March 29, 2011

One Man's Trash

Is another man's (or woman's in this story) treasure.

My husband loves - I mean LOVES - garage sales, Craigslist, dumpster finds, and the like. I am usually the typical wife standing by the car, ready to leave, constantly reminding him, "Just because it only costs $1 doesn't mean we NEED it." Now Seth is a super handy guy, and he usually convinces me to give in with the response, "But I can make something 'new' out of it." It gets me (almost) every time; save something and re-purpose it? Alright, throw it in the car. Then where does that wonderful find go when we get home? Into the pile in the garage with all our other to-be-saved items. It is at this point that I usually remember my initial hesitation from earlier. Oh, right, we really didn't need that dollar find; we have lots of unfinished projects waiting here at home for us. So, around and around we go.

Well, this story takes place while Seth was deployed (hint: he doesn't make the find this time) to Iraq in 2009. We were stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawai'i. Our trusty pooch Toby and I were on a walk with our neighbor and his dog one evening, and there on the side of the road just beckoning to come home with me was a dis-guarded teak patio table that could seat six. Brand new that would easily cost $1400. I wanted to snatch it up and take it home with me on the spot, and in classic Hawai'ian style, my neighbor was all for turning this trash into treasure. Then I remembered all the times I gave Seth a hard time for bringing home old shelves and left over pieces of trim he'd found. I always told him 'No', and now that there was something I wanted on the side of the road, I almost didn't even hesitate to lug it back to our little under 800sq. ft. home. (that's right, y'all, it was small!)

Needless to say - I made a deal with myself - if the table was still there at the end of the walk (Hawai'ians love free finds.), I was going to take it as a sign that it was bound for our patio. Not really knowing which way I wanted this deal to go when we rounded that last corner, I found myself ecstatic to see the table still sitting there just waiting for me! Insert Happy Dance Here. My neighbor helped me haul my new favorite piece of furniture back to the house while I worked out in my head how to tell Seth the next time I got one of those treasured phone calls from down range.

This story ends happily. :) Seth was actually a little proud of me for giving in to the urge, and we made a quick trip to Lowes for a quart of Valspar satin exterior paint in a shade very close to La Fonda Fiesta Blue. After a fresh coat of paint and the safe return of my soldier, we enjoyed many an evening with friends sitting round that table sipping wine and enjoying the island breezes. Yes, the chairs are all mismatched, but I think that adds to the charm. A few from our kitchen table, one from the patio, and even one from another curbside find.

Our trash to treasure patio table played the center of attention on more than one occasion while livin' the island life. Now that we are in Missouri where the winters are cold, I have once again re-purposed the table as my craft table down in the basement. Have you ever had a great "garage sale" find? Or re-purposed a piece of furniture instead of buying something new? Do share! :)

March 20, 2011

Smooth as a Baby's Bottom

Since this blog gets written between breast feeding and changing diapers, I thought today we would share about the greatness that is Cloth Diapering!

That's right people are still using that silly material called cotton for diapering, and surprise - there are a lot of us! Cloth diapers have come a long way since our grandmothers' days, but they are still just as good for baby and our environment. When we found out that we were expecting our first child, we started doing research on, well, everything but cloth diapering in particular.

Here are our Top Six Reasons for choosing cloth:
1. Natural material against your baby's sensitive skin is better. You can literally hold the cloth over your mouth and nose and still breath through it. pretty much zero diaper rash. To sum it up, its healthier for my baby.
2. The initial start up cost is more than a pack of disposables, but for each child you cloth diaper, you save at least $2500. For a family who plans on living on one income and having more than one child, this is a HUGE plus. You can also use your cloth diapers through more than one child - meaning your start up cost with baby #2 will not be near as big as with the first.
3. God called us to be good stewards of the earth. A new born can easily go through 800 disposable diapers in just the first 2 months - that's the size of a VW van in the land fill just for your baby's diapers. And children will generate more trash in their first 2 years of life (through disposables) than they will for the rest of their life! 
4. I already do laundry twice a week. Just throw those cloth diapers in, and you're done. You're never out of diapers or wipes - you just wash. To save on energy costs, line dry these beauties!
5. They help with potty training. Because the material that is next to baby's skin is natural, as they get older, they realize sooner when they are wet or dirty. There is also a cloth version of pull-ups now if you prefer that method.
6. And this one is just for fashion's sake, but cloth diaper patterns and prints are so stinkin' adorable!

Check out Cotton Babies, The Green Nursery, and Diaper Junction for all things cloth diaper related;
I love my Chinese prefolds from Cotton Babies and my Thirsties Duo Wrap covers!

The Book that got us thinking:

Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher

A good friend of mine told me about this book four years ago, and it took me another two to finally order it from . After it arrived in the mail, I could not put it down. I felt like Crunchy Cons really put into words so many ideas that had been aimlessly floating around my head and even threw out a few reasons as to why I might have been feeling the way I did. Rod Dreher and his book just got me thinking and gave me confidence in my own ideas.

From the back cover of the book, A Crunchy-Con Manifesto:
1. We are conservatives who stand outside the conservative mainstream; therefore, we can see things that matter more clearly.
2. Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff, and insufficiently concerned with the content of our individual and social character.
3. Big business deserves as much skepticism as big government.
4. Culture is more important than politics and economics. 
5. A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship - especially of the natural world - is not fundamentally conservative.
6. Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract.
7. Beauty is more important than efficiency.
8. The relentlessness of media-driven pop culture deadens our senses to authentic truth, beauty, and wisdom.
9. We share Russell Kirk's conviction that "the institution most essential to conserve is the family."

There's a little peak into Crunchy Cons, but I'll let you read all the nutty goodness between the binding for yourself. Happy reading!