Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Finding Good Stuff at Goodstuff

Don't you love it when you run across a thrift/antique/consignment shop you've never seen before?  That's what happened to me earlier this month while looking for a locally owned bookstore to do some holiday shopping at.  The bookstore was a bust, but while I left and headed across to my car my eyes were drawn to a storefront that proclaimed "antiques consignment" (I may have a super-human sense for this type of thing).  That was the day I found Goodstuff Consignment in historic Bon Air.  I went in there to find out that they were in the middle of a- get this- 70% off nearly everything in the store sale!  I went there three times that week.  Once that first day, where I found the jewelry mentioned here for me and a Christmas gift for my husband, once to get a gift for my parents and brother, and once to bring my son there to get gifts for his girlfriend (Because my son is just cool enough to get his girl a vintage ring for Christmas. And yes, she loved it).

I love this place.  Every time I was there I saw things I missed the last time.  It's one of those places where you have to poke into every little corner to find all the treasures waiting there to be discovered.  Drawers stuffed with jewelry, teacups stacked in a teacup "wall," furniture slid into every conceivable place- I spent two hours there the first time.  And I was in heaven.  Check out their website to get a sense of what's there on a regular basis.

The gentleman behind the counter was also extremely knowledgeable and helpful.  He gave me the ins and outs of milk glass, looked up a backmark on a piece of Haviland china for me, and generally whipped out a magnifying glass anytime I had a question about a piece of jewelry.

Ok.  Enough gushing about the store- I just love finding a wonderful, local, independent shop.

On to my finds!

The first was a beautiful bangle that my husband says is "completely Lisa."  I absolutely love color and couldn't put it down.  The design is not just painted on; it's got a gold border with the color inside it.  Same on the inside.  I cannot remember now for the life of me what this technique is called.  If someone reading this can help me out, I'd love to get the description again.

multicolored antique bangle
Name that technique!  Anyone?? 

inside of bangle

The second piece was another chicken pin for me, meaning that I picked it up and put it down a number of times before deciding that I couldn't leave the store without it.  I think it was a combination of the jade leaves and the delicate filigree around the edges.
delicate antique pin
And I wore it to work twice that week .
In any case, this store has become one of my favorites.  And I wish I could post the other great things I found, but they're gifts and would ruin the surprise. :(  Oh, well.  I'm sure I'll be back at some point.
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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Silhouette Cut-out Shirt- Baby Goat Style!

Tutorial cover
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Now that school's out for Winter break, I have a bit of time to be a tad more crafty.  I got one day out of school and found myself itching to get back into my crafting/sewing room.  I started digging around in my drawers of collected clothing looking for inspiration.

That's when I found a ribbed tee shirt that was a nice teal color and still in good condition.  "Why is this in here?" I wondered to myself- until I put the shirt over my head and felt like a sausage.  Too.  Small.  I found two other ribbed shirts and pulled them out and began to scheme.  In the end, I just used the white, but the burgundy would have been nice as well.
Before shirts
I began with the one on the right.  It even LOOKS like it was made to fit on something  the size of a  fence post.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cheap Date night: Bookstore Brouhaha

Every couple needs to carve some time out now and again to devote just to each other- not the bills, not the condition of the water heater, and not even the perplexing mystery of why your sister just keeps dating that weirdo from accounting- just the two of you and that blissfulness that comes from spending time with the one you love.

For those that are still in their first year or two together, this comes naturally.  But for those of us who have been together for more than a decade?  You've gotta remind yourself to do it sometimes or life will get in the way.

Today's post is about the date I just had with my husband, and it was spontaneous and fun and only took two hours and $10.  It was just what we needed on a Friday night after a very long week at work.  If you're a bibliophile like us (or even have a basic enjoyment of reading) then you may find this cheap date idea fun and easy to put together.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Halloween Creepy Doll Costume

Creepy Doll Makeup tutorial
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Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and my husband and I always try to celebrate with some amazing costumes.  I've traditionally made our costumes from scratch, rather than buying them in the store (it was how my mother did it, and may not be for everyone, but it's how I prefer to do it).  This isn't always the cheaper method, and is certainly not the easiest, but it allows for some pretty cool costumes and lots of originality.  My son has frequently been complimented on his costumes, and his list over the years includes things such as a Renaissance nobleman's son, jedi padawan, Legolas from LOTR, druid, and (one our personal favorites) leftover meatloaf.  I had hoped to come up with something great for me this year as well- new and original, but in the end I repurposed a costume from a few years ago and did some creative makeup magic to get a new effect.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Recipe: Quick Cobbler Mix

Quick Cobbler Mix cover photo
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This summer was the summer of peaches for my son and I.  I joined a co-op that allows me to order fresh produce and other natural and organic products from local farms and producers; it was through that organization that we discovered what a real peach can taste like. 

If you've never eaten a peach that's not off the grocery store shelf, you really need to track down a local farmers market and treat yourself.  If you don't live somewhere warm enough to grow peaches, I'm sorry, but you'll have to make a special "peach roadtrip" to get somewhere warm.  And a hint: if it's December and you're buying peaches, nothing good can come from it.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Operation Halloween Wreath

white trig wreath with black flowers and spiders
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There are many things in this world that are reasonably priced.  Door wreaths are not one of those things.  If you haven't perused a Michael's store or a Hobby Lobby lately, wander in there and check out their custom wreaths- you'll be shocked at the price.  A mid-range wreath can easily be $70.  Completely crazy.

This is the main reason why the wreath on our front door that was meant for Spring has stayed put through every season for two years.  The only exception was last year's winter holiday season, when an evergreen wreath made its way onto the front of our house.  This summer I found a purple silk flower on the front walk and realized it had fallen off of our wreath.  Upon closer inpection, I realized that all the flowers had become faded and weather beaten.  It was definately time to get a new one.  After the sticker shock, however, I had it in mind to just pull off all the old flowers and get some new ones to replace them- get a "new" wreath for very little.  "I'll make a great Autumn wreath," I thought.  But I just kept putting the idea off.  Other things kept getting in the way.

And then a better deal presented itself.  I was looking at my local Freecycle email updates and saw that a woman was giving away a "like new large white wreath."  I decided to take a chance and go pick it up.  When I got there, this is what I found.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Refashion: Orange and Gray Dress

J. Jill top and shift become grey and orange color blocked dress
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Let me just start out by stating that I love, love, love it when friends unload their hand-me-downs on me.  Every so often someone I know will ask me if I want their old clothes, and soon I'm hauling garbage bags from the back of a station wagon to the trunk of my car.  When I get home, it's like Christmas.

This summer, a coworker of mine passed along two full bags of clothes from J. Jill.  She was a bit hesitant at first, since the clothes were the wrong size for me (too big).  I had to tell her that I think that it's better to have something too big rather than too small.  You can always tailor something down to a smaller size, but it doesn't quite work the other way around.

The first thing to catch my eye was a long, grey, soft, knit dress. The fabric was such a good quality that I knew I could find something to use it for.  When I saw the linen orange tank, I knew that they would be a great fit together.
Before picture of tank and dress
Waaaay too large, but great fabric and awesome potential!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

DIY: Crafty Cake Platter

Pink and blue cake platter from plate and ice cream dish
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It's always great when I find out that I'm inspiring friends and neighbors with my blog.  I love the feeling that comes from finding something great in a thrift store or coming up with imaginative ways to save money by repurposing something, so I really love it when a friend catches the thrifty bug and tells me about their exploits as well!

I recently received a Facebook message from a photographer friend of mine.  She said she was in need of my "thrifty/crafty genius" (warm fuzzy moment there).  She had an upcoming photo shoot and wanted a cake platter similar to one she had seen on the Internet- only she needed it pronto and didn't want to spend the $20 or so it would take to get it to her.  The platter was essentially a goblet flipped upside down with a plate glued onto the goblet stand.  She basically asked me where she could go to find glassware at a great price in our area, as she felt she could whip one of these up easily.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chester Drawers Trip

One thing I love about living in Virginia is the fact that there is so much history here.  Growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, it was uncommon to find even a building that was over 100 years old; down here near Richmond, it doesn't raise eyebrows.  In fact, my husband jokes about the number of historical plaques that we see on a regular basis.

Last week, I took my son to a birthday party and decided that it wasn't worth it to drive all the way back home (it was about a 35 minute drive).  I decided to make the most of the unfamiliar geographical location and look for a thrift store or consignment shop.  And amazingly enough, I found the Chester Drawers, which is a consignment shop very close to where I used to live.  How did I never see it there??

Take a look at how they took an ordinary southern-style home and turned it into a cute consignment shop:

Front of building
Doesn't it look inviting?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Belts, more belts, and an amazing Cynthia Rowley trench!

Today I headed down to the Family Thrift and found what I believe to be the last available spot in the parking lot (very normal).  This is one of my favorite thrift stores, since the prices are amazing and the merchandise is always turning over.  I was technically out running an errand involving my car, but there was no way I was going to pass the Family Thrift and not stop. 

So recently I decided I don't own enough great belts (even though I'm pretty sure my husband would disagree). Because of this, I have been making it a habit to check out the accessories at every store I hit.  I hit the mother load today when I looked.  Anyone who shops at thrift or consignment shops knows that sometimes you walk away with great stuff, and sometimes you find nothing.  Amazingly, I found four- four!- belts today that were all great deals.  I really liked finding the basic brown leather belt, as it's a very classic design and will last and last and last.  You just can't pass up something like that when it's only $3.

Four belts and a Liz Claibourne handbag on a chair.
Braided leather belt= $1; Classic leather belt with silver buckle= $3; Brown textured belt= $1; Green studded belt= $1.
Liz Claiborne handbag= $10.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

DIY Tutorial: Reversable Piped-Edged Pillow

Blue and white reversable pillow with piping.
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A week or so ago I created a ruffle pillow using a thrift store pillow and some fabric I had lying around in my fabric stash.  After the whole sewing bonanza was done, I still had fabric left over, as well as a beautiful coordinating fabric that I hadn't used.

I also had a really ugly green pillow that I briefly discussed in that tutorial.  It's the one my family's been kicking around for what seems like forever.  Oddly enough, my husband had formed some sort of sad attachment to it.  It was his favorite pillow for taking naps on or propping his feet up.  Something about that ugly green color and '90s print just spoke to him... or something.

Ugly '90s pillow with ruffle and diamonds
Yeah- it's really that bad.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Cat and his Blanket

Anyone that owns a cat knows that felines love to sit on things.  In fact, as I write this, one of my two kitties is on my lap, licking my arm and vying for my attention.  Cats also like to knead on blankets, or pillows, or stomachs (info for you non-cat people).  And even though they have fur covering their bodies and thick pads on their feet, I am convinced that cats can feel differences in fabrics and perhaps even have a favorite material to knead on.  At least, that seems to be true for Azrael, my enormous black "baby panther."

So when I saw that he had pulled a wearable towel down from my fabric shelves, I wasn't too surprised.  It has a very fuzzy, almost terrycloth feel to it, and Azrael has always loved blankets with that texture.

Cat with a wearable towel pulled from the shelf
See the shelf in the background?  He stole it from there.
Actually, when I saw that he had pulled it down, I was excited to finally have something to make out of this crazy shower/ beach cover-up garment.  It was given to me from a friend in a bag of "hand me overs," but the print was so crazy I was never quite sure what to do with it. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

My Discovery of Magasin du Nord

two antique bangles from a store in Copenhagen, Denmark.
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Today I made three amazing finds, and I'm very excited about all of them.  The first discovery was made when I went to pick up my order from my farm to family co-op.  I've only been part of the program for a few weeks, and to pick up my order I have to go to a shopping center that I have never really poked around in.

Well, when I went there today, I discovered Village Antiques and Consignments, and nearly gave myself whiplash stopping the car (find number one).

Friday, July 27, 2012

J. Crew, Ann Taylor, and Old Navy, oh my!

There's nothing quite like finding a great deal on great clothes!  My son, Shaun, was nice enough to join me earlier this week on a thrifting trip, where we ended up at one of my local Goodwill stores.  (I say "one of" because I can get to three of them within ten minutes of my house.)  He was a great sport helping me look through the racks, but I think he has a secret love of hunting down the ugliest clothes in existence and laughing at them with me.  He also collected clothes after I sent them back over the dressing room door, sorting them between "keep" and "nope," as well as checking the good clothes for defects.

My family was also nice enough to take some photos of me with my finds. Now, I know that I'm not a model, and we don't have a professional photographer in the family, but the clothes are so much better shown on a body versus a hanger.  Also as a disclaimer, it was 98 degrees in Virginia that day, with humidity that could make a sauna feel arid.  I blame any bad hair or weird faces on that fact.

Now to the clothes!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

DIY Tutorial: Ruffle Pillow

Blue ruffle pillow on white chair- cover for DIY tutorial
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I've been a bit irritated with the severe lack of comfortable pillows in our family room as of late.  It's the room where we watch movies and play games; one would think there would be plenty of pillows to cuddle up with.  Remarkably, we've never found a pillow in any store which fits the room (and our budget) enough to buy one.  We've been kicking around an green one since we moved, which in no way matches our decor.

Green and red ugly pillows on couch with blue rug
The pillow on the left is the one we have from our old home.  It was transformed here.  The one on the right is the pillow I purchased from the thrift store.  I have the rug in the picture so that you can see how much they do NOT match the room. Egads- how embarrassing!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tea and Thrifting with Friends

Today I took a day for "tea and thrifting" with my good friends, Kat and Sirena.  We started with a light meal at my house before setting off to a couple of my favorite stores (need fuel for a day like this).  We declared the meal extra-fancy because it was the first time I'd used the beautiful dishes I purchased at the annual Surreywood community yard sale.  In fact, it was these dishes that prompted us to decide that we needed to start having tea together.  And no comments on how it's an "old" tradition; generations of Englishmen can't be wrong. 
dessert plates and platter in silk lined box- cabbage rose design
These are in perfect condition.  With a cabbage rose design, they have 22KG around the edges.  One online collector was selling the dessert plates for $40, but I'm not sure of the actual value of the pieces.  I paid $10 for the set.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

DIY Tutorial: Racer Back Shirt Refashion

Racer Back Tee Shirt Tutorial cover
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Racer back shirts are super comfortable and quite in style.  What's NOT in style are oversized, shapeless tees.  And what do you think I found in my huge stash of crafty clothing set aside for repurposing/refashioning?  That's right, THIS tee:
Rio de Janeiro tee shirt before picture- shapeless. :(
It's so depressing, it's in black and white.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Recipe: Homemade Taco Seasoning

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It was about a year ago when I realized that I was spending 90 cents per packet for store-bought taco seasoning.  I sort of stopped mid-isle, packets in hand, and thought "Why am I paying so much for three tablespoons of spices; I can make this myself and save money doing it!"  I believe there was some sort of triumphant movie music playing as I shoved the Taco Bell seasoning back on the shelf and wheeled my cart towards the check out lane (in fact, I may have been wheeling in slo-mo; it was that big of an epiphany).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How to Save Money while Retail Shopping- 7 Great Tips

How to save money while retail shopping (7 tips) cover- shopping bagsWhen you're trying to make your dollars stretch (or are just trying to be a smart shopper), it pays to keep in mind the following points and tips.  Of course, if you have more ideas on how to shop savvy, please leave a comment with your great idea!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Recipe: Master Baking Mix

Recipe Master baking mix budget recipes cooking

The concept of being thrifty often finds its way into the kitchen in my household.  With recipes like this master baking mix, I can not only save money in the food budget, but my time is saved as well.  This recipe means I don't have to make my biscuits and pancakes from "scratch" each time, but I still know exactly what is going into my family's mouths (if you've ever read the ingredient list on a package of Bisquick and scratched your head, you know what I mean).

This basic mix can be kept in the pantry for months.  Baking powder starts losing it's leavening ability after about 6 months, so you should try to use it up by that point (but it will still be safe to eat).  I wouldn't use it after a year, however.  By that point the baking powder is probably kaput.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Beat the Heat with Shopping!

Thrift shopping Thrift Exchange
So it's blazing outside.  The high today was 102 degrees.  It's after 10 pm right now and it's still 88.  Even the weatherman is posting an "excessive heat warning" for the surrounding areas (I guess when the heat index hits 115 they do that).

I've been off work and at home for a week now, and there comes a point where I get a little stir crazy.  I've been cleaning, I've been organizing, I've been sewing- I'm ready to get out of the house!  This afternoon I decided to run a couple of errands to prep for the Forth of July Weekend party we're hosting tomorrow evening.  It just so happens that the store I was shopping at has a wonderful little thrift shop across the street from it.  Whether this is happenstance, or divine intervention, or subconcious planning on my part, one may never know; but I delayed my return home by stopping in for a bit.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

DIY Tutorial: Flower Blossom Applique

flower blossom DIY tutorial sew repurpose tee shirt
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Today I'm going to show how to sew these cute flower blossom appliques using nothing more than a few hand stitches and some old t-shirts that you probably have laying around.  In my DIY tutorial on making a plastic bag holder, I used these flowers to decorate the outside of the bag. You could use them to give new life into a pillow, tack to the outside of a casual handbag, glue to a headband, or add creativity to any countless number of things in your life. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

DIY Tutorial: Plastic Bag Holder

DIY Tutorial Plastic Bag Holder sewing
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I learned to sew in 4-H.  In hindsight I wonder about the productiveness of the teacher's method.  Every month or so she'd crowd half a dozen little girls into her small country home and attempt to teach us to sew straight lines and hem aprons.  One of my first projects was a reversible vest, of which I was immensely proud.  I would flip it around while in the bathroom at school, feeling as trendy and magnificent as Brooke Shields.  Look!  I'm wearing hot pink zig zags on my vest.  No, wait: it's florescent green and orange stars now!  How cool am I?

The hobby of sewing has had a rebirth in the last decade.  It's become a way to express ourselves, have fun, and sometimes even save money by repurposing or refashioning items.  My own sewing has fallen into that last pattern.  Rarely do I head out to the fabric store to buy fabric to make a skirt.  Rather, I'll repurpose an awesome bed sheet or refashion a too-big or too-long skirt into something more palatable to my fashion tastes.

Today I repurposed a pair of my husband's work pants that he was discarding. I grabbed them as they were being tossed in the garbage, cut the legs off of them, and decided to make two plastic bag holders (a project I'd been meaning to do but never got around to). This is an easy project that requires little actual sewing. I used my sewing machine, but it could be completed with hand stitching only. Also, I added little flowers but it can be made up plain as well. I used what I had laying around in my sewing room, so there was zero out-of-pocket cost. I advise anyone to use what they have first before they go out and get exactly what I used.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Chicken Pins and Other Musings about my Thrifting Addiction

So I've tried over the last few days to get a full understanding as to WHY I love thrifting so much.  What is the pull?  Why does the discovery of a new consignment shop set my pulse fluttering?  Why will I cross two lanes of busy traffic to follow a florescent sign with "Yard Sale" scrawled on it in black Sharpie?
woman with shopping bags- from movie poster
I'm not this bad, really.
A bit of Internet searching will bring you to hundreds of hits on this topic.  I particularly loved this post from Sammy Davis Vintage about 5 reasons why thrifting is an addiction.  Her top 5 reasons are:
  1. shopping for therapy
  2. fashion equality
  3. finding treasure
  4. bragging rights
  5. savings
For me, I believe that finding that "treasure" is what drives me most, followed by the savings piece.  I have spent hours sifting through lots and lots of bad junk to find just that one great piece.  Sometimes I have a goal in mind on what I'm looking to purchase, sometimes not.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Start of Summer...

One of the best things about summer is that school is out.  This means no teaching, lots of time by the pool, and the fact that I can get to those early-morning yard sales.  Often a yard sale results in nothing more than a beat up paperback or a grumpy look from a lady that looks like she needs a shot in her morning coffee.  Sometimes, however, I find myself in possession of something truly great.  For example, this spring I was looking through an all-too-familiar "book box" at my neighborhood yard sale when I found a 1968 printing of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking".  I'd been wanting that book for over a year, but the price of the book had left me contented to continue to borrow it from the local library.  I walked away from that sale with that book and a skip in my step.  Price paid: $1.

Recently I saw a Facebook post from a neighbor informing local friends about her church's yearly community yard sale.  Because of that little post, I set my Saturday morning alarm for eight o'clock (I never set my alarm on weekends, so this was a truly unusual thing) and got up to brave the sometimes-perilous world of yard sale shopping.

If you've never been to a church community garage sale, understand that there are some great things to be found there.  Elderly couples start cleaning out attics and guest bedroom closets, decide they don't want whatever they've found, and sticker items at a buck to get rid of them.  (Yes, there are younger people hawking wares as well, but I find that they are looking to unload baby furniture and stuffed animals, and I am not in the market for that type of stuff.) 

I arrived at about 9:15, which is a bit past that first hour "prime time" of a yard sale, but I hoped I would still find some great things.  Here's a photo of what I loaded into my car at the end of an hour of poking around:

thrift shopping yard sale
Providence UMC Yard Sale treasures

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