Goodbye Ginger Penny Pincher… (Hello 1,278 Other Awesome Things)

This blog was my greatest source of comfort for two years. I started this beloved blog in 2011 when I first moved to NYC with my husband (and my two perfect dogs). I’d never done anything like it before — I’d certainly written plenty — but never endeavored to put my thoughts out there in a consistent, public format like I did here. On the other hand, I’d always been thrifty, crafty, and home design-y. The biggest difference with moving to NYC was that saving money and living on the cheap was not born out of novelty or fun, but absolute necessity.

Then I took two years off. Not like “I hate you blog and nice, supportive readers, I’m never coming back,” but rather, life… and all of its happenings — they pulled me away. (In the process, I started three businesses, moved across the country, and oh so much more… but that’s for the next blog.)

Before I neglected the blog — when it was in its heyday — I had thousands of readers and subscribers who checked this thing out everyday. (That was… unexpected to say the least.) In a tumultuous time in my life (another blog post, another day), this blog provided me equal parts distraction and focus. (I know that distracting focus is an oxymoron, but just go with it, y’all).

It also gave me the encouragement that I desperately needed. I know I’ve vague-blogged about it before, but when you sell most of your possessions and move away from your family to a new, strange city to take your acting career to the next level, then injure yourself, rendering you incapable of auditioning (or even moving) for many, many months… well, yeah. That can kind of knock the wind out of your sails.

So the blog went from the thing I wanted to do from time to time… to the thing I needed to do… just to get out of bed in the morning. Gah, I know that sounds dark! It was often the reality. (Funny, because this blog was almost always a sunny, happy, goofy, and occasionally snarky place. I guess I was overcompensating.)

All of that to say, I’m moving on. The last two years — since I last posted here — have been complicated and crazy, for sure. More than that, they have been wonderful. WONDERFUL. Easily the best 2 years of my life. With all of the wonderful-ness, I desperately wanted to share on the blog. But every time I opened the WordPress dashboard, I became overwhelmed with such an intense desire to stay the hell away from here. I know it looked like a blog about home design and thrifting to you, I get that. Mostly, all I see now when I look back at these posts is a confused 20-something who had no control over anything other than the words that got published on these posts. That’s a bittersweet sentiment to say the least.

(Even re-reading the most recent post before this, all about saving a piece of furniture from the curb… I mostly just remember that that particular week was one where we absolutely no money for groceries, among other day-to-day no-fun stuff.)

The self-preserving side of me wants to shut this down all together and delete it.

The history-preserving side of me says to hold on to it.


(Spoiler alert: history wins this time.)

So while I may come back here time to time and cringe while re-reading a post, I’m going to go ahead and leave it here as long as the Internet and WordPress allow it. While this time in my life was difficult, I wouldn’t be where I am today without having gone through that. Rather than hide it, I want to honor it. It’s an archive of DIY ideas and home design to you, but to me it’s a time capsule of struggles. (I sure know how to romanticize something , right?) :-)

But here’s the good news! I am not done blogging. Not even close. Quite the contrary, I have some truly exciting stuff up my sleeves, and I literally cannot wait to share it all.

The new blog is The Art of Grit + Grace. The name is certainly a nod to the past not-so-good stuff, but the main idea will be about my quest for balance balance — a quest in which I feel I’m finally gaining traction.

So it will still be about DIY, home design, crafty goodness, general adventuring, even a little entrepreneurship thrown in there, but it will be so much more. It’s still a work in progress (gotta make it PRETTY!), but I went ahead and shared the link of its future home anyway. I hope you check it out (later-ish) and enjoy. I think it’ll knock your socks off once it gets going. :-)

#socksoff #forserious #ihaveHUGEplans


For all my GPP readers out there, whether you drifted here occasionally or accidentally, or whether you read it every day, thank you. You’ll never understand what you all meant to me. Without your support (and my family’s — duh, they were readers as well), I wouldn’t have gotten through that time or felt gently pushed into the next (far better) season of my life. I feel your support is directly related to a lot of my success and joy now (really! how bout that?), though that may seem a bit unbelievable. But it’s true, so believe it. :-)

Thank you, thank you, thank you. See you over on The Art of Grit + Grace.  :-)





The (former and always) Ginger Penny Pincher





Ooh la la…

Consider this Part 543 in an ongoing series in my thrifty life called: Something-Else-Awesome-that-Josh-and-I-Found-on-the-Road-on-Trash-Day-and-How-it-Changed-Our-Lives-Hashtag-Only-Slightly-Exaggerating.  

Previous beloved installments in this unofficial series include…

butcher block dining room table

I’m offended by how blurry this picture is… I don’t blame you if you feel the same way.

This butcher block top Josh saved from the streets one trash day — and after we Googled a similar sized piece of block for pricing, we realized it was worth almost $300 (and it had no damage!).

We also found those beauties…


We saved these antique crystal door knobs from an old door on the street.  With a little elbow grease, they were removed from the (probably) lead paint ridden door, and placed into my happy hands.  And oh, how I love them…


However, this past trash day’s prize takes it all.

A monstrously large, solid-as-a-rock, mostly-undamaged French Provincial dresser:


NO, stained wood — especially this orange-y color — is NOT usually my thing.  I have plans o’ painting.  But wait… I’ll get to that in a minute.  First: Storytime!

So… as Josh and I often do, we were walking to work together (#americandream), and we spied this hunk of loveliness hanging out on the street all “You can’t have me because you live in a 400 sq. ft. apartment, but wouldn’t you love to refinish me with a slate grey milk paint with crisp white accents?  But you CAN’T!”  Such a tease.  I cursed whoever was giving up such a beautiful piece of furniture — with such potential — but passed it up because (like the piece of furniture said in my strange metaphor), Josh and I live in 400 sq. ft. so adding things like a huge French Provincial dresser (it’s over six feet long and about three feet high!) or removing enough of our current furniture to fit in (when we don’t want to get rid of anything but our old slipcovered couch) is a no-go.  Cue a deep sigh.  And that was the end of that.  Until…

I was walking the dogs the next day and —


Aren’t my dogs the cutest things you’ve EVER SEEN?!?!


My heart breaks a little every time I look at them because I’m pretty sure they’ll never fully comprehend how much I love them…

Unpause.  Slight rewind for dramatic effect.

I was walking the dogs the next day when I saw the dresser again.

{Insert picture of dresser in street here}

Obviously I didn’t really take pictures of it because it was hard enough to say goodbye the first time.  I didn’t want to accidentally stumble across a picture of it in the future…  and cry.  Or something equally irrational.

But again, I passed it up… but not before determining its structural stability (sturdy and sound) and whether or not the drawers stayed on their track (yep, brilliantly so).  Oh, and of course, I saw this sexy detail for the first time:


A dovetail joint.  Va-va-voom.

Then I fell in love.  Hard.

But it was more like summer lovin’, like in the song… where you have to go your separate ways at the end — Australia and Rydell High, or in the case of the dresser and me: to the nearest landfill and to my shoebox apartment, respectively.

…That’s not to say I didn’t dwell on the dresser for a disproportionate amount of time afterwards.

Fast forward to later that night when Josh and I were walking our dogs again — my life in New York City is 70% walking and 30% everything else — and we checked out the dresser yet again.  I say “checked out,” but really I gave it a cursory glance while Josh really got in there (#thatswhatshesaid).  Like I did before, he checked the drawers, did the whole push it and see if it wobbles test (passed with flying colors, of course), and gave it his general approval, while in the same breath reminding me — “I know, I know” — that we had nowhere to put it.

The following day — trash day — we walked past it, realized it was now or never, and in an insane fit of French Provincial passion, hefted it half a block and up four flights of stairs.

The problem is, when I I type it all out in one sentence like that, it undermines just how. much. work. it was.  Like, I don’t even want to guess how much it weighs.

So, Josh and I took out all the drawers and took those upstairs (twelve drawers, four flights, three trips).  Then we carried the body of the dresser (did I mention it was half a block + four flights of stairs?).  We still didn’t have a clear plan as to where it would go, what would be lost with the gain of said dresser, and how many drawers of this dresser Josh would get to use for his clothing (spoiler alert: zero).  But we knew we loved it, it had a little damage (just a couple of dings on the side that wood putty can save), and we knew it would be valuable to us in the coming years (we’re not going to live in apartments forever, I can promise you that).

Ok.  Enough storytime.  You all knew how it ended anyway.  Let’s look at substandard pictures of her in relatively poor nighttime/indoor lighting:




On behalf of my neat freak husband, let me apologize for the dirty rug.  I don’t really care so much, but he almost wouldn’t let me take pictures because of the way it looked.


Medallion deliciousness…


And like I said, I don’t care for orange-y stained wood, so I’ll mos’ def be painting it.  I had images of grey and white milk paint, so I decided to Google image search and see what popped up (rather than always trying to imagine it, I sometimes like to look up an example from other crafty bloggers and see how it turns out in the end).

I found this great example from Mustard Seed Interiors:

{Source: Mustard Seed Interiors}

It’s literally EXACTLY what I had imagined (slate grey with white for the trimmy bits and medallions), and it looks even better than I expected.  Imagining this against a navy wall with this couch…

EKTORP Sofa IKEA Easy to keep clean with removable, dry clean only cover.

{Source: Ikea}

And this kind of natural jute rug:

And throw pillows in these patterns and/or colors:


{Source: Pookadella’s Home Decor Etsy Shop}

Pair that with the turquoise silk pillow I already have….

Add some long curtains in this fabric:


Repaint and stain my current end tables to look like this:

{Source: Centsational Girl}

Buy this quirky lamp and spray paint the base lime green or yellow and replace the current shade with a drum shade:

{Source: Boscov’s}

Maybe throw in a fixture like this one:

{Source: Shades of Light}

….along with my slew of awesome accessories that I already have and…

future living room moodboard

Yeah. I’ve pretty much redecorated my whole apartment in my mind.

Trash day scavenging is a dangerous thing.

I don’t know when I’ll get to painting the dresser — much less all these other changes — but  I’ll keep you posted along the way of course.  Ohboyohboyohboy.

courtney gpp signature 2

Honor Thy Madre

Picture me wagging my finger at you.  Why?  Because YOU forgot that Mother’s Day is this upcoming Sunday (as in: May 12th, 2013).  For SHAME!  Your mother didn’t forget it was Mother’s Day.  Well, maybe she did.  I wouldn’t know about that.

(And maybe you didn’t forget at all, in which case, disregard the last few sentences where I put on my disciplinarian pants.  Then pat yourself on the back.  I’m proud of you.  Now go have a Diet Coke.)

Ok, for those of you who did forget (it’s okay, I forgive you — you can have your Diet Coke, too) — it’s not too late.

You can always go the intangible gift route, in which case there are dozens of options…  Like this mother’s day luncheon that I did for my mother last year:

Or you can go the handmade route (duh, of course I did a post about that kind of thing last year).

But for those of you going the store bought route, this post is for you!  I’ve scoured the Internet (if by scour, I mean just Googled a little here and there), and found some Mother’s Day gift ideas that are fun…  maybe even unexpected.  I don’t mean like… giving your mother a spittoon (unless your mother is into… spittooning, er… spitting).  I mean like…

This gardener’s seat from Uncommon Goods:

Now I couldn’t keep a cactus alive, but I’m also not a mother. (I pretend the two correlate, so I assume that one day in the distant future when I do have children, I’ll suddenly wake up with the ability to know how much water a geranium should get.  And what a geranium looks like exactly.)

Another gift idea from Uncommon Goods

Did I say gift idea?  I meant humorous intermission from gift ideas.  Mostly I just like knowing this is a real thing and it’s out there in the world (and it costs $65).  Ok, back to the real task at hand.

For the mom that’s in 15 different clubs, volunteers for a few dozen organizations, and hosts the occasional book club or bunco game…

Blue Glass Yorkshire Dispenser

It’s pretty!  It’s blue!  It holds beverage!  (I want one myself… mmm…. Sangria.)  It’s only $19.99 and it’s from Cost Plus World Market.

As is this one… slightly more neutral but nonetheless lovely (and party-practical) for $19.99:

Beehive Drink Dispenser

Speaking of delightful beverages, and other cool things from Cost Plus World Market, I think this cast-iron tea pot is pretty boss.

And I mean that in a “I-don’t-really-use-boss-as-an-adjective” type way.  (Only $19.99!)

I love the idea behind these apothecary jars with chalkboard labels:

These are available from Pier 1 for $10 and $14 (respective to their sizes), but they’d be easy to DIY if you already had the paint and jars (if not, it’d probably cost pretty close to the Pier 1 price to but it all together from scratch, so that’s actually not a bad price).

And you know Etsy’s my boo and I can’t resist handmade things, so here’s a few findings from my most recent browsing…

Mother's Day Gift 8x10 Custom Map - USA Map With Heart - Two Locations, Any Color - United States Wall Art - Digital Art Print

Sooo sweet.  Especially if you and your mother are geographically apart.  (And you don’t have to be bicoastal for this to work — the seller will customize it appropriately.  Check her out:  Paper Plane Prints.)

The next item, this hand painted silk scarf, is definitely not in lines with the typical GPP gift budget, but there’s no denying its beauty and one-of-a-kind uniqueness:

Hand Painted Silk Shawl Blue Hawaiian Hibiscus, Blue Silk Scarf, Floral Shawl. Evening Wrap. Silk Charmeuse Shawl. 22x90 in. Made to order.

Gorgeous.  You can check out the seller’s other items here:  Silk Scarves Takuyo

I actually gave my mother a similar item for Christmas a few years ago…

Custom Rubber Stamp: Southern Label

(A rubber stamp that creates that inked image, that is.)  But I still think it’s a good gift for any occasion, and certainly for Mother’s Day.  Makes bill paying go by faster (that is, assuming your mother is like mine and does most of her bill paying through snail mail).  The one above can be found at Sincerely Yours Paper (or you can search on Etsy for monogrammed address stamps and get a whole slew of options).

And there’s no end to the amount of awesome tea towels you can find on Etsy (seller’s pages linked and listed under each image):

Whip it, Whip it Good Flour Sack Tea Towel

{Etsy shop: French Silver}

Just Beat It Flour Sack Tea Towel

{Etsy shop: French Silver}

100% Cotton Tea Towel

{Etsy shop: Caloway Creations}

The Mr. Tea Towel (hand painted) Mr.T - funny gift - housewarming gift - for him - new home - retro

{Etsy shop: Lucy’s Art Emporium}

I have a secret tea towel obsession, but I don’t act on it because I’m afraid I would use said tea towel to wipe up some kitchen-related mess that would forever stain the tea towel and thus sadden me.  But I really like to look at them.  (And think about how I’d like to frame them all and hang them on the wall.)

OK, stepping away from Etsy.  And onto Amazon… one of my favorite places to shop.

It’s no secret that Amazon has EVERYTHING, but getting back to its ol’ multimedia roots, Amazon is a great place to shop for books.  Obviously, it’s one of the cheapest — if not the cheapest places — to buy books, but it also features lots of helpful lists if you’re just looking for a certain kind of book, and not necessarily a specific title.  One book I’m particularly excited about is And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (same guy who wrote The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns).

My mother and I have both loved the previous ones, so I look forward to this one as well.  (Hint: Mom, DON’T pre-order this book, or the Mother’s Day fairy will have to deliver multiple copies.)  #subtelyisnotmyspecialty

That’s all for now.  What’s everyone else doing for Mother’s Day?  Handmade?  Store bought?  Non-tangible?  Spittoon-gifting?

courtney gpp signature 2

Mother Nature is My Home Girl

Happy Earth Day, y’all!   (And thanks, Google… you always come through with your clever home screens right when I think I might forget medium important holidays and random botanists’ birthdays.)

But seriously, I love the planet, I love DIY, and it’s no secret that I love saving the murnies, so logically I love upcycling like nobody’s business.

Bring on the Earth-Day-themed-upcycling-posts-throwback-round-up-trip-down-memory-lane-smorgasbord-of-April-twenty-second’s love!


(Click on the image or the link above the image to take you to the original post!)

Vinyl Record Bowl

free dog toy toilet paper roll

Nice Knobs!  (Salvaged Crystal Door Knobs)


Vintage Yardsticks and Rulers

{Source: Corner House Blog}

Wine Cork Crafts

{Source: ewehoo!}

Just Short of Tree-Hugging

I’ve always been a big recycle-reduce-reuse nerd (I was born in the 80’s).  I’m always on the hunt for ways to repurpose, ways to save energy, and ways to be nicer to the planet in general.  However, until recently, I hadn’t really applied this line of thinking to myself.  Like, my own body.

Of course, I always try to eat healthier, and if I don’t recognize the majority of ingredients on the label, I tend to steer away from it and opt for fresher, less processed things.  (And of course, the unrecognizable things on the ingredients list are usually preservatives.)   But I hadn’t put a whole ton of thought into this being applied to some of the items I use topically… like shampoo, conditioner, lotion, make-up, et al.

Then I read somewhere that we absorb 60% of what goes on our skin!

Then I read somewhere else that that wasn’t necessarily true…

Then I read about the evils of parabens (a preservative found in many cosmetics and personal care products).  Then I read about how benzoyl peroxide has been restricted in Europe (this is my go to when I use a medicated face wash).  Then I read about sulfates (found in detergents and shampoos) and learned how they have a pretty bad rap, too.  Then I read… A LOT.

Then I read a few articles that “scoffed” at the natural community for getting their panties in a wad over the whole thing.

Then I thought…. and pondered… and considered.

And then I did what I do with politics: I didn’t lean to the right… or the left… but somewhere right in the middle.  A Moderate, if you will.  (Fence riding can be exhausting, but someone’s got to do it.)

And what it came down to was this: Applying the same line of thinking that I use for choosing food options, I decided if I didn’t understand — or couldn’t pronounce — the majority of the ingredients on a label, then it wasn’t for me.  I don’t necessarily rule out any and all other products that I may have used before, I just use carefully and/or sparingly.  Because while there is some bad press for the movement towards all all-natural, there’s an overwhelming amount of bad press for continuing to use the products we’ve all been using (but no one can make me give up my Loreal Voluminous mascara, not even the dumb girl who told me when I was thirteen years old that mascara was made out of bat poop — and I believed her for a good five minutes).

And this resolve was further justified when I stopped and made a list of all of the cosmetic and personal care products I use.  Are you ready?  For someone who can get ready in  fifteen minutes, this is quite a list:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Hairspray (flyaways, y’all!)
  • Bodywash
  • Facewash
  • Hand Soap
  • Body Lotion
  • Facial Moisturizer
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental Floss (EVERY DAY)
  • Fluoride rinse (I have a tiny, cavity-prone mouth)
  • Nail polish
  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Deodorant
  • Lip Balm
  • Lip Gloss
  • Lipstick
  • Foundation (like, the makeup kind)
  • Powder
  • Eyeshadow (three different colors for contrast and definition)
  • Eyeliner
  • Mascara
  • Perfume
  • Vaseline (for really dry skin)

Yeah, quite a list.  (But unlike a lot of ladies I know, I don’t use concealer, hair dye, tanners/bronzers, and a slew of other topical products, so I consider my crazy long list not so long by comparison.)   However, when I first created the list, I found it daunting; I was at a loss for how to choose which new natural product to use and how I would afford to switch over ALL of these different products (this is the Ginger Penny Pincher, after all).  Overwhelmed, Party of One.

So I laid a few ground rules for myself:

  1. I could only switch over to a new, natural product when I was about to run out of an older, slightly more harmful one (I mean, I made it this far).
  2. I couldn’t buy a product if it was significantly more expensive than my previous one (like twice as much = no bueno).
  3. I could only buy a product (or keep using one) if it made a 3 or better on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database.  This AMAZING resource breaks down everything that is found in common cosmetics and personal care items — you can even send off for a handy pocket guide for when you go shopping:

(I totally squealed when it came in the mail.)

So those are my three criteria.  This resolve began March 1st, and since then I’ve switched over about half of my products.  I’m pretty happy with my choices so far, but I’m open to other options as well; in other words, I’m not married to any particular brand.  I browsed the personal care products section of my local natural foods stores, Flatbush Food Coop and Natural Frontier Market (this was before I discovered the even more fabulous natural care section of my beloved Fairway).  Keeping a mental note of what brands they had, I sort of reverse looked up everything in the EWG database to figure out, of all of the easily accessible brands, which were best).  The sky’s the limit when you order from great sites like Vita Cost or, but I wanted to be able to walk a few blocks or drive a few miles and get whatever I needed, rather than have to wait on the delivery man (who can be a little unreliable in my area).  So choosing commonly found brands like Desert Essence, Tom’s, Jason, Avalon Organics, Kiss My Face, Nature’s Gate, and Dr. Bronner’s just makes more sense (and some of these are even available at drugstores and Target).

Here’s my updated list, with the new products (and my brief review) in boldface.  Again, I haven’t switched over everything, but I’m getting there…

  • Shampoo — Nature’s Gate: no problems yet!
  • Conditioner — Nature’s Gate: Sulfate-free and complaint free!
  • Hairspray (soon)
  • Bodywash — Dr. Bronner’s: If you can get past the trippy labeling, you’re set.
  • Facewash — Desert Essence with Tea Tree Oil, and then I use straight up tea tree oil applied with a Q-tip for problem areas.
  • Hand Soap — Dr. Bronner’s 
  • Body Lotion — Coconut oil (like the stuff for cooking!)
  • Facial Moisturizer — Again, coconut oil.  It has many uses.
  • Toothpaste — Tom’s of Maine, Cavity Protection: No problems so far!
  • Dental Floss (soon)
  • Fluoride rinse — The Natural Dentist, fluoride-free, made of leprecaun magic and pixie dust.  It is some GREAT stuff.
  • Nail polish (this is going to be a hard one)
  • Nail Polish Remover (yep)
  • Deodorant — Tom’s of Maine: It’s been great during the winter; we’ll see how it holds up in the warmer months :)
  • Lip Balm — Burt’s Bees, of course
  • Lip Gloss
  • Lipstick
  • Foundation
  • Powder —  I found something new at Target called Boots Botanics — made in the UK.  Loving it so far.
  • Eyeshadow (three different colors for contrast and definition)
  • Eyeliner
  • Mascara
  • Perfume
  • Vaseline — Back to the coconut oil

For the items I haven’t switched, I have Pinned on my appropriately themed Pinterest board (check it out!) —  in hopes of going back to them when it is time to switch over.

Here’s where the cool community part of this blog comes in handy:  Has anyone else switched over recently?  Or do you have any natural products that you swear by?   A natural deodorant that really works? A cavity ridden horror story about using natural toothpaste?  Please share any and all suggestions.  I’d love more feedback as I go through this transition!  I’ll try most anything, short of scraping tree bark against my elbows.  Or using bat poop as mascara.

 Or giving up Diet Coke.

I mean, I do have some standards.

courtney gpp signature 2

Fairway Market: Land of Dreams

Grocery shopping is hard in NYC — not unlike a lot of other common, day-to-day tasks.  Since most New Yorkers don’t have cars, grocery shopping usually means going a few times a week, choosing to spread out heavier things like milk and laundry detergent over the various trips.

And the grocery stores here leave much to be desired, the average neighborhood grocery store having only the bare minimum with little variety (much less all-natural, organic options).  Of course there’s a Trader Joe’s a few subway stops away and a Whole Foods in Manhattan but who has the time and energy for schlepping over there many times a week (schlepping being a technical term)?

Josh and my NYC experience has been a little different from others in that we have a car.  But of course, parking in Manhattan is silly-ness, so we’ve resigned ourselves to driving to and taking advantage of the free parking at the nearby Stop ‘n Shop.  But since Josh and I made the switch to all organic, all natural, and as-ethically-responsible-as-we-can-find food options, this has been a difficult change to enforce (blog post coming soon about our huge switcheroo).

A difficult change indeed until we discovered…

Fairway Market…


Land of Magic and Dreams and Sunshine…

And it happens to be right in the heart of the oft-underappreciated-but-pretty-darn-cool neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn.

We had heard of Fairway before, but we just never managed to make it over there.  Then Hurricane Superstorm Sandy came (the b*tch) and did some serious damage to Fairway, closing it for a while.  After it re-opened, Josh and I decided to make the short ten-minute drive over there one day.

Our epic drive:


It’s laid out in a maze-like way, and unless you’re paying attention, you could miss a whole section (like the awesome-sauce natural market, which we almost missed on our first trip out there).


When you first walk in, you go through the artisanal cheeses and meats, which Josh and I quickly pass through as we have no strong opinions on cheeses and meats and their artisinal-ality.


I could care less about coffee, but for the curious, they have buckets/bushels/big containers/whatever the technical term is, full of various varieties.


I don’t know.  I feel that’s something most other people would probably care about  (“Not I,” said the Courtney).


They also have a fancy-pants room with different vinegars and oils, complete with yellow lighting for preservation or something (can you tell I don’t really know what I’m talking about and I usually just buy what’s on sale?).


And the obligatory Wall o’ Granola ‘n’ Such.


Did I mention Fairway is perfect?


Lest I leave out any important bits with my rambling, I’m gonna turn it over to the pictures:








Fairway hung the moon.  Obviously.


Oh, and the cherry on top:  They have a food court complete with a chopped salads section.


And you can eat it right by the water in their dining area.


Did I mention a cherry on top already?  Well, here are the holiday-colored sprinkles: The staff there is great.  Like super friendly.  And most of them are New Yorkers.  Put it together: Friendly New Yorkers.  I know it’s a bit of an oxymoron, but not at Fairway (for my New York readers, I love you and I’m sorry, but you know).

(I almost got a pic with my cashier, but then I chickened out at the last minute.)

Josh and I, being the major advocates for a better grocery shopping experience in NYC left that day on a high.  For real-real.  And we woke up the next day happily recalling our awesome Fairway experience from the day before.

I drank the Fairway Kool-Aid.  I’m a goner.

And to my Atlanta readers who think I’m crazy and have been away from normal grocery stores for too long, listen: Fairway is the greatest supermarket ever.  Take everything you love about Kroger and Publix and Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and throw it all together with a view of the Statue of Liberty (did I mention there’s a view of the Statue of Liberty?) and you’ve got Fairway… FOR THE WIN.

Whenever I do leave Brooklyn, I will miss Fairway dearly.  But in the meantime, I shall sing their praises.

So… If you live in or near Red Hook, BK, you’d better check it out.  Run, don’t walk.  It’s well worth a Zipcar trip to those who are vehicle-less (cause of course you can’t get to Red Hook by mass transit).  And while you’re there, you can visit Ikea Brooklyn, too, just a half mile away.  And you know how much I love my Ikea (as evidenced here and here).

And if you live too far away, then… Sorry boutcha.  And you should be jealous.  Like angry eyebrows jealous.

***P to the S:  Y’all know I’m not paid or perked by Fairway.  I just write this post out of the passionate love in my heart.  Check out their website (and you can also help with the continual Sandy relief efforts):  Fairway Red Hook website


More posts about me drooling over places I love:

An Ikea Trip

Another Ikea Trip

Dekalb Farmers Market

Bargain Shopping in Atlanta

Nice Knobs! (and other home decor double entendre)

***New to the Ginger Penny Pincher???  Welcome!  Aside from today’s post, you can also check out a bevvy of other things on this little ol’ blog of mine, chock full of DIY/crafty goodness/penny pinching/run-on sentences.  Feeling overwhelmed?  (Like the way I do every time I walk into Ikea Brooklyn?)  Worry not!  Here are some suggestions to dry those clammy palms (not accusing you of a clammy palm problem, that’s just how handle stress.  That, along with snappy comments and hair fidgeting.  It’s not cute.):

  • Check out that sexy sidebar (to the right)!  It’s not as up to date as I’d like for it to be, but it definitely has some of my more popular posts and projects readily available.
  • Try the search engine  (again, to the right).  I’ve got over 200 posts from a little over a year of blogging, so surely something will strike your fancy!
  • Those buttons at the top!  By no means are these exhaustive catalogs for the blog, but they have a few projects in a more easily accessible format (though they are waaaaay overdue for a overhaul).
  • Scroooool down the page.  Blogs are in reverse chronological order, so you could essentially read through the whole thing by scrolling and advancing to the next page to your heart’s content.  This is assuming you have more free time than I do.  (And I don’t just assume this for you, my friends.  I hope this for you.)
  • Subscribe!  I use to post every weekday, but then life happened, and now I usually only update this every other week.  However, if you subscribe, you’ll get a nice little notification in your inbox when I do manage to update this thing.  It’s a win-win.  Or in the words of a Michael Scott, a “win-win-win.”  What could be better?

Now to today’s post.  A little over a month ago, Josh and I were walking in our neighborhood, like we do, when we spotted this:


Not the door.  Look again.

No, not the scary redhead with no makeup and crazy hair (though that’s terrifyingly distracting, I realize).

That crystal-freaking-door knob.


And actually, we found two doors, both with crystal door knobs, for a total of FOUR crystal doorknobs (or two sets).  Someone had left them in a trash pile in front of the building next to ours. Our building was built in the 20’s, like most of the buildings in the area, so we knew it was the real deal (not to mention the layers of paint half-hiding the crystally deliciousness).  I don’t know if they just didn’t realize what they had (or just didn’t care), but they’d left them to the curb which meant they were fair game for any passersby (in this case, us).  

Now, as some of my long time readers may remember, Josh and I are trash-to-treasure veterans.  Often, our neighbors up here in NYC will toss out perfectly good items simply because they don’t have the space to store it or the vehicle and/or resources to better dispose of their stuff, i.e., the thrift store or antique store.    (One of our favorite curbside finds was this fabulous REAL butcher block table top — in perfect condition — that now serves as the top for our dining room table.  It weighed a TON but it was well worth the fourth floor walk-up, and I know it will be in our family for a long time.)

So of course, when I spotted the doors and — more importantly — those knobs, I squealed, did a skippy dance in the street, and demanded Josh help me put them in the car for later use (I’m very bossy when excited).  On any other day, I’d probably just body block the doors from other savvy curb treasure hunters while Josh retrieved the necessary tools, but I’m pretty sure it was like three in the morning (we work in a restaurant), and it was about 12 degrees outside, so not exactly the time for outdoor DIY.  And we were still on the fence about saving the doors, too.  We had visions of headboards or sofa tables made from doors, but weren’t sure how ambitious we really were going to be in the future.  After all, the doors were covered in layers upon layers of paint (read: probably dangerous lead paint).

So we hoisted them into el reliable Honda CR-V (it gets 28 MPG, don’t judge me) where they stayed for about three weeks.  We were busy.  And those were doors.

I think if we had more space and/or a garage and/or loads of free time, we wouldn’t have hesitated to try to save and repurpose the doors as well.  But space and free time we don’t have, so we hemmed and hawed and waited for a warmer day to remove the knobs once and for all.

Also, because of the layers of paint, we assumed this wasn’t going to be an easy job, and we’re both great at procrastinating when we know something is going to be hard (like doing our taxes with a mound of receipts and multiple 1099’s and W-2’s).  But finally it warmed up one day and we had a few hours to spare, so we got a couple of screwdrivers and went to work.


Let me clarify:  I did the camera phone thing and Josh went to work.  We had visions of turpentine and face masks and lead poisoning, but magically the knobs just came off within just a couple of minutes through a combination of paint scraping and then unscrewing.


Unbelievably painless.  And when we were done, we were left with these lovelies:


No, not the carny hands… the crystal door knobs.



They still have a bit of paint on them from the last time someone painted these doors (seriously, has no one heard of painter’s tape?), so I’ll eventually look into how to get that off (I could use paint thinner, but I’m tempted to just try nail polish remover… another day).  Regardless, they’re gorgeous and even though I don’t have a use for them yet, I’m holding on to them for now.  I mean they’re like 90 years old — they’re classic!

In fact, I don’t mind them just sitting there not doing anything at all but sparkling in the fire escape-diffused sunlight :)

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Check out some of my other posts:

Traditional Anniversary Gifts (the Remix)

Today I will have been married to Josh for four years.  (What?!)  It’s interesting because on one hand, I feel like we’ve been married forever and I can’t really remember what it was like to not have him in my life; on the other hand, I feel like we got married yesterday.

Never a dull moment…

So, following the lead of other clever bloggers before me, I decided to do my own take on the “traditional” wedding anniversary gifts… but with my own Courtney/Ginger Penny Pincher spin.  Yeah?

(Who knows who decides these things, but I really like tradition — just with a little remix.)

Of course, I didn’t do all of the years (though there are “traditional” gifts for each year, I promise); I just hit the first four.  When possible, I linked up these gift ideas with their websites, so you could browse (or buy!).  Enjoy!

1st Wedding Anniversary: Paper

I love any kind of map art, so I thought framing a map (paper) of the city where you met and/or fell in love would be a lovely way to mark your first anniversary.

Atlanta Latitude Longitude Map Art City Print, 11 x 14

{Mr. City Prints Etsy store}

Or a framed invitation or save-the-date card from your actual wedding?  Or in this case, a family tree to commemorate the beginning of a new family:

Personalized Wedding Gift - Family Tree - Engagement Gift - Custom Colors for the home 8x10 Print

{You and Yours Prints}

And being the eternal list maker that I am, I never tire of new notebooks and journals, especially if they’re upcycled from old paint chips:

PAINT CHIP NOTEBOOK / Recycled Upcycled Journal - Spiral Bound and Eco Friendly - Turquoise

{Ivy Lane Designs}

And I love these pretty embossed notebooks (I’m really digging the typewriter one):

Set of Three Assorted Pocket Notebooks: Mix and Match Embossed Small Notebooks Cahier Stocking Stuffer

{Paper Jayne Debbie}

Another one of my favorite paper gift ideas are these awesome mounted animal heads from Cardboard Safari:

{Cardboard Safari}

And of course they’re available in the traditional brown cardboard color:

{Cardboard Safari}

One day when I have more wall space, i.e., when I upgrade from 400 sq. ft., I am buying one of these (and they have more than just animal heads — check them out!)

And of course I have to include typography in any paper gift round-up.  Here’s my own take on it, complete with the Bible verse that was read at our ceremony:

{The Ginger Penny Pincher: Subway Art Tutorial}

(Click on the image for a tutorial!)

2nd Wedding Anniversary: Cotton

I like this anniversary because it can encompass so many different types of gifts, like these cotton Mr. and Mrs. pillows my mother made for us:

And in the Mr. and Mrs. vein, I thought these aprons were cute:

Matching Couple Aprons for Mr. and Mrs.

I have a growing love for the amerpsand symbol (that’s “and” sign, y’all), so these ampersand tea towels were right up my alley:

Ampersand Flour Sack Towel

{B. Poetic Home}

Speaking of tea towels (that is the first time I’ve used that clause), I LOVE these tea towels of the four seasons:

{Uncommon Goods}

I want them now.

I love chevron.  I love picnics.  So how could I not love chevron picnic blankets?

As Seen on HGTV - Waterproof Picnic Blanket - Portable Eco Friendly Quilted Beach Blanket in Teal Chevron

{Sewn Natural}

3rd Wedding Anniversary: Leather

This is probably Josh’s favorite (he would say it’s the “manliest” of the anniversaries), but I can certainly name many a girly leathery gift.  For example…

I heart leather gloves, but when they’re lined in cashmere, “heart” upgrades to “LOVE.”  These lovely turquoise ones come from J. Crew:

Cashmere-lined leather gloves

{J. Crew}

(Obviously a perfect gift if your anniversary falls in the bleak mid-winter.  Like ours does.)

And I especially fancy this leather tassel keychain:

{Melvin Avenue}

I love mint green and gold together anyway, and leather tassels are something I’m always drawn to — try not to read too much into that — when it comes to accessories.

Honestly, I could go crazy in the leather gift ideas category (belts, headbands, purses, shoes, these are a few of my favorite things), but on to “manlier” leather gift ideas:

Men’s monogrammed money clip (which is the only way Josh carries around his money and cards since pickpockets are so rampant in Times Square where we work):

Personalized Mens black leather wallet with money clip - monogrammed credit card holder

{Fat Cat Leather}

Leather iPhone case for the win:

Iphone 4 Leather Case

{The 1813 Co.}

And I personally think this watch is fantastic:

Leather Watch (WAT0041)

{Vinatge Lovers 2012}

And now, moving on to our current anniversary:

4th Wedding Anniversary: Fruit or Flowers

Admittedly, I was less excited about this one because both flowers and fruit are perishable, so these gifts can hardly stand the test of time.  But then I realized this was “the Remix,” so… I offered ideas for actual fruit and flower gifts, then I gave the theme a little staying power with some fruit and flower themed gifts.

First, the real thing:

{The Brooklyn Salsa Company}

After visiting the Union Square holiday market and buying some of this stuff back in December, we fell in love the Brooklyn Salsa Company’s unique salsa varieties (and you can bet they use conscious methods, direct trade and source local, organic farmers).  Yum.

I’ve never had chocolate dipped grapes, but something tells me these would be oh-so-good:

Chocolate Dipped Grapes

{Harry and David}

(Or anything from Harry and David.  They seem to know a thing or two about fruit.)

As far as flowers go, I’m a huge fan of any and all, so I’m pretty easy to please in that category.

On to flowery/ fruity goodness that will last more than a week…

I love these felt cactus flower pin cushions:

Felt Cactus Pin Cushion with Clay Pot

{Butterfly Bags n Things}

And I’m all about this retro-inspired pineapple print:

Pineapple - 5" x 7" Print

{Green Girl Canvas}

resin jewelry pressed flower necklace. peach daisy mum pressed botanical Pendant on music

{Studio Botanica}

Arrested Development fans, pay attention:


I want this shirt.

How about any of you out there?  Do you follow the traditional anniversary gift guidelines?  Or are you like me, a little late to the party?  Share!

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Where I’ve Been the Last Month…



Nah, just kidding.  I haven’t left the country or anything… but I have been maniacally busy the last month, thus the complete lack of a post throughout most of the holidays.  I sold my soul to the restaurant the day after Thanksgiving, and it was just recently returned to me.


Yes, I’m still employed, but we have entered what is known as “slow season,” therefore I have a smidgen more time on my hands.  (I know, right?  Can you imagine people not wanting to visit the Big Apple when it’s a balmy twenty degrees… with a breeze?).  However, I’m not gaining a ton of free time, because while the restaurant is slowing down, audition season is starting to pick up.  Big time.


All of this to say, while I make no New Year’s resolutions about blogging more often, or going back to my good ol’ five days a week like I did in 2011 and most of 2012, I am gonna try my darnedest to post more consistently (it’s entirely possibly that I’ve said the exact same thing in the last three blog posts I wrote, so forgive me if I’m a Liar McLiar Pants… But my intentions are noble).


Ok, enough blogging about blogging.  Blaaaahhhh.  Here are a few highlights from the last month.  (Because there’s no way you’re over the holidays yet.  Impossible.)


My mama had a birthday!


My mama-in-law had a birthday!


I had a birthday!


And Jesus had a birthday!



Let’s talk more about that last one.


Like I mentioned before, with the volume of tourists that come through NYC (especially Times Square), the holidays are a crazy-busy time for that-restaurant-where-I-work (shh… it’s a secret).  Despite this, we had our own kind of Christmas miracle happen in that Josh and I both had Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off, and we got to work together on New Year’s Eve… wait for it… in Times Square.  Like across the street from where the ball droppedLike the ball.


It’s the first New Year’s Eve I’ve worked anywhere, but the fact that I was where I was, and that Josh was there too — it definitely made it worthwhile.

2012-12-31 20.44.23

And with Christmas Day off, we got to go do things that normal people do on Christmas Day… Like see movies….


(Here’s lookin’ at you, Hugh Jackman…)

Eat delicious yet unhealthy food….

(no pictures… it was gone too quickly)


…And open presents!


Nola really got into it, too.




It was an all-around lovely holiday season — and busy.


That’s all for today, but I do have another post coming up — after all I didn’t make it through the entire Christmas season and not do a little DIY.  More next time!


Check out my other 2012 holiday posts (they were few and far between, I know):

Man Candles

Handmade Christmas Gift Ideas

Unique Christmas Trees

DIY Advent Calendar

And check out my slew of 2011 Holiday posts here:  12 Weeks of Christmas  (I was an over-achiever back then.)


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