly what I'm talking about ~ do read it.

There's a quiet uprising brewing.  In my permaculture class (taught by Rob Avis of Verge Permaculture), the overwhelming majority of my 20 some classmates were applying for (or had just been granted) a reduced work week in order to carve out more time for worthwhile activities such as gardening, preserving, cooking from scratch, working on eco retrofits to their home and landscape, recreation and simply, time to rest and relax with their families.  In our own family, my husband recently switched to a 4 day work week which has dramatically improved our lifestyle.  With a 3 day weekend, there's now enough time to work on projects that we've been wanting to try, not to mention, time at last for the creative juices to flow which fuels our resourcefulness.

Oh, the stories my Grandma tells about the Depression era and the resourceful frugality that reigned at that time.  People who were resourceful and creative made it through that wretched decade and I dare say that the general populous could use a healthy dose of resourcefulness in this day and age.

Over the last few years, we've been working hard at cultivating our sense of resourcefulness and creativity in order to develop our property.  Not only is that good for our finances, but also, it's good for the environment (by re-directing materials that might other wise end up in the landfill).   I'm a huge fan of freecycle and lately, we've been fortunate to receive a lot of really useful things through this network of generosity and goodwill....

Two adirondack chairs for our deck, fence boards for our planned hen run and food forest expansion, perennials, building materials, etc.  Between freecycle, kijiji (online classifieds) and bartering, we have managed to progress pretty far into our development plan without spending much money.

Here's the fence boards (100 - 1x6" 6 footers):

My son and I hammered all the nails through and pulled every last one. 

We stacked them all on a dolly so that it's easier for Kelly to cut off the last few inches that are rotten. Trimmed and painted, they'll be like new!  

Here's one of the 2 adirondack chairs.  They were in SAD need of a paint job - lots of peeling paint was falling off but they were sound with not a speck of rot!  

Kelly took them both apart and Reece sanded every piece down with a mouse sander.   Paige primed them and we are all taking turns painting them with outdoor white trim paint leftover from our renovation.

Kelly is building a shed right now and so far, it's made nearly entirely of recycled/repurposed materials.   He's only had to buy a few joist hangars - although not many as most were found in a bin in the garage when we moved in.   As you can see the first sheet of 3/4" plywood for the floor has gone down - and yes, it's got paint all over it, but it's being repurposed from another project.  This weekend will be all about getting the walls up and (fingers crossed) the trusses (which were leftover materials bought by Kelly  for just a few dollars each on an old job site).

The concrete sidewalk blocks were also on site when we moved in.  Bonus!

Stay tuned for our progress - Kelly has a 4 day long weekend starting Friday, so we really hope to get this shed finished and I'd like to finish painting those chairs so we can lounge in them on the deck!

How have YOU used resourceful solutions to meet your needs?  Do share :)


  1. I was able to convince my supervisor to allow me every Friday off for the summer (by compressing my 35-hour week into 4 days). It has been a lifesaver! I get so much done and I'm not nearly as exhausted as I would be otherwise. However it is very likely coming to an end as of August 30th, and I truly don't know how I am going to manage.

    We got a shop full of stuff when we bought our place too - bolts, nails, a few fence posts, tools (some badly broken), and a stack of 1x4s hanging out in the barn. Once we get everything sorted, it will be marvelous, and we'll know what we actually have.

    1. Lone Pine - great summer hours! Especially with our winters, there's always so much to do before the snow flies, right? To inherit a barn full of goodies is awesome... having a stockpile of materials really fosters your creativity when you have to build something. We make the dimensions of things suit what we have on hand and modify our build accordingly. It's a good challenge!

  2. I'm in the process of getting rid of stuff, instead of acquiring. Kijiji and FreeCycle are also great for those of us who try to eliminate clutter while knowing that others in the city are looking for exactly what we don't want anymore.

    I've managed to work around my children's school hours and afterschool events while my husband works fulltime. My flexible and shortened hours lets us have the lifestyle we want, although extra money would be more than welcome and I don't know how people deal with that. While I can make a lot of things, scavenge a lot of things and barter things, utilities and mortgage, dental and medical expense continue to be cash only.

    1. Good for you, Evelyn! We are in the process of cleaning out our garage and I've been listing lots of things to give away on freecycle plus posting a few items for sale on kijiji. Love both of those networks. I just picked up 4 dozen canning jars given to me (no charge) via a kijiji ad ~ so helpful with the garden in full production now.

      I'm moving more toward cash only, too as I'm much more aware of spending that way.

  3. Great post Sherri, I enjoyed reading this :)

    Wish we had freecycle here. I read so many good things about it.

    Love those chairs, they cleaned up really well :)


    1. Tania - why don't you start a freecycle network? Go for it!

      Yes, the chairs cleaned up well - I wish I had a before picture... they looked terrible!

  4. Hubby & I are right into resourcefulness!

    Recently we bought an old rainwater tank for $5 at a clearing sale. Hubby has cut that down to 4 veggie growing beds for me (I'm running out of growing space here so this was a cheap solution!).

    We had an old fridge that no longer worked so he took the door off, made up a 'new' door frame with recycled wood, put fly wire in the front & that's my soap curing cupboard!

    Hubby always looks at something to see if we can make it first before spending money on buying something similar.

    1. Good score on the rain tank and a high five for ingenuity turing it into garden space! We need to pick up a few tanks and have been scouring the ads... Great idea for the old fridge - really clever. I've seen people use them as cheese caves, too (in a cool basement).

  5. We are always on the look out for a good deal like this. I always wondered though if we say...had enough money for house with a two car garage...if we would even have to bother. Good for you!

    1. Becky - I remember showing my husband your fencing/gate that was made out of pallets! He was totally impressed :)

      While we do have a house and a garage, we are on a budget and HAVE to be careful with money. We have grand plans to develop our property but everything costs SO much, so we have to get creative about how we do it. It's actually more satisfying to do it slowly and creatively with found/used items.

  6. hello ,
    it was a pleasure for me to read this great post. i wish we had freecycle in my country. love your deckchairs!!!!
    wish you a beautiful week,

    1. Hi Regina! Thanks :) Too bad there's no freecycle there. Can you start it up? google and find out! XO

  7. Such an inspiring post. I love those pailings, even in their pre-loved state. I look forward to seeing the finished shed.
    Love the sound of a reduced work week.