Monday, July 18, 2011

Dumpster Rejects

You might imagine that proper dumpster diving attire would involve old clothes or, perhaps, a sanitary hazmat jumpsuit complete with goggles and gloves.  Not us!

Mark always seems to end up dumpster diving in his chuch clothes.  Before church.  And then we do go to church afterward.  And it's never been a problem. 

For me, I like to be well-dressed in thrift store clothes for dumpster diving.  Here I am wearing a $4 dress and $3 shoes.  When they say "the little black dress you can wear anywhere", they mean ANYWHERE!

I usually post a report on the dumpster loot I've found -- the good stuff that I've kept.  However, there are some things I am quite happy to leave in dumpsters.  Here's a typical sample:

Tacky Decor.  Like velvet roadrunner paintings.

Geese.  We find  lots of outdated, country-style, geese-themed items.  Like this napkin ring.

Holiday Decorations.  Dumpster divers never have to buy holiday decor because there is always LOTS of it to be found.  We once found a beautiful, fully lighted (working lights) six foot artificial tree that would have cost $200+ new.

Hats.  And things that can be used as hats if one gets carried away!  (I'm seriously wishing I'd worn makeup to go dumpster diving but it's more important to me at the moment to show the photos than to fret about looking hideous!)  The fun of it was that, everytime Mark looked up, I was wearing a different hat!

Purple Cowboy Hat

Straw visor

Knit beanie

Easter basket


Items with Someone Else's Name On It.  Kind of a fun letter jacket but the leather was discolored in an very ugly way.  And it was too small.  And it had someone else's name on it.

Underwear.  Just kinda creepy -- even though I'm fine with washing and wearing other dumpster clothes. Though I do have some panties that I found new in a sealed package.

Oija Board.  This was hard for me to leave.  Because it was new in the box.  And glows in the dark.

And has really cool vintage stying and graphics.  But Mark was worried that it would invite evil spirits to hang around.  We just got rid of a particularly nasty evil spirit.  When I have the courage (and maybe after I get my head examined), I'll write a post about it. 

Even if I never used it to conjure up spirits, we decided we don't want it (and any paranormal baggage that might come with it) around.  So, good-bye to the Oija board.  See?  It's saying "Good-Bye" back!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


You've probably figured out by now that I'm pretty cheap.  If you called me that to my face, I'd take it as a compliment!  It's a game to me -- a game that I dearly love to win.

 Allow me here to give you further proof of this fact.  Perhaps, in the end, it will benefit your wallet like it benefits mine.  At the very least, it will make me feel all clever and proud of myself which is what any good self-indulgent blog is all about, right?

I'm not really a card-carrying coffee drinker.  I don't ever drink it black and I don't have to have it to start my day or to function in the morning.  In fact, I prefer decaf.

But I DO adore my "coffee-flavored milk and sugar" -- a vanilla latte or a raspberry mocha can definitely serve as comfort food or brighten my day.  I could easily be a committed coffee shop loiterer.  But, even if I WERE to have the time, it's just not in my budget. 

A coffee confection from Starbucks costs $2.70-$3.00 for a tall/small.  Plus tax.  That adds up to about $100 a month for a once-daily habit. Ugh.

McDonald's has figured out the coffee thing pretty well too. But it still costs $2.39 (about $75 a month).  There is also no decaf option here -- AND I find it tends to be OVER-caffeinated. 

My solution comes with a Great Value label (from Walmart) that, conveniently, adheres to the appropriate aesthetic and matches all the other GV products in my cabinets.  (I LOVE having matchy-matchy cabinets!)

At $2.98 for a 17-serving can, my coffee costs only 17 1/2 cents a serving. It tastes good too! And one cup a day adds up to less than $6 a month (which, I might point out, is what just two days of Starbuck's coffee would cost me).

The only drawback is I can't get it in decaf. 

I might have to solve this problem by paying a little more for General Foods International coffee mix which, blessedly, comes in decaf as well as in a variety of flavors (and can also be bought in sugar-free if that's important to you) -- though, alas, it wouldn't match in the cabinet!  It costs about $3.88 for 18 servings which comes to 21.6 cents a cup or about $7.50 a month.

Now, it is very definitely time for a coffee break! 


Monday, July 11, 2011

Closet Happiness

On Saturday, Sara-Grace, inspired by the overhaul I unexpectedly found myself committing on the girls' bathroom, asked if she could empty out the bottom of her closet.  I immediated launched into a panicked conniption and accompanying tirade because the bottom of her closet was crammed full of half a dozen or more kitchen-sized white trash bags containing clothes and junk that I needed to sort through.  And, the worst part was that they have been there for YEARS -- during which they have weighed on me massively.  SG wanted to pull them out of the closet and dump them in the hallway where, I knew from experience, they could sit for months. Somehow I won and SG went off to play video games and I had a reprieve by which I was greatly relieved.

On Sunday morning I walked though SG's room on the way to the laundry room.  I'm not sure how it started but things usually occur like this for me --  I walk into a room to put something away and end up spending the next two days overhauling the whole room.  I try to just mindlessly follow my muse in these situations.  Somehow, she always takes me to where I need to go.  I know that if I do things HER way, I will get the most done.  If I fight her, I will get nothing done.  It's my lesson in obedience.  It works for me.  And she enjoys the power trip, I'm sure.

I'm ashamed of how painless it was to go through all those trash bags that had sat there for all those years looking so very ominous and evil.  I started with one just to see what was there with no hope of getting through them all.  Just one.  One was manageable.  One wouldn't kill me.  Before long, I had emptied all the bags of clothes and two bags of junk.  A pile of papers and one small bag of junk got boxed for future fun.  I bagged two bags full of the best and most memorable clothes for posterity (surely, I will have grandaughters to dress up before all these simple, timeless little dresses become hideously dated?). 
Here is the "after" photo.  I didn't take a "before" photo because I didn't expect there to be an "after" anytime soon -- which is probably for the best: no documentation of my collosal failure!  Just imagine white trash bags three feet deep!


I have struggled for years (ok, decades) with getting things out of the house. I bag or box them up, then they sit for a while and I forget what's there and get paranoid and have to go through it all again.

I have devised a new strategy to combat this: anything that's "outta here" (I bristle at the phrase "get rid of" for some reason), I put in Walmart bags and tie up the handles and that's code to my paranoid brain that that bag has been cleared for takeoff. Plus, there are always Walmart bags around so I never get stalled out by not having the right container. This works for me.
After finding the floor in SG's closet, I had an impressive pile of Walmart bags laying downstairs in the front hall where they landed after I hurled them, satisfyingly, over the banister on their way to the front door so they would go OUT.  The bag count is up to about 16 bags now. I took this photo when there were only 10. The creepy Santa head is on it's way out too (in case you were worrying).

The view from above. 

Next, I color-coordinated the clothes hanging in the closet.  I am proud to say I learned this from my 14-year-old daughter, Tessa.  I don't know where she got the inspirations but, when she was about 10, she color-coordinated my closet and I have LOVED it!  I find that I usually know what color I'm in the mood for in the morning so having my clothes grouped by color makes finding the outfit of the day just that much easier.  Here I've grouped tank tops, shirts, jackets, dresses all in their own categories because that seems to work.


My OCD streak LOVES the shoe shelves!  I had two basic white laminate shelf units from when I was a 20-something in an apartment in Southern California between 1988 and 1992.  One unit finally collapsed (as they will tend to do after a couple decades of abuse) so I put the shelves from the collapsed unit into the surviving unit and now I have flip-flop-sized shelves as well as appropriately-sized shelves for shoes and boots.  Now that I look at it, I see that I have room for one more shelf at the top.  Yay!

On the top shelf of the closet, I implemented one of my favorite storage techniques:  bins that I use for things like, belts, hats, purses/bags, out-of-season, too big, too small, or "outta here" (the categories depend on individual need, of course).  A couple of times I've had to designate one bin "Cat Bed" because the cats seem to find their way up there and stake a claim!

There's nothing like a tidy closet to make my heart happy and to give me a new lease on life and make me feel like a good mom and all varieties of other good things all rolled into one small space! 

I know, I'm weird. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I'm a Genius!

I'm a genius!  And I'm not even humble about my geniosity!  Sorry.

I 've been searching for a solultion to my shoe problem.  The rack on the back of my closet door is full.  The cubbies in the hall closet are full.  And still, I had more shoes.  Even after culling them, I still need most of them for this or that outfit.  Gotta have various heel heights and such!

This, alas, was the shoe pile that ineviably grew on  my side of the closet.

{The really neat thing about this photo is that those are Mark's cowboy boots in the upper right corner.  It still hasn't worn off that that cute boy from 8th grade (who looks particularly hot in cowboy boots!) now keeps his boots in MY closet!  It's a thrill every time I see them!  I know, I'm silly.}

I had this crib rail in my garage.  I joined the sleigh-style ends (the headboard and footboard) together and made a queen size headboard out of them.  So the rails were left over and loitering around in the garage.  I knew they were waiting for me to think up something smart to do with them.

And I had these castors.  I don't even remember what they were for originally.  As you can tell, I keep a stash of such things!

I screwed the castors into the crib rail.

And VOILA!  Now I have a rolling under-bed shoe rack that holds 20 pair of shoes!

It even works really well for the high heeled shoes because the heels hang through which keeps them from standing up too high to fit under the bed.

I've got diferent plans for the other crib rail.  Stay tuned!

Friday, July 8, 2011

I Can't Believe It Fit!

Years ago, on a scortching hot summer day much like this one, I bought a table and eight chairs at a tent sale in a furniture store parking lot.  I think I paid $250 for all of it  -- not FREE but not bad either!  The chairs usually cost $100 apiece and the table sells for around $200.  I think the furniture salesman (who was also the manager) just wanted to get rid of stuff so he could get back inside to the air conditioning!  He also further advanced his tent-emptying endeavor by giving me several big framed mirrors for free.

The table and chairs (4 with this table and 4 with another) have been used for staging ever since I bought them.  Recently, I snagged them back for my own use.  The table has a wonderful built-in leaf that expands the top surface from a 6-seater rectangle to a huge square that seats 8.  I had planned to use the smaller setting but, when I expanded it out to full size, it actually FIT in my tiny little breakfast area. 

Now everyone wants to eat at the table!  They can even bring friends now that we can seat 8!

Brace yourself because I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to play with tablesettings and post a million photos of different themes!  If you're lucky, I won't get around to it but it quickens my pulse with excitement just to think about it.  I know, I'm weird.

One more thing.  Gotta brag on my Tesakiah!  After I'd cleared the old table out and before I'd lugged the new one it, Tessa and Sara-Grace tromped downstairs and into the kitchen and plopped down in the two chairs I'd brought in so far.  I asked them, "What do you think?" -- meaning "Can you believe how big this room looks without the table?"  Tessa's immediate reply:  "I think our table is invisible!"

She cracks me up!

I texted Mark a photo to show him what I'd done.  He replied, "I know you. You'll post it.  And you should!"

He was right.

Dumpster Diving Loot from July 2nd

I am always amazed at the things I find in the dumpster!

Last Saturday morning I found the following:

A Coleman sleeping bag (rated to be warm down to a mere miserable 15 degrees) in perfect condition that looks a lot like this one:

A black vintage shelf (if you care that one corner of the scrollwork is broken, this style is not for you!)

A chrome spice rack

A glass flask bottle

A black iron match holder that will be hung with my collection of match holders in my project room and used to hold sewing needles!

A small silver picture frame and a handkerchief

Almost seven feet of 2" thick red grosgrain ribbon

A vintage camera (for my collection!).  Maybe there's film in it with photos of Elvis!

A set of dominoes (with case).  I've found 3 or 4 of these over the last year.

A small hacksaw
A Pampered Chef apple corer
A rubber spatula (which I always need)
A red and white checked vinyl tablecloth (just in time for the 4th of July!)

And, my very favorite find, which looked like this in the dumpstser...

...a vintage step stool (which I collect -- but can't seem to photograph well)!

I have too much fun!  

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Copy Cat

I happened on this on the internet yesterday (I'd include the link but I can't find it!  Ack!).


I have THIS: