Keeping an Eye Out

by Katy on March 10, 2011 · 35 comments

Keeping an eye out for a nice basket to replace this ugly plastic bin.

One of the most frugal practices you can work into your life is the art of patience. (Here is a post I wrote two years ago about patience.) Β The habit of buying things as soon as you decide you want them is detrimental not only to your wallet, but also your uncluttered home, as that buffer of time is necessary to deflate the “That thingy is so cool, I totally have to buy it” mentality.

How many among us can deny having bought impulsively only later to wonder if aliens had temporarily inhabited our normally rational selves?

As a thrift store shopper, I have to act somewhat impulsively, as that one of a kind find is sure to get snapped up if not immediately pounced upon. This does not mean that I buy every uber-cool doohickey that crosses my line of vision. What it does mean is that I have a running list of things I’m keeping an eye out for.

For example, right now I am keeping an eye out for:

  • A chaise lounge for my patio. (You may have fantasies about Mr. Darcy, but my #1 fantasy features me spending countless hours laying under the shade of my enormous maple tree while reading and napping.)
  • More free wood chips for yard. I am waiting for a close-by neighbor to have one of those landscaper chippy-things.
  • A sturdy and large square or rectangular basket for the dining room paper recycling. I currently have a plastic bin, and it’s uug-lee!
  • A couple rolls of William Morris wallpaper. (Hey, can’t knock a girl for dreaming!)
  • Four matching outdoor cushions for my patio chairs.
  • A solid colored vintage bedspread that I can transform into a bedskirt to hide the hideousness that is our Hollywood bed frame.

This list isn’t written down, instead runs on a mental loop. It ensures that I know when to snap up those thrift store bargains and what to leave on the shelves for others. And it sure as heck keeps me from filling up a Target shopping cart and my home with weird impulse purchases. Because that, my friends is not the Non-Consumer way.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

 

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Beckie March 10, 2011 at 9:36 am

I love the chair in the photo…I have one just like it! Great post!

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Katy March 10, 2011 at 10:11 am

Thanks, it’s from a 1920’s Carnegie library.

Katy

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Margaret March 10, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I gasped when I saw the chair and said, “That’s my chair!” I actually have two chairs that are almost exactly like this except for the backs are slightly higher. Mine are the remnants of my maternal grandparents’ dining set, and date from around 1915.
What a strange coincidence that three of us have similar chairs!

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Heather March 10, 2011 at 10:07 am

I want an immersion blender. I know I can go to the store and get one. But I haven’t. For years now, I think, that I’ve wanted an immersion blender. Then I met Tammy and Logan, (100 things) and now I wonder, do I NEED an immersion blender? No, probably not. But I still want one. It’s in my brain.

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Katy March 10, 2011 at 10:10 am

I love my immersion blender, and just used it the other day for red lentil soup.

I’m on team immersion blender.

Katy

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Alison March 10, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I *have* an immersion blender but have never used it (to be fair, I just received it as a Christmas gift this year). Heather, where do you live? πŸ™‚ Or, any suggestions about what should I consider using it for?

p.s. I also keep a list of items I have that don’t need/use and that someone else might value. I’ll either post them on Freecycle or figure out the best spot for donating…the immersion blender *might* make that list soon!

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Heather March 10, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Yay, soup! For instance, I made a roasted tomato soup the other night, and an immersion blender would have been perfect. I’d make butternut squash soups and other roasted veggie soups. It’s a good way to add creaminess without adding fat. I do still want a little texture in soups otherwise it feels like we are eating baby food. Give is a whirl Alison!

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Heather March 10, 2011 at 3:16 pm

I use my immersion blender a lot. I love it for soups.

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Katy March 10, 2011 at 3:28 pm

BTW, I’m also “team soup.”
πŸ™‚

Katy

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Diane March 11, 2011 at 11:33 am

I received one as a gift from my brother. I then found a brand-new one at a yard sale and gifted it to my sister. We love them! Besides gallons of soups, I steam leftover raw veggies, puree them and freeze for use in future soups and stews. It’s great for reconstituting powdered milk. It also makes awesome hot chocolates and lattes. Frugal party dips made with homemade yogurt, the list goes on and on…

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Van March 10, 2011 at 10:14 am

Good call! I do the same thing, maintain a thrift list. But I am always on the hunt for excellent mod art, planters, and stock for my store- a list helps keep you from going out of control.

One heartbreaking thing about hunting for one-of-a-kind goods from the thrift store is that when they break- you can’t get another. Lost a beautiful yellow 60s planter last night…

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Diane March 11, 2011 at 11:35 am

Repeat to yourself “it’s only a thing, it’s only a thing.” Don’t worry, something else great will come along!

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Rebecca March 10, 2011 at 11:25 am

My current list to “keep an eye out for”
Winter boots for next year for both boys
Summer sandals for middle child, velcro is a must
ceramic bowls to replace current plastic ones, bigger would be better
Under bed storage bins Rubbermaid esq type
bikes for 3 kids
slippers for me for next winter, both my pairs are about to die

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Linda March 10, 2011 at 11:33 am

I would love two cushy chairs for my bedroom. One thing I worry about is bedbugs. What do you do for used furniture to make sure they do not have any bugs?

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Katy March 11, 2011 at 12:57 am

I don’t hink I’ve bought any used upholstered furniture since bed bugs became a issue again.

Katy

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robbiekay March 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I was beginning to think you really had the Midas touch there. “I’d like to replace this plastic bin with a basket,” then you walk into your Goodwill and there’s the perfect basket! I just recently started keeping a list of things to keep an eye out for when I’m at a thrift store (estate sale, etc.). . . but, in line with my personality, mine’s written down. Mine’s also quite a bit longer than yours or any of your other readers who have commented. I guess I am not as anti-Stuff as I thought! πŸ™‚ It is not unusual, though, for me to want something for years before actually acquiring it. For example, I recently got a peacoat, having wanted one since the ’90s.

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Heather March 10, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I have a small mental list. A few of my friends who scavenge GW more often also know my list.

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Kimberly March 10, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Yep…patience, it’s the problem for me. I have a hard time waiting if I don’t find something at the thrift store the first time I pop in. I’m doing better, though. My impulsive behavior is getting checked by my lessening paycheck!

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Emily March 10, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Would painting the recycle bin while you’re waiting? If you use good primer, you can paint just about anything. Or cover it with fabric or wallpaper?

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Tracy March 10, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Great idea!

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Katy March 11, 2011 at 12:58 am

I’m pretty confident I can find a basket quickly enough. No need to take on more projects. πŸ˜‰

Katy

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Su Madre March 11, 2011 at 1:31 am

Here’s a tip from Katy’s Ma: Krylon has a spray paint called “Fusion” which eliminates the need for primer — it works great on plastic, UNREFINISHED (!) wood, wicker, just about everything! Incidentally, here in Portland, due to anti-graffiti regulations, when you buy a can of spray paint, you have to show ID and sign something, listing your address!

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Emily March 11, 2011 at 6:36 am

I’d love to be suspected of being a graffiti artist! (says the 39 year old gray haired soccer mom)

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Dmarie March 10, 2011 at 6:20 pm

I’m still on the lookout to replace one trashcan, but you may already have something interesting to use. A couple of alternatives that we use: a crock and a metal planter make surprisingly good looking trashcans!

http://bettermebetterworld.blogspot.com/2011/02/make-do-alternatives-to-trash-cans.html

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Karen @ Abundance on a Dime March 10, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Part of the fun of waiting is not knowing when or how you’re going to find something. We had wanted a new patio set for several years (had a really old plastic hand me down one that was getting pretty gruesome). I really, really wanted a nice aluminum and glass set but a brand new one was definitely not in the budget (and we seldom buy anything brand new anyway). I guess it will be two years ago this spring that I was about to leave a church rummage sale and out of the corner of my eye I noticed what I thought was the table for a patio set hidden in a back corner. It turned out to be a great set; glass and aluminum just like I wanted, table, four chairs and cushions, in really good condition, and I got it for $50 (lucky for me they hadn’t displayed it more prominently or I’m sure someone else would have snapped it up before I got there). Extremely satisfying find!! I’ve been keeping an eye out for a good patio umbrella ever since (maybe this yard sale season?) My dh found a chaise lounge on the side of the road that same year I think. It coordinates nicely with the patio set πŸ™‚

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Katy March 11, 2011 at 12:57 am

Score!

Katy

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Linda March 14, 2011 at 6:24 am

I was on a lookout for a patio set and put the word out. My friend told me about a yard sale with a great set. I was not able to get there until day 2 of the sale. I figured I lost out. Well, I saw the set over to the side away from the sale and figured that it was on hold for someone to pick up. I asked anyway and they said that the put it aside because they did not think anyone would buy it. I got 5 chairs without cushions and a lounger for $10 and they delivered it!

I did buy new cushions on clearence. The friend who told me about the sale moved to another state. When she moved, she had an outdoor glass table and umbrella that they did not need. I got that also! So for about $40 I got a high end table with 5 chairs, umbrella and lounger for around my pool. Score!!!

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Practical Parsimony March 10, 2011 at 10:47 pm

I have a chair almost identical to that. I am told it is oak. Once a tree is cut down, I only know it is tree wood. Mine has a slatted shelf underneath and came from a local Benedictine monastery. How about recovering the trash bin with cloth. You could make a “sleeve” to go over it by running elastic through a top and bottom casing of a tube of fabric. You could reuse the fabric afterwards…no gluing or anything. The waste basket could sit on the bottom elastic and the top elastic could barely cover the top rim. Or decoupage it with William Morris wallpaper…pictures of the wallpaper from magazines, of course. I looked for several years for the perfect waste basket. I finally found it for a quarter at a garage sale. The next year I found the same wire basket at the Dollar Tree for $1.

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Reese March 11, 2011 at 6:46 am

Is it yard sale season yet? *sigh*

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Erin March 11, 2011 at 7:17 am

My “keep an eye out” mental list includes Fairy Books for my daughter, a food dehydrator, candles, a toque to replace the one I lost and books that I already own and would love to pass onto friends that might enjoy them.

Patience is so important when not purchasing new. Last year I gave up a couple times and bought new (split queen boxspring, cell phone, and skinny pants for my tiny daughter)

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Deb March 11, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Fab post, love seeing everyone’s amazing scores.

I too have refrained from buying upholstered furniture since the bed bug outbreak.

We’re redoing our office, have needed a credenza for months. We just found a wonderful vintage solid wood credenza at the Habitat for Humanity store for $25! I’m going to strip & sand it, paint it, and it’ll be just perfect.

Our son’s off road motorcycle was stolen, and unfortunately, his renters insurance wouldn’t cover it. We scoured second hand adds for month, and finally found a virtually new motorcycle for nearly 70% off. Patience really does pay.

Btw, I’m an immersion blender, soup making fool too.

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Jinger March 12, 2011 at 5:19 am

I live in a small apartment and wanted to plant a container garden on my porch this season…but have no containers. Walking near the woods, I noticed someone had tossed some 3 gallon plastic plant containers by the side of the road. I shook out the dead plants and rescued the containers. Now I will have zucchini, peppers, cukes, and a tomatoes to eat from the garden this summer.

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Carla March 12, 2011 at 7:52 am

I like to crochet. I recently found a reprinted book I LOVE on eBay for $31.00! I’m waiting to see if another appears somewhere for, well, a lot less. If I never get it I will live, though disappointed.

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Kristie March 12, 2011 at 11:50 am

Katy-

Asplundh gives away their wood chips: http://www.asplundh.com/FAQs.htm

As as the contracted tree trimming company for PGE, they chip A LOT of tree branches! I believe they deliver, but a large amount at a time. I manage apartments here in PDX and am planning on ordering a load of wood chips for mulching our grounds this summer.

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Christopher March 12, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I often keep a scrap of paper in my wallet with the size/dimensions of posters, prints, artwork that I’m looking for a frame for. This does a couple of things, including seeing how actually “urgent” my desire to get a particular piece up on the wall is (I have more potential wall hangings than I do wall space), and saves big $$$ when I actually do find the right frame for something (usually BIG frames + glass) at the thrift store. I can’t believe what frames sell for at retail.

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