Category Archives: The Bargain Life

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.

Making my bedroom a cheerful sanctuary

My bedroom has been evolving (no, not revolving) over a period of years. While I was good at decorating other parts of the home, I seemed blocked on my room (compounded by the fact I didn’t want to spend money). That all changed when I found this Target (I think it’s Target, because when I say “found” I mean literally) lamp several years ago.

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BAM! This lamp “spoke” to me

I remember how excited I was as I carried the lamp home. Suddenly I had vision for my room. Now I’m not religious, not whatsoever, but it did feel like the skies opened and dropped this wondrous lamp in my path. Am I waxing too poetic for you? I shall wax philosophical instead. For me, my home and immediate environment are reflections or manifestations of me; how I feel about myself, how I see myself, and importantly, what I think – in my realest self – I deserve. Well HOT DAMN, I deserved, warranted, and wanted this beautiful lamp. About f’ing time too.

The lamp gave me focus. Prior to this, I felt my room was kind of shabby and mishmash. The Shabby and Mishmash Collection will NOT be featured at Bed Bath & Beyond or Linens n Things or any other fussy home store any time soon. As I say it lacked focus and moreover, when I looked at it objectively I saw it befitted a teenager or maybe young adult, someone just starting out. I am not just starting out. Not even close. I saw that my room featured things the teenage me might have appreciated (and didn’t have then). What it has become I think is whimsical adult.

No sooner than I found this lamp, I went to a yard sale that had cans of paint, one of which exactly matched the lime green of the base. For a quarter. In addition to the lamp colors, I added little touches of orange aided by a can of orange paint also at the yard sale (although I eventually decided a little orange goes a long way and dialed it back). Shades of blues and greens are my favorite colors, so there were lots of possibilities, no need to be too matchy-matchy or even to get everything immediately. A few things took time. Getting focus was the important part.

For the BIG job I painted the walls two tones of green, honestly, because I used free paint and wasn’t sure I had enough of one color! I love the two-tone; it’s polished and grownup but still fun.

Vanbytheriver recently wrote about the complications of modern bedding. I too have been befuddled by bed accoutrements. I’ve only, here in middle age, learned what some of these items are and do, largely thanks to the education I get perusing Amazon.

Okay. Duvet cover. First I had to grasp that duvet is a fancy name for a comforter. Why would it need its own cover then? It’s easier to take off and wash – theoretically – than to wash a bulky, cumbersome comforter duvet. If you never wash your comforter/duvet, I guess this isn’t your problem. Also, a duvet cover let’s you switch up the look of your room, seasonally or whatever, if that’s your thing. My comforter did not go with the color theme(s) so I used an off-white blanket on top of it for a couple years. That was okay but lacked any pizzazz.

I was stymied because the duvet covers or comforters I liked cost way too much. Not gonna happen! My criteria while shopping Amazon were no flowers or floral design, colorful, goes with “my” colors, and inexpensive. (The covers I loved featured large, blue and green color blocks or big circles/dots. They were pricey.)

I finally found something last month, featuring blue, white, and lime green – for $10! Yay! Decent quality too, made for Macy’s. It was coming together. In the fall I treated myself to the lime blanket from Ross for about $11. I love it.

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I previously posted how I made my own headboard. I’ve followed that up with changing the accompanying artwork. Well, as seen above, I swapped pictures yet again because I thought the strong duvet cover needed strong art. One thing I find is that just changing or tweaking what you already have is often a solution to a decorating problem. In this case I swapped picture frames, not just pictures. The picture seen above is now in the black frame (whose 4 plastic side pieces I turned backward for a better effect), and the other picture is now in the light green wood frame.

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Then I decided to switch up my  corner again, adding the green frame picture.

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So the square picture came over to the other side. (Here you also see the scarf added to the headboard too; I thought it went well with the new duvet cover).

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Finally, to give you a more comprehensive look at the space, I give you the opposite wall (photographed in panorama) which I’m really proud of, and which delights me daily. The curtain (a $6 Kate Spade fabric shower curtain from Ross that I sewed a 1 foot addition to so it’d reach the floor) covers the puny closet. Two shelves over the two doorways hold storage. The green fabric bins came from Dollar Tree. The “blue dots” on the middle shelf also came from Dollar Tree.

Art is whatever you think it is. Here the round Native American drum came from a package of fish given to me as a gift (the fish is looong gone but it was tasty). The picture on the left was a greeting card “woman on the beach” that I bought in the nineties because I loved it. I FINALLY framed it (both small white frames were giveaways). The little vases are almost all yard sale & thrift store finds. For covering shallow storage shelves I made, I found the orange curtain – which I think may be a sarong – for $2 at a rummage sale in November. I figure if I ever want to wear it I’ll just borrow it from the wall!

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Easy home made earring display

I’ve been meaning to post a picture for awhile showing how I hang/display my earrings. I am ALL about earrings.  When I was young I couldn’t WAIT to get to wear them. They are definitely my thing. I’ve previously posted how I hang my necklaces on the wall. My philosophy is – and I tell this to other women when I get the chance – if you don’t see it you won’t wear it.

This is a simple bulletin board I painted. I cut and strung the strings around & stapled them into the wood. I added cup hooks on the sides for hooks that couldn’t go over the string, like hooks that close (if you mostly wear post-style earrings, this display is not for you – I’ll get back to ya if I come up with a decent “post” style display!). I used a bulletin board because I happened to have one but other frames could work too. Part of why I like the bulletin board is for its neutral color; it doesn’t compete with all the earrings so they show up.

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Of course this could go right on the wall and look very nice and I have done that previously. Now however, since wall space is at a premium, I have it on the side of this 6′ IKEA cabinet I use in place of a dresser. Here’s a wider shot.

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Outfit for a warm Feb day (bargain style)

I haven’t shown you one of my bargain outfits in awhile. I wore this on an unusually mild late February day.

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The 3/4 length Fragile brand jeans were a thrift store find. The length at half-calf is flattering and the cuff adds an interesting accent. The Heart & Hips brand  top I got last month at Ross for.99!

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It may have started at higher than the listed $5.99 since there is another sticker below the first. However, my efforts to peel it back to see were unsuccessful

 

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It has a subtle stripe

I’m going to break blog tradition here because the virtues of this great top can’t be appreciated without seeing it worn. I have always thought off-shoulder tops were very cute but I have none. Frankly, when you predominantly rely on thrift stores for your clothes, you can’t be very particular – and I can say I’ve never seen a top like this in one.

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Chic no?

 

I got the Teva shoes for $3 in the Fall from a local church thrift store. To be honest, years ago I’d seen a friend in shoes like these and didn’t think they were very attractive. I’d never had shoes like them – in fact, my footwear in general was very limited till about 10 years ago when I started branching out and accumulating more shoes (in no small part because I had gotten rid of my car and now considered shoes the equivalent of tires).  Anyway, these shoes are outrageously comfortable. They feel like tennis shoes. I work them with black footie-type socks that don’t show.

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I don’t know what color that is exactly but it’s a great match for the top

 

 

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The quarter is for size reference (not what anything cost!)

 

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How cool are these?!

A word on the accessories. I just treated myself to the cat’s eye sunglasses which I found on Amazon for $5, which is honestly the most I’ve ever paid! I made the earrings; they were initially just the triangular pieces and I added the other parts. I also just got the watch from Amazon for $6. The watch face is huge! I love it.  (I haven’t had a proper watch in years – instead I have a couple old watch faces, one of which I attached on a key ring to a zipper on my “everyday”purse).

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