Good-Bye Straps, Hello Savings

The other day I just happened to be in Old Navy. What? I can't resist their clearance section. My favorite part is the damaged section. Sometimes an item is stained, ripped or otherwise ruined. Other times the so-called "damage" is a broken strap or a small shirt tagged as a medium. I can live with "damage" like that!

My most recent find was a sundress with a broken strap that had been condemned as damaged. So sad, right?

You won't find it so sad when you see this:

It's non-damaged sisters had just arrived on the sales floor and were priced at $40. It's not an unreasonable price, but it's a bit much for little old jobless me. The $20 version was much more my speed. I could have easily reattached the broken strap - they were only tacked on - but I decided to remove both straps since that seemed faster and easier.

After just a few minutes with my seam ripper, I had myself a half-price strapless sundress. This probably won't surprise anyone, but I am LOVING the gray and wine floral-but-not-too-feminine print.

Do you guys love to shop in the reject section? I can't be the only one.

Fabric + Cause For An Intervention

I just bought a yard of this fabric. I can't tell you what it's for yet, but isn't it gorgeous?

I know, I need to stop it with the camera apps, but everything looks so much cooler when it's pretending to be a polaroid!.

Combat Hospital

Have you guys been watching Combat Hospital? It starts out with a trauma surgeon, on her way to Afghanistan, who thinks she might be pregnant. Who doesn't love a good pregnancy scare? Also, it's like Grey's Anatomy, but with men in uniform. It's my new summer show.

Also also, the head of the Trauma Unit is played by an actor whose face looks like Christopher Meloni and Robert De Niro smooshed their faces together and made a third face.

Sorry. I do this obnoxious thing where, every time I watch tv or a movie, I always lean over to the person next to me and say stuff like "Hey, that's the guy from that movie;" "She played so-and-so's mother on that tv show;" "He really looks like that guy. You know, the one from the commercial." I'm like a human IMDB and I can't turn it off. I don't know why anyone is still friends with me. Really, I don't. And apparently I'm so obnoxious I even do it while blogging. Sheesh.

Free Art Supplies In The Mail

You're probably tired of hearing about me making stuff out of trash, but guess what? I did it again. I guess it's just what happens when you're both bored and broke. Since you guys have to read what I post, or at least I don't know whether you're reading or not,* you're just going to have to deal with it.
*Google analytics, you say? I can't figure out how that works. That's voodoo magic.

Back to the content...

Tools:1- cutting mat
2- metal straight edge
3- paper trimmer
4- scissors
5- circle punch
6- corner rounder
7- pencil
8- x-acto knife
9- glue stick


1- 2 cheapo frames from the dollar store
2- gray card stock
3- check envelope paper

Wait, what? Check envelope paper? Allow me to explain. Remember how when you mail someone a check - you know those paper things that aren't money, but you can still use to buy stuff - and you put it in a special envelope that obscures the account numbers. The next time you come across one, pay attention, the patterns can be pretty interesting.

See? I told you it's cool. I loved this DIY by Melancholy Smile, and as soon as I decided to take inspiration from it copy it I started collecting bank envelopes. Why buy patterned paper when you get it free in the mail? This would also be a great way to get some extra mileage out of newspapers, magazines and wrapping paper.

True to my nature I diagrammed everything in AutoCAD to commit to a layout before I put blade to paper.


The one with the circles was super simple to make: choose paper, cut circles with a circle punch. DONE.

Because I can't help but pick favorites, here's a few of the patterns I like the best.

don't tell the others, but you're my favorites

The one with the squares was a tad more complicated. First I cut out 2" squares with my paper trimmer...

... then I finished each square with my corner rounder...

... and then I cut each square diagonally in half. I'm not sure why I decided to cut them in half, it just felt like the fun thing to do. For that matter, I don't really know why I do half the things I do.

My next task was to prep my card stock. I cut it down to 8 x 10 (to fit the frames) then lightly penciled in a grid to help me place my paper shapes. Luckily for me, the pencil came right off with an eraser when I was finished with it. But I made sure to draw it nice an neat in case I ended up being stuck with it.

I chose to use a glue stick because I wanted a glue that wouldn't wrinkle the paper. If I didn't put the piece behind glass I would want a stronger hold, but since the glass is there I didn't worry about it.

Aren't they pretty all framed up?

I'm thinking I'll put them on the mantle, which used to look like this:

but is now starting to look like this:

That big empty frame is the start of yet another DIY project that I've had in the back of my mind for a while. I have big plans, people. I'm well aware my mantle looks sligtly ugly right now. Everything will reveal itself in due time.


This hat is my best friend this summer. It keeps the sun off my face and hides my hair when the humidity takes over.

That is all.

Art You Can Vacuum - Part 3

Now it's time for Part 3, which is mostly many gratuitous photos of my latest art project.

I inserted the cylinders into my boards and secured them with some plain old Elmer's glue.

After the glue was dry I added a self-nailing picture hanger to each board, which cost me $3 for a pack of 4. I used picture hooks, which I already owned, on the wall to hang the boards.

Aren't they marvelous?

This is the gratuitous photos segment I warned you about.

I think the texture of the carpet adds an interesting element to wall art. Definitely not something you see everyday.

Here they are at night, illuminated by lamp light. Usually the hubby's reaction to my DIY endeavors is "Eh, it's nice" but this he really likes. He even said "It looks really cool, with the shadows and stuff." Coming from him, that's a HUGE compliment.

as usual, cat provided for scale

What do you think?

Everything Is Better In Miniature*

*That's NOT what she said.

Sometimes when I go shopping or run errands without the baby I just zone out for a bit, enjoying my solo time, and wander around looking at things I don't need. On one such occasion of wandering I spotted these mini-cans of spray paint at Michael's.

Is that brilliant or what? I often need only a little bit of paint for a craft project and the paint world has finally started to catch up with me. The color selection isn't amazing - around 9 shades, I think - but they have black and white, which are my normal go-to spray paint tones. Color me happy.

Also, I love that they're called Short Cuts. I love a good pun.

Art You Can Vacuum - Part 2

I'm back with Part 2 of my recent art project. Now that I have shared all about Part 1, I can finally reveal my mystery objects. Here they are!

You still don't know, do you? That's ok. They aren't exactly common household items. My friends, you are looking at a pile of carpet samples. That's right, carpet samples. Thus the whole art you can vacuum thing.

I got these 5 years ago when I interned with an interior architecture studio. You see, to advertise their product most carpet companies distribute little squares of actual carpeting, like this:

image from Berber

But there was one particular carpet-sample kit that contained hundreds of little tubes of bundled carpet fibers. I thought that was just too unique to pass up. Luckily for me, the studio was thinning out its material library and more than happy - albeit a little confused - when I offered to take it off their hands. I had no idea what I would do with them, but they came home with me all the same.

After I had my boards all set up (a 5 x 5 grid, if you remember) I got to the task of sorting through A LOT of cylinders to create my patterns. I decided I wanted to make 3 color gradients, and with so many similar carpet shades to choose from I knew it would be easy. Naturally I chose to do gradients for blue, gray and yellow to match the color scheme of my living room.

After I had my pattern set I used small adhesive labels to number each cylinder in case something (most likely one of the cats) messed them up before I could install them in my boards.

OCD to the last drop

The carpet cylinders were free and I already owned the labels, so this portion of the project cost zero dollars keeping our project total to just $3.

Stay tuned for Part 3, where everything comes together!

Happy Trails, To You!

I am a fan of all things trail related: maps... splendid views... time to let your mind go blank... an excuse to wear shorts and a bandana. I like everything except the actual hiking - that mess is hard work!

But the best part? The trail mix. I made a batch this morning and I'm having trouble staying away from it. This batch has peanuts, pistachio kernels, dark chocolate dusted almonds and assorted "fancy" nuts (almonds, pecans, cashews, etc), as well as craisins (the raisin's younger, more attractive sister) and plain and dark chocolate M&M's. I'm somewhat of a trail mix purist. I just a good blend of salty and sweet; no granola allowed.

Also, over the years I have figured out that mixing trail mix is a lot like stirring compost. You can try to stir it, but it's best to just put the lid on and give it a good tumble.

Art You Can Vacuum - Part 1

I have a new art project to share with you guys, but it's such a long post I broke it into 3 parts. Here's a sneak peak of the final piece to keep you guessing.

I have to start by saying I've had this project rolling around in the back of my mind for a long time. 2 months? 6 months? How about 60 months? Yep, I've been wanting to do this for 5 years and finally made it happen. Without giving away too much of parts 2 and 3, let's just say I had some objects to display but I couldn't decide how to display them. All I knew was I wanted to do a series of smaller art pieces instead of one large piece. When the scraps from our recent shelf installation left me with 3, perfectly square wood boards I knew my (soon-to-be-disclosed) objects had met their soulmates.

true love

The objects I had in mind to display were round - a 5/8" circle to be exact - so I used a drill press to cut lots and lots of 5/8" holes in my boards. Twenty-five in each board, for those of you keeping track.

Next I used my electric rotary sander to sand off the pencil lines and give my boards a smooth surface. I only used 2 types of sandpaper - coarse grit and fine grit - because I was feeling lazy. I should have used at least 3, but since this isn't a piece of furniture I gave myself a break.

While I had the sander out I flipped the boards over and sanded down the rough parts left behind by the drill press. Again, if this were a piece of furniture I would have also filled the gaps with wood filler and re-sanded, but nobody was going to see the back so I let it slide. My only goal was to get the wood shards out of the way so my objects would slide smoothly in place.

Aah, much better.

My last step for this phase of the project was to prep and paint my boards white. I decided to leave the edges of the boards unpainted, to give a nice contrast to the crisp white paint, so I used painter's tape to mask off the edges. As you can (sort of) see in the picture, cat litter buckets make excellent spray paint tables.

Just a few quick coats of spray paint later, my boards were painted and ready to show off some mystery objects.

Remember, my boards were scrap from another project and the spray paint only cost me $3. Not a bad start, right?

Stay tuned for part 2.

Garden Beans

These beans are the first harvest from our little garden. It's not much but they were quite delicious roasted with potatoes and carrots for lunch!

Dumpster Diving In My Own Home

[EDITOR'S NOTE*: This project was completed, and photographed, weeks ago then forgotten about until the author found the images on the camera. Don't you hate when that happens?]
*There is no editor. It's just me. Well, me and the voices in my head. Heh.

This is yet another project from my From Trash to Slightly-Better-Than-Trash series wherein I make stuff from items I find in my recycling bin. I swear this keeps happening because I'm environmentally conscious, not just super cheap.

Several weeks ago I was MOH for my bestie Rachel. As any good friend and MOH would do, I got her a wedding gift. Next I was tasked with beautifully wrapping it disguising its identity from the naked eye. Even if I had a job, I would never consider gift wrapping to be something worth spending money on. Oh sure, I buy a few rolls of wrapping paper at Christmas, but if you ever get a present from me, and it comes it a gift bag, I GUARANTEE YOU someone else gave the bag to me. Being unemployed just gives me extra incentive to be a cheap bastard creative and thrifty.

This looks like (somewhat decent) wrapping paper, right?

WRONG! It is a DSW shopping bag. I had some wrapping paper in my stash, but I hated to cut off a piece for such a small present. Good thing I saw these bold stripes peeking out of my recycling bin. I don't think this would have looked nearly as chic using a plastic grocery bag.

To create a tag I just used my craft punch to cut a circle from some leftover paper, and folded it along the stripe to give the tag a little tape flap.

Sweet, right? Luckily the bride knows me well and loves me, quirks and all, so she wasn't the least bit shocked when she saw this at her bridal luncheon:

*shudder* I really did try to hide the DSW logo, but I couldn't make it work. *sigh* Don't feel too bad for her. I gave her a second gift that I actually wrapped in a gift bag... that may or may not have been leftover from my baby shower.

Indicator Towel

You guys know how a toothbrush has that blue indicator strip that turns white when it's time to change your toothbrush?

I do the same thing with the hubby's towels.

I stack them in the closet with the new, white ones on top and the old, blue ones on the bottom. When I see a blue towel hanging on his towel hook I know it's time to wash towels. It's the little things that make you a genius, right?
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