Tag Archives: Craigslist

The $5 Fire Pit

October 5, 2014 by
Photography by Keith Binder

My quest for fire began with a quick perusal of Craigslist. Nothing free that day, but in the “materials” section, I found limestone offered for essentially free: “$10 a truckload.” My mostly shelled-out 1997 Chevy Tahoe can haul some rock, so I called the number.

The fellow had a pile from an old building foundation in the back corner of his sprawling salvage lot a little north of the old Stockyards. When I arrived, he opened his gate and directed me about 100 yards back to a weed-covered pile of rock and dirt about 100 feet from railroad tracks.

It was heavy work loading the rock. We negotiated a deal: Since my Tahoe didn’t haul as much as a half-ton, I got each load for $5. I hauled four loads. The retaining wall I was building used three loads. The firepit only required one of the loads of rock.

So, this is a $5 fire pit. If you keep a sharp eye on Craigslist and are willing to do some heavy lifting, you could easily build your own fire pit for free. For me, the hunt for the rock was an adventure. Also, I’m cheap. I love a good deal. And this is perhaps the best deal I’ve ever landed.

After hunting down and hauling the rock or bricks you desire, determine the size and location of your pit. I used the round top of our outdoor table as a template. Its 5-foot circumference seemed about right. When picking your site, make sure you’re not too close to structures or trees.
It’s a fire, after all.

Dig a circular pit about 12 inches deep. I filled my pit with about two inches of white limestone gravel. Once I leveled everything, I lined the pit with firebrick I had picked up earlier for—you guessed it
—free on Craigslist.

Here is the hard part, depending on how uneven or mismatched your limestone chunks are. Although fairly substantial with an interesting texture and color, my blocks were varying heights and widths. It may take you several tries to get your two or three layers of stones even (or relatively so) and secure.

Finally, go back to the “free” section of Omaha Craigslist. There’s almost always somebody offering free firewood somewhere in the city.

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Freecycle

June 20, 2013 by

One of the most daunting aspects of downsizing possessions is trying to figure out what to do with all the excess. Perhaps you don’t have a way to haul that old chest of drawers to Goodwill, or it’s not worth it to you to try to sell your broken lawnmower on Craigslist, or those unused landscaping bricks are too heavy to set out for the trash.

Freecycle just might be the answer to your downsizing dilemma. It’s an online organization devoted to keeping useable items out of landfills by giving them free of charge to people within your own community. Local groups are found in most cities across the United States (Freecycle.org states that its network includes 5,096 groups and 9,332,889 members globally, as a matter of fact). So it’s quite similar to Craigslist, except all exchanges are, well, free. Omaha’s Freecycle group has over 11,000 members, and objects are requested and offered online daily.

“As a green-accredited professional, the whole idea of putting all these samples in a landfill was just abhorrent to me,” says Amy Boesen, an Omaha interior decorator. A friend clued her into Freecycle last year, and Boesen gave a book of wallpaper samples to a guy for use as crafts in his wife’s daycare. Another batch of upholstery swatches were turned into hammocks for an animal rescue. Gazing ball stands were used as birdbaths. “When stuff started moving and I could see how it was being used, it was so awesome for me,” Boesen says.

She, herself, has only requested one thing on Freecycle: fishing poles as event décor. “It’s a fantastic way to very quickly get rid of things you don’t need and find things you don’t want to buy,” she says.

Participating in Freecycle does mean dealing with Yahoo!’s Groups feature, which is inelegantly linked to Freecycle.org. You’ll need a username and password each for both Freecycle and Yahoo!

To join the Omaha group, follow these steps (thank goodness you only have to do this once):

  • Go to freecycle.org. In the Find a Group Near You window, type in Omaha. Select Omaha from the search results, and click the Sign up/Log in button. Choose a username and password, and you’ll be taken to Omaha’s Group Info page.
  • Click Visit the Omaha group and see the posts. You’ll be taken to a Yahoo! Groups page. Click the blue Join This Group! button.
  • Log in to Yahoo! Create a Yahoo! account if you don’t already have one. If Yahoo! isn’t your normal e-mail client, you can choose to have e-mails forwarded to, say, your Gmail address instead.
  • Choose how you want to find out about new posts. Consider opting for Web Only. Don’t forget to click Save Changes.
  • Browse posts. You can also post messages yourself and respond to other members’ posts.

Once you’ve posted an item (called an Offer), your post will go through a moderator who will make certain you’ve included essential info such as a nearby cross street (never put your address in a post). When another member e-mails you (via Freecycle…your e-mail isn’t exposed) expressing interest in that chest of drawers, you can respond with your address and let them know it’s waiting for them outside. They’ll pick it up without needing to set up a specific time and without having to meet you. All you have to do is enjoy your decluttered home and the knowledge that you’ve done your part to save the Earth.

Garage Sales

March 25, 2013 by

Spring cleaning is a yearly tradition for most households, and while we all have shopped our fair share of garage sales, a lot of people don’t know how to host one. Here are a few tips and tricks for having your own:

  • Advertising is key. Make large, sturdy signs with arrows pointing the way to your sale.
  • Use the newspaper or Craigslist to reach the masses about your sale but also keep in mind sites like garagesalefinder.com, where people can search garage sales by zip code or city.
  • Price items in advance with readable, easy-to-remove stickers. For example, blue painter’s tape won’t take off finish or leave sticky remnants behind.
  • Organize items by category (clothing, housewares, etc.). For clothing, hang and organize by size and gender.
  • Sell clean items only.
  • Hold your garage sale on Fridays and Saturdays.
  • If your garage sale happens on a warm weekend, keep a cooler of soda and water nearby to sell to shoppers for $.25. Encouraging kids to run a lemonade stand is also a great idea.
  • Get more change than you think you’ll need. Many shoppers get paid on Friday and will usually have bigger bills.
  • If you don’t have a lockable safe for your garage sale change, have someone always watching the money or keep it on you in an apron.

After the success of your garage sale, the house will be clean. And with the extra cash, hosting a cookout or throwing a party will be a great reward!

 

The Big Move-In

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

So you and your partner have decided to take your relationship to the next step by moving in together. Holy cow, you say, where do we start?

Before even beginning the home hunt, ask yourself if this is something you truly want. If you feel unsure or pressured, now is the time to speak up. Do not use moving in as an excuse to save an already troubled relationship. Think on it for a few weeks, or even a few months, if you can. Make sure you both legitimately enjoy each others’ company and have as many overnights as possible so he gets used to your natural beauty (i.e., sans makeup), and you get used to his cleaning rituals—or lack thereof.

As Laura Drucker for The Daily Muse puts it, “It’s okay to feel scared—big changes can potentially equal big disasters,” but if you two are in a serious, committed relationship, cohabitation may allow you two to continue your life together and get to know each other on a newer, deeper level.

Consolidating Your Inventories

Downsizing your own inventory first will help you to decide what stays and what goes. Maybe it’s time to let go of the 20 socks with no mates (even though the plaid one is super cute), or the coffee maker since you’re a tea drinker now. This could even be a lucrative decision, as lightly worn clothing or older, unmatched furniture can easily be sold on Ebay or Craigslist. Next, make a list of everything you are moving with and everything else you are putting into storage. When consolidating the big items, choose the newer, nicer pieces. Rosemary Brennan’s “5 Conversations You Must Have Before Moving In Together” in Glamour suggests, “keeping the most comfortable bed, better television, and newer living room furniture.”

The Sit-Down

The distribution of bills and chores is incredibly important. First, it helps if both of you are financially stable with steady incomes. Split bills down the middle if you make about the same, or split them based on ratio if one of you has a higher-paying position than the other. Have a sit-down before signing the lease to discuss chores, scheduling, budgeting, and even who is (and is not) allowed over when one of you is not home. Starting with a plan you can actually stick to will help soften the blow when these issues arise in the future.

Communication is Key

Know how to argue successfully with your partner without being hurtful. Make sure there is a definite end to an argument, and, most importantly, a resolution. This is when Mom’s advice on knowing when to pick your battles really starts coming into play. Be open to compromise. For example, agree to keep his shot glass collection in exchange for more room in the closet. Be diplomatic, not demanding about what stays and what goes. By making the effort, the process of you and your partner moving in together will be easier and more successful.