Sunday, March 15, 2015

Simply Spring #1: Pretty and Practical at Home

I'm starting a new series called Simply Spring here on This Mom Grows Up. This Friday is the official start of the new season, so what I'm planning to do is a weekly post related to springtime for the next few months. I'll probably do these on Sunday.

Today I wanted to show you a few things I've bought or made around the house to make our lives a little more practical and pretty.

I mentioned in a previous post that I had purchased some small wooden cutouts to spray with chalkboard paint. The picture above is one of them, and this is another. I didn't sand either of them before I started, and the wood grain is quite evident on the Welcome Spring sign, though not so much on the bird cage. I tried sanding and repainting a larger board, but I'm not sure it was much of an improvement either. It was a fun little experiment, but I think I'll stick to buying chalkboards. I am so glad I bought soft pastels to use, since they are much more vibrant than regular chalk!

My teenage daughter and I went to Old Time Pottery yesterday and found this 5' x 8' area rug on sale for $35. Our last one, which I had picked up from someone's curb many years ago in fairly decent shape, was getting pretty ratty. I've been looking for an affordable new one, and this caught our eyes. I intend to change the color scheme in the living room when I can find some gently used couches in a muted color. So I wanted to get something that would go with that, as well as what we have right now. This one is a mix of contemporary and traditional. What do you think? (Note: After I wrote this post, we found a brown couch at the Christian Sharing Center for $100. It reclines on both ends, too! I'll try to find a close enough match for it as soon as possible, but for now we have one newish brown and one very old saggy red. I do have to say that the microfiber fabric has been really durable all these years, and the newer one is made with that as well.)

Another pretty and practical item from Old Time Pottery - a push broom with flowers and butterflies on it. This is another thing I've been looking for, and I was glad to find it on sale.

The strap on my last purse eventually broke, so I started using a much smaller burgundy velvet one. I loved the idea of not lugging around as much stuff (my back is quite sore from a car accident), but that one was too tiny for my basic stuff. So I looked and looked some more. After a few weeks, I found exactly what I wanted - a smallish but big enough black purse with a zipper and a slender shoulder strap. It's minimalist, and I love it! You know what I just realized? I got all three of the purses at Goodwill -- each for about $3 in great shape! That's the way to go. What about my big fat wallet? I'm not carrying it anymore! I pared down to several cards that I needed (license, Sam's Club, debit, etc.) in a coin purse. I have a small zip lock bag for receipts. I usually have my keys, phone, and iPod in my pocket, but sometimes I put them in the purse, too. I may or may not also have a comb, a small pack of tissues, and a digital camera. I leave the wallet in my van, without anything valuable in it. It has discount cards and other stuff that I might need but can easily get out when I'm at the place where I need it. 

Why did I buy a rotary phone? Well, we have a cordless phone at home, but it gets lost pretty easily. If it isn't charged, we can't even find it by beeping for it. I had to buy a new cordless phone because my kids need a reliable way to call me if I'm not home. (Some of them can text me from iPods.) Anyway, I saw this for $1 at a yard sale and figured it would be a great way to always have an extra corded phone in one place. It's not going anywhere! And it's fun for kids who have never used a phone dial. I love vintage! (Note: When the guys hauled one of our old couches out, we took the cushions off, and voila, there was the missing cordless phone, along with a set of my keys!)

I started decorating for spring this past week. I put out some country blue decorations on the table in the front hallway. Then I decided to add the basket to put in library books when we're done with them. I can grab them on the way out the door and drop them off when I'm running other errands. I think I bought the basket at Salvation Army. Do you get the idea that I love buying good stuff cheap at thrift stores, yard sales, and on discount?

I found this motivational poster at Dollar Tree. I decided to put it on the water heater in the laundry room, because the main area of responsibility I would love to see my family embrace is keeping track of their clothes. It's a never ending battle making sure the clean ones get folded and put away. People in this house are known to take them out of the dryer and plop them on the floor. Or dump clean clothes out of baskets and not put them back. Or... Never mind. You get the picture. And speaking of "getting the picture" - my little girl got this one. I found it on my camera, so she obviously noticed it (yay!) and snapped this photo. She also took the phone photo above.

Another practicality - an extra set of basic tools. I've had the screwdrivers in my desk drawer for a while, but I just added my very own short handled hammer ($5) and tape measure ($1) from Walmart. Having my own set means I don't have to rummage through the storage room (and hope someone returned what they took or even that the tool bag is in the house) when I just want to hang a picture or something.

I saw this tip in a friend's e-magazine. Take a plastic cereal container, line it with a grocery bag, and use it in your car for a trash container. It keeps the stuff in and only takes up a little space. I tucked extra bags at the bottom. Mine is wedged between two supply bins for little things we always need along the way: hair brushes, tissues, wipes, scissors, pens, paper, iPod and phone charge cables, etc.

The kids are on spring break, so we're going to try to start some flowers from seed. We got four packs at Dollar General along with potting mix and a seed starter tray, all for under $10. They are still in the back of my van, but maybe tomorrow?

I found this little gem at the Ross discount store last week for $15. It's a lightweight coil hose and sprayer for my garden. The big green one is way too bulky and heavy for me to drag around everyday, especially since I'm recovering from a back injury. I love how my new blue one stretches!

Well, that's it for this week!

What are you doing that is pretty and practical for spring?

Virginia Knowles

P.S. I've got another similar post up now!  Simply Spring #2: More Pretty and Practical.


  1. Some great ideas here! I love the old phone. Would love to get one myself. : ) Your new rug is really pretty too and I'd love to plant some sunflowers this year! I haven't had much success in years past, but I want to try again.

    Visiting from the 'Wise Woman' link-up. : )

  2. I love pretty and practical too! And especially love thrifting! :) I am visiting from Coffee and Conversation. I hope you have a lovely week!