Beauty and the Budget

All Things News: Part II (storage)

I was inspired by Deanna’s post a month back on  ‘All Things New’ and I decided to share a similar ‘trash to treasure story’ today as the second post for our series.

Just as Deanna shared…the amount of waste in our world is sobering.  It makes me sick to my stomach at times when thinking of all that we throw out and that gets chucked into landfills.  A while back I was working at a big fancy pants event (event consulting is my part-time work) and was overwhelmed at the amount of money and excess that went into this particular event.  Don’t get me wrong; it was lovely and amazing, but indeed overwhelming.  There were gifts for the attendees of the event and an entire hotel room (at a five star hotel mind you) was booked for almost a week straight, just to hold these gifts. No one even used the room…it was used solely to store the gifts.  The price of that room for a single night was more than some people make working part time for a month.  Gulp…

It is easy to point fingers and get angry at the way our world seems to waste so much…but I have learned that doing this doesn’t really get you very far.  I’ve concluded that we can make a difference by the little things we do and the ways we live our lives.  Cheesy but true, change starts with you.  Recycling, reusing and refurbishing, are all incredibly worth it and quite compatible with graduate wife lifestyles as well.  The below project was super easy and took me a whopping 2 hours to complete.  Sometimes it seems easier to just order the newest thing, but I challenge you to look around, see what you can re-use and what treasures you can come up with.  I know on a grad wife budget these opportunities sometimes present themselves, and I hope that even after this season and this budget, I will continue to live with the mindset of re-using and re-creating.

So I found this little guy in a sad, dilapidated state. Wobbly, missing a tub container and quite filthy. “ We need more storage in our tiny living room,” I thought…but this is almost hopeless, not to mention I really have an aversion for Disney princess characters.  Especially when the little tubs have ridiculous phrases written on them like (No LIE!) “One day I’ll ride on a big white horse and wear a crown and of course a gown.” And, “Watch me dance, watch me twirl, there’s a princess in every girl.”  Yes, I want my daughter to feel like a princess…but not quite in the Disney character sort of way. I took another look and thought, “what the heck” and drug it home.

I left it outside and later gave it a good scrub.  I tightened wobbly bits and I brought it inside.

Next I laid out some contact paper (I love this stuff) and then laid the shelf on top of it and traced the siding.  I then cut the paper out and simply stuck it onto the side of the shelf.  I also cut little pieces of the contact paper out to cover the princess phrases that were on the tubs.  You could also choose to spray paint the structure if you have the space to do so, or even decoupage it!

Viola!  I was done in no time and now when you look behind our door you don’t see this eye sore (cardboard box) which used to hold all the toys…

you see this! -M.C.

Beauty and the Budget · Community

All Things New: Part I (Toddler Shoes)

Written by Deanna, a current graduate wife

A few years back our small family crossed the Atlantic and found ourselves living in a tiny, cold and ugly old block of University owned flats and more broke than ever. In the lobby of our building, (right next to the small, usually broken elevator) was a large community bulletin board. Despite several threatening signs warning against it, tenants regularly left the things they no longer wanted or needed in piles against the wall just under this bulletin board. We saw toys, clothes, games, used magazines, computer monitors, office supplies, posters, TV’s, kitchen items, books and tons of other things there. It was common knowledge that anything left against this wall was free for the taking and we acquired several things from the wall ourselves (random plates and saucers, a white serving bowl, a pair of chairs, salad servers, a pasta spoon). Our lack of money kept me on the lookout for cheap (or free!) things I could use and so, I always entered the lobby with a bit of anticipation. You just never knew what you were going to find! My husband deemed it “The Wall of Hope”. The idea being that someone would put junk against the wall one day and hope it would be gone by the next. But I called it “The Wall of Hope” because I always hoped that something great would turn up like a piano or a sewing machine or a Gucci bag. (No such luck.)

My favorite acquisition from the Wall of Hope was this ratty old pair of toddler shoes. They were in pretty bad shape.
But I’m glad no one threw them out.

A quick trip through the washer and dryer and then a little fabric (from an old shirt) and two buttons later, they were pretty cute and the perfect shoes for my little girl to romp around in!

This was a very satisfying project for me and a good reminder of how, as a Christian, I believe God intends to make all things new. You, me, and even this earth (which I believe once was perfect and new but which we’ve all managed to abuse pretty badly.) Ahh, sweet redemption. I am honored to contribute to it, in any small way I can.

Anyhow, I like this kind of recycling. The old addage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is so true. There have been numerous times that I have seen things in a dumpster and thought, “I bet someone else could have used that!” But off it goes to a land fill and someone else is left to spend money they don’t need to. What a waste!

In a world where every advertisement tells me I need more, bigger, better, faster, newer, my budget screams back “Impossible!” And so, I am left finding creative solutions with what I have. I am forced to look for the potential of things, to consider how I can improve them. (It is simply amazing what a good scrub or a coat of paint can do to an old (insert item here). I am challenged to be resourceful, quick to share with others, and grateful when others share with us. And to be honest, it’s good for me. I want those things to be true of my children. I want those things to be true of me.

One of the loveliest things about living among other poor graduate students is the way we share and pool resources. Most of my children’s clothes and toys were once worn and loved by someone else’s children. And, when mine are done with them, we will surely pass those that are in decent shape on to be worn or played with by someone else. It’s a beautiful thing really and I would guess a lot less likely to be found in the ‘real world’ beyond grad school.

Do you have any ‘trash to treasure’ stories to share? Take pictures and submit via email to us!