A cheap chenille bedspread in the hand…

This is a picture of a full-size vintage yellow chenille bed with a design of flower baskets .

Our apartment is really beige, and I’m always looking for ways to brighten it up. Since I would rather insert red-hot railway spikes under my toenails than paint the walls, I thought a new bedspread would be just the thing to add a bit of colour. So I started cruising the thrift stores for chenille bedspreads, which I remembered fondly from the 1970s.

But I kept coming up empty-handed. Apparently chenille bedspreads, like anything else more than 30 years old, had become collectible.  After about a month and a half of looking, I decided to try eBay, and found tons. The problem was, the nicest of them were going for sometimes a few hundred bucks. (Interestingly, ones that had a peacock design were going for the most. I have a thing for peacocks myself, but was not willing to spend lavishly on a bloody bedspread, which I knew would end up spending most of its time balled up on the floor, as we rarely make our bed). I eventually found a nice green one with a white swirly design on eBay, and got it for $35. Shipping brought the total price to $60. I was chuffed, and excited for it to arrive. Continue reading


Increase your bust for cheap

What we have here is the Emma Bust Exerciser, made in Germany, Hamburg to be precise. I picked up this gem at the Sally Ann on 12th, the one with the great big basement full of junk.  The writing on the unit is German: “Brust Trainingsgerat,” it says, and it’s so great that English and German have a few things in common, because you don’t need to know any German at all to understand what this little machine is for. Continue reading

Cheap, kitschy chalkware

This is a piece of chalk ware that hangs on the wall. It's of a Chinese peasant girl wearing a green and red pajama suit and a rice picker's hat.

I bought this for $5 at the Sally Ann. I got up early on a Saturday morning so I'd be the first customer there when the store opened. I just had to have it, you know?

When I was a kid my parents had this old, chipped planter in the shape of a  Chinese boat. At one one end sat a little Chinese girl and at the other  a little Chinese boy. For some reason my brother-in-law became obsessed with it. So one of my sisters painted it to make it look like new and gave it to him as a joke gift. But it wasn’t a joke to him — he was overjoyed. Twenty-five years later, it is not a joke to me either. Continue reading

Good-bye cheap apartment, so long East Hastings

This picture shows a 1950s mid-century couch and chair, an antique wool rug from China, an original Communist propaganda poster from China.

Awww… this was our living room. The green paint is a mis-tint we picked up for cheap. The chesterfield and couch are vintage 1950s, picked up for free from the original owners off Craigslist. Original communist art poster from China (gift), photos mine, antique rug purchased for $80, all else thrifted.

Well, we did it. We left our beloved apartment in Hastings-Sunrise and moved to Mount Pleasant. The cockroaches came back, the neighbours continued to party their asses off, the lunatic downstairs continued to scream and yell at the slightest provocation (e.g., tapping the lid back on a can of paint, dropping a pencil on the floor) and our landlord, Wing, stopped cleaning the graffiti off the the walls around the entrance to the block. Continue reading

How not to buy a cheap wedding dress

This picture shows a 1950s Chantilly lace wedding dress with full skirt, bullet bust, and paper doll silhouette.

My wedding dress before the boob job (the dress's, not mine)

As someone who prides herself on spending as little as humanly possible on clothes—25 cents for a plaid skirt, $15 for Frye-ish campus boots, $2 for a coat worn by a former chauffeur (chauffeuse?) of Winston Churchill’s—I decided it would be extravagant to spend any more than $100 on my wedding dress.

Now, most brides-to-be are willing to pay hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on that dress they’re only ever going to wear once. I think they’re insane, and I’m sure that if I asked, they’d say I was, well, cheap. But I’m also pretty sure those gals are not reading this blog (is anyone?), so we’ll never have to have that conversation.

When I went looking, my first stop was craigslist. Nothing (although I got a kick out of those ads from recent brides trying to get rid of their dresses, where they use their own wedding pictures with their faces blurred out). I checked the thrift stores; Value Village had one or two heavy, long-sleeved ’50s/’60s dresses for between $25 and $50. But they just didn’t stand out. Besides, they would be too hot—we were getting married in Winnipeg, in August, where temperatures can get infernal. Long sleeves would simply not do. Continue reading

Cheap wedding invitations: Save money, waste time

This is a DIY wedding invitation made with InDesign.

The problem—one of the problems—with tightwads is that we value money over time, often to a pathological degree. Hence, instead of paying for something we could—at least conceivably—do or make ourselves, we will almost always choose to do or make it ourselves—no matter the time commitment or skill level required. People who are clever and creative at this kind of thing are called DIYers. People who are not are called deluded.

I fall into the latter category. Case in point: I decided to make my own wedding invitations. Easy peasy, I thought, I’ll just go to that big craft superstore—you know the one—and buy one of those print-it-yourself invitation kits. The store has lots of cute designs where all you have to do is put in the wording, print it out, cut two holes in which to insert a ribbon (so you can embellish the invitation with a bow), and Bob’s your uncle. Or is he? Continue reading

Back Lane Bonanza

This picture shows a vintage 1960s mid-century piece of brass wall art.

As Shakespeare kind of once said, “Some are born cheap, some achieve cheapness, and some have cheapness thrust upon ’em.”

In my case, I was born cheap. I always loved getting things for free and, luckily, so did my childhood best friend, who lived on the same street as I did. One of our favourite things to do—besides stealing cats, wrangling younger kids into attending “school” in her garage, making prank calls, and picking our neighbours’ marigolds and selling the seeds back to them later on—was to go through the garbage in our back lane in search of buried treasure. Continue reading