Category Archives: The Bargain Life

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!

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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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Dollar Tree yard decor (plus one fix-it-up project)

Yard decorations can be expensive and since they take a pounding outdoors from the elements they don’t always last. So over recent years – with most this year – I’ve picked up several cute seasonal decorations from Dollar Tree. Please don’t think they will have these particular items if you go to a Dollar Tree – their stock varies and things they have one year they might never have again. I got lucky I expect.

The earliest pieces I got faded in the sun so I’ve hit upon a way to make them last longer. I touched up the paint myself on two and followed that up with a coat of clear gloss spray paint. It seemed worth a try and this year when I bought a few new pieces I sprayed the clear gloss immediately.

I touched up the paint on these two after it faded.

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Here they are in context today.

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ASIDE: This isn’t a Dollar Tree thing but since I showed you the shed picture, I want to share a recent project, the little shelves on the door. They were on the curb, headed for the landfill. I didn’t need metal bathroom shelves but they were solidly built and I thought maybe I could do something with them.

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Hum-drum right?

A little paint later…

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All I did was get a few clay pots I wasn’t using and voilà! Art!

Back to our Dollar Tree program. Also in the shed door photo was this wonderful sun image (in the pot on the ground in the lower right corner). I moved it there because it got “lost” in other locations; but with the white background it shows up.

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Isn’t this great? That’s real glass. I sprayed all of the bird with clear gloss

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Out of the corner of my eye – and from a little distance – sometimes I think I’m seeing a real bird – especially when I hung it by the bird feeder

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I always like spinners in OTHER people’s yards – it was high time I had one.

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I was so smitten I went back for another. (Maybe I can paint them when they invariably fade…)

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I got two of the flower chime thingees but they were only painted on one side which looked stupid when they spun in the breeze…

…So I painted the “plain” sides myself using random colors I had. I didn’t worry about a “perfect” job for these. Nobody will see them closeup.

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Can you tell I like sun imagery?!

think* that’s everything.

(p.s. I’m having internet issues so if I don’t respond in a timely way, that is why. Not because I don’t love you.)

It’s May show and tell time!

A number of nice, free or cheap things have come my way in the last month and I’d like to share them with you. I always loved show & tell in grade school and well, I still do. I figured I’d pack a bunch into one post.

I lucked into these Sloggers rain boots in my size at the small local church thrift store. Sloggers is a U.S. brand that makes oh-so-cute rain boots and garden shoes. I already had some I bought from Amazon. They have nice thick treads and since I don’t have a car and walk a lot  I wear them often. This particular pattern is one I’ve covetously eyed and knowing their usual price, I didn’t mind paying a modest $5 for a second hand pair, ones which are perfect for spring/summer in this beautiful pastel shade.

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Last week I saw what I thought was trash in the street and I was going to get it out of the roadway (doing a good deed natch) but when I got closer I saw it was two Holmes window fan boxes with fans inside. I wasn’t optimistic that they’d work but I took one home to see and lo and behold it was a working fan so I fetched the other one. My best guess is they’d been left on the curbside but the grass cutters mowing a “common” area had knocked them into the street. It was odd there wasn’t a “FREE” sign on them; if I hadn’t picked them up they’d likely have gone to the landfill because who expects random roadside appliances to work?? Especially when they appear to be trashed boxes.

They were really dirty, especially one, so I had to take it apart, even breaking a small, unimportant piece in order to clean it but I looked online and these sell for $40 each at Target so not such a bad deal. Not only are they digital but they have a reversible “exhaust” feature.

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I paid $2 at a community school yard sale for these Levis 314 “shaping straight” size 29 jeans. The people were nice enough to let me take them into a close-by building to try them first and they were perfect.

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Someone tossed out a small set of drawers. The drawers were cheaply made and I didn’t want them but the solid metal drawer pulls were great so I only took them. This isn’t typically something I’d do particularly if I think it’ll render an item useless for the next potential grabber (I once didn’t take an IKEA bed frame because I only wanted it for the lumber and it seemed right to leave it for someone needing a bed, only to later learn from another person that a fellow came along after me and took it for the lumber!). However, drawer pulls are easy enough to procure so I didn’t feel too guilty.

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I set them in the dish drain to take the picture to show you

I’m not sure what I’ll do with them; they could be drawer or door pulls or if I attached them to a board I could make a little rack for hanging things.

Someone advertised a large, free glass bowl on line along with other items. I was delighted to be the first person to request it. The bowl turned out to be good quality Anchor Hocking, perfect for making breads. It was great timing because I’ve been looking at large bowls online but thought they were too pricey. Here it is next to a measuring cup to show size.

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I think this next is my favorite. I happened to see this IKEA Poang chair on the local Freecycle group (other than to give stuff away I rarely look at it because the group is very popular and nice items get plenty of replies). For whatever reason though, I saw this listing with a photo about an hour after it went online and somehow I knew this chair was mine. Sometimes I just get those feelings. I was right! The lister contacted me and I picked it up promptly. The cover needed a thorough washing (not dissing the owner; it had been used on a screened porch and abandoned by the previous home owner) and the arm rests needed sanding, both of which I did right away.

It happened that I found a tossed-out IKEA Pello chair several years ago (and after cleaning it and washing the cover of course) I put it in my room. It’s been fine but the white cover gets messy fast and it’s not my favorite shade. I thought I’d swap it for the new chair. However, a Poang chair is a bit larger than the Pello and it seemed too big for my little room. I had an idea: I swapped the covers! Even though each is made for its specific chair they still fit the other. So, here is the Pello chair I already had with the “new” Poang cover.

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After having a plain white chair for years this in-your-face print is a big change but I love it! I put the Poang chair with the white Pello chair cover in the living room. Perfect!

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Let me tell you about these two chairs. When I sit down in either I say, “Oooooohhhh“, close my eyes and promptly start yawning. Either I am too tired or these chairs are quite comfortable. I mean look at that chair above – it even appears to be leaning back & relaxing by itself!

And finally, I just got this ” glider” style bench curbside. You can make it move back and forth with your feet. Or you can just sit there sprawled on its unusual depth. It was kinda blackened when I found it but I scrubbed it up. I “willed” a new bench to come my way because another I’d found and had for many years finally had to get trashed; I’d made several repairs over the years but the wood had deteriorated too much. What’s cool about this one is I could remove the glider mechanism if I wanted and just have a bench. It appears from the bottom of the wood that it sat directly on the ground without protection so I may have to get rid of that part eventually. Benches like this are expensive and I love getting them as freebies.

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think that’s everything – for now.

p.s. The day after I wrote this I found a beautiful 7′ umbrella thrown out for trash. I had to add it to this post!

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Let’s make a smallish outdoor dining table!

I was in the mood for a project this week. In the summer I put up a seasonal screen tent because the mosquitoes are god-awful and there’s no other way to be outside. I’ve used small tables in it which are fine but I was thinking it’d be nice to have something larger for a “dining” table, but not TOO large because there just isn’t space. Tables like I had in mind aren’t cheap and sticking to my usual policy of finding castoffs or making stuff, I thought maybe I could make something from the limited scrap wood I had on hand. The lumber I have is almost all wood that other people have tossed out; I very rarely have bought any from an actual store. So I usually try to work with what I have – I like stretching my mind that way and I do think it’s better than going out and buying stuff if I can avoid it.

I don’t trouble myself with looking up instructions or using intimidating “plans” – I wing my projects and learn from doing. As I said, I was going to use what what I had in my scrap wood, which wasn’t much, but I had an idea! I had made the little table but it was never quite as sturdy as I’d have liked and I was no longer using it anyway. Here’s the raw parts.

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First I made the outer frame. While I’ve never made a large table, I’ve looked at them and know that most have a square or rectangular frame on which the top of the table sits.

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Then I knocked apart my old little table to use the legs. Here they are attached. As you may see from the holes, they started life as some sort of IKEA furniture, which somebody later threw out. I just faced the sides with holes toward the inside.

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Since I only had little boards I came up with the idea of addng a middle support so I could use 6 small boards for the top. Here are the boards in place.

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Paint was going to be of the essence. I have a small collection of paints, most of which were free, either found by the road (this community tosses out A LOT of stuff) or given away by someone. This one color was so loud I wasn’t sure what I’d ever use it for but this seemed perfect. Here is one coat. I thought this color would look great contrasted with white on the legs.

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The next morning I applied another coat and clear spray gloss to the top only to help preserve the paint. Not that I think this table will last forever but just to help sustain it

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Here it is in its new home.

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I had used the legs “as is” because I was disinclined to have to handsaw those thick pieces but I could see the table was too tall. I’d left open the possibility of making it shorter (in terms of where I’d nailed on the low support pieces on either end) so I sawed off about 2.5″. Much better! (I decided to only take off a little at first lest I accidentally end up with a coffee table!)

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Oh, I should mention the bench in the photo is an old “reclaimed” bench I fixed up and the chairs were also – what else but – roadside freebies.  They aren’t exactly what I’d like (I had nicer chairs that wore out) but they are okay for now. Eventually I want something comfier again.

A day or so later I was having my “inaugural” snack at the table when it occurred to me you might like to see that. So here is a glass of homemade tomato juice and a bowl of salted peanuts in the shell. It happened to be a very hot day and it was delightful! I was so tickled with the table.

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I tend to accomplish things in spurts and when I get ideas they build on each other plus I have Serious Spring Fever. I had two little outdoor wood tables found by the road last year (I took the best two of several that were tossed). I had painted one this light green but decided to perk it up. Here is the change between the colors.

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The other little wood table is kinda shabbier and the wood is not as nice and I decided to just paint its top the same red/orange as my new “dining table”.

IMG_20170517_072458_kindlephoto-7948172I don’t know if it’s worth the trouble to paint the legs since as I say the wood is disintegrating. But what a difference even a little paint made!

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I also added fresh paint to the top of this little metal table because it was looking a bit down in the mouth. This “moss green” spray paint was another freebie someone tossed out. What a pretty shade.

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Short Thought 186 (Dollar Tree)

Maybe I go to Dollar Tree too much a lot.

I was in a Ross Dress store this week when a random woman in the kitchen gadgets aisle said that she was looking for plastic fruit and thought she’d seen it previously in Ross. Well, I didn’t know about any plastic fruit in Ross but I could tell her Dollar Tree had plastic fruit like limes and lemons. Not only could I tell her that Dollar Tree had them but I knew what aisle she could find them in (the one with the bags of rocks for sale).

For the record I have never purchased the plastic fruit at Dollar Tree. I merely admire them.

A trip to the fire house yard sale

On the weekend I went to a big indoor yard sale with many sellers at the local firehouse. They’ve been holding these for a couple years and I’ve found nice things in the past. I am increasingly particular about what I buy, new or not. I try to stay focused on things I truly need or want not just buy “okay-this-will-do items” or buy something so I don’t come away empty-handed. My commitment to de-cluttering and having things that add to my life is genuine.

Some of the sellers were aggressive (at these sorts of things I find that men and women and alike can be pushy or even rude) but I never let someone cajole or harass me into a purchase. I know they think if they can engage you in a conversation, even about an item you’ve shown no interest in, that you might feel obligated to buy it. (This technique may be geared more toward women buyers, I don’t know). If somebody rubs me wrong, I lose interest in ALL their merchandise and move on. There’s nothing I need that badly.

(One year in the fall, after I’d politely declined her baked goods for sale, an unpleasant woman waved some kind of brownie on a toothpick in my face and said snarkily and apropos of nothing to no one in particular, “she must not want to ruin her figure for the holidays.” I thought of many comebacks but it wasn’t worth the trouble. That said, I was ready for her this time when she snarked yet again in different circumstances.)

A word on the firehouse. It may seem an odd location for events but they have a large hall that is used for many functions. That said, I was carrying an item to the ladies’ room to try it on when the fire bell on the wall above my head went off. I jumped around like a sitcom character, then realized what the atrocious sound was, collected myself and moved on (but kind of hoped nobody had seen me).

I found this sweater, new with tags. Marked as $3, it fit me, but since I liked it but didn’t loooovvvve it , I asked the nice woman if she’d take $2 and she readily agreed. It is hard for me to ask for things (I was going to say “like that” but in reality it’s anything – but I’m improving) and her easy reply surprised me.

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I got this cookbook for a quarter. It has stunning photos and for that alone it was worth getting. I can always donate it later.

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On getting it home, I noticed something a bit different in the writing like this recipe for Minestrone which calls for a “swede.”

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Never saw THAT before. I hunted around and discovered the cookbook was Australian.

I happened upon the table of a pleasant woman I’d bought beautiful earrings from at a prior sale. She had many watches for $2 AND she’d put batteries in them too! I got this Milan one. I’m sorry the photo doesn’t quite show the detail. It even has the date, a feature I’ve never had. And I never know what the darn date is. My “system” typically involves figuring out the last time I knew the date for certain and counting forward. This is a sucky system.

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I made the rounds of the tables a second time in a more leisurely way as the first rush of shoppers thinned. The watch lady appeared with more watches from her car so I returned to take another look. I mean $2?! For a working watch? Splurge time! So glad I did. I found the most unusual watch I’ve ever seen. It’s like a little piece of art. The brand is Shiffon which meant nothing to me (a later Google search wasn’t very helpful, only suggestive of it being vintage – their word not mine). Look at this thing! The gray rectangle is metal and the small openings on two corners are cutouts. The right knob adjusts the time but the lower left one is decorative (I think).

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The ladies said it could be a “conversation starter”  but I’m not trying to start conversations; this just suits me

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I’m sorry it isn’t clearer but even the second hand is art – a bright yellow zig-zag line with an arrow on the end

As I wrote this I felt like I was forgetting something. I was – so I’m adding this after publishing the post. It’s a small metal wall shelf I got for a dollar. It’s about one foot across and 6″ deep. I’m not sure where I’m going to put it so I just stuck it on the wall to show it to you. Initially I figured I’d paint it but now I’m not sure.

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As you can see it is hollow and has two places to attach screws.