Monday, December 6, 2010

My latest craigslist find

So, I bought this a month or two ago, but never managed to take a decent photo till this past week.

The craigslist photo didn't enlarge well:

An antique canopy bed
60+ years old
full size
$50  (!!!)

It's in great condition, and I love the curves and shape of it.
Eventually I'll either paint it white or strip it and stain it a lot darker, but for now I'll leave it as it is.

There's a ceiling fan in our guest room, so the canopy is up in the attic instead of on the bed.

Now I just need to find a mattress set for it, and we'll be ready to entertain guests in style (ie: not on the floor).

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Holiday Decorations

I've never done much holiday/seasonal decorating, but I decided to give it a try recently. Being me, I didn't spend much on it. I bought a couple garlands of fall leaves from Michaels (on sale for half off) and a couple pumpkins from JoAnns (also on sale). Nothing too elaborate, but I like it.

For Christmas I put up some fake pine garlands (from wally world) with some twinkle lights we've had for a few years. The square glass box on the left is a project from a Super Saturday activity last year and the stockings are the ones I made last year.  Next year I think I'll get a bit more elaborate, but I like how it looks now.

Friday, December 3, 2010

I've been super busy lately

Yardwork (I think all the leaves have finally fallen- 16 giant bags of leaves later)
Thanksgiving preparations and activities
Furniture building and painting (pics to come soon)
Working on upholstering a chair (pics to come)
Sorting, organizing, and putting away the stuff that keeps piling up in our bedroom (not sure how it happens, but the pile keeps getting bigger, though it's finally taken care of, for now...)
Working on Christmas gifts (pics will come after Christmas)
Planning meal plans for our Christmas visit to our parents'
Planning and packing for our Christmas visit, which also includes Mr S and I going elk hunting- lots more gear involved, and we're flying, so lots of planning needed
Trying to sell our car- we're finally buying our Chevy Avalanche! (anyone want a 2006 CR-V?)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Plan to Eat

Awhile ago I heard about a site called Plan to Eat. You upload your recipes to the site and then add the recipes to a calendar. You then make a shopping list and it automatically pulls the ingredients from your planned meals into your shopping list. You then have the option to review the ingredients and move the items you already have to another list.

I wasn't sure how useful this would be, but since they have a 30 day free trial, I thought it was worth a try. I uploaded some recipes, made a shopping list, and went shopping. It was great, especially since I'm using a lot of new recipes that I don't know by heart. It's also nice having my shopping list already made up- no combing through all the recipes to figure out what I need.

From a planning perspective, I find it very useful because it forces me to plan out what we'll eat, which means I'm less likely to fall back on spaghetti (gluten free, of course) at least once a week when I can't think of anything to make. While LMS wouldn't mind this, it would get real old real fast.

After the 30 day free trial, it's $4.95 a month or $39 a year (which gives you 4 months free). I can definitely save that much money just because I'm planning everything so much better- buying things I actually need and will use and avoiding a lot of impulse buys. Plus all the planning is good for my OCD  :)

If you want to check them out, go here to check out their site. Plan to eat, plan to save!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Super easy boot tray

I saw this idea here, and really liked it. Simple, easy, and cheap.

1 tray: $9 at wally world (now marked down to $7- of course)
3 bags river rocks: $1 each at the dollar store

Dump the rocks in the tray, place your boots on top, and you're done! I love how it looks!

I saw another blog where they used a plastic tray they found on sale at Target, then spray painted it black. I haven't seen any at Target and didn't have the time or energy to look other places. And I like the detail on the wood tray I used. I may paint it eventually, but I like it as-is for now.

Obviously this isn't a baby proof item (we discovered it was a magnet for my friend's 10 month old), but that's not a concern for us right now.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Easy little girl skirt and leggings

LMS insists on wearing skirts most days, so I recently made several more leggings to keep her legs warm now that it's getting colder. I check the women's sock section every time I'm at Target, and buy any knee socks that are cute. They usually run $2/ a pair, but I have gotten some on sale for less. I've been saving them in my to-do pile, and knocked them all out in an hour or so. I followed the same method I used here.

We also stopped by Goodwill awhile ago and found some inexpensive clothes to make more skirts for LMS. The first skirt I made started out life as a 3T jumper. It's a cute pink corduroy jumper, but way too short for LMS's long torso.

I cut the bodice off (as close to the arm holes as possible),

made a simple casing for elastic, then inserted the elastic. Done!
 Hmmm. Not sure about the whole outfit (especially the boots), but she picked it all out and was happy with it. I do like the argyle leggings with the skirt. And they were very inexpensive, which makes me happy :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Goodwill Lamp

Awhile ago I found this lamp at Goodwill for $3.95. It was on the ugly side and it was missing its shade, but I liked the shape and thought it had potential. Our front room only has two weird sconces above the fireplace, and they don't provide nearly enough light. I thought this lamp could help solve the problem.

I didn't think there would be much wear and tear on the lamp, so I didn't bother sanding it. Mostly because the thought of sanding metal rubs me very wrong. ick.

I did spray it with primer though, and then sprayed it with Krylon oil-rubbed bronze and some spray poly sealer.

Doesn't it have a nice shape? It's much more evident with the darker paint than it was with the nasty gold finish.

I dressed up a plain lamp shade I found at wally world. I used part of a drop cloth that I already had to cover the shade and make the flowers. I started out with just a few flowers and it looked fine when the light was off, but when the light was on, the seams and such showed, so I added more flowers. I already had the brown ribbon that I used on the upper edge, but I'm not completely sure I like the look now. I think it looked better before. I'll probably end up re-doing it, but I've got lots of other projects to work on, so for now it'll stay as-is.

The wood printers drawer I found at a yard sale will eventually hold Mr S's rank advancements, awards, and service coins, but for now it sits in the corner.
The blue canning jar is one I've had for years, the other blue jar is from IKEA, and I found the glass insulator at a yard sale for a buck.
The square vase and rocks also came from IKEA and the star was from the dollar section at Target.
The home sign was on clearance for a couple bucks at Seagull Book.
Sad to say, but this is one of first real "decorating" attempts. However, I like how it looks, and it'll be easy to change up if I ever get bored with it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Post Halloween Sales

Yesterday LMS and I stopped by Target to hit up the post-Halloween sales. We found a princess dress last year, so I thought we'd see what we could find this year. We picked up a purple fairy costume and a little red riding costume to add to her dress up collection.

We also found an orange pumpkin shirt for her and a black one for me to wear next year.

The best part? Each item was half off!

I love hitting the after-holiday sales and finding things 50-60% off.

Did you find any good deals?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Costumes

LMS's costumes do double-duty as dress-up outfits. I could buy them for her, but I prefer to sew them. Better construction, better fabric, longer lasting, more modest. (more pictures of her costume can be seen here and here)

Fabric's not cheap, but it was on sale (half off), so I managed to spend less than the $20 I would have spent on a store-bought costume. Last year, I didn't do nearly as well. Live and learn, though.
My costume cost $8- the cost of two blue twin size sheets from wally world. I had the peachy pink sheet in my stash, as well as the thread I needed. I used one blue sheet for the skirt, the other blue sheet for the jacket, and the peachy pink sheet for the bow and to line the jacket. Cheap and fairly easy.

Now I just have to figure out when I'm going to wear my costume again- I'm not much into daily dressing up like LMS :)

Do you re-use your Halloween costumes?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Trip to the Local Apple Orchard

Last week we went to a local apple orchard (the same place we picked peaches at earlier this summer). We picked 34 pounds of apples and bought some cider.

LMS picked a few apples, but mostly just held my purse

When we got home, I spent a couple days cooking the apples down into applesauce.
Most of the applesauce is chunky, flavored with cinnamon and fresh ground nutmeg (yum!).
The rest is chunky peach applesauce, also flavored with cinnamon and fresh ground nutmeg (double yum!).
The peaches were some I had frozen this summer, but never got around to doing anything with. So I cooked them down, pureed them, then added them to the chunky applesauce.

On the left: regular applesauce, on the right: peach applesauce

I also used some of the cider to make apple cider muffins.
We couldn't eat the apple cider doughnuts that were for sale at the orchard, but they sure smelled good.
When we got home, I looked through my cookbooks and my favorite gluten free vegan baking sites, and found a recipe that looked good and called for ingredients I had on hand.

The price of the apples was fairly comparable to what we see in the grocery store, but tasted better! I picked two varieties, but I can't remember what they were right off- one was sweeter, the other more tart, so they combined for a good flavor and didn't need added sugar. As with the fruit we picked this summer, it's a good experience to pick your own fruit, but I don't think I saved any money by making my own applesauce. However, there's nothing like the taste of warm homemade applesauce.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Coffee Table Re-do

The finished table, sitting on a recent craigslist find.

Like the cabinet, I lightly sanded the edges of the legs. It'll get kicked and scuffed up, so why not give it a head start?

I like the contrast of the painted base and the stained top. I've seen others do it, and I like the look.

What my $15 craigslist started out looking like:

What it looks like now:

I like the results!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Inside the cabinet

On the outside, it looks nice and neat.

But when you open it up, you can see all the stuff it's hiding:

What exactly is all of this stuff?

The unfortunate thing is that there's no room for fabric, so after I finish sorting it all (not quite done yet), I'll put baskets-full of fabric on top of the cabinet.

Want to see my quick and easy way to keep the door panels in place?
Those two red dots are red plastic push pins.
I put two in the top and two in the bottom,  and the panels aren't going anywhere.
It will be very easy to switch them out.

The cut edges of the fabric do show, but only when the doors are open  :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My new craft cabinet is finally finished

We got back from our road trip a week and a half ago. After the usual unpacking, laundry, grocery shopping (our frig was completely empty), and trying to get back onto a schedule, I managed to finally finish my cabinet. 

After putting the top back on the base, I put all the doors and knobs back on. Then I lightly sanded all the edges and corners. Nothing super-noticeable, just enough to cover up any future dings. Because let's face it, I'm a klutz, and I will be banging things into the edges. The top coat of paint is a really light blue/gray- it looks almost white, but you can see the difference where the white primer peeks out. I like the two-tone (three-tone if you count the dark wood under the primer) look.

I then cut thin plywood (leftover from replacing the backing on the cabinet) to replace the glass that was originally in the doors. Since the cabinet is full of sewing and craft supplies I wanted the cabinet completely closed in- I'm not a fan of open cupboards. I prefer to close the doors and hide the mess. Not that there's a mess right now, it's all still organized, but things don't always stay that way.

Then I covered each panel with fabric I bought on sale at JoAnns. I just hot glued the fabric on the back, and it will be easy to switch it out. LMS actually wanted a different fabric and was disappointed that I went with this one- I like it though. 

 I liked the one on the left, but it's a little dark for the room, which really doesn't get very good light.

LMS liked the one on the right, but it's a little too bright for now. Come spring, though, I think it'll be a nice change.

A couple of the panels ended up a little crooked, but I'm ignoring it. (squash that OCD, squash that OCD)

I left the medallions in place on the base cabinet doors, and used the original knobs on all the doors. I didn't replace the original magnetic closures. The doors stay closed without them, and I was too lazy :)

I spray painted the knobs, but that was all I did to them before putting them back on. They were kind of brassy black before, now they're all black/brown.

Love the detail!

What my $50 craigslist find used to look like:

What it looks like now:
I'm happy!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Road Tripping across the US

Road trips aren't super conducive to saving money- there's expenses like gas, food, motel/hotel, etc.

However, I think we did pretty good.

Driving on the highway really helps our gas mileage, so we fill up a lot less often than when we're driving around town.

We only ate one meal a day in a restaurant while on the road. This was primarily due to our current dietary restrictions, but it also meant we didn't spend much on food. I did have to do a lot of planning: I made gluten free granola before we left and we brought little boxes of rice milk (cooled in a bucket of ice the nights we didn't have an in-room frig) to eat it with. I was able to search online ahead of time and find restaurants we could eat at for a late lunch/early dinner every day, and we ate snacks the rest of the time: fruit, veggies, rice crackers, peanut butter packets, nuts, etc.

I'm a bit cheap when it comes to staying in motels while traveling. They're not the destination, they're the stopover on the way to the destination. We're only there long enough to sleep, so I don't need a super-fancy (and expensive) hotel. Motel 6, reserved ahead of time, works for me.

We had a great time, and we spent less than we could have. Always a good thing!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Coffee Table Sneak Peak

The other project I had to finish up was my $15 (!) craigslist coffee table. This didn't take long at all, especially compared to how long the cabinet took. I'll let the paint and stain cure while we're gone and when we get back I'll distress the edges a bit, since they'll get distressed anyway.

Here's what it used to look like:

And here's what it looks like right now:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cabinet Sneak Peak

There's nothing like a firm deadline to give me the extra push I need to finish up my projects. We're heading out on a roadtrip to visit family on Monday, so I had to get all my painting finished and the pieces brought inside. The paint will cure while we're gone, and I'll put it all back together when we ge back.

In the meantime, here's a reminder of what the cabinet used to look like:

And a sneak peak of what it looks like now:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How I find great deals on ebay and craigslist

I've found some great deals on ebay and craigslist and ebay, but it takes some patience and some know-how.

On ebay, I search for whatever it is I'm looking for, say a twin size chamois sheet from PBK. I don't want to be too broad, but I also don't want to be too narrow in my search. My search parameter in this case would be: (PBK, Pottery Barn) chamois sheet twin. When the results are returned, you have the option to "Save this search and alert me later". If you click on that and follow the instructions ebay will email you every day with any new items that match this search.

Every day I check my email to see if something has been listed that I'm looking for. Usually not, but every so often there will be one I want to keep an eye on, so I save it to my watch list. From there it's just a matter of keeping an eye on the auction (ie, not forgetting when it will end!) and deciding how much I want to spend and not spending more than that. I tend to place my bid in the last 30-45 seconds, which prevents me from upping my bid if my bid isn't high enough and usually prevents others from outbidding me.

On craigslist, I've been searching for various furniture items, so I have much broader search parameters: I search in 'furniture', leaving the search for box blank so everything will come through (people call things by so many different names, it's best to err on the side of too many results rather than too few), and  putting a price limit on it- minimum 0, maximum $60. Once the results come through, I copy the url and add it to my google reader feeds. Several times a day anything that's been posted that matches that criteria shows up in my reader, which is much easier than visiting craigslist multiple times a day. Once the posts pop up, it's just a matter of deciding if I want to call on anything that came up.

Have you found any great deals on ebay or craigslist?

edited to add:
If I won't be home, or am too busy too watch an ebay auction end, I use auctionstealer. It's a sniping program that allows 3 free snipes per week (the week starts on Sunday) and places your bid (up to the maximum you stated) in the last 10-12 seconds. If you pay a small monthly fee, you can use it more frequently and it will place your bid in the last 3-4 seconds. I don't use it that often, so I've never bothered with the expense. The program is easy to use, and I've never had any problems with it, and have won a number of auctions using it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Washington Monument

Did you know that it's free to get into the Washington Monument?

Tickets can be obtained for free the same day you visit, but they do run out.
If you want an assured ticket, you can order them ahead of time for $1.50 a piece, plus shipping.
We visited the monument last week, and we were happy that we'd gotten tickets ahead of time. Our scheduled time was for 2:00, and all the other tickets for the day were gone by then.

We drove to the closest metro station, then took the metro to the stop just a couple blocks from the monument. It was a fun little adventure and makes me much more willing to explore DC some more. I do not enjoy driving in the city (way too many cars and people), but taking the metro lets you skip all that. You do have the expense of the parking garage and the metro tickets, but the trade-off of less stress is more than worth it for me.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Purple ruffled wall

To give LMS her purple room without actually painting it, I stapled a purple sheet to the wall, then thoroughly wet the sheet with liquid starch, smoothing the sheet to the wall as I went. I actually had to re-starch various places 2 or 3 times in order to get it to lay flat. I let the sheet dry in between each starching, so it took several days before I was happy with the result. There's still some wrinkles, but they're only noticeable when the light is just right.

I didn't like the look of the edges of the sheet, especially since the staples were visible. So I went a bit OCD and made 20 feet of ruffle (which means I needed about 80 feet of fabric strips).  I did the ruffle in one long strip, so it was kind of awkward to work with. After ruffling the strip, I sewed it to some lavender ribbon to provide stability and rigidity. Then I sewed some tiny white ric rac over the seams in the middle of the ruffle. Definitely OCD on my part, but I like how it looks.

Once the ruffle was all done, it was time to put it on the wall. I just hot-glued it on, making sure the glue was on the sheet, not the wall (that would be a mess to clean up). It didn't take too long and it's stayed up without any problems.

Close-up view of the ruffle and the wall. I cut a hole for the light switch, and put the switch plate over the rough edges.