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!}


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 :)

courtney gpp signature 2

Check out some of my other posts:

Unique Christmas Trees

As you may member from this post, I am allergic to Christmas trees.  A bit sad, perhaps, but I’ve always made due with fake ones and been perfectly content (I mean, I don’t really know any different, so I guess I don’t really know what I’m missing, right?).

Aside from fake yet real-looking ones, I also love other non-traditional types of trees, too.  (I have a fantastic gold metal tree that currently resides at my parents’ house.)

So in the spirit of Charlie Brown, space age metallic trees, and sad little children with evergreen allergies, I thought I would do a round-up of unique, non-living tree alternatives.


{Source: Unknown, via Pinterest}

{Source: Fire and Ice}

{Source: Unknown, via Pinterest}

{Source: Unknown, via Pinterest}

{Source: Unknown, via Pinterest}

Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile

{Source: Not Martha}

DIY Mini Chalkboard

Teaser:  This is going to be a short, non-holiday related post… so brevity-lovin’ Scrooges, this one’s for you.

This past summer, while hangin’ out at the HobLob, I picked up a can of chalkboard spray paint for about four bucks (it was on sale).  At the time, I had no immediate boring-surface-turned-chalkboard plans, but I knew I would eventually think of something.

Well, in all of the holiday decorating hubub, I decided that my very dark entertainment center needed a little pop of color.  I found this amazingly boring frame at the local dollar store:

I took it apart and laid it out on my fire escape (like a typical spray-painting-crazy New Yorker does on a biweekly basis):

Then I sprayed the glass with the chalkboard paint and the frame with some yellow spray paint leftover from this project.  I made a little Berlin Wall with a piece of cardboard in between the two items so the overspray wouldn’t ruin the other item.  (That’s right, I made a peculiar reference to current events of the 1980’s.)

Then I waited.

Then I applied another coat to each piece.

Then I waited a smidge more.

Then I applied the third and final coat… waited twenty four hours… prepared the chalkboard surface with the side of a piece of chalk (per the can’s instructions):

Wiped it away….

Then huzzah!  I had a mini chalkboard!

Oh yeah, then I took a reallly bad picture in its new home, the black entertainment center:

Then another bad picture to give you a better idea of the big picture:

But let’s remember in its slightly better, natural light-lit incarnation:

P.S. — “Joyeux Noel” is how the French say “Merry Christmas.”  (Sorry Scrooges — I broke my promise.)

It’s no huge statement piece, but it provides just the right, extra pop of color I wanted.  And it only took a few minutes (then of course, twenty four hours of waiting), and it cost a dollar plus the little bit of spray paint I used.  (I still have so much left in both cans, it’s hardly worth adding the cost of that because those will both get me through many more spray painting projects.)

Spray painting projects like….

Ok, that wasn’t an actual project… more of a hint.  Now I’ll let your imaginations run away with why I might be doing a Google image search of a triceratops.

Especially since I’ve never mentioned a love of dinosaurs before…

(Ok, well there was that time in Kindergarten I was searching for dinosaur bones in the dirt by the playground and dug up a dirt dauber’s nest then woke up in the school nurse’s office an hour later unsure as to how I got there.  Ya know, like you do.)

See you tomorrow!

Christmas Tree Time

Well, no one could confuse us for Scrooges — Josh and I wasted no time at all decorating for Christmas. We put the event on our calendar. I almost made a countdown, but then thought better of it (and by “thought better of it,” I just mean that I realized it was in fact as crazy as it sounded… #orwasit).
And if we both didn’t have three Thanksgivings to go to as well as working in a restaurant on Black Friday (madness), we would have done it sooner. Alas, that was not possible, but that is what Sunday was for….and the Lord. Right.
Oh! And I forgot the most exciting news of all! We totally got a big kids’ Christmas tree!!!  Remember our sweet little tabletop tree from last year?

We’d also used that the other Christmases we’ve spent together as a married couple (apartment living), but this year we decided it was time to retire it and upgrade to a real tree. (And by “real,” I mean I’m allergic to the real kind, so we have to live with the fake ones. Josh knew this was a condition when marrying me, so he has long since forgiven me. I hope.)
This beaut is seven feet tall, but quite apartment friendly as it is skinny and easily stuffed into a corner.
Here she is, pre- lights and ornaments:

Aaaaand in her bedazzled, Yuletide state:

I’m not the biggest fan of red, so red and green became blue and green.  I especially love these peacock feather inspired ornaments:

Here’s some fun musical ornaments I’ve had for years:

These are some fluffy white heart ornaments I found at Ikea:

They originally had red and white gingham ribbon, and again, red NOT being my thing, I ripped out the original ribbon and sewed on a light green ribbon to tie in with the rest of the ornaments.  I also love how the white fluffiness carries the texture of the tree skirt throughout the tree.

…The tree skirt being this $9.99 white faux fur throw from Ikea:

We just used a chip clip and hid it in the back.  Sexy.

Oh, but the decor doesn’t stop on the tree.  Here’s our entertainment center:

And here’s our end table:

Our bookshelf (complete with one of my favorite ornaments, a redhead bride and brown haired groom — I got it as a gift right before Josh and I got married):

Don’t worry.  That canvas won’t stay blank forever.  I’ve got plans.

And here’s a little martini glass fun with some of my onion shaped ornaments:


Yay!  And it only took four hours and 700 lights.  (No, really.  We had to go out and buy more.)


Ok, your turn.  Share your Christmas decor pics, links, et al.  (Anyone else out there have an aversion to the traditional red and green Christmas decor?)


Deck the Walls with Swedish Housewares (fa la la la la la la la la)

Yeah, in my imagination, you all sang the title of this post, then inserted your own clever lyric changes continuing the Ikea theme that I’ve already established.  No?  OK, then.  But to the point:

I did it!  I made my own advent calendar!

I blogged about it this past Friday in this DIY advent calendar round-up, but I didn’t actually anticipate getting my serious pants on and following through.  Then I somehow ended up at Ikea on Sunday (I randomly had Sunday off), saw the accessories hanger in the home storage section, and remembered this clever advent calendar idea from one of my bloggity blog faves, Young House Love.

I’m not gonna lie… it’s not my most original moment… I just plain ol’ copied the Petersiks’ idea.  However, I did add my own twist so I thought it worthy of sharing with all you fine folk.

I bought the hanger from Ikea for a whopping $7.99 (thank you, Swedes, for your affordable home goods).  Here’s it hanging in the store, completely unaware of its yuletide future:

Lovely, yet… off white.  Not really working with the wall I had planned on attaching to.

I’ve got nothing against off white things, but not directly next to the white moulding on my walls and the pathetically sad off white radiator directly next to the hanger (not pictured).  In between these two things, it just looked dirty.

Solution: I dyed it!  Using acrylic pant, warm water, and a little whisking action, I immersed the hanger in a lime green dye solution for about two hours (one hour for each side).

Here’s the paint I used:

Here’s the dye “vat,” if you will (also know as an out-of-commission trash can):

As with any kind of dyeing done using this method, I knew the color change would be subtle.  The end result was a sort of light celery/celadon shade.  Virtually unnoticeable in pictures, but just enough green-ness in person to strike a difference between the sad, stained radiator and my lovely white moulding.

The plan was to put a different ornament and date tag in each hole (per the YHL idea) then hang a different ornament onto our Christmas tree for each day of the advent season.  However, as the season was winding down, I didn’t just want a plane tag in an otherwise empty hole against a gray wall (not exactly the most Christmas-licious color palate).  So… using a little leftover scrapbook paper, colored cardstock, and even a few pretty notecards that I’ve had for years, I made 25 colorful date tags.

Here’s my assortment of paper:

The pink, green, blue thing wasn’t on purpose; it was just a pattern that sort of emerged… and since I have plenty of pink, green, and blue ornaments, I committed to it.  I used another plain piece of cardstock to make a tag template, then traced around it for each of the 25 tags:

With more than a little tweaking and indecisiveness, I finally settled on a layout:

I attached some leftover adhesive circles — like you see people use for garage sales — and used a curlicue script to number each tag.  Then I hole-punched each one, attached an ornament, then hung the ornament and tag to the hanger with silver paper clips:

There was a lot of tweaking.  A lot of rearranging.  A lot standing with my hands on my hips, crossing my eyes (I do this last one when I’m trying to see the whole picture).

Finally I ended up with this:

It is far from perfect (like this poorly lit, slightly blurry picture), but I fancy it just fine.

Here’s a close-up (and a slightly less blurry picture, at that):

More!  More!

Josh’s comment was: “That’s a lot of pink.  But I still like it.”

(I’m both proud and relieved.)

And since it’s still November, I still have a few days to enjoy it in its complete state.

I’m totally patting myself on the back right now.

(And wishing for a better camera.)

Any one else out there venture into DIY land this weekend?  Advent calendars?  Tree decoratin’?  Dog portraiture?  Share, y’all!

See you tomorrow — hopefully with some Christmas decor pics.

DIY Advent Calendar Time (You Can Do It)

I know, I know, you’re all either spending time with family or shopping or eating turkey leftovers or something equally appropriate.  However, I thought I’d send a little round-up your way (two in one week?), this time: DIY Advent Calendars.

I’ve always enjoyed the advent calendar tradition and have wanted to make my own for quite some time, but I don’t usually resolve to do this until somewhere in the middle of December… when it’s really too late.  So this year: the day after Thanksgiving! (Oh, I’m not playing around this year.)

Here are just a few of my faves from the world wide interwebz.  Not sure which one I’m going with (or my own invention perhaps?), but of course I’ll keep you posted.

As always, I’ve linked and tagged the beejesus out of these ideas — they are not mine — so if you Pin them or link them up elsewhere, please give credit where credit is due (which is not to me).  Karma.  Yay.

Picture 247

{Source: Sweet Paul Blog}

{Source: Young House Love}

advent calendar envelopes

{Source: Quiet Fish}

{Source: Manic Mommies}

{Source: Twig and Thistle}

Little Houses Advent Calendar Tutorial

{Source: Maya Made}

The Cheapest Meal in NYC (and a little Swedish home decor)

Josh and I had a day off not too long ago.  Overwhelmed by the number of things we could do with our time, namely productive things, we chose instead, to go visit Ikea.

By no stretch were we looking for furniture (or other home decor items, for that matter).  We’re just wild and crazy kids who like to do wild and crazy things… like visit Ikea.  (Yeah, I know — people are skydiving from the edge of space and we’re browsing Swedish housewares.  Why there isn’t a reality show about our lives is beyond me.)

Needless to say, I captured the excursion on the good ol’ Android camera phone.  We also ate a very filling meal for two for less than six dollars… but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Some of the things I took pictures of were not necessarily earth shatteringly amazing finds or fabulous ideas, but more so observations, specifically for things that would be great in small spaces and/or apartments.

Show-and-tell time:

We started off in the furniture section, and I found more than a few things I could take home with me.  For example, our future couch…

Dark grey, yes ma’am.  (But anything’s better than our taupe, slip-covered mess we currently have.)

And definitely affordable… for a sofa.

I really fancied this swivel chair:

As did Josh:

And if I were in the market for an end table, this would’ve gone home with me:

Not a fan of the color, but it’s Ikea — half of the reason you shop there is for the hacking possibilities.

And another end table that could have easily gone home with me:

I was in a classic lines kind of mood.  This dining set was no exception:

After the general furniture, we got into the showroom part of Ikea, or as I like to call it, reality.  

For instance:

I’m sure a lot of people are amused by this prospect, but it’s not too far from the truth in our case.

And I love these showrooms, not for the design, but for the little details.  Like this shelf over the door:

So simple, but so clever… especially for small spaces.  And it provides a little architectural detail.

Here are some other shelves (I especially like the unfinished wood with the stainless brackets and black wall):

Speaking of stainless things, I loved this outdoorsy/industrial/catchall light fixture:

And of course, there’s everyone’s favorite:

Then there’s everyone’s least favorite (or at least, ours):

No bueno.

For the nerdy, type-A, office supply lovin’ folks out there…

I know, I know… I could probably find something just like it at Target or Wal-mart, but I found this one especially appealing for some reason.  And because it’s metal, there’s the prospect of spray painting it.  You know, me spray painting something, old news.

I liked this funky pillow cover.

Which made me think of all the possibilities if I had a canvas type material and a good fabric pen.  Hm……

Then we ventured into kitchen land, which is always fun for the apartment dweller in me because of their smart storage ideas — particularly, all of these great rails and brackets for your wall:

(Recognize those from my bedroom makeover?)

And one of my favorite Ikea conventions, the magnetic wall strips:

I’d never noticed these canisters before, but I thought they’d be great for a magnetic spice rack.

I’d realllly love these on a magnetic wall, perhaps with the contents written above each item in chalk?  That way they always go back to the right place when you’re done with them.

When all was said and done, we bought nary a thing.  Like I said, we weren’t really in the market for more stuff.  But we were hungry.  So we stopped at the hot dog counter (as I call it in my head) and paid a whopping $5.00 for 4 hot dogs, 2 bags of chips, and 2 fountain drinks (with the promise of free refills).    Crazy talk.  And this is in the New York City limits, after all (though I would argue that a $5 dinner for two most anywhere is a great deal).

Was it the healthiest dinner we’ve ever had?  No.  Was it the most delicious?  No.     But it was the cheapest in NYC (I’m not sure I could make that meal for that cheap).  Amusingly enough, I noticed the “hot dog counter” was popular among lots of Ikea’s visitors, many of whom hadn’t bought anything like this.  This makes me wonder if some people don’t just go to Ikea for the cheap meal?

And so I took some pictures:

And Josh has a thing for hot dogs, so eating there was an obvious choice.

(I even dressed up Margeaux as a hot dog for Halloween last year.)

She was so grateful.  Clearly.

Yeah, so that was our adventurous day off.  What will we do with our next day off?  Well, there is a Target about four subway stops away.  And I love me some Tar-Jay.

Like I said, we’re wild and crazy kids.

Rosario Strikes Again

Remember Rosario the paintbrush and all her homies?

I mean, how could you forget?

And the last time she painted some spoons, here’s what we ended up with:

Yeah, I like those real good.

However, what I don’t like is that the spoon handles are usually not seen as their home is in that silver crock on the green baker’s rack:

In fact, I don’t even remember that they’re painted until I pull one out… then it’s a nice surprise, but still.  I wanted a set that could be visible.  Preferably with a hole in the handle so they could be hung like the rest of these colorful utensils in my kitchen wall.

Fortunately, I found a bamboo set at a Dollar Tree in Atlanta this summer (fifty cents each).  But because they were bamboo, I was a little concerned about painting them.  I’d never painted a pattern on bamboo before and I assumed because of the strong grain in the bamboo that the paint might run — this would possibly be cool if the end result was sort of an ikat type thing… But it’d probably look more like an accident in that case.

However, Rosario rose to the challenge — never a doubt — and came through beautifully (right?).

Here’s the finished product:

And since the pair have holes in their handles, they can hang on the kitchen wall tension rod:

Aw… It’s like one big, happy, citrus-colored family.

To avoid that ikat-but-really-an-accident thing, I just used painter’s tape to mark off the lines, like I did before!

Oh!  And speaking of ikat, we’re gonna talk about that tomorrow.  Stay tuned :)

I was playing on the other day, Pinning away (and pining away) because I have a few fabric-related projects coming up.  And they don’t involve sewing, just stapling, hem taping, and other forms of jerry-rigging.  Wanna see my finds?  (If the answer is no, that’s cool — just check back tomorrow for a completely different type of post.)

First, my headboard ideas.  As you may remember, my headboard is a brown (faux) leather covered piece of plywood wrapped in batting.

There never has (and never will) be a good picture of it, until I get a fancier camera, that is.  (Santa, in case you’re listening, I need a Digital SLR camera.  Any old kind, I’m not particular… but I think my readers are starting to judge me for the poor Android phone photography).

While we liked the brown (faux) leather at the time we bought it four years ago (it’s actually a really nice basket weave-type thing), we have since grown tired of it… mostly because, when the bed’s not made and all the colorful pillows are in hiding, it just looks like a white bed with a brown head board.  Not too exciting.  Since the bedroom colors are dark grey, navy, turquoise, lime green, and a few bits of orange, I wanted to find something that combined all or some of these (ideally without a grey background so it doesn’t clash or blend into the wall color).

So, I turned to for colorful pattern inspiration.  Here are a few of my faves:

Premier Prints Chipper Twill Chartreuse

Premier Prints Chipper Twill Chartreuse

Premier Prints ZigZag Chartreuse/White

Premier Prints ZigZag Chartreuse/White

Premier Prints Suzani Twill Harmony/Green

Premier Prints Suzani Twill Harmony/Green

Premier Prints Ikat Domino Dossett Mandarin

Premier Prints Ikat Domino Dossett Mandarin

The last two have grey backgrounds, which I just got through saying I wouldn’t do because of the grey walls… but they’re so fun!  I’d have to order swatches to see it in person.  It could look really nice, or really busted, depending on which shade of grey (I think that’s the first time I’ve typed the word “busted” in its vernacular sense.)

I think of the four, I’m leaning towards the first one — the white and chartreuse ikat.  (Cast your votes now!)

Ok, next project:  I’d like to add some curtains to the living room windows.  NYC apartment windows are notorious for being hideously ugly (and why?) — it’s a fact.  Here are my unadorned living room windows:

(These are the first pictures I’ve ever taken of them.  I searched high and low, through my bedroom tour post as well as the rest of this blog, and I found nary a one.  That is no accident.)

Wait.  Those pictures don’t do the nasty-ness justice.  Here are some close-ups:

And I assure you, that is not dirt.  They’re as clean as they’re ever going to get.

Seriously, those things need to be covered up.  Bleck.

I could go with a solid color and just find something store bought, but that whole wall is lacking a bit as it’s just the windows and the butcher block dining room table, so a pattern it is.  Considering that the living room colors are orange, green, and blue, here’s what I’m thinking about:

Stella Bukhara Fez Multi

Stella Bukhara Fez Multi

(Admittedly, this will probably get vetoed by the husband because it has something that resembles pink in it, but whatever, I can dream.)

Waverly Button Blooms Spa

Waverly Button Blooms Spa

(And I DEFINITELY know Josh will never go for that one because of the flowers.  Whatever.  Flowers are awesome.  Boys are lame.)

Annette Tatum Bohemian Chevron Teal -- living room colors

Annette Tatum Bohemian Chevron Teal — living room colors

Waverly Button Blooms Confetti

Waverly Button Blooms Confetti

That’s all I have found for now.  Of course I’ve got other fabric related projects (a shade for the bedroom window, a hand-painted shower curtain, new covers for my throw pillows), but making that many choices at once overwhelms me, so only one two projects at a time.

Ok, for real though, cast your votes, give me your recommendations!  Which ones should I use?  Which ones are your favorite?  And which ones do you think Josh will hate the most?  :)