Macklemore Thrift Shop Challenge

(Note: I originally wrote this post for the Young House Love Thrift Store Challenge.  However, I think the readers at Apron Thrift Girl will enjoy it as well.)

Last week my imaginary BFF's John and Sherry at Young House Love issued a little something they're calling the "Macklemore Thrift Shop Challenge."  It's based on this video and the concept is simple:  grab yourself a $20, head over to your local thrift, and see what you can get.  (Extra points for finding items mentioned in the song.)

Hello Mr. Jackson!

A challenge that combines my love of John & Sherry with my love of the thrift store?  Sign me up!

(Right about now John & Sherry are probably about ready to sign me up for a restraining order... in my head, that is... because they don't actually know who I am in real life.)

So anyway, I decided to join the challenge.  And boy am I glad that I did.  About thirty seconds into the trip I hit blogger pay dirt in the form of this: a mangled, dirty box containing a dozen, never used, 32 oz. Ball Mason Jars from 1987.

Oh, and did I mention that they were only $4??  For those of you who are new around here, a craft blogger finding a dozen brand new (despite the gross box) vintage mason jars at a thrift shop for under five dollars is a little like an eleven-year-old girl finding Justin Bieber with a shiny red bow on his head under the tree on Christmas morning.  Very. Exciting. Stuff.

(Here's a little thrifting tip for those of you who might be interested:  some of the best things I've ever found at the thrift shop were in beat up cardboard boxes.  If it looks like something you might have tripped over in your grandmother's basement, definitely stop to check it out!)

After that little thrill, I found myself wandering through the kids' clothing aisle.  Though I don't really shop for my kids there (they've gotten rather picky in their old age), the former ebay seller in me can't resist taking a peek every now and again.

That's when I ran across this adorable suede(ish) jacket from Gymboree.  

Rule #2 of the challenge was: "Find one item (or more) referenced in the song and snap a pic."  
Fringed leather coats are referenced at about the 1:24 mark in the video.

It was notable for a few reasons:  first off, it was brand new with the tags and in perfect condition.  It also happened to be a size 5/6--perfect for my little niece.  But the thing that really struck me (and not in a good way) was the price.  Do you see it?  That's right, $14.95.  Kind of steep for the thrift store, don't you think?  Truth is, this particular thrift can sometimes be overpriced.  It's almost as if someone told them that certain brands are worth more money so they mark them up.  Ironically, while their Gymboree is always expensive, I frequently find brands like Oilily for under $2.  (Shhh!  Don't tell them!)

Before I left the jacket for some other lucky kid, I craned my neck to check the specials board.  That's when I discovered that all tags except the white ones were 50% off that day.  And although $7.50 is still kind of high for thrifted clothing, given the condition of the jacket, the original price of $79, and the fact that it was the right size, I decided to put it in my cart.

So, that's where the first $12 of my challenge money went.  

I saw lots of other things I could have bought with the remaining $8.  Like these for example:

That's right, a big bag of plastic animals.  Because with plastic animals, you can make something like this:

Read more about it here.

Or perhaps this...

Read more about it here.

And at this thrift shop there was a whole wall full of these bags:

But a girl has to be selective, and this time around I didn't see any plastic animals that I needed, so even at $2.95 a bag,  I decided to move along.  

I also spotted some of these:

And you know what I like to do with a thrifted pants hanger:

Read more about it here.

Vintage Pyrex is always a fun find, but this bowl was a little too care worn for me to consider.  (Especially at $4.95!  ;)

Truth be told, there were tons of things that I could have bought, but as Kenny Rogers says, you've got to know when to fold 'em.  How true it is, Kenny.  How true it is.  One of the hardest and most important lessons of thrifting is knowing when to say no.  Often I will put everything that strikes me in my cart and then decide at the end what I'm going to keep.  If I can't use it or sell it, back to the shelf it goes.  (And I have a weird thing about putting everything back where it belongs.  I feel like it brings me good thrifting Karma.)

So this is the point where I may or may not have cheated in the challenge:  I went to another thrift store.  After all, I still had that extra eight dollars and there was nothing in the bylaws about sticking with one store.

And I'm glad I did because it was at the next store that I had one of those magical thrift store moments.  You know on the High Low Project, when Sabrina Soto goes into a resale shop and finds a piece that is so perfect, so close to the high-end item she's trying to match, that you almost think it's got to be a plant?  Well, this was my Sabrina Soto moment.

You see, for my daughter's birthday party we are doing a DIY photo booth.  My regular readers will remember that I recently made these for the occasion:

Read more about it here.

Although the props had all been made, I was still searching for the perfect frame.  I wanted something kind of large, so that multiple twelve-year-old girls could fit "inside" at once.  I was also looking for something gold, though I was willing to spray paint if it came down to it.  I was also hoping for something with a little detail on it--not just a smooth surface.  

And then I saw her.  

Alone in a corner, I spotted this:

It was exactly what I had envisioned.  (It looks a little green in this picture but I assure you it's not.)

The only problem was the price: $20.  Ouch.  That was my whole budget and as we know, Mama had a trunk full of mason jars out in the parking lot.  

But guess what?  That good thrifting Karma came back to me because you'll never believe what day it was?  That's right, 50% off day.  For everything in the store.  This girl was on fire!  Of course that still took me $2 above the $20 limit but there was no way I was going to leave it behind.  In fact, as soon as I hit publish here, I am off to the garage to rid my frame of its picture so I can get started on the photo booth.  As I'm sure you can imagine, this isn't the last you've seen of it!  ;)

(2/3/13 Update:  Come see what I did with the frame here.)

Did you write a post for the thrift shop challenge?  I'd love to read it.  Leave your link in the comments below.  :)



DIY Photo Booth Props

As mentioned in my previous post, my oldest daughter will soon be turning twelve.  It should come as no surprise then, that I will soon be hosting a birthday party.

Inspired by one of my favorite bloggers (Amy at While Wearing Heels), we have decided to do a DIY photo booth for the occasion. 

The first step in the process (for me) has been to make the photo booth props.  This was a great excuse to bust out my new Silhouette.

I bought a few 99 cent templates from the Silhouette site and loaded them onto my computer.  

Then I let the machine do its thing...

I was pretty psyched to find some wooden dowels in the garage.  I think at one point I aspired to make a starburst mirror.  (It never got past the "aspiration" stage ;)

A little hot glue and these bad boys were good to go...

I'm a huge fan of the monocle.


Especially when it's paired with a stylish top hat like the one pictured below.

The props in this next picture are fit for a king.  (All that's missing is "a bowl and his fiddlers three.")

And this is just me being silly and hopping on the mustache bandwagon.   I'm not sure if I get the fascination with this particular facial accessory but who am I to judge?

Stay tuned for more party details in the coming weeks!

Update:  Come and see the DIY photo booth that I made to go with the props.  Click here.


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White Elephant Gift (Topper)

Two weeks from now one of my favorite people in the world turns twelve.  

And currently this little person is obsessed with elephants.  That's right, it's all pachyderms all the time around here.

So it made sense that I would incorporate elephants into her birthday.  And since I'm still a little obsessed with the present toppers that I told you about here, I decided to do something similar for this most important of occasions.

Without further ado, I give you the White Elephant Present Topper:

(And since elephants are social creatures, I made a whole herd.)

And here are some pictures of the topper doing its job (you know, "topping"):



Success! (Well, sort of... okay, not really)

So in this post I told you the story of my latest craft fail...

I assumed the problem was my paper stencils, so I decided to try vinyl instead...

Unfortunately, when I went to remove the stencils, the ink peeled off right along with them.  I'm determined to get it right, however, so I'm going to try again, this time with plain old Sharpie.  

But in the interim?  

Well, when I made the stencils, these little number stickers remained.  So I stuck them on my dish so I have something to aspire to.  Hopefully the finished project will look a little something like this...

I still have no idea what I'm going to do with it (which has my husband wondering why I keep trying) but now it's just a matter of stubbornness.

I'll let you know who prevails: me, or the dish that is determined to remain all white.  ;)


Craft Fail!

Sometimes I get an idea for a craft project and I just know it's going to be great!

And sometimes, I turn out to be dead wrong.  

Sit down by me and let me tell you the tale of one of those times.

It all started a few weeks ago in Berkeley, California when my brother and his wife took me to Daiso, also known as "The Japanese Dollar Store."

While there, I picked up one of these:

I think it's supposed to be for sauces & condiments.  I wasn't sure what I was going to use it for, but for under $2, I knew it had to be mine.  (Yeah, that Japanese-dollar-store name is a bit of a misnomer; it's more like a Japanese-dollar-fifty-store.)

About a week later I received this for Christmas:

Unfamiliar with the Silhouette?  Think of it like a printer, but instead of printing designs on paper, it cuts them out.

And that gave me an idea.  I decided to make number stencils using my Silhouette.  Then I would stencil numbers on my new dish using a porcelain pen.  

Admittedly, I still didn't know what I'd use it for, but I did know that it would look really cool.

So I made my stencils from card stock...

And taped them to the dish with painter's tape.  I could have made the stencils from an adhesive vinyl but this is what I had around the house so I improvised.  

Then I took my porcelain pens...

...and stenciled the numbers in each little compartment.  I could already see the potential!  Do you see the potential??


But then this happened:

When I went to remove my stencils the paper stuck to the ceramic and made a huge mess.  What a disappointment!  The only thing I can think of is that the adhesive from the Silhouette's cutting mat transferred onto the card stock causing it to stick to the ceramic.

The good news is that I was able to remove the ink & paper (as seen in the first compartment) and am going to try again--this time using vinyl.

If anyone knows why this might have happened I would love to hear from you.

I'd also love to hear about your craft fails.  (Misery loves company, you know...)



Sister Act

After Christmas I posted the following status on `a casarella's Facebook page:

One of the ironies of my blog is the fact that I am the least crafty (&/or artsy) of the bunch when you compare me with my siblings (and siblings-in-law).

I wish I could say that I was exaggerating but I wasn't.  

Don't believe me?  

I give you exhibit A:

Isn't it beautiful?

The picture is called "Hello Down There" and it was painted my by my talented sister, artist and art therapist, Linda Turner.  Inspired by a trip to Italy, this image is also reminiscent of my beloved Southern California with its rolling hills and Cypress Trees.

I was so excited to receive it this holiday season.  My only dilemma is where to put it.  I thought I had the perfect spot but then I found two more perfect spots.

I guess it's a good thing I have so many talented family members...  :)



DIY Ornament Storage

Is there any worse job than taking down Christmas?

(Having just seen Les Mis, I guess the answer is yes, but you know what I'm talking about...)

Taking down Christmas is depressing.  I think this is a universally agreed-upon fact.

It does, however, appeal to that little (okay, big) part of me that likes to organize.  So imagine my dismay when I realized that I had more ornaments post-Christmas than I did pre-Christmas.  This was upsetting not because I had too many ornaments but rather because I had too little storage.

A quick trip to my garage and I came up with the perfect solution:

One shoe box...

Plus some left-over drawer organizers for my socks....

...equals a perfect ornament storage solution.  Just a small thing to brighten up this otherwise miserable chore.    :)



2012: The Year in Review

So I wasn't going to give in to the peer pressure.

Really, I wasn't.

You see, bloggers all over the internet are doing year-in-review posts and, initially, I wasn't going to join them.

Now I don't want you to think that I'm some kind of party pooper.  I swear I'm tons of fun.  It's just that I'm only eleven short days away from my blogiversary, and I was kind of envisioning a round-up post for that occasion.

But in the end, I couldn't wait.  

Call me impatient.

(Call me a blogger who has nothing planned for her blogiversary.)

Whatever you call me, do it after you check out this post ;)

I decided to limit myself to one post per month for the round-up.  It wasn't easy to pick just 12 out of my 105.  I didn't always pick the most "popular" posts because I wanted to mix things up a bit.  (Plus I'm kinda sick of looking at some of the more popular ones ;)

Clockwise from upper left: January, February, March, April.

Above you see posts from January 2012 through April 2012.  

  • For January I had to pick my very first post.  If I had known then how much this blog would grow and how important it would become to me, I would have been shocked.  Check it out if you'd like to see how it all began.  
  • For February I chose my one and only Wordless Wednesday post.  (For those of you who don't read a lot of blogs, Wordless Wednesday is kind of a "thing."  But it's a thing I don't usually do because I tend to be kinda, well, wordy...  ;)  This particular post was about a trip we took to Joshua Tree National Park.  We just booked another trip for February and I can hardly wait to go again.  
  • For March I chose NOT to highlight my punch box post because, really, how many times can I drag that puppy out and parade it around the neighborhood?  Instead I picked a post about the flower petal lantern I made for my daughter's room which I know a lot of other people enjoyed as well.  
  • Finally, for April, I picked what is probably my favorite post of all time.  Sometimes the words come flowing right out of me and sometimes I have to pull them out kicking and screaming.  My first succulent post was one of the easy ones.  Plus it was funny.  And it was one of the first times (besides Joshua Tree) when I was actually proud of my photography.  


Clockwise from upper left: May, June, July, August.
 Apparently I did a lot of eating this summer as almost all of my posts were food related.  

  • May was a hard month for me blogging-wise because my trusty laptop died, leaving me to blog on my phone.  I did enjoy this little post on berry infused ice cubes, though, so I decided to go with that one.  
  • June was the month my older daughter graduated from elementary school.  To celebrate I made these nifty chocolate graduation caps.  Thank you Pinterest!
  • In July I made an old standby recipe: Raspberry Brownie Cake.  It seems that quite a few people made it for Christmas this year  because it was viewed a lot during the last two weeks of December!
  • While the succulent post was my favorite post, my favorite project was the sleepover birthday cake that I made for my younger daughter, so naturally that was my choice for August. 


Clockwise from upper left: September, October, November, December.

  • In September my daughter decided to get in on the creating and blogging.  She came up with a recipe for pizza muffins which I blogged about here.  
  • October was all about Halloween and my younger daughter's DIY jellyfish costume.  Read about it here.  
  • When I threw together this little post I never imagined it would be so popular.  But this is the internet and apparently the internet loves a good mason jar ;) so, here ya go...
  • Finally we have these fun little present toppers.  It was hard to choose a post for December because I also really loved the paint chip gift tags and my present wrapping party.  Not exactly Sophie's Choice I know, but I did warn you in my very first post that this would be a blog about first world problems ;)

So that's it.  My year-in-review.  

I am truly looking forward to 2013 and all of the fun and creativity that will come with it.

Happy New Year everyone!
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