Just a small town Iowa girl, trying to save money.
Emily Prusha is the face behind the DIY/Lifestyle blog at The Frugal Farmer's Daughter. Growing up in small-town Iowa, she learned to be frugal and make new of what she already has at home. She is a lover of thrift shops and garage sales. Wrangling her two small children on a rural acreage, she shares some of her projects and "frugal finds."
What have you found on the curb and given new life?
Many times someone is getting rid of something that someone else would LOVE to have! That was the case when someone set this worn out – wooden stand beverage holder. The lid was missing, so it wouldn’t be good for a cooler anymore, but I didn’t mind. All I had in my head was “FLOWER POT.” I’m always looking for something to plant flowers in! It was the perfect amount of chippy, old, worn out goodness for some pretty flowers to have a new home.
Our home was hit by a derecho, or land hurricane in August of 2020. We had to move to a rental home while repairs were made as it wasn’t safe for our two young girls, and what a mess it was. This curbside find was PERFECT for flowers at our rental house. I was so excited to find it for free and dress it up with some nice fall mums and pumpkins.
WOW! It’s been two month’s since I’ve written a post. I’m glad to be back!
Father’s Day is Sunday, folks you have two days! If you’re like me, you aren’t shopping much with COVID-19 or maybe you shopped online but shipping is taking longer. Either way, this Father’s Day DIY can be made with supplies you most likely have at home or I bet your neighbor does!
Let’s get to it.
First you’ll need a scrap piece of wood.
I picked this smaller piece for our preschooler to write DAD on. If you have more kids, you might use a larger piece and let them each write or draw on it, depending on their ages.
Next, draw on your design or letters. I wrote DAD on a piece of paper, let my preschooler practice once on paper, then gave her a sharpie to write on the wood. I’d say she did excellent!
Now, add your nails. First and foremost make sure the nails you are about to use are short enough to not go through the wood once you hammer them into the board. You’re able to check this by placing the nail to the side of the board and comparing size.
Keep in mind your end design. You’ll have to think ahead about nail placement to make sure your string ends up going where it is supposed to & creating the end look you want. I placed and started each nail, then let our preschooler pound them the rest of the way. We left them sticking out from the wood about 1/4″, giving us room to add and tie string. You’ll have to decide for yourself if your kids are ready to use a hammer. Our preschooler is in the shop with my husband working projects all the time, so I knew she would be able to pound in some nails. My grandpa taught me how to pound in nails when I was her age so this has always been something very dear to my heart. Oh what I would give to still have a scrap piece of wood filled with nails that my grandpa and I did together.
Time for string! I tied string onto one of the nails as an anchor, then let our preschooler try the rest. She would go around the letter, then I would help finish up and secure the string by going all the way around each individual nail.
I have to admit, I have NEVER taken a string art class or done a string art project before, but it didn’t hinder my ability to do this project without any problems. It was fun and pretty easy to do. Those of you who have taken those classes or done a string art craft before will breeze through this!
If you don’t have string at home, you might be able to get creative and use a shoe string, rubber bands, hair ties (ponytails), or twine!
In completion, I let my preschooler write her name on the back and draw on it. I then wrote Father’s Day 2020 on the back so her dad could remember how old she was when she made it. She already gave it to her dad and he said it would look great on his desk at work! How sweet 🙂
This entire project took less than an hour.
Love this easy, special gift that you probably have all the supplies for at home!
We have a little “nook” off of our kitchen on the way to our formal dining room. It is also home to the door to go up the “butler’s staircase” to an upstairs bedroom. This has always been an odd area for me to have a true purpose, kind of a catch-all for everything that needs to be put away. I have had a wooden bookcase-type shelf there for years, that I purchased at a local auction house for $1. It was fine, but I just felt like the rest of the area was a big waste of space.
I started searching Pinterest for some ideas of how I could make this space better. That’s when I stumbled across a post by CitygirlmeetsFarmboy showing an awesome pantry. It became our inspiration for this space. They took a lot of time to create an amazing blog post with very detailed instructions. You can find their blog post here: DIY Pantry Shelf – Handmade Haven. I will let you visit their blog for the step by step instructions. 🙂
My husband measured our space and we decided on just doing one section of “pantry wall.” I found the black hutch on Facebook Marketplace not too far from our house for $75. I liked it a lot more than what we had before. This piece comes all the way to the ground, instead of having legs like the other piece. I also liked that this had more “hidden storage.” My desk is a built-in in our kitchen, so a lot of the extra junk from my desk is hidden inside this black hutch. It is also home to our printer. You can see that the wall and ceiling above is slanted, as the “butler staircase” is to the left and directly above. I will have to experiment with decor, etc to go above the hutch. Styling is not my thing!
I am very happy with how it turned out. We added some trim boards to the back of each shelf to keep items from sliding off the back of the shelves. Our pantry doesn’t sit flush with the wall because of the size of our baseboards. My husband used scrap 2×4 pieces to anchor it to the wall and take up the space between the wall and shelving.
In a future post I’ll show you our “Butler’s Staircase” and how we turned it into 2 separate closets while minimally altering the original woodwork. Stay tuned!
I love my new pantry wall. It really gave this space in our house a purpose and is extremely helpful for me to have. My cupboards are much more organized since I was able to spread everything out. This added a ton of storage for our kitchen. Many thanks to my hubby for building this for me!
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A few weeks ago I had a spur of the moment idea to redo our kitchen table. The only “before photo” I have of it, is one I sent to my husband asking if he cared what I did to it! Unfortunately that also means I don’t have any progress pictures. I’ll show you the before and after anyhow 🙂
This table was really banged up on the legs as you can see. It was neglected in a basement for quite a while, and was dragged out to be brought into our kitchen. The rectangle shape fit our kitchen much better than the circle table I had in there before.
I snapped this pic to send to hubby & made sure he was OK with me getting creative with it…. (for me creative means one color… maybe! HAHA) It got sanded, and even more sanded when he got home… We took the top finish off, and lightly sanded the legs.
The top got re-stained with three coats of stain, and two coats of polyurethane. I spray painted the legs with two coats of paint.
I apologize I don’t have progress photos, but I will tell you that it has held up extremely well so far! We use it almost every day, with an almost one year old’s high chair hanging on it (Chicco QuickSeat Hook-On Highchair) – as shown in the before photo, and a preschooler completing many art projects at the other end. It was a simple makeover but I love the pop of color it brought to our kitchen.
I have wanted to redo the counter-tops in both bathrooms in our house forever. It just hasn’t been in the budget. I have seen counter-top paint before and read about it on other blogs. I finally decided I would give it a try. After all, I couldn’t really “ruin” my 40+ year old counter-tops! I am no expert. I am new to DIY and none of my projects are perfect – especially this one. But, I will share my journey anyway!
Here it goes… my very imperfect bathroom counter-top makeover!
Supplies I used:
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The paint kit comes with the brushes and rollers, so you shouldn’t have to buy any more of those unless you don’t wash them out. I washed mine and reused them as listed in the directions, but if you’d rather just throw away and not clean them, you’ll need these:
First you’ll need to open up the paint kit box and read all of the directions so you know what you’re in for. It’s pretty simple, but if you have kids you might want to plan a time where you’ll be gone during drying times, or make sure you have a spare bathroom to use. Or at least somewhere else to wash your hands!
I re-caulked around the sink and sides of the counter top. I spent less than $50 on both bathrooms in our house combined. Way cheaper than $2,000 brand new counter tops! It isn’t perfect, but I love it for what it cost and the visual improvement is great. My husband switched the handles on the vanity too. I love it! Stay tuned for our other bathroom’s before and after photos.
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We have been home for three weeks now. One of our favorite past times, Thrift Shopping… we aren’t able to do! We are being responsible and social distancing. Dad gets groceries that mom can’t order from Target Pickup, the shop club we are members of, or Amazon Pantry. Dad still goes to work – for an agricultural company, with less than 10 people at his location. As of today he will be in a tractor by himself for a few weeks if the weather cooperates. Mom stays home with both girls except for the occasional trip to town for drive thru ice cream at DQ (owned by one of our preschool friend’s family). We also bought mulch for the flower beds by calling the store and paying over the phone. They then sent someone out to load it for us. How awesome! No contact with anyone.
ANYWAY, that’s how we are doing our part to social distance. Back to the point of this post… Thrift shops are closed and no garage sales, So…. to Amazon mommy goes.
Here is a round up of our favorite items lately!
The current staple in our household is this fold up play yard. MUST HAVE! It folds up like those lawn chairs that fit into bags. Super handy! This will be going to softball games, camping, outside while I’m gardening… everywhere with us this summer. There are two different options, you can purchase it with or without the shade, or buy the shade later if you decide you need it. Since I have red hair, I know our fair skinned babies will need the shade. 🙂 I do not have the shade yet, but its on the list to buy soon!
Today I put mulch on our flower beds. Our preschooler helped me, and the baby was in the play-yard on the porch right where I could see her, and she was still in the shade. Perfect for now! Soon, I will be ordering the shade to go on ours if she doesn’t get it for a birthday present next month 🙂 I can’t believe she is going to be one soon! Time sure does fly.
This morning the UPS man brought this awesome toy – perfect for indoor and outdoor use both! It was a “Deal of the Day” last week for $12! How fun! It came with 4 animals, washable markers and a bathtub that pumps water when you press the button. The idea is to color the animals then give them a bath, let them dry, and do it all over again! This kept my preschooler busy for 2.5 hours today! WIN!
Two weeks ago a family member gifted us an awesome game that we all loved playing. Its called “How does Your Garden Grow?” It works on colors, counting, strategy, and taking turns (this is what we need to work on most, haha!). We loved playing! It also allows for open teaching, what I love to do… such as the “Helper” cards show lady bugs, worms, and bees. This gives me the opportunity to each our kids more about these beneficial animals in our garden. I majored in agriculture and horticulture at Iowa State University, so you bet my kids will know all about farming and gardening! My other passions along with thrifting. <3 🙂 It also has “pest” cards – raccoons, moles, and rabbits. Our preschooler just giggles and giggles every time she draws a pest card. Such a fun game! How Does Your Garden Grow?
Do you have any fun new Amazon finds? Tell me about them in the comments below!
Did you know Amazon is giving out $3 Amazon Digital credit for No Rush Shipping? Such a good option to help the company get out necessary items quicker and give us a free family movie night!
Here are some of the ways our family has been able to beat the blues… getting some time outside while helping out our community. Use these ideas or come up with your own. I think this time is great to teach our children more unique life experiences that may not have the opportunity to be included in school lessons.
Please remember to follow the laws and orders in place in your area. Stay safe! Don’t forget to wash your hands!
Clean up leaves and old plant debris out of flowerbeds.
Remove leaves from around gravestones.
Do you know of someone with gravel in their yard that may have escaped into their grass where it doesn’t belong?
Have an elderly neighbor with flowerbeds that need cleaned? What about a cemetery, nursing home, veteran’s home, fire station, police station, hospice house? Could you help them by cleaning up their flower beds?
This is a great opportunity to talk with your children about what these places are for. You can now ask our preschooler about cemeteries and she will tell you what they are for, how we respect them, and how we can keep them looking nice to pay respects to those gone before us. I look forward to this being a yearly tradition with our children.
Pick up garbage.
When you stop to look, its ridiculous how much garbage you can find in your community.
Lend a helping hand to nature.
Grab a pair of gloves, some garbage bags & head out to clean up your roads, public parks, playgrounds, wildlife areas, cemeteries, parking lots, school yards… the list is endless. A great time to teach your children how to care for the earth, not to litter, and notice the damage it does to our environment.
Bake something special for someone.
Donate extra items or unused items to someone in need.
Celebrate the difference you have made!
Comment with your ideas. What have you done to make a difference in your community during this pandemic?
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I have always loved plants, being an agronomy and horticulture major in college… growing up on a farm… gardening… I just love the outdoors in general. My house is always full of house plants, so naturally I wanted to have live plants as decorations at our wedding. Milk glass has been very popular recently, and selling for good amounts online. You know that’s not where I got it though. For a few months, I would pickup a few pieces here and there while at different thrift shops. Once we decided on green as an accent color for our wedding, it was fun to find some beautiful glass with green in it also! And how fun, we got married in March – so green was a no-brainer!
The most I spent on a single piece of glass or a vase was $2. Most of these I purchased for $0.50 – $1. Toward the end of our wedding reception we walked around to our guests and thanked them for sharing the evening with us & invited them to take one home. They were great wedding favors and guests were surprised that those were our favors. They were special, unique favors that would match just about anyone’s decor at home!
It has been fun a year later to see who has kept their succulent alive 😉 Happy Anniversary month babe!
Your tables can be gorgeous and done on a budget, sometimes you just have to use a little imagination, and some good thrift finding skills!
How to make your own succulent centerpieces
First I gathered up all of the “pots” that I wanted to use. I washed them with some gentle dish soap to clean the dust off of them and get them ready to house some cute little succulents!
I then used a measuring cup, just for ease of scooping… to scoop some succulent friendly soil into the pots. I used Miracle-Gro Cactus Palm and Citrus Potting Mix, 8-Quart (2 Pack). This potting soil is great for succulents and cactus plants both. How cute would cacti be for wedding centerpieces! Someone please do that and send me photos!
After I planted each one, it was time for water and fertilizer. I just used a “>simple spray bottle to give them a nice mist. You never want to over water succulents. I then followed the directions on the back of the fertilizer (Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food, 8 oz., For Succulents including Cacti, Jade, And Aloe, 1 Pack), and Viola! I hope this helps you envision how you could create your own live plant decorations for your wedding. Cactus, succulents, pansies, roses… there are all kinds of small plants that would be gorgeous to use as centerpieces or party favors. Happy planting!
Most parents despise musical toys – you know, drum sets… maracas… kazoos. My husband isn’t a fan at all – I don’t mind them, but for both of our sanity – I decided one day we would create a fun outdoor music wall for my daughter to play with.
So, here it is. An outdoor music wall for your kids to bang on and make all the racket they want – outside!
To start off, you’ll need a base to attach everything to. We used a pallet type board, or a pallet crate lid. These can often be found at many stores for FREE in the dumpster. Don’t be afraid to ask… literally anywhere. There is always SOMEONE thankful to get rid of a pallet. If you like the look of ours, check out your nearest farm implement dealer and ask if they have any pallet crates they want rid of. You can paint it, stain it, seal it, or burn it with a torch like we did.
Once you have an idea of the size of board you will be working with, it’s time to shop your kitchen, grandma’s kitchen, your great aunt’s kitchen, basements, Salvation Army, Goodwill, garage sales, you name it. Look for metal pans, cookie cutters, pie tins, bundt pans, anything that will make some NOISE! I found some metal lid holder racks, metal mixing spoons, whisks, all kinds of things. I thought we would use the spoons, whisks, etc as the “drumsticks.”
Get creative. Use a baby rattle, cooking spatula, you could even take apart an old xylophone like we did here.
Lay everything out on the board to see how you like it, where you’d want it placed, and how it will all fit together. I had fun lining similar things up in order of size. Now you will have to use some caution attaching your items to your board. I knew I needed husband to help with this task. He used some nails, screws, and hooks we had laying in our junk drawer. I’m sure you have one of those too. You can see the metal spoon, strainer, and cookie cutter laying on the cement. Those are some of the “drumsticks” we got to bang on the board with – can’t wait to create some awesome music!
Now the next time your kids have the urge to be loud, send them outside and have at it!
Hey y’all! My name is Emily and I grew up in small town Iowa. Growing up I had a lot of hand-me-downs from my sister, family, & friends. Our family would frequent garage sales in the spring, summer, and fall. We went to consignment shops or outlet stores for our back to school shopping to find other items we didn’t find in our garage sale adventures. It was my normal and I didn’t think a thing about it. Everyone must do this.
Around high school, I noticed that not everyone shopped this way. Who knows why not, we always found awesome stuff and saved a ton of money! I decided I had to share my knowledge of saving money with more of my friends. Being involved in 4-H and FFA, I found projects that were considered junk to some and gave them new life. Something I found for pennies, now turned useful and amazing! Not to mention all of the clothing I would find for myself or my friends, or flip for a profit on eBay.
After graduating from Iowa State University with a major in Agricultural Studies and a minor in Horticulture, I still had no idea what I wanted “to be when I grew up….” and I still don’t! OOPS! Although – I have zero student debt… pretty cool huh? We can talk about that another time.
For now, I am a stay at home mom to two lovely girls. I continue to love thrift shops. Hunting garage sales. Scanning Facebook Marketplace. Shopping consignment. Saving some money along the way, just like my dad – the farmer, my mom, and my grandparents taught me.
Hopefully an idea of mine might spark an idea of your own; make you rethink buying new when you could reuse, redo, re-purpose, re-create & hopefully – save some money at the same time.