Free Storage Solutions!

by Katy on March 20, 2024 · 50 comments

My friend Lise and I took a walk around the neighborhood the other evening and hit free pile gold! (Well, I did as Lise isn’t on the prowl as much as I am.) Because what’s my love language?

Free Storage solutions!

Luckily the shelf was still there when I circled back with the minivan. The owner even help me carry it into the car and I was somehow able to schlep it into the house by myself! I knew the moment I saw this shelving unit that it would be perfect to store the kids’ Lego bins that clutter our attic storage space. We already had the bins, so there was no money out of pocket.

I mean, how perfect is this storage solution?!

And then on the drive home, the curb picking G-ds shone upon me again with this garden planter:

Very cool design with wood rounds over a sturdy plastic pot. A bit filthy, but I never shy away from a project, but the best part was on the bottom of the pot, because . . . hello!

Yeah, that’s a $60 price tag!

The cherry on top of the double hot fudge sundae is that the pot is the right size for my vintage wrought iron plant stand. A plant stand that’s murdered two ceramic flowerpots through the years as the design is top heavy. Using a light weight (and not breakable) pot is the perfect solution. I still had the propagated spider plant from the last broken pot, which slotted perfectly into its new home.

A very productive walk through the neighborhood.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandra March 20, 2024 at 9:58 am

Don’t you just love it when everything aligns, perfect finds! So happy for you.


Katy March 20, 2024 at 11:20 am

Why yes, I do.


Heidi Louise March 20, 2024 at 10:43 am

Cool move on the new pot!
Our basement hasn’t had water in it for several years, (I am most relieved to say), but it is damp. The legs of any not-plastic items that sit on the cement floor, like a wooden table, are set in old plastic yogurt containers to protect them. Most boxes are on upside milk crates, just to raise them up a bit in case of water, and allow for air circulation close to the floor.


Katy March 20, 2024 at 11:19 am

Those are very smart solutions!


Ashley Bananas March 20, 2024 at 10:49 am

That pot is absolutely adorable! Great find!


MB in MN March 20, 2024 at 10:58 am

Wow, you scored two perfect items. So thrilled for you!


Katy March 20, 2024 at 11:20 am

I know, right?


Q March 20, 2024 at 12:04 pm

That is impressive! It looks great: the unusual wood, geometric shape vibe going on pairs so well with the plant and stand. Impressive!


Katy March 22, 2024 at 9:15 am

Such a lucky find!


Bee March 20, 2024 at 1:18 pm

Two fabulous finds! One practical and one beautiful. The trash picker in me is just a little jealous.


A. Marie March 20, 2024 at 2:01 pm

Me too, Bee. I wish we all lived closer to each other so we could go hit up a few free piles together.


Bee March 21, 2024 at 4:47 am

You never know, it could happen one day. If the stars align. In the meantime, we will have to thrift and garbage pick together over the miracle of the internet.


Katy March 22, 2024 at 9:14 am

It’ll be your turn next!


Ruby March 20, 2024 at 1:34 pm

Those are awesome finds!

I am still in “get it out of the house” mode and put more stuff today in the donation basket that lives permanently in our bedroom closet. Did scavenge a handful of daffodils that fell through our fence from a neighbor’s yard. They are brightening up the kitchen right now.


A. Marie March 20, 2024 at 2:03 pm

Ruby, I didn’t have to scavenge daffodils because they were coming up in my own back 40, lured out too early by the recent warm spell–but the poor things were drooping in yesterday’s sharp turn to cold, so I went out and cut myself a vase full. By this morning, they were all lifting their heads and opening out. I swear I think they were grateful to be warm and appreciated.


Ruby March 20, 2024 at 2:13 pm

Yesterday was wicked cold here too. I think these big daffodils drooped in the cold and that made them fall though openings in the chain link. They are a lot happier and perkier now.


Lindsey March 20, 2024 at 3:44 pm

You probably know this, but in case you don’t, daffs have a sort of antifreeze in their stalks that lets them survive when other plants give in to unexpected cold weather. I am not making this up, I learned it while earning a Master Gardener certificate. (I also have a Master Exterminator certificate, which taught me many ways to kill someone so it seemed like an accident and not murder. Not a skill I have been able to use yet.)


Lynda March 20, 2024 at 4:31 pm

I’m a Master Gardener too. But I have to admit being a Master Exterminator sounds pretty intriguing!


Lindsey March 20, 2024 at 5:07 pm

It is part of the same series. I am also a Master Composter. The exterminator course is designed to teach people the right and wrong ways to deal with garden pests. But a lot of the methods would work with life pests, too!

Selena March 20, 2024 at 6:52 pm

They are what I call self-reliant, resilient plants. Many years they bloom and then we get snow. They soldier right through it. Same with hostas and other plants.
@Lindsey – the kill isn’t the issue, it is body disposal. The longer it takes to find said body, the less chance of connecting A to B.


Denise March 21, 2024 at 12:15 am

This reminds me of a joke doing the rounds in the first lockdown. First woman “ where’s George?”

Second woman: “he’s in the garden”.

First woman: “ I didn’t see him as I came in.”

Second woman: “You didn’t look deep enough…”

Bee March 21, 2024 at 4:36 am

Selena, that’s why it’s important to become a Master Composter too. Boy this has taken a dark turn.

Ecoteri March 20, 2024 at 7:43 pm

@Lindsey, after you have written your children’s books about the dogs, I suggest you start writing your murder mysteries. Based, of course, in gardens, since you seem to have a number of already earned-skills that are just dying to blossom, in a rich and healthy growing medium. Har har.


A. Marie March 21, 2024 at 2:32 am

Ecoteri, I’m with you re: Lindsey and the murder mysteries–especially now that we know she’s “licensed to kill.” 🙂

And, Lindsey, I do know that late snow won’t kill bulbs. It’s just that it did my heart good on a snowy day to bring the daffs inside and watch them expand.

Christine March 20, 2024 at 2:36 pm

The Spider plant looks beautiful in the new-to-you pot. I love the wood on the pot…very unusual and unique. Great shelves for the Legos too!


Katy March 22, 2024 at 9:14 am

I’m so pleased with both finds!


Mary Ann March 20, 2024 at 3:12 pm

Thesis Statement: One small decision can start a triumph of small adventures.

I decided to not buy milk or bread until I thoroughly gutted my pantry and freezer. This has been going on for about a month. We are down to the dregs. I used everything I could think of as a starch to put my two soft boiled eggs on. Then I read here about the no knead bread:

1. I printed a recipe and was ABSOLUTELY sure I would burn the house down. Put an empty Dutch oven in a 450 oven for 30 minutes, then put in the dough at the same temp for an hour. WHAT????? It worked perfectly. Unbelievable.

2. In search of the fixings for this miracle bread I realized half of my flour was rancid and my yeast in a mason jar was dead. Out it went with all the powdered milk sitting alongside it. I was left with one bag of flour and one unopened yeast
( large size.)

3. I learned online how to test yeast with warm water and sugar. Mine was good. I also learned that yeast in a freezer lasts forever (virtually.)

4. After all the oven time, I was shocked to see my beautiful white enameled dutch oven was filthy. How did that escape my attention? I used the outdate baking soda next to the yeast and cleaned it shiny and new. Now I will be excited to use it again.

5. The next flour to use up is self rising. I don’t want to lose it like the other. So I found a self rising bread recipe. I might be good through summer for eggs on toast. I only eat one piece a day and it freezes very well.

Final notes? I uncovered a pound of coconut oil which I refused to buy to melt last week’s aged chocolate that is now in the freezer. On with chocolate melts. Also, I used up one of the last cream cheese container I saved from the cabin long abandoned for house guests. It was strawberry flavored. I had a .99 Keebler crust and bacon bits. I made a quiche lorraine. It was hysterical because it really smelled like a strawberry cheescake with bacon. Crazy but Hubby loved it.

To paraphrase Princess Jasmine ” A whole new world . . . ” awaits with little decisions.


Ecoteri March 20, 2024 at 7:50 pm

I love your pantry and bread successes! Made me laugh about the dutch oven – I just took my cast iron dutch oven to my daughter as she really wants to make sourdough that way. My other dutch oven is enamel and dreadfully stained – beyond redemption due to the hot-oven-bread process. I have decided to accept it as proof (har har) that I have cooked bread in it.
I love that you found the much desired coconut oil after refusing to buy any – good for you. I will continue to follow your lead in the eating what we have plan of pantry reduction…. I aspire to be as committed as you have been.


Katy March 22, 2024 at 9:13 am

Yes, the artisan bread is miraculous! I just let my Dutch oven be burnt looking, no one sees it except for me.

However . . . I am not on board with strawberry quiche. Blegh!


Lindsey March 20, 2024 at 3:41 pm

That shelf would have been perfect for a raised bed for someone who needs to sit in a wheelchair and no longer can handle the terrain of a lawn. Some plywood on the sides and bottom, a few drainage holes and perfect! Or put one piece of plywood and then put plastic totes on it, filled with dirt for planting.

My favorite storage solution is a bookshelf my husband made with long gnarled pieces of driftwood we scavenged while living on Orcas Island for a year while I was going to Seattle for medical treatment not available in Alaska. (It was a good way to figure out if I could stand moving out of Alaska. It made me realize I am not fit to live anyplace else. I am sure I have mentioned this before, but the hospital tried to group Alaskans near each other so as a nurse said we could “constantly complain about too many people, too much noise, too many buildings and our crappy weather” to each other instead of the medical staff.) It is my favorite piece of furniture, not only free but bringing me good memories. He also used short pieces of driftwood, nailed upright onto a larger piece of driftwood. Varnished, it sits next to the sink and is perfect for drying plastic bags. We just open and drape a bag over one of the five upright pieces until they are dry.


Selena March 20, 2024 at 6:57 pm

In your medical treatment situation, I commend the staff. In the corporate america office, it would be mandatory to split said “comrades” as they feed upon each other which result in the negative. I’m not talking bad for corporate america but the downer attitude that gets *so* tiring and annoying. I raised my kids and have no desire to deal with toddlers/pre-K again.


Katy March 22, 2024 at 9:11 am

You’re right, the shelf could’ve worked as a raised garden as well. Maybe when it’s done holding all the Legos.

Your driftwood bookshelf sounds amazing!


Vickey March 28, 2024 at 12:46 pm

I love the “stacking functions” dual-purpose hand-crafted bookshelf! And that the nurses grouped folks together in a way that they could support each other.


Ecoteri March 20, 2024 at 8:01 pm

FFT (forgot to post this before)
1. Earlier this week I had a rough night sleeping – I had tried for an early bedtime and did sleep beautifully for 4 hours, however I woke at 1 AM and gave up trying at 2:30. So, I found a podcast, and sat with my letter opener and opened a LOT of banking envelopes – I am behind in getting tax stuff ready. Still need to pull stuff out of the envelopes, but am much closer to that goal. Sigh. Went back to bed at 4 and insisted on staying there until I slept, but it was a weird night for sure.
2. Got to attend a 3 hour training session for my Hospice volunteering – if I were to have to pay for the training it would have been a $100 or more course. Came away feeling supported and excited about applying what I am learning. Also met a couple of other Hospice volunteers who are new to me (not new to Hospice, though… I am the newbie). My time is precious and I was kind of loathe to take this workshop, however 10 minutes in to it I was hooked and happy. There are many perks to volunteering!
3. Later that day I went to my chiropractor and found out they are having an anniversary event with discount sessions with some of the other practitioners. I signed up for two things I haven’t tried!
4. And after rushing home and pounding some leftover stirfry, I rushed to yet another meeting. It was supposed to end at 9 PM but there was a bit of a rancorous discussion (one attendee who happened to be one of the few on Zoom just wasn’t happy that a decision was made – by vote – that didn’t go her way. She continued complaining for at least 20 minutes after the decision, and had already complained for 20 min prior – (can you say HIJACK a meeting? – the chair did try very hard to deflect and carry on but it wasn’t landing). So we went late. I was annoyed, however stayed to tidy up and then as I drove away from the centre (on a dark country road at 9:30 at night) I THOUGHT I saw a hand waving from a culvert. Wait? What? I did a double take, pulled over, had a talk to myself “it’s probably just kids”, pulled out my phone and the flashlight app, had another talk to myself “is this a scam?” (then I was freaking myself out but…) but kept walking – in the really dark night – toward this culvert. I called out, and heard a voice (still thinking – Is that a kid?) and then I looked down to see a woman sitting in a foot and a half of COLD spring water in the ditch below the culvert, a big basket on her lap, a purse on one side of the ditch, something else floating down the rivulet, …. she had been carrying very heavy pottery home from her pottery class, in the dark, without a flashlight and had cut the corner over the bridge. GAH! Ascertaining she was ok for the moment, I dropped everything and ran back to the meeting. Some folk were still there and they came running out, I held flashlight phones and the young farmers pulled her out – she had really hurt her ankle, and with the heavy basket on her she was kind of like a turtle on her back – unable to get turned over to try to crawl out…. She was at least 4 feet down. It was sheer luck that I had driven out slowly from the meeting, and that my headlights caught her waving hand.
I have been having waking nightmares about the could haves, and have been so grateful that I listened to the little voice that told me to check it out. A couple had come to the meeting together, so one of them drove her home in her own car, and the other followed, and she apparently had a grown daughter at her house who took over the care. (turns out her ankle was broken… a clean break, thank heavens)
5. Whew. Anyway, “Wonder James” has come and done a lot of fruit tree pruning. So have I. He climbs the big ladder, and I wander around getting anything up to as high as I can reach, sometimes directing him or really consulting with him about judicious Sawzall blade applications. Yes I pay Wonder James, however I save a bit by working with him, too! I pay James so I have energy to do the things I prefer to do.I also picked up the used lawnmower from the shop – I bought it used last summer and it needed some attention, it gets a big workout on rough ground here. Spring is coming and the lawns are taking off.
6. After an athletic day, I really wanted to order pizza or something, However I chose instead to dig in the freezer for some fish that I had put away for just such a ‘fast and satisfying’ meal. I did buy buns to make fish bugers, as haven’t had time/ energy to make them – but even so it was frugal eats. Enough for 4 servings, and something out of the freezer. Yum.


Mary Ann March 21, 2024 at 6:11 am

Thank Goodness, Ecoteri you paid attention to your instincts.


texasilver March 21, 2024 at 7:27 am

I am a believer & think you were like the good Samaritan. G_d placed you where you were meant to be.
I share in Katy’s happiness in finding useful & attractive household items. Curb piles are like a treasure hunt! Katy found gold.


MB in MN March 21, 2024 at 9:03 am

Ecoteri, your #4. Oh… my… gosh. I’m so glad you were there for her in a desperate time of need.


Lindsey March 21, 2024 at 9:08 am

Holy Smokes! You are one brave woman. I don’t even like to drive at night, let alone stop for waving ditch hands. Good for you for being so courageous.


Denise March 21, 2024 at 11:53 am

“Waving ditch hands…”: priceless


Ecoteri March 21, 2024 at 11:47 pm

Yeah. gonna get a bumper sticker – “This vehicle stops for waving ditch hands”


Katy March 22, 2024 at 9:09 am

Okay, that is an insane story, I’m so happy you circled back to help that poor woman! That story could have ended so differently.

Poor woman.


A. Marie March 21, 2024 at 2:33 am

Wow, Ecoteri, your #4 sounds terrifying. I’m so glad you were alert and found the poor lady in time.


Michele March 21, 2024 at 5:18 am

This is the kind of stuff that excites me!
My husband just unearthed huge bins of our boys’ Legos in our barn.
Husband is doing a massive cleanout of our barn. His Dad passed one year ago and he and just starting to see an improvement to give you an idea of the scope of this project.


mary in maryland March 21, 2024 at 11:39 am

Cleanouts of really horrible places are like starting to lose weight when one is really fluffy–it takes quite a while for the change to be noticeable.


Katy March 22, 2024 at 9:04 am

My goal is to not have so much stuff that it’ll take a year for our kids to clear the house!


cathy March 22, 2024 at 10:30 am

Katy, I’ve been a major effort to declutter, and no shelf, cupboard, drawer or closet is safe from scrutiny. As my parents age and I have to contemplate the hell that will be mine when I have to clear out their home, it’s made me all the more committed to getting rid of as much as possible so my kids don’t have to deal with it. If it’s truly being used or I really, really love it, it stays. If not, or if it’s a long-overdue project, then buh-bye. Unfortunately for kids (who are roughly the same age as yours), I want them to deal with the bins and bins of Lego pieces. Build with them, sell them, give them away, but no more gathering dust!


Katy March 22, 2024 at 11:57 am

Yeah, nothing like a cautionary tale for motivation.


Vickey March 28, 2024 at 3:08 pm

I regularly take pictures of stuff I’m moving along and out of the house and send them (the pics, not the piles of stuff) to my son w/comments along the lines of “s**t you won’t have to worry about inheriting.” He tends to respond pretty enthusiastically, minimalist that he is.

I’m calling this process “Irish life cleaning”, cuz I’m not Swedish, and I want to revel in having ever less things to take care of as I enjoy my later years. Why wait?

Also, re shelving and attic, etc. storage – we thought we were going to get to save $ by using paint we had on hand for the dining room renovation project (falling-down plaster ceiling *had* to be replaced before Eclipse Party houseguests arrive.) But a closer examination revealed most of the cans had “not fared well” (read: some had even rusted all the way thru and dried out completely) in our damp basement. Now they’re on their way to the paint recycling. (And yup, took a picture of the sorry stack to send the kid w/a “more stuff you don’t have to worry about inheriting” message. MIL is a bit of a hoarder, and DH and his relations are in for a very long haul cleaning out her two homes when she no longer has need of them. We’re sensitive to stuff overload over here.) Moral of the paint can story is: should’ve gotten those cans up off the floor of the basement years sooner. We were waiting for free shelving to wander in.


Dicey March 22, 2024 at 11:42 am

That looks like a Gorilla Rack. Those babies ain’t cheap. Good find!


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