Tag Archive | frugal friday

Frugal Friday: Buying Less in 2013

I’ve been frugal by necessity my whole life. I learned the art of thrifting at an early age because without thirft stores, I wouldn’t have had clothes. Seriously.

But over time, thrifting has moved beyond the place of necessity in my life. It’s become a lifestyle and a form of entertainment. My husband and I have talked it over, and if we became millionaires, we would still shop the thrift stores. In fact, we’d go on a thrifting odyssey across all 50 states, using an RV for transportation.

Ahem. Yes, we are *that* serious about thrifting.

But there is a downside to thrifting, and that is this: the accumulation of too much stuff.

Take Disney VHS movies, for example. We decided, when our daughter was 2, that we would begin buying all the Disney movies we could find on VHS. After all, they go “back to the vault” after so many years, and our kid might miss out!

And we did get a lot of them. But here’s what we found. Our daughter only likes to watch a few movies over and over again. We were hoarding a ton of VHS movies that she didn’t care about. “Alice in Wonderland”–too freaky. “Sword in the Stone”–a boy’s movie. “Pete’s Dragon”–too long and talky, talkier than we remembered from our own childhoods. So I ended up clearing out the stash and gave away a garbage bag FULL of VHS movies on Freecycle. We kept the favorites and anything that we hadn’t watched in two years we gave away.

Granted, the total cost of that garbage bag of movies was probably less than $20. But we moved most of them from North Carolina to Texas. We kept them in a drawer for 4 years. They were taking up way more than $20 worth of room.

So while I will never stop thrifting, my goal for Frugal Fridays is to buy less stuff. Even if I spend more money to have a higher quality but fewer quantities of items. Let’s separate the wheat from the chaff in 2013–whaddya say?


Frugal Friday: Thriftindipity

Sometimes, I know that I just need to go thrifting. It can be a feeling that is triggered by not having thrifted in some time. It can be triggered even after several days of thrifting. I just know, by the pricking o’ me thumbs, that something amazing is awaiting me at a thrift store. And I have to go, until that feeling is satisfied.

The awesomeness can be something big, like the time I was literally pulled over to an authentic Hermes scarf.

The awesomeness can be something small but significant, like the time I was stuck with my writing career and a shelf of Grace Livingston Hill books beckoned to me like a beacon.

The need to thrift washed over me last week, when I was reading Sarah‘s blog Wearing It On My Sleeves, which is one of my favorite modest fashion blogs. She posted a blog about the nifty household treasures she’s found while thrifting. And just like that, I remembered how much I love finding unique things for my home…and I just knew something was out there waiting.

So on the pretense of needing new boots, and possibly finding a few new-to-me maxi skirts, I went to Arlington Resale.

And there they were. All three of them.


This is all I could fit of the pantsuit on the scanner…trust me, her shoes are fab.

My favorite of the bunch.

This one is my daughter’s favorite.

These are honest to goodness, pencil and pen and ink fashion drawings from the 1970s. I nearly swooned when I saw them. They were hanging up next to the dressing rooms, and at first I thought they were just repros. Then I saw they were real. And as the black dots swirled before my eyes from a thrift-induced swoon, I grabbed them off the walls, hugged them to my chest, and took off for the cash register, boots and skirts forgotten.

And when I got them home, I popped the frames open. The drawings, which were cut unevenly out of their mat boards with an unwary x-acto knife, were ads for Kassab’s Department Store in Joplin, MO.

And now…they’re mine! Thriftindipity!

Frugal Friday: In Which I Try the Ogle School

Full disclosure: for a long time, I’ve not had a regular hairdresser. I have a dear friend who lives in Rowlett who does hair, and another who is still a student in stylist school in Austin. To visit one, it’s an hour’s drive. The other is three hours away. While I feel strongly about supporting both, a major commute to do my hair just can’t happen right now, especially while I am working full-time. My weekends are spent playing catch-up with household chores and errands; I can’t spend all day Saturday driving to and from a salon.

But I am also at an age where I need to have a regular salon. My bangs need biweekly trimming or else I look like a Shetland pony. My hair color needs brightening. And my ends need to be trimmed free of the split ends. So I noticed that there is an Ogle school practically across the street from my daughter’s school. Supporting other students seemed like an excellent idea when I can’t always support my friends who are stylists. So, I made an appointment last Wednesday night for a color and cut. I figured I would try it once and see how it went.

Let me tell you now, the Ogle school will be my go-to salon, and here’s why:

  • The students really looked at my hair, the shape of my face, where my “occipital bone” started and ended, and they really listened to what I wanted. The result? Color and cut that looks amazing. It looks like me and like what I envisioned. The 5 minute consultation makes the appointment run long, but wow if it doesn’t make a huge difference in how you collaborate with the stylist.
  • They had two students working on my hair at the same time. I have a lot of hair, people. A LOT. One of the students called it “deceptively thick” while the other joked that I have “Disney princess hair.” Even with two students working together, it took a good 2.5 hours to cut, color, and style my hair. But I loved having two people working at the same time–they chatted with each other, they chatted with me–there was none of that awkward “so…do you have kids?” kind of conversation that makes it difficult for an introvert like me to relax at the salon.
  • The instructor didn’t hover, but he did stick around enough to make me feel like I was in good hands. If you ever read Beezus and Ramona when you were a kid, then, like me, you probably grew up wondering if a student could do a good job on your hair. I wanted to be Ramona, not Beezus. And sure enough, with that teacher wandering by at intervals, I knew nothing would happen to my hair that couldn’t be fixed.
  • The price was UH-MAY-ZING, which is why this is a frugal Friday post. They were running a special–cut, highlights, and style–for $20 with purchase of 1 product. Which was like $8. So for $28 I had services that normally would have run closer to $100 or more. No guilt attached. I mean, normally I worry about getting my hair done and how much it costs and then I put it off and put it off–not any more. I can totally afford to get all the bells and whistles without worrying that I am depriving my family of a vacation fund or something. PLUS, I ended up tipping both girls as much as the service, so even with tips and product, I was still way under budget. And it felt great to be able to tip that big–honestly, I felt like I hit a gold mine or something.

I already have my November follow-up scheduled. I am so excited that I found the Ogle School. What a great way to celebrate Frugal Friday!


Frugal Friday: Trying out a DIY Shellac Mani/Pedi

Here’s the thing about my fingernails: they’re weak and brittle. And I bite them whenever I am under a writing deadline, which is pretty much a constant in my life nowadays.

Here’s the other thing: in the paralegal field, all the ladies have nice nails. I was pretty much the only person in my class to have natural nails. Everyone else had solar nails, gel nails, or some other artificial type of nail.

Here’s the final thing: I hate going to the nail salon. I could never really lay a finger on why I disliked it so much (pun intended) until April Whitefield-Madrano laid out the facts in a brilliant blog for The Beheld. Brilliant because, in her words: “As I sat there while this woman bent in front of me to button my coat–after, of course, washing my fingertips, rubbing my arms and back, clipping off the dead skin around my fingernails, and then carefully painting ten tiny canvases–I couldn’t help but feel a bit like one of those creepy dudes who frequents Asian dating sites.” Eeeeexactly.

So here I am, stuck between the need to look professional, which includes having perfect nails, and the lack of having naturally beautiful nails–along with a strong aversion to nail salons. I finally found the solution when I stumbled across modest fashion blogger Tricia Thomas‘s Guide to DIY Shellac Nails. Eureka!

I ordered a bundled set of supplies from a retailer on eBay: for less than $90, I got a UV lamp, base coat, top coat, and two shades of shellac polish. The entire process of doing a manicure took about 20 minutes; pedicure took 30, so I was able to relax in front of the TV and watch “The Secret Millionaire” as I worked. The result: a bright, shiny, tough mani/pedi that needed no extra coddling or pampering and has lasted 2 very rough weeks. I lost one toe polish to the pool–but keep in mind that my daughter and I were swimming 3 hours a day. An ordinary pedicure wouldn’t have lasted through the afternoon.

I am thoroughly pleased with the shellac process and love that I have an inexpensive alternative to artificial nails. I love being able to do the work at home, and I love having control over when I get it done. If you are looking for a way to have beautiful nails without spending all your time or money at the salon, I strongly recommend this method!

Frugal Friday: The Seven Sisters Bake Shoppe Is My New Love

My birthday is in August, which has, as long as I can remember, been a real drag.

When I was little, none of my friends were in town for a birthday party.

It’s always too hot to do anything.

By this time of the year in Texas, life can just be miserable.

Over the years I developed a love of fried pies and road trips, and finding fried pies on road trips. (Bear with me, I am going somewhere with this.)

And since it’s too hot to do much of anything, my birthday has become an excuse for a road trip–but not anywhere fancy or glamorous. I love finding a tiny Texas town and driving around in it just for fun.

Which leads us to Itasca, Texas–and the Seven Sisters Bake Shoppe.

We were recommended this shop by someone in the David’s in Itasca, and it was worth the three extra miles. Sure enough, it’s run by seven sisters and sure enough, it has every kind of baked good imaginable–and then some. Deli sandwiches, gourmet butter, bread made from wheat they grind themselves…and fried pies.

I posted this on Frugal Friday because if you are road tripping in the DFW area (and even if you’re not, you need to make plans just for this place) because the food is amazing and really affordable. Puts Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck) to shame.

It’s worth getting off the beaten path to find little gems like this, and even better to find a gem like this on your birthday. Thanks to the Seven Sisters, I had more than enough treats to make my summer birthday a delight.

Frugal Friday: Shop Goodwill for Art

Hi everyone!

I don’t know if anyone saw this article, but I just had to share:  http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/goodwill-art-worth-thousands-16854821

I have found so many cool pieces of art at thrift stores and garage sales over the years. Nothing that compares to this, more’s the pity, but I have found some really amazing pieces over the years. My latest find was on shopgoodwill, which is an online auction site made up of several different Goodwills that band together to showcase their most interesting treasures.

I love the 1920s and the sheer Art Deco goodness of this woman’s dress caught my fancy. I ended up placing the winning bid at $20. The shipping, because it was already framed, cost as much as the item itself!

But for $40, I have an original, framed drawing of a flapper. On the reverse, there is a stamp for L. Mc Chesney, 940 25th Street SE, Auburn, Washington. There’s also a stamp for Auburn Custom Framing, and the drawing is signed by Lam. I’m putting this information out there just in case anyone knows anything about this drawing. The lady in the picture definitely inspires me. I may use her as a heroine in one of my novels some day!

If you’ve never scoured your local thrift stores, junk stores, or garage sales for art work, you might want to give it a try. There are some real treasures out there.

The picture goes quite well over our mantel, don’t you agree? And those are some other thrifted treasures I’ve picked up over the years.