How to completely destroy a piece of furniture and then make it all better

18 07 2011

Furniture is expensive.  Baby furniture is expensive.  So instead of buying a dresser that would be used for a few years with tiny drawers and a huge price tag, I found this solid wood dresser that will last hopefully until college off of craigslist.  Its original stain was beautiful, but I wanted all of our furniture to be white, so I undertook the endeavor of repainting it.

Opps! I started to sand the top before I got a "before" picture, but if you look at the bottom you can get the idea.

 Things you will need:

  • fine grit sandpaper
  •  paintbrushes
  •  rags (1 damp, 1 dry)
  • primer
  • paint
I spent $35 on the dresser, borrowed some paintbrushes from a neighbor, spent $15 on a quart of primer and sandpaper, and got a free quart of paint from Glidden’s yearly paint giveaway which occurs roughly around May every year.  It took about a month to get here, but it was free!  (For this piece of furniture, a quart of each primer and paint was MORE than enough.)
First, you want to sand down the furniture.  You’re not trying to kill it, although you might start freaking out after you’ve started demoing a perfectly fine piece of furniture for the sake of aesthetics.  I did.  Anyways, you want to score the existing stain/paint without tearing up the wood itself, moving in a circular motion.  Use the dry rag to dust off to check on your progress.  When you are done, use the damp rag to remove any remaining dust.  Another way to remove the dust is to use your vacuum hose with the brush attachment.


Here you can see the sand job a little better.

After you’ve sanded, you want to apply a light coat of primer.  The idea here is not to make your furniture white, but just to apply a light base so the paint will go on smoothly.  I also only primed and painted the areas that would be visible..I didn’t want layer after layer of change to affect how the drawers slid.


After priming, you’re finally ready to paint!  I used an eggshell paint not only because it was free, but because I’ve heard when its done it looks more “finished.”   For both painting and priming, make sure your brush strokes are going with the grain of the wood.  This dresser had some detailing, so I actually busted out an art kit and used little tiny brushes for the little tiny crevices.  If you find that you need more than one coat, wait at least four hours between applying new layers.  Let the furniture dry for at least overnight before you attempt to use it.

Yay! Finished!

So instead of buying a new piece of furniture that would last a couple of years for hundreds upon hundreds of dollars, I got a great dresser that should last for many years for a grand total of $50 and a couple hours of work.
Note:  Don’t sand, paint, or prime while pregnant.

Frugal Cooking 101

15 07 2011

My not-so-extreme couponing has led to way cheap cooking.  Usually I like to make stuff from scratch, which is a good way to save money if you have your staples at home.  But this meal was made almost all out of the box, which is convenient and apparently can be cheap, as well.  Here was my spending on it:

Hamburger Helper Philly Cheesesteak–On Sale 3/$4 plus $.75 coupon when you buy three (coupon doubled to $1.50 off)=
$.83 for the one box
Ground Beef–$5.50/2lbs plus $2.00 off coupon because I bought Hamburger Helper=
$1.75 for the 1lb of meat (saved other pound for another meal)
Pillsbury Crescent Rolls–On Sale 2/$3 plus $.40 coupon when you buy 2 (coupon doubled to $.80 off)=
$1.10 for one package of 8 rolls
Veggies–On Sale 10/$10=
$.50 for the half bag I used

So I spent a grand total of $4. 18 on this meal.  The only addition I made was adding paprika and a little bit of butter to the veggies.  This was a ridiculous amount of food for two people.  It could feed at least 3, and then 4 if you made more veggies.  I don’t know if this was extreme cheap, but it was $2.09 for each of us, which is cheaper than what you’d pay for a “meal” on the dollar menu.  Not to mention it was way healthier.

How to eat healthy, shop cheap, support your community and the environment.

12 07 2011

First of all, I want to mention this great blog I found…MomVesting.  It’s all about investing in different areas in your life…self, family, and, yes, finances.  These women know their stuff, too!  It’s good to find some reading material in this area that’s actually…well, readable.  Finding information on managing your finances is one thing…understanding what you’re reading is another.

Today’s investment on femmefrugality:  farmers markets.  I’m so excited about them.  Spring and summertime you can find local stands in your communities that sell all kinds of great food at cheaper than grocery store prices.  When you shop at these stands, you’re buying direct from the farmer.  By buying direct you’re saving money, and you’re helping your community out, too.  Your local farmers actually make more money by selling direct to you at a retail price than selling to those middlemen, as they purchase from the farmers at wholesale prices.

You’re eliminating food transportation costs along with costs associated with packaging the product.  These costs aren’t just monetary ones.  There aren’t many ways to be green while saving money UP FRONT, but farmers markets are one of them.  The manufacturing of the plastic products is now eliminated, as is the waste of the plastic itself (you were probably going to throw the package in the trash when you were done, weren’t you?)  Then, of course, less transportation means less gas used which we all know is a great thing.  Organizations like the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture also help local farmers operate their farms in a way that is not intrusive to the environment.  A lot of the markets around here are associated with them.

So you’re saving money.  You’re supporting your neighbors and local economy.  You’re being green on purpose or as a fringe benefit.  You’re also going to be eating healthy.  A majority of what these markets provide is produce relative to your area.  In Pennsylvania, that means corn on the cob! (Along with myriads of other fruits and vegetables.)  At some stands you can also get locally grown flowers, locally made baked goods and prepared foods, and other products.

There are farmers markets across the country, the world, even, so don’t hesitate to locate one in your area.  If you are in Pittsburgh or anywhere else in South Western PA, you can visit The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette or the Buy Local Buy Fresh website.  Happy and healthy shopping!