I blog to you today from the back patio of my lovely little ranch. I attended a wonderful wine and craft party last night at Nicole's house where we cut linoleum stamps to make greeting cards. (check out the link to her blog on her name!) While we were sitting at the table, one of the lovely ladies in attendance commented about how relaxing it was. I've never been one for art (until last night that is because it was FUN!), but most of my relaxation comes from spending time outdoors.
If you don't know, I have recently had a construction project that is more reminiscent of Holmes on Homes than Curb Appeal. I hired a man to put a 20x16 concrete patio on the back of my house. I did not take this process lightly. I researched, got referrals, made phone calls, set up price quotes, checked with the BBB, and in the end this man was the one for the job. As frustrating as it has been (no calls, no shows, messed up BIG time, ruined grass, and a broken seal on my sliding glass door), I've had to be patient and assertive in getting exactly what I want out of this project. After over a month of effort, this will all be worth it next week. I'm not sure we would have gotten here without a few pressuring words or assertive stands, but my backyard oasis is on it's way.
I will also be having a fence put in next week. Please dear Lord make this go smoothly. This has also been a long process of me trying to score the best price from the company. I got 4 price quotes, and thanks to some bargaining, will be paying $300 less than the lowest referral and had a tension wire to keep my dog from digging under it thrown in for no cost. It has taken me an extra 2 weeks to get all of this, but in the end those extra $300 are going to go toward my future car purchase.
I have also added a wonderful little garden to my backyard this week. It has eggplant, green peppers, and 3 different kinds of tomatoes that will feed me all fall and winter long. Since this was my first year for the garden, I overbought how many plants I would need. This has turned out to be a blessing though because I have been able to supply plants to others with my excess! I'm also realistic in my understanding that there is NO WAY I will be able to eat all the plants my garden produces so I've been thinking up some ideas of how to use without wasting. I will be hosting a Canning party sometime in October to can tomatoes to make pasta sauce, homemade salsa, and my favorite, chili, all winter long. Not only will this allow me to use all tomatoes I cannot eat or share with others, but it will provide me with yummy healthy options for dinner during those cold winter days!
Below are a few tips for outdoor living on a budget:
-Shop around. If you need a project done, don't be afraid to look for the best deal out there. The economy stinks and as a result, I've found people are much more likely to do a job for a slightly smaller price rather than not doing it at all.
-Clearance, clearance, clearance. My patio set was bought the day after the 4th of July last year from Target's clearance outdoor section. It is a beautiful black rod iron table 4ft by 2 ft with 4 chairs and comfy seat cushions that was originally priced at over $650. I got it for under $200 on clearance! You cannot beat those savings!
-Take other people's freebies. My grill was a gift from Nicole and Eric that was left at their new home when they moved in. It is a HUGE charcoal grill that was rusty and needed new handles. With a wire brush, 2 cans of rustoleum grill paint ($4.98 a can at Lowe's), and some new wooden handles, it looks like new. This means I got a huge grill for under $20.
-Barter. I knew I needed to roto-til the area where I wanted my garden to go, but I have no til, nor did I want to spend the money to rent one for the day ($49 at the ACE hardware by my house). Instead I bartered with my dad who had one I could borrow. In exchange for dinner, he and my mom came over and tilled my garden for me. What services might you be able to trade for something you need? Helping someone move in exchange for help with your taxes or painting in exchange for help with hooking up electronics?
-Grow organic. It may actually cost you slightly more than it would to use lots of inorganic products, but it is much cheaper than buying organic food. I've found that Meijer normally runs some pretty good sales on organic plant food that help with potted plants and veggies (since they use up the nutrients in the potted soil within a few weeks). It makes it comparable in price to unnatural substances. You can also keep weeds down thus saving yourself a LOT of time by putting down newspaper around the plants and areas where you walk then putting grass clippings on top of it. It is going to give me a great excuse to let the grass grow an extra day or two. :)
What tips do you use for outdoor living on a budget?