Category Archives: Thrifty Ideas

Vintage Sale…

Remember back in April I was at the vintage sale when Kelli called me and told me her water broke.  Well, I never showed you the goodies I got or told you about the sale so here, one month later, (Yep the boys are a month old as of today) I’m here to tell you about the sale.

I bought this magazine rack.

My idea is to keep my cross stitch projects in there like this…

I’m a sucker for old vintage… Continue reading

The Ironing Station….

I knew Kayla was coming…I knew Karl would be here.  I thought the dresser that is destined to be my ironing station would go up the stairs so I quickly painted it and tried to have it ready so when the stars aligned, the kids would help me get it upstairs.

If you remember, it looked like this…

…and my illustration for it was this…

Here it is painted with no top yet.

Thankfully with a little pushing, prodding, and heavy lifting, it went up the stairs.

This is my previous ironing station… Continue reading

Call Me Betsy

Call me Betsy…as in Betsy Ross.  Not really.  I buy flags.  I don’t sew them…I definitely don’t sew them by hand!!  I do repair them though.  I repair them often.

One of mine and Kramer’s biggest pet peeves was when flags got frayed and the owners didn’t replace them.  I get it….flags are expensive.

When we lived at the farm friends gave us a flag pole.  We had wanted one but hadn’t bought one knowing keeping a well maintained flag was an expense.  It was gifted to us so we made a commitment that we’d work hard to always have a well maintained flag.

Shortly after that, my dad passed away.  In his house were several flags.  He would make donations to a charity and they would send him a flag.  Well I immediately offered to take the flags.  I knew I’d use them along the way so why not take them as my “inheritance”.

At the time I also quit doing childcare and started working on my website Making Learning Fun on a full time basis.  Kramer always teased me,  “Saying if we can’t afford a flag you’re going to have to go back to work with a regular paycheck.”    Well I had Dad’s flags and I quickly learned to repair flags to make them last longer.  I didn’t want to “get a regular paycheck job”.

I did end up going back to childcare…not because we couldn’t afford the flags but because I wanted to buy a house.  When we bought the house I needed a regular paycheck.  That hasn’t stopped me from repairing flags.

If you look close you can see our flag was fraying.

Here it is close up.  To most it would look like it’s time for a new flag.  Not me!

For me it’s time to flip over the hem and sew it back down…like this…. Continue reading

Ask Jo: Those Thrift Stores

I recently got an email from a blog reader, Nita, that read, “…I’ve enjoyed reading your blogs, which my neighbor in Florida shared with me several months ago when you talked about going to La Crosse. We summer in Holmen.  If it isn’t asking for family secrets, I’d love to know the thrift stores you go to. You come home with such interesting finds. And, no, you don’t have to worry that I’ll snatch some of those nifty furniture bargains you find. Fabrics?……………..Well, ………………. maybe. We are definitely planning on going to Decorah to visit the quilt shop down there.

I’m absolutely amazed at all the things you do, sew, quilt, child care, long arm, read, raise African Violets (which I LOVE), and on and on it goes. You expend more energy in one day than I do in a week.  Thanks for writing about all the interesting things you and your family do.

I have been asked this question so many times…  WHERE ARE YOUR THRIFT STORES???

My thrift stores are not a “family secret”.  We have great thrift stores all over NE Iowa.  You need to know…I am a true thrifter at heart.  EVERY SINGLE TIME I go to town, I stop at a thrift store.  I plan my trips according to the thrift stores I want to hit up.  Certain thrift stores are better for different items.  One has bag sales that are anywhere from $1 for a bag to $5 for a bag of clothing.  When I go there, I get 100% cotton shirts.  Others are better for fabric…others for furniture.

I am truly blessed with the shops in our area.  Many are run by groups that find work for persons with disabilities.  The workers are good at jobs like sorting clothes, carrying donated items in and getting items placed on the shelves.  I love my good deals but also love that they provide jobs for people with disabilities too.  Others are run by church charities…others by families that give back to proceeds to the community.

Hubby and I have lived in this general area for the last 26 years.  We’ve scoped out many shops.  There are places we stop in so many of the area towns.  Some of our favorites are in Charles City, Mason City, Clear Lake, New Hampton, Cresco, Calmar, Decorah, Oelwein, Manchester, Hopkinton and recently we found one in New Albin.  If we are in the car, there is a thrift store in most every direction we go and I stop EVERY TIME.

There are lots of times I go and I don’t find anything.  There are times I go and I spent $50 at a store where most things cost 50 cents to $1 each.  It’s VERY hit and miss.  For example-  Our daughter Kayla collects Pyrex.  I am always on the lookout for Pyrex.  I look all the time at garage sales and at thrift stores.  About four times a year I find a piece….of those four, one time I’ll find five pieces in one swoop.  One time I’ll find two and other I’ll find one.  BUT I likely go to a thrift store, 50 times in a year….to find it only Pyrex four times, that’s not very good odds.

I’m lucky we have a big family so there are lots of wants I am trying to fill when I look and luckily none of us mind thrifted things.  Nowdays I look for clothes for Carver…100% cotton sheets….children’s book…100% cotton shirts…things for us to resell that are antique-ish…fabric and crafty things.. redo-able furniture….picture frames…childcare toys….to name a few.  Each time I go, I’m looking for all these different things.  It makes shopping take longer but it increases the odds that I might find something interesting to me.  I always tell you about the crafty things or fabric things that I find.  BUT there are LOTS of time I go and don’t see a thing….not a single thing.

The key to thrifting is going.  AND it’s going often.  So often people tell me that they went and didn’t find anything.  They think it’s a waste of time and aren’t going anymore.  They had a “bad” day…I have them too.  I just don’t tell you about those.

Something else you need to know is that these shops aren’t like Goodwill in the large towns.  There is ONE rack with men’s shirts on it.  There are likely only 10-15 men’s cotton shirts in the entire store.  I don’t go through and pick the red ones only….I might not find a red one for WEEKS ON END.  Then one day I’ll walk in and 4 of the 10 shirts that in the store are red and I buy them all.  Thrifting is VERY hit and miss….THAT IS WHAT MAKES IT FUN!!!

I hate going into a WalMart there is very little different from chain store to chain store.  There is something different in the thrift stores each time.  There is always something different to see.  One day we went and Kayla saw that someone must have gotten rid of a state plate collection.  They were selling the plates for 50 cents each.  Kayla decided to buy ones from the states she’s been to and start a plate collection.  That day there were stacks of plates.  Since then I see one here or there but they aren’t as easy to find as we thought they might be….but we love the hunt.

Not to long ago I went and I got LOTS of things for the childcare kids.  There was a Lego cupcake set that the kids have been playing with….


These goofy building toys that I want to get more of because the kids liked them lots.  Have you seen these before? Continue reading