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10/24/14

The Foyer Project - Buffet Purchase

I have been on a mission to warm up our foyer.  I know a new paint job is in the future, but until then, I have been adding pieces to bring about some umph! to the space.  We held off on decorating this space because it just wasn't a priority while we were raising our twin infants into toddlers into preschoolers. Now that the boys are the ripe ol' age of 5, I've decided to start The Foyer Project. 

The Foyer Project has four components:
1) Remodel or Not
2) Wall Decor
3) Furnishings
4) Painting

Remodel or Not
For a short period of time, we entertained converting our two story foyer into a loft space (we couldn't convert it into a full bedroom). I have never been a fan of the two-story foyers. I know, I am in the minority. We invited five contractors into our home to take measurements and return with estimates.  Of the five, we received one estimate many weeks later. Beyond the annoyance of not hearing back from the other four after several weeks of waiting, we lost interest in the project.  When we finally received an estimate, although the price was fair and expected, we realized the project was wrought with what ifs:
 
What if the actual cost far exceeded the estimate?
What if the remodel process caused more disruption than we want to accept?

What if the loft hurts resale value?

After more discussion, my husband and I decided to embrace the two story foyer and finally decorate it like we live here. 

Wall Decor
I have been on a mission to find artwork for the HUGE wall space.  Seriously, the space is a bit overwhelming to fill. I have been to several estate sales, garage sales, consignment sales, shopping Facebook yard sale pages and paging through Pinterest boards.  I found several pieces to work with and the next step is to lay it all out to plan the placement.

Painting
Once we finalize the artwork, we will then choose a new paint color to complement.  Our current paint color is just too pale for the amount of light the foyer receives.  A deeper color will bring warmth to the space.

Furnishings
Finally, a few more furnishings (furniture and rug) will help to bring the eye down and possibly create a cozy feel in the big space. 

Today, I purchased a buffet off a Facebook yard sale page.  The seller said it was a refinished piece from the 1960s.  While that was nice to know, I was happy with the price and, while it was apparent the piece had some flaws (not a professional refinish as well as scratches), the top of the buffet was scratch free. At the exchange, I inspected the piece which led the seller to lower the price a few dollars.  I accepted the lower price and glad I did.  As it was loaded into the car, I noticed a crack on one of the doors. 
I have to admit, I didn't buy it specifically as part of the project.  I bought it because I wanted a place to store my shoes/socks and winter head/hand gear for me and the kids.  The hall closet setup was no longer working for me. Yes, I bought this buffet for my shoes, socks, mittens and hats!  I was a bit unsure of the purchase because I didn't know if my husband would be on board with it.  I finally confessed to him I was buying it (usually I just surprise him) and he didn't say too much about it. I always add, "You know that if it doesn't work, I will just resell it." Happily, when he saw it in the foyer, he agreed with the purchase.  Another added bonus, the top of the buffet is yet another place to decorate for the seasons.  Ha!
Now, there are some marks on one of the doors and even though I attempted to "fix" the scratches with a furniture pen, I was unsuccessful.  There was a very slight improvement, but still the scratches are visible.  I must be becoming more relaxed as I age, because I am not so bothered by the flaws.  As with my flaws, the scratches give the buffet character.
I think all I need is a decorative rug and we'll be finished with the furnishings.  Ah, feels good to be making progress.

10/17/14

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.

10/16/14

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.


9/29/14

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.


9/25/14

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).