Category Archives: The Bargain Life

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.)

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Dollar Tree at the Holidays, fa, la, la

So I went into Dollar Tree yesterday. Normally I wouldn’t go anywhere near a store like that the week before Christmas but in this case, I stopped in because I didn’t have to and knew I could leave immediately if the atmosphere irritated the hell out of me. Surprisingly, while the shelves, particularly in the Christmas section, were a bit picked over, the store wasn’t bad. They had several registers open (this store almost NEVER does that), shoppers seemed to be in decent spirits, and even the employees didn’t look as if they wanted to throttle anybody. Not right then anyway.

I assure you I was NOT there to buy Christmas presents (ahem) although I did look at the decorations. I wanted a big red bow but the ones they had looked a bit shabby so I passed. I got a pack of twenty little red bows from there not long ago and have used them to decorate, including myself (I tuck one into a hat band for instance).

 

While in the Christmas section I saw something I felt I must share. The sight of the hard candies brought back old memories from childhood, nice ones. These candies however, were not quite the same. Yes, the canister is festive, although that “artificially flavored” business doesn’t warm the cockles of my heart.

 

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For whatever reason I flipped the can over and saw something I’ve never seen printed on a food item before. I knew I must share these words with you.

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Do I even WANT to know what part??

 

After returning the scrumptious, partially genetically engineered treats to the shelf I ccontinued on to my favorite section, the FOOD aisle. If you’ve never been to a Dollar Tree or checked out the dry foods available, you might want to if you have any interest in cutting food costs. There are excellent deals to be had. Some of the stock stays the same but a number of items come and go so you never know what you might find. (If you don’t have a Dollar Tree, there’s a website and I noticed they occasionally do special discounts on shipping costs which might otherwise eat too far into any potential savings.) Here are the few things I bought yesterday.

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The “Made in Mexico” taco shells, which I’ve purchased several times before contain only yellow corn flour, yellow precooked corn flour and corn oil, no weird additives or extraneous junk. I like ’em a lot.

I used the lasagna noodles to make a favorite dish last night, Spanish Lasagne, a meatless entree which features artichokes and black olives. It is TO DIE FOR if you are a rabid fan of pasta, cheese, tomato sauce, artichoke hearts and black olives as I am. In a nod to health, I use part skim ricotta and part skim mozzarella, and not as much of the latter as the recipe says. I freeze several slices on a pie plate and then wrap them in foil so I don’t just eat it all up in a few days. (At the time I made this dish last night I wasn’t thinking about including photos in the blog so they aren’t as blog-ready, aesthetically, as I might prefer. But I can’t cheat you out of photos so I fished these slices out of the fridge & freezer for photos.)

 

Awhile ago I thought I’d do a post on the variety of foods I’ve found at Dollar Tree. I never wrote that post so I’m going to just throw in the picture now. Again, you can’t just walk into a Dollar Tree and find all of these; some I never saw again. Not only are the prices good, some of the foods are sold in larger packages, for instance spaghetti usually is sold in 1.5 lb boxes. Brown rice is sold in a two pound bag and so are pinto beans. All for a dollar apiece. The way I figure certain costs in life are nonnegotiable – rents, mortgages, car payments, electric bills, etc – but expenses like food are variable, so why not save where you can?

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Cheap food, yay!

 

 

Let it Snow(ed)…

After a mild start to December there was snow on the weekend. It wasn’t much to speak of, having already melted by today, but it was pretty and even kind of exciting. I had to snap a shot of Lydia the One-armed Watering Girl, Snow Man, and the Chinese lion. They made a fine, decked-out trio.

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This probably means I’m easily amused, but the lions in snow never fails to make me laugh. They seem so irked with the indignity.

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The other day someone on a local Facebook group posted about making a Christmas “tree” of string lights and decorations that hung on the wall in her home instead of a having a real tree. The photo was very pretty and clever and gave me an idea. In the yard I took a wood garden trellis I have (somebody’s roadside castoff, what else), turned it upside down, added lights, small gold balls and a homemade cardboard and foil star and BAM! I had a tree. The nighttime photo quality isn’t great but you’ll get the idea. It’s about 5′ tall and very sweet for such a simple project. (By the way, WordPress automatically added the falling “snow to my blog which delights me – I had forgotten they do that.)

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Note: please forgive in advance a day or two delay in responding to 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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Outfit for a drizzly day at the farmers market (bargain style)

I recently went to our local Sunday farmers market on a drizzly, cool day. My sister had given me a pale yellow raincoat (free) that was a bit big on her. Yellow is not a color I reach for generally but I’ve been trying to be more open-minded about it lately. The coat had shoulder pads which made the shoulders a bit too snug on me. Also, I have shoulders; I don’t need to add any with clothes. The key to removing shoulder pads from a coat – and I speak from having done this once the hard and wrong way – is to reach up inside the coat between the outer fabric and the coat liner in order to get the pads out. They are usually just stitched down in a few spots and removing them shouldn’t affect the integrity of the coat.

Although it’s short I decided to wear the coat like a dress.  I matched it with rain boots (the ones pictured are Sloggers brand and while I have purchased some from Amazon, I snagged these for $5 at the thrift store). The key to not looking like you’re wearing a short coat with nothing under it (not that there’s anything wrong with that if the occasion calls for it but the farmers market is not that occasion, ahem) is to have something, in this case, a black tank top, showing beneath. I also wore Old Navy exercise shorts which didn’t show.

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The bag was a recent $3 find at the thrift store. I thought the colors would go well with and not overpower the light-colored coat. I put my hair up in a high pony tail.

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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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