practically free friday #22 – make a chalkboard menu

This chalkboard paint was in my newly acquired paint stash. I’d love to paint an entire chalkboard wall somewhere at some point, but for now I thought I would just test it on a much smaller scale. To make mine, I used black Rustoleum chalkboard paint, an old frame I had on hand, and an uncut photo mat to fit the frame.

I gave the frame a couple coats of yellow spray paint to give it more contrast against the black board. I painted the photo mat with two coats of the chalkboard paint. I used damage free Command brand picture hangers to mount it to our pantry door.

It’s really handy for planning the weekly menu without necessitating scraps of paper. This would make a great to do list in an office, too.

While I was at it, I painted some rocks with the chalkboard paint, too. Fun paperweights? I dunno.


practically free friday #21 – make a collage-y mug

These create-your-own-collage-mugs are awesome.

This one’s the grande size from Starbucks. I like to carry my own coffee to work 99% of the time to save money, but it will be even more fun now that I have a custom travel mug.

To create mine, I used some of my Instagram shots, and printed them 3×3 size. I also printed out a few more butterfly specimen images. I glued them to the existing template that came with the cup and slid the new-and-improved paper back into the cup.

Here is the other side:

Easy and fun. I might add more flair eventually but for now, I like.

practically free friday #20 – sprucing up chairs with spray paint

Remember a few weeks ago I shared my Instagram shot of my inherited paint collection? My friend who’s moving overseas wasn’t going to be able to ship it there and donated it all to little ol’ me. I had a pretty good stash to begin with, so now it’s just ridiculous.


The very same day we picked up that cabinet o’ paint, I had picked up another thrift-gift from a family friend– this cute captain’s chair that had once belonged in the dining room of an inn in the little town I grew up in.

It needed a little love, and they thought I’d appreciate the project. And um YEAH, so excited. I have a really strange obsession with chairs. I collect them, paint them, and set them all over the house. It’s a sickness.

I really liked the little red chair just how it was, but it did’t fit with anything else in my house, so I raided the paint stash for a different bold shade. After a bit of sanding and some coats of primer I settled on Rustoleum Painter’s Touch in Satin Aubergine. Eggplant-colored chair in the office – lovely!

And my chair affair didn’t end there. (ha!) I re-re-painted two cane chairs of my grandmother’s (first redo here.) The light green was nice, but I was having fun with dramatic colors. I went with one in Rustoleum Painter’s Touch in Satin Lagoon..

and one in Rustoleum Painter’s Touch in Apple Green..

Unfortunately, the upgrade of the three cute chairs wasn’t completely free – I did have to buy one can of the eggplant-colored spray paint (the one on hand didn’t cover it). But the lot of chairs makes me pretty darn happy to look at scattered around the house so it was certainly worth the $4 or so to make them pretty accent pieces.

PS: I was hoping to find something about the origin of the captain’s chair, a photo of a similar one in the inn, perhaps? After some Googling, I was only able to find this awesome circa 1950 postcard of “The Friendly Ranch Inn” in Elko, NV. Isn’t it charming?

Maybe I should start a vintage postcard collection, too..

practically free friday #19 – butterfly specimen art


This was a spendy week at Casa Buelo. It wasn’t a quickly thought-out decision, but we did finally pull the trigger on a pretty big purchase – a new bedroom set! We just got it set up last night and wow.. does it ever make me feel like a grown up to have legit furniture. I felt like we were sleeping in a hotel on that bed last night! I will blog about it shortly, but there’s lots of prettifying to do before I feel like sharing it with the Internet. However, I do have a little bedroom project to share for this week’s Practically Free Friday post.


To make these little prints, I used some painted canvases I picked up at the stuff swap I hosted earlier in the summer. They weren’t the ugliest thing in the world, but I certainly didn’t snag them for the existing design. These are the perfect things to pick up at thrift stores, too: you can do tons of different things with canvases.

Then I found some photos of butterfly specimens online and printed them. I rounded up two scrapbook papers with pretty, subdued designs.


I simply used a mod podge medium to adhere the scrapbook paper to the canvas. While it was drying, I carefully cut out the butterflies. Then I mod podged them to the scrapbook paper. Simple.


I won’t debut the rest of the bedroom redo, but for now, here’s where the butterflies landed.. above my night stand. I really like how they turned out!


This easy project was actually 100% free since I used what I had on hand. Not bad, and much needed budget friendly wall art after our shopping spree! 🙂 Happy weekend!

practically free friday #18 – organize with berry containers

This is a pretty silly project – basically a fast organization upgrade achieved while the pasta was boiling for dinner last night. I saw this photo on Pinterest a while back.

I think I was looking for things to do with berry containers because I always throw so many in the recycle bin! This is a really obvious way to use them, but I really like the look of clear bins so I guess that’s why the idea was in the back of my head.

I decided to organize a couple drawers in my yellow desk, finally. Here’s the before:

Nothing too horrifying, but could use some sprucing. I used some of the shelf liner from another desk project and corralled items into berry containers with the lids cut off. They make the perfect shallow trays, and allow me to see the pretty shelf paper.

Both lower drawers look nice and tidy now.

Hope everyone has a happy weekend!

practically free friday #17 – make an inexpensive gallery wall

See? Told you I’d post two projects this week to make up for missing one last week. 😉 One of my July project goals was to spruce up our master bathroom a bit and I decided it would be a good place to start a gallery wall. I love me some gallery walls, and this isn’t the first one in my house. The best part is they can be a really rotating/evolving space. So while I like the impact our new gallery wall makes to the space above our tub, I also know I’ll be tweaking it from now til eternity as I find things to swap out and add. But for now, this project cost me nearly nothing and it’s a big improvement from the previously blank wall.

Here’s the breakdown of materials:

  • Frames/mats: The teal frame was purchased for $.50 during my thrift haul a couple weeks ago. I painted it with leftover paint (from our bedroom walls). The rest of the frames, I scored during the stuff swap I hosted at my house in June of this year. They held lots of random prints I cut away from the existing mats and I spray-painted them with leftover ORB spray paint from this project. That means all six frames cost a total of $.50.

Here’s the collection of frames pre-decontruction (I didn’t use the canvases or the three on the far right.. I will be doing something with them soon!).

  • Prints: The botanical prints in the frames were all cut from a book I picked up at a flea market last summer. I liked that the prints were a little mod and had planned to do some decoupage with them, but found it again when I was deciding what to fill frames with for this gallery wall. There are still plenty of prints left for another project. I couldn’t have spent more than $5 on the book – I’m guessing less.

Total of $5.50? Yeah, that’s practically free, right?

In real life the gallery wall looks bolder- I just can’t seem to capture that! But this is only a start.

I do plan to add more framed art in larger frames, maybe a mirror, and some other non-framed objects to this wall, all of which I will move around the corner to span the entire space above the tub. But since the hardest part is getting started I’m happy to make some progress on this little project.

Happy Friday, everyone!

practically free friday #16 – host a stuff swap

A few times a year I end up going on a decrapification spree around the house, rounding up the things we don’t use and either giving them to someone we know can use them, or donating them to a thrift store. Despite the fact that we do this frequently, stuff still really adds up. I mean, I am a thrift shopper. A craft-maker. A re-user of things (hell-o! jar collection!). And people are always, always giving me STUFF. And I love it. I love finding clever ways to reuse things. I love that people think to give me things rather than throw them in the landfill. And I have great intentions for repurposing, many of which I get around to. Sometimes, though, it gets to be too much. There are lots of options for decrapifying. Yard sale. Selling online. Donating. Giving to friends/family. I’ve done them all.

Somewhere years ago, I heard about stuff swaps. AKA swap-and-bitch. How fun is that? I’ve been meaning to get one together for a while and this summer I finally hosted one (in June.. I’m a bit behind on the blogging). Swaps are awesome, because everyone has stuff.

Here’s how I did it, with much success.

  1. Determine what you’re swapping. I settled on limiting it to clothes/accessories and home goods and it actually was still really insane and disorganized. Maybe picking one or the other would have been better, but this did make it really fun and interesting.
  2. Come up with an invite list and make up invites. I was careful to invite like-minded ladies. Digging through other people’s stuff (or having them dig through yours) isn’t for everyone. There ended up being 8 of us and it was perfect. My invite is below – I put on some loose rules to keep confusion/questions to a minimum.
  3. Make up snacks and drinks. You’ll notice on the invite I encouraged people to bring things to share if they wanted and most everyone did. It was casual and pot-luckish.
  4. Make it informal. We spread out our boxes of stuff, draped clothing over every piece of furniture, tried stuff on in back bedrooms and bathrooms, and picked things for each other to consider. Everyone created their own take-home piles. I don’t even know who took what, for the most part! I was concerned I’d have to force people to start browsing and taking, but no one was shy.
  5. Donate the rest. The purpose is to clean out your stuff. I told everyone that anything left could go home with the original owner, or left with me to donate. Though we all scored a bunch of good stuff there was plenty left to donate, which I did the following weekend.

That’s it! I ended up with several framed prints (just for the frames), some yoga attire, a cute halter, and a handmade crocheted hat. I unloaded about 6 large boxes of clothing, shoes and household stuff.

There are some benefits of swapping over just donating. First, it’s a fun and free way to spend time with your gal pals. Second, it’s easier to let go of the good stuff when it’s going to someone you know! It made culling easier, somehow. Third, the stuff you’re getting in return belonged to someone you know. If you have a used stuff phobia, you may not mind if you know the previous owner.

Has anyone ever hosted or attended a swap?

practically free friday #15 – find pretty thrifted things

I’m a day late on my post because I spent Friday evening thrift shopping, and Friday night working on projects with a friend.

It was a stressful week and I needed a little shopping therapy so I hit my local thrift store to browse for pretty little things to scrub up and give some love to. Other people’s junk always makes me happy. (I dropped off a box to donate in the process).

Here’s my $12.50 haul. These pretty silk pj pants are my favorite find in a long time!

These pretty tea cups will be used to organize jewelry in my dresser drawer. I always look for colored glass.  The tray was $1 and I’m going to paint it and use it to corral remotes in the living room. The blue pot was another favorite find. I want to plant a small succulent garden in it.

These baskets were $.50 and there were oodles to pick from. I grabbed a few with nice shapes and I plan to spray paint them with a metallic paint.

I also grabbed a couple tiny frames to paint. Never buy frames 8×10 or smaller without hitting a thrift store first – they are practically a dime a dozen!

There you have it! These items will probably serve as some of my future Free Friday projects as a spruce them up.

practically free friday #14 – make a doily dreamcatcher

This week’s project was ripped off inspired by this post.  I love dream catchers – they remind me of friends I had growing up – I lived across the street from a Native American reservation and lived in a town that celebrated Native culture. I remember having dream catchers when I was younger.

To make this, I purchased a small embroidery hoop and small doily.

Then gathered up some random doodads in a kind-of earthy color scheme. I used beads, some pieces of copper pipe I cut into small rings (leftover from another project), hemp twine, and strips and ribbon and lace.

I strung the beads and copper pieces and attached them to the outter piece of the embroidery hoop. I tied on the string, ribbon, and lace.

Then secured the doily in between the hoop pieces and tightened the screw.

I trimmed around the edges of the doily, and made a loop from the twine as a hanger.

There you have it! Project cost was roughly $4.

Happy weekend, everyone!

practically free friday #13 – make a terrarium

Last weekend I was browsing the garden center at a home improvement mega store and found the coolest thing! Tiles of succulent ground cover you can cut into shapes.

There’s something magical-looking about this ground cover to me. Jonathan said it looks like it should cover the side of a Hobbit house. Maybe that’s it. Same as pretty moss and ferns, I just love the look of this.

I think it’s made for the space between stepping stones on a patio, but I had to buy it for another project – to put it in a low-maintenance hanging basket on my deck. I simply filled a coconut skin lined patio hanging basket with potting soil, then cut the tile to fit {cutting a few small slices to fit around the edges}.

This cost me wayyyy less than buying a hanging basket that’s pre-made, and it much easier to care for. Succulents are nearly fool-proof. They withstand heat and cool, low water and too much water {though too much water too often will eventually take it’s toll}. I put this together last Sunday and 5 days of 100 degree temps, it still looks just as pretty.

But this post isn’t about the hanging basket – it’s about how I used the leftovers {the little random pieces of tile leftover}. I decided it would be perfect to put into a pretty terrarium – which I’ve been meaning to make anyway. I gathered up the glass vessels and pots I could find in my basement, a bag of potting soil, and made 5 small terrariums. They are lovely!

This one now sits at my desk at work, and I gave one to my co-worker. The other potted succulents are placed in the sunless areas of my house where only succulents thrive. I love live plants in every room!

Since this was leftover material and containers I already had, the project was free, and I enjoy them as much, if not more, as the basket I hung on the deck! Gotta love coming up with a way to use the excess.

This project kicks off my full weekend of plant-appreciation. Tomorrow is the Ogden Valley Garden Tour and my local farmer’s market opens {finally!}. Happy weekend everyone!