>> 7.30.2010

I know that plenty of you have dogs, but I'm sure at least a few of you have little semi-professional toy destroyers, right?

I'm pretty sure Hugo is on a mission to take down all the squeaks of the world. The pig toy from above died within an hour. At $3+ each, my wallet can't keep up with his hobby!

I've had the worst luck with the super cheap toys- the dollar store's stuffed toy lasted minutes. The best luck I had was with an AKC toy- it took him a week to rip it apart and then become bored, but the thing cost $8. Any recommendations for affordable and long-lasting dog toys?

PS Because it might be relevant to all of you thrifty pet owners out there, I wanted to mention a comment I received from Jane @ The Borrowed Abode on Tuesday:
Regarding the heartworm and flea prevention - I used to be a vet tech, and my best friend is a vet. In my vet hospital days I learned a lot about the "good" lower-cost options for mail-order heartworm meds, vs the "bad" ones. The bad ones (usually ones with the insanely cheaper prices) get their products (in identical packaging) from questionable sources, and in lab testing the products have not always turned out to contain the real medicine. 1-800 Pet Meds is pretty bad. Avoid at all costs! On the other hand, Drs. Foster and Smith is reliable, and often has free shipping or other sales, and is usually one of the most reasonable prices for a safe mail-order company for that stuff.

Thanks for bringing this up Jane! We're not really "saving" money if the quality of the product goes down!!


more bedroom progress

>> 7.29.2010

I hope that you're not sick of my black paint addiction because I've painted another bedside table...

Remember the before?
I'm still loving those lines and that hardware!

It was a great Craigslist score at only $20.
 Add in a little leftover paint (free!) and we have a chic-n-thrifty after:

It's up to Nate to decide how he wants to use it, but I'm thinking it would be the perfect place for a couple storage boxes and a few bedtime books.
(this mock-up is a bit of a joke because Nate haaates that green rock)

And I must say, I think it's the perfect companion to my newly painted table:
So, are we still loving the glossy black pieces or are you ready to steal my paint can by now?
PS I still have half a gallon of black oil-based paint left...

PPS I plan on linking this post up with the Refinished Furniture Party this August at The Thrifty Home. I hope that you'll join me!
The Thrifty Home Refinished Furniture Party


third time's the charm?

>> 7.28.2010

Say, "hello" to my new soap dispenser from IKEA:

I'm happy with the simple design and okay with the price ($7.99 for a set including soap dish, mouthwash container, and glass cup), but I'm still a bit baffled that I'm on my THIRD try at getting this bathroom soap dispenser thing worked out!

It was a sad, sad end for my second attempt:
I've usually had great luck with products from Marshalls, but this sucker started to rust like no other and it had to go :(

Here's hoping that the third time will be the charm (see the first here)!

While we're in the bathroom, I might as well share a couple other new additions...
First, you can see the simple and tiny cabinet ($30 from Target) Nate put up over the toilet to hold soaps and toothpaste. We needed a little extra storage, but I didn't want to take away any of the visual space by adding a big clunker so this did the trick. Plus, having plain shelves over a toilet just makes me nervous.

If you look in the reflection in the mirror, you can see the other new addition:
I've been looking for a shower curtain for months now and I've never been too excited by the design or price. When I saw this at One Kings Lane for $15, I snatched it up fast. It's interesting without being girly and fits right in with the black, white, and grey theme I have going on. Plus, the translucent property of the material is really important factor for a small space!

What do you think of the new additions?

PS If you want to join One Kings Lane (the discount shopping site I bought the shower curtain through), first read this then use this link to receive a $10 shopping credit (today only).



Blogger and I are in a fight. I'm trying to upload some vertical pictures, but they're all showing up horizontally. Any suggestions?


Let's Catch Up

>> 7.27.2010

I've just gotta say that you guys are the best. If I'm ever in a decorating or money-spending pickle, I know where to turn for great advice! Now, let's take a minute catch up on some of the things that I've blogged about recently(ish):

I was a bit bummed when I realized my floral fabric wasn't meant to be a pillow on my entry x-bench, but I'm more than excited to use the black and white stripes! I thought with the kitchen, entry table, bedside table, dining room chairs, etc you would be sick of my black and white addiction. As soon as I finish painting the other bedside table (black), I'll be on top of the pillow project.

2. My skirt addiction-
I've decided that I'm either going to return the bright blue or red/ coral (or none at all... hey, some people suggested it!). I've literally worn one of the three other colors 5 out of seven days last week (and I'm wearing the brown as I type this!). Yep, I'm addicted.

3. My car costs-
This month it was finally time to renew my home and car insurance... and I saved a bundle by combining the two within the same company. My six month car insurance premium went down to $394 (compared to $620 with Progressive) and my renewed home insurance (State Farm) went down $116 because of the switch. State Farm is a bit more difficult to communicate with-- I had to speak with an agent and fax in my application where I could just go online with Progressive-- but so far I'd say $342 in savings was worth my trouble!

4. Hugo-
His potty problem is partially solved. We know that the stress of seeing dogs walk by the house sets him off, but we're having a tough time keeping him in an area without a window. He climbed the baby gate so we put a blanket over it... then when he started jumping the baby gate we started closing the blinds... and then when he started bending the blinds we put the baby gate in the window with the blinds closed and a blanket... but he seems to rip those down as well. Let's just say that he is still a work in progress (but now sleeps through the night thanks to a bit of practice).

Also, thanks to my undying love for him and CC, I've decided to make the swap to the more expensive corn-free dog food. Instead of $12 per month, we now spend $25 on food plus $50 (double) on heartworm and flea prevention. Again, totally worth it all!

SIX months later and I'm still clueless!
5. Dining room buffet-
I just can't decide on this one! The problem is that this is possibly the nicest piece of furniture that I own... it was a hand-me-down piece from my teen years, but it's in excellent condition and currently retails for over $1,700. I just don't want to destroy it!

Now, I think we're all caught up. If there's anything else I'm missing out on, feel free to ask me anonymously here.
(Don't forget, I plan to show you all the nice and not so nice pictures of my house on or by August 1.)


What's your next upgrade?

>> 7.23.2010

In this economy, many people are receiving pay cuts rather than pay raises. As the economy picks back up again, we can expect raises, bonuses, and promotions to return with job stability. Although the average pay yearly pay raise is usually a bit under 5%, this money can start to add up over a few years...

...and I know exactly what I want to do with that money! For 90% of my pay increase, I plan on putting it towards the smart stuff like savings, investments, the future... BUT I do feel like it's okay to put the extra 10% towards upgrading my life.

What would be my next upgrade? Well, it's something super diy-able and might make me seem a bit lazy, but I can't wait until I can afford to hire a house cleaning service! I'm not talking about a daily or even weekly service, but It would be amazing to have someone do the works on my house once or twice a month. I've looked into it and for around $100 per cleaning, I could have hours and hours of my free time back.

Maybe I can hire her... she obviously loves cleaning.

What's your next planned upgrade? Will you start taking yoga classes? Buy a vacation home? Upgrade to a fancier car? Take more vacations?


just in case you haven't googled this...

>> 7.22.2010

***Note... I feel like a dummy after writing yesterday's "updates" post. I claimed to have updated my blogroll, but I realized this morning that I didn't save any of the changes that I made! I probably made more mistakes again, but I think I fixed it (let me know if you think something is missing!).

You all know that I'm a really bad painter, right? So it must not surprise you that I'm really good at getting paint all over myself just about every time I paint:

Every. Single. Time.

Ugh. If you've ever painted with oil-based paint, you know how tricky it can be to clean off! Normally, I would scrub it as much as I could before giving up and walking around with crazy, paint splotched hands (and arms and legs... and sometimes face).  Thanks to a little Googling and an online forum, I found the thrifty trick that works miracles on the paint!

How to wash oil-based paint off of your hands:

All you need to clean oil-based paint from your skin is a little oil (I used olive oil) and salt!
Simply pour a bit of each into one hand (just like hand soap) and then start scrubbing as if you are exfoliating.

After a minute or two have passed, wash the oil off with hot water and dry with a paper towel.

*Actual before and after shots!

Tell me you didn't know about this trick... or if you did, why haven't you told me!? Are there any other thrifty painting tips I should know about?



>> 7.21.2010

One of my big goals for year two of the blog was to do a little cleaning up around here. After a bit of work, I've made a few improvements to the organization of the blog. First, I updated the "The House," "Thrifty Tips," "Budget Breakdowns," and "DIY" tabs.

Next, I did a bit of blogroll updating (go check out a few new blogs today!). Finally, I went back and added over 200 labels to posts so that they would be easier to find.

You also might have noticed that I haven't been posting 5 days per week as I had been for most of the past year. While I want to continue sharing projects and thrifty tips, I want to make sure that I'm always having fun doing it so I've decided to allow myself to take a few days off of blogging here and there.

To make things easier for those of you who hate my random posting schedule, I have two subscription options on the right hand side of the blog:

Oh, and for those of you patiently waiting for my full house tour... I think I'll just go ahead and work on a post without full "afters" of each room. I'll go ahead and give myself a deadline of Aug. 1st (promise!).


My Most Frivolous Post Yet

>> 7.19.2010

Okay, I'm going to just cut to the chase...

I bought way too many colors in the same skirt and I need your help deciding which one(s?) to return.

Why did I do this? Well, first there was the denim version that I bought at 40% off during an in-store Memorial Day sale at Gap:

It was so comfortable, flattering (perfect length and fullness for a shorter person with no hips), and versatile (I wore it three times in the first week) that I told myself that I would buy it in every color once it went on sale again.

So... as usual, Gap slashed their prices down during the week of July 4th and I found my favorite skirt on sale for $30 WITH an additional 25% off in-store promotion AND my Gap card savings of an additional 20% off... making them $18 each. And I bought one in every color:

brown because it's a neutral that looks amazing with my new $5 jean shirt (also on sale at the gap)

PS DON'T buy this online, it's selling for almost $20 more than you'll find it in the store! I find that this happens a lot with the online vs. in-store prices.

navy because it's another great neutral that I could dress up in a snap

bright blue because it's so different than the others and would look great with a black top and tights in the fall (yes, it's warm enough here to wear these suckers year-round)

and finally, this red/coral color (only sold in the stores) that I just had to have because I'm crazy.

I've worn the denim and brown already so they're not going anywhere.

As far as the navy, bright blue, and red skirts go, which one(s?) would you take back?
Remember... 1. I can wear them to work or on the weekends 2. It's warm enough to wear them all year here. 3. They were only $18 each after discounts.4. Yes, I know I'm the crazy skirt lady.


Fabric Fumble

>> 7.15.2010

Yesterday, I received the patterned fabric that I ordered to make a new pillow for my entryway. After waiting for over two weeks for my package to arrive from Tonic Living, I was really excited to see the fabric in person...

Website's image:

Cute, right? I thought it had the perfect mix of teals and greens, but I'm just not so sure about it now that I have it.

I don't know exactly what I expected, but I guess I thought the background would pop out more against the yellow x-bench. Instead, it seems to just blend in:

I still love the fabric, but I just think it might look better against a contrasting background:

I could use it to make a little pillow for the blue chair?

It seems to contrast a little more with the couch color:

So I guess I'm back at the drawing board for the x-bench pillow.
I'm trying to use a tad more color, but I kinda like the idea of making a pillow out of this black and white fabric (also from Tonic Living):

I have a couple of other pieces of fabric large enough to make pillows, but I'm not sure if either of them work for the space:


So... what are your thoughts?
Where should I use the floral fabric? Should I use one of the above fabrics for the x-bench pillow or should I keep looking?


Just Say Yes

>> 7.14.2010

So I brought a horse head back home from the antique store this past weekend.

In my eyes it was the coolest thing ever... what's not to like about an old hand carved horse head?!
Nate thought it was junk.

But I knew it would be perfect for the entry:

It's the type of thing that just makes me happy when I walk into the door.

So it was worth any price I paid, right?!

Sadly, Nate only thought it was worth $1.
What he didn't understand was that it was from an antique store.
antique store > thrift store > garage sale

So it was way more than $1. Highlight below to find out how much I paid:

I wanted to pay $6-7, but the owner said $12.
I went home with it for $10.

Was it worth what I paid?

PS I'm partially blaming my colorful Liberty of London for Target bag and partially blaming Kelly's comment in this post for making me feel like I had to have a pillow to top off my new x-bench. Needless to say, a fun fabric is on its way!
PPS Yes, I still need to fill the old hardware holes on the cabinet.
PPPS Nate picked out those flowers because he noticed that we have a lot of yellow in the house :).


Is your town in trouble?

>> 7.12.2010

Thanks to the recession, lower home values (= lower property taxes) and public spending has created a giant hole in my city's budget. For 2011 alone, Austin is expected to have a budget deficit of $11 million to $28 million! Obviously, cuts need to be made and my local government has come up with an interesting way of gathering feedback on where to slash the budget.

They've created a community forum  that even the busiest can attend... online:

Involved citizens could add their say into the city budget by casting "votes" towards the potential service reductions and additions that are most important to them.

For a city of about 800,000, the voting numbers were still pretty low, but they're surely more impressive than the numbers that usually attend the counsel meetings downtown. It will be interesting to see how this community input is used towards deciding how to cure the big budget deficit for 2011.

Is your town in financial trouble? How do you participate in your local budgeting process?

PS If you'd like to see the results of Austin's online forums go here and here.


Thrifty Supplies for Bad Painters

>> 7.09.2010

I even fooled Nate into thinking I did a good job on this one :).

My #1 painting secret? I'm really bad at it! I read and reread all of the blog tutorials, but no matter what I try, I seem to make painting mistakes! Drips, scratches, lumps... you name it and I'll make it happen when I paint something.
Thankfully, I've found a few supplies that make it at least look like I know what I'm doing:

1. Black/ semi-gloss/ oil-based paint- Why? The black disguises, the gloss distracts, and the oil drys slowly to cover my mistakes. I know, it's not likely that I'll be able to use this paint for everything, but I'll always go with black when I'm torn between that and another color.

2. Lint-free rags- This is such an easy product to try and skip, but it's never worth it to wipe down furniture with household towels that leave lint behind! I buy mine from Lowe's for around $2 a bag. 

3. Cheap Dollar Tree brushes and rollers- Logic would say that I would want to use the nicest painting supplies possible... but logic would also say that as a grown-up I'd be able to figure out how to clean those suckers off. Nope, I'll stick with using a fresh brush/ roller each time I need one (for $1 or less). I'd rather pick out a few stray hairs than to have a stiff, half clean brush creating streaks in my paint job.
*I would not recommend any of the Dollar Tree's $1 sandpaper.

3. The magic eraser AKA 3M Between Coats Finishing Pads- I was curious to see how this cheapo $2 product (comes in 2-pack at Lowe's) worked and I was soooo happy with the results! I  used it like sandpaper inbetween coats and it smoothed out almost all of the imperfections in my paint job!!

4. Minwax Wipe-on Poly- I love this because it's super easy to use and keep from messing up. Plus, the shiny protective finish that it leaves on the furniture serves as one last distraction from any remaning blemishes in the paint.

I would highly recommend any of the above products to those of you who want a nice finish on your furniture without putting a lot of money or effort into making things perfect!

What are your favorite painting supplies?

PS While I'm not so great at painting, I'd say that I'm pretty awesome at staining! Check out everything I learned about staining here and here.


One Year!

>> 7.08.2010

It's official... my blog made it to the year mark!!
It's crazy how 250+ posts and twelve months can just fly by!

Read the story behind the cake here.

I can now say that I'm totally addicted to blogging and can't imagine my life without it!
Honestly, I don't think I could count the number of times in the past year that I've started a sentence with, "my blog friend said _______" or "I'm going to ask what the blog readers think" or "I saw the best idea over at that other blog!" You guys are the best!!

I'd like to celebrate this anniversary in my favorite way... by updating my blogroll!

To add your blog, write the following in a comment:
1. name of your blog
2. your blog's address
3. type of blog (house, food, personal, etc)
4. a comment that might help me write a better blog (what would you like to see more of?)

Here's what mine would say:
1. Thrifty Little Blog
3. thrifty lifestyle/ home blog
4. I love reading about ______.

Don't be shy!
I know that you all have great blogs and I'd really like to include you in my blogroll... plus, I just hate picking favorites! It will take me a few days to update everything, but I'm thinking that the newly improved list will be up sometime next week.

PS While I'm updating the blogroll, I'd love to add a few more Twitter friends to my list! Find me @thriftyblog


Bedroom Progress

>> 7.07.2010

Remember the bedroom mood board I shared with you a few weeks ago?
Well... I actually made a bit of progress towards the finished product!

I think that this is my very favorite piece of furniture. It's actually an old sheet music cabinet that my mom picked up at an estate sale several years ago. When she became tired of it, I swooped it up in  a millisecond! I love-love the hardware and curvy feet and it's the perfect height to work as a bedside table!

I actually loved the way that the old finish looked, but it had several cracks and stains that needed to be fixed. I saw that as the perfect opportunity to make a change with paint. Check out what a difference a little black paint makes...

The best thing about this makeover was that it was free! I used extra black paint from my kitchen makeover and wipe-on poly from my dining table project.
Not so shabby for a $0 bedside table!

...and because everyone loves a good before and after...

They weaseled their way into the nightstand before picture by being way too cute to move.

They always seem to put on a show once the camera is out!

I'm absolutely loving the way this makeover looks! Is anyone else a fan of black and brass combos? Would you have swapped out the hardware?


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