Frugal Fall Decor - 2014

Before Halloween is here and gone, here is a look at my 2014 Frugal Fall decor.  Warning- This post is picture heavy.

The Mantle
I finally did the bean decor so often suggested by home decor magazines/Pinterest. I used red lentils (which are actually orange), white navy beans and yellow canary beans to arrange a candy corn layered look.  New purchases:  The wire wall hanging was an estate sale purchase and I splurged on remote control LED candles I found at Costco (I bought them at full price only to have the coupon come out in the next month's circular).  Everything else is from my decor stash.
Close-up of the layered beans.  Next time, I will get 2 bags of each bean.
Kitchen Table Display
I experimented with using material, a Goodwill Outlet (GWO) find, as a tablecloth and I am not sure I will use that same material again (a bit busy).  The only non-frugal item is the hand-painted oversize plate I created at a paint-your-own-pottery store.
Close-up of the candy corn ceramic server trio
Normally, you would lay the candy corn pieces flat into the black plate, but I decided to switch it up.  Add in some decorative candles and beads/spiders found on clearance at Barnes and Noble and viola!
Wire basket "spider web" and string lights courtesy of GWO.
Photo frame using vintage Halloween cards.
Foyer display
I have to laugh whenever I look at this. I bought this hall tree for use as a focal point in our foyer and to display seasonal decor. Silly me thought I would be the sole decorator. Well, the boys have other plans.  While being the messiest display in one of the most prominent spots in the house, it is a reflection of how my boys share in my love of decorating for the seasons. By the way, this is just one of their decorating spots. I have numerous Halloween themed originals taped to our walls all throughout the house. 
My favorite display
I had a lot of fun with this display.  I turned an ordinary birdhouse into a haunted house, used previous years Halloween cards in themed frames and used apothecary jars to "capture" the paint-your-own-pottery ghosts I made for my sons years ago.
Ordinary birdhouse (thrifted, of course)
Haunted House complete with LED candle to illuminate the skeleton.


Facebook Frugal Finds - Land of Nod

I am guilty of loving those Pottery Barn and Land of Nod catalogs where everything is "just so" with the beautiful wood furnishings and well appointed rooms.  How I wished I could justify buying anything from those catalogs. I knew, deep down, that if I bought any furnishings from Pottery Barn Kids or Land of Nod, I would be cringing after each innocent and not-so-innocent scratch. I grew up in a house where scratching a piece of furniture was frowned upon because 1) furniture is not cheap you know, and 2) the item would be FOREVER ruined. Sigh.

Well, I had the chance to live like the catalog people when a Facebook seller posted this Land of Nod table and chair set. 
In the above picture, you can't see the numerous scratch marks on the table top, legs and chairs, but there are plenty, all of which the seller disclosed. I was okay with the scratches, because, I didn't have to worry about my kids "ruining" the furniture. The item was already distressed and for $35 I am completely okay with my kids adding their own scratches and marks.
Close-up of the scratches galore!
Close-up of the cool under table/chair storage feature.

I realize this is a very used item, but for $35 I still consider the find a steal!  Check out the current retail prices for these items:
 Bin Table - $199
Storage Chair - $75
So, if I bought these items new from Land of Nod, my cost would be $380 (includes delivery and tax) and let's be honest, I would have scratches on the furniture within days of arrival. Meanwhile, I got all three items for less than 15% of the retail price and now my kids' scratches will just blend in with the furniture.


Thrifty Fall Decor Sneak Peek

After several boring hours of reviewing propane and electricity rates to find our family some cost savings in 2014 and beyond, I remembered I had promised my son we would decorate for Halloween after school today. 

Even though I wasn't quite in the decorating mood when he got home, I rallied and developed some fun scenes. Every year, I challenge myself to create new "scenes" using old and new thrift finds.

Here is a sneak peak of one area in our family room:

Of course, most everything here was bought on the thrift:
1) Apothecary jars - Bed Bath & Beyond Store Closing
2) White/Black pebbles - Halloween clearance
3) Ghost plates - made those at a paint-your-own pottery place.  Not thrifty at all.
4) Halloween frames - Kohl's Halloween Clearance (something like 75% off), the mummy is a bulletin board item bought when a educational supplies store was closing and the "boo" picture is a card front from last year's Halloween card stash.
5) Wooden birdhouse decorated with Dollar Store plastic bugs. I bought the birdhouse at either the Goodwill Outlet or on a Facebook page.  I used a remote control LED candle in the house for the backlit effect. More about the remote control candles in another post (LOVE).
Before: Classic Birdhouse
After: Haunted Birdhouse
A little bit more work to do before the 2014 Fall Decor Reveal in an upcoming post.  Stay tuned.


Produce Auction Experience

Today, I attended my first produce auction courtesy of Oxford Produce Auction in Oxford, PA.  I heard about the auction through some friends I met via Facebook and have been following their experiences via their posts on the local Facebook group they created.

At these auctions, it is all about large quantities, so it is helpful to have a few fellow bidders with you so that you can share the bounty.  One of my fellow bidders was Jen from Crafty Coupon Clipping Mom.  We became friends via her blog/Facebook page when she ran a contest and I won a free coupon lesson.  Jen has attended the produce auction several times and was our go-to person when deciding price thresholds, expectations, etc.  The other people who joined me today were women I had met via my local moms club several years ago and a mutual friend of theirs from their MOPS group.  Everyone is connected in some way in this small community.

Now, I got there right as the auction opened at 9am; however, I now know I can wait to arrive until 10, 10:30.  Why?  The first auctions are the drive-thru auctions where the sellers drive their wagons through and buyers bid by the wagon load.  These buyers are the local flower markets, specialty stores, etc (Milburn Orchards is one) where buying wagon loads is a business necessity.

The group of us surveyed the lots and decided, dependent on the price, we would split the following produce buys:

1) Pumpkins
2) Zucchini
3) Sweet potatoes
4) Mums

Well, of all the lots, I ended up purchasing a lot of 15 large pumpkins for $2 each.  You see, when you are bidding, the auctioneer is announcing the cost of the individual item or box or pallet.  At first, I found it hard to understand the prices, but quickly found my footing.  It was bit of a high when I won the $2 bid and when I won the bid, I had the choice of buying all 3 lots or just 1.  I only purchased the one lot, but in hindsight, I should have purchased at least two and sold a bunch to my friends.  Before I even left, I had sold 7 of the pumpkins and I have an additional 4 spoken for, leaving me with 4 nice pumpkins for our porch.  The 4 pumpkins I chose and paid just $8 for, would have cost me close to $30-35 at a local pumpkin patch, without a doubt.

While I did bid on zucchini, raspberries, and sweet potatoes, I didn't take any home.  The prices weren't bad, but just not in the range I was comfortable with for the volume.  For instance, the zucchini sold for $10 a box.  Now, there were probably at least 20 nice sized zucchini's in each box, but I wasn't convinced that others would pay that price to split with me.  Remember, this is my first time, so I have a lot to learn. Also, I know my limitations, I am not currently into canning; however, I may need to learn if it means saving a lot of money.  Something to ponder, for sure.

Finally, sometime after 11am, the mums were up for auction.  Our group decided that the highest we would go was $2.50 a plant.  By the time the mum auction was nearly at a close, I was willing to go to $3.25, but was outbid each time.  While, the $3.25 - $3.75 per plant is still a very good price for these mums, I wasn't ready to commit to buying 6-9 plants when I know these same mums were sold for as little as $1.50 each just earlier in the week.  

Overall, I liked the experience and I look forward to my next trip, which may just be tomorrow!

An auction in progress.
This lot of pumpkins (each weighing over 100 lbs) sold for just $7 each.
I bid on these, but chickened out when the price went past $3.25 each.  I hope to see them again next visit, because I would love these in my yard.
My $2 pumpkins (only 4 are mine).


JBF Finds

Yesterday, I shopped the JBF consignment sale.  I must admit, I am a little rusty shopping these big sales on Public Sales days.  Not that pre-sales aren't busy, but for a Thursday morning, 9am, there were a lot more shoppers than I expected.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quantity of size 5T boys, even though, thankfully I didn't need to buy anything.  I did scan the racks for two things:  1) Valentines Day shirt and 2) Christmas themed pjs (I realized that while I have a lot of pjs, I only have 1 set of Christmas pjs).  I did find some Valentine's Day shirts, but they were priced higher than I wanted to pay, so the search for that item will continue another day. I did find a set of Christmas pjs for $4, which was the lowest priced, decent condition I found.

Moving onto size 6/7 (future size shopping), I gasped out loud at some of the prices - $25 for a snow jacket, $10 for jeans, etc. I guess consignors feel that these sizes warrant higher price tags because boys are traditionally hard on their clothes and there are fewer available for resale. I did find two pairs of adjustable waist jeans (required for us), in good condition, one for $5 (Cherokee brand - eh) and one for $5.50 (Old Navy -eh, again). Not fantastic brands, but I put them in my bag, to ponder. I also found a Scooby Doo Shirt and Children's Place sweat pants for $7. 

In the toy section is where the crowd was starting to irk me.  I am all for people taking their items aside to review, but there were people positioned in front of the toy racks, going through their bags.  A bit discourteous, I think. Now, I am going to sound awful saying this, but people with strollers were driving me nuts.  Why? Because, there were no kids in them. The shoppers were using them as carts. Maybe it was a sign, I should leave toys, but I soldiered on, only to find a few items worth my money:  two Matchbox playsets ($6 each), a Joker car with figure ($4), a bag of Sesame Street racer cars ($2), and a Little Einsteins bath toy rocket car with figures ($2.50), which I threw out because when I opened it at home, I found mold in the crevices. These thing happen, right? 

Anyway, I couldn't help thinking how I could find, and have found, most of the toys on those racks at the Goodwill Outlet, for pennies on the dollar. Seriously. I have to admit, my thrift experience, makes it hard to for consignors to get my business, but for other non-experienced shoppers, some of those prices were bargains.

After the toys, I glanced at the shoes, but quickly moved onto the Mommy Mart where consignors can unload their unwanted decor and household items.  This section is always good for a laugh.  I am always amazed when consignors put breakables on the shelves without protective packaging.  I saw one breakable meet its end when it fell off a shelf and crashed into many pieces (not at my hands, mind you).  You can find some decent deals here and more so, on 1/2 price day.  While the items I chose were eligible for 1/2 price day, I decided to purchase them that day.  The discount day is on Sunday and I think our family will have plans. 

I found a few things for the house and for the boys room/bath. Here are the two items I found for the boys room/bath.  I think this may be a record in that I actually hung up the decor within 24 hours of purchasing. Yay, me!
Metal sign - $4
Set of Pier 1 wooden/metal wall decor - $5
Overall, I think I did fairly well shopping this sale.  I only shopped a few areas: clothes, toys, dvds, and Mommy Mart.  I couldn't deal with the chaos of the books and games. I get a tinge of anxiety looking at the mounds of books in disarray, piles on top of piles.  Are you feeling it?  I am feeling it again just thinking about it.  After two hours, I was finished and thankfully, I had won a Fast Pass (go to the head of the line) from a JBF contest, so I didn't have to wait another 20-30 minutes in line. 

I will admit, I spent more than I expected and did end up buying those two pairs of jeans. I am trying to forgive myself for such a serious lack of frugal judgement. I will blame it on the crowds, being tired from little sleep the night before, and being overheated (all that body heat in there). While I did edit my bag before heading to check-out, the fatigue set in and I just decided whatever was left in the bag was coming home with me.  I stayed too long. 

I can't be too hard on myself. After all, I got 20 items (not including the item I threw out) for under $3.50 each.