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Blog: The Thrifty Dollhouse

I'm a doll hobbyist, so expect some tightwad doll tips in here ! Also some yard sale/thrift store score bragging, and some general 'what I did today'. Kinda boring, but I'm game if you are !


Went nuts at the Thrift and discounted Christmas displays...
Monday, January 05, 2009

My, oh, my. I've gone all year (grin) not buying anything for my crafts or more doll stuff, but I blew it big time today. Luckily, I didn't spend more than $25. total - and that included some groceries !

Stopped by Mal-Wart today, and got the water jugs refilled. We often buy their house-brand water for cooking - the well water is a bit worrisome. When the jugs are emptied, I have them refilled, for 33c each. Versus 67c new, it's not a bad savings.

The Christmas stuff was 75% off, so I got two Cars photo frame ornaments for Dearest Son ($5.88, down to $1.47 !), two Disney Princess ornament frames for me ($7.50, now $1.87), a pack of egg nog mix mostly for the tiny attached whisk ($1.25, down from $5.), and a package of unbreakable copper-colored ornaments, also at $1.25. Beloved Hubby's favorite color is orange, and he's complained before that there's never any orange ornaments. Wait 'til he sees these babies next year ! I'm thinking of customizing a few, too.

From there, I hit the thrift. Found a beanie-style American Airlines airplane toy for 50c, and a near-new Sparkle Gem Princess Belle doll, packaged with a Ken in a Beast costume, $3.99. I bought Sparkle Gem Snow White there last month ! Both dolls had their hair still in the factory set, with the clear elastics still in place. On the shelves, they were about $14. each !

After that, I visited Dollar Tree. They finally had the emergency candles back in stock, so I got a box - 10 for a buck, and they're great ! Each winter my feet resemble hooves, so I got a sander. Ick. I also scored a set of 6" by 9" magnetic sheets and some glass 'Accent Gems'.  One of the magnet sheets and the glass gems are for a craft project. If it works, I'll write it up here ! The other magnet sheet is gonna block the rusted-open vent over my sewing machine. Depending on the season, I either freeze or roast when I sew, so the magnet sheet should block the air flow somewhat.

From there, it was across the street to Walgreen's - they had milk and Progresso soup on sale, and I even had a coupon ! Also got a tiny, light up 'squish ball' snowglobe with a Cinderella figure inside. Also 75% off - for 50c, one of my doll's display shelves just got a new curio !

Came home to a lunch of leftovers, and finished the dishes. I let that job go waaaay too long ! Got the trash out, and I'll begin dinner soon. While it's cooking, I'll get the dishes put away. It's so nice to have a clean kitchen again !

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Thanks, Mods ! A short note...
Sunday, January 04, 2009

We all appreciate all you do to keep Thrifty Fun - and My Frugal Life - as positive and uplifting a place as possible. Thanks for dumping those spam-sellers and their bad ads for us. Goss, I hate it when those misguided (string of expletives deleted by DorrieBelle) use something nice for their own gains.

Know that our thoughts are still with you as you continue on, for Susan.

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How's your first weekend of '09 treating you...?
Sunday, January 04, 2009

Hope everyone had a great first weekend of 2009 ! I spent New Year's Eve happily sewing a doll dress I cut out in August, but never progressed it beyond that. Well, clear the decks, as they say...

Only problem was, I've taken most of 2008 off from sewing, minus some holiday projects. So my doll clothes sewing skills were rusty to the extreme ! Took me over an hour to complete two simple hems successfully. Yikes. In an effort to keep my hands busy - and out of the fridge and snack cabinet ! - I'm challenging m'self to sew something new once a week, using a pattern I've never used before. I started a similar challenge for my Barbie-size dolls last year, but I was trying to sew something every day, and it just got to be too much.

So I think once a week will be good for me. One other thing it'll keep me out of - the dreaded eBay ! Was nosing around, 'just looking', earlier in the week when I found a gorgeous Barbie-scale pattern book. Sure, it was in Japanese, but I already have several, and their directions are profusely illustrated, so ya don't really need to know the language to get a good result.

Only problem was, we're broke. Oh, sure, I probably could have squeeeeezed out the then-$14. bid out of the grocery budget, but... who knows what we'd have to cut because of it ? So I didn't bid... and it closed at $25. anyway. I was kinda proud of me for not giving in.

Day after New Year's, I typed up an index to my Barbie Pattern Catalog. Two summers ago, I printed out images of every sixth-scale pattern I owned, so I could leaf through them for ideas. Used the library printers for much less than my printer would have cost, too. But I never made an index.

Color me surprised to learn that the Catalog was over 225 pages of patterns ! And at least four individual outfits per page - some have more, others less - that's a serious body of potential sewing ! And most I've never touched beyond scanning it. Well. I updated it with the fifteen new patterns that weren't in the Catalog, and thanked Everything again that I hadn't gone after that Japanese book.

Y'know what's really sad ? The Pattern Catalog *doesn't* include my computer software patterns, or any of the patterns I have for my other dolls - like my Tonner pair, Timey Tell and Hi Dottie, the My Size Barbies, the LIttle Disney Princesses, Beautiful Crissy, the miniature dolls, or the rest !

So, as with fabric or anything else, the cure for wanting something new is to go through what you already have ! If your stashes are at all like mine, that'll take all day, and you won't have time to shop !

Sometimes, it is such a relief to be broke...

Oh, and here's a photo of the doll dress I made from the Japanese pattern book I already have -

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Anybody else tired of all the blog spam ?
Monday, December 29, 2008

Just wondering. I know the staff has their hands full (rest in comfort and peace, Susan !), but does anyone know how to get rid of the weight loss, battery, purse, and other useless, ad spam deadweight ?

And if you, heaven help, ARE ad spam deadweight, could you please bug out and take your useless consumer crud with you ? No one here's gonna waste money on your garbage ! That's kind of why we're here, ya dolts ! Go find folks who routinely buy new cell phones, worship crap-azz designer purses, and body-obsess and leave us alone !

growlmutterwhineb*tch....

 

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The two-day Son room-cleaning has begun...
Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'm constantly amazed at how much an 8-year-old can completely demolish a room ! I mean, I knew Dearest Son's room was a pile, but I had no idea it was that bad...

So, as we do every year, we make a family effort out of cleaning his room together, just before Christmas. That way, we can ditch some broken stuff, get rid of some hidden trash, and he'll have a nice, clean room to play in, with his new holiday swag. I confess, I let it get away from us, and our ideas of what makes up a clean room vary quite a deal...

New rule for the last two months has been, before bedtime and a story, he has to put away all the toys he's dragged out during the day. My idea of 'put toys away' is for him to put all the Lego in one of the two put-aside-for-Lego bins, all the cars in the car box, etc.

His idea of 'put toys away' is 'throw everything in one toybox or another, or just dump it in the closet, or under the bed'. It sort of backfired on him when I noticed his underbed bins didn't fit under the bed anymore, and his closet doors didn't work well, either. And the toyboxes were overflowing. And last Thursday, he got the idea that his bookcase would be better utilized to hold toys, so he dumped out all his books into a huge floor-pile, and left them there.

It was Beloved Hubby's turn to read to him that night, so I didn't notice until he was at his grandparents' house for the weekend. So, we took two hours today and we'll turn in some more time on it tomorrow, and that should have his room back to human habitational standards. I might even be able to vacuum !

Other than that, I decided to make calendars this year. Normally, I buy 'em half-price a few days after New Year's, but this year, I haven't found any I liked at any price. I really liked one I got last year, so I'm printing new 'month grids' for it, and attaching them with small, decorative clips.

I really need one for my desk in the Office, but my old PrintMaster Gold software is too old to run on my Vista computer. And even though printing programs are cheap, why spend even $10. I don't have to ? Looked up 'Calendar maker' online, and soon had two different ones for Jan. and Feb., using two different sites and my own images.

I really like this one - bighugelabs.com/flickr/calendar.php - because I got a huge print of my image, long as I remembered to click 'top/left' on the Keep This Part of My Photo Visible' dialog. It allowed me to save and print it using any protocol I liked with my own printer and copy of PaintShopPro. Very nice.

For a more basic calendar, www.printablecalendar.ca/ had more options - typing in your own holidays, changing sizes and sheet layouts, and enabling you to print up to 48 of 'em in Word format. In fact, you only download the calendar part, you do the customization in Word on your own.

From there, I pinned up a document protector and fitted both calendars inside. The January one has a bit of ribbon stapled to it, so it's easy to lift out, write on, and slide back in. I love customizing my own calendars - the images mean more to me than generic kittens and artistically decaying barns, or even the cheap ones at Dollar Tree. It probably costs more to print my own than buy a 99c one, but it's cheaper than buying a $12. one at half-price !

 

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OK, I think I'm done with yard sales this year...
Saturday, December 20, 2008

Woke up kinda early today, with a short list of things to do. Craigslist had an ad for a yard sale this morning, and I eagerly wrote the address down, and mapped it from my door to theirs with Google. The sale started at 8am, but it was 9 before I left the house. Plenty of time to get things set up, I thought.

Nope. When I got there, there were a few boxes of clothes and some stuffed animals and baby furniture out, but that was it. Rows of empty tables swayed in the wind. For whatever reason, the folks hosting the sale hadn't brought much out - and it was a today-only sale.

The seller asked me what I was looking for, so I told her 'boys' clothes, size 8 or so, and dolls'. She hauled out another box, and it was boy's clothes - mostly 4T, much too small for Dearest Son. I never knew what happened to the dolls she had advertised, because they never made an appearance. This happened earlier this year at another sale - the ad made much of the many, many toys that'd be there, but not one was visible. When I asked, I was told they'd decided to not sell toys after all. Oookay...but I wouldn't have gone if I'd have known they were only selling toasters and blenders and baby clothes !

Well, I felt bad for them and stupid for dragging my wide butt halfway across town for a washout sale, so I selected the one shirt that might fit Dearest, and a stuffed animal in a dress that might fit one of my dolls - $5., I was told. Um. Bit pricey, but I was ready to leave already. And, guess what, the seller had no change at all. None. Not even for a $10. bill. Her husband was placing signs, and should be back any minute...

I waited for ten, with her kids watching my every movement. I have no idea why I was so interesting to them. Seller and her mother were in and out of the house every minute or so, sadly bringing nothing new outside, but the kids stayed and watched me like hawks. I finally had to put my selections down and offer apologies. I probably should have bought a coffee from a nearby quickie-mart and gone back for the shirt and stuffed animal, but by the time I got back into the truck, I was cold and only wanted out of there. And I realized I didn't really want the items, I just wanted the transaction over and done with.

Stopped by Target, like an idiot, and claimed the first parking space I saw. It was some distance from the store, but safer than cruising the lot. I was at the door when I saw the car behind me loop around for another pass at a closer space. Good Luck with that !

It was a zoo in there. I got the now-ridiculously priced rice cracker mix I came for - it used to be $5.50, now it's $8., won't be buying that anymore ! - and a set of markdown chopsticks for Beloved Hubby, and markdown white cheddar popcorn seasoning for me. Wandered around a bit while dazed folks with half-full shopping carts tried to figure out what Billy and Suzie really wanted. I was soo glad I wasn't Christmas shopping !

Last weekend, we did our annual DVD 'inventory', and we each pulled a pile of movies we didn't watch or want anymore. Hastings here buys used media, so I took our selections there to trade in. We got $38. in store credit for our 12 discs - yaaay ! Several were bought at yard sales for pocket change !

I got the 20th Anniversary two-disc copy of A Christmas Story we'd been planning on buying, for $20. Since we don't have cable, or even broadcast TV, we don't get the 24-hours of it next week. And I wanted to see the bonus features. Also scored a Wall-E coloring book and a Tale of Despereaux storybook for Dearest as small gifts, at $4. each. And we still have over $7. in credit ! I love shopping that doesn't involve spending money !

From there, I hit Big Lots. Whoo. Was that place crowded ! It was as bad as Target, and I should have known, it being the last Saturday before Christmas ! Wandered all over, and overheard the worst thing I've listened to all year. Allow me to set the stage with the cast and settings...

A couple was looking at various toys, and Mom (presumably) had chosen a pink princess dress-up set. She was telling (presumably) Dad that their daughter (I guess) would love this set, especially the fake nails. Dad inquired how the nails stayed on, and Mom told him they came with double-sided tape. Dad avocated gluing them on with stronger stuff, but Mom objected, saying, and I quote for your amusement, "You are NOT using super-glue on our three-year-old's fingers !". Oi.

I decided I'd had enough, and clutching the gingerbread cookies my guys like, headed to the registers. Got behind a 'savvy' shopper who wanted to debate the price of everything she bought, and she had a cartload. Somehow, she'd find the one shirt marked $4., and ask if the others like it, marked $6., were the same price as the other one. When they weren't, she had to debate whether or not to buy the rest, and the cashier just had to stand and wait 'til she did. And so did the rest of us.

She'd done that four times, and three times put it all back, shoving the rejects into the snack display area in front of the register, and doing the same thing with the next items - thermals, candles, candy, toys, you name it. I was about to give up and put the cookies back when they opened another register, and I got through while the lifetime shopper was bedeviling the cashier with another find, I think it was a blanket - and there was still stuff in her cart, awaiting its turn on her bizarre version of  'Is the Price Right ?'.

I'm all for finding the deals and asking questions, but not with a cartload of stuff at noon on the Saturday before Christmas at the only open register !

At least I got to spend quality time with a beloved movie and rice crackers when I got home. About all I need to do is wrap Dearest's presents, and Christmas is done ! Luckily, the rest of the family decided two years ago to not exchange gifts, just visit for a while. It's made the holidays so much nicer !

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School Party and eBay fun...
Friday, December 19, 2008

Today was Dearest Son's last school day before holiday vacation. I'd been asked to help with the classroom party, and I needed to distribute all the star ornaments I made yesterday. So after a quick lunch, I was on my way.

It was my original idea to just stand the stars up in my boot box, let folks choose their own. But Beloved Hubby thought it'd be nicer to have 'em wrapped, and I agreed with him. I'd already put aside two for the busdriver and monitor, and luckily, Dearest brought home two holiday-themed lunch bags from various school projects. I reused them this morning, adding cookies and candy canes. No one seems to remember the bus personnel.

I made a special red glitter one for his teacher. The rest were gold (8), green (8), and black (4) - basically what I had left from other projects and yard sale finds. The red glitter felt was a small bit left from his pre-k days - I made a stocking for each class member, four years ago. Luckily, the wrapping paper - another yard sale find, this time from a Free box - was already in the house.

So I wrapped them and camouflaged the box my boots came in with foil. Nothin' says 'Christmas' like a shoe box in aluminum foil. Left a bit early so I could hit the Thrift. Found several things I liked, but with mostly pocket change in my wallet, I decided on the wicker doll sofa, 75c plus tax. I am such a sucker for those things...

On to the fun part of the day ! It only took me a half-hour to get my little surprises distributed. I even had a few extras to share ! And I got the custodian - last year, I couldn't find her. For such a small thing, I got many thanks and smiles. Our librarian was especially happy with hers - since her daughter had been the Star of Bethlehem this year, she wore a yellow felt costume ! So this was an especially nice keepsake for her. I'd been feeling 'gift inadequacy' tremors on the way to school - but afterward, I was really glad I did it.

The party was fun, although few parents contributed. Seriously. Out of a class of eighteen, only half sent anything at all - and three of us were putting on the party ! What really ranks is that last year, it was even worse. We had candy canes, Doritos, drinks, and cookies, that was all. Beyond the homeroom parents, m'self included, only two contributed. Sad.

We stored the leftover candy, treats, and plates in the boot box - from where we had extra, but not enough to give out to the whole class. His teacher can use the stuff for rewards later. I ended up leaving the box there - and the better lid I picked out is still in the car ! 

Once home, I found that my eBay shipment had arrived. Whoo-hoo ! Thanks to simply knowing what she looked like, I scored a rare Little Mermaid 2  "Melody" doll - for $2.99 ! Plus $9. shipping. I hate shipping. Anyway. Last Sunday, out of boredom, I was looking up 'Barbie under $5.75' on eBay, and this auction came up. I cross-referenced a few online photos to confirm, and yes, that's Melody ! I'd been kind of wanting one for a while, being a big Disney doll fan, but there was no way I was payin' the going rate. "Melody" tends to go for around $60. out of box and usually nude. This one had her 'blouse and bloomers', at least. An hour later, I won with my opening bid and paid.

But that wasn't all. I also collect 'Midge' dolls, and here was 'Slumber Party Midge', who didn't show up well in the photo. I didn't have her - or the Surf City Kira. I couldn't tell from the auction photo who she was, so it was great to have her, too.

The rest were generic blonde dolls in 'meh' clothes, but I got more out of the shipment than I thought I would. The Dollar Tree doll, the Butterfly Art Barbie, the two DTree Kelly clones, and four other dolls will be cleaned up and donated. One doll's too badly damaged to donate, so I'll do a head-swap with a better body from the Experiments box. I always keep a few wrecked dolls around for hair and body trials.

And there's a yard sale tomorrow ! Wish me luck !

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The 'gift' of being broke... at Christmas.
Thursday, December 18, 2008

Spent a good chunk of this afternoon making school gifts. When you have a slightly autistic son in public school, there are so many folks who help him – and you ! – that you wanna say ‘thanks !’ to them all… but who can afford 15+ gifts ?

 

Last year, I bought Lucite wedding favor shoes (using 40% off Hobby Lobby coupons) and made sand-filled pincushions, complete with a matching drawstring bag for giftwrap and pins and needles. I made 24, and gave them all out within a half-hour. I used small scraps from my fabric stash, packaged ribbon from yard sales, and silk bows and rosebuds bought both on sale and secondhand in package. All I had to buy were the shoes and sand, and I even got mileage out of the sand – instead of buying craft sand, I bought playground sand. When crafts were done, the leftovers were used for catboxes and front porch steps in ice storms. All told, we spent less than two days and less than $10. in cash for over twenty gifts. I was pretty proud.

 

Well, we’re doing OK so far this year, but this week, there simply is no ‘extra’ cash for that. Or anything. And, of course, school is out Friday. I’d about reconciled m’self to making something for Dearest Son’s teacher and that would be that, but I still felt kinda down about the whole thing. Then I remembered. Felt star ornaments ! The school motif is stars, and I had a wire ornament I could trace on a cardboard box for a pattern. Lots of felt in the stash, along with ribbon for hangers, and I’ve had several great thread scores at yard sales this year. Fiberfil, too. And if I hauled my backside off the computer and into the Lab, I could make a prototype, and if it didn't take long, I’d probably have them done by nightfall. This was at 11am.

 

Even with lunch and a long break, I had half of ‘em done before 2pm, and the rest were cut out and ready to go. I learned a while ago to save trimming and stuff I could do away from the machine for bus-watching time. Even with breaks and time with Dearest, I was completely done at 6:30 tonight. All I have to do is wrap 'em, and wrap the boot-box I'm carrying them to school with, and that can wait 'til tomorrow morning.


Sure, they’re small gifts. Not even worth much, and half will end up as cat toys, not holiday ornaments. But I will have said ‘thanks’ to a lot of folks the best way I can right now. And that’s enough for me. I'm not ashamed I'm not giving, or embarassed that I'm not giving more. I feel good about what I did today.

 

I’m kind of glad I went for something small and easy. If it weren’t for our ‘gift’ of being broke, I’d be driving myself and my guys nutz, trying to top last year’s gifts. Which would have involved a week of work, and waaay more than $10. spent. Not to mention the frustration factor. So I’m learning to accept what I can give, and be happy with it, a lesson I just never seem to learn otherwise. Also got in some good practice pivoting with the presser foot down ! 

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Dollar Tree to the rescue...
Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'm mentally celebrating a kind of 'first' for Beloved Hubby and me. He's been off for most of the week, but today it was back to the old grind. We had to pick up lumber for the job, and I wanted to visit Dollar Tree, so we combined our errands and went together.

In a real 'first' for us, we managed to get it done without stopping off for lunch or even a soda, even though we left at prime lunch time ! It's so easy for us to spoil each other with a big soda or coffee at 7-11 when we go out together - and half the time, we add lunch to the treat. Not today. It was kind of hard to put aside the expectation, but once done, it was easy - and it'll be easier next time. We're pretty frugal on most things, but eating out is a weakness of ours !

We got the wood and a strip for the bottom edge of the front door. We can't see daylight there anymore ! We've been pushing a towel against the door these last few cold weeks. The place we went to (coughLowescoff) had several sizes and types of strips, and Beloved was upset at the $8 to $12. price on most. I found one for $3.92, and as it turned out, that worked. I love my bargain-hunting eye !

I had a minor score, too. Found some garage door cards. They're  designed for prospective buyers to hold in front of their current garage doors, to help determine what style to buy. We're not replacing our garage door (we rent), but the cards will work great for some doll windows I'm making ! Yeah, I can print out something similar with our great Brother printer/scanner/fax, but this way, I don't use up our ink !

I hadn't planned on going to Dollar Tree, but I had to, and it ended up saving me a couple bucks. I'd volunteered to provide cookies and pencils for Dearest Son's Friday school holiday party. I'd intended to buy a pack of Disney Princess and a pack of Cars holiday themed ones, even though they were $2. each for just ten pencils. But Mal-Wart was sold out of both. So DTree to the rescue ! I got 24 iridescent ones, in a wide mix of colors, for $2. I have to confess, I kept a green and a silver one. His class is only 18 kids, so it's not depriving anyone... but I still feel a bit mischievous.

I also bought a bag of generic Fritos, which we ate half of with our chili lunch. There's enough for lunch tomorrow, too. Dinner was chicken pasta salad, with garden rotini, and there was a serving of leftovers on that, too. We buy these huge boneless frozen chicken breasts at Sam's, and just one will provide three chicken pasta salad meals. I'll cook one, use a third of it fresh, and freeze the rest, so dinner's super-fast two out of three times !

The only other thing we bought is an experiment that has to wait 'til tomorrow. About two Christmases ago, my BIL bought Dearest Son an Easy Bake oven. Why, I'm still not sure. Anyway, long story short, the little round pans are AWOL. And just now, Dearest is interested in the thing. DTree had small silicone baking pans in various fun shapes... so I got a star one, in hopes it'll fit in the opening. At least we found the paddle-thingie to put stuff in/get stuff out. I'll try tomorrow, while Dearest's at school. I'd hate to have him get excited and then let down this close to the holidays.

Finally got the last of the lace from Saturday's yard sale bagged up. I swear, by the time I was done, having it all was more punishment than present. Used every recycled baggie in the house, too. I already know there is no way it'll cram into the storage tote I use for that... and I already dumped about 30 yards of the stuff into the donations box !

In other frugal news, I recycled two large Mal-Wart sacks and the bag the lace came home in - in our home trash cans. Jack and DC love their new dry cat food. Mal-wart was sold out of their usual Special Kitty, in all flavors, and the same size and weight of Kit and Kaboodle brand was the same price. So they're feasting on that. We enjoyed re-watching Wall-E tonight with dinner, so I doubt we'll think about cable again any time soon. We turned off our TV back in '04 - Dearest was acting out everything he saw, so we didn't have much of a choice. Every so often, we think of getting TV again (it's all DVDs now), but we end up not doing so. I hope we just keep it as idle thinking.

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I got new boots...
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

...but Beloved Hubby thinks I'm more enamored of the box ! It's not true, but I went a bit out of our way to get a better lid for the box mine were in. I like shoeboxes. I can always find something to do with them. Especially if they have a good lid ! Last time I recycled the house cardboard, I found three great shoeboxes in the bins, within my reach ! They're stacked up in the doll/sewing Lab, awaiting further instructions.

Hubby insisted on getting them when my eyes lit on the beautiful emerald green color. They're from Mal-Wart, purchased during the weekly grocery run. Really, they're like knee-high slippers. Not a lot of inside support, but they're comfy as anything. And soooo warm ! Normally, I do groceries on my own, but roads were icy, and he was home and a bit bored. And just as normally, I would have put off any purchases for me. I mean, that Wii Pinball game was calling me, too - and I put that back on the shelves easily, maybe later.

But just as I have a food bugaboo - I can't stand the idea of anyone being hungry - Beloved has a cold bugaboo. He can't stand anyone being cold. And I'm sure to be nice and warm with these ! I know I should have gotten 'goes with everything' black... yet sometimes, it's just better to express your color than go with everything. I'm sure Dearest Son's busdriver will agree !

Egg salad sandwich for Beloved for lunch, angel hair pasta in beef broth for me. We'd just bought fresh bread and mayo, so why not ? And the hot broth always feels good to me.

Oh, and I discovered something useful today on weather.com. Underneath the high temp forecast, there's a 'Cold and Flu Forecast' window. In addition to sunrise/sunset times and weather watch (humidity, windspeed), there's a Respiratory Index. It's a quick sample of humidity, wind, temperature, and other factors that can influence how hard or easy it is to breathe. It then assigns a number between 1(hard) to 10(easy) for reference. Since I have asthma and heart disease, this is a great tool to have ! Today is '5', which is 'fair', pretty accurate.

I'm not sure how to find this - looking around I've only found a US-wide map of the same information. But it was there after I typed in our zip code, so I hope it comes up for you !

Well, it's bus-waiting time. Hope you have a sweet evening !

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Lazy... the new 'green' ?
Sunday, December 14, 2008

Not sure if it's 'green' to loaf around the house all day, but if it is, we were ! While the temperature hovered near 70 today, twenty to thirty mile an hour winds made it seem much colder, and discouraged being outside for long. So we enjoyed what we had instead ! Old computer games, older DVDs, and online fun. Kinda boring, but free entertainment regardless !

Used washed baggies to store all that lace I got from yesterday's yard sale. New rule : No more lace ! I now have much too much, and need to use some, not acquire more !

We switched from soda cans to 2-liter bottles last month, mostly because the cans were everywhere. I was the only one gathering, emptying, and crushing for recycling. Last month, our usual bag only brought $2.50, about half what it used to. Sure, drinking from the big bottles uses more glassware, but we save $5. a week, minimum. Sometimes more. And I can recycle the bottles down the street for free.

We also quit buying Little Hug/Kool-ade bottled drinks for our son. At eight, he's old enough to handle the big pitcher in and out of the fridge, and I have sugar stores already. If you've ever wondered, the 10c 'Great Value' Mal-Wart clones taste about the same as most name-brand unsweetened flavored drink mix envelopes. Dearest Son has his own plastic tumblers with various favorite characters on 'em, bought for 57c in the party aisles. Less trash, too.

Of course, now that it's getting colder, I drink more coffee. It's helpful to asthma sufferers - the warmth is comforting, and the caffeine helps keep touchy airways open. I know I should drink tea, but I really only like cold sweet tea. Heck, I was raised in the South - it ain't tea unless ya gotta swat a couple of hummingbirds and a colony of ants away from your glass to drink it !

Microwaved the last couple of potatoes for my lunch - tasty ! The guys had soup and ravioli. Last time I went to the thrift, I found two small silver-plated frames for 10c each, so after lunch, I looked for photos to print out for them. After resizing and tweaking them a bit, I had a set of small family pictures that fit on the computer tower. They set off the taller star-themed gold frame I had there quite well !

About every four months or so, I pick up a five-pound brick of mild cheddar cheese from Sam's. It only costs about $12. or $13., but it lasts us about that long. I cut it up into smaller blocks and freeze it. Normally, when ya freeze cheese, it's crumbly on thawing out, and not good for much else besides grating. But this stuff's been great ! It slices well, and still tastes fresh. No brand name on it, but we really like it.

Really, we only go to Sam's about once every two or three months, anyway. But we save enough to justify it, usually by the second visit of the year. Since we own our own business, we qualified for the business rate, with extended hours and low membership - otherwise, I don't think it'd be worth it to us.

Tomorrow, when I go on our weekly grocery run, I hope to find a small gift for the day care center folks next door. Our trash pickup is Thursday, but because Dearest was home sick, I didn't retrieve our pickup can from curbside Friday. Poor excuse, I know. When I noticed the can missing Saturday, I feared the Town had picked it up, and we were due for a fine to get it back. Actually, it was in the front of the day care center. So I wanna do something nice for them, for doing such a favor for me ! Maybe a nice tin of butter cookies ? And a promise keep after my own can from now on  !

 

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Yard Sales...in December !
Saturday, December 13, 2008

Yup, believe it or not, I found four yard sales listed in our town, between the local paper's website and Craigslist.org. I submitted that as a tip, since I always check Craigslist for yard sales ! Despite waking up late, I decided to venture out anyway, since it wasn't that cold. Windy as anything, but not really cold.

First sale had evidently cancelled, but the next one was a bonanza, and I scored at the next one, too. The fourth was just too far away, and I wasn't going to be in that neighborhood for anything else.

That second sale was amazing. I didn't get there until after 12:30, and it was due to close at 2pm, so they were motivated to get stuff gone. For the pittance of $2., I snagged four 1975 Mattel 'Honey Hill Bunch' dolls (Sweetlee, Li'l Kid, Darlin', and Spunky) as well as a Super Pickle and a stuffed carrot, a lace-bedecked Barbie-size wicker loveseat, a stand I'm gonna write up as a craft for the site later, a vintage hard plastic Disney Cinderella figurine, a bag full of rug yarn, and about 30 yards of six types of tiny lace. Wow. My doll clothes are gonna be stylin' !

But that wasn't near the end of it. On hearing that I often dressed and refurbished dolls to donate, the grandmother who bought the lace insisted that I just take the rest of what she had. OMG ! She had miles of the stuff ! The lengths I bought wasn't a tenth of what she had, and she wanted to just *give* me the rest ? Yup. She really wanted it gone, and put to good use. I insisted on giving her the other two dollar bills I had - hey, when I yard sale, it's on the cheap ! - and I was somewhat dazed as I took the enormous lot to the truck. I could hardly wait to go through it all. I had a Mal-Wart sack of what I'd bought in one hand, and a 13-gal trash bag of what she gave me in the other ! And yes, the trash bag will be put to use in the kitchen trash can !

Debated whether or not to even go to the next sale, since I just had pocket and truck change. But, since it was four blocks down and two over, decided to at least check it out. Not a lot there, but I still got a cute Little Mermaid Ariel mug (it'll hold hair clips on my nightstand), a pink coffee mug I couldn't resist ('You think it's easy being a *itch ?' in flowing script), a cute stuffed kitty, and a lovely stylized cat pin that my DMIL will adore - 75c ! 

Called Beloved Hubby to say I'd be home soon, broke and happy. He said he was just then picking up lunch, hurry home ! Hooray for McRib value meals !

Got to go through the huge bag of lace. Wow. There must be a hundred yards here, in about fifteen different sizes and colors ! Mixed in were three tiny jewelry boxes - always fun doll props - a package of corsage pins, about a dozen tulle pieces, and several silk rose and lace pew bows from a wedding. Took those apart. I'll get the lace washed and stored, and use the silk flowers on a wreath for the front door. I found our old fake evergreen wreath earlier this week - I'd always meant to do something really cool with it. Now I have several sets of silk roses to use  !

Discovered that the Cinderella figurine originally came with a Disney character watch, sold in the 60s. Coool ! And Beloved agrees with me, his mom will love the cat pin.

I'm glad I went out. Normally yard sales have dried up by now, so I'm enjoying what I got while I got it. I'm sure that soon, I'll be lamenting that yard sale season really is over, and I can only hunt and haunt the thrifts. I really should stay home, I got nothin' to complain about, but I enjoy finding fun things so much...

Well, that was today. I'm gonna go bag up the lace for my craft tote, which uses up some recycled sandwich baggies, while watching  an old Mystery Science Theater 3000 tape. Hope I can find 'Santa Claus Versus the Martians' !

Hope your day was frugal and fun !

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Last Flea Market of '08...(sniffle)
Friday, December 05, 2008

Whoo - too much going on ! But I've had so much fun...

The last Flea Market of '08 was today at the Fairgrounds. It was Ok, and I found some great doll stuff - spent $13. ! - but it was the most fun just to walk around and listen. The Flea tends to be where folks who normally do the SecondHand sale unload their junk, so it's all pretty cheap, and the attendees mostly know that. So I kinda felt sorry for the crafter who made the beautiful, but rather expensive, holiday wreaths. Lovely, but at $35., few if any were buying.

Stumbled on to a sale at KBKids.com right at Thanksgiving - got a Lindsay Lohan 'My Scene' doll for $4.99, free shipping. Back when she was on toy section shelves, she was about $15. to $20. She arrived today - I got sooo much for the money ! Two whole doll outfits, a fistful of props including a director's chair, whoo-hoo !

Ironically, I don't want the doll. Just the stuff that came with her. However, Lindsay won't be leaving any time soon. Dearest Son is a HUGE fan of Herbie:Fully Loaded, so I hope to make the doll a little racing suit like the one LL wore in the movie. Since he already has a Barbie beetle - yard sale find - he'll probably get a kick out of it. Oh, he's 8, in case you were wondering.

Here's what's kinda funny about it. When I sank my teeth into the deal, she was $4.99 with free shipping. Day after Thanksgiving, I got an e-mail from kbkids.com, inviting me to look at their specials. There was the LL doll, but she was now $7.99, with free shipping. Today I got yet another e-mail, and now she's $12.99. At the rate they're going, she'll be back at full price by Christmas, but still on sale ! Free shipping, too.

Dearest went off to spend Friday night and Saturday with his grandparents, so Beloved Hubby and I were on our own tonight. Normally we go out to eat, and maybe to a bookstore, but this evening, neither of us were in much of a going out mood. So I made a quick Hamburger Helper dinner - I'd just bought a chub of burger, and needed to divide it out anyway - and we had more time to do what we wanted. It made for a nice evening.

Hope yours has been good, too !

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An Amazing Tuesday...
Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I still can't belive I had such a wonderful day. Since this isn't my doll blog, but my day was wonderful due to the dolls I found, I'll try to keep it brief.

Got the donations together for my Thrift visit. Ended up taking two 13-gal trash bags, one large Target sack, and a 2.5ft doll (Charmin' Chatty) over. Not bad. Six dressed Barbie-size dolls, a larger Cinderella doll, a buncha outgrown Dearest Son clothes, some books, some craft stuff. The owner immediately put Charmin' aside, saying she knew of a little girl who'd love her for Christmas. That made me happy !

While there, I poked through the toys and books and clothes. Stunningly, I found a #1 brunette-flocked Ken doll in a bag of Barbie props ! He was dressed in Mattel-made clothes, and had a spare shirt, all vintage ! Well worth the $5.99 price on the bag ! Further digging revealed a bend-leg #2 Skipper, with auburn hair, in one of her very first Mattel-made outfits. Yes, that $3.99 bag made it into my cart, too !

I also found a grab-bag of Happy Meal type toys with Star Wars bobblehead figures inside - Dearest Son loves those. So his stocking's pretty well stuffed ! Also found a computer power strip with a surge surpressor for $1.50, and we needed one for his laptop. Much better than the $6. I was gonna spend at Mal-wart for the same thing !

I was so happy with my vintage dolls - anywhere else, Ken would have been about $30. plus shipping, and Skipper would have not been much cheaper. But my happy wasn't over. I found the $5. Black Friday dolls Mal-Wart had on an endcap, and dug through various guys and girls from High School Musical, and blonde and brunette running Hannah Montanas, looking for the Barbie and the Crystal Palace doll I'd seen in the ad. A pretty brunette, she wore a green and blue dress and had very fancy sandals. Found many blonde pink and red ones, and a few AA pink and purple ones, but wasn't having much luck on the one I wanted.

But in the very last box I found her. Pretty ! But still - I just dropped off eight dolls. Did I *really* need another one, even if she was just $5. ? Come to think of it, was she still $5. ? I wasn't sure, and the only difference between her and the $15. one over on the Barbie aisle was a fancier underskirt and more sheer overskirt, plus a huge honkin' plastic necklace on the $15. one. From the hips up, the dolls were identical, and had the same shoes and themed comb.

So I took her to the scanner. And nearly fell over. Yes, she was $5., but...her name is Dori ! I never thought I'd ever see a Mattel-named Barbie with a moniker so close to mine. Well, I had to buy her now !

I also scored new PJs for Dearest - just $5. for a long-sleeved two piece set ! I got the Star Wars print, but they also had SpiderMan, Spongebob, Transformers, etc. for the guys. I bought a size up from what he's wearing now, which is good, because they're quite close-fitting. They had similar sets for girls, and if you wanna add a light-up deep-pile fleece robe to some PJs, they also had three-piece PJ and robe sets for $12., up to size 10 that I saw !

So, I had a value-filled day ! Full of great finds and something I never thought I'd own. A Dori doll that that I didn't name !

For the curious, I'll ad a photo to my Album. I dont seem to have much luck adding 'em to the Blog !

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Kinda boring Monday, really...
Monday, December 01, 2008

Not a lot going on today. I normally do grocery shopping and my thrift hop, but Beloved Hubby wasn't feeling well, so I stayed home with him. It was like an extended Thanksgiving !

Caught up my other blog, it's mostly doll-based. Much as I love it - and I do, it's been up for just over five years now ! - sometimes I just don't feel like posting. Can't keep myself from writing, so I store it in a weekly Word document, and post it when I'm in a better mood. Since it's often not a lot of content, I always include an image, and that's the holdup, because taking, editing, and posting the best photo or scan takes time I sometimes just don't have !

Like most of us, I try to learn something new every day. Today, I figured out how to post links to images in the other blog, since I'm doing theme images for all of December there. But I love posting pix of great yard sale finds or finished craft stuff, so this way, I can have both !

While waiting for Dearest Son's bus this afternoon, I broke down all the cardboard boxes I had in the kitchen, loaded them into the car. I'll take them to the recycling bins down the street later this week. Our town has curbside recycling, but I've seen the pick-up crews just dump the whole bin in a regular trash truck, glass, plastic, cardboard, all mixed together. It's difficult to think , 'Oh, they must sort it later.', since they haven't been hiring, so I recycle my own way.

Made spaghetti tonight, with sausage in the sauce the way my guys like it. Cooked a whole pound of it today, and froze three 3.4 oz packages of it for later, and we ate the fourth. Next three spaghetti nights will be much easier !  I just love my yard-sale digital scale... it only goes up to five pounds, but it's so handy in the kitchen.

I'm not sure why, but our Dearest Son will eat spaghetti if I mix in two sizes or types of pasta together. Tonight it was thin spaghetti and angel hair, cooked in the same pot, just added at different times. I'm too lazy and hate doing dishes too much to cook two pots ! We've also done rotini and regular spaghetti, and linguini and spaghetti together. One pasta by itself he barely eats, but show him there's  two kinds, and he cleans his plate. I can't figure it out, I just use it to my advantage !

Taking three large bags to the Thrift tomorow. Hope it helps - and that I find something good !

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Sort Through Sunday...
Sunday, November 30, 2008

Another quiet but active day as we all prep for going back to normal schedules tomorrow. While putting away some oil lamps - we lost power for a couple hours due to a heavy storm last week, happens often enough to be annoying, but nothin' major - I rediscovered my old XM Radio 'boom box'. We had XM Satellite Radio for a year, and I enjoyed it, but we found ourselves using Napster on our Mp3 players more, so we dropped XM.

Anyway, this was their 'entry level' receiver, yer basic portable device - AM/FM radio, CD player, and an Auxillary setting for attaching outside devices, like Mp3 players. It was expensive for a boom box, but at the time it was the cheapest XM receiver on the market. Since we had several smaller portable stereos, it got shoved into the closet, as it's almost too big to be portable.  

Well, Beloved claimed one for the Shop, and another one bit the dust when it tumbled off a shelf. I'd been looking for a small battery-powered radio for the next power outage, but yard sales so far had not revealed one. The XM was far from small - 8 D batteries required ! - but  we didn't have one in The Office, where our computers and desks are. A quick bit of shuffling, and it had a home by a power outlet, and was running a CD, something we rarely listen to anymore. Dug the remote out from the junk drawer, and it still worked. Plus, I realized that the clock in the bathroom is also a radio receiver, and it runs on three AAs. We always have those, you keep a stock of 'em when you got a Wii. Heck, it'd run from the batteries that still had some juice left from the Wii-motes. Scratch one item off the 'hunt' list ! I love rediscovering what we want is something we already have !

Same thing with our camera. I'd been toying with the idea of doing YouTube-type videos with my dolls. Just needed a video camera ! Our local pawn emporiums have dozens, starting at $39., but when pawns price things that low, ya gotta wonder... I was still pondering whether or not to invest in one when it hit me. The fantastic Fuji FinePix S5200 digital camera Beloved Hubby got me two Christmases ago had a motion camera function ! With the 1gb  memory card, it'd record 30 minutes of action ! And we've since upgraded to a 2gb ! And bought a super-cool tripod on markdown for $10. So I didn't need to risk $40. - I already had more than what I needed !

Of course, I haven't made any videos, but I have the means when I'm ready ! And Beloved's humming a bit with the CD in the XM. I'm looking forward to hearing some of my ancient Christmas music when no one 's home - I'm the only one who likes it ! 

I'm still sorting through stuff to donate Monday. Earlier this week, Beloved installed a new fridge whiteboard/corkboard set he found on markdown - the one we got as a housewarming present fell off the fridge and broke, two years ago. That eliminated the need for the small bulletin board I had over by the cabinets, so I cleared it and tossed it in with the donations box.

Dearest Son saw it today, and asked if he could have it instead. Sure ! Got it hung upwhere he wanted and found some pushpins - we need more of those, I'm not much on thumbtacks ! - and he now has his scissors and a coloring page hanging off it. He's quite proud of his 'office' - a desk Beloved made him, an office chair that lost its hydraulics (perfect for an 8-year-old !), a desk lamp with a spinning organizer, two letter trays, and now a bulletin board. For Christmas, Beloved's making him a shelf to match the desk, for his books and computer games.

The Barbie case I made such a fuss over Friday is suffering from that which preys on all soft-side luggage - The Crush. Sooner or later, all non-rigid cases will collapse if there's nothing inside and little side support. The 1990 Little Mermaid suitcase I bought from a yard sale evidently had heavy stuff on top of it, the bottom plastic piece that holds the feet down and the case flat on the floor had folded up into thirds.

Not a lot I can do for Ariel's baggage, but the Barbie case I could at least stuff with Mal-Wart sacks and various bags I keep forgetting to recycle. I'd put fabric or doll props in there, but they get hung up eight inches from the ceiling, which makes 'em hard to get into. And it keeps the bags from piling up, and the luggage from collapsing inward.

Poked through Yard Sale Bloodbath (http://www.yardsalebloodbath.com/) and Manic Thrift Store Shopper (http://mtss.blogspot.com/) for fun and ideas. It's always a treat to find a site you like and then go through their links for more !

After lunch, I'm sorting through a copy-paper-size box of sewing notions I bought for $5. last week. It's mostly already sorted, I just have to find where to put the newest forty unopened packages of bias tape ! I really need to learn how to use that, I have a metric ton of it...

There was only one yard sale advertised on Craigslist for my town this weekend, so I think it's finally the end of the Season. I'm always a bit melancholy about that, but I have a flea market down the street Friday, and there's always the thrifts ! Even though I rarely buy much from 'em, it satisfies my need to shop and keeps me out of dangerous mall parking lots !

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I was a bit busy today...
Saturday, November 29, 2008

Notice anything new ? Yup - new picture on your right. Did that today. If you'd like to see it a bit bigger, it's also in the Photo Album, just under the image. Click on it and the image, for a better look at my 'Princess Dorrie' doll and half our kitty population, DC. We've had DC and his brother Jack since they were born, but their Mom, Velvet, has moved on. Our son made her too nervous, so she um... poluted his room. Frequently. Since the boys have grown up with Dearest Son, they're more used to him.

Anyway. Got some housework done, polished off the last of the leftovers for lunch. Earlier this week, I bought a stuffed angel doll from the local Thrift, selected from their 50c stuffed animal bin. They price better toys individually, but small or slightly damaged/worn ones go into the bin. This angel was cheaply made by 'Cuddle Wit', a company that normally provides stock for claw machines and carnivals. Her hair was matted and thin, beyond the care of a brush, and she had some staining on her cloth face. I almost hated to buy her, but the cashier assured me she'd been in the bin for several days, and no one else had been at all interested.

She's also one of those dolls where the dress is most of the body. And most of that is nylon. But, like I mentioned Wednesday, something about her dress reminded me of the current 'Enchanted Tales' Disney Princess art pieces, so... Today, I got to work on her. The hardest part was figuring out which line of stitching would undo what I wanted, without ripping apart what I wanted to remain together. It helps to look on both sides of the stitching line - if it's on one side all by itself, that's probably what ya want !

So, after about five minutes with a seam ripper, I had a winged dress, a shoebox load of stuffing, a pair of legs with cheap satin 'feet' slippers, a pair of hands, and a tangled-hair head with a halo glued to it. Opening the dress' back seam freed up the wings for later projects, and I took the feet off the legs, the wand from her hand, and the stuffed halo off the hair.

Grabbed my vanity doll, the Princess Dorrie I'd customized a few months ago, and began fitting the dress to her. It was a bit short, but otherwise fit pretty well, especially across the chest, which is always a problem area. By taking it in at the back a bit, via the closure and back seam, it'd lie nice and flat in front.

The gold band around the neckline was removed - it just didn't look right -  and an oversized gold bow there was also removed and untied. The lace cuffs and the hands were sewn on at the same time, so taking off the hands left the lace dangling by a thread or three. I positioned the lace when I tried the dress on her, but it was wide and overwhelmed Princess Dorrie's hands. So I took the lace completely off and replaced it with a cuff made from the bodice bow. Looks much better, and proportionate, too.

Hemmed the neckline down a bit more to cover the holes made by the bodice bow. Hand-sewed that one, since the hem was still very scant. From there, all that was left for the dress was sewing up the back seam halfway and adding Velcro (tm) to the rest for a closure.

Took in the satin feet/shoes to fit PDorrie, and they look pretty bad, but I wanted to use as much of the original doll as possible. The doll's halo sat on her head like a bagel, so instead, I draped one of the lace cuffs over the crown of her head. Actually looked rather cute on her.

Now, all I have left is a pair of gold wings, a strip of gold fabric, a tiny bit of gold ribbon, a shoebox of stuffing, some muslin legs, a bagel-like halo, and a tangled-hair head. The stuffing'll get used in a later project (I reuse stuffing for the works that stay home - the school projects get all-new Fiberfil) , and I'm sure the wings and materials will also be used eventually. But I have no idea what to do with the doll's head. It has some minor stains, and the hair's completely useless. I'd make a hand-puppet from her, as the eyes and face are quite nice, but I'd have to cut off all the hair and replace it with yarn or something.

Only problem is, it's not something anyone here would use, and I hate to donate it if it's not my best work. So I dunno where the doll's head will go, but I'm glad I got to recycle the rest. Took about two hours, and I was watching movies at the same time.

Now I'm wondering... should I write this up as a craft project for the main page ? It's not really anything new. I'll write it up for my web site, that's fer sure ! I love reusing stuff !

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GoodWill kinda ticked me off today...
Friday, November 28, 2008

I wasn't terribly thrifty today.

While I'd much rather participate in Buy Nothing Day (adbusters.org), there was a pattern sale at Hancock Fabrics I'd been looking forward to for three weeks. Since Hancock's is across town, while I was out, I did some shopping... everything I bought was on sale, but shopping is rarely a thrifty, frugal activity !

One of the places I hit was GoodWill. Ours isn't very good, at least not for the stuff I like, so I go maybe once or twice a month. And, when I found the vintage mustard-yellow spool and bobbin sewing case for a dollar, I was thrilled. I already have an identical green one, so having a matched set was just aces for me, and the price was certainly right.

It was the Barbie case that earned my ire. And not at first. I have a small collection of Barbie cases, and I use them as Lab decor. Have at least one from every decade of Babs. This one was a slightly larger version of one I already have, but instead of black, it's that signature Pepto Pink. In good shape, though, it was only sold for a year or so in 2002. STill had the hang-tag, which is always a bonus when you're a collector. $3.

Got my goodies to the register... and the cashier pulls out a pair of scissors and cuts the hang-tag in half, right down the UPC code ! WTH ? I kind of wanted that intact ! Most collectors would. Cashier rather airly informs me that they have to scissor all UPC codes on everything, or people will take the stuff back to the stores and 'you could get whatever you want instead'. That's a direct quote, by the way.

Um... that case hasn't been made or sold since 2002. I don't expect her to know that, but sheesh. Here's the deal - her hypothesis doesn't hold water. When I worked at Disney Store, we had markdown sales. Basically, the stuff flagged for markdown was entered into the sales UPC reader (usually a Telson) with the new price. If the item hadn't sold that week, the UPC was pulled up again, and assigned a lower price. This continued until the items were gone or the UPC read 'nonexistent item' and was shipped back to the Company for its ultimate destiny.

If someone brought an item in after the sale and stuff'd been shipped back, they'd get a store credit only for the price they paid on their receipt. No receipt, no refund, no store credit. If the stuff was still in the store, they'd get a refund based on what it was selling for right then, if they didn't have a receipt.

I worked at Diz in 1995. You can't tell me that Victoria's Secret and Old Navy (stores the cashiers used as examples) don't have the same ability and technology nearly 15 years later ! If they don't do the same, they're idiots, frankly, and it's no wonder both stores are having trouble, if they let people exchange stuff at full price six years after they quit selling it. And if it's been donated to a charity, the UPC shouldn't show it as active stock in the store anyway. Further, it shouldn't have tags still attached with active UPC codes.

In short, (too late !) I felt as though the cashier was accusing me of stealing - not from GoodWill but the poor merchant who'd been so kind as to donate stuff. Um, here's another thing. If that store has ever had brand-new Old Navy and VS stuff in it, dangling tags, I've never seen it on the shelves in the six years I've been going there.

Besides, when did GoodWill start caring what anyone did with purchases after they were paid for ? And if it's such an issue, why not cut the tags as they're being put out on the sales floor ? No, they want the tags there as a selling point - hey, look, it still has tags on it ! - but you don't get to keep 'em. Sincerely - the half she cut off she put in the register drawer.

I actually do understand GW's point of view. But it still bugged me to be accused of theft at the register. As if Wal-Mart and TRU would give me $12. worth of merchandise in exchange for something they've not sold in more than five years !

Luckily, I got in and out of the other stores this morning with far less drama. Since there’s always a backlog at the catalog tables, I go online when patterns are on sale, copy down the numbers, and poof. I’m in and outta there. Today, everything that wasn’t Vogue or Kwik-Sew was 99c or 5 for $5., so the table was jammed. I also splurged and got ‘flower’ and ‘heart’ yo-yo makers – they’re kind of cloth shapes you can sew together. I’m looking forward to playing with them, especially since I got ‘em at 30% off !

Big Lots didn’t have any of the $5. dolls they advertised anywhere in stock, so I wasn’t in there long. Target was an insane mess, but since I didn’t use a cart, even my big ole butt was able to slip in between the spaces. I was in and outta there faster than it took me to find legal parking, and some of my fellow shoppers didn’t care about ‘safe’ or ‘legal’ out in the parking lot.

Again, no dolls, but I got a new DVD copy of Cars  (our old one is DOA) for $12., and DVDs of The Notebook, Walk the Line, and a three-in one of Bachelor Party, Back to School, and Weekend at Bernie’s, for $4. each.

 

Whew ! I'm just glad I didn't have to go near any electronics places, or Mal-Wart. Did you hear that an associate died trying to deal with the mob at his Long Island store ? Story doesn't say he was trampled, details are few, but in any case, it's just horrible. www.abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory

I think next year, I will be a part of Buy Nothing, in memory. Never knew him, but I mourn him for many reasons.

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I'd rather have the dandelion...
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I told my then-friend, eventually my Beloved Hubby, a long time ago that I'd rather have a single dandelion over a dozen roses. Anybody could stop into a florist or even a grocery store and buy flowers. Didn't require much thought. But the dandelion -  my guy would actually have to think of me beyond  'all women like x' to know that I'd much rather have the flower he knelt down and picked himself, while thinking of me. Roses are easy. Dandelions you have to mean.

When we got married years later, it was February. But the silk flower bouquet he made for me contained a single fresh yellow dandelion. Where he found it, he wouldn't say. But it meant the world to me.

I was reading a discussion about food pantries and how they're being overtaxed these days. And I was grateful we hadn't had use for one in the nearly eleven years we've had together. But I think sometimes I enjoy it when things are tight. I have to mean it when I buy something for me, because the funds aren't there for me to be thoughtless with. For the last few years, we haven't been ridiculously wealthy, but we've had the funds for indulgences. And my doll and sewing Lab shows it - my fabric hoard is at SABLE (Stash Already Beyond Life Expectancy), and I probably have enough lace and ribbon to decorate an entire Rio Carnivale. I have so many dolls that I barely have time to play with them all. And let's not get into their clothes and furniture ! Please !

True, nearly all of the wonderful happy-place things I have were bought second-hand, but they still speak of readily available funds. There's been times that I couldn't go to yard sales or thrift stores, because we really were broke. It's expensive to be broke. You can't take advantage of sales, because it's taking all you have to get through today and part of tomorrow. But even when times were tough, they got better, and we'd focus and together, we'd get the household to 'fighting weight' again.

So when I hear about how bad things are getting, I'm glad we're already living the way we are.  I don't like Starbucks, I'd rather have Pumpkin Spice Cappucchino from 7-11 - or peppermint coffee from my own $5. coffee maker and 50c yard sale thermal carafe. And two candy canes from a 10c box of 'em I bought last January. I don't feel deprived, but rather indulgent when I get that big 95c cup o' go-juice.

I also feel prepared to deal with downturns. I've done it before, will do it again, and I know new tricks from my friends here that I'm eager to try. I'd much rather have available funds, but I'm glad I'm not used to a steady diet of $800. purses, $300. haircuts, and $60. manicures. I make my own purses - talk about an exclusive clientele ! - Beloved Hubby cuts my hair (and he's good at it !), and I'm just not invested in any level of grooming that requires me to leave the house to obtain it. Shoot, if it weren't for washing dishes and my hair, my nails probably wouldn't even get cleaned every day !

We're all very lucky we're adaptable and make it a practice to live beneath our means - even if we don't always obtain our goal, at least we try, and the effort is the reward, too. I'm at my most creative when I'm challenged, and I think most folks are like that. It's too easy to spend our way out of a problem, something our govenment goes all too well, but it doesn't change Business As Usual.

When I'm too broke to spend, I think. And that may be why I'm looking forward to the challenges of our changing economy. I've gone too long having fun - now it's time to get creative !

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Another chat with the thrift store owner...
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sorry to skip yesterday's entry - I was in a lousy mood, and when I get that way, I tend to isolate m'self, so I don't contaminate anyone else's outlook !

So anyway. Got to hit my fave thrift store yesterday. I'm lucky, we have the big two (GoodWill and Salvation Army) and a local thrift, but I prefer the local. Frankly, for the last six months, GW and SA haven't had squat, and the stuff I'm not even interested in seemed quite expensive. It's like an old Stephen Wright joke - he said he donates to Bad Will - they buy nice stuff for poor people and then break it.

Found a pretty Christmas ornament - I'm an absolute sucker for star or celestial things - a stuffed angel doll, and a hardback Barbie story book that trumpets being 7 books in one !!! Yeah, ok, whatever. I just like to see how they've set up dioramas for the stories - and how little they depend on Mattel products to get the scene they want. In its own way, it's an inspiration, and cheap at 99c. And when Dearest Son was younger, he didn't care what I read to him, so Barbie stories were OK. He still likes Beloved Hubby and I to read to him - so we do, every night - but he wants Wall-E, not Barbie.  

The angel doll was from their stuffed animal bin. It used to be 25c for anything in there, but it's now 50c. Still cheap, but it's not the first time I've seen prices go up slightly. They also sell grab-bags of small toys - like Happy Meal pieces - that were 25c a bag, but now they're 50c each, too. Minor stuff, but it illustrates the way things are going.

OK, I had a point going into this... oh, yeah. The angel doll is one of those seriously cheap ones, where the dress is also the body. That is, the sleeves are the arms, and the dress is non-removeable. And even the dress is cheap nylon for the most part. But it reminded me a lot of the latest Disney Princess incarnation, 'Enchanted Tales'. The characters all have white and gold versions of their signature gowns, and the crowns and jewelry are heavily administered. I wanted to see if I could take a dress-as-body doll and make it into a doll dress for a Little Disney Princess doll, like the 'Princess Dorrie' doll wearing the green shirt on your right.

So, $2.02 later, I left, and I hope to work on the doll this weekend. If it goes as I think it will, I'll have a new way to recycle inexpensive dolls !

Chatted a bit more with the owner, who again encouraged me to donate anything I could. Especially dolls. She knew of at least one family who'd be doing most of their holiday shopping at her store, and she'd love to have some more choices for them. Well, Thanksgiving's a good time to see all of what you have to be thankful for, and make some choices about giving, so there's most of my holiday weekend !

Honestly, though, sometimes I think that if I owned a thrift store, and I was seriously running low on donations, I'd be hitting the yard sales, especially as the sellers were closing up shop. I know when I've had sales, I'd have been happy to just give the stuff away, so I wouldn't have to drag it back into the garage and then drag to GWill on Monday. Amazingly, we still have several yard sales here in town this weekend, which is unusual. 'Round here, garage sale season dries up just before Halloween most years.

But the owner probably doesn't have time. I do have to say, though, that yard sales are usually much cheaper for clothes than thrifts !

Came home and got some housework done. During Monday's trip to Sam's, I bought some of the 'restaurant grade' silverware. Thirty-six forks for $6.88. They seem pretty sturdy, if rather plain. Cut up some old t-shirts for rags, and used two to line the bottom of our trash cans, in case spills leaked out of the bags. This is my shameful frugal secret - I often reuse trash bags if they don't have a lot of food in them. And I prefer to use Mal-wart grocery sacks, but for some reason, that drives Beloved Hubby nuts !

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Almost freebies...
Monday, November 24, 2008

Whee ! A few weeks ago, I bought all the markdown 'Specially Hand Made by (Name)' clothing labels Hancock Fabrics had - well, at least the $2. for eight labels ones. They were on final markdown - 80% off ! - and I knew from past experience that Name Makers, the company who makes 'em, would exchange the name labels I mailed them, put my name in place of the name already there, and mail 'em back, for free.

So - $2.00 x 6 packets - $12.00. Minus 80% - $2.40. With tax, $2.58. Plus 20 cents for two envelopes (one to mail them there, one for them to use to mail 'em back to me) and two stamps (again one for each way) at 42c each = $3.62 for 48 woven, personalized labels !

Sure, 7.5c each for my vanity is kinda pricey - but I get a kick out of using those labels ! I got a real deal, as their website offers 40 similar labels for $25. ! Plus shipping. Mailed 'em off Oct. 30th, got 'em either Friday or Saturday, I didn't check mail until today. Pretty fast, too !

Not much else going on. Went grocery shopping and to Sam's Club. Even though I only went there for a few things, I still managed to spend $114. at Sam's. But we get some good deals there. Five pounds of great cheese for $13. and change, and it lasts us four or five months. I cut it into pound blocks and freeze it, and it still slices easily when thawed out. Most frozen cheese is only good for shredding once it's thawed, as it gets so crumbly. And I forgot the Kleenex, last time I got a great deal there. I know we should use rags, but when we had flu in September, even rags would have torn our noses up. The lotion-and-vitamin-E tissues were very kind to our sensitive skin.

Stocked up our medicine cabinet for winter. Most folks buy extra soup - me, I get a spare bottle of generic Robitussin ! Also some generic allergy pills, generic kid Tylenol for Dearest Son, and generic decongestants. 'Cause when you're sick, it's cold, and possibly icy and the roads are bad, nobody feels like going out for medicine !

So our larders are full, and I remembered the eggs for my devilled specialties for the family food fest. It was a really nice day !

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Everything old is new again !
Sunday, November 23, 2008

Beloved Hubby gave me the best gift this morning - stuff I already had ! It was so great - like getting it all new again !

So, anyway. We were finishing up cleaning the laptop for Dearest Son before he came home from a weekend at Granny & Granddad's. It had a new Cars wallpaper image, and Beloved had removed his work and game software, and added some just for Dearest. I'd made a bow from an otherwise useless red satin wrap that went to a Barbie-size Hillary Duff doll, and we had cardstock to use for a To/From tag. Remembered a Finding Nemo PC game that came with the DVD, so I went to get it, and I saw some old software I've had for ages.

I remarked to Beloved that I missed using the "Real Clothes" * Barbie and Ken clothes pattern software I'd bought back in '02. Since it was designed for Win98, I hadn't installed it on our XP machine. And when the XP got fried from a lightning bolt surge via the phone lines - it was protected from power surges ! - we had to buy a Vista PC, it was all that was out there. I didn't want to reinstall it for fear that it'd muck up the operating system, but I mourned for the loss of the patterns.

I mean, suddenly our 2 year old printer was history - not Vista supported ! - so I was kinda nervous about putting anything not made that year on our new computer. While we had nothing but positive experinces with Vista, we'd heard a lot of negative stories about it, so I was unwilling to take any chances, no matter how small !

Hubby, though, isn't as timid as I am. He loaded one of my CD-Rom software programs, pulled up 'Control Panel' from the Start menu, then clicked on Programs. Under 'Programs and Features' was 'Use an older program with this version of Windows'. That led to a simple install wizard that walked me through installs of programs that dated back to Windows95 !

As it turned out, the Real Clothes volumes loaded without the old program wizard, and they work perfectly. Two of my other older programs work now, too ! And I was finally able to donate some Win95 stuff that just didn't work at all. I'll ask the thrift store mgr. if they can sell 'em, if not, I'll dispose of them.

How wonderful is that ? I've been happy all day. I got the patterns back, and it's even better than when I had 'em new, because now I can actually sew ! I was still baby-stepping when I bought the software.

And Dearest Son is thrilled with his 'new' computer. He's been busy bookmarking his favorites and watching his DVDs on it. We had brownies for dessert tonight, and we're winding down the day.

What a fantastic weekend !

*if you're interested in well-fitting, well-crafted patterns for Barbie and Ken that go together and look great the first time, check out Real Clothes at www.perestroika.ca . I'm not employed by Carol or her family, I'm just a happy customer.  Who needs to buy Vol. 3, now that I think about it...

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A big purchase and yard sale rudeness...
Saturday, November 22, 2008

Big fun today - after spending weeks researching and reviewing and visiting the stores, saving our funds and seeing how much we could buy for what we had to spend - we bought the computer that best suited us and our budget ! It's especially great because it means it frees up the laptop for Dearest Son - something he's been wanting for Christmas !

Now, normally, Son would get the newest and best, but he's eight, and really wants the laptop Daddy has. And Beloved Hubby/Daddy needs more power than most affordable laptops have. So we found a great deal, and made the switch tonight. We're cleaning up and boxing up the laptop tonight - no sense waiting, Dearest will get it tomorrow. That pretty much took care of Christmas for both Dearest Son and Beloved Hubby, all at once. Well, Dearest will have a few small things to open next month... but most of them have been purchased already.

We also sold some unused furniture via Craigslist.org, and that helped a bit. I got a gift tonight, too. I'd been wanting the Barbie 'I can be a TV Chef' playset, and Target had it for $15.99. It's been $21. everywhere else. The doll's getting donated, but I'm using the rest in my ongoing play. It really is a nice set, if you can forgive the cardboard 'display' in all the shelves, including the fridge. I'll be removing it. As is usual with Barbie stuff, it's all about an inch shorter than I wish it was. The dolls have to stoop to use the counter and camera. But that's what Dearest's outgrown wooden building blocks come in handy for !

Went out for a couple yard sales this morning. Snagged an infant skirt (to be altered to fit a My Size Barbie), baby knit boots with leather soles (for my Baby Crissy doll), a star ornament set, two action figure display cases (great for doll props) and a small plastic jar and lid, for a buck.

Got to witness some really bad behavior at the second and last sale of the day. If I'd have known it was an Estate sale, I wouldn't have made the drive. I've seen the heirs try to sell open boxes of laundry detergent for more than it costs new, and put stickers over the printed on prices of items - like a pack of Dollar General sewing needles, $1. all day long there. Not at one Estate sale - someone'd put a $2. sticker over the printed-on price... and the package was missing several !

This sale wasn't bad, but the behavior of the attendees was. Sale was on a busy street, and the house had limited parking. In fact, the folks already there had already taken it up, to the point where I couldn't figure out how anyone could leave unless everyone did so at the same time ! I drove up a half block and parked safely, then walked to the house. A van driver had a different idea. He stopped, in the middle of a busy street, during Football Game Pre- Frenzy, to let two occupants out, clogging traffic both ways. I figured he'd do what I did - circle the block and park elsewhere, since the lot was still overflowing.

Nope. He backed up a bit, setting off a blaze of car horns, and somehow wedged his van between the last car in the lot and a huge oak tree. Nobody was leaving now ! In fact, he got so close, only his door could be opened !

I'm guessing this sort of 'to heck with everyone who ain't me' behavior is just their way of life, because the two women he was with inside acted as though everyone there - buyers and sellers alike - were there to carry their stuff, halve prices, and make way for them and anything they wanted, because that's the way they acted. They threw their payment at the cashier, because one item wasn't discounted enough, and she had the fortitude to ask for their tax-free number, since they refused to pay the sales tax stated on the signage all over the house. The tax collected may have been a scam, but it was clearly noted in every room and on the door, so complaining about it at check-out seemed a bit churlish, especially when there were five people behind them waiting to pay for their own things, and leave.

I paid for my items - a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle 'Mutant Maker', a sort of Fashion Plates for boys, and a Crayola Creature Maker, about the same thing - and stepped outside, where people were trying to make sense out of their parking arrangements, and the van people were trying to load up their stuff, but couldn't, because most of it wouldn't fit through the only available door. The person assigned to carry their purchases just set them gently down on the driveway and over the oak roots, and walked back inside. I calmly strolled down the street, got into my vehicle easily, and hoped that my $1.50 in purchases would make a few bucks on eBay... but Dearest would probably want that creature maker.

Sad thing is, those folks were my parents' age. They weren't young and stupid, they were old and entitled. But, heck, for all I know, they're still trying to get their $200. worth of stuff into the van and leave !

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Dollar Tree / Disney Princess fun...
Friday, November 21, 2008

Anyone who's into dolls is at least aware of the plethora of Disney Princess stuff out there. I mean, there's always a new doll of the latest Princess, even if it's just due to a movie being re-re-re-released after yet another 'restoration'. Makes me wonder how the movie ever made it to screens in the first place, if it had to be restored and cleaned six times before it could be seen on my ole POS TV...

So, yeah, I have a minor squeee for Disney Princess stuff. I wasn't allowed to play princess as a kid - my mother'd ask why I thought I was one, who was I to be swanning around like that, and no country would want a useless princess like me. Boy, she loved me so much... anyway, no time like the present to enjoy what you didn't get to as a kid. Plus, now you got money !

But in my case, I don't like to spend much on my silly hobbies. I find the dolls at yard sales and the other goodies at Dollar Tree. It's sort of a tradition for my website blog to be all Holiday Diz Princess during Christmas, so when I found Princess wrapping paper - three different styles and colors ! - at Dollar Tree today, I snagged the two I liked best. The rolls that came home with me were carefully inspected - many rolls were printed just a bit off, so Cinderella's eyebrows were right on top of her eyes, or Belle's skin tones didn't quite meet where her arm was. A couple of them were printed so badly, they looked out of focus, which is pretty bad for a paper product ! Tinkerbell, Mickey Mouse, and Pooh were also wrap-represented.

Prowling further, I found tons of Princess, Tink, Cars, and Mickey stocking-stuffer small toys - tops, jumpropes, stamp and stationery sets, pens, pencils, kaleidoscopes, stickers, etc. They even had some with Hannah Montana and High School Musical. I snagged a stationery set with Lightning McQueen for Dearest Son. They also had Christmas Cards with Cars and Tinkerbell characters - ten for a buck !

I also found two different sets of window clings in the DPrincess motif. Very nice ones ! I'm looking forward to scanning 'em. They also, again, had them in Tink, Mickey, and Pooh.

Scored a 'garlic and sea salt in a glass grinding shaker' from the Seasonings aisle - they also had it in Barbecue, Sea Salt & Pepper, and other varieties. I'm curious as to how well that grinder is gonna work ! Snagged a pretty pair of white socks with gold snowflakes, they'll become a doll sweater later, and found a big soup mug that matches the two I got at a yard sale last year. I like to have three, so all of us have matching bowls !

Hit a yard sale on the way home, just in time to see a Parking Enforcement car deposit a ticket on a badly parked vehicle already at the sale. Circled the block to make sure I didn't park too close to the stop sign. Hated to waste gas, but 25c worth of gasoline is cheaper than a $20. ticket.

The sale was indoors, but wasn't much. Found a white bucket-type hat made of pretty lace and interfacing, and I soon deduced it'd be easy to take apart to salvage the lace. I also found some shelf paper and a huge box of various sewing goods, most pretty old. $6. for the lot, not bad !

The hat took about 20 minutes to reduce to component elements, and the lace awaits a load of white laundry. The box was a ton of fun to go through - I now have a gallon bag of old buttons still on cards. Wow. At one point, you could buy six military-look silver buttons for 45c. I have a similar bag of bias tape, and another of seam binding, rick-rack, and ribbon. The rick-rack has price stickers reading '3 for 25c ' ! And an even bigger bag of various 'Aunt Martha' transfers. I wonder if they still work...

There were also some vintage patterns - for blouses and aprons too small to fit me, but the fashion illustrations are pure eye candy . And a bunch of handmade patterns done on paper and thin cardboard, I'll have to piece 'em together to see what they make. I also now have copies of Singer Sewing Skills, dated 1955, a Grit catalog of patterns from 1979, simply called Fashions to Sew, and Adventures in Conversation, which bears a 1963 copyright. So I have some awesome reading ahead of me !

Not sure if I'm going on a yard sale hunt tomorrow or not, but finds like the Sewing Box 'O Stuff are what keep me out there,  even when it's getting darn cold. Yard sale season around here has normally ended before Halloween, but there's a bunch more sales tomorrow, go figure !

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Another 'spend nothing' day...
Thursday, November 20, 2008

...although Beloved Hubby spent 95c on me this morning. We fortunately/unfortunately live across the street from a 7-11 convenience store. I try to stay out of there, but every so often, the indescribable, inescapable yearning for a Pumpkin Spice Capuccino is overwhelming, and such was the way of this day. Normally, I enjoy my special peppermint coffee (broken cheap candy canes in the carafe) on cold mornings, but I'd hauled my carcass outta bed late, and didn't have time to put a pot on.

Last week, I spent $3. there - on a toy ! I have a small collection of Fashion Plates and clones, and well, there was one, hanging next to the overpriced miniature Cinderella dolls and cap guns. Since a Tomy 'vintage' set of Fashion Plates routinely brings about $50. on eBay, I snap up clones and knockoffs whenever I find 'em. I have two sets of Tomy - one's going on eBay later this month - and three Barbie ones, two pocket-size knockoffs, and a Little Mermaid set. All purchased at yard sales and thrift stores for less than what I paid for the latest 7-11 set.

Anyway. It was really hard to get motivated to do much besides sip my luscious coffee and read online, but eventually I stirred around and got the dishes done. We caught flu last month, and the kitchen got trashed...oh, heck, whole house was trashed, since no one had the energy to clean anything save noses. Dearest Son didn't catch it, which I'm eternally happy for, but he dragged toys everywhere, and didn't put any of 'em away. I'm still digging out from under.

For 'fun', I put away some doll stuff I've had sitting out since I bought it - and if there's anything to make you question getting any more stuff, it's sorting through what you already have ! Spent two weeks this summer bundling all the fabric finds I've had over the last couple years, and I have two more bags of material coming in any day now, from a friend cleaning out her stash.

I'd bought a mixed bag of Barbie and Polly Pocket props and clothes at a yard sale last Friday. I only wanted it for the Barbie food props, but the whole bag was just a buck, so... Went through it today, and to my surprise, found a doll that sort of resembles me. And one that looks like Beloved Hubby. Hmm. I had fun dressing the dolls and finding out that he can wear her shoes, and most of her clothes ! They don't make much of a wardrobe for the male Pocket dolls. And darn few shoes.

I have an experiment on hold until the humidity goes down. In a bag are 34 pairs of Barbie shoes. Each pair of shoes is a matched pair, identical in material, shape, and design. They are not, however, the same color. One pair of pumps consists of a purple and a white shoe, ankle boots are pink and orange, Ken loafers are black and brown, etc.  Through they years, I've always saved the solo shoes that come my way, in hopes of finding the other shoe later. When the solo shoe box got too big, I started matching 'em up as 'shoes identical save for color'. I already know Krylon's Fusion spray paint for plastics works on most doll shoes. And I also know Fusion is expensive, and comes in a limited selection of colors.

So the experiment will hope to answer this question : If the shoes are sprayed with a primer color - gray - of Fusion first, can they then get a topcoat of a cheaper spray color, and will it stick ? I have lots of cheap spray paint in great colors - here's hoping I can use it ! Or I'm gonna have a heckuva lotta grey Barbie shoes !

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A nice, quiet day...
Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Today was pretty frugal, because I didn't go anywhere ! Did some housework, and figured out what I'm doing for Christmas gifts at Dearest Son's school. He's helped by so many people that I don't want to forget anyone - not the PE teachers, or the office staff, or the nurse, or the busdrivers, or the tutors - the list goes on forever !

So I can't just buy everyone a gift - unless it's a Little Debbie snack cake ! Last year I made pincushions from those Lucite shoe favors they sell for weddings - using coupons, of course ! I used bits of fabric I already had, and there was enough to make each a matching little drawstring gift bag, using ribbon I already had. They averaged out to 50c each, and were very well-received !

I've been sick half the year so far, so I didn't want to get into anything too involved this year. I remembered seeing unbleached muslin ornaments in various shapes on a 'primitives' tree - the ornaments were simple, with a ribbon to hang them, and frayed edges outlining the shape. Now there was an idea ! I could use some similar fabric I already have - leftovers from a curtain project - to make stars. Since the raw edges are on the outside and frayed a bit, I wouldn't have to turn them and sew the last edge closed by hand, which always takes forever.

I even have the Poly-fil, bought two brand-new still-sealed bags at a yard sale for a buck each, and I'd only used half a bag for a Halloween project. And various other finds had long since given me an abundance of lace and ribbon. About the only expense would be if I decided to add a jingle bell to them, and even those are cheap. Especially if I use the frequent Hobby Lobby 40% off coupons on their website. I've done that numerous times.

An ornament is almost always welcome, and even if a recipient didn't like it, they could always pass it along, since I'd be giving them out the day school let out for the holidays. Plenty of time to find a new owner. But I hope everyone keeps 'em !

Coffee and leftovers for breakfast, and a can of ravioli for lunch. I felt like splurging a bit. I'm hoping tomorrow to make a prototype of the ornament, just to see how long it takes and what needs to be changed. Wish me luck !

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Fun day volunteering at school...
Tuesday, November 18, 2008

...but I'm exhausted ! Our public school system does a health screening every year - height/weight, blood pressure, lice, teeth, hearing, vision - and it's quite labor intensive. Since I'm at Dearest Son's school at least once a week with one volunteer project or another, I often get asked to the big events. And Healthy Kids is one of the biggies. Unlike some of the other times I work for the school, at least this one is for the kids, and doesn't represent a money-earning opportunity. I kinda get tired of being tapped for those.

 Knew today would be an all-day event, so I dressed to move and had a song in my mind prepared. I was told we'd be provided with lunch, so I figured, 'Hey, it's been a while since I had a grey-meat cafeteria burger !' and was kinda looking forward to it.

But it wasn't so. I got a nice new 'Healthy Kids' T-shirt (yaaay, freebies !) from the county hospital, the sponsor. And lunch was catered sandwiches and salads from Panera Bread ! True, I wore myself and my song out running everywhere, but I really had fun, and hope to be invited back next year. So many adorable kids - and I even got to spend a few minutes with my Dearest.

He had a science activity after school, and the volunteering ended about 45 minutes before classes did, so I had nearly two hours before I had to pick him up. Picked up a copy of Wall-E like I promised, and even got my dolls a sort-of treat. Target was closest, and in their Dollar Spot, I found a set of 'Game Night Candy' - four small boxes that look like classic Hasbro games. In a doll diorama, it'll look like there's Clue, Life, Sorry!, and Monopoly games in the background. The box fronts declare the boxes are candy, but from the side, they really look like the real thing, just in small scale.

The candy within was a surprise. Sorry!'s box contained blue and yellow game pieces ! Life had pink 'peg' cars and the spinning wheel in blue. Monopoly gave us blue cars and pink dogs, and Clue hosted green candlesticks and blue wrenches. Now I kinda wish I'd gotten the other set -  it had Operation ! I was just expecting some sort of candy dots or something. They taste like extra-hard Sweet Tarts.

Yeah, I could have printed out my own versions. But I have one of those cheap printers that use expensive ink. So really, it's cheaper to buy 'em ready made, when they're just a dollar.

If you have a Cars, Disney Princess, or Hello Kitty fan on your shopping list, visit your local Target's Dollar Spot. I found DP cosmetics, HK purses and jewelry, Cars and DP notepads, color-in mini standees,complete with stickers and markers, and hang-up dry erase boards. Great stocking stuffers - except for the dry erase boards, they're about the size of a sheet of copy paper, and made of thick board with a writing surface.

Not much doll time today, and my feet still hurt. But it's a good hurt !

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New Blog ! Wheee !
Monday, November 17, 2008

Hiya ! I'm Dorrie, and I'm a doll hobbyist. Not a 'collector', I play with my dolls, and sew for them, and customize 'em. Probably all my dolls put together wouldn't bring $50. or even 50 views on eBay ! Most of my dolls are bought used at yard sales and thrift stores, and half the time, they're nude. I mostly learned to sew so I could make doll clothes ! Well, that and get over my intense shame at being a Jr. High Sewing Failure in Home Ec. ! Hard to believe that was nearly 30 years ago...

I have many, many dolls in many, many sizes - from two to 38 inches tall ! and I sew for 'em all ! There's Barbies, and Timey Tell, and a gorgeous Tonner Wicked Witch, and Crissy, and five different Ariel and Belle dolls, Jem, and Dancerella...even a trio of My Size Barbies ! I dyed their hair, and no two are alike anymore. I love doing that...

Anyway, the pretty brown-haired doll on your right used to be a Little Disney Princess Belle, from Playmates Toys. She's now 'Princess Dorrie' - I customized her hair m'self ! It's easy - and I'll show and tell you how, right here ! That is, if anyone' s interested in how to get ink off a Barbie, boil-perm hair, make super-simple sock doll clothes, and such.

Today was pretty frugal - I went to the local Thrift, and spent all of 54c. This thrift bags up Happy Meal-type small toys, and I spied a Bryer's doll in one - she's about the same size as the 'Musical Disney Princess' dolls I scarfed up at a flea market last week. So I wanted her for the jeans and boots, but I may do something with the six-inch doll, too.

Talked to the thrift's owner, too - she's said she's already feeling the pinch. Traffic in the store is way up, but donations are way down. I said I'd noticed that yard sale season is still going here, which is odd, it normally dries up a week or two before Halloween - maybe that was part of the problem.

She said it was due to folks hanging on more to what they have - something us frugalas have been doing for quite some time ! - and 'donations' bins that take the clothes and sell 'em overseas for profit. They're taking away part of her business, she says, and they're not even local - they're Texas-based. While she still gets yard-sale leftovers, they're frequently trash, and that costs her. Said she didn't see near the toys being donated that they saw just this summer.

Well, after that, my weekly grocery shopping became a 'stock up for a long cold winter' shop, and I got enough cough, allergy, and cold medicines to last us from now 'til March, I hope ! Plenty of soup, too, and beef and chicken stock. Leftovers for lunch, coffee instead of soda today. We've switched from canned sodas to 2-liter bottles, so I'm hoping to make some of those snowflake ornaments from the empties soon !

Stale tortilla chips still make great nachos ! 30 seconds in the microwave, and the cheese is melted and the chips are toasted just the way I like 'em ! Yum !

Well, it's dinnertime, and Beloved Hubby's treating us to Mc Ribs ! So, it's nice to meet'cha, and feel free to visit my website, dorriebelle.tripod.comand my other blog, dorriebelle.tripod.com/DorrieBelle .

See you tomorrow ! Hope you had a fun, frugal day !!

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Author:
DorrieBelle (Contact)
Norman, OK USA
About Me:

I have numerous health issues for someone my age - I'm 42 - so I'm a stay-at-home Mom. I wish I stayed at home more, though - I spend half my week at Dearest Son's school as a volunteer ! My house is trashed, but I love my doll/sewing room, called The Lab. Beloved Hubby has to be the most indulgent man in history !

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