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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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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.)

Finding a spot for the little metal shelf (finally)

Way back in March I found an interesting, small metal wall shelf for a buck at a rummage sale. I stuck it briefly on the wall for the purposes of having show-and-tell pictures in that post but after that it languished on top of the fridge, waiting for a permanent home. See, I’m running out of wall space and I didn’t like it the one or two spots I tried hanging it. So for 8 or so months I’d eye it and it bothered me! I needed to leave it out so I wouldn’t forget about it.

Perhaps the cool Fall air has invigorated me – I kind of think it has – and I’m feeling creative. It occurred to me to try an unconventional approach and go UP the wall nearer the ceiling with it. Bam! It works.

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I tried a couple different things on it and liked this white vase (a curbside find I picked up primarily because I thought it didn’t deserve to go to the landfill). Also, notice how the shelf metal matches the color of the hanger below it. A word on that copper(?) hanger. It’s actually some kind of construction equipment I found, again, tossed out (that is I didn’t rifle around a construction site and pilfer it, okay). There were two and I salvaged them because I thought maybe I could do something creative.

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The glass dish, which I think is vintage, was one of several items I got when the local arts theater gave away a bunch of old props they no longer wanted. I don’t know what it is,  I just thought it was cool. Occasionally I burn a tealight candle in it.

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Now you need to see the shelf in context. Since I last posted pictures the couch gained two new thrift store throw pillows, the lighter ones. Also, you can see how the metal shelf picks up colors in the painting as well as the pillows.

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And on the right let me reintroduce the bird cage thingie. It hangs from the other salvaged hanger. I decided the two hangers didn’t need to be matchy-matchy, which really isn’t my style.

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And finally, a different vantage on the whole wall and area. I am really liking it. Colorful and inviting.

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Creating clothes & accessories storage in my (small) bedroom

Last March (man, that sounds LONG ago now for some reason) I did a post about making my bedroom a cheerful sanctuary. I’ve been steadily improving the space over many years and it keeps getting better. It’s a small room and that forces me to get creative about decorating and storage, without feeling cramped. I want it to be cheerful and organized.

People’s closets are rather personal spaces and there’s several euphemisms to illustrate as much (“skeletons in the closet”, “coming out of the closet” and so on come to mind) and maybe I wasn’t quite ready to “show you my closet” before this but I must be feeling frisky now, friends.

My closet is 5′ long and 2′ wide. I hang most of my clothes on the over-worked rod, which is especially packed now because 1) in between seasons calls for both warm and cool weather clothes to be on-hand and 2) I bought a bunch of beautiful new-to-me tops this summer when the local church thrift store marked down their summer clothes to $1 apiece, and further marked them down to $3 and then $1 a bag. When things were a $1 I found many tops I liked (somewhere down the line I’d like to share them here on the blog) and now the rod is stuffed. 

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Curtain covers closet

I am unorthodox I expect in that I keep boots on two shelves above the clothes but that has worked best. The closet initially had just one shelf but I’d often peer up into the ceiling area eyeing all that excess space up there just doing nuthin’. With trial and error, I figured that the upper shelf I put in needed to be more shallow than the lower or a) I couldn’t see what the hell was on it and b) I couldn’t get whatever that stuff was down.

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Shoes go on a rack below. It’s pretty packed now too because of the changing season (I’m still wearing “fashion sneakers” but have also begun to wear short boots). You’ll notice the absence of “dress shoes”. My footwear has grown increasingly lower heeled/casual but I am making moves to bring in dressy, low-heeled shoes that aren’t boots (I just bought saddle shoes! Sure to be seen in an future post).

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I make use of two multi-hangers to make more space in the closet.

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I like short black skirts what can I say

I put two large green Dollar Tree fabric bins on a shelf over the closet (that you can see in the first picture above). They hold “overflow”, in this case athletic and warm winter socks in one and my purses in the other. I move things in or out depending on the season.

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I’d like my closet to be prettier inside but I need to figure out how to best do that (wallpaper on the back wall behind the clothes? A runner rug on the floor?)  but at least it’s going the right direction. I did put in a prettier shelf with a nice scalloped edge as well as a new closet rod. I moved/attached that rod up a little higher than normal because I’m tall enough to see it and it gave me more room for the shoes below.

I’ve posted about these tall IKEA cabinets I found early in 2016 and how I use one for clothes storage like socks, jeans, leggings, and scarves. Here’s the one in my room with a couple close-ups. (I took ALL the shelves from both units to use in just this one so I have tons of adjustable shelves.)

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I fold my socks in half to store them.

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Tights

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Thinner dress scarves

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Thicker dress scarves

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Fabric bin for pajamas and “cozy footies”

Last week I found a terrific deal on Amazon for a set of 4 5-drawer small Sterlite plastic drawers. I already had a 3-drawer unit that I keep make-up in (I don’t have a lot of makeup so 3 tiny drawers are fine). There was a crack in one of the new drawers so I got it marked down. Until I saw these 20 drawers, I hadn’t known that was what I wanted but it gave me an idea! I’d put everything small in tiny drawers. Hoo baby, there was no stopping me now!

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I found/painted this shelf unit a few years back. With the shelves removed the Sterlite drawers fit perfectly.

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Thin dress socks

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I got the tiny plastic containers (a 10 pack) from Dollar Tree

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I’m delighted with all these little drawers for storage – I have to SEE what I own or the things cease to exist; that’s something I’ve figured out about myself. It all needs to be visible and accessible.

 

NOTE: still having internet issues and may not respond to any comments right away but I still like them!

New little touches in the living room

This summer I added two small decorative touches to the living room. I’ve blogged previously about adding ethnic touches  to a simple, high, narrow shelf I made. In the summer I picked up white “icicle” lights at a rummage sale and centered them on the front of the shelf and then linked them to a timer so they’re on from 6:30-10:30pm every night. (I figure if I see them off, I should already be in bed.) I love the effect – and even after a few months, I’m surprised when they pop on “by themselves” every night.

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For some years I’ve had a mix of what I think all initially started life as chandelier glass, that is they hung from a chandelier or fancy lampshade. I remember buying at least a few from a vintage thrift store long ago and taking others from a cast-off lamp by the road. I thought they were beautiful but could never quite settle on the best use for them. Using tacks and dental floss (it’s great for both its strength and relative invisibility) I strung them up at varied heights along the length of a “beam” at the center of the ceiling. I hung them so none will knock me or visitors in the head ahem.  It totally works.

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So now that it’s fall…let’s still talk about summer!

Now that it’s Officially Fall you might think I’d write a fall-inspired type post. You’d be wrong. I still have a few pieces of summer show-and-tell that I hadn’t got to. And I really want to!

Earlier in the summer I bought my first solar string lights from Amazon for a few dollars. I put them on my seasonal screen tent and have loved them ever since. The photo doesn’t do them justice but here they are. They are so fun! Very colorful at night. They turn on as if someone flipped a switch (I try to “catch” them going on sometimes).

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A few flowers have continued beautifully into September.

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Thunbergia vine (an annual) took all summer to get “going” but it’s so sweet now

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Today. Morning Glory vine I grew from Dollar Tree seeds. How great is that?

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Morning Glory flower

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Best view is from above

 

Moving on… A few photos from when the “fair” came to town Labor Day weekend.

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I have never had deep-fried food like this. I thought I might try something – a deep fried Oreo perhaps – just once for the novelty but they were $5! And I said hell no.

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This did not look like a seat on which you would be doing either.

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I love merry-go-rounds/carousels. Yep I paid my $3 and rode it but it was too slow and kind of boring.

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I saw a squirrel run up this tall tree stump to get away from the fair commotion. Top left.

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He looked down at me while I talked to him and took his picture. Sorry, no “zoom” on my tablet! But I like his ears silhouette and the little paw hanging.

 

Finally, despite the fact summer is supposed to be about eating fresh vegetables, I found I wasn’t getting a lot of variety and was eating rather odd meals at times. Determined to straighten up, in late August I finally fixed an old favorite, “salad plate”, which is a mix of cold vegetables, whatever you want. I made a white bean dip to go with it.

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I needed to be *tempted* and this beautiful array did the trick. Geez, it tempts me now looking at the photo! But I’d have to actually get the stuff again and make it, sigh.

 

Take me to your leader. On second thought…

I’ve had a small folding ladder with two steps for many years. They were – as so many of my things are – a roadside find. I painted them a festive blue & white and they’ve been oh-so-handy. What house does not need a little step ladder?! Anyway, not long ago I needed to relocate them to a new storage spot. They now hang on the wall, easy to reach but not taking up valuable real estate. And so it was that I finally took close note of the figure in the illustration on the side label demonstrating how to properly use the steps.

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What is this?? Not quite a man, not quite a woman, not quite human really. The tanktop, pants and belt suggest homosapiens but the feature-lessness of the bald head suggests alien. It’s digit-less “hands” aren’t helping matters either. Now that I’ve noticed this being I can’t stop looking at it. What ARE you? Tell me!