modern thrifter

modern thrifter

Thrifter & designer. Blogging about life in our MCM home & living on a budget. I also design things with my husband. You can see our work at The Mahoney Studio

I’ve been waiting to post until I finished up one of the many little projects we have going on around the house. They are really nothing very big, so it seems like I should be able to wrap them up, but it’s just not happening. I have an side table awaiting a new top, a few walls prepped and ready for new paint, and a pile of artwork sitting on the floor that needs to be hung. Why is it that the last few steps of a project are always so hard to finish?

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some new (but not that new) additions to our living room. I finally framed and hung this USA print that Patrick made. This wall will get a bunch more art soon, too. We’ve lived in this house for four years, and we are finally making some commitments on the walls! 

The Stack and Scare blocks were a christmas gift for Patrick, and hopefully we’ll add a few more sets to the collection. The kids love building different monsters, but they had a habit of leaving a messy pile of blocks when they were done, so our new rule is that the blocks are there for playing, but you have to leave a monster when you’re done. It’s always fun to see what they build. 

Do you see that plant? I’ve kept it alive for nearly a year! That is a serious accomplishment for me. Sadly, the little black planter next to it has seen a few plants come and go in the same time span. I’m still looking for just the right plant to fill it. I love succulents, but they just don’t do well in this space. 

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I found the perfect sized purse last week at the thrift store. The leather is really nice, it has just the right amount of pockets, and it’s a cross-body style which means no more straps slipping off of my shoulder. The only thing I wasn’t crazy for was the lining. It’s in great shape, it’s just sort of boring. I love purses that have a surprise pattern inside, even if I’m the only one that ever sees it.

I had some metallic fabric paint stashed away from older projects, so I figured it would be easy enough to add a little polka dot print with the eraser of a pencil. 

I flipped the lining out one pocket at a time and just eye-balled the pattern. The dots aren’t perfect, but I’m really pleased with the overall look, and I now have a customized bag that is much more my style.

Getting a new purse is always a motivator to purge the unnecessary contents that I’ve been hauling around, too! Chelsea of Bergen House challenged me to post a photo of the contents of my purse a few weeks ago, but I just couldn’t bring myself to share the broken crayons and cracker crumbs that were lining the bottom of my old bag.

Here’s what’s in my cleaned out version: Keys, wallet, wool gloves (hopefully I won’t need those for much longer), a small tape measure (invaluable tool for thrift shopping), lipstick, and a couple of suckers that the bank teller insists on giving me for the kids. 

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This is one of those times during the year when a bunch of really great things all converge in the same week making for a joyous and crazy schedule. 
A few days ago I hosted a baby shower for a dear friend, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, my oldest child turns nine this weekend, and we leave for Disneyland shortly after that. Oh, I’ve also been snack mom for the week in both kids’ class, and I will be helping with school activities all day tomorrow. 
I’m thrilled about all those things (well, except the snack mom role), but I’m learning—very slowly over many years—that somethings have to get compromised. If I don’t give up a few of the well-intentioned things planned to do, a week full of celebration quickly turns into a week of stress and frustration.
This year, I gave up on homemade Valentines. I’ve made valentines since the kids were in preschool. These were a particular favorite of mine. The problem is that I’m far more interested making these than the kids, I’m also a quality-control freak, so I’m pretty sure this kids don’t exactly love making them with me. 
Instead of taking on this silly battle and staying up all night to finish them, I picked up two boxes of pre-made valentines from the dollar section at target. I handed them to the kids with a bag of chocolate and some washi tape, and let them get to work. They were so happy and busily worked assembling them without needing anything from me. I’m totally okay with it. 

Store-bought valentines might not really sound like I’m giving up all that much, but for me it’s a big victory in the sanity department. Now I have time to make this Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake that Alden chose. Sidenote: be careful that your child isn’t peeking over your shoulder when perusing cakes on Pinterest. You’d think I would have remembered that from last year when he saw this dark chocolate and raspberry cake.  
cake photo via: Kitchen Heals Soul

This is one of those times during the year when a bunch of really great things all converge in the same week making for a joyous and crazy schedule. 

A few days ago I hosted a baby shower for a dear friend, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, my oldest child turns nine this weekend, and we leave for Disneyland shortly after that. Oh, I’ve also been snack mom for the week in both kids’ class, and I will be helping with school activities all day tomorrow. 

I’m thrilled about all those things (well, except the snack mom role), but I’m learning—very slowly over many yearsthat somethings have to get compromised. If I don’t give up a few of the well-intentioned things planned to do, a week full of celebration quickly turns into a week of stress and frustration.

This year, I gave up on homemade Valentines. I’ve made valentines since the kids were in preschool. These were a particular favorite of mine. The problem is that I’m far more interested making these than the kids, I’m also a quality-control freak, so I’m pretty sure this kids don’t exactly love making them with me. 

Instead of taking on this silly battle and staying up all night to finish them, I picked up two boxes of pre-made valentines from the dollar section at target. I handed them to the kids with a bag of chocolate and some washi tape, and let them get to work. They were so happy and busily worked assembling them without needing anything from me. I’m totally okay with it. 

Store-bought valentines might not really sound like I’m giving up all that much, but for me it’s a big victory in the sanity department. Now I have time to make this Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake that Alden chose. Sidenote: be careful that your child isn’t peeking over your shoulder when perusing cakes on Pinterest. You’d think I would have remembered that from last year when he saw this dark chocolate and raspberry cake.  

cake photo via: Kitchen Heals Soul

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DISSECTION OF A PROJECT
There are a lot of creative couples out there doing amazing work—artists, musicians, designers, architects, etc., and I know our situation isn’t exactly unique, but people often ask how Patrick and I work together. My blog is typically about home and thrifting topics, but this seemed like the best place to write out a thoughtful answer about our process, so hang in there, I’ll try to keep it kind of brief.
Patrick and I have really been unofficially working together since design school. We would critique each other’s work, brainstorm together, and honestly, Patrick did most of the mock-up crafting work for my graduating portfolio. He has an amazing attention to detail and a very steady hand. After watching me butcher a printed piece with an x-acto knife and spray mount, I think he mostly stepped in to rescue me because my sloppiness drove him crazy. 
I should clarify that we don’t work full-time together. Patrick still has a day job designing for other people, and I spend much of my day taking care of the kids and the household chores, but we spend a great deal of our evenings and spare time working on freelance projects together. I seriously dream of the day that we can work side-by-side in a larger capacity.
We each have our own styles, and our own strengths and weaknesses, so when a freelance job comes in, it’s typically pretty easy to determine which one of us will take the lead. Branding for yummy bakeries & ice cream will probably land in my court, while icon development, illustration, and the likes will probably be more Patrick. That said, there hasn’t been a a single project that didn’t involve both of us in some capacity. 
Here’s a project as an example where we worked pretty evenly. This foldable card was created for Paper Built, a client that we helped brand last year.
Sarah from Paper Built designs fantastic foldable paper crafts, and she created the foldable template. Then I sketched up what to put on it:


After that, I did a quick vector illustration, but that is not really my expertise, so at that point I turned it over to Patrick.

 He finessed my original and added all of the subtle details that made it so much better (see, he’s an obsessive detail guy).  



In the end, this piece would have fallen much shorter of our standards if only one of us had been involved.

DISSECTION OF A PROJECT

There are a lot of creative couples out there doing amazing work—artists, musicians, designers, architects, etc., and I know our situation isn’t exactly unique, but people often ask how Patrick and I work together. My blog is typically about home and thrifting topics, but this seemed like the best place to write out a thoughtful answer about our process, so hang in there, I’ll try to keep it kind of brief.

Patrick and I have really been unofficially working together since design school. We would critique each other’s work, brainstorm together, and honestly, Patrick did most of the mock-up crafting work for my graduating portfolio. He has an amazing attention to detail and a very steady hand. After watching me butcher a printed piece with an x-acto knife and spray mount, I think he mostly stepped in to rescue me because my sloppiness drove him crazy. 

I should clarify that we don’t work full-time together. Patrick still has a day job designing for other people, and I spend much of my day taking care of the kids and the household chores, but we spend a great deal of our evenings and spare time working on freelance projects together. I seriously dream of the day that we can work side-by-side in a larger capacity.

We each have our own styles, and our own strengths and weaknesses, so when a freelance job comes in, it’s typically pretty easy to determine which one of us will take the lead. Branding for yummy bakeries & ice cream will probably land in my court, while icon development, illustration, and the likes will probably be more Patrick. That said, there hasn’t been a a single project that didn’t involve both of us in some capacity. 

Here’s a project as an example where we worked pretty evenly. This foldable card was created for Paper Built, a client that we helped brand last year.

Sarah from Paper Built designs fantastic foldable paper crafts, and she created the foldable template. Then I sketched up what to put on it:

After that, I did a quick vector illustration, but that is not really my expertise, so at that point I turned it over to Patrick.

 He finessed my original and added all of the subtle details that made it so much better (see, he’s an obsessive detail guy).  

In the end, this piece would have fallen much shorter of our standards if only one of us had been involved.

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I’ve been lamenting for a few years about the lack of nice clock radios. The first few years we were married, Patrick and I had one of those very predictable metal woodgrain digital clock radios, and woke up every morning to Morning Edition on NPR. I love the way the radio wakes me up gradually, and I don’t feel the need to hit the snooze button in panic to shush an obnoxious beep. 

As we gradually slipped into the bad habit of checking email and catching up on twitter on our phones before bed, they became the easy and logical replacement for our old ugly clock radio. The bedtime habit soon became the morning habit, switching between social media feeds as I tried to coax myself out of bed.

I grew to really miss the radio more and more in the mornings. We tried some radio apps and looked into some iPhone docking clock gadgets, but I just really missed the simplicity of the old clock radio, and I wanted to get my phone off of my nightstand completely. 

After searching for something that was more aesthetically pleasing, I was surprised at how few modern clock radio options are on the market. I found a few prototypes and some dead links to cool looking clocks, but nothing really seemed to be what I was looking for. Then I opened my present from Patrick on Christmas morning and discovered this sleek Lexon Titanium clock radio. It was exactly what I had been looking for.

There are so many things to love about the Lexon. The brightness of the numbers adjusts, dimming as the lights in the room are off, the reception is great—even in our wooded neighborhood, and it’s designed to be simple to set and adjust. The only thing that I would change is that when the radio alarm comes on, the face of the clock displays the station frequency instead of the time. I suppose it is good incentive to just get up.

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CONGRATULATIONS!
The winner of the giveaway is Carmen Kock. Thank you everyone who entered here and on Facebook. Don’t forget you can still download a free printable calendar here.

CONGRATULATIONS!

The winner of the giveaway is Carmen Kock. Thank you everyone who entered here and on Facebook. Don’t forget you can still download a free printable calendar here.

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CALENDAR GIVEAWAY 

Christmas cards are going out a little late this year, but since they aren’t really Christmas cards, I don’t feel all that guilty. Patrick and I designed this metallic gold, screen printed 2014 calendar to send to our family and friends in lieu of a traditional Christmas card. 

The design of the calendar goes hand in hand with the new branding we created for our design business, The Mahoney Studio.   

I’m sure many of you share our passion for mid-century modern architecture so I made sure to hang on to an extra print that I’d love to give away. If you want a chance to snag the print, just leave me a comment below (sorry, re-blogging won’t count as an entry), or head over to Facebook and leave your comment there by 5pm on Wednesday, January 15th. The winner will be randomly selected and announced Thursday morning. 

Even if you’re not the winner, you can download and print the calendar for free on our website. Happy New Year!

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DIY DOLLHOUSE
A few months back I came across a wooden wall shadowbox at the thrift store that I immediately knew would be the perfect solution to Tula’s growing Calico Critter collection. She has loved Calico Critters since she was a toddler and much of her collection was purchased with her own money. It took her nearly a year to save up enough allowance, birthday money, and couch cushion change to buy the camper. 
We gave the house to her a few Christmases ago, but she was constantly taping together boxes in order to make more rooms. This shadowbox is great because not only does it have cubbies for rooms, it has drawers to sort and store all of her critters, clothes, and furniture. The drawers pull completely out giving her eight rooms (and more if she empties the contents of the drawers and flips them on their sides). 

I wasn’t crazy for the original dark wood finish because most of her other furniture is white, so I gave the outside several coats of paint. I switched the wood knobs for some inexpensive white ikea metal ones, though I was wishing I could afford these brass hexagon knobs. I also wanted to add some pattern to the back of each room, and after a failed Mod Podge attempt, I ended up using Super 77 to hold the paper in place. 



We mounted the shelf high enough to tuck the house underneath, and it ended up being a great height for her to sit and play with it at eye level. An added bonus was that the car and camper fit perfectly on top. She finally has everything in one place. 
Of course, making room for the new piece on the wall meant we needed to get rid of a free standing shelf, which led to a trip to Ikea for some wall mounted shelves. 
I’ve been wanting the Ekby Gallo shelves for her room for a long time, so I didn’t need much of an excuse, but we did sell a few older pieces of furniture on Craigslist so that we could use the money toward the new shelves. I’m so happy with the look of the Ekby Gallo shelves—sort of the poor folk’s String shelves—that I’m now plotting other areas of the house that I can install them.

DIY DOLLHOUSE

A few months back I came across a wooden wall shadowbox at the thrift store that I immediately knew would be the perfect solution to Tula’s growing Calico Critter collection. She has loved Calico Critters since she was a toddler and much of her collection was purchased with her own money. It took her nearly a year to save up enough allowance, birthday money, and couch cushion change to buy the camper. 

We gave the house to her a few Christmases ago, but she was constantly taping together boxes in order to make more rooms. This shadowbox is great because not only does it have cubbies for rooms, it has drawers to sort and store all of her critters, clothes, and furniture. The drawers pull completely out giving her eight rooms (and more if she empties the contents of the drawers and flips them on their sides). 

I wasn’t crazy for the original dark wood finish because most of her other furniture is white, so I gave the outside several coats of paint. I switched the wood knobs for some inexpensive white ikea metal ones, though I was wishing I could afford these brass hexagon knobs. I also wanted to add some pattern to the back of each room, and after a failed Mod Podge attempt, I ended up using Super 77 to hold the paper in place. 

We mounted the shelf high enough to tuck the house underneath, and it ended up being a great height for her to sit and play with it at eye level. An added bonus was that the car and camper fit perfectly on top. She finally has everything in one place. 

Of course, making room for the new piece on the wall meant we needed to get rid of a free standing shelf, which led to a trip to Ikea for some wall mounted shelves. 

I’ve been wanting the Ekby Gallo shelves for her room for a long time, so I didn’t need much of an excuse, but we did sell a few older pieces of furniture on Craigslist so that we could use the money toward the new shelves. I’m so happy with the look of the Ekby Gallo shelves—sort of the poor folk’s String shelves—that I’m now plotting other areas of the house that I can install them.

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TEN MINUTE WREATH PROJECT
Things have been unusually calm this Christmas season so far. I think it’s mostly due to the fact that I’m setting the bar super low for holiday craft projects. In past years I would have started nearly a dozen random projects by now. 
Last year, for example, I carved a linoleum block to print my own wrapping paper, made three different types of ornaments, sewed A-frame tents for each of the kids, baked ten dozen cookies for a school fund-raiser, burned myself out and ended up with the flu two days before Christmas.
I didn’t intentionally limit myself this year, I simply haven’t felt as inspired or energetic. The only real project I’ve done so far has been this wreath that took all of ten minutes. I picked up the metal frame at the thrift store for $2, clipped some holly from a tree in front of our house, and tied on a simple bow from a spool of thrifted ribbon. Done. 

Fewer projects has meant more time to enjoy my family and I get to be a more pleasant person to be around this Christmas. 

TEN MINUTE WREATH PROJECT

Things have been unusually calm this Christmas season so far. I think it’s mostly due to the fact that I’m setting the bar super low for holiday craft projects. In past years I would have started nearly a dozen random projects by now. 

Last year, for example, I carved a linoleum block to print my own wrapping paper, made three different types of ornaments, sewed A-frame tents for each of the kids, baked ten dozen cookies for a school fund-raiser, burned myself out and ended up with the flu two days before Christmas.

I didn’t intentionally limit myself this year, I simply haven’t felt as inspired or energetic. The only real project I’ve done so far has been this wreath that took all of ten minutes. I picked up the metal frame at the thrift store for $2, clipped some holly from a tree in front of our house, and tied on a simple bow from a spool of thrifted ribbon. Done. 

Fewer projects has meant more time to enjoy my family and I get to be a more pleasant person to be around this Christmas. 

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ENJE BLINDS

It only took us three and a half years, but we finally have blinds in the kitchen. We had planned to get the Ikea Enje blinds right after we bought the house, but Ikea recalled them at almost that exact time. The previous version of these had chain cords to roll them up and down which were a strangulation hazard for small children.

Last year (I think) the new version was released that instead has a cordless spring-loaded mechanism. My experience with spring-loaded blinds has been nothing but maddening in the past, so I’ve been really reluctant to try these.

On the other hand, these blinds are extremely budget-friendly. That, combined with a promise from Patrick to be on daily blind-raising duty, won me over in the end.

We were able to customize the sizes with scissors and a hack saw to fit in the windows, which is another reason to love these blinds. The only thing I’m not crazy about is that the hardware that attaches them to the window frames looks really industrial. I’m considering adding a simple piece of painted black wood trim that would go all the way across the top of the windows to cover the tops of the rollers.

I have to admit, it’s nice to finally be able to make coffee first thing in the morning without the whole neighborhood seeing me in my pajamas. Hooray for privacy!

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