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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pet Stuff

A bag of dog food in a country kitchen doesn't go with the decor. Having the bag sit on a stool makes it easy to tip and pour into a bowl, though.

Solution: Put the bag into a burlap bag. Looks a bit more country.

Y'all do know that the best way to keep pet food fresh is to leave it in the wax-paper or plastic-lined bag in came in, don't you? Same for horse feed. If the inside of the bag is coated, the feed keeps better in the bag.

If you have more than one cat in the house, an old picnic basket makes a good double cat bed. I don't remember where we got this one—might have been Goodwill. I think it cost about a dollar.

The pillow under Eddie-puss isn't really a pillow; it's an old towel inside a decorator pillowcase I bought for $1.25 at the Discovery Shop.

Of course, if you're gonna have a double cat bed, it helps if the cats get along. Unfortunately, Camilla and Eddie-puss can't stand each other. (Both cats were off-road adoptions. Even though I didn't pay for them, there is no such thing as a cheap pet, what with vet care, food, etc.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Back to the Bookcase

I collect pictures of equestrian art.
Some I bought at flea markets or antique stores; some were given to me.

“These are a few of my favorite things.” (Remember when Julie Andrews sang that in The Sound of Music?)

Many items on my wall and on the top shelf of the bookcase I made from the old headboard weren’t expensive. Most are second-hand, and thus recycled. Some are homemade. But they’re things I really like.

For instance, this original watercolor was a gift from Mary Ann Reynolds, an art teacher buddy from years gone by. We taught together at Jackson in the 1980s. After my retirement, when I had to do twenty days a year as a consultant, I worked with Mary Ann on various projects that combined art and literature. She painted this picture just for me—we both love horses.

Speaking of horses—

I’m lucky to be married to someone who often surprises and delights me by bringing home stuff that he thinks I’d like. One day, he saw this wooden horse statue at the Rocky Mount Goodwill. He only paid a few dollars for it. “I thought you’d like it,” he said when he handed me the bag.

Like it? I love it!

The Goodwill isn’t the only thrift shop that John and I frequent. The Discovery Shop at Westlake has some fantastic decorator items at great (low!) prices. The Discovery Shop supports the cancer research—last year, they gave half a million toward finding a cure for breast cancer.

I bought this horse tile there for $5 several months ago. Below is a closeup of the detail.

In the picture below, there’s a little brass vase that John paid $2 for. In the vase are two sprigs of artificial flowers that I bought at the Discovery Shop two weeks ago—$1.50 each.

Next to the vase is a picture frame that Robyn Bevins (daughter of my college roommate/ BFF Polly) gave me when I visited them in Newport News during the CNU conference. She’d thought of me when she saw it, and bought it second-hand (we give each other a lot of recycled stuff). It was perfect for the photo that Ed W.—one of my Lake Writer buddies—Photo-shopped from the jpeg I sent him so it looks like a watercolor of Melody and Cupcake. I LOVE that picture in that frame.

John bought me the large brass vase at the Discovery Shop about six weeks ago when I had back problems so bad I could hardly walk. We were returning from my doctor's appointment and had to pass the Discovery Shop on our way home. John said he’d just be a minute—I felt too lousy to get out of the car. He returned with the vase—only $6. It’s so perfect for this space. The flower arrangement inside was another Discovery Shop buy. I paid $5 for it—a half-price special—two weeks ago. They’re perfect in that vase.

The framed Emily Dickinson quote (“Hope is the thing with feathers . . .”) is a card from my cousin Marty. She wrote, “It reminds me of that picture on Grandma’s wall. . . .” and I go back 55 years to when Marty and I were kids and sat under that picture.

The little heart candle came with something I once bought. It’s purpose here is to hold the picture frame in place. And it smells nice. The decoupage flowerpot-candle is a Robyn Bevins original. She’s a talented craftswoman who makes a lot of neat stuff. The doily underneath was hand-crocheted by a great-aunt—I think it was Aunt Ossie Nace Goode of Lithia, Virginia. I have a lot of handed-down doilies made by my Nace ancestors.

Anyhow, I have a lot of favorite things that didn’t cost much but mean a lot. I can look at some of them and see the faces of the people who gave them to me.

I can look at things John or I bought from Goodwill and the Discovery Shop and hope that the money we spent there advances the good work that these places do.

I feel sorry for folks who have to buy everything brand new. They don’t know what they’re missing.


Sunday, March 23, 2008


My cousin Marty, who lives in Corolla, North Carolina, likes to make things. Several years ago, she made me two wall hangings from shells and sea glass she found on the beach near where she lives. I liked them so much I used them as curtain tie-backs.

The neat thing is that she recycled so much—not only what she found washed up on shore, but also some greeting cards that she used as backing.

See? Wasn't that creative?

Sometimes all you need to make something wonderful is whatever nature provides, some recycled material, and a little glue.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Dumpster Decorating I

Several years ago, we found a headboard leaning against the side of a dumpster. Granted, it was indeed an ugly headboard, but I figured I could use it in the tack room as a shelf.

And I did. The cubbyholes held brushes and other horse stuff. After a few years, the headboard was covered in red dust, salt, mouse poop, cobwebs, etc. It was even less of a thing of beauty.

I figured the headboard just took up space and didn't really do much. I didn’t want to take it back to the dumpster (the landfill will fill up soon enough as it is!). ’Nita, one of my weird and wonderful friends (I have several friends who fit into the “weird and wonderful” category) thought it had potential as a bookshelf.

Good idea! I have way too many books. Things have been getting a bit messy and crowded in my room. The bookcase won't hold everything. Plus this arrangement is downright ugly.

What the heck, I decided to recycle the old headboard. First thing was to clean it.

It still looked pretty bad. Next we removed the appendages (or whatever they’re called) where the bed frame attached. (Note I said "we." John owns the tools.) Anyhow, we discovered the headboard is solid pine. Nice wood:

I painted it the most neutral color I could—ivory (which happens to match the other bedroom bookshelf).

No, it didn't sprout leaves underneath. Those are the shadows from a bush behind it.

Hmmm. Way too bland! A bit of leftover wallpaper might help. This border, left over from the time I papered the master bath eight years ago had possibilities—but was there enough?

Yep! Just enough with about a foot left over. Whattadaya think?

Here's a different view. Notice I added some accessories that I previously hadn't had room for. The old bookshelf is on the left.

Dylan seems to approve.

Cost of materials:
Headboard: free
Paint: $3.50
Wallpaper border: leftover, hence free

Total cost: $3.50. Worth every penny!

~Waste not, want not.~

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Waste Not, Want Not

The cover of the current Country Living proclaims: "ReUse, ReCycle, ReFresh."

I was into recycling before it was cool. During the 40s and 50s, everybody made do with what they had. We didn't even call it "recycling"—it was just what you did if you had good sense.

For instance, I wore hand-me-down clothes my cousin Marty had outgrown. When I outgrew them, they passed down to my cousin Judy. Once in a while I got a new dress—Mama made it on her treadle Singer sewing machine that she'd bought second-hand before I was born.

I don't ever remember a glass jar being thrown away. An empty jar was always good for something—a place to keep a collection of buttons (that were cut off clothes that were too worn out for wearing), a storage container for food, a vase, etc.

Worn-out clothes became rags. I remember Grandma Ruble had an impressive collection. Clean rags might be recycled into bandages or cleaning cloths. No one bought Band-Aids or paper towels. (Did they exist in the 40s?)

Back in the day, sensible folks didn't waste anything:
Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Do without.
That's what this blog will be about—living frugally (but well) by reusing, recycling, or refreshing.