Category Archives: home

Easy, inexpensive holiday evergreen swags

I’ve been in the mood for a bit of decorating and made these super easy evergreen swags. All I did was take a bunch of branches and tie them together with dental floss, leaving enough strand to tie them to whatever, then add a big Dollar Tree red ribbon. They look great.

Here’s one with my pal Put Upon Santa, who I was moved to bring out of storage.

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This is the back showing the dental floss tie

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Making space in the summer closet (inexpensively)

If you took a look at my wardrobe you might think I live in a tropical climate. I don’t. I just favor warm-weather clothes and have built up a nice little collection of casual clothes over a period of years. Because space is tight, I have to seasonally swap clothes in and out of my closet (and tall IKEA unit) in order to make things fit. Nonetheless things have gotten particularly tight in my small 2×5′ closet this year.

Last October I put up a post showing how I organize my closet and clothes in small spaces.  That post has a ton of photos so I won’t duplicate them here so much as show my seasonal changes and a few new fixes.

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In winter I keep boots on the lower shelf but in summer swap them out for bins.

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Year-round I keep rain boots and some hiking boots on the upper shelf I added. The key to adding a second shelf is to make it more shallow than the lower one.

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Summer shoes plus an inexpensive 5′ runner I found on Amazon. The closet gets COLD in winter so I thought the carpet would help. And it’s a homey touch.

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Belts on the back wall

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To save space I bought this tie/belt rack hanger to hold tank tops. It’s worked out very well and it was cheaper than hangers sold as “tank top hangers.”

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Dollar Tree bins plus Dollar Tree plastic hangers (8 for $1) that are skinnier than typical plastic hangers so they save space. And I love the blue and green colors!

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I recently treated myself to space-saving metal pants hangers from Amazon.They’re very nice; I didn’t know they made such a thing.

 

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A tall, cylindrical laundry basket on the left side.

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Hard to see, but laundry basket for sheets on right side

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It folds flat when I’m not using it

Finally, I want to mention that the fabric covering the closet opening is a Kate Spade fabric shower curtain that I added an extra piece of fabric to in order to make it long enough for the closet opening. I found the curtain at Ross and immediately fell in love with it and while it took awhile to figure out its best use (I didn’t want it for the shower). I am delighted with this use. Since Kate Spade’s suicide earlier this year I have looked at this with bittersweetness. I am grateful to have her beautiful design but always saddened when someone of such talent dies, especially at their own hand.

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No more “House arrest” in the living room

I’m pretty happy with the things I’ve done with my living room, which I’ve shown from time to time on the blog.  Inspiration hit again recently, partly from a memory from a number of years ago when Nate Berkus, the charming interior decorator, spoke on Oprah about people’s tendency to place their furniture under “house arrest” – it was all “up against the wall.” I looked around and stood accused; the furniture tended to cling to the walls but given the fairly small space, I wasn’t sure how to fix it.

I have longed to have seating which faced the window, especially for winter (if you can’t BE outside, it helps to at least be able to look). Here’s my solution: pulling the couch away from the wall and angling it and the 5×8 rug in the space. The couch now faces neither the TV nor the window straight-on but each at an angle, but not so much of one your neck will complain. And there’s still plenty of room to walk around.

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The couch is very deep and I thought it didn’t look good – big wall-o-couch – till I put the plant and small table at the end, which soften the appearance.

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I made other small switchups. I put the white IKEA chair cover back in my bedroom and brought the flowered one to the living room (restoring each to the chair they came with). I pulled the blue lamp with the old-fashioned pull chain at the base out of storage. I had thought the baby blue co!or wouldn’t work before, given my general color scheme, but for now it’s okay and picks up blue in the chair cover. (I have since made a larger wood off-white top to put under the lamp so there’s a place to set drinks. When I put a drink on the coffee table I am at risk of kicking it off as I did once this summer, breaking a clear glass and sending my beverage flying, oops).

I have previously shown a high, narrow shelf I put up, one with pretty white lights strung from it. The lights are on a timer, 6:30-10:30pm. Well, last winter I got the bright idea to hang them in front of the window, despite knowing they acted up when moved. When I went to put them back on my high shelf for summer they promptly died and all the shaking and  “rearranging” in the world wasn’t bringing them back. I was kicking myself – I loved them on the shelf. Why hadn’t I left them alone? However, in  mid-summer I went to a local church rummage sale, the same annual one where I’d initially found the lights, and damned if I didn’t find another set. Yay! In addition to re-hanging my beautiful lights, I painted the unfinished wood white. Aaahhh, happy.

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My Dracena “Corn” Plant had a baby, er, flower!

I don’t have children or pets. I have plants. I bought a Dracena plant back in the ’80’s from a home store. It cost $4.  These are the plants that look like the ones seen in a corn field, hence the name. It grew & grew and I hauled it with me, over the course of many moves, even after it was taller than I was (and I’m 5’8″ ). It shocked me once when it grew a flower. I didn’t know they did that! I remember thinking it was kind of like when your dog Rex up and has puppies. Who knew?!

The flower was peculiar; it grew out from the side of the plant rapidly on a long “stalk”. And it had a potent scent. I was renting a room on the second floor in someone’s home at the time and could smell that bloom when I entered the front door of the house.

Years passed. The plant, now in another home with me, reached the ceiling. I cut off and rooted no less than three offshoots. Two survived. In time tbe original plant died. I was very sad to see it go but I still had its “children.” Two years ago one of those plants also grew a bloom. I had the blog then and took photos with the thought of sharing them here. I never got around to it and lost all the photos when my tablet took ill.

Which brings us to now. The other plant has a bloom! I am quite excited. Once the bloom stalk mysteriously begins to emerge from  the plant, which it did about 10 days ago,  it grows fast. Every day there was visible growth till the stalk was about 15″ or more (I forgot to measure but it’s seriously long). The process is really quite something to watch – I’m fascinated and I bet a kid would love it.  The bloom was literally reaching for a nearby tall lamp which it got to and proceeded to hook itself over the edge. I hadn’t realized until I moved the plant a bit to take photos and the bloom wouldn’t let go! The bloom was so tenacious in its desire to reach the lamp that it pulled the upper part of tbe plant crooked (I’ll correct this after it’s done blooming by turning that side of the plant away from the light source).

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It’s strange and beautiful

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The other plant occasionally turns up in my blog photos. Here’s a photo including it.

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I took this today to show you how it’s touching the ceiling. It may soon be time to cut that off but I’m reluctant and a bit nervous to do it! That sure was $4 well spent I must say.

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Painting a roadside find in bright colors

When it was still cold I spied this piece of wood (no pressboard crap) furniture  by the road. It’s half cabinet and half drawers. A true find! I was on foot so I had to abandon the drawers in order to haul the main piece home. Fortunately it wasn’t too heavy. More fortunately the drawers were still there upon my return. Not that I thought they’d make a break for it once set free… I just hoped no other passerby would find 3 smallish drawers all that is interesting.

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It’s 33″ long, 29″ tall, 13″ deep (a great size for many options)

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Only once I had it home did I notice the front left leg was a bit chewed up. What the hell??  I guessed a dog might have done the damage (or a big cat?) but I couldn’t think why a pet would gnaw on just the one leg.

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I decided to do a quick-n-dirty repair with spackle. I know that’s unorthodox and remembered about wood filler after the fact. Oh well.

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Somebody had stained the piece dark brown. Nothing wrong with that but I wanted color. First a coat of prime.

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I decided to get brave/experimental with the colors. I am more inclined to do this on a roadside freebee. As always I just selected from what I already have. Even these paints, except the white, were free, abandoned. This is with one coat of color. I could add another if the spirit moves me. I am super happy with how it turned out.  (By the by, now that I think about it, everything on top also was free –  from past finds and giveaways, except the actual plant and the lamp shade.)

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It only looks bad up close. Good enough!

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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.)