Thrift Store Finds & Upcycled Projects

Happy Tuesday!

I am counting down the days until next Tuesday because we’ll be shipping the second phase of our three phase wholesale order that allowed Nathan to quit. 12+ hour days are starting to take a toll on us both, so we’re spending our non-working hours trying to plan a trip to Cozumel next year. I cannot wait to snorkel again!

But today the lovely Kendra from Simply {Darr}ling is talking about some of her thrift store purchases and projects plus how you can repurpose items for your own projects!

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Hello After 9 To 5 readers! I’m Kendra and I blog over at Simply {Darr}ling (formerly Adventures of Brad & Kendra). I live just outside Seattle with my husband and fur-kids. I’m an electrical engineer for my day job and use my blog and etsy shop as a creative outlet. Today I wanted to share some DIY projects that I have done over the past couple years with thrift store purchases and give you some quick tips on finding your own thrift store gems.

In this Pinterest Crazy blogging world, the thrift store can be your best friend. One person’s donation pile may hold that perfect item for your next DIY project. My favorite projects are ones that simply need a coat of paint to be perfect, or even ones that just need to be used in a different way. Today I wanted to share some DIY projects that I have done over the past couple years with thrift store purchases and give you some quick tip . thrift_store_projectsWhenever I’m at the thrift store, I search for mug racks. I don’t actually store mugs on them, but I douse them to hold my washi tape. I have a slight addiction to buying Washi tape so I have to use multiple mug racks to store them all.

When I purchased my Silhouette Cameo, one of the first projects I made was a Welcome sign out of a cabinet door. I’ve also used the doors to make a necklace rack. I purchased my door from the Ikea Garage sale, but since then I have also found them at my local Value Village. I have about 15 of them left to do more projects with, too!

Mason Jars – another DIY-er’s friend – are also often found at thrift stores. Other than canning, they can be used for all sorts of projects – I’ve painted a few with chevron and given them as gifts to be used as vases.

Glass from a frame is a natural Dry Erase Board so if you find an 8×10 (or larger) frame you could create a Menu Board or Honey Do List.

Some tips for finding great items:

  • Have an idea of what the item will be used for, otherwise you’re going to end up with a bunch of junk that will end back up in the donation pile
  • Examine the quality – is the product flimsy or will it stand up to more use?
  • Know the area. I find that more affluent areas have higher quality products. Think about who would be donating to that store because it can determine how good the selection is
  • Have an idea of what the item is worth. If the item can originally be purchased for $10, then it doesn’t make sense to pay a lot for it second-hand. I’ve been in some stores and known that their pricing was actually higher than what it cost new.
  • You won’t find something every time so go often because inventory is always changing!

With Christmas coming up, a DIY upcycle could become the perfect gift so keep your eyes peeled at the thrift store!

DIY Easy Feather Garland


This is one of those DIY posts that almost doesn’t seem like a real tutorial just because it’s so stinkin’ easy. But it’s a really cute way to add some color to your home. So without further ado: easy feather garland.


What you need:

  • feathers in the color of your choice
  • yarn in a coordinating color
  • hot glue


Cut a couple feet of yarn, depending on the size of the area where you want your garland displayed. Glue the yarn to the spine of your feather. Let it dry. Then do the same to another feather about six inches down the strand of yarn. You can alternate colors, or just do whatever you want really.


That’s really it! Hang the garland around a door frame or on a mirror or framed picture.


And some giveaway winners!

Congratulations to Laura T. for winning the Etsy giveaway and Nora S. for winning the Cafepress giveaway!

I’ll be in touch with you today!


DIY Bird’s Nest Bowl


I have a lot of jewelry. But the one thing I have more of than jewelry is jewelry boxes and racks and other storage contraptions. I don’t know – I think it’s just one of those things I’ve received a lot of as gifts. But even though I have a lot of them, I decided to make another just because. So here it is:

DIY bird’s nest bowl


What you need:

  • loose straw
  • spray adhesive
  • bowl/tupperware for shaping
  • miniature birds (optional)


Start by putting the straw into a bowl or tupperware that is about the same size (maybe slightly smaller) so that the straw forms kind of a bowl shape. Outside, spray the adhesive over the top of the straw. You might want to do this a couple of times. Once it’s dry, you should be able to remove the straw from the bowl with it staying pretty much the same shape. Spray the adhesive over the bottom of the straw too.


If you want, add some miniature birds or other decorations around the outside of the bowl. I got these little vintage birds from my grandma’s craft stash and they’re what inspired the whole project to begin with.


Then fill the bowl with little rings, other jewelry, or anything else you can think of!

DIY Cardboard Shadow Box


I’m one of those weird people who saves EVERYTHING. I seriously have a stack of cardboard boxes in my kitchen that goes up to the ceiling. I always keep them because I think I’ll make something with them but then I never do… until now! I decided to take one of the boxes I got with Christmas gifts this year to make a personalized shadow box. Here’s how:

What you need:

  • cardboard box (ideally one of those ones that you get clothes in at department stores)
  • a large photo or poster slightly smaller than the box (mine is 11×14)
  • acrylic paint and a paintbrush
  • washi tape



Start by painting around the sides of the box, covering both the sides and the back around the area your photo won’t cover. Let the paint dry and then tape or glue your photo in place. Use washi tape to cover the sides of the box that face front, since these look a little awkward and unfinished with just paint.



Fill the box with other items or mementos and place the shadowbox on a shelf or add a wire to the back so that you can hang it up on a wall.



DIY Lace Painted Candle Holders

DIY Lace Painted Candle Holders

I always love keeping candles around my apartment, but sometimes the generic glass jars and tea light holders just don’t do it for me. So I decided to make some upgrades.

DIY Lace Painted Candle Holders

What you need:

  • plain tea light holder
  • lace
  • tape
  • spray paint

DIY Lace Painted Candle Holders

DIY Lace Painted Candle Holders

Start by taping the lace in place around the bottom of the candle holder, making sure it’s as tight and secure as possible. Then – outside or in a well-ventilated area – spray paint around the whole candle, making sure the paint canister is level with the candle holders so that the lace pattern shows up underneath. Give them a little while to dry, remove the lace (you can do another coat if necessary or if you want to rotate the lace so that you can cover the part that was taped – I just decided to hide that part against the wall though ;) ) and enjoy!

DIY Lace Painted Candle Holders

DIY Lace Painted Candle Holders

DIY Wine Bottle Photo Lamp

Annie has an AWESOME tutorial to share with you guys today – pretty much the perfect thing to go along with yesterday’s giveaway. So after you drink your bottle of wine that’s been chilled with the super fancy Corkcicle, you can repurpose your wine bottle into something almost as useful as the wine itself.

If there are two things in this world I love, it’s my friends and wine. Okay, maybe there are more things than that… but those are the things that inspired this latest DIY project.

What you need:

  • one printed photo
  • spray water bottle
  • glossy mod podge
  • paintbrush
  • wine bottle
  • goo-gone
  • battery powered LED lights
  • yarn/fabric scraps

To do the translucent photo transfer, start by covering the front of your photo (which has to be printed from a normal printer) with a few layers of mod podge, letting it dry in between each layer. Once the final layer has dried, spray the back with water and begin peeling off the paper very gently. Try using just your finger tips and not your nails, as the mod podge can tear pretty easily. Once you’re done, the photo should allow light to shine through.

To remove the label from your wine bottle, apply some Goo Gone around the label and let it sit for a few minutes. This should make it easier to peel  off the paper, but you might need to add a little more as you go.

Once you’re done with those steps, roll up your photo transfer and put it into the wine bottle. I used some knitting needles to place the photo on the outer edge of the bottle. Then insert your strand of LED lights, keeping the battery pack on the outside. You can also add some yarn or fabric scraps to the inside of the bottle, just to help the light carry and keep the photo pinned to the edge of the bottle.

You can add a lampshade to the top of the bottle and hide the battery pack there, or just keep the wine bottle as is. Now you have a cool lamp with a personal touch. Enjoy!

DIY Winter Wreath

I don’t know about you, but once I take all my holiday decorations down, I feel like my apartment is just too empty. But even though the remainder of winter is far from my favorite time of year, it can still be helpful to make some wintery decorations to fill the void left from those snowmen and sleigh bells. That’s why I felt the need to make this winter wreath for my front door.

What you need:

  • wreath frame
  • white feathers
  • snowflake sequins or beads
  • hot glue

I happened to have this feather fan lying around my apartment, so I wanted to make it into something more useful. I took apart the fan so that I just had about 15 good sized feathers. I started by gluing them in place around the wreath frame so that you couldn’t see it from the front.

Once you’ve done that, trim off any excess feather pieces that stick too far out. Then place your little snowflakes around the wreath and glue them in place. Easy as that! Now my front door doesn’t look so empty every time I come home!

DIY Heart Wreath

Here’s a super easy tutorial for a wreath that you can use to adorn your door for Valentine’s Day, while recycling some of your old Christmas decor.

What you need:

  • wire hanger
  • red tinsel garland (about 4 feet)

Using either your hands or some wire tools, shape your hanger into a heart, leaving the actual hook in tact. Fold the garland in half and drape it over the top of the heart. Then begin wrapping it around the wire until that side of the heart is covered down to the bottom. Repeat on the other side and tie the garland in place.

Hang on the door or the wall and enjoy!

DIY Light Display Box

After Christmas, I always have so many extra boxes lying around. Of course, I have a lot of things I could put into said boxes, but I usually prefer my existing method of organized chaos. So the dilemma becomes what to do with the empty boxes. Here’s one idea.

A Light Display Box

What you need:

  • cardboard shoe box
  • battery powered led light strand
  • tissue paper
  • tape or glue

Start by taping your strand of lights around the inner rim of the box. Place a sheet of tissue paper under your box and make cuts from the corners so that the paper can be folded into the box. You can use tape or glue to secure the tissue paper around the inside of the box. I made the paper a little messy so that you couldn’t see the tape. Also, you’ll need to make sure that the battery switch for the lights is easily accessible once everything is in place. The lights should all be inside the tissue paper but still visible when turned on.

Place small items you want displayed inside the box and turn on the lights for a cool effect. Now you’ve found a cool use for your old boxes AND some Christmas lights – win/win!

Re-purpose It: Old Maps to Christmas Wrap

Since I am the money saving contributor I thought I might share some ways to re-use items. Re-using an item for something else not only saves money, but helps to reduce waste and therefore saves the environment! I will be posting a re-purposed item every 6 weeks or so, and if you are interested I might look at setting up future posts as link-ups and then you can share your re-purposed items! Let me know what you think.

One of my many jobs before I had my little boy was working retail in an outdoor gear store. One of the products this store sells is back-country maps for hiking, paddling and camping adventures. One day I was asked to clean out the map cabinet and get rid of anything older than a certain date, being that the map would no longer be current and therefore no longer accurate. At the end of the day I had a beautifully organized map cabinet and a large box of ‘old’ maps. When I asked what the destination of the maps was I was told the recycling bin, and instead of letting them get shredded and made into something new I asked if I could take them home. “Sure!” was the enthusiastic response. So I piled them in a box and into my car, and now they reside in the same box in a corner of our basement at home. I had so many big plans for these maps, and I have used them a little here and there but this year I plan to use them to wrap most of our Christmas gifts, as well as add a little flare to a few homemade gifts.

Really any old map will do. These are back-country maps, which I like because they are mostly green with a few topographic lines and some roads for visual interest. But depending on the recipient you might want to choose a map accordingly. An old map of your college town for a good friend, or a map from your trek across Europe for a young relative who is planning a similar trip of his or her own, or perhaps a map of your hometown for your parents or siblings and you can reminisce as they un-wrap their gift.

I wrapped a few presents in maps last year and it was fun to watch the receiver look over the map carefully before un-wrapping the gift, and try and guess the location, or look for familiar towns, roads or other places. I’m excited to do this again this year and watch as people read their wrapping before they even get to open their gift!

Some other great re-purposed wrapping ideas are:

Old Men’s Dress Shirt

T-shirt Bow // Men’s Shirt Wrapped Gift

Stamped Kraft Paper – here // here

Newspaper Wrapping // Magazine Bow

There are so many other ideas out there, just use your imagination when tidying up around the house and I’m sure you will find all sorts of appropriate wrapping materials! Have fun with it, and don’t give in to the temptation to purchase pretty, shiny, new wrapping paper just because you don’t have any left from last year! ;)

Happy Wrapping and Money Saving Friends!