Recycled Handbags. “New” to me!

Are you feeling a little short on money? Feeling bored with what you see in your closet every morning? Tired of carrying that same boring handbag?


Hello Everyone! Believe me, I was feeling the exact same way– completely tired of everything in my closet. And especially bored with the handbag I’ve been carrying every single day for the past 3 months. It was my lucky day last Friday when I went to my mailbox and found a huge box filled with handbags— from my sister.  (Maybe she was reading my mind!?)

This gives a whole new meaning to the slogan “shopping in your own closet.” Pictured above is a cute Kate Spade bag with red handles which will be perfect to use on the weekend running errands. Its sturdy construction will hold up well for me since I tend to over-fill my handbag. (you guessed it, this is the one I’m using now)

Pictured below is a dark blue leather handbag from Banana Republic. This one should work well with jeans and sweaters in the Fall.  I usually like something a little more structured but since this one is a freebie I’m willing to think outside the box and give the “unstructured” look a try.


Passing things on we don’t use any longer is a great way to reduce, re-use and re-cycle.  Whether we pass items on to friends, family or co-workers it doesn’t matter.  Maybe that spare handbag gathering dust in your closet could be a treasure for someone you know.

Anyone else out there sharing clothes? Handbags? Furniture?  Let me know!

From Trash to Treasure… to my living room…


Look what I found sitting in the alley recently– this cute table!  I really felt like it had potential to become a “treasure” and couldn’t resist the urge to rescue it. Plus, I found a recipe for chalk paint and wanted to try that out. And what better way to experiment than with a free piece of furniture salvaged from the trash, right?  As you can see, my little table needed some rehab–it was nothing some sandpaper and a bit of paint couldn’t fix.

I started my project by hand-sanding the table. About 15 minutes into it I was really wishing I would have busted out the power sander (as you can imagine).  All things considered, the sanding part was pretty easy- it’s a small table.  I’d been doing a lot of research on chalk paint and wanted to try it out to see what all the hype was about. Price-wise the “real thing” is a shade on the expensive side so I decided to make my own version. Here is the recipe I used:

Chalk Paint

  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup plaster of paris
  • 1 1/2 cups satin latex paint

Combine hot water and plaster of paris. Whisk. Add to satin latex paint. Mix well.

I bought my paint at Lowe’s– I got a small-sized sample container of paint for approximately $2.50.  This paint was easy to mix up and extremely user-friendly. It coated the table well– in this case I used 2 coats of paint. Luckily it dries fast so I was able to finish the project all at once.  I had some leftover paint mixture and was pleased to find out that you can save it in an airtight container and it works just fine the next day (I saved some for touch ups).


I distressed the edges slightly with sandpaper and I’m still thinking about putting small tiles or maybe glass on top.  I’d also like to put a sealant over it to prevent watermarks and protect the wood.  Considering this is a piece of furniture that I “rescued” from the trash it turned out pretty cute.  Part of me wants to sell this and part of me wants to keep it…..  any offers out there??!


Right now I’m using this as a side table by the sofa to catch my overflow of magazines and books and computers. It’s a great place to rest my ipad.


From Trash to Treasure…bookends from A to Z

Dumpster diving is sometimes viewed as an urban foraging technique.Dumpster divers typically scour thru dumpsters for items such as clothing, furniture, food and…my good luck… bookends… in serviceable condition.

Imagine my surprise and delight when my friend BC found these cool bookends near his dumpster in the North Park neighborhood in San Diego. Location to be kept secret– I have to protect my sources! BC is an avid “dumpster watcher” who is always on the look-out for trash-to-treasure opportunities. What a score!


As you can see, I had books all in disarray in the living room. Well, maybe not this bad but you get the idea, right?


So… the bookends look really cute on my shelf in the living room. And the books look a little more tidy as well. Not bad for a dumpster diving find!  Bravo!


What $33 Gets You at Old Navy

I’m supposed to be on a “shopping fast” right now. Yeah… about that… didn’t really go so well this weekend. Friday was the day of the flip-flops and yesterday was the day of $33 at Old Navy. Yes, you read that correctly– I spent approximately $33 at Old Navy and got 4 super cute items– a flirty summer dress, 2 basic t-shirts and a fabulous yellow recycling bag. And because I used my store credit card I saved 30% on my purchases which made the t-shirts ring up at the ridiculous price of $4 roughly. Of course, I went online right away and paid off the balance (wow, that took discipline!).

  • Old Navy
  • Fashion Valley Mall – San Diego
  • Phone: (619) 299-4329
  • Web:

I hadn’t been in an Old Navy store in a long time so just happened to browse thru for nothing more than a quick peek. I gravitated to the dresses where I was lucky enough to nab the last one in the particular style in my photo below– and it fit better yet! And, who doesn’t need a few cheap summer t-shirts?? In fact, I might go back for a few more. That chipper yellow recycling bag was just a wonderful “gift” and something I can use this summer. So much for the “shopping fast”– I’m hopeful this will be a better week… Cheers!




Dumpster Diving- Patio Chairs From Trash to Treasure

Tonite I’m writing this post from the comfort of my “new” patio. Decorated courtesy of yet another quasi-dumpster diving adventure. You don’t always have to jump in the dumpster to find the good stuff. My patio chairs were found outside the trash bin which is much easier for me to navigate given that I’m 5 ft 4 inches on a good day.

My two chairs started off a rusty, metal mess. I initially wondered if they might be better off just staying in the trash?

I busted out some sandpaper and sanded off the worst of the rust. Then I whipped out the spray paint and voila– in a hot minute I was finished. Two perfectly fabulous chairs. Side note– this sounds like an easy project but I did experience a few minor mishaps painting due to semi-windy conditions and blowing newspapers. Thankfully there’s not a noticeable amount of paint specks on the patio though the floor is now a much deeper shade of gray in certain spots. Shshsh… don’t tell my apartment complex…

To complete the project I found a cheery red pillow at WalMart for $7 and a small table at Target for $15. Right now I’m using two rugs that are rejects from the kitchen years ago. I’m still in the market for a like-new rug and maybe a few more plants and candles. I’m determined to have a low cost and semi- upcycled/recycled/repurposed patio area. So far, so good. (Let the dumpster diving adventure continue!)

Cost of Project:

  • 2 Metal Chairs– FREE
  • 2 cans black satin spray paint (WalMart)– $5.00
  • 1 red pillow (WalMart)– $7.00
  • 1 small table (Target)– $15.00
  • Plants– FREE





JCPenney Styling Salon – touch up style bar

Did you know that JCPenney had a “touch up style bar”?  (I definitely knew nothing about this service!)  While wandering thru Fashion Valley Mall this past Saturday afternoon I passed by the fantastic “touch up style bar” outside the styling salon at the  JCPenney store.  I was stopped by Carie who is a Senior Hair Designer there.  She offered to touch up my hair– for free!  Excellent! And on top of that I was given a sample of Big Sexy Hair voluminizing hairspray– for free. Just because I tried out the touch up style bar!  (Saturday was a great day for the free samples)

FYI the salon is open 7 days a week including evenings. Appointments are recommended but not mandatory. Here is a sample of services offered:

  • Classic Manicure– $15
  • Classic Pedicure–  $35
  • Eyebrow Shaping– $12
  • Haircut & Blowdry– $32
  • Foil w/ Haircut– $90

My hair “touch up”consisted of a light go-over with the flat-iron and adding a few curls and some hair spray. Turned out great! I was completely impressed with Carie, the senior stylist who helped me.  And completely impressed with the quality of the salon at JCPenney. I really had no idea.  The prices are affordable and this is somewhere I would definitely stop back for a manicure or quick haircut while out shopping at Fashion Valley Mall.  Bravo!

JCPenney Salon/Spa

Fashion Valley

6987 Friars Rd

San Diego, CA 92108

Phone:  619-297-2342

Local & Worldwide Thrifting Resources

  Local and worldwide thrifting resources:

Freecycle is a grassroots world wide organization that helps people exchange used items at no cost. You can locate a group in your community and join, then participate by offering items or find items you can use. Freecyclers help each other by exchanging goods and they help the planet by keeping stuff out of landfills.  I am part of the local San Diego Freecycle Network and they definitely have a lot to offer.  Tonite I received emails “advertising” free TV’s, baby clothes and gift wrap.
Charity Shops managed by Goodwill, the Salvation Army and schools, churches or synagogues offer bargains on clothing, books, housewares and furniture plus your purchase helps fund humanitarian programs sponsored by the organization running the shop. Goodwill Industries also has an online auction service similar to E-bay called
Flea Markets are everywhere!  You can find them in small towns, in city parking lots, in large arenas and inside warehouse buildings.
Resale Shops offer used goods for sale like a regular store. Some shops take items on consignment from the owner; others buy and sell used merchandise of all sorts from consumers or other resellers.
Auctions offer all sorts of opportunities for buying and selling used goods. You can find local auction listings in any community newspaper or merchandising flyer. Most auction advertisements list the type of items to be offered at the sale.  Some flea markets also have an on site auction house or area for auction sales.

Online Auctions (E-bay plus many more) offer a huge range of items in a database. You can search through categories by keyword or simply browse until you find what you like, then you can bid on and pay for your winning bid selection using your computer. You can also sell what you don’t need. Be sure to check out the terms and conditions of each service prior to signing up or making a purchase. Shipping terms should be evaluated if you live far from the seller.
Tag Sales ( yard sales) are one of the most interesting places to find junk-tiques. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

Recycled Fashion: How to make a necktie headband

“Upcycling” clothing is  a fun way to re-purpose old fabrics into new clothes for children and adults.  Upcycling involves incorporating the materials from old clothes, changing the style and turning it into something different.  Upcycled clothing is usually less expensive than new.

You can find lots of old neckties in the thrift store or your closet. Neckties are a  long strip of fabric that would be perfect for a hairband.

Use your sewing tape measure to measure from the chin, around the ears, and back  to the chin again. Measure and mark the fabric  elastic and cut it. Place the fabric elastic from the top of the head, around  the bottom of the chin and up to the top of the head again. Stretch the fabric  elastic. Determine whether you want to cut off more elastic to make a tighter  fit.

  • Find a tie that is longer than the head measurement that you made with the  tape measure. Cut off at least an inch of the tie on either end. Keep the center  of the tie because that’s the part that’s approximately the same width all the  way down. Measure the tie according to the head measurement on the tape measure.  Leave approximately half an inch of extra fabric on the tie on either end for a  hem.

  • Pin the fabric elastic in the center of the necktie. There will likely be an  inch or half an inch of fabric on the end of the necktie that won’t have fabric  elastic. It will be used for the hem, and the fabric elastic needs  to be shorter than the fabric so that it will pull tight to the head. Choose a  thread that complements the tie fabric. Begin sewing the fabric elastic in the  middle of the tie. Sew all the way to the end of the fabric elastic. Begin in  the middle again and sew all the way to the other end. Do the same thing on both  sides of the fabric elastic until it’s well-anchored to the  necktie.

If you want a smaller hairband, fold in the edges of the necktie until they meet  in the middle and overlap them slightly. Sew the edges together in the middle of  the headband. If you want a wider necktie, you may want to sew a separate piece  of fabric underneath the necktie so that it will disguise the fabric elastic.

Finally, take the necktie fabric that extends beyond the elastic and pin it  together. Sew a seam through the half-inch of fabric so that the necktie makes a  full circle. Fold over the excess fabric and hem it neatly or cut it away. Put  the hairband onto your head and make sure that it fits. If it’s too loose, you  can always hem it again and make it a little tighter

Stay Classy San Diego: Dumpster Dive with Dignity

Picture this it’s 10:30 at night and I’m outside getting ready to toss the trash into the dumpster.  I hear a slight rustling… could it be a rat? (I hate rats!)  And then, an older gentleman popped up out of the dumpster holding some glass bottles.  Yes, this actually happened to me recently!  While this can be the negative side of dumpster diving there are a lot of every day people who cruise dumpsters looking for treasure.  A few days after my run-in with the guy popping out of the trash, I met a college student who had just arrived in San Diego– she was near the dumpster pulling a nice bookcase away.
Here are a few rules to keep it classy when you’re cruising dumpsters:
Look before you “leap”
Scope out your options before heading out on your first official dive — take a walk, bike ride or drive around your neighborhood. Note which stores and apartment complexes seem like good places to stop.  If you are feeling extra enthusiastic, plot out a map of the stores or neighborhoods you plan to visit.
Keep an open mind
Dumpster diving is different from a trip to the department store.  View your dives as treasure hunts for free stuff and everything you find will seem like a small victory.
The right equipment is essential
Bare minimum, pack a flashlight, rubber gloves and bags to hold your loot. A change of clothes is also a good idea (especially if you are heading somewhere after your dive).
Don’t bring an entourage
Find one or two trusted friends to dive with, and make an agreement beforehand to be discreet, quick and respectful to the places you visit.  No need to trash out the trash can!
Trust your instincts
I’m not a fan of diving for food, but if you choose to go that route, bring a cooler for perishables.
Foods that tend to be particularly safe include bread/bagels/baked goods, packaged products (chips, cookies), boxed juices, canned goods (avoid bulging or dented cans) and fresh fruits and vegetables.
When diving for furniture, avoid mattresses at all costs (the potential bed bugs–not worth it) and take care to inspect upholstered items like chairs and couches for stains or dampness. Consider getting upholstered items professionally cleaned before bringing them into your house.
Don’t dig too deep
Dumpster diving requires a certain mind shift.  Dumpsters can be gross. Decide in advance how far you are willing to go.
Also,  if accessing a particular dumpster requires jumping a fence or somehow “breaking and entering,” just don’t do it.
Personally, I’ve found a few cute things near the dumpster in my apartment complex– everything from a nice patio table to a nightstand.  Last week someone left 2 dressers in “like new” condition down there with a sign that said “free to a good home.” I so would have taken these if I wasn’t downsizing in preparation for a move.  I’ve also discovered the Freecycle community website.  I’m on their email list for the San Diego chapter and have noticed there are some great items out there people are recycling amongst themselves.  Again, I can’t fully participate in this until after I re-settle.
Remember the rules- dive with dignity and keep it classy!

Freecycle- San Diego

I am always looking for creative ways to down-size and re-purpose stuff.  Always better to do that instead of tossing stuff in the dumpster whenever possible.  I was really excited when I found The Freecycle Network!

The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,981 groups with 8,732,531 members around the world. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers.

Membership is free, and everything posted on the network must be FREE, legal and appropriate for all ages. To view the items being given away or sought in San Diego (the town I live in for example), you must be a member of the local group. To view the local group posts, visit the Yahoo Group where they are located.

If you are already a member, use the “Post” tab to make your post to the local group.

I was not a member of this group and just signed up tonite and am currently waiting for “approval” to join.  A few seconds ago I responded to an email from the group moderator asking which neighborhood/area I resided in.

I’m excited to use this site as I continue to down-size my life.  Will keep you all posted how this works out.   By the way– has anyone out there used The Freecycle Network?  San Diego?  Anywhere else?  Comments welcome!