Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 19, 2013 · 15 comments

  1. I am creating a cool bedside table for my younger son’s Christmas present. His bed is too close to the opening of his closet door for a regular bedside table, plus the heat register for the room is right there, which means anything solid would freeze his room out. However, I found a $3 lightweight stool at Goodwill that I am painting and Mod-Podging up cute for him. This will allow him to keep his books, iPod or whatever off the floor. My original thinking was to incorporate some of his artwork, but he’s been keeping his good stuff at school, so I’ll spend some time on Pinterest today to find ideas and inspiration. I was able to get the sample-sized paint for free with a Lowe’s coupon that came in a recent magazine, which was very welcome. I’ll share completed photos when it’s all done.
  2. The zipper on my favorite Keen boots broke the other day. (I say “favorite boots,” but they’re in fact my only boots.) I knew this was in the cards, as I’d noticed that the zipper teeth were on their last legs. Luckily my father has been re-corking his Birkenstocks since the beginning of time, so I had the recommendation of a good cobbler. (Hollywood Shoe Repair on N.E. Sandy Blvd.) I dropped the boots off on Tuesday, and they should be ready to pick up later today. The repair job will set me back $35, but I’ll get years more use from the boots, plus I get to support a great small businessman. I only own a few pair of shoes, so having even one set out of  commission is a big deal. I am very excited to get my boots back!
  3. I served a very odd dinner last night in the name of food waste avoidance. I prepared curry shredded chicken using Trader Joe’s green curry simmer sauce (with added coconut milk to stretch it) earlier in the week, plus had a few cups of leftover rice from Tuesday night’s dinner. I combined the two and then served it over a vinaigrette-dressed salad for last night’s dinner. Everyone was kind of surprised by the combination, but it was eaten up nonetheless. I just love it when I’m able to take leftovers and combine them in new ways!
  4. My family usually makes a big deal out of getting our annual Christmas tree. The four of us drive out to a friend’s Christmas tree farm, wander around until we find the one and then cut it down ourselves. Unfortunately, the combination of my husband having strep throat and his work schedule meant that we were treeless pretty far into December. Luckily, Oregon is the Christmas tree growing center of the country. My younger son’s best friend lives across town, and I kept passing an empty lot that was filled with trees and featuring a sign that read “All Trees $20!” It wasn’t exactly a cutesy family event, (the seller hangs out in a trailer that looks like it wasn’t fancy enough to be featured on Breaking Bad!) but sometimes you just have to git ‘er done. The funny thing is that my husband swears this is “the best tree we’ve ever had,” and that “we’re going to leave this tree up until March!” Weirdo.
  5. I’ve been mailing out a lot of boxes recently due to my eBay and Etsy sales. However, always buying used means I never have boxes. Luckily, my mother is always overrun with extra boxes and packing supplies. I lighten her burden, and am able to get great free materials that would otherwise just be thrown out or recycled. Win-win!

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to lately?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Barb @ 1SentenceDiary December 19, 2013 at 11:48 am

1- We’re going on a trip via airplane (not frugal) but are bringing all our own food so as not to purchase exorbitant airport food. This is rather complicated as we have various food issues and it will be an all day event (two meals plus snacks) but we are doing it!

2- On said trip, we’ve arranged to borrow cars on various days rather than renting. It’s more of a hassle, but definitely more frugal. We’re also borrowing some boots and snowpants for the days we are planning to go sledding, rather than bringing those items from home (and paying for the checked luggage).

3- No grocery shopping this week! Trying to use up all the items in the house prior to the trip. I’ve also put a full meal ready to eat in the freezer, so we’ll have something frugal to eat upon our return.

4- Thrift store FIND! Boots that look completely unworn, and exactly in my daughter’s size.

5- limited gift giving plans… arrangements have been made with the extended family so that the gift giving is fun but not overwhelming. It’s all about the kids and they each picked a name so every child is giving a gift to a cousin. My kids are excited about the items they picked for their cousins, and (woot!) only two presents to buy rather than 8!


Eliza December 19, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I love your shoe cobbling story the most.

1. A friend and I cut up last years Christmas cards to make 20 new ones to hand out to my students this week.
2. I borrowed all the text books I’ll need to bone up for my new job next year from colleagues and haven’t had to buy any!
3. I pureed the berries that were going soft and added them to plain yoghurt for my daughters breakfast and she LOVED it.
4. I used wrapping paper made by my students to wrap my Christmas presents. I also used some vintage material in an odd size that was lying around and used up all the gift bags I had in my Christmas box.
5. As we are buying nothing new I bought all my niece’s and nephews’ Christmas presents second hand at the market and probably saved a fortune (but as it isn’t our focus I haven’t really added up how much that would be).


Diane December 19, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I have all my presents bought or made, so no racing around in a frenzy. I’m using this time to work on the baby quilts I sell on ebay. Most of the fabric has been given to me or found at estate sales on the cheap and the time I spend quilting is my meditation. Also, I have been trail walking and swimming to enjoy my days. And right now I’m baking biscotti from ingredients on hand. Can’t wait to sample one with ginger, lemon and honey tea.


Amy December 19, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I dusted off my Ravelry account so I can browse and download free crochet patterns instead of going to Amazon to browse stuff. I want inspiration to use up my yarn stash next year!


Trish December 19, 2013 at 1:55 pm

I too have been selling things on E-Bay, as part of my downsizing. I have been saving every box that my online school books came in, so I was good for boxes and packing material. Love to recycle and reuse. I look forward to reading your blog everyday, it is one of the three I look at. Really like your savvy ideas and great sense of humor. Happy Christmas!


Carol December 19, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Hi Katy…I am fascinated by the make your own infinity scarves. As an “ahem” older woman I need the softness around my face. Our Goodwill has a $1.00 color each week so I have 3 candidates to cut up.


Belleln December 20, 2013 at 7:22 am

I shop and donate to a thrift store that supports a rape crisis center:
Purchased the one Christmas card I needed for $.25 and As I send my grandkids a new ornament each year I’m always on the lookout: purchased a $5 blown glass ornament still in the plastic box for $1 and a set of 4 new Snowbaby type ornments for $1 – these will be put aside for next year. Also a Christmas CD for $.50 to play in the car.

Bought a pair of size 10P short pants for $7.99 reduced from $24.95 – thrilled as I’ve now lost 95lbs in the past 3 years.

Used 2 coupons for free paint samples from Lowe’s to add some much needed color to our guest room – painted the edge of a basket and the inside of a catch-all (I put travel size shampoo, lotion etc in one and local magazines in the other, all that I pick up for free)
Purchased 2 white poinsettias for $1 each originally $4.98 , a mixed poinsettia & green plants for $5 originally $9.98 and a pot of 3 Big Bertha green peppers at $9.98 orig $12.98 all at Lowe’s plus my husband used his Veterans 10% discount. The plants will all be kept and used next year – I want a massive display by the pool so we can really enjoy the season – hard to do here in SW FL when the temps are in the 80s.

Found a ‘recipe’ for making ModPodge: 2 parts water to one part Elmer’s White Glue. Will try it on a tray I’m redoing for my notes – actually those cut up blank sided junk mail letters


Yankeegal December 20, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Congrats on your amazing weight loss!


Shell December 20, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Congrats on the weight loss and thanks for the modpodge “recipe’. It’ll come in handy for several projects. Have a great day 🙂


Kim Stewart December 20, 2013 at 9:07 am

~Used my La Madeleine Birthday coupon for a free slice of Coconut cake. YUMMY!
~Picked up some soap making supplies from a fellow Freecycler!
~Found some adorable clothes on the clearance rack for an “Angel Tree” little girl. Cute flowered jeans, 2 fleece tops and 6 prs of Esprit socks for $13 and no tax since I was in PA and they don’t charge tax on clothing. Funny thing was I couldn’t find anything I liked at this store, I looked through the clearance rack and found these that I loved and were the right size!!
~Went to the grocery salvage store that is right over the state line. Went with my girlfriend to meet her sister “in the middle” so we were in the area so it wasn’t a special trip. My friend’s first time and she was thrilled with the savings.
~My favorite though this week is finding 2 pieces of very hard to find
vintage Fiesta at 2 different thrifts!! I found a refrigerator stack set dish in mint condition for $5 and a sweets comport with small chip on base for $1! Both in yellow and both required a happy dance!


Suzanne P. December 21, 2013 at 12:07 am

1. I went through my clothes to try and get rid of some things and took some stuff to a consignment shop. I got $14 cash (which I guess is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick).

2. My husband returned an unwanted gift to a store and with the in-store credit we purchased a new hair dryer (mine is on the fritz).

3. I saw that Winco said they’d beat prices on certain items like a dozen large eggs. I mentioned to the cashier that Walgreens is selling eggs for 99 cents a dozen right now and got 2 dozen eggs for 98 cents each.


Jane F December 22, 2013 at 1:15 pm

What frugal fun!

Just a tip for boxes. Try asking stores if they have any in the back. Having worked in retail the amount of packaging (boxes, bubble wrap, styrofoam peanuts) that comes through and goes to the trash is stunning.


Kirsten December 22, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Hi Katy – How long of a zipper are you replacing? I have a similar situation with my favorite Jambu boots and tried taking them to another local cobbler in North Portland, however they quoted me $65 to fix the zipper (they are knee high boots). I’d love to try the Hollywood one if your zipper was pretty long as well.


Katy December 23, 2013 at 10:55 am

The boots go to upper calf.



Kirsten December 23, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Thanks, maybe I’ll give that place a try then!


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