Blog: Pam's Pennypinching With STYLE

Pam's recounting of how her ancestrally thrifty habits have helped her in modern life in ways none of her foremothers could have imagined!

Showing 5 posts from June 2009 for this blog.
Playing Event Planner, sortta
Monday, June 29, 2009

 A dear friend planned a celebration to honor the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall - with a Celtic Communion Service conducted by an Archbishop who was there - I was singing, but I got involved in setting up the event, too.  There were pretty organized, but the outdoor plastic tables & chairs had to be washed OFF.  Luckily my boy scout husband had some soap in the car, which I put in a bucket I found & I used that to clean off everything.

I "fluffed" by taping colored tissue paper to the white plastic tabletops - and for the really dingy tables, I put pieces of the tissue paper under some sheer fabric (old sheer curtains).  It's amazing how elegant that looked! We also had some signs I could put on the tables to decorate them.  I also filled the top of the dry fountain behind where we served with colored tissue to make it "pop" a bit.

Instead of brewing hot tea for the ice tea, as I had been told, I just put the teabags in the urns we had, added water and put them in the sun to make "sun tea."  Worked fine, and as it was a not day, there was no need for any more heat....Ice tea and lemonade are really nice and economical beverages for the summer.  Our lemons came from the tree of one of our circle of friends, too. Fresh real lemonade is so good.  Ditto fresh ice tea.  (I have also made it and put it in punchbowls.) A spring of mint, also from the garden, adds a bit of class.

I wore a linen Donna Karan blouse I had picked up somewhere - which I had had to treat for spots with bleach, and mend the collar slightly - but great for the heat!  And I added a nylon scarf I had gotten at the 99 Cent Store. (Nylon can be great in the heat, as it refuses to WILT.) And I just had to spray my crinkly rayon pants with wrinkle spray - no ironing required and even better for the crinkles as ironing flattens them out too much.  Rayon is a fabric which really suits the D.A. climate.  I put my hair up and added a metallic Dollar Tree headband and wore my thrift shop silver vintage bracelet and my Goodwill black satin ballet flats.  (And again, who knew but me- and now, YOU.) Outfit total = $5 pants/shirt $5??/Scarf $1/headband $1/bracelet $2/shoes $5 = total of @ less than $20.  Not bad.

I also discovered they were having a bookseller at the library where we held the event, and being a book addict, scanned the shelves, and brought home 10 very nice paperbacks for $.50 each!

There also was a raffle associated with the event, and as the odds looked good, I entered and WON a package with a dress,earrings, and a nice bracelet!  - I learned from a woman's magazine years ago that you should always enter "local" contests as the odds are better - and sure, enough, as soon as I put that principle into practice, I, who had never won anything, started to win prizes.  I even won new TV once at the opening of a fancy drugstore!

After the event we broke down, and I saved some flowers from the arrangements that they had had - which otherwise would have ended up in the trash.  I love fresh flowers and greenery and try to get them whenever they are a good deal - and free is always good.  I find that if I take them home and re-cut and re-arrange them, I can make nice arrangements that will often last a week afterwards.

I am known among my friends for not being able to throw anything away - One buddy said, "Watch her, she will take home everything."  Not quite, but I did recycle some tissue paper besides the flowers and some leftovers.  And we pored the excess cold tea into a jug and took that home, too.

I have also helped out over the years with other events my friend has organized - putting final touches on the flower arrangements and so on. That event was quite posh and in the back garden of a Beverly Hills home built on the model of the Petit Transom palace! (and I ended up with skin care samples and pens and a magazine subscription!) Who knew that self-taught flower arranging would turn out to be such a useful skill?

I also sometimes can cut the roses from our little garden plots here at the apartment.  We have a bed of mint, too!

I was really there as part of the choir for the Celtic Service they had.  I have really gotten so much pleasure out of all my music over the years.  I hadn't  sung for a while in a choral group, and it was really nice to get back into - and with such an accomplished bunch, too!  Now that's a frugal pleasure.  Sometimes they even pay YOU.

And home in the evening, I realized from the reaction from my muscles that an added benefit had been a bit of a WORKOUT. (I recently saw an article entitled "Is your housecleaned making you fat?") Let's remember that any activity, housecleaning included,can get you moving...And I was in a lovely shaded garden area, which made it quite nice - and cool...

Lots of freebies and deals and frugalista goings on!




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Cobbling Together
Saturday, June 27, 2009

A minor bug hit me this week, and so I have been taking it easy, doctoring myself with lots of Vit. C and wellness vitamins of all sorts and reading the funny old $.50 books I pick up from that great outdoor bookstore in Ojai, CA - Bart's. They have bargain racks outside - & all the books there, mostly hard backs, are $.50 - it's amazing the assortment of topics you can find there - from diet books to classics.

I wanted to rest up because I have to sing for an event on Sunday.  Whew, it's hot here - so I have also been thinking about what to WEAR, because I just found out that the singers have to wear black & white. (And I had another lovely outfit planned, too!)

I am getting the last of the spots out of a Donna Karan linen shirt I picked up somewhere with bleach on a cotton swab on wet material until the spot bleaches out. (Same idea as a bleach pen - but MUCH less expensive!) I think they say to DRY CLEAN the shirt - but linen can be washed, so I don't know what they are talking about.  I also have to do some minor mending to the collar - Think in my other life I was a ladies maid or something, since I actually enjoy getting out spots and mending things so it doesn't show! Labels like Donna Karan DO make nice things out of fine materials, but I could never afford that first hand!

Also cobbled together (see title) a closing for my blue National Geographic watch - I got that one with a sky theme and another one, which has a greenish map pattern for $1 each as gifts  - but I had to open the packaging and replace the batteries, so I ended up keeping them myself.  The weakness of these watches is the BUCKLE of the matching plastic watchband - which is flimsy and breaks.  I reversed the buckle on the greenish watch - but the blue buckle went missing - so I picked up some buckles at the thrift shop for $.10 each.  Alas, none of them fit -but I did extract the little fork-thing in the buckle & attached it to my watchband with those wire twisties - and found I could make it work. Also added another closure with those little hair elastics - which I colored blue with a magic marker! So now, I can wear it & no one will be the wiser except me (& YOU).  They are pretty fashion watches.  And the sky blue band of the blue one really makes the watch - so it would have been a shame just to get another band in this case...And it came just at the time my regular watch has to go to watch repair because one of those spring things that held it on to the band flew across a restaurant while I was having lunch & is lost forever.

Hmm, what else?  I got a really nifty little pen knife through the mail from one of my freebie offers.  Sharp, too. And more magazines, of course.  Have to recycle those.  And some hair care samples. ALWAYS has samples - so check it out.  (I usually wait until my freebie sites alert me to them.)

I also signed up for some more preferred customer plans - they send you samples to try, sometimes. I have had good luck with the ones with the fashion magazines in terms of getting free products.  And the fast food sites offer coupons and discounts.  We got a 2 for one Carl's Jr. Chicken sandwich on a coupon last weekend - good sandwich and cheap at the price, too. (That coupon came with the newspaper - I save them for hubby, since he sneaks into fast food places on the run....) I also got a $2 off Subway CARD, which I think hubby used the other night to buy sandwiches for dinner. 

I did get the $25 gift card for to work and ordered a book for hubby's birthday. (Hubby hadn't been able to get it to work for himself, somehow.)  Did I say that I also got some very reasonable books on for him?  He likes sailing and adventure books.  But actually, I think the one he likes the best is a $.50 one about Byrd at the South Pole from Bart's!  And the guy I work for keeps on passing on bags to hubby & me - & hubby does love BAGS. The latest one is a black nylon computer bag -  Another birthday present, I say!

Oh, a note - my nails, which have always been soft, have suddenly become hard as rocks?!?  - Can't think what I am doing differently - unless it's the glucosamine samples I have been adding to my vitamins?   Now, I will have to keep on taking THOSE. Also read it helps to keep skin from sagging internally???

I find it amusing to read beauty surveys asking if I am still getting salon manicures and treatments - as I never DID - except the time it was a freebie! But then again, I have become very allergic to regular nail polish - but I will have to look into the new health food store brands that have different ingredients...

Gee, have all those people really been spending all that $$ on all that stuff?  No wonder they are broke! For me, it's always been that I just have never been paid handsomely for being an artiste and persevered anyway...

I am the kind that looks at the prices of the free Cover Girl/Olay makeup (which I got from being a bzz agent) and the mascara I got as a freebie to see how much money I COULD have spent.  To save $20-$30 is a lot to me. And I am glorying in all the nice new bargain undies I scored at the 99 Cent Store!

I DO have to rub hubby's nose in it, as he was squawking about my undie spree - when I saw the equivalent in Macy's at $7-8 each! See! See! Some people spend $8 for undies.  Not me. (And if I hadn't found them there, one can always get them discounted from the online Hanes site!)

Oh, such a frugal and fashionable wife hubby has! My favorite lipstick is a Wet N Wild brand which costs $1!! And I scored more brand new skin care at a thrift shop for $7 for 7 items - which will keep me going for a while in terms of night cream, etc. (Usually $10 a jar, even at Avon online!)

But Sunday, decked out in my DKNY linen shirt and so on - NO ONE will be the wiser.  Go team!







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Tshirt Scarves & More
Thursday, June 18, 2009

I am reminded that brief posts are also oK - Now I know what I am - according to a new people's dictionary (mentioned in an L.A. Times article) I am a frugalista - that it, frugal but fashionable!

My tshirt cowl/scarves have turned out very well!  It's so easy.  Just buy a tshirt in the right color (I got $1 ones from the thrift shop) - larger for more fabric - fold tshirt over lengthwise in two - cut strips (mine were about 2" wide) - pull loops & the will curl into themselves - Bind the loops with another piece of tshirt fabric - fold over once or so & put on neck!  (You can glam them with beads, fabric paint, etc. - or make strips very narrow for a necklace effect.) I like mine (one grey and one washout blue) to glam up regular tshirts when I go out.  It's amazing how nicely they  work.

And hubby really liked the robe tie/sash I made him.  It was like a skinny scarf - but I used 2 strands of yarn (dk blue & white) on my big needles.  Why do we all LOSE the ties to our robes?

Got some more glucosamine samples in the mail.  I had been working through generous samples from other makers - I bought some, but will take the samples instead until they are out! They seem to be giving away lots of glucosamine & fish oil products right now.  Again check out www.freestufftimes for the most updated freebies. (Although I also signed up en espanol on the Univision site to get my free deodorant sample! - Yahoo Babel Fish will translate it into ingles for you!)

See ya - also check me out at for more L.A.-based tips!



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The On-going Thrift SAGA
Monday, June 15, 2009

We stayed home last wkend due to grey & sprinkly weather & explored the neighborhood on our walk. Up at Hollywood Blvd. I noticed a flyer for a yd sale at a local retirement home a block away - so we went over there, even tho it was supposed to be over. Sure enough,there was STUFF all over the place that they were beginning to pack up. 

The common thought is that to get good ydsale stuff is to get there EARLY - but in my experience, to get the really CHEAP deals, arrive just at the END, when they just want to get RID of everything!  I found a Chico's Indian chiffon jacket, a nice craft pendant, some scarves, a tape for hubby, some greeting cards, and a stack of paperbacks that must be review copies and a bag for $10 (hubby negotiated). And then I saw 2 pairs of those large "Jackie O" sunglasses that are so in vogue, and I handed over another $1 for them! Just the jacket OR the scarves OR the books were worth that! And they were so grateful to have a little bit more cash & less to pack up!

We walked over to our neighborhood coffeehouse & treated ourselves to coffee (& cake for hubby).  All those young people sitting around solo with their laptops.  Hubby & I, and a senior citizen couple were the only ones not alone.  Notice a book swap shelf, and got 2 books.  Plan to bring some of my many oldies over this next week.   Me love book swap shelves! 

We walked along further to the Out of the Closet thriftshop - and I landed a few $1 tshirts and even a $1 sweatshirt & a classic novel in paperback. Even thriftshops have sales & markdowns.  Look for them.

Sunday, I decided to go to Macy's up in Topanga near my Sun. gig - becaz I had a coupon for a Clinique eyecream from - I met a charming elderly lady having her face done at the Clinique counter, and found myself talking about fruit acids and newer skin care.  I must say, after she had a few moisturizing products applied, her skin was markably improved! (But I can get the same results for a lot less, myself.)  That little mall is very nice for walking -  not so crowded.

When we passed thru the Macy's furniture dept. hubby cried "Who BUYS this stuff?" Well, not us.  OUR recliner chair & wing chair were considerable less than $400+ each! (one from Goodwill & one from another thrift store...& perfectly nice...)  Actually, I think it's therapeutic in its own funny way for hubby & I to walk thru upscale to regular shopping venues - He is entirely TOO used to the frugal habits he has picked up from ME & sometimes even beefs about MY purchases.  I had to gloat a bit when I pointed out the underwear in Macy's at $8-10 a PAIR almost identical to the ones I had picked up recently at the dollar store in quantity.  SEE why I bought all that underwear?  SEE?

Recently read a mystery story in which one of the victims (there always are some in those) was being categorized by his CLOTHES.  It made me wonder what would be said about me...I wear high end labels, such as Bill Blass, and Rampage and Chico's etc., not to mention my Minnetonka moccasins I had on Sun., which w/their fringe are very trendy & "Boho." They would be flumoxxed, to be sure, especially with my new underwear! Who would know where they came from??

We may not have a lot of $, but we have very nice things.  My Calif. impressionist oil painting came from an Animal Rights thrift shop in Ventura - on sale for @ $15 - not hundreds of thousands, as the paintings cited today in an article in the L.A. Times! But mine is quite good enuf for me!

Ooh - also recently rec'd a sample of the new scent Delices de Cartier in a convenient little spray bottle.  And also in the mail were samples of bodycology from Walmart, shampoo, and moisturizer.  I put the Walmart samples in my purse, as one was a hand sanitizer, the other fragrance + a moisturizer.  Handy - those samples are also great for the traveler.  Know someone who is still able to take planes?  Gather up those samples for a gift basket.  The big containers are confiscated by Homeland Security, you know! Lost some spa goodies destimed for me that way, when my buddy forgot to pack them up!

Hubby's birthday is tomorrow, and I have been gathering things on my very ltd. budget.  Earned a $25 gift certificate for barnes & online - which I handed over to him & ordered a book for him.  Also found some excellent values at! Last night finished knitting him a sash for his robe(s) - what can one knit for a guy when you are at the scarf level?? I have seen some tie patterns, but they are still beyond me.  Well, I wanted him to know that SMTHING I had knitted was for HIM.

Also have some vintage books I have picked up.  And cards, etc.  It's a secret, but someone I know has sportsteam associations & a "tshirt vault" of freebies he gets and I sorta begged for a couple of  tshirts for hubby.  Hubby also was handed over a lovely vintage LEATHER  briefcase & I got a bag to hide the  tshirts in which is nice enuf to use as a sporty purse! Do you know someone who gets swag regularly?  It's no big deal to them - so deals can be made to get that stuff as presents for YOU to GIVE.  (For ex., I used to know a lady who was into dolls & had extra ones lying around she didn't care about- which were great for the kids I knew.)

Oh, and hubby got $ back from recycling all of his ink cartridges thru Staples and he put that coupon to use against buying another expensive ink cartridge for ANOTHER printer.  We do use them a lot in our home ofc.!  (He has 2 more coupons in the works.) By the way, the clearance/sales tables at ofc. supply stores can yield nice things for yourself or to use as gifts....I am sure I have told you all about the nice bags hubby has picked up for me on those clearance tables....

NOW - gotta take our daily walk - up to the OUT OF THE CLOSET thrift shop again, because one of the tees I got on Sat. was very large & BRAND NEW & perfect as a gift & there were several more, which I would like to get for the gift box, if they are still there!  See ya!



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My frugal week/Bye Bye TV
Friday, June 12, 2009

Hi guys - I have been busy this week & a bit under the weather - so forgive me for not blogging & neglecting you all. 

Kept on with my freebies - is the best! What did I get this week? magazines, shampoo samples, and a nice metal water bottle for Earth Day.

Been crazy with scarf knitting.  Everyone is going to get scarves this Xmas, that's for sure! I even put out TWO one night! Nice to experiment with combos of eyelash yarn + color of background yarn.

Seem to have succeeded in healing a flare up of my gingivitis - It was on a front gum, so I was worried.  With gums it's heal & shrink - but dentists cut, too.  That wasn't necessary, as I used hydrogen peroxide and mouthwash with tea tree oil - and then  tea tree oil tooth picks + floss and an herbal gum mixture. And I took a LOT of Vit. C (4,000) and a reiki sp? mushroom mix for immunity (before I found that I used golden seal...)  So the gum has calmed down - & I am watching it - it did shrink - but alas, that's what gums do after inflammation...I have had gums cut, so trust me, this is a better way to go if I can manage it...

Saw instructions on on the net for a tshirt "necklace" neck thing which I am dying to try - and also found a new site - all sorts of thrifty craft ideas - even dying with pieces of colored tissue paper.  I want to try that, too - (Apparently you put the colored tissue paper on a wet t-shirt & dye it, then set the color by rinsing with vinegar and ironing. ) These are referrals from -

Saving the plastic "string" from my newspapers to see if I can get enuf to incorporate in my knitting....

Hope you all have gotten your coupons for your converter boxes, as TV goes bye-bye tonite - Due to hubby we have cable, so our old TVs are OK. (I won one of them way back when!) No room for flat screens anyway.  Wonder how that's going to turn out.  I just know that many poor & elderly are going to be left out in the cold TV-wise...Our TVs are just fine.  I have seem HD & am not impressed.  Big screens make sense for fanatic sports fans to watch games - but otherwise we are OK. Just the way we keep our "old" TV-like computer monitor.  Use it until it's busted, I say.

Found a wine place with free jazz on Fri & Sat. from an internet newzletter.  Always keep in touch!  Sorry we had to miss the FREE Ford Theatre music workshop last Mon., as my brother was in town & we all had dinner.  But I have the workshops for the rest of the year on my calendar & am planning to make the one next week.

Actually, our social calendar is filling up! My manager is having a party at a Hollywood nite club hot spot place - so I have been wondering what to WEAR.  Luckily I have a silk kimono-type jacket with a tropical theme in bright colors I picked up a while back & never have had a chance to wear.  That & some basic bottoms + some of my pearl craft jewelry & there I go.

I wore a pair of red ballet flats to dinner with my brother Mon. w/ a sweater I had gotten a while ago and a top I just got a Good Will for $1.50.  Nice outfit.

Wearing the $1 cotton sweater I got a few weeks ago in an "old ladies thrift shop"  (plus a 99 Cent Store scarf) - perfect for June gloom here in So.Calif., as they call it - cloudy skies & even drizzle here!

It's the weeked, so off I go.  Have a good one everybody!











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