Tag Archives: Thrifted

Thrifty Living: 12 Creative, Thrifty Ways to Wrap Gifts

6 Dec

Here are my favorite creative and thrifty ways to wrap presents for the holidays. Have an idea? Add yours in the comments.

1. Stock up on thrifted tins. I always check out tins while thrifting and stock up for the holidays. For a quarter I can buy a unique way to wrap a gift that can then be reused and repurposed later.

2. Use colorful paper bags and printable gift tags. When I still worked at the library I did a whole lot of gift-giving: coworkers, office staff, friends and student aides all got gifts from me. The cheapest way to wrap these gifts turned out to be colorful paper bags and ribbon from the craft store plus printable gift tags that I made myself. This was the perfect way to distribute baked goods and they looked so cheerful. Free printable gift tags can be found all over the web, but my favorites are found here.

3. Wrap an ugly box collage-style. I bought a lovely necklace for my MIL one year and of course the only box I could find to put it in said something dumb on it. I used a page out of a magazine to cover the top of the box and glued origami paper to the sides and it was transformed. She ended up loving the box as much as the necklace.

4. Try fabric scraps and yarn. One year I ran out of wrapping paper altogether so I raided my fabric stash and found this vintage green cotton fabric I found while thrifting. I was able to secure this fabric with scotch tape even though it was a decently heavy weight.  Wrap as you would normally for wrapping paper, add some yarn, and you’re good to go.

5. Embellish a plain gift bag. I can’t remember if this bag was plain or if it had a logo in the middle, but either way it benefited from some scraps from my collage file.

6. Reuse a pretty jar. I save jars like this throughout the year because I like to give spiced nuts and candy at Christmas. If your jar is pretty enough, only a ribbon is needed, though you can always paint the lid.

7. Use sheet music instead of wrapping paper. I have lots of musician friends so I had the idea to wrap their gifts in sheet music. I happened to have sheet music lying around, so I made copies of it specifically to use for wrapping. Collage paper, doilies, and some pink yarn finished it off.

8. Wrap with tissue paper and add a colorful bow. Many times the tissue paper is lovely enough to use as wrapping. I keep a few spools of colorful ribbon on hand for wrapping. I get it when it goes on clearance at the craft store.

9. Use a small piece of fancy paper for accent. A very creative friend of mine made me a necklace and sent it to me in this lovely packaging. I like how she decorated a plain box by adding a strip of fancy paper around it. I bet the sheet of paper was pricey, but using it sparingly makes it last.

10. Reuse a gift bag. I saved so many gift bags from our baby showers that I finally had to go through our gift bags and get rid of some. I didn’t throw them out, though! I donated them to Goodwill. Speaking of, you can find all sorts of lovely gift bags at good will for cheap.

11. Just add a huge bow. Sometimes one large statement is all you need.

12. Add a creative card. I don’t recommend giving tequila for every occasion, but in this case a lime made the perfect card.

Thrifty Living: Thrifty Tips and Recent Scores

5 Dec

Some thrifty things I’ve been doing to save money:

* During the morning and early afternoon I try to find some excuse to use my oven: drying herbs, toasting nuts, roasting potatoes, whatever. I can keep the thermostat down a few notches because the heat from the oven will keep the kitchen toasty while at the same time making something tasty for later.

* I’ve also pulled out my stack of crocheted blankets from the linen closet and just keep them on the couch. When one of us gets cold I insist we put on a blanket or a sweater before we turn up the heat. They look lovely in a pile and are more likely to get used when I keep them out.

* I tried the no-heat curl method to try a new look. I already had the hairband so trying this was free!

* I’ve been using the library a whole lot more. This option should be obvious after working in a library for eight years, but since we also had Anthony’s Borders discount, and since discovering the handiness of reading ebooks via the iPhone, I stopped checking books out of the library. I still went to the library–I mean, between my mother and I Isobel’s been to every story time available since she was a year old. But we’d leave when story time was over. Now I stay and make sure I have new additions to both my and Isobel’s bookshelves every week.

* I don’t have a lot of pairs of pants. Since losing over 20lbs due to my time on the elliptical and the debilitating panic attacks I really only have two pairs of pants that fit. One of them has stylish (or so I tell myself) holes worn in the knees from constant use. I can’t afford to go clothes shopping but I did have enough to buy a few pairs of colorful tights. I love the way they add a pop of color to my outfits while keeping me warm and extending the life of my jeans.

* I’m being pretty strict about our one napkin and one rag per day and I’ve been trying to expand this rule to cups and plates, too. This is an excellent way to save water and saves me a lot of work in the dishes and laundry department. Score!

* I haven’t been doing any major thrifting because I’m still in the midst of my giant Etsy storage and reorganization project, but I’ve stopped off yard sales and a thrift store here or there over the past month and these photos are some of the things I’ve picked up: a colorful crocheted poncho for Isobel, pegasus and unicorn mugs for me (and Anthony, if he’s so inclined), and some lovely wooden hangers covered with a delicate web of crocheted threads. These were obviously handmade and came from an estate sale. I wish more people would learn how to do this because it’s gorgeous and I’m afraid it’s a dying art. I got all six hangers for a dollar. Can you even imagine how long it must have taken to make these?

Anybody doing anything differently to save money? This time of year I could use all the help I can get.

Little Big Shop Sale!

3 Dec

Here’s what’s up in the shop:

Red, White & Blue Travel Pouch, I like to keep a pouch in my purse that holds all my essentials. When I want to change purses quickly, I just move my pouch and I’m ready to go.

Embroidered Vintage Clutch, granny chic.

Daisy Wall Plaque, your bathroom needs this.

These items are on sale:

Designer Chrysanthemum Mug, price lowered by $6.00!

Vintage Baby Book, price lowered by $10.00!

Lemon Drop Glass Bowl, price lowered by $6.00!

Copper Parthenon Ashtray, price lowered by $6.00!

Vintage Glass Storage Jars, price lowered by $10.00!

Keep checking back as I’m adding more items all the time! Sale ends in a week or so or when I remember to change it back.

Little Big Shop: White Elephant Extravaganza

1 Dec

This year many of you will be invited to holiday parties in which you will be required to bring a gift of questionable taste. Although terms vary from place to place, this is generally what’s known as a White Elephant Gift Exchange. A good friend of mine has participated in such an exchange with her siblings for many years, and each year they try to outdo each other by finding the most ridiculous, most ludicrous gift of them all.

Perhaps you have been invited to such a get together? If so, do I have the Thrift Store Gore for you.

Yes, I’ve seen some pretty awful things in thrift stores over the years. Adult-sized Spiderman Underoos. A luncheon with a cheetah. Whatever this is. But now, dear readers, you can own a piece of Thrift Store Gore history. I have assembled some of my weirdest finds so you can become Queen (or King, we don’t hate) of the Gift Exchange.

These last few months have been spent tracking down the weirdest thrifted items to ensure only the most tasteless and uniquely terrible gift giving possible.

How about a decorative plate, commemorating different school houses that burned down?

Or a  book called “Wild Animals at Home,” a primitive predecessor of LOLCATS, in which someone took photos of animals at the zoo and then wrote offensive, and at times, horribly sexist, captions underneath them.

The author thinks animals really hate Democrats.

It’s a fun read for the kids! (Not really!)

I’m pretty taken with this handcrafted abalone lamp sombody’s cracked-out uncle cobbled together from a sea shell, a light socket, and an electrical cord. Bonus: it might be a fire hazard!

Years ago my friend Stefanie and I found a book called “I Can’t Think Of A Thing To Say!” while thrifting. It gives all sorts of advice on what to say to that boss hunk with the parachute pants.

The inside cover says “Especially for Girls.” It looks like Kotex packaging.

For those with crazy parents, who wouldn’t want to give them a “SPEAKING OF THE GRANDCHILDREN” photo album from 1970? (My mom thought this was a great idea, actually. But since she has only one grandchild I’d have to fill the rest of the album with cat photos.)

Last but not certainly not least, I found a creepy Anne Geddes doll that suggests she may be into furries. Give this to that extra irritating coworker who belches loudly and smells of Redbull, powdered donuts, and hopelessness.

But wait, there’s more! The first customer to purchase something from this section of my shop will get this slightly disturbing sheet of vintage wrapping paper free:

It’s a little crinkled so I’m not selling it, although it’s definitely weird enough to qualify as Thrift Store Gore.

Those of you who’ve purchased from me before know that each order comes with a photo thank you card and these gifts are no exception. Lucky buyers of Thrift Store Gore will get a photo of drunk Santa for your troubles. Someone’s been naughty this year! SPOILER ALERT: It’s Santa.

Stop by the shop and visit the Post-Cyber-Monday Sale, and pick up some Thrift Store Gore while you’re at it. Because you are never too old to be eaten by an Anne Geddes bear.

Thrifty Living: Toysplosion, Part II

28 Nov

I have been fighting the good fight over toy storage ever since before Isobel was old enough to go through the cat door. When her toys began taking over the living room we bought an awesome six dollar thrifted chest and begged the internet for help to solve this problem. Little did I know that the toy storage problem would never go away, just change and become difficult in different ways with time.

We’ve been slowly moving Isobel’s toys out of her nursery and into a room affectionately known as “the Pencil Room,” after the time that I stashed an enormous cache of colored pencils in that room. Which, nevermind. That’s a story for another time. Our plan is to move Isobel out of the nursery and into the Pencil Room, which will eventually become her big girl room.

After shopping around for toy storage and organization systems, I settled for thrifted tins and baskets, tubs for larger toys and collections, a few buckets and finally, some photo storage boxes bought cheaply at Micheal’s.

I really like the tins, even though you do have to remember what’s in them. But that makes them that much fresher to your child when they pull them out again. Sometimes the lids on older tins tend to stick, but that can be a good thing if it holds toys for your older child that you don’t want your younger kid getting into.

The main thing I’ve learned about toy storage and organization is you have to develop a little ruthlessness. Keeping the amount of toys at manageable levels, developing collections that will grow with your child, and donating the things that you child has out grown/doesn’t care a whole lot about/are duplicates of other toys has really saved my sanity. Especially when we have playdates. When we have Kingston over he moves from room to room, rooting out his favorite toys while he and Isobel dump everything out in the process. And that is totally fine! Kids! It’s what they do! I’ve sorted and pared the toys down to the point that I can clean up a toysplosion, I mean a total, house-wrecking toysplosion, in under twenty minutes. I don’t mean to brag. Getting to this point was a hard-won battle. But it is possible.

Thrifty Living: The Dress Up Chest

21 Nov

I am so excited to finally share this post with you. Building this dress up chest from thrifted and secondhand items has been so much fun, and once I tell you how cheap and easy it is to make, you are going to want to make one, too.

You don’t have to build a secondhand dress up chest, but I find that the best stuff, the cheapest stuff, and sometimes, the most realistic stuff, is found second hand. Additionally, the dress up chest helped me think of ways to repurpose items that I otherwise would donate or send to a landfill. And once my friends and family members heard about this dress up chest I was putting together they came forward with things from their closets to add to the bounty.

The best places to shop for dress up items that are new would be craft stores like Michael’s (they have hats, boas, and headbands), the dollar store (sometimes home to some pretty great finds) and the party supply store. Hear me out on that one! The party supply store has lies, hats, necklaces, sunglasses, and scarves,usually for really cheap. Pop-up Halloween costume stores are great, too–but skip the prepackaged costumes and go straight to the accessories. Wigs, hats, and gloves are a better investment than the costumes themselves, which won’t hold up to constant kid abuse.

Creating a kickass dress up chest is part of my life list, so I can consider this item mission accomplished.

(Poppy isn’t part of the dress up chest. She’s just acting as the showroom model. Thanks, Pops.)

By far, though, your best bet is to troll thrift stores and yard sales. Here are some of my favorite items from the chest:

This is something we call “the minky” because it just looks like a weird pile of brown fur if you can’t see how it’s used. It’s actually a large, wide scarf and it functions as a stole or a shawl. It looks and even feels like luxurious fur, but worry not, animal lovers: it’s actually a strange woven mohair-type yard that was knitted into shape. Strange. My Mom found it while thrifting and picked it up because she knew I was putting a dress up chest together.

My mom also found that black beaded purse and the white kitty hat secondhand and contributed the blue Heidi dress from her childhood as well. My Aunt Debbie added the pink-lined white stole plus these glasses.

The black ninja mask is actually a headsock that I saved from my one and only racing experience, and the gloves and mask were leftover from my Rogue costume and Anthony’s Nightwing costume. You might remember the witch hat from Target’s dollar bin, and the make up brushes we bought after having fun with our cousins. The necklaces were contributed by my mother-in-law, much to Zorro’s chagrin. You might remember the bunny ears? Coworkers gave us those. The wings were found while thrifting.

I saved the glasses from Yo Gabba Gabba Live and laminated them at work. They are still kicking! (Though admittedly a bit worse for wear.) We bought the giant magnifying glass when we visited the Children’s Museum and all the kids that come over just love it. What a great $3 purchase!  Isobel calls it her “Lookie Lookie”, but it usually comes out “Wookie Wookie!” Too cute.

That lanyard came from Anthony’s time at Borders. The cat key came from our very interesting time with the White Car. Long ago, before Isobel was even thought of, Anthony and I went on a date to an arcade where we won these Special Police badges and I kept them all this time.

This compass is one of my favorite finds. It’s real and it works and it’s satisfyingly larger than the palm of my hand, making the adventures we have with it extra-epic. It’s a thrift store find.

I bought this sparkle ball at Borders and later I found this stand while thrifting. I don’t know for sure that it’s for a crystal ball, but that was all I could think of when I looked at it.

Anthony found the bag with a moon on it while thrifting and thought it would make a great ‘magic pouch.’ This beaded clutch is one of Isobel’s favorite things, and also a thrift store score.

We also have a fantastic collection of thrifted dress up hats, which I’ll show you later, and besides that we’re adding to our collection all the time.  Whenever we have kids over to play they make a beeline for the dress up chest. It’s one of Kingston’s favorite things to do, and there’s nothing cuter than seeing the kids all dressed up. If you are thinking about giving this a go, I’d like to hearitly recommend it and would love to see pictures of what you find! Link back here in the comments so we can all see. Happy hunting!

Thrift Store Score: Toy Camera

14 Nov

Nothing like letting your kid dress herself and then taking her outside to play with your latest Thrift Store Score: a realistic-looking toy camera.

It doesn’t actually work, but this toy is magnificent. The buttons depress, the dials spin, and the hot shoe is functional. In case she wanted to pretend she abhors flash like mama.

I nabbed it for twenty cents.

Isobel likes to carry her purse and her camera around, just like Mama.

This is easily one of my favorite Thrift Store Scores ever.

Little Big Shop

12 Nov

Here’s what’s up in the shop:

Cheese platter, very necessary if you love cheese (and vintage!) as much as I do.

Zodiac Bowl, your horoscope says you will buy this bowl today. Then live happily ever after.

Vintage Jewelry Crafting Book, are you leaning towards having a handmade Christmas? Necklaces fit everyone.

Set of Glass Canisters, airtight and lovely.

Set of four cloth napkins, sustainable style for your dinner table.

Follow Friday – Keep on Truckin’

11 Nov

When our friend John got hired by a trucking company I immediately took it upon myself to buy him every single amusing vintage trucker hat I came upon while thrifting. John is a lover of gaming, D&D and comic books, and didn’t bat an eye when I started presenting him with these hats, even when I gave him a child’s-sized panda hat when he was dressed up as Rorschach for Halloween.

Here are some of my favorites.

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.

joshjs OH: “Isn’t the saying ‘two pigs with one bird’ nowadays?”

TristinaWright I’m gonna carpe the hell out of this diem.

ObtuseLibrarian If you leave the first S out of Podcasts, you have Podcats. Which sound like fun.

Toaster_Pastry Today, I fired 6 people. Too bad they weren’t working for me.

NASeason I’m reduced to taking very long bathroom breaks to get a minute to myself. Family is EXHAUSTING.

slackmistress Everyone at work discovering my bizarre Internet life is like being the Batman of weirdos and perverts.

trumpetcake Slip a mayonnaise jar over both your hands and feet if you’d like to rid yourself of weasels. #HomeRemedies

thecorbettkid just so you know, the pink tiger is the same as the pink panther.

shellipants nanananana SALAD TIME!

bellyofawhale iPhones are so great, as long as you don’t plan on ever making an actual phone call on one.

lovegrrbottle apparently remote controls, camera cases & cords are top motivation for Sonora. bc she just CRAWLED, people. we have ourselves a techy baby.

TheNextMartha Woman just jogged by in what looked like to be a cat woman costume.

JennyJohnsonHi5 Watching my dad use his new iPhone is like watching a 12 year old girl try to communicate with her dead grandma on a Ouija board.

babybabylemon The toddler disappeared while holding a rice cake covered in peanut butter. This will not end well.

sarcasmically It’s a little sad how long I will spend on my hands and knees looking for that one Skittle I dropped.

MrWordsWorth Idea: The Star Trek: TNG crew passes through a vortex and ends up on an Appalachian planet for a movie I call Picard and Grinnin’

whiskeynikki Pants are for suckers.

will__lane The Murdering Tree #ChildrensBooksMadeMoreExciting

carlaeastis Blueberries & Bourbon for Sal #ChildrensBooksMadeMoreExciting

rileyroxme Mary’s Poppin #ChildrensBooksMadeMoreExciting

daniel14159 One fish, two fish, red fish, Kung Fu fish. #ChildrensBooksMadeMoreExciting

chrismcelwain Little House on the Post-apocalyptic Wasteland #ChildrensBooksMadeMoreExciting

robotderek Green Eggs and Bacon #ChildrensBooksMadeMoreExciting

Seizurebot1011 Five Little Monster Trucks #childrensbooksmademoreexciting

Chris_Withers The Lion, the Witch and Something More Interesting Than a Wardrobe. #ChildrensBooksMadeMoreExciting

woodge Blasting Caps For Sale #ChildrensBooksMadeMoreExciting

chrismcelwain Skateboarding Ninja of Green Gables #ChildrensBooksMadeMoreExciting

woodge If You Give A Mouse A Bazooka #ChildrensBooksMadeMoreExciting

MikeFinazzo The Boxcutter Kids #ChildrensBooksMadeMoreExciting

Seizurebot1011. Guess How Much I Love Explosions #childrensbooksmademoreexciting

jasonmustian Horton Hears ‘The Who,’ LIVE In Concert, On Acid #ChildrensBooksMadeMoreExciting

jotro Bi-Curious George #ChildrensBooksMadeMoreExciting

NotThatAndyJOne Fish, Two Fish, Giant Fish, Mutant Fish #ChildrensBooksMadeMoreExciting

johnmoe Goodbye Forever Moon #ChildrensBooksMadeMoreExciting

theleanover On Facebook, when I clicked that I “Like” Katy Perry, I really just meant her boobs.

GoonSquadSarah If DirecTV were a person, they would be the one you are only friends with because they have a boat. #SundayTicket

notthatkendall I’m going to spend my morning writing articles on corporate compliance…or dead. Dead sounds kind of cool, relatively speaking.

theleanover Nowadays Sir Mix-A-Lot likes big buffets.

notthatkendall “And then I forced the dog into a PhotoBooth photo shoot and we both took a nap.” – The last line in nearly all of my diary entries

the818 Waking up is for suckers.

theleanover Potential linens store name: Duvet Buffet.

rstevens Coffee. Black. In ceramic vessels.

slackmistress So it turns out “Call of Duty” isn’t a competitive pooping game.

johnmoe Uh oh. I accidentally bought the wrong game. I hope I can return this copy of Call of Doody.

MassageByTed It Burns #OtherDoritosFlavors

TheSuniverse There’s a spider above the door of the bathroom. Is it workplace harassment to tell a tall person to kill it?

keli_h last night, when i was reading E a story before bed, she said, “mom. i am so excited about having 2 dvd screens in our new car.” #priorities

rstevens My kingdom for a democratic republic.

TheManwife Hiring Manager: “Do you have any writing experience? Me: “Yes, I’ve published over 55,000 tweets.” I think I handled that rather well.

MrWordsWorth I subscribe to the belief that, if your Halloween decorations are still up one week later, you may as well just use those for Christmas.

CandyWarhole If I’ve learn one thing in life it’s this: Never trust a man who knows exactly how many candy canes he can hang on his penis.

royalboiler If we ever get jetpacks they will be so uncool. Like fannypacks mixed with segways.

mikeleffingwell A priest just performed an exorcism on our toilet. Nobody took a horrible shit there, he was just a crazy priest.

awrightbrian It’s not every day you get an extra hour to complain. Use it well, Twitter.

MariaMelee They need an app where you collect badges for doing this crazy parenting stuff.

kristenschaaled Thanks a lot Daylight Savings! Now I have to wait an extra hour for Christmas.

bobtiki Heck of a day for my beard trimmer to stop working. If you see a hobo at today’s wedding, it’s probably just me.

PolyesterPony There’s an old guy walking down the street with a spinning pinwheel hat on. Humanity has its charms.

MeganBoley There are 7893 Cheerios on the floor. In case you need any, I have them.

KeepingYouAwake Achievement unlocked: re-rolling entire roll of toilet paper that a child unrolled to wear.

MariaMelee Daylight savings was so much cooler before it meant my kids would be getting up at 6 am.

librarianearp I love watching all the Harry Potter movies in a row. Watching the kids grow up, become better actors, watching Hagrid’s house move.

mermaidpants Taking a break from #NaNoWriMo to watch an episode of Star Trek. There’s going to be photon torpedoes in my next chapter, I just know it.

PolyesterPony Hey, a guy asked me out. Like on a date. Sorry about that earthquake there Oklahoma.

heyrenees If only I’d been born sexy instead of empathetic.

jillgengler I think my tombstone will say “Jill Gengler: She was really fast with a flat iron.”

apodixis I know some of you are pretty busy. But you don’t actually have to read my tweets to star them. In fact, it’s better that way.

BridgetCallahan I just got spam promising me “close meeting with thoughtless facebook women” and I’m like, dude, I got that DOWN.

TheNextMartha I was just disciplining my 4 y/o and in the background my older son said “Oh Snap.”

badbanana Earlier this week, Andy Rooney had gone to the doctor complaining about shortness of breath and email and thumbtacks.

slackmistress Andy Rooney may have died, but Yelp commenters will make sure his legacy lives on.

biorhythmist (AP) Andy Rooney dead at 92 after a long battle with pretty much everything.

lzone @exlibris I’m convinced the only reason I keep my home phone is so I can call my cell phone when I lose it somewhere in the house.

ineedaballrub I still remember the day I hatched from my egg avatar.

cbnickras To everyone who thinks hipsters are not a real thing anymore: they are in the Midwest! We are on a 7 yr delay from the rest of civilization.

CleverTitleTK I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the words “discount” and “surgery” don’t go together, Groupon.

Important_Facts We have nothing to fear but fear itself, plus like ten thousand other things. #FearFacts

Bibliosoph I can’t afford to buy new sweaters this winter, so I think I’ll just get fat to keep warm instead.

NicLewis After warding off 3 Best Buy guys with my technobabble, they descended upon a lady in a motorized cart. Now I’m conflicted about my powers.

Leask I’m pretty awesome at complaining. #grumblebrag

JerryThomas I am become hugs, the cuddler of worlds.

Maybe you should have left it there.

BonesMcCoy Why is everyone obsessed that some Cardassian named Kim divorced?

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.

Little Big Shop

5 Nov

Here’s what’s up in the shop:

Hot Air Balloon Lightswitch Plate Cover, so cheerful.

Balloon Lightswitch Plate Cover, Balloons make me happy.

Handmade Owl Wall Hanging, so cute.

Brown Ceramic Butterfly Dish, so feminine.

Vintage Snowflake Plate, I imagine this holding a stack of cookies.