Wednesday, March 28

Chalkboard Painted Mirror

I never liked the way chalk felt. It makes me cringe to hear someone write on a chalkboard. I shudder to think about fingernails. I still went out and bought a can of chalkboard spray paint. That was about 5 months ago. It sat with my other spray paint colors, watched as they were chosen for projects, wishing it were next. I just didn't know what to do with it. Then I remembered the mirror that was given to me. It was an "I don't want this anymore, Sarah do you want it?" kind of deal. Usually when family members are about to give something away they ask me first. I'm not a hoarder, I just like free stuff.
I had already started painting when I realized I should take a picture.

It was a small, nicely shaped mirror painted a shade of green that made me want to cry (see above). I knew I'd paint it but had no clue where to put it. So I started painting it with ASCP in Old White hoping I'd figure out what to do with it. I love that color. That's when it hit me! CHALKBOARD PAINT! The mirror was begging for it. I gave the mirror 2 coats, let it dry and prepped it for use today! It is now our little welcome sign as you come in through the garage..

Friday, March 23

Framed Butterfly Print

I made this  for a friend's baby shower as part of her gift. She is having a girl, so butterflies and pinkish hues work well for this project. If it were a boy I may have to think twice. 

Anyways...I needed a small cute frame to paint but I also needed a frame that had a matte. Don't let the picture deceive you, it's about 5 inches tall. I just thought you would like to see the lovely friends forever ducklings. So...cute. Ducks are what come to mind when I think my best friend. But they had to go for this baby shower gift.

To beautify this frame and matte I used 2 colors, ASCP in Old White for the frame and an oops paint that is a very pretty grey/blue color for the matte. Both received 2 coats of paint.

I always have a hard time letting things dry. While I waited I went to my computer, printed out the word "hi" in Maiandra GD font.  I placed a purple butterfly sticker (Target dollar bin!) above the word and cut it out to fit my matte. I would have chosen a pink butterfly because it looks better against the gray paint, but my friend doesn't like pink, so there you go. I still might change it. I couldn't wait to put it together!

up close

Wednesday, March 21

How do I love thee? Let me count the books...

Yes, books. Old books, new books, red books, blue books. I'm getting my poetry mixed up today. I love collecting books mostly because my best friend loves reading books. He has a book in hand most hours of the day. I don't read as much as he does. Few do. I think it's great and he encourages my habit of collecting books to fill our house.

The reason I'm okay with constantly buying books is because we have an endless amount of places to put them. Our house has 2 rooms with wall to wall built in bookshelves, not to mention the free standing ones we had before moving in. And with books averaging  75¢ a piece, I feel comfortable growing that collection.

I've purchased books from antique stores, consignment shops, thrift stores, goodwill, and online shops. My local St. Vincent De Paul has the best prices. Several weeks ago I walked out of there spending 15¢ on a Henry James novel. I accidentally throw pennies away all the time. I would have been more careful had I known I could buy a library with all those discarded copper colored coins.

Here are some St Vincent books I've purchased in the last couple trips, priced between 13-60¢ each:

here is part of my collection from antique & consignment stores priced between $3-8 each:

a closer view...

There are some great books to be found, but I will admit it takes some thorough searching. However, it is completely worth it to see how excited my best friend gets when I bring home new books for him to peruse through. About as excited as I get when we buy a new ice cream flavor for the first time. Let's leave the bowl out of it, just give me a spoon. 

For Christmas one year I decided to give my best friend a book a day for all the days of December leading up to Christmas. I got the idea when Borders sent an email offering free shipping on books with no minimum of course I gave it a try with their "used books" section and it worked! I figured it was a mistake, so I ordered about 30 books within 10 minutes and waited for the apology email "we're sorry, free shipping is not actually offered on your $1.20 book". But to my surprise all the books arrived, and I never got charged for shipping. Total cost $60 and a very Merry Christmas. Sadly Borders is no longer in business, but Barnes and Nobles may have the same kind of selection.

These are also great online sources:
Abe Books
Goodwill Books Online
Book Finder Books may not be as affordable as Goodwill or Abe, but it locates the place to buy it!

If you have a good online source for buying your used books let me know!

Monday, March 19

DIY: Gold Painted Bookends

I read this great post from Centsational Girl on how to style bookshelves. While reading I saw the goodwill finds she painted gold and used as bookends. I went to my nearby thrift store and picked up a couple myself, grabbed some primer and spray paint and made my own.

The purple vase and brown/white jug were $1 at a local thrift store. They are heavy, clay creations, but did not have the best paint job. The great green Grecian...(oh, alliteration almost worked) pitcher I picked that up at an antique store for $5. It has really great details that I thought would stand out when painted. I grabbed some spray primer and gold spray paint and began.
I'm generally a patient person. But with painting it's difficult for me. I want the prime coat to cover the first time. I've learned since doing these bookends. Thick coats lead to drips and more work. Next time I'll do one thin coat, let it dry, then another coat, let it dry, then another coat if needed. THEN I will paint. But I did all of these in like...30 minutes. Don't judge. I'm new to this and was really excited. 
I did have to sand down some drips after the prime coats dried. Then I sprayed with gold spray paint. I did 2 coats of gold. 

Ta-da! I like them and once I paint the back of the bookshelves they will stand out even more!

Sunday, March 18

Beethoven's Home

On my weekly thrift store trip I made an unusual stop to an antique store. Unfortunately it is located next door to a goodwill and their prices seem really high after having visited their neighbor. When I was in the parking lot walking into Goodwill I spotted something and I wanted it-- it was sitting next to a truck. A white plaster pedastal. It's on my list because of Beethoven, who I shared several days ago. Beethoven needs a pedastal. He deserves a pedastal. I never thought I would find one, especially in my price range. Like this one from for $69.99.
Pretty, but out of my microscopic price range.
I was hoping the person in the truck was taking the pedestal into the antique shop to I went into goodwill, bought a chair and took it to my car. The pedestal was gone. I almost went home, but decided to try the antique store. I walked around desperately looking for the lovely white pedestal. Nothing. I approached one of the last booths in the store and there it was. It was all alone and had no price tag. I knew the man in the truck brought it in to sell. I waited for him to come back and asked how much he wanted for it. "$18.95." I would like to say I didn't hesitate and yelled "I'LL TAKE IT!!!!" But I did hesitate. I was hoping he would say $10. With the knowledge that he just put it out, I knew it would sell quickly. I didn't even haggle, it was a good price. He even carried it to my car.

Beethoven is happy. I am happy. My students love it and I get to teach them about Beethoven while they stare at his face. It is truly wonderful.

Thursday, March 15

Consignment Stores

Consignment stores contain a collection of items people are trying to sell but don't have a store to do it in. The store then receives a percentage of the sale, so it's a win win for everyone involved, including the consumers.

There are many bargains to be found at consignment stores, I particularly enjoy the ones that sell furniture and home goods. There is a good bit to look at, so I prefer to take my time and really find some treasures. Consignment stores are also good places to haggle...or bargain with the manager. Sometimes items have been on the floor for awhile so it's best to ask to a discount if you're interested in something. For example...

I went in to a local consignment store and found some books...I love buying books. I spotted a plaster cast bust of Beethoven (who I mistakenly thought was Mozart at the time...I mean they DO look alike), but I didn't pick it up. The $18 price tag seemed high to me. With books in hand I proceeded to the check out counter. I asked the woman when items get marked down because I had my eye on that bust of Mozart (Beethoven). She went and grabbed it...looked up the seller and gave me 20% off instantly!! I was floored and so excited to take my man Beethoven home. After looking at it closely it says "BEETHOVEN" on the bust. Ha.  

For $14.40 I found a great piece that I love. As a music teacher it fits my style and serves as a talking piece with my students. I love it!

Tuesday, March 13

This week's goodwill finds

There are several places I stop on my thrift store trips, 2-3 goodwill stores and 2 thrift stores near my house. I know which ones will have unique pieces, and which ones will have classic thrift store finds. Here is a unique find from my favorite goodwill. I picked this up for $3.50. I cleaned it up well and it's neatly displayed in my kitchen, happy to hold the latest fresh fruit!

And this is from another goodwill that I consider a classic find, a banker's lamp. I have always wanted one and grabbed this one for $6 before anyone else could!

 I rarely ever go to goodwill with someone in mind. I never know what will be there so if it's on my mental list of items I want to have or if it just looks interesting, I'll get it.

Monday, March 12

DIY: painting a dresser with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

I keep a running list of items I would like for our house. It's long. I stopped by the goodwill on a Wednesday after lunch with a friend and found this lovely dresser marked $15. Wait...$15? But it's so...heavy, and detailed, and in decent condition? I looked at the piece carefully and took the tag off and claimed it!

Here it is before:

Originally I wanted to use this as a buffet, but decided it would be best in the master bedroom. The room is also neutral, so I wanted a bolder color. Since this was my first furniture project I wanted to make it as easy as possible. Enter Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Duck Egg. Yes, it's expensive at $36 a quart...a quart. The frugal side of me said "WALK AWAY." But I bought it after reading online how great it is. It's true.

1. No priming. I cleaned up the dresser, including the piece of chewed gum (ew) on the front.

2. I used 2 coats and used less than 1/4 of the can for the ENTIRE dresser including the drawers. I couldn't believe it.

I bought the Annie Sloan clear and dark wax, although I've read several people who have used cheaper furniture waxes and got the same result.  

After 2 coats of paint I put 1 coat of clear wax, let that dry, then started with the dark wax. I used it sparingly...because it goes on thick. I brushed it on carefully with a small painter's brush, then immediately wiped it off with cheese cloth or a soft tshirt. I did this until I got my desired look. The drawers took awhile because they are so detailed. I put an extra coat of clear wax on the top of the dresser since it's used most often.

Then I gave the hardware a coat of Rub and Buff in Antique Gold to complete the project.
After they all dried I put the hardware back on and it was love at first sight!

The total cost of this makeover about $40...if I break down how much paint I actually used and add in the Rub and Buff for the hardware. I found the Antique Gold Rub and Buff at Michael's.

Shared With:

My first goodwill purchase

I went into goodwill for the first time not knowing what to expect. I had never been before and didn't know where to begin. I started at the furniture, and spotted something right away. A children's school desk. The price was marked $7. I decided to walk around and think about it. So I did...and after 5 minutes went back to get it.

IT WAS GONE. Yes, I watched it walk out the door with a woman and her small child. I was happy for them. I say that with a forced smile while gritting my teeth. Lesson learned...if I like it, take it, otherwise someone else will.

I continued, and stumbled upon a decanter. It was slender and round, unlike most square decanters. It had the original top (which goodwill heavily taped on, so they remain together), and it was in good condition.

And that was it. I bought it and left. And that is the beginning of my thrifting story. so much has happened since that lovely day.

Sunday, March 11

The Joy of Being Frugal

I would not call myself a materialistic person, however, there are many things I would like to have. I am patient and wait for them to cross my path. That is the key of successful frugality. It doesn't mean depriving my family of having things, but it does not place importance on having them right now. For me, it's not about just having stuff, it's about finding treasures to place in my home to enjoy each day.

We have lived in our house a year. Our first house. We hope it's "the one," by that I mean we hope to remain here for decades to come. It's a lovely home, but quite difficult to fill. I've slowly started to accumulate pieces of furniture from family and second hand stores, but I have a long, long way to go. I have found enjoyment shopping at goodwill and thrift stores, hunting for quality items at bargain prices. So far I've had some luck and can not believe my savings.

This is my way of documenting my frugal adventure in decorating my home.