Anything that we do here in our little urban homestead we try to do as eco-friendly and as frugal as possible. I know it’s difficult to be truly “eco-freindly” but one has to give it a good go anyway.
So for my new hobby, as I have said in a previous post, I have started learning to paint in both watercolour and acrylic. This requires some supplies like brushes, paint and some other tools. Not exactly your most eco-friendly stuff.
One of the things that I can use junk as a substitute for is my painting palettes. Right now I am using two different pieces of junk. One is half of an egg carton lid, which an be used over and over for acrylic paint. The other is a old plastic makeup kit box, likely from the 1960s, that Ernie found in the back shack. I pulled the mirror our of it and use it for mixing watercolours.
The third thing that I am using as canvases is scrap pine panelling cut into small pieces as a sort of canvas. Using acrylic paint, I am making scenes of local landmarks and plan on using them as tree ornaments. Rather than buying canvases I am making my own and produce unique, local art that has appeal to the local tourist market.
We also use thin sections of tree branches – maple, birch, even poplar as painting canvases. These are taken from either dead fall trees or trimmed branches both from our own property so nothing is wasted or cut down unnecessarily.
As a final canvas idea, which I can’t take credit for because it was my cousin’s, are smooth stones. Here are some of my cousin’s (who’s name is Rocky of course 😎 – seriously it IS), creations. I have started doing this as well but I’m not as good as this yet.
So there you have it. Several ways to save money, reduce waste and be creative at the same time.
My 4 HP High Velocity dog dryer is outrageously loud. I bought it when that was all you could get. In fact, they now make HV dryers that hardly make any noise at all – at a nice high price. I am not going to throw this dryer out and buy a new one. The noise however is unbearable and in the winter I can’t put it outside to dampen the sound.
So Ernie and I came up with a way to save the dryer. He cut a hole in the drywall that separates the workshop from the dog room and put the dryer hose through the hole. The dryer now sits outside the dog room and only the hose comes through.
Imagine having to have a motorcycle or snowmobile revving its engine in the same small room as you. This is what it was like before this change.
Ernie found some old vacuum hose at the dump and that’s what is used to go through the wall and attach to the original dryer hose. The dryer and hose is now out of sight and in a contained area so it is not an eyesore.
We used electrical tape to secure the hose to the hooks on the wall but I will be covering that with something a bit more appealing to the eye.
Finally the hose is long enough now that I can use it properly. The pic below shows it hanging from the ceiling onto the grooming table.
So, all of this is just really the start of changing over to a more eco-friendly business and way of living. Some may think it looks cheap and crappy but I believe it is a state of mind. We take our time to finish projects and eventually it will look better. If we expect everything to be new and cookie cutter, then old buildings will be torn down and good stuff will be shown in the garbage. Not here anymore.
My grooming room is large enough for my purposes but I still have to use all the space I can. The shelves in the pic below were made from salvaged wood – of course. One used to be a shelf itself, the middle one was a section cut from an old table, and the bottom was a shelf Ernie made but couldn’t find another use for.
The orange high-velocity dryer has been moved from where it was in the pic, which I will show in the next post. Ernie rigged up a neat arrangement for it where we didn’t have to spend any money.
With the arrival of 2015, we have decided to make the slow switch to EVEN MORE eco-friendly living, which means anything that I need for the grooming shop has to be homemade, reused, recycled, dump-picked etc. I will even be composting dog poop and finding more eco-friendly grooming products if such a thing exists. The obsession has begun.
Running a business from your home can be considered part of the homesteading mentality. I tried staying away from home to go to a job, but I couldn’t do it for long. I made the jump to staying at home and working for pay and not, quickly. I just did it. Not everyone should do this, or will want to, but I had to.
My workplace is our home and it is small – about 900 sq feet, including the upstairs. It is a 90 year old house. I believe that all buildings – unless they are seriously un-usable, in danger of falling down or contaminated, should be saved. Their historical value is irreplaceable, and the chance to live in a unique home is just as important.
This summer, after much thought, Ernie put vinyl siding on, over top of the old exterior. Because we were doing the work ourselves, this was our only choice. In order to put wood siding on, the old siding would have had to come off and that was not something we were able to do. If it makes it SEEM better, the siding was made in North America, and is good quality. I would have liked to put on siding that was eco friendly, but not this time. We feel that if we don’t fix it up, someone will tear it down.
The garage on the right, which we call the workshop, is our work area. Ernie does woodworking and fixing stuff there and I do my dog grooming, including bathing, there. Everything has its place. It has to – or we would be living in chaos. We also have six dogs in the house.
I will be talking more about our living working arrangements this year, in order to show how we can live in such a “small” area and still enjoy life! I know a lot of you do this too, and would love it if you could share that as well.
The first project for the tree decorations this year are pine and spruce cone “ornaments”. I feel these are appropriate because they are part of a tree (obviously) and they bring the outdoors inside without make much of a mess. They are already dry, don’t fall apart and can be used year after year.
All you need are pine and/or spruce cones, (the ones I have here are Norway spruce), and some thread or if you want to use something fancier, you can use ribbon or glittery gift tying ribbon. I am using sewing thread because it is not too noticeable when hanging on the tree, and also because I will not be spending anything on this project and I don’t have any ribbon I can use.
All you do is tie a piece of thread or ribbon around one of the cone “branches” near the top. Try to make it balanced by placing the thread closer to the centre of the cone. Tie the end into a loop and hang on the tree.
The other ornaments are crocheted snowflakes that my mom made about 30 years ago. They were hidden away in an attic in a relative’s home and we finally found them. They are a little yellowed but look great on the tree.
This is truly an homestead craft project as it costs nothing to make, if you get your cones from your own trees or some that you find.
Our Christmas tree is unconventional to say the least. I decided to make this one so that we have a unique looking tree as well as celebrate the beauty of nature. Yes, green trees are beautiful too, but this one lasts for years and is also super earth friendly.
It also cost nothing to make.
I found the branch on our 2 acre property. It was deadfall from an old plum tree. Ernie made the stand out of scrap wood, 1X2’s and 3/4 inch plywood. You don’t have to be a woodworker to make this base or one like it.
We cover the base with fabric that we already have. You could use anything really that goes with you decor and I’ll bet you already have something in your house for this.
This tree could even be made with a small branch from any tree that has fallen onto the ground. You can likely find branches like this anywhere, even in the city. In fact I think a tiny tree made in this way could look extra cool for an apartment.
Our kitchen renovation is complete.
We chose an expensive sink and tap. The reason was, that it was the best quality we could get in the style that we wanted. We splurged on these two things because they are important to making our daily homestead lives comfortable. We don’t splurge on everything – obviously – but this helps to make it feel like we are living well (which we are) but still saving money.
The sink will last forever and the tap is really the best tap for us because we don’t have to touch the handle with dirty working hands (that were cutting meat or other yuck) to turn on the water. We can use our arm or elbow. This makes cleaning easier and makes things more sanitary really.
The counter top and cupboards are not conventional but I will have to leave that for another post.
Spending more money on certain things that you need helps to offset the times you don’t spend, especially on frivolous stuff. You will end up with awesome useful things you need that are incredible to use and nice to look at and still be saving money because you aren’t spending money on everything you want. And you won’t feel deprived in the process. This is a key to homestead spending.
So much stuff goes in the garbage. Sure there is some stuff that is actually unusable, but the majority of items are reusable or recyclable. I’m sure most people have a story of something they have saved from another person’s garbage, from the garbage dump or from a family member.
To make a point, I am really interested in vintage decor. We have two vintage clocks. The first one was in this house when I moved in. It was my mother-in-law’s and was an electric clock with a cord and was not being used. We took the cord out and put in a battery mechanism. Sorry about the dust – it is in the dog room.
The second clock is even more spectacular. We found it at a flea market for 50 cents. The mechanism in it was original but didn’t work, so again we changed it and now have the most gorgeous clock.
Both clocks are made of plastic and both are made in the USA.