DIY Bedside Table

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I love this bedside table.  I want it to be my bedside table but it’s not the right height.  So how is this DIY free?

I am a craigslist free section addict, with some good timing and some well worded email, you can scoop all sorts of stuff for free.  Usually the stuff is being given away due to a move, renovation or simply no longer wanted.  A word of caution here, there is all sorts of dodgy stuff, use your best judgement.  A couple of times I have changed my mind about the item once they told me the pick-up address.

I nabbed this bedside table and one other table via craigslist.  We made arrangements for me to pick-up both tables one afternoon from a nice townhouse complex.  It’s vintage, solid wood, no cheap particle board here.  When I got it, it was painted cream and bubble-gum pink, and came with a few stickers.  Perfect for a 6 year olds bedroom, but not very nice looking.  I apologise for not having a before picture, I had one but poof! it’s gone.

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So the bedside table itself was free, and the paint was paint I had leftover from another project.

Step 1- Clean the table- nothing fancy, just soap and water

Step 2- Deal with any chips, or other lumps and bumps.  For big problems I use a tiny bit of mud – the same mud that is used to fill holes in walls.  Smooth it down, once dry, sand the excess mud off.  For little blemishes, a little sanding is all that’s needed.

Step 3: Prime time! I will admit that up until recently I never used a primer.  But after a long chat with a nice old man at Home Depot he convinced me.  He told me that I could avoid having to strip the old paint off and do a ton of sanding if I just used a primer in-between the old paint and the new paint.  I am fairly lazy, so I was all for less work.  So slap on a bit of primer.

Step 4: Paint the new colours!  This is where is all comes together.  I pop on the Netflix and start painting, usually 2 coats.  I love this step, I hate having to wait for the paint to dry, I want to be able to see the finished products immediately.

Step 5: Go in for the detail work.  I used some fine tip small paint brushes that I bought from a dollar store.  Or you could use painters tape to make sure that you get crisp lines where the two paint colours meet.  I hate painters tape, it makes my lines worse, but that’s probably because I rush putting it on.

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The finished product is up for sale on the internet.  It’s true, I don’t really want it to sell, so I have it listed for way too much.

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You shouldn’t have, (I really wish you didn’t)

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I don’t think there really is such a thing as a bad gift.  Someone was kind enough to give me something that they thought I would like.  There are lots of people who don’t have anyone in their lives.  Just because you received a gift doesn’t mean I have to keep it forever.

One of my sisters pretends she loves a gift and keeps it for years dragging out the gift every time she sees the person.  Why pretend?  So you drag out the ceramic chicken statue out in preparation of a house visit.  Your guests see that you have a ceramic chicken proudly displayed in the middle of your coffee table and on your next birthday you get 3 more.  Fast forward 5 years and you look like a crazy ceramic chicken hoarder, how will you ever admit the truth now?  I am deeply suspicious to see my sister decked head to toe in gifts that I’ve bought her over the years.  I’ve called her out on it a few times, but she insists she likes the gifts. However, the tarnish on her silver necklace says otherwise.

My other sister likes to return un-wanted gifts.  I don’t mind this approach, however it takes more balls than I possess.  I prefer to avoid difficult conversations if possible, and trust me it is always possible.  Asking for the gift receipt doesn’t always work.  Those pesky early shoppers- the one that bought your Christmas gift in April will foil your plans every time.  What to do now that you are hopelessly outside of the store’s return policy? I guess some shops will give you a store credit, without a receipt but what to do with a credit at Ye Olde Clog Shoppe?

I take a different approach.  Previously I would hang on to the stuff, but I ended up with knickknack’s and a ton of pig and cat themed items.  I say thank you, smile a bunch and then purge it later on. Sometimes it just feels like too much stuff.  I re-gift, sell, and donate it right on out of my life!  I absolutely love getting rid of stuff, I love the feeling I get when my house feels empty, or when there is vacant space where there was previously clutter. Maybe that’s the real gift, a feng shui feeling of emptiness and space!  These are my tips:

Sell:

  •  post your items of craigslist
  •  sell on facebook bidding/auction sites.  Simply search for a facebook group with your city and the words bidding/auctions.  After you join, start posting all the stuff you don’t want. I’ve sold a ton of stuff this way

Give/ Re-Gift:

  •  Re-gifting party! Get your friends together, everyone brings a wrapped gift they didn’t like.  Steal the gift games are always fun!   Your friends might not like your gift either, but with any luck they won’t leave their shitty gifts behind at the end of the night.

  •  Every once in a while I will know someone who would love a pig shaped cookie jar, or pink fleece sheets.
  • My last resort is to just donate what I have no use for.  If nothing else I get a discount on my next purchase at my favorite thrift store.  I think it’s a better option that throwing something in the garbage.
  • If all else fails I guess you could just light it all on fire.

Cheap and Green

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I often read blogs reviewing and recommending eco-products.  I usually find that the product either is only eco-branded; meaning that it looks like a green product, but dig a little deeper and it’s just a standard product with some great packaging.  Or maybe it really is a great product, but it’s so expensive I just wouldn’t buy it for myself.  Why is it that eco-products tends to have fewer ingredients, but will also tend to be more expensive?  I guess better quality ingredients cost more, but that isn’t always true.  My friend has a theory that the more expensive the product the more we are likely to think the product should be amazing.  If it were to be inexpensive, the product would appear to be junk.  Maybe that’s true, but it’s annoying for this eco-girl on a budget.

 

I’m picking a random example- http://www.ecocandleco.com/index.html

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Priced at $21-$31 per candle, they are pretty pricey.  These candles are made of soybeans grown in the USA.  American grown soybeans are probably better than other countries where soybean agriculture is blamed for de-forestation and endangered animal habitat loss.  However, most of the soy grown is genetically modified and 80% of it is destined to be used as cheap food for livestock.  Soy is cheap, and so is soy wax.  It’s one of the cheapest options out there, so why is the candle so pricey?

Inevitably I start thinking that I can just make candles myself in a much more eco-friendly economical way.  In the past I went to the local candle making store and bought all the supplies I needed.  This time I decided I could be even more eco-thrifty minded.  I asked friends and family to save me the wax from candles that they had burned.  I also posted on craigslist that I wanted to start a small wax recycling program.  Within a few months I had a large box full of wax and jars.

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I jimmied up a double boiler with a pot and a frying pan and started melting waxes to make the colours I wanted.  When the wax was between 180-200 degrees, I’d add the scent oil and pour the wax into jars.  Pop in the wick and the candle is pretty much done.  I decided against buying jars and cleaned out old candle containers and mason jars.

So far I have made about 10 candles, and have used about half of the wax.  The wax and jars were free, the wicks were $2 for 25, the fragrances were about $20 for about 15 half used bottles purchased off craigslist.  For the cost of one eco-candle, I can make 20 candles, and I have stopped a heap of stuff from going into a landfill.  I also have a fully stocked candle cupboard, and I have a stockpile of emergency Christmas gifts!  I think in comparison to my candles, eco-candles aren’t very eco at all.

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If you have eco-thrifty projects on the go I’d love to hear about them!

 

 

One person’s trash is another person’s Visa payment

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A few months ago I posted about the “throw it out culture” that has developed.  (https://alittlebitmoregreen.wordpress.com/2014/08/20/throw-it-out-culture) Everyone wants the coolest, newest and best thing, but what happens to the old stuff? My dad is moving and trying to downsize some of their bigger pieces of furniture, but it’s been impossible to find anyone that wants the stuff.  Aren’t there people in need?

I’ve been working on a new project for the last few months.  I’ve been collecting free furniture and refinishing the pieces to re-sell.  I like searching for something worth refinishing and I like transforming something that was unwanted into something that is amazing.  (Okay maybe not amazing, but nice).

IMG_0531This bedside table is far from amazing, but I saw the potential it had.  Since bed bugs are such a problem, I am careful about what I pick-up and from which neighbourhood.  But with a bit of effort, and a friendly email I’ve been quiet lucky to get about 5 pieces which will keep me busy for awhile.  I put on Netflix and spend an hour or so a week sanding and painting.  The end result…

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A bit of sanding, paint, drawer liner and new knobs and it’s way nicer! Total cost: 33 cents.  The paint I had left over from another project, and the knobs were six for $1.

Earlier this week I posted the finished item on a Facebook auction site and the final bid was $26.  Now I’m not going to get rich off this, but I am $25 closer to paying off my Visa card.  I also get a little satisfaction from knowing that it’s not going into the garbage heap.  I have two more items that will be finished in the next week or so.  Do you want to see them?

Eco-Friendly Renovation on a Budget?

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I bought a 20 year old condo about a year ago.  It hasn’t really been updated since, I have light pink counter tops and white/pink floor tiles.  Actually there are 5 different floor types (tile, hardwood, carpet and 2 different styles of linoleum).  Considering it’s a one bedroom apartment, it really a lot of different floors!  Clearly the condo needs a lot of work to make it more my style.  I need to do it on a shoestring budget and I want to do it in the most eco-friendly way that I can afford.  Of course if money wasn’t an issue this would be so much easier.

My first project is going to be my kitchen.  I have a plan, check back to see how it goes!

What’s In Your Products?

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Do you read food labels?

Seven years ago I was diagnosed with Celiac disease and had to avoid gluten containing products.  Since then I don’t eat anything unless I’ve read the label, no exceptions.  When in doubt I don’t eat it.  I know lots of people don’t read food labels, for a variety of reasons.  I don’t like that I have to read labels and so when possible I prefer to eat foods that don’t have labels like fruits and veg.  While reading labels looking for gluten, my eyes were opened to the crap that is added to processed food.  Inevitably I started to avoid these products and look for better options.  For whatever reason I started to read the ingredient list on my lotions, shampoos and conditioners.  I was shocked to not only find gluten containing ingredients, but also a chemical shit-storm.  I stopped using the ones with gluten and started to wonder wither I should be using the other products as well.  Like seriously, what the heck am I applying to my skin?  Our skin is not only our largest organ, but it also absorbs whatever we put on it.  Why am I applying chemicals at all?  Where in my body are these chemicals going?

 

Looks like shampoo, but really it's just cancer in a bottle

Looks like shampoo, but really it’s just cancer in a bottle

Overtime I started switching to more natural alternatives for toothpaste, shampoo, body lotion deodorant and sunblock.  I didn’t really know if the products were good for me or not.  I figured that if they had a short pronounceable ingredient lists and was sold in my local health food store it was probably ok.  A few months ago Eco Vegan Girl Whitney Lauretsen shared a website that she uses to check if a product is “good” or not.  http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a searchable database of products and assesses their level of risk to health.  I found it helpful to see which ingredients should be avoided and for what reason.

 

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EWG recommends using products that they rate as 2 or lower.  Overall the products I bought as natural alternatives were rated 2 or below, so I feel good about that.  There are some bad product that I’m still holding on to… cosmetics.  I really must invest in more eco-friendly make-up.

 

I encourage you to go the EWG website and search your products to see how safe they are.

Throw It Out Culture

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Last weekend I had an unfortunate accident where I dropped my phone in a river.  It sort of works, but isn’t very usable.  I assessed all my options and decided that I would just go back to my previous phone (iPhone 3).  Unfortunately my wireless provider no longer supports that phone and I can’t switch back to it.  Had I kept using it there would have been no problem, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but after two hours with technical support this was their final answer.  The only option they gave me is to buy a new phone and dispose of the 2 iPhones.  It really bothers me that I can’t use a perfectly good phone.

I don’t tend to buy the newest thing, I’m perfectly happy to spend less and buy an older version.  I had been looking to buy an older used DLSR camera so I could do some better blogging pictures, but that will have to wait.  I think I’m just going to buy a used phone from someone.  If nothing else it will keep their phone out of the landfill and I can use my iPhone 3 as a ipod at work.  I refuse to throw it out!

 

Where did this throw it out culture come from?  I remember my grandmother stockpiled cottage cheese containers in her basement even though she could recycle them, she preferred to keep them.  I don’t know what she used them for other than storing her false teeth in them on the top of the toilet tank (true story).  She grew up during the depression, and I think she and her siblings didn’t have much, so she was pretty thrifty.  Somewhere between her generation and mine something changed.  If you have ever tried to donate a microwave, TV or furniture then you know what I’m talking about.  No one wants them, thrift stores won’t even take them.  I tried craigslist and garage sales but in the end I decided to keep the microwave even though I hardly ever use it.  The furniture I eventually put beside a dumpster, and the TV went to a recycling depot.  I love looking for items on craigslist and facebook auction pages, but maybe this is something that is dying out?  Will the throw it out culture eventually disappear or is this the way it will be?  Is reduce, reuse and recycle a motto of the past?