Tag Archives: Decorating

Thrifty Living: Christmas Finds

22 Dec

When Anthony and I lived in a one-bedroom apartment decorating for the holidays was easy. I had 500 or so square feet to work with and I Christmas’d the hell out of it. It was adorable, and when we finally bought our house I spent the first Christmas lamenting the apartment. The smallness of the space made my decorations seem much more abundant and adorable then they actually were. Which is why I spend time each year scouring thrift stores for decorations to add to my meager holiday stash.

Just like for Halloween decorations, Christmas decorations are abundant in thrift stores this time of year. My favorite charity shop is now selling all Christmas-related items at half off since in a few days they’ll have to pack it all up and store it away for next year.

Unlike Halloween decorations, the Christmas goodies you find while thrifting can be quite old and wonderful. Or not, such as the mess in the photo above. I bought that for a quarter while thrifting, and for a very special reason.

These adorable Italian mushrooms.

They have a wreath with their name on them. Or something else. I haven’t really decided. But the rest of the centerpiece wasn’t wasted. Zorro and Isobel spent a two full days entertaining themselves with it. After that I boxed up the rest of the holly sprigs that I thought I might use later and donated or threw away the rest.

I found this vintage place mat illustrated with hand drawn holiday decorations. Actually I found a whole set of them, but I’m keeping two. Isobel is kind of obsessed with her vintage dinosaur place mat right now so this mat is usually ignored, but I bet she’ll dig it next year.

I just found this crocheted decoration that’s hanging on my wall as is right now but I might turn it into a photo frame or add some more bells to it.

I have my grandmother’s angel chimes (the traditional kind, with angels instead of a carousel theme) but I always buy angel chimes whenever I find them. I love them and have found it’s useful to keep a couple sets around in case I lose a piece I have a spare. The cats go wild for them, though, so I have to keep them up high and mostly out of sight. I know people say that once you have kids you can’t have nice things, but really that applied to us before we had Isobel because we had cats.

You’ve seen these angels before, but I just had to show them off again. They are my favorite Christmas find this year.

In the same vein of the weird centerpiece in the photo above, I bought this Christmas mess for the parts. I love the holly sprigs and I managed to detach the apples and strawberries for Isobel’s Thrifted Kitchen. I’m using the extra pieces of greenery with birds attached to decorate wrapped Christmas presents. It also has fake plastic popcorn on this, which I’ve never seen before and is kind of hilarious.

But mostly I bought this basket for the teeny tiny mushrooms dotting the display. I pulled those off before Isobel could get to them and used the wire part to attach them to the small silver Christmas tree I used to put up at work.

New favorite ornaments.

Isobel was pretty stoked when I found these guys. It’s pretty obvious they’ve had a few owners. Modeled after these vintage characters that show up again and again in holiday decor of a certain era, these two characters had recently been abused by someone who really fugged them up.

Mrs. Frosty’s hat, candy cane, and scarf were removed and replaced and it took me awhile to pry the hideous buttons of both of them. Eventually I’m gong to repaint them and restore them to their former glory. But for now they’re hanging out on my porch.

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Follow Friday – O Christmas Tree

9 Dec

Last weekend Anthony and I got the Christmas tree up and Isobel and the cats formed a temporary alliance whose sole purpose was the destruction of Christmas. It was fun. I put the mini tree we used last year in the Pencil Room and Isobel reminds me first thing every morning that we need to turn on the tree. I also hung a large paper snowflake so the room has a very minimalist, yet very festive, vibe. We hung these vintage ornaments on the lower branches of the living room tree because they will stand up to all the love the cats and the kid can dish out. I found more while thrifting that I’ll add to the shop later. These are perfect if you have kids or pets, and they are lovely. My very favorite part of the tree, however, is the star at the top that my Aunt Trisha made just for me.

What is Follow Friday? It’s a Twitter meme that I have taken a couple steps further.  Learn more about it in my FAQ. See my nomination for a Shorty Award for Follow Friday here. You can read more Follow Friday goodness here.

MeganBoley @TristinaWright @exlibris the opposite of tacos is sadness.

LouisPeitzman If you’re not ashamed to admit you’re a Christian, Rick Perry, at least be ashamed to admit you fucking haaate homos.

FakeAPStylebook Please only run your “IF GLOBAL WARMING IS REAL, WHY IS IT COLD?” editorial cartoons if the temperature is below 52.

davepolak My new cats haven’t learned their proper names yet, but they respond when I call them little fuckers.

TristinaWright “Every village needs an idiot, and sadly some of them will have internet access.”

johnmoe Generally, it’s retired Oakland Raiders QBs. RT @IareRachael: Who the frick comes up with trending topics like #BadNamesForMonsterTrucks

NicLewis Teetotaler. #BadNamesForMonsterTrucks

inversejaik SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY! DITCHDIGGER versus the DEFRIBULATOR! And SKUNKAPE! #BadNamesForMonsterTrucks

shinyinfoTHE COMPENSATORR!

johnmoe GRAVE MOURNER #BadNamesForMonsterTrucks

NicLewis Pearl S. Truck. #BadNamesForMonsterTrucks

johnmoe CARE BEARER #BadNamesForMonsterTrucks

NicLewis Shatnersaurus. #BadNamesForMonsterTrucks

NicLewis Bilbo Bagginator. #BadNamesForMonsterTrucks

rstevens I was destined for greatness but I believe in free will.

steenyweeny dontcha wish your girlfriend was making potatoes like me…dontcha wish your girlfriend was wearing a seasonal apron like me…yeaaah boyeee

theleanover Most of my sex trade work is pro boner.

louisvirtel My version of winning the lottery is following a car with a “Baby on Board” sticker and finding out the driver is Jennifer Grey.

antigone_spit Whoever put this Kenny G Christmas album on is gonna get cut

LovesOfLife I’m about to tell you how running on a stomach full of pizza feels.

pistolval i gave myself a papercut on the eyelid today. #justthatgood

MassageByTed I will purchase any product that makes senior citizens rap or do the conga.

joeinverarity No thanks, I’ve had enough cheese. – not me

shinyinfo One day I’ll learn how to write organization tweets and blog posts without a million exclamation points. ONE DAY

samanthajcampen Speaking in Theo’s class about animal doctors and pet care. I think I’ll skip the part about anal glands.

rstevens Apparently “do the mashed potato” means something other than I thought and also there are laws against doing that with vegetables in public.

KeepingYouAwake “A self-unchecked is a self-wrecked.” – Some Asshole (2011)

rstevens Quantum Leper is a TV show about a time traveler who leaves parts of his body in different eras because the writers didn’t do their research

steenyweeny rt if the guy next to you on the bus looks like a baby eagle so you’ve named him birdley.

TheNextMartha I have a blog called “The Martha Project” with exactly ZERO craft posts on it. That’s called talent.

J__Swift I don’t remember what I ate for breakfast but I remember those bandaids that you opened with a string.

swamibooba Some people use “Lorem ipsum”, I use Beck’s “Loser”.

mzeld If lying on my back and putting a pillow over my face doesn’t solve all my problems, I’m out of ideas.

SFriedScientist Is it not true, Mr. The Frog, that thanks to affirmative action, it is, in fact, easier being green? #gopmuppethearings

iasshole Oh BOY bicyclist who just farmer-blew into the street hands-free, my panties just FLEW OFF here

ClevelandPoet and then I found a GIF of Hulk Hogan headbutting a Russian Flag and my day improved by +20

dino_dogan When my friends ask me to babysit, I ask if the kid is a “mean drunk” or a “happy drunk.” Gets me out of it every time.

EconTalker Love the paleo diet but sometimes have trouble getting the fire started rubbing the sticks together.

LadyLiberal Having “Parents of the Year” t-shirts made since it was our preshus snowflake KICKING THE BABY JESUS STATUE in the outdoor nativity this am.

johnmoe Jimi Hendrix offered an internship and mentoring program for those who answered no on his “are you experienced” question.

MrWordsWorth The feeling of Christmas is a little more gropey this year.

foulmouthsanta Omnipresent (n) Someone who buys you the same fucking thing every year.

rstevens THE JENNY IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE BLOCK

JohnFugelsang it doesn’t count as pre-marital sex if you have no intention of getting married.

TheRedQueen Does Sal the Sanitation Bear’s parole officer know he is on NickJr? Seems like a violation to me. #pedobear

MrWordsWorth You will know you’ve mastered free jazz when it sounds like hate sex between Wookies.

MassageByTed My kids aren’t athletic, so I’m stuck picking fights at my daughter’s choir concerts.

johnmoe If this van is a-rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’. If the van’s brakes are squealin’, hum More Than A Feelin’. #VanContingencies

BorowitzReport Gingrich says he would leave Afghanistan “only if it has cancer.”

Handflapper You guys! YOU GUYS! I just typed “ehll” and my phone autocorrected it to “hell.” AUTOCORRECT FINALLY GETS ME!

sgnp My moment of weakness has lasted almost forty years.

morninggloria I reject the idea of a sexy green M&M mascot because candy should not have genitals.

The_Samburglar Just heard two women discussing a dog’s outfit and how it could be hemmed if necessary. #priorities

shariv67 We’re decorating the tree with the kids today. But now that they’re teens it’s harder to find branches that will support their weight.

joeinverarity I can’t seem to keep food down no matter what I try. Best! Diet! Ever!

jessnevins Marvel, for $2 a year I’d produce a weekly Economist-style column on how current economic situations are affecting your fictional countries.

Athenabee Athena just did sad trombone noise in time out. I’m silently dying.

MetaKatea Nearly tossed banana peel out of car on way to work. Had weird “Mario Kart” moment of thinking it would cause a pile-up. Didn’t do it.

rstevens First thing I learned as a designer was that you can change the page numbers to anything you want. There is no reality.

bitchylibrarian New term for #nopants = #porkypigging. THINK ABOUT IT.

swonderful Alice: What’s that? Me: The onion skin. Alice: Onion SKIN? Is an onion a… a kid chicken?

readingsarah I tried to spell pinterest aloud during our YASF meeting today and failed, failed hard.

metalia My colorblind dad just sent me a text with a picture of the sunset, with the caption, “Amazing colors! …I think.”

mrpilkington I like it that @Shteyngart is a dog because that’s how I’ve read his novels: in a tiny yip noise followed by chewing on my testicles.

premmeridian The Swype keyboard on my phone keeps ignoring my ‘u’ in ‘honour.’ EXCUSE ME IT IS NOT “HONOR” I AM CANADIAUAUAUAN.

badbanana It’s taken me this long to realize “Eurozone Crisis” wasn’t referring to a woman’s underarm area.

ScrewyDecimal I lose socks like Herman Cain loses credibility.

Sondeera Judging from all the rainbows on avis, you folks need to get your Lucky Charms obsession under control.

crom74 Our microwave died. It died cooking two pot pies. It finished cooking them. It was a trooper.

mjbz104 I’ve only left my house for a total of 2.5hrs in the past 6 days. My arm is starting to curve like the dorsal fin of a dolphin in captivity.

emoryshatzer When a mammoth is eventually cloned I hope it’s taken to that yokel Bible museum with the words painted on its side, “How you like me now?”

tommycm btw am happy if any journos want to use my ‘cain and unable’ headline after the events of yesterday.

apodixis This is the first time I can say I spent Saturday evening pulling pork and actually mean it literally.

CorporateMonkey somehow managed to french braid my hair AT THE BAR. sounds like a +1 in the sober department

onenjen Now that my son is potty-trained, he’s traded diaper badonkadonk for perpetual plumber’s crack. #babypullyourpantsup

mikeleffingwell The dad in “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” was dressed as Santa AFTER the kid was in bed = mom/dad were into freaky roleplay sex.

markleggett I’ll yell “GO CATS!” at any sporting event because I really, really like cats. #catsarenaturesmiracles #sportsarefuckingboring

TheBlackStar Leave it to Kingston to mosh to minimalist piano twinkle twinkle little star.

purple_quark It may be time to Febreeze the dog.

inversejaik At Big Lots: Low-battery Xmas toy reciting “Visit from St Nick;” sounds like “A Lt. Worf Christmas.”

Handflapper I just thanked myself for a retweet AND called myself “sweetie.” #winningattwitter

FakePewResearch 98.5% of cardigan owners will kill again.

jenstatsky Must be so confusing to be a bug flying around. One second, humans are clapping for them — the next, they’re dead.

wordsinmymouth Is there a way to take back drunk FB private messages? Asking for a friend.

willgoldstein My # of tweets/hr is both inversely correlated to the # of hours I sleep and directly correlated to the # of cups of coffee I drink.

FakeAPStylebook Considering the economic climate, have your gift guide include affordable items such as twigs, recyclable cans, and pretty good boxes.

What is Follow Friday? It’s a Twitter meme that I have taken a couple steps further.  Learn more about it in my FAQ. See my nomination for a Shorty Award for Follow Friday here. You can read more Follow Friday goodness here.

Thrifty Living: Tips for Decorating for the Holidays on a Budget

13 Oct

It’s been ages and ages since I participated on Pinterest, mostly because I’ve been busy and Pinterest is a rabbit hole from which my attention span threatens never to return. There’s just too much good stuff and before you know it I’d be sitting at the computer in my underwear with unbrushed hair shoving cheerios into Isobel’s gaping maw while she clamors for attention because I just have to bookmark one… more… pin…

But it’s Halloween and I love this time of year so I made a board for Thrifty Halloween Decorating Ideas. Now that we’re down to one income I’ve been thinking more and more about inexpensive ways to decorate, and celebrate, the holidays. This is going to become even more important to me as Christmas approaches, and I wanted to share my thrifty decorating philosophy.

Location, Location, Location.

The first thing I did was select the areas I was going to decorate. In addition to having a limited budget, I have a limited amount of storage space for decorations. And anyway, I don’t have the energy to give my house a Halloween makeover every year–I just want to imbue it with a warm autumn spirit.

Handmade.

I prefer small decorations that are easy to store and are fun to look forward to every year. Even with my small budget I was able to add two pieces to my autumn stash: dishtowels and magnets.  (A few people wanted to know where I bought the towels: I ordered them from Zen Threads on Etsy. I love that company can’t recommend them enough.)

Some years I can’t afford to buy anything from Etsy, but when I can I do because it’s an investment I can use and enjoy every year. Especially now that Isobel is older. I remember how important pulling out those yearly decorations were to me as kid, and even now when I visit my parents a wave of nostalgic happiness washes over me when I see my mother’s black cat wreath hanging on the front door.

Some other really great handmade Halloween accessories on Etsy right now:

Candy Corn Bunting

Pin-up Witch Magnet

Super Cute Ghost & Pumpkin Magnets

Spider Hand Towel

Fancy Skulls Towel

Crocheted Pumpkin Towel Set

Use What You Got.

I used some things I already had from previous years, and since I was bored of them I used them in a new way.  I turned a metal sign into a huge fridge magnet, for example, and that was enough to make me happy. I also used stuff I already had in other parts of the house. Thrifty home decorating TV shows use this trick all the time and the homeowners are always thrilled. Something old feels new again, and it costs nothing.

Nature’s Gifts.

Decorating with nature is the ultimate thrifty option, and it comes with the benefit of being an enjoyable way to ignite a curiosity of the natural world in your children. We collected acorns this year, but pine cones, seed pods, dried berries, and, of course, leaves are available nearly everywhere, and they are free.

If you notice from the photo above, the acorns we gathered not even a week ago have mellowed into a deep brown, and their hard shiny shells remind me almost of coffee beans. So beautiful. I found this silver platter while thrifting and thought it perfect for storing the seeds. Larry, Moe and Curly, my paper skulls, look on, unaffected by autumn’s splendor.

I like just putting the beauty of nature on display, but you can take this one step further and turn them into crafts:

Acorn Magnets

Acorn Photo Frame

Preserved Leaf Garland

Crafty.

Other than adding spiders to some thrifted doilies I haven’t done any crafts this year. (Unless you count turning a metal sign into a huge magnet, which I don’t.) Crafts, however, are awesome.

See the nature crafts list above, plus:

Spray-Painted Pumpkins

Make ‘potion jars’ out of terrariums

DIY Luminaries

Lace pumpkins

Spray Paint can turn regular objects into Halloween decorations

Thriftin’ is Easy.

I bring up thrifting so often you probably think it’s my go-to solution for every problem. And you’d be right! You’d be amazed what you can find secondhand. I like to find stuff that’s not meant for Halloween specifically, but thrift stores save seasonal items and bring them out specifically for shoppers looking for decor at a bargain. Even the doily spiders were found in a thrift store! My favorite, of course, is still the skull specimen display created out of a thrifted cheese dome. Holiday decor is a pretty big deal at thrift stores. I once saw a fight break out two feet away from me because two customers saw a ghost-themed wall hanging at the same time.

I hope this post has inspired you to find thrifty ways to decorate. Have your own thrifty Halloween links to share? Share them in the comments! I’d love to add them to the Thrifty Halloween Decorating Ideas board.

Thrift Store Score: Enamel Clock

18 Sep

This vintage clock was made in Japan and it looks like it was set into a enamel-coated metal plate. It’s from the 60s or 70s.


Before I list it in the shop I’m going to put a battery in it to be sure it works. I wouldn’t want to sell anyone a broken clock.

I’m really hoping it does work, though because this would be the perfect accessory for someone’s kitchen or office. Look for it in the shop soon.



Sharing the Crafty Love

18 Aug

Before Isobel was born I indulged both my love of crafts and my love of organizing by creating closet dividers for the multitude of tiny pink garments we were receiving by the truckload. The project ended up taking up much more time and effort than I had originally planned, but I was fueled by the nesting urge and once I started there was no stopping me.

It was so much work I wanted to share the process with others who might be trying to create the same thing so that they could learn from my mistakes. You can find the tutorial here along with a handy-dandy door hanger template I made in Photoshop.

After reading the tutorial, head on over to Mommypalooza to see her back-to-school closet dividers for her two sons that share a closet. She’s used my template to create her own version and I’m happy she’s found a way to utilize the project that doesn’t involve hours and hours of cutting and laminating and cutting. Because seriously, that was a lot of work.  (That no one forced me to do.)

(Besides myself.)

(Because I was crazy.)

(And pregnant.)

(I’m not longer one of those things, by the way.)

(I’ll leave it to you to figure out which one.)

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about what do to with these when I don’t need them anymore. I put so much work into these things I can’t fathom throwing them away. I thought about selling them but let’s face it, they are used and could be sturdier. If I’m still blogging by the time I’m ready to pass these suckers down I’ll probably have a giveaway for them, so if you’ve always wanted the closet dividers without all the work, stay tuned.

Thrifted Home Tour

23 Jul

A few weeks back my MIL Olivia watched Isobel for an afternoon while I tackled a project that just seemed too daunting with a baby around: photographing my house. I want to create a series of posts that featured thrifted goods throughout my home, some of them purchased for the shop and some of them that are mine. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve pretty much decorated my whole house with things found while thrifting and yardsaling and nothing would make me happier than to inspire people to do the same.

Right out of high school I had an awful roommate for about two years. Even though she reached out and asked me to live with her, she made it clear from the moment I unpacked my bags that I was not welcome in her house. I even heard her complain about me to her boyfriend when she thought I wasn’t around, saying, “She’s going to make this place look like a thrift store.” At the time I was totally caught off guard and I found it very hurtful, but you know what? Today I’m proud to have decorated my house from a thrift store. Damn straight. I think more people should decorate their home with thrifted goods. Here’s why:

CHARM & PERSONALITY: There is nothing cookie-cutter about the inside of my tract home even though most of our furniture came from Ikea. A thrifted home truly has some individuality; it’s not something that looks like came straight from the shelves of Target. I’m saying this as someone who has nothing against Target. In fact I like Target a little too much for my budget so I try not to visit very often. As much as I like Target there is something to be said about mixing up your design with less common items. I’m sure you’ve had the experience of being in someone’s home and seeing something that you saw in a store somewhere before, or maybe you’ve gone to somebody’s house and found the very same you bought on their mantel on display. Yeah. That.

FRUGALITY & VALUE: Not everything I find at a thrift store or yard sale is always cheap, and some times I pay a nice chunk of change for something vintage, but it’s often much cheaper than finding a comparable item new. And many times you can get great deals second hand and save a whole bunch of money. Case in point? Second hand frames. Have you checked the price of a custom frame job for artwork? Insane. If you have something that doesn’t fit nicely into a standard frame striaght from the store you are looking into paying a whole lot for buying a custom frame for that bad boy. Even if it does fit into a typical poster frame you then have all the drawbacks of a typical poster frame: it being cheap and ugly. Fortunately I have been able to find solid wood and glass frames secondhand. Sure sometimes I have to buy whatever crap work of art is already in the frame, but for five dollars I can have something I’m proud to hang in my living room. Also, don’t overlook the value of something. Vintage may not be the cheapest, but when you consider the fact that you are getting something gorgeous that you love that you can’t just find anywhere, it more than justifies the purchase.

ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY: Buying second hand is recycling at its most basic form: what could be greener than reusing an item that has already lived a useful life? How many times can you reuse an item to save resources? What is more sustainable than looking around you at items that already exist and choosing to purchase that item as opposed to one made by child labor at some big box store? Exactly. I knew you were the responsible sort.

SUPPORT A SMALL BUSINESS: Here’s where I post a shameless plug for my Etsy store and other purveyors of second hand goods. Often I shop at yard sales and estate sales but most often I go straight for thrift stores. All the second hand shops in my area support local causes: hospice care, the homeless, youth camps. My favorite thrift store forever and ever is run by the Catholic church and supports their charity. I’m not Catholic but I see the difference their outreach makes in the community. The stores I frequent are volunteer-run by the nicest people. I feel good about giving them my money because I know it is used to help others and keep the secondhand cycle going. And, *ahem* running my vintage shop through Etsy is a dream come true. Last month I bought some groceries with my Etsy earnings and I thought to myself, I did it! I’m a small business! That feels awesome. I’m not going to lie: every time I make a sale and I package that item up I think to myself, I can’t believe I’m letting this go. I truly love each and every item I find for my store, and I’m thrilled that you do, too.

Over a series of posts I’m going to be featuring a tour of my house and I’ll highlight all the thrifted goods and items to hopefully inspire others to look to second hand sources for their decorating projects. I’ll also be featuring some stuff in the photos that will end up in the Little Big Shop so you can see ideas of how they can be used. I hope it inspires you to reuse items in your design.