August 31, 2012

The Birdcage Takes a Bow

Above you see the birdcage purchased on Wednesday at Goodwill. The bottom section  was plastic, not attractive and had a big crack, so it was pitched. After a bit of fiddling around (this translates to multiple instances of trying out things that wouldn't fit at all for ages) here is how it looks as current centerpiece on the dining room table:

Its base is now a wicker tray that fits the cage circumference perfectly. Inside is a little wooden vase full of bird feathers, a metal candle holder like a stylized sunflower with votive light in it and a miniature rattan chair with a ceramic pear on it. Everything except the feathers came from thrift shops. There is a piece of posterboard behind it to eliminate the clutter on the other side of the room from view. I am excited about this as a decorative jumping off place; thinking ahead to other occasions during the holidays and seasons it seems destined to play a role early and often. 

Do you have a special piece, a tray, wooden box, unusual cloche or other item that is a go-to regular in your decorating efforts? Are you thinking ahead to the fall and winter months, making plans for a replay of an old favorite  or eager to try a new idea that just sprang to mind? 

Have a safe and fun long weekend if you and your family are together for Labor Day.


August 29, 2012

Wednesday Wins

Hello, all, and happy back to school to everyone with children or who teaches. Classes in Texas began Monday and that means it's a little less crowded in thrift stores now, which is nice. We live very near Travis Elementary, so this also means it's necessary to adjust errands to avoid getting stuck in the black hole of giant cars lining the streets on all sides that make it impossible to get in and out of our drive at arrival and release times. Today I headed to the post office around 9 o'clock, long enough after the early bell to miss all but the worst stragglers. From there I headed to the Sand Dollar and Goodwill stores a few blocks away and made some excellent scores. 

My collections got a boost with two more little twig chairs and a religious carved egg. 

The sunflower pail will go in with my August/September sunflower decorations. There is also a little tin box for holiday gift treat giving and some things to put on ebay, the new jigsaw  puzzle, batch of scarves and Mary Engelbreit box. There are actually three collectible mugs,  but only one made it to the photo session.

That paragon of inspectors, Flossie, was of course on hand to check out the purchases.If you look at the egg in the left of the picture you'll see it has a cross on one side and angel on the other. There is writing, but it seems to be in Cyrillic, so I sure can't read it. 

The major score is the birdcage. My modest collection only contained three examples, none round, so when one showed up today it went directly into my cart. The bottom is plastic and not especially attractive so it will be removed and a tray of some kind used as a base. My mind is already buzzing with ideas of how to use it for the holidays and beyond. It was expensive for me, $11.99, but then again, it's very cool, so definitely worth it.

Temperatures have been high lately, so there are fewer yard sales than usual. It's nice to find a few treasures inside where it's not hot and muggy. Today's bargain hunting made a nice break from staying indoors in the ac. Have you had any super finds lately or has your thrifting succumb to the dog days of  August? 

Stay cool!

August 22, 2012

Pinching Pennies

Many people are struggling to make ends meet now. I'm sure most folks know of coupon clippers who swear that's the path to financial peace and others who say coupons are useless, savings happen when you make everything from scratch from food and baked goods to cleaning products. Some hints are good across the board: and never go out of style, like don't grocery shop when you're hungry, try generic products, use less than the recommended amount of things like soap, clean windows with old newspaper, tips that have been around forever. This post isn't intended to reiterate those, rather to offer a few you may not have thought of yet.

1.Take advantage of your location. You can check at FreeCycle to see if there is a group in your area.  This organization is just what it says. By e-mail local members offer items they no longer want or need and other members take the items away. Ours allows people to post  requests like: Wanted, backpack for grade school child.Often another member does have that extra backpack, unused ironing board or item youneed and it's free for the cost of going to pick it up. On the flip side, it allows ongoing or single piece clutter removal and you're able to control when and how that happens, not always possible with larger charity donation  sites.

2. Along the same idea as above, but more personal, ask your friends and neighbors if they can help with things you may need often. My example is packing materials, paper, bubble wrap, anything of that nature. A friend gets a number of medications and other things delivered by mail and she's happy to put it all in one spot till we get together for lunch. She doesn't have to go to  much effort, saving material that's already there and it keeps me from having to buy stuff that could have already been in the landfill. People who love to garden are often happy to share plants, give cuttings and save bulbs when they're separated. If you know someone who already has an established garden, it doesn't hurt to ask. Mr. B has been very successful at growing these vines with pretty purple flowers: 

he  regularly harvests the seeds and is happy to give them away to anyone who asks.

3. Think before you pitch something out if it can be used again in another incarnation.
Big bags that contained pet food or large pillows can be used again as trash can liners or to pick up debris from the yard or if plastic, under a high chair or play table. Make them work twice at least before tossing. Why spend money on a large garbage bag if you don't have to? Bloggers are great recyclers already, so if you haven't checked out crafts made from clean empty cans, jars and bottles do so now. Things most people have around the house anyway can be cute, useful or a great source for kids to use their imaginations. I shred thin cardboard to use as padding to pack fragile items and cut the lids off clean boxes to reuse, or maybe just separate lid and bottom to use as drawer or cabinet organizers.

Here are some empty jars that stand on the kitchen windowsill with chopsticks and drinking straws in them. As you see, my able assistant, Flossie, helped with the shot.

4. Before you buy something new make sure you don't own it already, or something similar that would work just as well. To help this process, try hard to store like things together because it's easy to forget the existence of a tool or gadget or piece of clothing left where it doesn't belong.

5. The best tip of all, though, is free. Use your local public library. Because we're in a big city there is a Central Library and neighborhood branches spread throughout the area. Besides books, dvds and music to check out, here is a very partial list of free classes and events going on at HPL:

  • Classical Literature Book Club
  • IGoogle
  • Passport Services
  • Urban Fiction Book Club
  • Crochet
  • Conversational Spanish
  • 50+ Computer Club
  • Tunes at Noon-live music
  • Inter-library loan for materials yours doesn't own
  • Mystery Book Club
  • eBook Open House
  • Chinese Tai Chi
  • Quilters
  • Homework Help
  • Audubon Society
  • Website Design
  • Public Poetry
  • Social Networking 
  • Credit Report
  • Kids' Crafts
  • Computer-zillions of these
  • ESL
  • Noon Movies
  • Laughter Yoga
  • Job Skills Lab
  • Stress Relief and Relaxation
  • Workout
  • Tax assistance for senior citizens
  • Paper Crafting
  • One whole location dedicated to genealogy research
  • Custom Fitting and Alterations
  • Baby Yoga
  • Bedtime Storytime
  • Yarn People
  • Technology Toolbox
  • Mango Language
  • Wii Game Time
  • Video Games for Kids
  • Needlework Club

That is just a sample of free offerings going on now. During the summer while browsing for books I've seen a petting zoo on the lawn outside the library, clowns, water play and a firetruck visiting at the story hour. There is a whole teen zone away from the main stacks available for that age bracket with newspapers and magazines of all kinds to peruse. Some libraries lend toys as well as books and most have a summer reading club to keep skills up over the break as well as reading lists for area middle and high school students. So, get one of these:

You'll never regret it.

More on thrift and savings another time. 

Stay cool,

August 21, 2012

Modest scores

Good afternoon, everyone. How are you all coping as August winds its way towards September? We had ran this weekend which was sorely needed and much appreciated. In between Mr. B and I got out and about and along with a couple end of last week stops, here are the latest finds:

The red Starbucks mug was found at Manna. We already had Flossie. Also from Manna:

From Sand Dollar at the end of last week I found a few things. Because of the cats we can't have any plants indoors except artificial ones, so I was delighted to find this big asparagus fern:

It looks very realistic.

These cuties came from the pricey Goodwill, but were the day's color of tags that were discounted 30%, so not too bad:

As you see, my little chair collection got another recruit. The miniature bird cage was empty when purchased, I just stuck a bird in it to take the picture. There are four of the acorns, which should be great for autumn decorating. You can't see well in the picture but the class bottle has wire mesh on the outside with a handle.Inside is sand, a tea light and shells.

Here are some of the scarves found at the SA last week:

Ralph Lauren


Other recent triumphs include getting an old, unused cat fountain out of the house to a member of FreeCycle, scheduled pickup this week of a couple of boxes of discards by Purple Heart and a box of donations to the branch library for their sale in October. In a house this small it's necessary to constantly cull and move things that don't work, fit or look right any more out the door; otherwise, I would have to stop going to thrift shops. Can you imagine the horror of that scenario? Neither can I. 

Off to c-c-c-c-c-clean. Wish me luck!


August 17, 2012

Another Collection

Spending so much time shopping in thrifts or at yard sales it is hard to resist buying old linens. This post is about some of the vintage tablecloths I've accumulated over the years; some, not all, by any means. The rest will have to wait for another day to get shown off. 

There  are quite a few  flowered ones. 

These remind me of some my mother and grandmother owned.

August 16, 2012

Up Above My Head

We're past the middle of August now, and all that comes to mind is, wow, when did Father Time decide to travel faster than the speed of light? Some of this confusion and incredulity may be the result of several nights in a row of poor sleep. Which makes it seem as if the calendar can't be right and at the same time difficult to string two coherent sentences together in a blog. With sleep, or the wistful thought of it in mind, it seemed like a good time to share this with you:

Our headboard is an old mantel, bought years ago on Labor Day weekend at an antique barn having a sale. It was $95. Mr. B filled in the hole with boards and repainted it. Since our oldest cat has started staying up there most of the time it needs to be repainted. I snagged a minute when she tottered off to the food dish to snap this photo, sans Bitty. The lamps are from Target. When we moved to this house unexpectedly in 2008 after the hurricane our wall-mounted ones wouldn't work. These shades are actually not the original ones, which were burlap. They just didn't work that well, so when browsing in Target a few months ago and the ones above were spotted on a  clearance shelf for $2.12 each, that seemed a great bargain. The pictures are from Pier I, nearly thirty years ago so have no recollection of how much they were. The wreath is from Manna, and cost a dime, yes, ten cents. The good night sign came from Catholic Charities and was $6.00. I love the way the words sit on a line that's rust-colored metal, which coordinates well with the lamps and ribbon trim on the shades. The bed will have to wait for later when the comforter isn't in the dryer.  You can't see, but there are a couple of nails up from pictures that used were there prior to furniture being rearranged; lazy me left then and hang a garland over them during the holidays. A recent addition to the room, as of Monday, is new curtain panels, again from Target. The problem with thrift shops and yard sales is there are never enough matching pieces. On the wall to the left as you look at the headboard there are three windows, 36" x 72" each. I've never found more than four used, so had to grab them on sale when it was possible. 

We used to have a bench at the foot of the bed, but this room is to small for it. Another one, much narrower, is always one of the things I'm on the lookout for. The room is small and the furniture and/or placement isn't ideal, so it's been difficult to get it together. Even after four years, there is a lot lacking for the overall effect to be calm, welcoming and attractive. Wish me luck at achieving that goal someday! Is your room a haven and refuge? If so, was it easy to accomplish or did it take a while? 

Until next time,

August 10, 2012

Friday Finds +

Hello! How are you today? I hope you have a fun weekend ahead. I don't know what we'll end  up doing, but it will be indoors, given the heat and humidity. 

Since my car's air conditioning has gone out, errands are done as early as opening times permit with the goal to be home well before noon if at all possible. Today included a trip to the post office; once that was done I headed to a nearby thrift store. Here is what I got:

This includes some items for resale and some to keep. For me, the wooden cutting board, red mug blue candle and two miniature paper parasols. Headed to a new home elsewhere are the new in box puzzle, scarf and cup on the right. It has a pretty pastel flower on the side that can't be seen well in the picture and the interior is a lovely violet. Some people collect all manner of Starbucks mugs, so perhaps there is someone out there looking for this one. The red one says READ and is from the ALA, American Library Association. I attended one of their meetings years ago and bought an identical one as a souvenir, but it has vanished in the subsequent years, perhaps another victim of our nemesis, hurricane Ike. The eight items above were a little over $14 at checkout. Orange tags were 30% off.

Earlier this week I found a small quilt, handmade patchwork. It may not even be twin sized, but rather for a toddler bed. I loved the colors and prints and snatched it up for $6.90. Since the picture isn't great you'll have to take my word that the prints are very sweet and look like vintage fabric or feed sack material to me. It will be fun to fold over a chair during the winter. 

Instead of a regular purse I like to carry one with straps, like a backpack. right now I'm using a lined straw pouch that has given me two years of service so far, an excellent return for a $2 price tag at Manna, but I'll want something different by next month. This bag looks new, or at least, never used. It's got inside and outside zipper pockets and a pretty pattern, not bad at all for $2.92. Last year's was made of faux leather and was awfully heavy, so this should be better in that respect. 

What has been scarce to downright invisible lately? Books for us to read, books for resale and anything with sunflowers. Apparently changing my decor was some sort of signal for all sunflower themed items to vanish from the thrifts immediately. On the other hand, there are tons of shells and beachy items, now that those are put away.  Isn't that always how it works? 

Do you have a running mental or hard copy list of things to look for at yard sales or resale shops? Do you keep the faith if it takes a long time to find a particular piece, or cave in and buy it new?

I'm going to try to link this post to Frugalicious Friday at Finding Fabulous.

Until next time, stay cool!


August 7, 2012

Mini Makeovers

Calling this a makeover and implying it's a project is probably a total exaggeration. Last fall at a rummage sale for a Food Bank in our neighborhood, I picked up a battered, chippy old dustpan for a nickel. 

If you want something chippy, beat-up, rusty and made of metal, this certainly fills the bill. Now, what to do with it?

How about glue magnets on the back? Then you could use it like this:

stuck on the side of the refrigerator to hold receipts. You have to admire an object that can last as long as this one has with what looks like constant usage and still be around for a second career incarnation. At the grocery store on the weekend I picked up the HGTV magazine and had to laugh, seeing they had used an old dustpan to hold papers, too. Theirs had a long handle and not as common a design as this one, though.

Another minor effort involves this tray that was super cheap at the Sand Dollar, under $2.00 if my memory is correct.


I like the scalloped edges of this tray, but not the artwork. It's pretty ugly, and also cheaply made. It looks as if someone set something wet on it which discolored a lot of the background. It has been used already with the lazy method of putting a crocheted piece over the bananas, but they were still there underneath. Today I broke out the glue and scissors and came up with this:

 It's cork, from a roll bought at Target for $1.99. There's some leftover, so for about $3.00 and almost no effort we have a nice tray to use. These aren't on the scale of refinishing furniture pieces or house renovations, but hey, it's hot in Texas right now. Small and easy is still an achievement in this weather! I hope to link this to Met Monday at Susan's Between Naps on the Porch at

What have you come up with while staying inside where it's cool? I'd love to know. 


August 2, 2012

Thrift for the Soul

Hello again.

This post probably belongs in the category of collections, but it is more important and meaningful than baskets or aprons or tins. Around twenty years ago we moved into a house with no dining room, just the kitchen to eat in. Since we had two tables at that time, one moved into the living room. It is a dark wood gateleg that was settled at one end of the sofa with one side folded down and the other out. Upon it gradually accumulated a collection of religious art. Since we got a new sofa in January and pieces were shifted around to accommodate it, the items were relocated to the top of a desk. 

In no particular order, then: 

This is a wall with crosses on it, all from thrift shops. The little nicho isn't, it's from a store near us. 

Here is a little tin church--I guess it's supposed to be a candle holder, another iron cross and a little picture of Jesus blessing the children. The iron openwork basket has a hymnal for the armed forces and an old New Testament. 

The left side of the desk has candles on it, two statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary,  a small set of the holy family and a larger one of Jesus. Mary on the right came with slight damage to her nose, since repaired by Mr. B.  Her price is still on the bottom, $3.93 from the Sand Dollar. The holy water stoup on the wall came from Catholic Charities resale shop. Not visible is a container of holy water my in-laws brought us from their trip to Israel a few years ago.

Here is another candle holder with the picture in front of it and a framed card of St. Michael the Archangel. 

The ceramic piece of the holy family on the flight to Egypt comes out during Epiphany. Some special seasonal items  appear at Easter and Christmas. The seated camel was belonged to my mother. Come to think of it, my youngest daughter gave us a set of three crosses that I haven't seen since we moved here following hurricane Ike. What on earth became of those?  Mr. B has given me two crosses one large and one small, but all the rest were found at thrift shops or estate sales. They are a permanent part of the decor in our home. Often the desk has a vintage embroidered dresser scarf laid crossways like a table runner on it, but the crocheted circle cloth seemed ideal for summer, so it's been out since June, also a Sand Dollar find. Besides being beautiful, these things make me think, give thanks and remember what is really important, visual aids to keep my heart on the right track. 

Do you look for spiritual help wherever you can find it, even if it's secondhand? 

Stay cool!