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

[ SMALL SPACE GARDENING ]
Vegetable gardens are pretty much impossible here in Shady Acres (aka: our yard). I tried to do some container gardening on our deck the first summer we lived here and I managed to grow one sad tomato which was promptly eaten by a squirrel just as it ripened.
I had accepted my defeat, and instead purchased summer vegetables at the farmer’s market. Then, last week a kind neighbor graciously offered to share a section of her yard that she is clearing for garden space. It is currently covered with a thick layer of river rock, so, for the next month, the kids and I will be hauling loads of rocks, one wheelbarrow at a time, out of the soon-to-be garden.  
We won’t be taking a very big patch, maybe only around 6’ x 5’. I am a gardening novice, and I’m all ears for any advice for small space gardening! My kids have suggested cabbage and roses, neither of which will be happening. What are easy vegetables to grow that won’t take much room? So far I’m thinking some swiss chard and lettuce, carrots, and a tomato plant or two. 

[ SMALL SPACE GARDENING ]

Vegetable gardens are pretty much impossible here in Shady Acres (aka: our yard). I tried to do some container gardening on our deck the first summer we lived here and I managed to grow one sad tomato which was promptly eaten by a squirrel just as it ripened.

I had accepted my defeat, and instead purchased summer vegetables at the farmer’s market. Then, last week a kind neighbor graciously offered to share a section of her yard that she is clearing for garden space. It is currently covered with a thick layer of river rock, so, for the next month, the kids and I will be hauling loads of rocks, one wheelbarrow at a time, out of the soon-to-be garden.  

We won’t be taking a very big patch, maybe only around 6’ x 5’. I am a gardening novice, and I’m all ears for any advice for small space gardening! My kids have suggested cabbage and roses, neither of which will be happening. What are easy vegetables to grow that won’t take much room? So far I’m thinking some swiss chard and lettuce, carrots, and a tomato plant or two. 

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[ CHANGE OF PACE ]

I’m still here, I promise—still thrifting, too. I haven’t picked up any big “wow” pieces as of late, but I am quite pleased with some of my smaller finds—a shiny white Karlsson alarm clock, a book by the very funny David Sedaris that I’ve been wanting to read, and the perfect pair of italian leather sandals for summer, to name a few.

Projects around the house have come to a stall, mostly because we’ve been spending our spare time working on design projects, but also because we’ve decided to get really serious with our budgeting in order to build up a larger emergency fund/savings. It’s amazing how quickly we can settle into “comfortable” and start letting extra income flit away one dollar at a time. 

It’s hard for me to not be constantly working on fixing up the house, but I’m taking this as an opportunity to find the neglected, tedious, and free things that need to be done. Yesterday we spent most of the day outside tidying up our yard [ivy jungle]. You may not know this about me, but gardening is just about my least favorite activity—cleaning moldy food containers wins the prize for most dreaded household chore, in case you were wondering. 

Yard work really isn’t that bad once I get started, and it’s not the manual labor that I don’t like. It’s the creepy crawlies that I could do without. It would seem like being a mom of a little boy would have desensitized me to that by now, but, no. The only thing that eases the anxiety about plunging my hand into an overgrown patch of patch of mystery weeds is my pair of elbow-length leather gloves (I’d get shoulder length if they made them). 

The other free chore that yields instant gratification is organizing, which is how I plan to spend the better part of this coming week. If I wasn’t so embarrassed about the current state of some of my closets, I would post before and after pictures to keep myself motivated. Maybe I’ll muster the courage to put them on twitter.

[ CHANGE OF PACE ]

I’m still here, I promise—still thrifting, too. I haven’t picked up any big “wow” pieces as of late, but I am quite pleased with some of my smaller finds—a shiny white Karlsson alarm clock, a book by the very funny David Sedaris that I’ve been wanting to read, and the perfect pair of italian leather sandals for summer, to name a few.

Projects around the house have come to a stall, mostly because we’ve been spending our spare time working on design projects, but also because we’ve decided to get really serious with our budgeting in order to build up a larger emergency fund/savings. It’s amazing how quickly we can settle into “comfortable” and start letting extra income flit away one dollar at a time. 

It’s hard for me to not be constantly working on fixing up the house, but I’m taking this as an opportunity to find the neglected, tedious, and free things that need to be done. Yesterday we spent most of the day outside tidying up our yard [ivy jungle]. You may not know this about me, but gardening is just about my least favorite activity—cleaning moldy food containers wins the prize for most dreaded household chore, in case you were wondering. 

Yard work really isn’t that bad once I get started, and it’s not the manual labor that I don’t like. It’s the creepy crawlies that I could do without. It would seem like being a mom of a little boy would have desensitized me to that by now, but, no. The only thing that eases the anxiety about plunging my hand into an overgrown patch of patch of mystery weeds is my pair of elbow-length leather gloves (I’d get shoulder length if they made them). 

The other free chore that yields instant gratification is organizing, which is how I plan to spend the better part of this coming week. If I wasn’t so embarrassed about the current state of some of my closets, I would post before and after pictures to keep myself motivated. Maybe I’ll muster the courage to put them on twitter.

Comments
[ SUMMER LIST ]
It’s that time of year again where I get antsy to start some big(ger) home improvement projects. The days are finally getting long enough to tackle outdoor jobs, and the reprieve from the overcast skies brings newfound motivation.
Unfortunately there are a few things from last year’s list that didn’t get completed, so they are getting carried over to this summer. Here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish:
1. Fence - we really wanted to have this done by now, but last summer we did an unusual amount of travel which ate up a ton of our savings. I’ve been pinning a bunch of fence pictures, and we’re looking into some alternative materials like polycarbonate and plexiglass that we could incorporate to let in more light while still preserving privacy.
2. Window Trim - All of the interior window trim needs to be sanded and primed, then we plan to paint it black to match the ceiling beams and doors. 
3. Bedroom Floors - We were able to paint all of the floors in the main living space last summer, but we didn’t finish the bedrooms or bathrooms. We’re now debating whether we should paint them white like we originally planned, or look into carpeting them (not the bathrooms, of course). 
4. Master Bedroom Walls - We have so many black closet doors in our bedroom and I’ve come to the conclusion that painting the small areas of wall around them black will simplify the room. I won’t do this until the floors are lighter, and I’d never do this in any of the other rooms in the house, but I think the dark moody walls will look nice in our bedroom.
5. Kitchen Cabinets - This is another carry-over from last summer, but in my defense, I did predict last year that it would get bumped. I’ve given up trying to fix the upper cabinets, since we plan on ripping them out anyway. I had hoped to do the open shelves this summer, but I think the fence will take priority in our budget.
So, I’m hoping to at least address the lower cabinets. They need to be sanded and repainted because they were never primed and all of the paint is peeling off of them. I also plan to replace the hardware. The current handles are hinged and so the noise of the metal clanging on itself every time a cupboard is opened or closed gets really annoying. Also, it’s a horrible design for a kitchen—there is a spot at the top that catches crumbs that is impossible to clean. When the handle is lifted, the space becomes completely enclosed and the crumbs just get compacted even tighter into the crack. It makes me crazy. I think I’ll end up going with something like this instead.
Everyone is confident I can get it all done, right? Yeah, I’m not. But, it’s good to write down goals so that next year I can look back at the list and feel crappy about all of the things that didn’t get done. Sometimes, though, it’s worth trading a finished list for a few extra days playing at the beach and eating ice cream.

[ SUMMER LIST ]

It’s that time of year again where I get antsy to start some big(ger) home improvement projects. The days are finally getting long enough to tackle outdoor jobs, and the reprieve from the overcast skies brings newfound motivation.

Unfortunately there are a few things from last year’s list that didn’t get completed, so they are getting carried over to this summer. Here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish:

1. Fence - we really wanted to have this done by now, but last summer we did an unusual amount of travel which ate up a ton of our savings. I’ve been pinning a bunch of fence pictures, and we’re looking into some alternative materials like polycarbonate and plexiglass that we could incorporate to let in more light while still preserving privacy.

2. Window Trim - All of the interior window trim needs to be sanded and primed, then we plan to paint it black to match the ceiling beams and doors. 

3. Bedroom Floors - We were able to paint all of the floors in the main living space last summer, but we didn’t finish the bedrooms or bathrooms. We’re now debating whether we should paint them white like we originally planned, or look into carpeting them (not the bathrooms, of course). 

4. Master Bedroom Walls - We have so many black closet doors in our bedroom and I’ve come to the conclusion that painting the small areas of wall around them black will simplify the room. I won’t do this until the floors are lighter, and I’d never do this in any of the other rooms in the house, but I think the dark moody walls will look nice in our bedroom.

5. Kitchen Cabinets - This is another carry-over from last summer, but in my defense, I did predict last year that it would get bumped. I’ve given up trying to fix the upper cabinets, since we plan on ripping them out anyway. I had hoped to do the open shelves this summer, but I think the fence will take priority in our budget.

So, I’m hoping to at least address the lower cabinets. They need to be sanded and repainted because they were never primed and all of the paint is peeling off of them. I also plan to replace the hardware. The current handles are hinged and so the noise of the metal clanging on itself every time a cupboard is opened or closed gets really annoying. Also, it’s a horrible design for a kitchen—there is a spot at the top that catches crumbs that is impossible to clean. When the handle is lifted, the space becomes completely enclosed and the crumbs just get compacted even tighter into the crack. It makes me crazy. I think I’ll end up going with something like this instead.

Everyone is confident I can get it all done, right? Yeah, I’m not. But, it’s good to write down goals so that next year I can look back at the list and feel crappy about all of the things that didn’t get done. Sometimes, though, it’s worth trading a finished list for a few extra days playing at the beach and eating ice cream.

Comments
[ AFTERNOON DECK PROJECT ]
Our summer home improvement plans proved to be a bit to0 ambitious for our schedules. With the unusual (for us) amount of traveling we did, we weren’t left with a lot of time or money to complete the tasks on our list. Though summer is officially over, September had one last warm weekend to offer, so Patrick decided to take on a small exterior project. 

I don’t post very often about the outside of our house, mostly because it’s a giant mess of rotted wood, pine needles, and ivy. Two thirds of the big wrap-around deck needs to be replaced because the wood has started to rot, though we’ve had several contractor friends look at it to reassure us that it’s not going to come crashing down when we stand on it. 



The one section that is in decent shape is the boardwalk area that leads to the front door. The rest of the deck has been finished with Trex (or something similar) that was laid on top of old rotting wood, but this part is just plain old wood, of the non-rotted variety. It doesn’t get much direct sun, and with the heavy amount of rain we see, the wood has the typical gray coloring, but it also has dark gray/black areas (probably some sort of moss or mildew) that get really slimy and slippery when they’re wet. 

Patrick decided to see how much he could improve the area with the supplies that we had on hand. He spent a couple of hours sanding the section in front of the door, and then finished it off with a couple of coats of varnish that was leftover from finishing the door at our last house. 

The weather didn’t cooperate long enough for him to finish the last little section that goes up to the road, but since it’s a pretty basic project, if we get another few days of dry weather this fall, he can easily complete it.

For my part of the project, I finally planted a hosta in a $4 planter that I purchased at an estate sale last winter. It looks pretty wimpy right now, but I have high hopes that it will thrive. The deck was built around one of the many douglas fir trees on our property, but this particular one was not very healthy so we had it removed when we first moved in. The stump drives me crazy, but I’m hoping that the hosta wil grow big enough to hide it a little. 



Yes, that tree is frighteningly close to the house, but it’s obviously been that way since the house was built forty years ago, since they built the roof around it. We plan to take it down in the next couple of years because it makes us a little nervous, but it is really expensive to have trees this big removed, especially when they’re this close to the house and we’re on a the side of a hill with minimal access and no “drop zone.” Actually, I’d love to hear recommendations for local tree services, does anyone have one they can share?

[ AFTERNOON DECK PROJECT ]

Our summer home improvement plans proved to be a bit to0 ambitious for our schedules. With the unusual (for us) amount of traveling we did, we weren’t left with a lot of time or money to complete the tasks on our list. Though summer is officially over, September had one last warm weekend to offer, so Patrick decided to take on a small exterior project. 

I don’t post very often about the outside of our house, mostly because it’s a giant mess of rotted wood, pine needles, and ivy. Two thirds of the big wrap-around deck needs to be replaced because the wood has started to rot, though we’ve had several contractor friends look at it to reassure us that it’s not going to come crashing down when we stand on it. 

The one section that is in decent shape is the boardwalk area that leads to the front door. The rest of the deck has been finished with Trex (or something similar) that was laid on top of old rotting wood, but this part is just plain old wood, of the non-rotted variety. It doesn’t get much direct sun, and with the heavy amount of rain we see, the wood has the typical gray coloring, but it also has dark gray/black areas (probably some sort of moss or mildew) that get really slimy and slippery when they’re wet. 

Patrick decided to see how much he could improve the area with the supplies that we had on hand. He spent a couple of hours sanding the section in front of the door, and then finished it off with a couple of coats of varnish that was leftover from finishing the door at our last house

The weather didn’t cooperate long enough for him to finish the last little section that goes up to the road, but since it’s a pretty basic project, if we get another few days of dry weather this fall, he can easily complete it.

For my part of the project, I finally planted a hosta in a $4 planter that I purchased at an estate sale last winter. It looks pretty wimpy right now, but I have high hopes that it will thrive. The deck was built around one of the many douglas fir trees on our property, but this particular one was not very healthy so we had it removed when we first moved in. The stump drives me crazy, but I’m hoping that the hosta wil grow big enough to hide it a little. 

Yes, that tree is frighteningly close to the house, but it’s obviously been that way since the house was built forty years ago, since they built the roof around it. We plan to take it down in the next couple of years because it makes us a little nervous, but it is really expensive to have trees this big removed, especially when they’re this close to the house and we’re on a the side of a hill with minimal access and no “drop zone.” Actually, I’d love to hear recommendations for local tree services, does anyone have one they can share?

Comments
[ BRINGING THE BIRDS ]
I’ve been keeping an eye out for a modern bird feeder for quite some time. I’ve seen several that are simple and lovely (like this and this), but so far, they’ve all been too expensive. Then, in the most recent CB2 catalog, this one caught my eye:

I think the shape is fantastic, and I’d love to be able to admire both the birds and the feeder hanging right outside my living room window. Our roof has about a two foot overhang that would make installation a breeze.
The feeder is priced at a moderate $30—not outrageous, but not exactly pocket change, either. I was brainstorming DIY ideas, but I’m not convinced I could make something that would be attractive enough to hang outside. I might just have to put it on my birthday wish list.
I’d love to hear some opinions on bird feeders, too. Are they messy? This would be hanging over our deck. Do you have problems with rodents getting into it, or being attracted to the seeds the birds drop? We have quite a few squirrels around, but so far I haven’t seen any mice or rats… I’d like to keep it that way.

[ BRINGING THE BIRDS ]

I’ve been keeping an eye out for a modern bird feeder for quite some time. I’ve seen several that are simple and lovely (like this and this), but so far, they’ve all been too expensive. Then, in the most recent CB2 catalog, this one caught my eye:

I think the shape is fantastic, and I’d love to be able to admire both the birds and the feeder hanging right outside my living room window. Our roof has about a two foot overhang that would make installation a breeze.

The feeder is priced at a moderate $30—not outrageous, but not exactly pocket change, either. I was brainstorming DIY ideas, but I’m not convinced I could make something that would be attractive enough to hang outside. I might just have to put it on my birthday wish list.

I’d love to hear some opinions on bird feeders, too. Are they messy? This would be hanging over our deck. Do you have problems with rodents getting into it, or being attracted to the seeds the birds drop? We have quite a few squirrels around, but so far I haven’t seen any mice or rats… I’d like to keep it that way.

Comments