Frugal Fridays: The past 3

I’ve scored quite a few treasures the past 3 weeks. In fact, I even went to a thrift store today while getting the car inspected.

Anyway, here’s the show & tell, with some tips on how to score your own deals.

First Friday

I scored these blocks for Little Champ for $15 at a resale shop. This was my most expensive purchase, and I admit the nostalgia factor played big in this buy. I also walked away with 3 packages of vintage sewing patterns, which included 7 women’s dresses from the 60s and 6 vintage little girl dresses. (Whatever. I’ll have a girl someday.) Plus 3 vintage, romantic prints to put in my bedroom as well as a white duck cookie jar that was really fun carrying around the store. Total for everything: $33 (I think. It was 3 weeks ago)

Oh. I also spent a fair amount of money on vintage books for myself and Little Champ, to read and to admire. Vintage books are my favorite way to decorate, and I have them in every room of the house, even the bathroom—I framed an illustration from a children’s book which complements our shower curtain).

Tip #1: Make a mental list. This only works if you’ve got a memory like mine, but one thing I do to control myself and not buy absolutely everything in the store (which at Flea Body’s is a fairly accurate statement), is to scan the whole store first, making a note of the things I like. At the end of browsing, I try to remember my favorites. You don’t buy what you’ve forgotten about.

Second Friday

Tip #2: Step away from the chair. I am so cheap, I take time buying anything that costs more than $20. This is great, because it means I don’t make expensive impulsive buys. (INexpensive impulse buys are another story. See Tip #1.) I had seen this chair on the Flea Body’s Facebook page back in March and absolutely loved it for our bedroom, which is vintage romantic with French country influences. The wood was a perfect match. The style and period were both perfect. But it was pink, and I didn’t know if it was too. much. pink. for the 100% Old-Spice-Manly Marine officer I share the room with. Then I saw it in the store myself and it was even more perfect in person. And $65 is a complete steal for this baby. But pink. So I controlled myself and bought all the great stuff I already told you about. Not before taking a quick photo of it with my phone, though. When I got home, I showed my hubby, and he gave me the green light because he is the very best husband in the whole wide world and I love him and he loves me and he said it wasn’t too pink.

It looks even better in the corner of our bedroom! The other chair was a $10 Amish find at a thrift store last month. The pillow is a plain pillow from a fabric store and the fabric came from the same store and was 50% off. I haven’t sewn the pillow cover yet, which is why it looks a little frumpy. The Persian rug was a gift from LT’s brother during his last deployment to the Middle East. I bought the mirror the same day as the pretty chair at a different thrift store for $20.

At that store, I also got:

A baby bathrobe, a vintage toddler dish, a copy of my favorite Richard Scarry book (It is the sweetest), a vintage mug with an etching of ships on it for LT, and a puzzle for LT and I to do together (I love that it’s Norman Rockwell and the scene reminds me of It’s a Wonderful Life, one of our favorite movies). All of this was less than $10 total.

Tip #3: Play the Pirate (make maps to find your treasure). The first week, my thrifting buddy and I used Google maps to plot out where all the thrift stores were within a few blocks. We also planned where we would eat lunch. When we were in the stores, she grabbed some brochures which had listings for other thrift stores in the area. Each store we went to the second week had listings of other stores in the area, some that were unique to one list.

I got this baby piano for $4 at one of the stores listed in the brochure.

Tip #4: Use the internet, but stay local. Flea Body’s Facebook page listed links to other stores and some of its consignor’s sites. Through some of Flea Body’s networking, I found one seller’s Etsy site. I looked through her stuff and found a great vintage jacket she was listing for only $25. I sent her a message on Etsy letting her know I was interested and was local. We ended up meeting at Flea Body’s and I bought the jacket from her in person. It saved me the cost of shipping, it saved her the trouble of shipping, and we found out that she was also the seller behind the awesome duck cookie jar I had bought the week before. Sweeeeet.

I have a huge weakness for buying dresses. These four cost $40 total.

Tip #5: Only buy clothes if you know an occasion to wear them for. Like I said, huge weakness for dresses. Thankfully? about 90% of what I try on doesn’t fit me, so when I find something that is flattering, I go ahead and buy it. Clothing sizes drive me crazy. For example, of those four dresses, there is a small, a medium, and a large. Ridiculous. Anyway, #1 I am going to wear as a beach-cover up, #3 is for church, #4 is “The Wonder bread dress” for my fun and crazy clothing days (I’ve already worn it once), and #2 is the only one I couldn’t really think of an occasion for but I don’t own a solid black LBD, so there you go. I’m probably going to wear it belted with heather gray leggings.

Third Friday—today!

Today I got a $12 double closet organizer (No, it won’t go into the scary office closet. I have far less macabre plans for it) and some toys for Little Champ, including fabric blocks, a large fabric book with baby faces in it, and a Pooh bear.

I didn’t want Pooh merch in the nursery because I have been so turned off by how commercial Disney has made Pooh in the last 20 years. I’m a classic (British) Pooh and 80s-TV-series-Pooh person. But I am OH SO EXCITED for the new Pooh movie to come out this summer because it looks like Disney has stopped whoring out Milne’s masterpiece (pardon my French) and has decided to go back to the classic roots. The Pooh bear I bought Little Champ is a modern one (I doubt I could get him a 1920s-style Pooh bear for less than three dollars). He loves it.

Tip #6: Giggle test. Little Champ decided for me if I would buy Pooh and the baby faces book by smiling at them and giggling every time I came close to him with Pooh. This was a totally scientific test, mind you, with controls and hypotheses and everything. He didn’t giggle at all the toys. Note: This doesn’t work on a kid that watches too many commercials and wants absolutely everything he sees.

I did find one other thing today: that I had been wearing my tank top backwards all day. People probably wondered why there was ruching between my shoulder blades.

The end, for this week. Next week I will likely go to the base thrift store again for their $6 bag sale. Remember all the stuff I got last time?

Wedding: Part Three

Part Two

Part Three: The Reception

I really wanted to have a dance. I found an elementary school / community center where we could do it about 15 miles from the chapel. We ate and danced in the dining hall. The lights and colored hardwood floors were really fun, and there was plenty of room for people to sit and eat, stand and mingle, or dance. My favorite part? The children’s art that lined the hallways.

We couldn’t do a slideshow, so I made photo trees. I scanned a bunch of photos of LT and I growing up. Then I printed them at Walmart, cut them up, and my personal assistants punched holes and added the ribbon. They really should have been paid for all the work they did. I am so grateful to them!

Here’s the centerpiece for the head table. I bought decorations that I would be able to use in our new home together. The vase was $20 clearance at JC Penney’s. Filling the vase are the fresh anemones that I had originally planned to use for our bouquets. I am actually really happy I ended up using fake flowers (see my bouquet at left). All the candles are in our home now.

After a yummy lasagna meal, I got to cut the cake with LT’s saber, a Marine Corps tradition. Our cake was carrot with a cream cheese frosting. Everybody else got a marble sheet cake made, cut up, and served by the caterers. The carrot cake was AMAZING. I am pretty upset nobody saved another piece for LT and I!

Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of the centerpieces for the guest tables. On each table was a white tablecloth. In the center was a black “puddle” of fabric, on top of which we’d scattered black river stones and white glass stones. In the middle of the black fabric was a clear plastic square plate (check the party section) with tea lights and mason jars. The fabric and mason jars were reused from my matron of honor’s August wedding. Favors were three jingle bells from Michael’s tied with ribbon with a tag that had LT’s and my name on it, with our wedding date (yes, I altered the photo for privacy’s sake). Guests could jingle the bells to make us kiss, and could take them home as Christmas ornaments.

I hated the thought of buying a pretty guestbook only to have the first two pages filled with names like an impersonal roll call. Instead, I bought a scrapbook and put a page at every table along with a box of crayons. People could be more creative and have fun while waiting for their food. We got a sweet note or a doodle from everybody. After the usual (husband, dress, ring, bouquet), this is my favorite keepsake of the wedding.

After dinner, dancing, and dessert, I tossed the bouquet and LT and I made our escape to the Saint Paul Hotel, where we stayed a few days before we packed up all my belongings and made the move to NC. I think you know what happened next.

Photos by Beautiful Era, friends and family.
Location: Oakwoods Room at Eisenhower Community Center/a>

Wedding: Part Two

Part One

Part Two: The Ceremony

“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” was the processional, and we all sang the third verse of the hymn during the ceremony. A friend of mine played the violin for us. “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” was the Wedding March.

My little brother was our ring bearer, and my cousin was the flower girl. The dress and pillow were eBay finds. The basket was from Michael’s. I willingly gave up my dream of having the ring bearer dressed up like Frodo Baggins (ha…hahaha). I still would have liked to have a picture of it, though!

We got married at Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel in Minneapolis. I especially like how it harkens back to castles and the story of how we met.

The chapel granted my wish of stained glass windows. LT’s church met in a gymnasium, and mine had a contemporary auditorium. Anything comparable to the chapel that would let us have LT’s dad marry us was at least $3,000 to rent. Our entire budget was $5,000, so this was a great find—$500 with military discount—and it was perfect for us.

This is one of my favorite photos. The chapel let us use all of their candles and candle holders for a small fee. We were married after Christmas, so they nicely left up the Christmas lights and red ribbons for us. The caretaker was seriously the sweetest, cutest old man I’ve ever met (you know, besides my great grandpas).

To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish ’till death do us part.

LT’s dad was a Navy Captain. After he retired, he became a pastor. It was important to LT and me to have him perform our wedding for us.

One of my favorite features of my dress: POCKETS.

Did I mention LT and I are big Star Wars fans? He was slightly upset because his uniform restricted him from putting his arms above his head. Dress blues aren’t exactly combat-ready.

Photos by Beautiful Era. Location: Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel

Next: the Reception.

Wedding: Part One

I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out how to consolidate my favorite wedding photos into one post. Yeah, not going to happen. So, for the next three posts, you will be getting the scoop on our vintage-inspired, 2009 Minnesota Winter Wedding (yes, you read that right.)

Part One: Before the Ceremony

The Groom and groomsmen. LT is in the center, with C and J on the left, his brother S (best man) and F on the right.

LT’s brother is in the Navy. The other guys were in tuxes that they owned or rented. Bowties and no vests.

My dress was a vintage-inspired Oleg Cassini dress from David’s Bridal. Pearls were borrowed from my grandmother. I wanted flowers in my hair instead of a veil. These were from Michaels. My shoes were from Famous Footwear. It wasn’t easy finding flat, ivory dressy shoes!

I ordered wholesale anemones for our bouquets, but they didn’t open because of the cold (a warm 20 degrees). Thankfully my bridesmaids and I made some bouquets with fake flowers for the outside photos, and we ended up using those for the ceremony. Mine were large ivory and tan peonies, and theirs were fake anemones (gorgeous white flowers with black centers). We cut them to length, wrapped with floral tape, wrapped with thick blue ribbon, and embellished with thin white ribbon.

Left to right: A, my best friend from childhood; E, college roommate; me; R, matron of honor; L, college friend and C’s wife. E was a saint, and tried on dozens of dresses before we found these. They were perfect, and they cost less than 40 bucks! Wraps were from David’s Bridal.

We decided to take photos beforehand. This is after we saw each other the first time.

So ready to spend the rest of my life with this man. (Yes, that is a sword. A saber, technically.)

Photos by Beautiful Era. Location: Minneapolis Sculpture Gardens

Next: The Ceremony

Future Frugal Friday: ReFurbishing Furniture

This past Friday was a mom-must-stay-offline-at-all-costs-so-she-cleans Friday.

But Saturday I did some frugaling and got an Amish rocking chair for $30.

As soon as I saw it from afar, I knew it would need new fabric. Should be easy enough, right? I have seen furniture that was reupholstered using towels. Here’s what it looks like now:

There are also some tears  in the fabric, so I will need to reupholster it anyway.

The sad thing is, after I had bought it and driven away, I realized that it came from a smoker’s home. Flashbacks ensued to the nightmare that was the first bed frame LT and I bought. After 2 hours of cleaning and scraping tar off of the wood, we gave up and returned it, whether they would give us our money back or not.

But I have been wanting a rocking chair like this for about forever, and for $30, even the slightest possibility I can get rid of the smoke smell is enough to get me motivated.

I am thankful, though, because before I went to the hardware store to find some heavy duty sand paper, I googled refinishing old furniture (I don’t want to mess it up) and I came across a video tutorial by Eric Stromer! If you don’t know who Eric Stromer is (at least by face and hair), you don’t watch HGTV. All the ladies LOVE Eric. And you want to know why? It isn’t his flowing, golden locks (a la Prince Charming from the Shrek movies), or the fact that he is a manly carpenter man in a world full of  women and flamboyant interior decorators. It is because in one of his shows, he would dip his fingers into the paint and smear the color onto the wall with his hands. Men: feel free to try that move the next time you and your lady are painting a room. I can’t guarantee results.

Anyway, I am having trouble embedding the video, so click here to see it..

Usually I am against using chemicals when I can help it, but the extra “kick” might dig deeper and get the nicotine smell out, too. I’ll see. I’m going to have to get a sitter, though, so my little man isn’t anywhere near the garage when I am using the stuff.

I am really excited and a little terrified to rework this chair. If all goes well, I think it will be a great addition to our work-in-progress bedroom!

Who knows when I will get the chance to work on this baby, but I will post updates on the progress I make :)

P.S. Can’t wait for my tutorial on reupholstering? Check this video out.

Frugal Friday-March forth!

(see what I did there, with the title? My wit sometimes amazes even myself. Of course this time, it actually wasn’t my wit…it was somebody else’s. C’est la vie)

In honor of todays overwhelming victory at the on-base thrift store, I now declare Fridays to be Frugal Fridays. On this blog, at least. It’s about time I had a theme going. You know, besides the whole motherhood/baby blogging thing I’ve got going on.

Anyway, I won’t normally go over my spoils online because, let’s face it, it might get depressing if you can’t find deals yourself. Why should I rub my glorious boons in your face and gloat? First, I said boons, not that other thing. Second, if I rubbed it in your face, you wouldn’t mind, because most of my finds actually smell good. Third, gloat rhymes with goat.

[Thrifting is my drug. I am so high right now]

Frugal tip of the day: BAG SALES

I’m so cheap, I hunt the clearance rack at thrift sales. I’m so cheap, I shop at the Goodwill outlet. I’m so cheap, I go to bag sales and can get name brand clothing for more than 99% off.

Yeah. Let that just brew for a minute.

Just don’t let it steep too long, or it will get bitter.

(HahaHA! Another double entendre! Okay, sorry.)

EXAMPLE #1: I have bought a number of hardback books (vintage, which I use to decorate my house; and new ones, which I use as reference books) at library bag sales. I think the last one I went to I got a paper bag full of books for $3. That was well over a dozen books.

EXAMPLE #2: Thrift stores. Once a month, the thrift store here on base has bag sales where you pay $6 per paper bag of clothing. The only catch is that the volunteers have to stuff the bags for you. Even so, here’s what I got for a whopping $6.

oh yeah, and this belt.

Here’s a break down of all that was stuffed into one paper bag (plus the belt):

that bolero/cover up is one of my absolute favorites. The jacket is American Eagle. The striped sweater is the only thing I will have to return. Even though it was an XL, I’d have to cut off my arms to make it fit. What is it with Old Navy and ridiculously tight sleeves?

I say “dresses” because the first two are dresses, the third a shirt/dress, and the fourth a flannel tunic-type shirt, and the fifth a long zip up sweater. The Navy & white (love!) polka dotted one is going to be a future project…I’m going to turn it into a vest and a pleated skirt.

Were you keeping track? If I counted correctly, that’s 25 articles for $6.

That’s $0.24 each.

Here’s what else I got:

Another thrifty tip: Shop the kids’ section if you can! I have tiny feet. My prom shoes were the uber cultural “Kids Connection” brand. My preschoolers and I matched. Pretty sure I still have them—they are great shoes! I also buy socks and plain T-shirts from the boys’ section at Walmart. (Plain White Ts…good band.)

I can’t remember what these are called—my Father in-law would know. They are for Marines and Sailors to keep their medals, pins, ribbons, insignia, etc. in. LT already has a nice one, but I am pretty sure he does not have a box designated to keep letters in. I have a little box I have put all my letters from him in, so this one is for him to put letters from his clever wife in.

This vase is truly terrifying, yes. The form is quite lovely. Why someone would think of painting ceramic with olive green and gold—and use matte paint on top of that—is thoroughly beyond me. So here’s hoping some nail polish remover will get all that nastiness off. If you have other ideas, feel free to send them my way.

The cherub is going to go into our bedroom, which I am decorating in a vintage, French country style with a white, ivory, champagne, and suede color scheme with hints of blues and rose pinks. The feminine lace will be balanced with masculine, wood furniture. I am entirely excited. It is a work-in-progress.

Speaking of works-in-progress, I found a bunch of patterns. I am going to be making curtains for our bedroom, so finding a pattern was nice, since I had planned to just wing it. The skirts and dresses are for me, and the children’s clothing are for next decade when I have a brood of children, can sew, and am the next Julie-Andrews-Maria-von-Trapp.

Those aren’t polka dots. They’re polka STARS. RAINBOW POLKA STARS. Woa.

And…my absolute FAVORITE finds of the day:


A vintage elephant for Champ’s room. I thought I might paint it, but love the wood, so I think I will paint the wheels (yellow or green?) and then sand the edges again.


Three retro, blue suitcases. I saw the one and got all giddy. Then I picked it up and it was pretty heavy, so I opened it up to find another one inside! For $5, I felt like I was committing grand larceny, as I have been wanting old suitcases to use for decoration & storage. Then, when I got home, I opened the second one AND ANOTHER ONE WAS INSIDE. This was more exciting than opening the Babushka dolls I always wanted but never had. So, that makes three. And if you forget anything else about design, you should know that odd numbers are always infinitely more awesome than even numbers. (You can always split an even number into two sets of odd numbers, fyi.)

And that’s the end. I am soo soo happy and hyper and happy that though Champ did a volcano impression and puked all over myself and himself a couple of hours ago, I am still on cloud nine hundred and ninety nine.

Adieu, to you and you and you.