Free and cheap things that have come my way lately

I’ve been a very fortunate girl in terms of the ongoing free/cheap things that have come my way. I really do think there’s a kind of cosmic give-and-take at work. I give away A LOT of stuff. (Not that I buy so much or own so much in the first place; it’s more that I find many great things and share freely. And when I “upgrade” something, I let go of other things.) Anyway, I mean that I don’t just write posts like this to say “Look at what I have!” but to think about what it means. Since I last wrote specifically about getting cheap and free things I’ve acquired many more for “show and tell.”

A neighbor threw out this large (25.5″ x 33.5″) mirror. It was a dark burgundy color and I already have a similar mirror so I painted this one white (primed first). It’s a small room and I always keep in mind that mirrors enlarge spaces, plus this one, opposite the window, reflects light from outside. I’ve been liking the overall effect very much; it adds something.
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Someone listed a free manual treadmill on the local on-line yardsale group and I pounced! I know nothing of treadmills; I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a “manual” kind which is powered only by your movement but I liked the idea. (This may have to do with having seen too many movies featuring the hackneyed scene of somebody getting distracted while on an “automatic” treadmill and go flying off the back.) Yes, it’s a beast and taking it on meant a piece of furniture (a tall corner shelf unit) had to go (gave it away) but when I thought about, what is more important? A large object that adds to health and possible longevity or a large object that is mainly decorative and stores stuff? I have used it all winter. I can truly see the benefit of having exercise equipment on-hand especially when the weather is lousy. It even measures calories spent, speed, time, nd distance traveled.

On the same aforementioned online yardsale group, a woman was selling the long, unused burgundy runner seen in the photos for $5. I thought it would cozy up the treadmill corner and make it more appealing to use in the dreary, cold, dark winter months. It did.

I should move on to the wild curtains seen in the treadmill photos. Last summer I found that pair of curtains tossed out on the curb. They were still on a curtain rod, that’s how lazy the people were! It looked as if they’d had a big fight: “You don’t like these curtains? Well, I’ll show you!” [rips curtains down rod and all and heaves them out the door.] Well, saw this gorgeous fabric pattern and thought, YEAH! That’s for me. My taste grows increasingly bolder. The curtain rod? Well, it WAS garbage, kinda rusty, so I left that behind. Not only are these curtains – which I assure you I washed – beautiful – they fit the other colors and act like a big of piece of art on the wall.

Further, I realized they are thinner than my original, cream colored curtains and I got the idea to simply hook the new, patterned curtain OVER the others so they added extra warmth in winter months.

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Patterned curtain clipped overtop other solid color pair

This bag was on the “free” table at the local thrift store. They must not have thought it had much value but it’s actually well made and looked useful. I’m not sure if maybe it was a camera bag or something? But I thought it could make a good over-body purse for times I might not want to haul a bigger bag, like on a hike.

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I probably wouldn’t have bought it but for free I’ll give it a try

I paid a mere $3 for this bag at the thrift store and was happy to do it. I like to keep larger bags on hand for times I need to carry more than just a purse. The sunglasses I got from Amazon for $5.
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I found a nice, large bird feeder last summer. The strange thing (for me) is I no longer remember where – I think that’s because I promptly put it away to wait for winter. It’s been a huge hit with the birds.

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When I write about my community I often think it must sound like people throw perfectly good stuff out all the time as if they were rich. The first part is true; but the second is not, nonetheless a lot of good stuff gets trashed. Near last summer’s end I found these two chairs in terrific condition. They were with two other chairs that weren’t in terrific condition so I left those behind. I washed them up (hose, soap, scrub brush) and boom – aren’t they great?!

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In late summer somebody threw out what must have been a large IKEA storage unit (all IKEA stuff eventually goes to die by the road). I’d had an idea for awhile and when I saw the drawers in the pile of rubble, I snapped up a few. I’ve been looking at underbed storage and I really didn’t the want to spend the money plus when I read Amazon reviews, many of the styles available sound flimsy. I want sturdy. So what I did was add a set of castors I had to the bottom of one of the drawers. Voila! Nice-looking, underbed storage. Because they were drawers they even have that hand opening to pull them out. I need two more sets of castors to do the others.

In the fall I got these two pretty scarves from the thrift store’s “dollar bin”. They are both my style and so soft!

At the local synagogue’s annual fall rummage sale I picked up this basic tote bag for a mere quarter. Little faded but still has life.

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More inexpensive secondhand sunglasses. The black-and-white were a quarter; I haven’t worn them yet…maybe this summer.

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Someone in the neighborhood threw out this step stool. One of the legs is damaged but I feel safe. (It wasn’t a mortal wound.) Did you realize the hole is a carrying handle? I think I figured  that out (about such stools) only two years ago.

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This 3′ fake tree hit the curb right after Christmas – the lights work and everything. It’s not a good picture but it is a cute tree so far as fake trees go.

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Last year I found a container full of small thread spools, which I could definitely use (although I did wonder who throws out thread??). The container, a big plastic chest, I soon gave away. I got the idea to put all the little threads on thin dowels. It’s great; I can see all the colors and they don’t get tangled.

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Lastly, these Easy Spirit shoes were $2!

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Once upon a pair of jeans…

Have you bought a new pair of jeans recently? Maybe I’m out of the loop because I don’t typically buy new jeans, or necessarily familiar brands, but I bought a pair of Levi’s from a Ross store this winter and was taken aback by the tags inside.

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That’s FIVE tags there

 

Seeing all that reminded me of an old Jerry Seinfeld routine where he ridicules the thick book containing the check you’re sometimes handed in an upscale restaurant: “What is this, the story of the bill?” That’s what I thought on seeing all these tags: “What is this, the story of the jeans?”

Maybe if you’re industrious you could cut them all out and sew a little top to to go with your jeans.

Let’s make a chimes/mobile thingee!

Here’s what I made this morning.

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Against the wall so you can see it better

But what is it you ask? (Pretend you asked.) I’m so glad you asked! For many years I’ve used a vegetable steamer or steamer basket which was prone to falling apart. For those unfamiliar a steamer is a metal contraption placed in a small amount of boiling water in a large pot. Food goes in the steamer, a lid goes on the pot and the steam cooks the food. Steamed food is said to retain more nutrients and it tastes pretty good too. When a tiny leg came off, my basket finally fell apart beyond my ability to repair it. I detached all the pieces (recycling the center piece) and set them aside waiting for inspiration because the metal sections looked interesting.

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A steamer basket


When an idea came to me earlier today, I tied the pieces together with dental floss (cheap & strong) and attached the three links to a piece of scrap wood. I made the top hanger from picture hanging wire. The whole thing is about 2′ long. The pieces make a satisfying “clink” when they touch plus each individual metal piece is prone to spinning. I haven’t decided if it should go outside. For now I’m admiring it indoors.

(NOTE: pleased forgive a day or two’s delay in responding to any comments.)

But do I have enough?

Hello, my name is Colette and I’m a Tomato Hoarder.

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Indoor and Outdoor

Some years ago I coined the terms indoor coffee and outdoor coffee. The first is what you make at home and the latter is what you buy outside. I’m almost exclusively an “indoor coffee” person (and I keep that minimal) unless I’m on a trip maybe.

Yesterday, after a visit to the eye doctor, I concluded there are indoor problems and outdoor problems. “Indoor problems” are those on the home front like a buzz on the telephone line, obnoxious loud neighbors, an ant infestation, a toilet handle that keeps falling off, a fridge that breaks down so you have to throw out all your food, or a wall with a hole that needs patching. “Outdoor problems” include doctor visits, car repairs, issues at work, car accidents, relationship struggles with relatives, people who owe you money, stores that don’t have what you’re looking for (after they assured you they did), harassment of any stripe, and so on.

I find that my problems tend to “clump.” I’ll have a series of indoor problems in short order or a bunch of outdoor problems piling up comsecutively. Sometmes there are a lot of BOTH. I don’t cope with overload of ANY kind especially well; you can hit a point where you cry uncle: I DON’T WANT ANY MORE PROBLEMS. It’s not as if saying that helps but just in case…

“I’ll take a small popcorn, a diet coke and a round of ammunition please.”

There’s a mall about two miles from me, one that’s been there a long time. It’s kind of run down and “mish mash” so far as its offerings. I go there from time to time mainly for specific things at specific stores. There is crime at this mall and I don’t feel particularly safe there. The vibe is just “wrong” in general. Every fourth or fifth person I see looks kind of sketchy. I’ve always noticed that too many people don’t appear to be there to shop.

Not too long ago an animated discussion about this mall occurred on the local community Facebook page. Some people felt the mall was unsafe but many took umbrage at that characterization and defended it. I just read the comments and stayed out of it. It did give me pause, though, was I judging the mall too harshly? Were my opinions about it in need of updating?

With that in mind I spend several hours shopping at the mall today. It was strange and exhausting. I did buy a few things, primarily food so it wasn’t a bust. My mind didn’t change though and I kind of felt the sign in the window of the multiplex theater said it all:

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If you have to SAY it….