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Archive for May, 2011

Wow! They Took it Back

May 31st, 2011 at 10:55 am

Who needs a gym membership with a weekend house?! There was a Memorial Day parade in town, but we instead worked hard clearing fire brush at our second property. Our muscles cut and sawed and snipped and dragged and piled up green trimmings for hours. My husband used his little Kubota tractor to push and pack down the mountain of branches. (Wow, he is an expert at driving that thing and could fit in perfectly working at a landfill).

Though it doesn't fit perfectly in with my conscience, we used our pick up to haul some of the more distant trimmings to the mound. (I used the wheelbarrow to haul many more loads from closer areas because I resist using oil!). OK, I admit consuming a small amount of fuel on this job was a benefit in saving a large amount of time and effort.

In the evening I finished a pair of beautiful gloves destined for ice skate and winter boutiques.

Antique Flower Winter Wonderland Gloves



Wrists wrapped in sequined wedding appliques are perfect for the holiday season. Glove backs are sprinkled with tiny faux pearl and crystal beads. Handcrafted original design.

But the big news involved a storage shed project. My handy spouse now has only one project in probably the last 10 years that didn't work out. He has installed an on-demand water heater, hard wood floors, water lines, tiled bathrooms, stairway carpet runners, dog kennels, and the list goes on and on. He is not a contractor, just a happy (tool loving) guy.

The plan this weekend was to put up a pre-fab plastic kit outdoor storage shed at our rental house. The shed would serve as a panel of a fenced in back patio, but the fence would not be ready for another few weeks. (This kind of shed )

Anyway, last time we were there, he graded a pad with rock and we installed the floor with cement footings at the corners. The shed instructions said to use the cement footings in windy areas and this is one of those places.

However, the wind was really bad as we were putting up the snap-in walls. In fact, we realized there was no way the shed would stand alone in the wind, even put together with it's internal bracing, without the future fence stabilizing the sides.

So we abandoned the project, and packed the shed parts back up.

Bleh, I really did not feel bad about the work down the drain. And was confident we could recoup alot of the shed cost by reselling on Craigs.

Well, a friend suggested we take the shed back to Lowe's. Even though it was completely unpacked out of the box, floor pieces used, etc. I was not in favor. This seems to me somewhat dishonest. It was USED goods. I do NOT wear something even for a minute and take it back to the store.

But my hubby has a bit more nerve, or at least less pride than I. He does not mind asking!!

So there he went. And there they did it! Lowe's did not have a problem taking it back and refunding 100%. They said you got it, UNCONDITIONAL SATISFACTION GUARANTEED.

Wowza. A huge relief in expenses not wasted. Thanks for reading and there's a tweet button to the left if you want to pass out the fact that Lowe's is highly recommended!

Feel the Pain? Scientific study says you are frugal!

May 24th, 2011 at 09:43 am

HaHa! I knew it had to be fate! Frugal lifestyle is partly genetic according to a university study by a marketing professor who conducted brain imaging to reveal that frugal people quite literally "feel" the pain of spending in a way that other people do not.

(A marketing expert? Of course! Maybe sponsored, maybe purely out of interest!)

Read the whole article here.

The source is Miller-Mccune Magazine, a very refreshing news source that I find balanced and fact based instead of short-attention-span and dumbed-down as much of other available media exhibits. They proport to use "current academic research with real-time reporting to address pressing social concerns". You can get the issues free via email (sign ups at the bottom of the Frugal Study article).

Copper House WireTransformation

May 11th, 2011 at 11:25 am

One of my crafting principles is to reuse materials. This is a personal environmental objective, and has the happy added benefit of much lower cost in producing my products for Pretty Cheap Jewelry.

Last post I showed how to design and craft Nifty Gifty Gloves inexpensively. Look at the middle picture in the post at the piece of red stretch sequin. That trim is a re-used part of a costume from last year (they were suspenders! for a mickey mouse costume). I couldn't bear to toss it, and voila! See the last picture how nicely it serves as the glove trim.

Not long ago I bought some 3-part house wiring to craft doll clothes hangers. This stuff is inexpensive at the hardware store. Did you know house wire has three color coded strands inside a bigger plastic housing? (guys raise your hand).

I wanted only the white and black plastic coated strands and a few feet were plenty to make a dozen hangers (6 white, 6 black).

There on the craft room floor was the lonely yellow (I think yellow) coated strand. Well I stripped off the plastic and inside was a superb length of HEAVY PURE copper wire. Ahhhh.

This wire was NOT to be wasted. Here's what I did with it:

BEAUTIFUL MUSIC COLLECTION



Hand formed shaped instruments and musical symbols coming from Pretty Cheap Jewelry this summer. Hammered copper is accented with perfectly placed beads to represent popular items.

Shown: Acoustic Guitar (tuned with red cut glass accents, small halfnotes charm attached, on 18" bronze satin cord); Large Half Notes (accented with tiny glass beads, on 18" black satin cord).

The most beautiful thing to me? Reclaiming the wire and staying true to my motto "Creating things of value at inexpensive prices."

Watch for more BEAUTIFUL MUSIC work in coming weeks (I still have some wire left!). G clef, and ? Suggestions?

THANKS for reading! (FB and tweet buttons for your convenience, bottom and left sidebar).

Nifty Gifty Crafty

May 10th, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Think ahead! Alot of us take advantage of super duper mark downs in July on items for end of the year gifts. And many of us home make great gifts. Let me introduce an idea to jump start your imagination.

Winter Wonderland Gloves

Supplies:

1. Inexpensive plain knit gloves. These were readily available at the drug and dollar store in winter, though you can also find suitable candidates in the gardening sections. Look for decent quality and end-of-season specials.

2. Appliques and trims. I am lucky to have a wacky store nearby with all manner of close out merchandise. Lately they have a huge stock of small and large sequin appliques. There's crazy shapes like cactus and cowboy hats, but also holiday subjects like snowmen and angels.

If you don't have such a source, take a look at the fabric store. There you find trim - there are hundreds of types. You need ELASTIC trim (for around the wrists), but the wedding type trims are great because you can cut apart the shapes (such as flowers). Use a coupon or get what's on sale.

3. Buttons and beads. There are amazing and inexpensive buttons lately, like glitter filled and felted. Look in the fabric store or the thrift store (to take off beautiful old buttons from an old shirt for example).

Here's some supplies; three pair small gloves with appliques for each.



Sew:

If you can sew a button, you can make these gifts! Get thread in the same color as the glove or the trim. And simply hand sew in place. IT DOESN'T TAKE AS LONG AS YOU THINK! I can finish a pair in an hour.

In progress: Little beaded snowman for the back, stretch red sequin for the wrists.



Ideas!

Try some fabric paint at the nails! Add little glass beads on the backs for a glamourous look. Add artificial pearls for classy style. Don't worry about making the patterns perfectly identical. Use a forgiving random or zig zag pattern.

Theme your gifts! Little kids love bright colors and funny buttons. Big girls prefer black and toned down decorations. Or make a set for a wedding party, a family reunion or birthday.

Knit hats are also well stocked inexpensively at the retailers. What do you want to do with one?



If you like this idea and want to pass on the tip, use the tweet button (left sidebar).

Thanks for reading! The Frugal Artisan

Levis, Lands End and Talbots, Oh My!

May 8th, 2011 at 05:37 pm

Glad I didn't hesitate to once again scavenge the thrift shops for jeans. Almost thought I'd grown out of the thrift stage what with kids in pre- and teens now. They wouldn't be caught dead...

And what with my own clothes shopping nearly nil and void except for the tennis shoe hunt at Big 5 every few years, or the major stock up on bras at the Maidenform outlet. I'm just so NOT a fashion horse.

Soooooo, even though I got away with wearing to work 2 out of 3 of my jeans with a hole emerging at the knee, I decided it's time to get thee some jeans. Better not wear the holes to work anymore.

First stop Susies Deals (everything 5.99). But NOT. Their new motto 'Everything $5.99 and up' BLEH. But even so, there were 2 or 3 BIG racks of $2 jeans. And of course, OLD baggy styles. I am not interested. And odd sizes left too. Zero (?!) or gigantic. Sad.

Well, my practical spending hubby and I went on a 'date' on Friday night to the outlet mall. Or you can say, just another excuse to have a couple hours alone.

He graciously drove me right to the Levi's outlet and there were good deals, right sizes, decent stuff. And I left with 1 pair of nice $20 jeans.

(He then promptly went to the Adidas outlet and bought 18 pairs of socks. Yes. He said they would last him 4 years, which I believe. And they were a good buy at $10 per 6 pair. But sheesh.)

Then on Saturday I had some hours alone!!! Big Grin Everyone was out of town except me. And I bee lined it to the thrifts.

1. Buffalo Exchange. This is not a thrift really, but a buy/sell/exchange. Again, I thought I was beyond thrift and happened to park behind here. The prices were decent ($6 - 8) and I tried but did not fit!

2. Goodwill. Our town has an upscale 'Downtown Goodwill'. It is a result of some controversy in the level of customer of the main street stores. This thrift is very nicely laid out, big clear aisles, and they put local NICE art in the windows. Cool. Lots of jeans, every one $6. I bought one pair Lands End.

3. 3 more thrifts. Maybe I am fortunate there are 3 more thrifts within easy walking in our downtown. I know them all well (one is great for sweaters, for example, another for furniture.) No jeans in the first 2. But JACKPOT in the third. Talbots size 6 petite, never even washed yet. Three pair, I took 2.

It is not easy to try stuff on in a thrift. Basically you try jeans over your (hopefully) thin leggings or wear a skirt and drop your stuff in the aisle and there ya go.

I probably tried on 15 pairs in the whole day. Total?

Levis = $20
Lands End = $6
Talbots (2)=$4
Off brand = $2
---------------
5 pair = $ 32

Yippee!

Also solved the CHRONIC cozy sweatshirt shortage in my dresser. So many mornings I just want to throw on a sweatshirt. But I have only one. Just don't buy them. Or just BORROW my son's at this point. He has um....5 or 6?

Now I have 3 more!! My favorite, something my family has probably always wanted to give me:



Understandably, (I suppose), someone didn't hardly wear it. Great quality (come on, it's Disney label). Fits me like a glove. Two others were a practically new: a Sideout sweatshirt, and a nubby blue shirt tail / tneck style pullover.

I am stoked, all three were $2 each. OK! So no more clothes shopping for me for a couple years, right?

If you've made it this far, here's a reward:
The first person who contacts me below can reserve these handmade original earrings at a pre-list price half off. (Special Reserved Price $7.50 ; Future price $15.00)



Fine link chain holds staggered fringe of mother of pearl shell coins, tiny gold and water clear drops.
Perfect in detail and design. By The Frugal Artisan.

Fun Factor, Check! Income Factor, TBD?

May 4th, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Last winter I noticed a lot of those inexpensive, stretch gloves in the drugstores. Did you? They were meant for light duty and cost a couple dollars or less. Lots of solid colors, one size fits all basically.

There also happens to be this unusual 'junque' store near my workplace. There's no sign out front, but I asked once and the name of the store is 'Random'. The place is a big huge jumble of furniture, bolts of fabric, hardware, books, carved wood figures, and probably what ever the owner is finding at weird wholesale auction houses. I wouldn't be surprised to find a few kitchen sinks. Sometimes the prices are matchless, sometimes the prices are terrible. Most of the stuff is new.

The store is a great place to browse and grab supplies for my crafting for pennies. About a year ago there came a huge lot of sequined and beaded appliques. Some really small, like star shapes and numbers, and some really huge like parrots and horses. The little ones were 25 cents, the big ones a couple dollars.

They also have a dozen huge spools of sequin and beaded trim. The type meant for embellishing wedding dresses. Really nice swirls, florals and designs. The trim prices were fair, something like $1.50 for simple and 2.50 / foot for the fancier stuff. I love pretty stuff and kept thinking how use the trim for something.

Back to the stretch gloves! I finally figured out a great use for the appliques and trim. I grabbed some smaller appliques (about 25 to 35 cents each) and then ran to the dollar store to see if they still had the gloves. YES! I picked out 10 pair of decent quality.

And here's the results! I am excited to be designing and producing the Winter Wonderland Gloves for my vendor booth at the upcoming ice rink's 2011 Figure Skating Show.

Each year I need to offer merchandise to a crowd of young girls, gift ware for the parents, while keeping it original and at a competitive price.

See a few of the new collection below!

Winter Wonderland Gloves - You're a Star



These 3 gold star gloves fit perfectly into a figure skater's wardrobe! Warm enough for practice, fun and fancy under the lights.

Winter Wonderland Gloves - Formal Wear



Pretty enough for a sleigh ride with your beau. Antique flower on charcoal grey knit. Sprinkled with pearl and glass bead accents.

Winter Wonderland Gloves - Happy Hands for Kids



Little princesses will love the red sparkly wrists and beaded funny snowman. Mom will love the price.

Watch for the 'How - To' post coming soon here at The Frugal Artisan.