Friday, December 28, 2007

Even a novice thrifter can make there way to their local Goodwill or Value Village. Most people have seen these stores and they can be a lot like your average big box store in some fundamental ways - their stuff is divided in basically the same way, there is lots and lots of junk around and the employees have the same general malaise to them. All these things can make people feel at home. However some of the best deals around can be found at very small, hole-in-the-wall style charity thrift stores. These stores tend to have a very small selection of stuff only slightly organized and a very chatty grandmother type at the cash register. It is more like a garage sale than anything else. The two bibs below I found in Ballard at the Ryther Childcare Center's thrift store just off of Market. It is one of my favorite places because it seems to be so over looked. These two bibs cost 10 cents each. I also got a bag of toys (which my daughter did not need) for 50 cents. Here is my bet on this - the people who are pricing these things grew up in the depression. Because of this their idea of what a good deal is is rather thrifty. Anytime I can exit a thrift store for less then it costs to ride the bus there I think I have a found a pretty good deal.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Its time for this weeks installment of Remembering a Past Good Deal (aka I need a post and haven't found anything recently). Decoration can run a rather shockingly expensive gamut, but luckily there is a multitude of fun and thrifty decorations available all over the place. (i.e. the ground, your dumpster, the back of the closet and even the thrift store) One particularly enjoyable decorative item for me is paint by number paintings. These retro-y items usually are full of bright, rich colors and of very picturesque little scenes such as prairies, ducks, snow falling on cedars, etc. I recently have had experience painting a paint by number and although enjoyable and even a little meditative they actually take a lot of work. Because of this I find it sad to see so many at the thrift store covered in dust. Above are two examples of nicely done paint by numbers that currently decorate our baby's room. Once you dust one of these little puppies off and throw them in an Ikea frame you are good to go. Plus people will think you are being postmodernly ironic, which helps develop hipster cred.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I love the 80's

My sister in law Stella has a mom who is either highly nostalgic or is thinking ahead. Whatever the case is I benefited from this personality trait recently. While down at her parents house with Stella we came across a box of kids stuff saved from way back when Stella and her brothers were little. It has some great toys, a collection of books and a couple flashy pieces of clothing such as the coat pictured above. Since these items were not being used I got to be the holder of them until a little Stella Jr is around to play with them. I think this coat is really the highlight of the bunch. It actually looks more stylish then retro on Hannah since this style is now back in stores. What goes around comes around I guess.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Thinking ahead

For those of you who are wishing you could be enjoying some summer sun have I got an idea for you - stock up on sunblock now. I have become increasingly concerned about exposing myself and my family to chemicals so I have begun to buy natural cosmetics and organic produce as much as possible. This stuff can expensive though so good deals are always welcome. Anyway, last week while I was shopping at my natural grocery I checked out their sale table (as always) and found most of their sunblock was 50% off. Now I have heard that sunblock can lose its effectiveness, so in light of that I decided to stick with one tube for now. Hopefully my bargain will pay off.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Blue plate special

Yesterday my dear husband (DH for all you cyberfriends) was walking home from story time with Hannah (DD) when he spotted a box of free stuff outside of an apartment building. Now these boxes can really be hit or miss and it sounds like mostly this box was miss - just the regular selection of mismatched men's shoes and unidentifiable clothing. However DH was able to spot a blue fiestaware dinner plate among the junk. Fans will note that these are the plates we registered for at our wedding and the ones we use everyday. Even the color is a match.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Freegan in the making

Tonight Dan, Hannah and I went to dinner at Baguette Box, a local high class sandwich shop. Although the food wasn't really a bargain we had a very nice cook/waiter who brought out a free meatball for Hannah and gave us some baguettes that they were going to throw out since we appeared to be the last customers of the night. Alas the meatball proved too spicy for Hannah, but luckily we were there to make sure it didn't go to waste. We were also there to take home a bag full of baguettes to freeze for sandwiches later. Lucky us!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Update on dishwashing detergent

I have decided to rescind a previous post which stated that borax and baking soda make a good dishwasher detergent. I read this in a book about natural cleaning and it sounded good. It seemed to work ok the first couple of times as well. However after extensive and precise testing I have come to the decision that this is not a good deal at all. It does not clean the dishes. Please accept my sincere apologies for this crap suggestion.

Sorry to all my readers

First a note to my extensive readership - sorry about the loooong delay in posting. To be honest I just haven't come across that many deals lately. I do have a couple of fun posts in my pocket now though and I will be starting a new segment called "remembering a past deal" which should help generate content. Ok, enough apologies. Here is today's deal of the day:

First off how cute is this sippy cup! We got this at Ikea for JJ when he was born and we picked up one for ourselves while we were there since it is just too cute. Well JJ's is gone. Sadly it melted in the dishwasher. Plus Ikea doesn't sell them anymore as far as I can tell which is why I was so excited to find one at Value Village in its original packaging for $.50. Now we have a back up in case ours bites the dust as well. It is definitely worth it since the other day I saw Hannah hugging her cup. No one wants to see that come to a premature end.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

So I already posted my recipe for laundry soap, but recently I have also converted to a baking soda based dishwasher detergent too. Basically I use equal parts borax and baking soda the same way you would use powdered detergent and it has worked great. A much cheaper (and more environmentally friendly) way to get clean dishes without too much work. You may think I should write a book called 1001 uses for baking soda and I would, but that book has already been written. I checked it out from the library when I decided to start buying baking soda at Costco.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Apples to Apples

I have had this blog post all planned out for awhile, but things went awry to say the least. Dan discovered an apple tree at the cemetery in Volunteer park near our house. Sadly the apples were just falling off and rotting on the ground (perhaps to remind us of our mortality?) and it looked like no one was interested. So we did a family bike ride to load up on some apples with the intention of making some apple pie filling. I should note here that the reason we were going to do apple pie filling is because we still have many quarts of applesauce from a similar discovery about 4 years ago in Alameda. Anyway, we got the apples, brought them home and began peeling, coring and slicing them - a very messy project. When we got about 1/3 of the way through we discovered we didn't have any available quart jars so we would have to put the project on hold. Instead I made a giant apple crisp and we left the rest of the very ripe apples on the counter. The next day we were overtaken with fruit flies. Despite this fact it still took us another three days to get the jars and get the project moving again. Once the apples were cut and filling made we filled and processed the jars. This is when we learned the importance of head space in canning. We've never really worried about it before, but this time all the apples swelled and burst out the top making a big mess and leaving the jars unsealed. We dug out more space and reprocessed the jars unfortunately a jar broke in the pot of boiling water making another giant mess. (and safety hazard - boiling water with floating glass shards, good thing no social workers were coming by.) Once we actually got the jars processed we realized we had removed too much filling and now the jars were really only half full. To sum up we got 5 half filled quart jars of apple pie filling and it only cost us a huge hassle, a house of fruit flies and two broken jars. What a bargain.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Yesterday I was out walking around Greenlake enjoying one of the last few nice, dry fall days here in Seattle when I found this super cute eggplant hat. Kids dressed as eggplants have an oddly special place in my heart so I picked it up. I wondered about the morality of picking this hat up since its possible a parent would come back to look for it. However in the last two days I have donated two pacifiers to the free kids stuff cycle (or rather my feisty little baby donated them by throwing them out of her stroller) so I decided it might just be good karma. Hannah looks super cute in it, but she refused to pose for a pic, sorry.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Back Blogging

Hi All. I actually had a time-sensitive post that required me to get back into the blogging game. Safeway is having a really good sale on sugar this week. Now I don't want to turn into a grocery blogger (how suburban housewife can you get !?) but grocery shopping is the only shopping I have done of late, so its all I've got. Its $2 for a 5lb bag, which works out to $.40 a pound, which is better than Costco and better than most sales. You may want to stock up. You may also want to check your pantry and make sure you have not already stocked up before you go. Trust me, it is hard to find places to store 30 pounds of sugar in a 2-bedroom apartment.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

These shoes are made for walking

After watching yet another pair of cheap tennis shoes literally disintegrate off my feet I decided I needed to find some good walking shoes that would last for awhile. I guess my shoe philosophy has always been get cheap shoes and get lots of them. That worked ok when I was wearing lots of different fun shoes basically from the car to the office and then kicking them off under my desk. Now a days I am walking a lot and walking out in the elements, which in Seattle means puddles and wet leaves. I needed a pair of walking shoes that were at least mildly cute and could stand the wet whether. Luckily I have two nurses in my extended family who know about needing shoes that are comfortable for being on your feet and they recommended Danskos. To my dismay these shoes cost a lot more than I am used to paying for shoes. Luckily I also have recently discovered Ebay and got a pair of used, but in nice shape shoes for $35 (after shipping). I am pretty excited about my purchase and I have to say these work great for my walking needs. I give them a hearty endorsement!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Recent thrift store finds

I have had no luck finding free stuff on the side of the road lately. I guess I still see it occasionally, but anything I see is sopping wet and therefore unappealing. Because of this I have had to resort to the more standard way of acquiring thrifty finds - the thrift store. It can definitely be hard at times to find good deals at the thrift store. Many stores seem to over price their stuff and things can get really picked over. Sometimes I walk around a store and just feel like I am staring at a bunch of junk, which is a very sad state of affairs. However even on those days there is usually a couple of hidden treasures. Below are some earrings I got for $2 a piece at the Goodwill on Dearborn. My current dressing philosophy is wear all black or neutrals and accessorize with gusto. This is a significantly less expensive way to feel well dressed and takes up less space in a small apartment. Plus there always seem to be worthwhile earrings at the thrift store.
I also found a copy of one of my favorite reference books. Home Comforts is basically a house keeping how-to book that I have had since college. It is written by a philosophy PhD and lawyer who admitted to herself that she had a passion for housekeeping. I've always loved this book and it sells well on Amazon so I had to pick it up rather than let it sit unloved on a thrift store shelf.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I have been lax again in posting so I am going to throw up a quick post so I can feel better. (that sentence really is very poorly worded, sorry) I recently found a great set of wooden building blocks at the Kent Goodwill for $3. It is a pretty large set that still has a lot of life left in it. Hannah is still a little young to get the concept of building and stacking but she certainly does have a conceptual understanding of digging through baskets and banging things together so even now she is getting use out of it.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Although this is primarily a blog about thrifty finds I couldn't resist posting one of my favorite thrifty recipes. Normally this kind of thing falls out of range of my blogging, mostly because the most obvious way of being thrifty is to not buy stuff, and that is rather boring to blog about. In fact that pretty much sums up any blog you want to write on the subject of thrifty living - don't buy stuff you don't need. Well no one wants to hear that (it is America after all) so I have instead focused on finding cool stuff that you don't need cheap or free. That, at least, is moderately thrifty. Anyway, one of my favorite things I started doing was making my own laundry detergent. Basically this started because I wanted to buy natural and non-toxic laundry soap. When I looked at the ingredients in Seventh Generation soap I learned that basically that is made up of water, borax and lavender essential oil. Since I happen to stock all three of those things regularly it seemed like I could make it myself. Well after some searching this is the laundry soap recipe I now use to make my own soap. It works great and is good for my sensitive skin, which always tends to act up with other soaps. I use it on all our clothes including my baby's cloth diapers so its safe to say it should get out any stains. Plus it is non-toxic, kid and pet safe, and works out to be less then 1 cent per load.

Homemade Laundry Soap
1/3 bar Fels Naptha soap (can be found in laundry aisle)
½ cup washing soda (can be found in laundry aisle)
½ cup borax powder
Essential oil (optional)
You will also need a small bucket, about 2 gallon size

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan. Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. You can add any essential oils you want at this point. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel. You use ½ cup per load.

The finished soap will not be a solid gel. It will be more of a watery gel that has been accurately described as an "egg noodle soup" look.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Some of you may already know I am a bit of a shoe horse. I love getting new shoes. Especially some high heals that give a nice clicking sound when walking on hard wood. Must be left over from childhood somehow. Unfortunately my lifestyle right now can hardly be described as professional and so most shoe purchases beyond the basic tennis shoes are a little silly. Luckily, I do have a professional mother who also likes to buy new shoes and who sometimes decides that the shoes she just bought aren't going to work for her after all. Luckily again, she has the same shoe size as me (must be genetic). Below are my latest free shoes handed down from my mom. They are nice quality shoes that fit rather well. Hopefully someday soon I'll have an excuse to wear them.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The rest of this week's posts will highlight the advantages of developing a reputation as a thrifty person. (aka person who will take someone else's trash off their hands.) I often find that I am the recipient of other people's useful caste offs. Below is a picture of my medicine cabinet. If you notice a theme it is likely to be Mary Kay. My sister-in-law Stella recently got out of the business of selling Mary Kay and gave away her remaining inventory. Her loss is my gain as I have been enjoying this new influx of facial masks and creams. It is like being able to play at Sephora in your own bathroom. Stay tuned for more cast off treasures tomorrow.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Tribute to a fellow thrifter

My sister in law Kara has been an inspiration this week. I have been out of luck, but she has made a couple of great finds. Below is a child's rocking chair that she found at a garage sale for $5. Since Hannah is the only Shafer child at this point she was the lucky recipient.
Additionally Kara found this full bottle of Dreft stain remover on the side of the road and passed it on to us. What she didn't know was laundry pre-treatment was actually on my shopping list this week. Nice work Kara.

Kara will soon be searching for thrifty finds in Colorado so beware those of you in the Rockies. You will soon have some competition.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Baby Bargains

Note to all parents. Old Navy has some really good end of the season sales going on. I got three pairs of shorts for Hannah in the size she'll be in next summer for $.50 each. That's right $1.50 for three pairs of shorts. You couldn't get a better deal at a thrift store! Since I was there and had gotten such a good deal for Hannah I went ahead and picked up a couple of things for myself. Thereby negating the positive affects of my good deals. Oh well, you can't be thrifty all the time.

Free food (not as sketchy as it sounds)

Dan, Hannah and I were walking to the library yesterday and came across a rather surprising sight. We saw many people walking by holding 3 boxes of these Red Baron microwave paninis. It turns out there were some reps for the company who must have been tasked with handing out samples of this new food product. They clearly were being paid by the amount of boxes they could get rid of because they gave both Dan and I three each, along with anyone and everyone else who passed. Frankly I am surprised they didn't try to give some to Hannah. Now we realized this food product is not the height of fashionable dining, but every now and then it is nice to have a microwavable lunch option. Now we that option six times....actually that is way too many. We may have to pass a couple of these on.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cute little espresso cup

Here is a cute little espresso set I found at the Ballard Goodwill for $1.50. I love these little pieces of kitchenware. There is something so cute about a cup and matching saucer. Sort of like matching outfits for twins. This cup is marked with an FF (c) on the bottom, but my not too intensive internet search came up with nothing for this brandmark. Does anyone know what company that is from? In the meantime, I have a new cute little cup to enjoy. Too bad I don't drink espresso.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thrifty family fun

For those readers who may not know, my husband Dan is quite the biker. (He has actually biked across the country, but that is a story for another blog) He has tried to get me into biking for years but has pretty much admitted defeat. Lucky for him we now have another family member he can try to mold into a biker. Although it may seem like I am shamelessly using my blog to post cute pictures of my family there are actually relevant thrifty deals in the above picture.
1. The bike - my bike was stolen off the rack behind our apartment building. There is some debate between Dan and I as to whether or not it was actually locked up at all when it was stolen, but again I digress. This blue bike, pictured above, had been sitting unused with a flat tire for almost a year when Dan asked our building manager if he knew anything about it. It appeared to have been left behind by an old tenant. Dan reclaimed it, fixed the tire, gave it a quick tune up and I had a new bike for free.
2. Baby bike seat - a hand-me-down from JJ. Friendship is thrifty!
3. Baby bike helmet - found at goodwill for $2.
4. Bike basket - found out goodwill for $1 and fastened on with zip ties.
Total cost of family outing - $3. Recruiting another biker to the family - priceless.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Long time between posts means lots of finds

Well once again I find myself going too long between posts. I hate reading blogs that are always apologizing for not posting, but here I am doing it myself. Maybe this is a lesson about removing the speck from my own eye...Anyway, I did have some good finds last week. The best one was another trash find. I was taking out my recycling, ok actually I was digging through the recycling to find a paper bag to wrap a box in (I hate to admit that, but its the truth) and I found this cool stationary set:
It has an unused hand sewn journal and some paper and envelopes in a really nice box. Sort of hostess gifty. I grabbed it an under it was a printer cartridge still sealed in its box. I posted the printer cartridge and already sold it for $10. (so no pic) Its so weird. No one would throw away $10, why would they throw away something that so clearly could be used by someone else? Anyway, that is all my garbage finds for the week. Just to be clear, I don't dig through people's garbage to find all this stuff, it just seems to come to me. It does kind of make me wonder what I could find if I did dig though....

I found this votive candle holder at the Goodwill on Dearborn. It was pretty heavy, which is usually a good sign for quality. It had a name on it - Kosta Boda - which I had never heard of, but it was in great shape so I got it for $1.99. I came home and found out this normally sells for $40. I think I will try to sell it on Ebay.

And finally a totally random freebie. At the Fair this year they were giving out these "gardening gloves." They are camo and have a picture of a hunter on the label so they may actually be hunting gloves, but beggars can't be choosers right?
Well those were my blog worthy finds this week, but stay tuned, because I already have the rest of the weeks posts planned so they'll be more to read soon.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Slow week for thrifty finds

Well it has not been that amazing of a week for thrifty finds. However, no one wants to lose readers on their blog due to lack of posts so I decided just to post some of my moderately interesting finds so I can cross 'update blog' off my list of things to do.

Below is a new Creative Memories album I found for $1.99 at the Capitol Hill Value Village. For those of you who are not into scrapbooks, you should know Creative Memories is the brand that put scrapbooking on the map. They have really nice stuff that is supposed to last a long time. Anyway, this album has all 15 original pages and is in new shape, even though the plastic wrap has been removed. It is a nice smaller size one that would be good for a baby book. Which is my plan for it if it doesn't sell on Ebay.

Another Ebay find - a Chatsford teapot. Very cute. Very cheap ($.99 at Goodwill) Its already been bid on (so far its up to $7.99 with three days to go) so it should sell this week. Ebay is such a good excuse to buy stuff like this! I can't believe it took me so long to discover it.

Finally, another baby toy. This is just getting embarrassing. Listing all the stuff I buy for Hannah really shines a light on the extent of my baby shopping problem. (that's shopping to buy stuff for my baby, not to buy a baby, just to clarify) However its almost her birthday, so lets all just agree that it is a birthday gift.

So nothing too interesting, just run of the mill treasure someone else once called trash. Ok, thats one more thing off my to do list.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Free stuff again

This isn't really a blog about finding free stuff, but for some reason I keep coming across more and more free stuff these days. My guess is that it is garage sale season and people just leave the leftovers out with a free sign. Or maybe the impending start to school is making everyone want to get their lives organized and clear out extra space. Or maybe lots of people move in the fall. Or maybe I just have had a spell of good luck. It is hard to say. Whatever the case below are two pictures of today's good finds.

This is a Kelty backpack that appears to be in good condition. I don't know much about backpacks, but I know we have had this brand in our house before and it looked like a nice size, maybe even a woman's pack. It is a little dirty, but a good wipe down should clean all that up. If we decide we don't want it (let's face it how many backpacks do two people need, especially when one will only consent to backpacking twice a year at most) I will post it on ebay.

This is a full 28oz bottle of baby wash. Is it bad to wash your baby in something you found on the street? I vote no.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Not a good deal

Dan was taking out the garbage yesterday and spotted what he thought was a plan gray, new looking t-shirt in the dumpster. Since it was laundry day he grabbed it and threw it in the wash thinking he had just scored a good basic wardrobe addition. Unfortunately when I grabbed it out of the dryer we saw that it was not actually a plain gray t-shirt, but instead was the runner-up in the ugliest vacation t-shirt contest. Let this be a lesson to you about grabbing things out of the dumpster. Perhaps they are there for a reason.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Beginning of the month means more than just the rent is due

I have been waiting for the end of the month so I can blog about one of my favorite thrifty finds. Walgreen's has a great rebate program. I know rebates sound really lame and sort of retro, but you can really get good deals. I haven't bought a tooth brush is a long time, they always come up on rebate. Not to mention every new hair product seems to premier in the rebate catalog. Anyway, if you are up for the extra step of sending in your rebate form and waiting for a check it is a fun and cheap way to try new products.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pyrex fun

I love vintage pyrex. It is the most classic collectible as far as I am concerned. Plus there is a ton of it, it seems to last well and it can still be used exactly as it was intended to be used years ago. Besides who doesn't want to feel like a 50's housewife sometimes? The pyrex pictured above are my current mixing bowls and a couple of my casserole dishes. I usually can find these for $3-7, although I have gotten some pretty good deals. The blue casserole dish above was in the free basket at a garage sale. The white bowls with the red and orange pattern is among the most common pyrex I see out there. The pattern is called friendship, which is exactly what I would like to have with the person who designed this beautiful and useful kitchen tool. I recently found a small 1 quart casserole dish in this pattern for $2 at goodwill. The only catch with these dishes is that any lids often have disappeared into the ruins of history. If you happen to find a lid for a vintage pyrex casserole, buy it. I will reimburse you for it and give you a hearty thanks. Or you can keep it, put on your house dress and high heels, add a vintage apron and prepare a tasty roast beef dinner for your husband just like in the 50s.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Green tea for free

Ok my title is a little misleading since this is not about how to get free green tea, but who can resist a rhyme? Ever since discovering green tea lattes and frappuccinos at Starbucks I have been wondering how to make one at home. It can't be that hard right? Well I think today I have perfected the art of the homemade green tea latte. The one catch is that you have to go out an buy Macha or powdered green tea. I found it in bulk at my local natural foods market for $3.75 an ounce. Take the Macha and mix a good size teaspoon with about 8oz milk and mix well. You can warm up your milk first if you want to have a hot latte. Add a shot of vanilla syrup or if you must 2 teaspoons of sugar, although I warn you it is better with vanilla syrup. Add ice and serve. To me it is a dead ringer for Starbucks. If you want to make a frappuccino add a little extra sugar and blend in the blender. Enjoy these drinks before it gets too cold for them. (who wants frappuccinos or iced lattes in the rain?)

More kids stuff

Lets face it, it is fun to buy stuff for kids. My child is only 10 months old and I already buy her things like this wooden alphabet puzzle by Learning Resources. It is a really nice wooden puzzle with all the pieces. At least when I buy stuff like this I can say to myself "it is important for her not to just have a bunch of cheap plastic toys so I should pick up the nice wooden ones when I find them" or some other equally as weak justification. However this puzzle does retail new for $25 and I did only pay $3 for it at Value Village. Plus JJ who is three comes over a lot and he can use it in the meantime. Maybe I should really be saving all this good justification stuff for Dan who believes children should only have sticks and rocks and their imagination instead of posting it on my blog...

Good things come to those who wait

This cookbook might look fairly ordinary, but it was quite an exciting find for me. This is a great cookbook by the Mennonites that encourages people to cook with whole foods and locally grown in season produce. In other words it is a healthy cookbook which includes things like quinoa and barley. Before you discount it all together though, it has surprisingly good tasting recipes. My friend and neighbor Kris and I both try to cook this way as much as possible, much to the chagrin of our husbands. We end up trading this cookbook back and forth multiple times a week and sometimes multiple times in one day. I found this at my local Value Village for $2.99 today. It is in new shape without any signs of use. (Perhaps the former owner was turned off by its liberal use of leafy greens) It will be a gift for Kris so we can each enjoy our own copy. If you ever see one at your local thrift store I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Remember these?

I found the apple and the phone at Goodwill for $.99 each, the cash register at Value Village for $1.99
This was a little bit of a splurge at an antique shop. I think I paid $6.00 for it. Hannah really likes this one.

Or this?

Do you remember this toy? Or how about the other ones I posted above? I have all of a sudden gotten into nostalgic Fisher Price toys. It could be the recent birth of my offspring, who knows. Anyway, these toys now seem to scream out to me at thrift stores. I have the fondest memories of playing with my little people sets for long periods at a time. In my memory it was hours, but given children's attention span it could have actually been 15 minutes. Some can be found easily but more and more they are becoming rare. This activity center above I have seen once before, but that is it. It costs $1.99 at Goodwill. That is the good thing about these toys, thrift stores don't seem to realize that there is a growing number of people who are now collecting them so the prices remain pretty low. Now I have an excuse to buy these when I find them since they can be for Hannah or to sell on Ebay. The truth is though I buy them because they are disappearing and I want to hang on to a little bit of my childhood before it all ends up in the dump. So sad.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Household Goods

I realize this picture is almost impossible to make out, but my newly acquired blogging instinct says a post with a picture is better than a post without so I put it up anyway. For those of you without elf-like vision (that is a reference to Lord of the Rings for those who missed it) I will interpret. The above picture is a bag of 6 new Brita water pitcher filters with a $2.99 price tag. In other words, it is a picture of a very good deal. I am new to the world of water filters. It has really only been since my daughter Hannah was born that I began worrying about things like water quality and toxin leaching plastic food storage containers. The point is that I did not realize that water filters for these things can actually get fairly expensive. Sometimes more than $5 a piece. You're supposed to replace them every two months and despite my strong thrifty streak I decided if I was going to have one I needed to change the filter that often to keep it doing what is supposed to be doing. Anyway, today I found 6 filters for $3 which should last me at year. Here's to a year of mercury and other toxin free water!

Family Freebies

Dan and I often find ourselves walking through our lovely neighborhood and finding some freebies. Most of these freebies are not really worth picking up and are often referred to by others as 'trash.' However every now and then some thing good pops up. Our most recent finds are pictured above. Yesterday Dan found a pair of tennis shoes which he now considers his "new shoes." Some may be suspect of free shoes found on the side of the road, but not my husband. He embraced these shoes and welcomed them joyously into his closet. I was a little concerned, but so far his feet have yet to develop a nasty itch, so we'll count it as a blog worthy find!
I found a slightly less sketchy freebie walking through our neighborhood about 2 weeks ago. It is the very large canvas tote with blue accents pictured above. It is really solid and in good shape. Right now it is holding my latest batch of stuff to go to the thrift store, which seemed like the perfect use for a free bag. Lets hope for no itchy rashes all around!

Monday, August 6, 2007

An unintended good deal

Today I went to Starbucks to treat myself to a grande light green tea frappuccino, which if you have yet to try I would highly recommend. Anyway, I ordered my drink and sat down. When it was called it was actually a green tea latte, which also turned out to be delicious. I pointed this out to the hipster barista who proceeded to make a frappuccino instead. However he said the latte was just going to be thrown out so I might as well take it too. When my frappuccino came up he also included a certificate for a free drink next time I visit Starbucks. So as it turned out I got a delicious, if not entirely nutritious, meal out of my visit to Starbucks, plus an upcoming free drink. That makes three drinks for the price of one, which makes good thrifting sense. Unfortunately there is no way for me or anyone else to replicate this deal which makes this post entirely pointless so please free to ignore everything above.

Friday, August 3, 2007

A melancholy goodbye

This old cookbook is one of my all time favorite thrift store finds. I grew up cooking out of this book and when I first started getting into old cookbooks it was one of the first I looked for. Unfortunately it was then that I discovered that I am not the only person with a nostalgic streak. This old cookbook with its liberal use of shortening and processed cheese is actually highly coveted in the world of used merchandise. The first time I saw it at a thrift store it was actually in the hands of another woman who I followed around for the rest of her shopping journey to make sure she didn't put it down. I went home disappointed that day (and the women probably went home a little frightened), but I did manage to find it again. Actually I have found it three times again and have bought it three times. (once for only 1$) Now I think it is time to let go of some of my extra copies of this great thrift store find so today I added one to Ebay and passed one on to my mom whose copy has long since disintegrated. In the face of this goodbye I thought I would dedicate a blog entry to this beautiful thrift store find and cookbook nostalgia in general. A moment of silence please..............thanks.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Treasure in the neighborhood trash

Today I got a free Maclaren Techno XT stroller. "How does one accomplish such a task?" you may ask yourself. Well last night Dan and I were coming home from a great party at the top of Smith Tower. (Don't worry we will still want to be your friend even after hanging out with the design elite) On the way home we passed the local WIC office across the street and I saw this Maclaren stroller outside just sitting there. I thought, "wow that is a nice stroller to be sitting out at 10:30 in the middle of nowhere." Today I was walking by the aforementioned WIC office and noticed that the stroller was now out back next to the dumpster. I decided if it was still there on my way home I would take it. Really, it seemed like bad form to let such a great thing be added to the landfill. Anyway, it was still there on my way home so I grabbed it and managed to get two strollers home all by myself, one of which held a rather tired baby. I figured someone must have wanted to donate it to the WIC office, but didn't bother to find out if those people take donations first. That is the story I am telling myself anyway. I am pretty sure I didn't steal it, but I realized as I was walking away that I could possible be doing just that. Who knows, maybe someone thought the dumpster was a good place to store a $300 stroller? I wiped it down with disinfectant when we got it home and I have to say it looks and works great. Sturdier and nicer than our current stroller plus I look more like the cool urban mom I aspire to be. Dan said he thought it had a little funk to it when he was taking Hannah for a walk, but it turned out that our baby just needed a diaper change. I have to say this definitely counts as my best find this month.
PS - Sorry about the wonky picture layout. I guess I am not a computer programmer.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Tomatoes everywhere

Dan and I went to Yakima last weekend for a quick vacation without Hannah, who stayed with her grandparents for the night. We had a great time wine tasting and road tripping together and we came home with a very large amount of produce. It seemed like a good idea while we were there and I've always enjoyed canning. However now we're in the middle of this canning project that is threatening to overtake the kitchen and our very lives. It is a lot of work to peel and chop 40 pounds of tomatoes, there is just no denying that. So far we have 7 pints of salsa (minus one that was dropped on the deathly tile floor on the way to its home in the closet), 6 pints of basic tomato sauce, 3 quarts of pizza sauce, 8 quarts of pickles (which, by the way, we go through at a current rate of 1 jar per year), a very messy kitchen and a full cupboard. I still have half of our 40 pounds of tomatoes to go too. Guess what you may get in your stocking this year.