Thursday, September 30, 2010

Little things that make life easier, second-hand

One thing I love about thrift store and yard sale shopping is that I can find so many little things--things that I might never pay full price for, but that make life easier. Here are some recent example:

--A key case for 25 cents. I was tired of my keys piercing holes in my pockets and purses.

--A large bucket with a secure lid (this was the key feature) for $2.50, for soaking such things as my reusable menstrual pads without exposing them to others.

--Eight handkerchiefs for $4. This came in handy when I had a recent cold--I could use them with the five or so I already had, and wash them out each night. It was the first time I didn't need to rely on paper tissue when I was sick.

--My daughter's Halloween costume for $6. She wants to go as a doctor this year. At Goodwill, I found a plain women's white blouse with snaps down the front for $4 that, on my child, looks just like a doctor's jacket. Then I found both a real set and a toy set of a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff. Both sets were $2 each. Knowing my daughter (who wants to be a doctor when she grows up), she'd want the real set to actually hear heartbeats and be able to puff up the blood pressure cuff on someone's arm, so that's what I bought. (FYI, I'm to go as her patient this year. She will cover me in bandages).

--A stainless steel covered cake plate (round) and an oblong covered casserole/cake pan, $5 each. Now I no longer have to cover cakes and other dishes with foil and hope the icing or food doesn't get stuck to it.

--Two little silicone trays for $1, each with 12 small pumpkin molds in them. I think these were to either create pumpkin-shaped candies or pumpkin-shaped pieces of ice. Nevertheless, I have my own use for them: so that my daughter can mix paint colors together. If I allowed my daughter unrestricted access to her Crayola paints, we'd end up with 10 jars of muddy brown color. Instead, I pour a little of each color paint into different pumpkin holes, and she can mix them together to her heart's content.

--A beautiful, small but sturdy covered picnic basket for $3. I start a new job on Monday, and I will use it to carry a lunch plate, glass, mug, utensils, place mat and cloth napkins for easy and discreet storage under or near my desk.

--A large glass casserole dish lid for $1.50, which we are now using to cover food in the microwave. Our previous options were a plastic microwave cover (which deteriorates over time), or using plates (not the best, since they smash your food and can get too hot to easily remove), cloth napkins (messy) or paper towels (wasteful). This lid is a better alternative than all of the above. It sits high enough not to touch the food, and has a handle for easy lifting.

Bonus yard sale discovery: I wrote a while ago about being frustrated that I couldn't find anyone who could repair my leather purses. I buy them used (usually for $4-6) and have several now sitting in my closet because I always break the strap. Otherwise, these bags are all in great condition, and it seems a waste to have them sitting there gathering dust.

At a recent yard sale I visited, I noticed a "Tailoring and Clothes Repair" sign in the window of the home. I asked the woman about it, and she told me to step inside and talk to her husband, who is the tailor. I described my purses and asked if he could repair leather--and he can! I'll post again after I've had a bag repaired (provided the price is reasonable!).

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