It is time for our weekly update on how our no new stuff in 2013 challenge is going!
First up this week was a challenging challenge. My oldest daughter had to make a leprechaun trap for school. I swear I sat there and read that letter from her teacher several times trying to wrap my brain around the fact that we had to come up with a trap to catch a tricky little Irish elf. Seriously? Once I reread the letter about three times I started to panic. I NEEDED to go to the store to get supplies! There was NO way we could do this with just the items here at home! After several days of thinking about it I started to calm down and realized we could totally do this with the stuff we had on hand. We took two boxes, some cotton balls, construction paper, fabric, sticks and glue and got started. As you can see the leprechan climbs up the little stick ladder to get to the coins on top. Once up there he walks into the small box to get the rest of the coins that are balanced on the fabric and falls through the hole into the bottom box. Simple and effective! I don't know if we will win any awards but we did our best and stayed true to our challenge so we are both pretty happy with the results.
Next up we have our "new" compost box. My daughters have been asking me for the last year when we could start our own compost and I kept putting them off because of one reason or another. Since the main purpose of this challenge is to teach my children about using the things we have, be that through recycling or reusing things around the house, it seemed counter productive to throw away our veggie scraps and then buy compost. So I put "find a compost bin" on my list of things to think about. As I was driving to the grocery store the other day I passed by our local bulk trash bin. This is a bin just for large items that can't be recycled or put in the trash compactor. Such as furniture, broken appliances, etc. Nothing nasty or anything in there. I have been known to climb up the side of it every now and then and see if there is anything good in there (to the horror of my husband). So since I was out anyways and it was a pretty day I decided to climb up and see what I could see. There were several dresser drawers in there that I would have liked for my garden but they were too far out and I couldn't reach them. There was however this tote within easy reach. The bottom corner is broken and the top is missing but it will do nicely for a compost bin. I mean look at the label...it was practically screaming to be rescued from the garbage and reused!
Another thing my children have been asking me to do is to start recycling again. We used to have a bin for recycling but when we moved here to NJ the housing office never issued us one. Since we were a bit busy with settling in, then my husband's deployment, and now the new baby getting a new recycling can was pretty low on my list. However since starting this challenge I bit the bullet and went to the self help location in our housing and got a recycling can. Of course the first thing I thought after getting the can was that now we needed a can inside to put the recycling into. Then it dawned on me that since the door to the backyard is right next to my stove and the outdoor recycling can is right next to the door outside I can just open the door and throw the recycling in. Actually works out better for me as I don't have two indoor cans to empty now. Not that there is much in it at this point since we are into hardcore reusing phase right now.
Which brings me to our latest reuse it post. I went to the BX the other day while I was out at the grocery store and bought $17 worth of vegetable seeds. I normally would have also bought potting soil and something to start the seeds in. Since that was not an option I came home and got creative. I cut the top off of some milk jugs and used them to plant our carrots. Should work wonderful since the soil will be loose and not compacted and the jug is plenty deep. I also found two disposable foil pans that people brought food to us in after we had little bit. I poked holes in the smaller pan and lined it with coffee filters so that the soil would not fall through the holes. I then added the soil and planted my tomato seeds. I placed the smaller pan in the larger pan to act as a drip pan and covered the pan with some plastic wrap to seal in moisture. I also found some more of the little divided plastic pots leftover from last years flowers and used them to plant our bell peppers. Last but not least I pulled in a giant pot filled with soil and planted a second type of tomato. I used some leftover cardboard to protect my floor and lined all the plants up in the master bathroom. It is the warmest room in the house and gets the most light so hopefully the seeds will like it in there.
I have to admit I almost broke and bought something brand new. We have been having trouble with gating off the dining room and kitchen from the toddlers.Our son gets himself in to serious trouble in there even with the room baby proofed so it is off limits these days. Unfortunately the gates we have would not work in the doorway since the frame was not 100% straight. It was constantly falling over. So I went on ebay to look at metal pressure gates that have the built in "door" that opens and closes. I found several that looked good but since I was unaware of what a good price for such a gate was I went on amazon to check out how much brand new ones were going for. I found a used one I wanted for $30.99 with free shipping and the exact same gate on amazon for $31 with free 2 day shipping. I am going to be honest here I almost broke and got the brand new one so that I would have the instructions on how to install it. I held firm though and ordered the used one off of ebay. It came today and guess what! It has the instructions in the box, looks brand new, and works great! My oldest two daughters are still trying to figure out how to use it but I am sure they will catch on quickly. Now if I can just keep my very technical son from paying too close of attention and figuring it out himself!
Next up were snappi's. I somehow lost all of the snappi's I used with our older kids and needed to get some more before we would be able to start using our prefolds on little bit. I couldn't find any used on ebay (which shocked me) So I asked on my mom's forum if anyone had any there were looking to get rid of. I ended up getting 3 used snappi's for $6 with shipping.
We have also been working on several Easter projects as well. More about this to come in our big Easter post. I will say it has been really fun to think outside the box on this one and come up with some creative ways to keep the Lord in the holiday. Here is one of the projects....We found a count down to Easter printable sheet online. The original idea of this sheet is that you print it out and frame it. Then use a dry erase marker to write the days in the circle. Before the challenge I would have simply ran out to the dollar store and picked up a $2 frame to put this page in. Since that wasn't an option I did a lot of thinking about what to do with it. I finally had the idea to cut the circle out and tape the page to our dry erase board. Same concept, zero money involved. My kids love the countdown and I don't have to store another frame after the holiday is over.
Lastly we had a bit of an uproar to our lives this week. Out of the blue we got the call that my husband was being shipped overseas the next day. We went into emergency prep mode over here. I went to the grocery store and stocked up on the essentials and got him all the toiletries and snacks he would need for his trip. When I got home he dropped the bomb on me that he wanted to take my laptop with him. MY LAPTOP! The laptop I use to surf the internet and write these posts! My first reaction was to say "well I have been thinking about getting you a small laptop to keep in the closet for times like these". His first reaction is usually to just agree with me, which he did just like he always does. I however couldn't bring myself to actually buy a new (or used) laptop that was just going to sit in the closet for the majority of the year. Instead I started thinking outside the box and realized that we have a desktop that could be hooked up to the internet....it was just too far away from the router to hard wire so we never bothered. I knew there had to be someway to get it online via our wireless signal so I was off to research it. Turns out a wireless stick was all I needed. I found one used via amazon for $15 with free 2 day shipping! I was sold. It got here tonight and as you can tell works perfectly! A little research saved us a minimum of $250 for a used laptop.
Total if I had bought the above things new: $334
Total actually spent: $51.99