I suffered from daily migraines for almost 10 years. Doctors convinced me it was hormones, and I will admit I do get them around my period, but what really triggers the worst migraines is certain foods. One day a friend called me and mentioned how she suffered migraines and she found it was caused by gluten. Gluten...what's that???? Well, she said, try cutting out all wheat products.
I really had nothing to lose, so I did. Within 2-3 days my daily migraines dimished almost completely. I still got them, but they weren't the knife-stabbing-through-the-left-eye ones where my face felt "numb".
They continued and I eventually, through elimination diets, found the cause to be dairy products, almonds and finally corn products. And believe me, corn products are in EVERYTHING. In Canada, glucose-fructose is corn sugar and IMHO, is evil :-) I just don't think you can mess with corn the way they have (dextrose, maltodextrin) and not upset some biological systems. Totally my opinion, based on my own research. If you suffer from certain recurring health problems, such as fibromyalgia, sinus infections, IBS, fatigue, etc...try cutting out wheat or corn products. You will be amazed at how much better you feel.
Personally, I believe that IBS is merely a food sensitivity, however, they can't sell a pill for that.

Free Compost

Want free compost? This is what I did...I went to the cafeteria at work and asked if they would save me their coffee grinds everyday. They supplied me with quite a few plastic containers with handles. I couldn't believe all the coffee grounds I collected! On an average day I collect 2-3 medium containers. I pick up the containers around noon or so, and keep them in my cubicle until I leave. They are sealed, so there is no odour. I carry them home, plop them into my compost bin, mix them up and that's it!

I am not picky, I make it easier on the staff and take the filters also, they quickly disintegrate. It does take a while for the staff to get used to saving rather than throwing out. And I let them know if I'm not going to be there. I have had a few "attitudes" from a few employees, but I use humour and tell them they are doing a great thing and they seem to be okay with that. Working in a cafeteria is a tough job and I appreciate their extra work.

People see me walking around the halls with these containers and I get some funny looks :-) Usually I tell them I'm carrying pig's feet (a French-Canadian traditional stew, is made from pig's feet and it is my favourite at Christmas) and it catches them offguard. Once a General stopped me (I am military) and asked me what in the world I was carrying every day. When I told her, she thought it was a very nice thing to do :-)
I am probably one of the few Mormons (we don't drink tea or coffee) who has a coffee-smelling garden :-)

Recycling Old Frames

At our church (LDS) we have a table where everyone puts things they no longer want for anyone to take for free. Last week, just in time, someone was giving away three very ugly (BG), matching brass frames (see pic, on the left). They were very sturdy, stand up types.

I took them home and spraypainted them to match the handles on my refurbished bedroom furniture. I covered the inside glass part of the frame with painter's tape, and reused it for all 3 frames.

The result were three matching, nickel coloured frames. They now sit on my dressers, and as soon as I find some great pics of my family, off to Walmart to have them processed for the frames!

Don't be afraid of spray paint, it doesn't clump and gives great results. I used Krylon Chrome for these.

Free decorator boxes

I think that a closet with matching boxes looks very nice, but the ones I have priced are way too expensive for me. So here is a simple solution to having matching boxes.

I get those sturdy boxes from work that paper is shipped in. What we used to call "xerox boxes" :-) I first paint them with primer (left over) and then paint them whatever colour I want or can find at Home Depot that people didn't like, called "oops" paint.

Here is the box:

And here is the finished product.

I don't know if the primer makes much of a difference, but I had some so I use it for a smoother finish. So far this box hasn't chipped and is actually stronger than the original. If you are really creative, you could put nice designs on it. I once took a similar both and covered it with left over material (shown here)

but honestly, it was a bit of a pain for this non-perfectionist and painting is waaaaaay easier.

Have fun!

Free Entertainment

We do not have satellite or cable television at our house. We watch mostly old tv shows on dvd anyways (Hogan's Heroes, Gomer Pyle, Odd Couple, Andy Griffith, Bless me Father, Quincy, Perry Mason).
I have discovered a wonderful, free and cheap entertainment! If you have an mp3 player, you need to download a software to load it (Itunes kept crashing so I use Winamp). You do not have to use Itunes if you have an ipod!
Then, you start looking for podcasts. These are basically free radio programs that are available on any subject. some are just people rambling on, but some are professionally produced. I listen to a lot of the BBC djs and their podcats, mainly Scott Mills and Jonathan Ross. They are hilarious.
But the real treat is to find old radio shows from the 1930's, 40's, 50's. These are called Old Time Radio and they are wonderful. My favourite series of all is Our Miss Brooks, like a aural sitcom of a school teacher and the people she encounters. They are so well written, you will forget that you can't see them and will be able to visualize it in your mind.
I also love all the Sherlock Holmes ones, especially with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. My other favourite is wise cracking Boston blackie, an ex-safecracker who helps people in need (usually they are unfairly treated by the police). "A friend to those who make him their friend, an enemy to those who don't".
The best however is the Lux Theatre shows. These were radio versions of famous movies presented by Cecil B DeMille, and often included the original actors. Movies like All about Eve (my favourite), It Happened One Night, The Thin Man (another favourite), The Awful Truth, Madame X,His Girl Friday...they are all there, acted out for radio. And it's free!
Who needs tv?!!!

Buying a Used Car

This is a scary venture. I have had two experiences with buying used cars. Both turned out very positive.
Years ago, in the mid 80s, we drove an old VW camper across country...and it died on the lot of a used car place. The owner said we could choose between two cars for a trade...a Sunbird, which the steering wheel kept falling off, or a '73 Ford Pinto. We took the Pinto. We had heard plenty of stories of them being rearended and blowing up, and it was declared a real lemon by everyone.
Well, that little Pinto took us across 4 provinces, and my husband used it when he was a sales rep for a company in Sask. It went everywhere for a year or so, never a breakdown, the only repair was a replaced muffler. Tough little car!
I just recently bought another car. We have had a single car for many years, I have teens who work, and we live in the country. It is VERY tough to have only one car. And it's a standard, so the kids had a hard time learning. Finally, we decided we would look around. Our motivation was really because we had bought an old boat which we fixed up and we needed to tow it. And we wanted all three kids to get their licence so we didn't have to drive them everywhere!
We found a beautiful car that would do, mint condition, but I didn't feel right about it. I don't know why, it was below all the other prices and was the luxury edition...but I hesitated. When I went back it was sold. But oddly, I didn't feel bad.
We kept looking and honestly, you have to look very carefully at the people you are dealing with. If you are not comfortable, no matter how good a deal....walk away. Listen to your gut instinct.
We did find a similar car on the internet, but it looked in very bad shape and when my husband called, the man could hardly speak English. But he persisted and we went to see it. When we got there, the car looked way better than the photos and a few cosmetic problems, but nothing major. The guy was very nice, but had visitors and just wanted to get rid of us, really. I suppose he thought it was just another person coming to look.
The engine was in very good shape, and was much better than the others we had tried.
So we took a chance and my husband made him an offer and he took it. Because it was the weekend, and he had let the insurance run out, we had to leave it there, but we left a $100 deposit and brought a set of keys for it with us as insurance.
So far so good, no problems. At that price, if it lasts 2-3 years and the kids learn to drive with it, it will be well worth it.

Food Dehydrator Usage

I recently saved up some money and bought another food dehydrator. My old one pretty well melted. It was an American Harvester. I found another, more recent one, and got a very good price on it and bought it. Plus I can use the racks from the old one.
My friend Monique has a huge dehydrator she has had for years. Everytime she has some veggies or fruit starting to go bad and she pops them in her dehydrator. The result is a delicious soup later on when she has more time. No waste! I love ideas like that!

The Twig Lamp

I needed a lamp, but couldn't afford a new one, at least, not any that I really want. I love nature and especially trees. I happened to have on hand a bunch of small branches that I had cut last year for a project, but never got to it. Perfect, as they had thoroughly dried (don't ever use green or new cut wood for projects, it shrinks!).

I also had an old lamp that I took apart and used to make a new lamp. I had to cut the wires near the socket to get it out of the casing. And I had to buy a new socket ($5). All you need is a metal rod to thread the wire through, a wire with a plug, and a socket. You simply take the two wires that are split at the top and wrap each of them around each screw on the socket, then tighten.

To the left is the lamp with a different shade.

I got the nice lampshade (below) at Ikea on sale for $10 (I rarely go there, only for curtains, but happened to walk past the lamps). I had to add a ring to get the shade to fit, again, from the old lamp. I simply glued the sticks around the metal rod and stuck the socket at the top. I kept it long on purpose, I like the tree look :-)

Voila, my twig lamp. Total cost $15.

Restoring old furniture.

Almost all the furniture I own came to me as castoffs by friends, as in Please Take Away This Ugly Piece of Crap!!!

Recenty I looked around at my ugly bedroom set (from the 80s, need I say more?) and dreamed of a Martha Stewart bedroom I always wanted....dark, old furniture, crisp walls, clean and fresh. My walls were a sandy coloured textured paint (sand) and we never gave it a second coat, so you could see the roller marks. I have a closet that runs the length of the bedroom, enclosed by HEAVY mirrored doors that I have to shove opn or closed with my shoulders. Needless to say, everything gets shoved in there or left out because it is a pain to use that closet.

I decided to stop dreaming and create my bedroom....for as little as I could. And I also decided to recycle the furniture I had, rather than look for a used set of exactly what I wanted for almost nothing (reality check!).

So I started sanding the furniture, I use a Dewalt orbital sander and wear the sandpaper down to nothing rather than keep changing it. In this image you see the before at the top (I had painted the front of the furniture a burgundy colour years ago). See that ugly scroll pattern? I wanted to get rid of it, so I filled it with woodfiller and scraped it in. The drawer on the bottom shows what it looks like when it is sanded.

The next part is priming the wood (or pressed wood in this case). I used both a spray primer and a regular latex primer (left over from the walls). The spray was easier, had to be done outdoors, but more costly ($6-$8 each). One spraycan can do about a small nightstand and 3 drawers. It dries much faster than primer brushed on!

Then you begin painting. I used the method mentioned by The Frugal Girl on her blog. Lots of thin layers of paint. Unfortunately it happened to be very rainy and humid that week, so it took forever to dry between coats. But on a sunny day it went much faster!

Here is the nightstand ready to be painted. It was an ugly fake wood look before. I sanded it right down to the wood (only real wood was on the top) but as time went on and so many pieces, I only sanded off the shiny part of the veneer. I can't see as it made a difference in the final product, but I was gung ho at first :-)

Here is the finished product:

The handles: I bought some Krylon spraypaint in Chrome colour. I wanted that darker nickel look. It turned out perfect.

I took all the old handles, which were a fake-tarnished metal look, and spread them on a piece of cardboard and just sprayed them. I was amazed at how quickly the old handles sprang to life! I would highly recommend spray painting anything in your home that you are tired of the colour.

Note the switchplate, I decided to spraypaint all these too and they turned out great.

The Round Garden

We used to have an above ground pool, but it became expensive to run and the kids were no longer interested in it. So we sold it, and I turned it into a garden. My round garden. A friend of mine has more land than me, and horses, and she let me have all the rich, black earth I wanted. I brought 2 trailer loads. I could have used more, but I was anxious to get planting!
I had a huge problem with ants, of course they loved the sand that was under the new soil (formerly under the pool). I heard from a local radio show of a "natural" ant killer, mix 1 part icing sugar with 1 part baking soda. It worked! They do eventually repopulate and come back, but I just add another application.
I can't grow anything too deep like carrots, because I don't have enough deep soil yet. But I use Ruth Stout's method of burying kitchen waste and compost in it, so hopefully in a few years, I will have better soil. In my former garden, I got a load of manure from a local farmer...big mistake! It was fresh manure and was full of weed seeds and I was never able to keep up with those weeds. I now buy my manure in bags, and add it to the compost along with some peat moss.

The Reason for Being Here

A wattle fence was a fence built centuries ago (and today!) by ordinary people to protect themselves and their possessions. It was a simple concept--longer stakes were spaced apart and driven into the ground to begin the fencing. Then smaller branches were woven between these "stakes" and eventually formed a solid wall. An example of a wattle fence is shown on my blog banner (coming!). It cost nothing, but it involves a lot of work and gives a feeling of accomplishment.
This blog is about building your own wattle fence....and the symbolism involved. I began building my wattle fencing when I had absolutely no money to buy a "real" fence. But it wasn't just the money. I needed a time-out, a reason to be outside and out of the house, and a stress reliever. I needed physical labour with a practical result.
Whatever your reason for being here, my reason for sharing is to make your life richer and happier even though you are facing difficulties. These can be financial, physical, mental, spiritual, so many reasons....you may be in an unhappy marriage, a difficult family relationship, or alone. It really doesn't matter, hopefully you will find something here to get you motivated and excited about life again and it shouldn't have to cost you a a fortune. Emphasis will be on using or reusing what you have already, or can get for free. It does involve work though, so roll up your sleeves and dig in!