Monday, March 29, 2010

Use Office Trash to Start your Veggie Garden- Free Seed Starters

Store-bought seed starters and incredibly overpriced and impractical. Many seed starting kits only provide a tiny cell for your seedling. The plant will quickly outgrow the pod, creating more work for you in the long run.

 Gardening teaches patience. It took three months for my Speckled Roman Tomato to Germinate.

Most of us are too busy to continuously transplant seedlings, so instead of using store-bought seed starters I use roomier seed starters that I gather for free. I've been gathering "Trash" from my office and using it to start my vegetable garden. Here's what to look out for:

Empty Plastic Water/Soda Bottles: Rinse out your bottle, then cut it in half. Place the top part of the bottle into the bottom portion. This makes a seed starter with its own reservoir of water- reducing the need for constant watering. This is great for seedlings in a dry spot, or for seedlings with high water demands.

Empty Soda Cans: This makes a pretty planter for typography and graphic designers nerds. I love the sight of a fresh green seedling popping out of a soda can! Cut off the top of the can- watch out, the edges will be sharp. You might want to fold the edges down to prevent a cut. (Or you can fold them out and make a flower design). Poke holes at the bottom to provide drainage for the seedling.

Used Styrofoam Cups: These are my favorite seed starters. I reuse Styrofoam coffee cups from the office. It's easy to poke holes in the bottom of these cups, and I can write the name of the seed very clearly on the front of the cup.
Take-out Platters with lids: Large take-out platters can make great planters in and of themselves. I like to use them as clotches, or mini green houses. These protects the seedlings and even helps accelerates their growth.

Take-out Containers: Small Take-Out Containers make great planters and clotches.

More Garden Recycling Ideas for the Office:

-Save paper to shred for the a compost pile

-Save Newspaper to line the bottoms of raised beds and to add to compost and vermicompost heaps.

-Save Cardboard boxes for making frugal garden pathways. These also are great for composting and lining the bottom of raised beds.

-Save plastic forks and spoons to refuse and seed labels. You can place the label in the fork or write on the knives, forks, and/or spoons themselves.

I love how vegetable gardening inspires frugality and creativity. One normal sized office should provide you with more seed-starting containers than you could ever use! What bits of "trash" do you reuse in the garden?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thrift Encounter: A Set of Classic Star Wars Toys


I can't wait to make time to interview my new friend Nick, a toy vendor I keep encountering at the Bargain House of Fleas Flea Market when I make my sporadic rounds in search of unique toys. He's hinted that he's a full-time toy re-seller and that it's a fun and unique way to make a living.

When I visited the Flea Market last Sunday Nick kindly unlocked his protective case and allowed me to take a picture of these classic Star Wars figures. I'm not sure about the value of these toys, but they look fairly rare. The morning light cast an ethereal glow around the collector's case. I like the warm, soft picture of toys.

It looks a little like the Spring we're all longing for.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Special Thrifty Weekend- Monkeys, Art, and More!

Despite packing and preparing for an upcoming move I made time for ample thrifting this weekend. A lot of inspirational garage sale hopping, flea marketing, and thrift store visits took place during the past couple of days.
 Tempting shiny rainbow glass things at the Dr. Sketchy's garage sale
My first essential Garage Sale stop was the Dr. Sketchy's garage sale to support a very inspirational art show. I was surprised to find some treasures I've been on the prowl for. These include:

 The amazing Dr. Sketchy's haul!

-Shelves: I've been on the prowl for these "Collector Shelves" for years, perfect for the collector of eccentric oddities...

-Miniatures: I can't wait to use these in future art pieces

-Movies: An excellent selection of DVDs!

 MINIATURES! My favorite ones are the tiny coke cans

I got the huge haul of treasures for the low price of $10.00! Thanks for the amazing deal and for saving some goodies just for me Dr. Sketchy's crew! All items will be treasured.

 He surveys the world cautiously from his perch.

 The most hilarious aspect of this stop was the Marmoset monkey a lady carried with her. I'm actually not a fan of monkeys but this is an intriguing creature. Look at its cat-like tail!

 I've encountered many things while thrifting, but never a live monkey!

Next my friend Joey and I hit up the Ramona Flea Market which was very photogenic on a gorgeous sunny Saturday.

An amazing selection of amusing retro toys

I found amazing vintage toys ($1.00 each!) and amazingly detailed Jurassic Park toys for $2.00 each, and a random assortment of robots, dinosaurs, sharks, and other fun stuff.

 All of these dinosaurs are detailed and amazing
 It's almost a shame to use these but I already know the profanity they will spew at each other in their own shadow boxes.

 The Lone Ranger, Tarzan, Raggedy Anne and Jungle Book sets were amazing vintage finds!

After the Ramona visit I hung out on the front lawn (the weather was too beautiful to go inside!) with Joey and his girlfriend and we all talked about art and played with toys.

On Sunday I stopped by a couple of thrift stores and the dollar store and found even more amusing bits that will be used in some ambitious art pieces. Overall, it was a very successful thrifty weekend. It's added a couple more boxes to my insane move this Saturday, but it was worth it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Art Jamming and Toy Crafting

I've been thrifting for toys which I wrote about  here and here. I do pick up toys occasionally when I thrift but lately I've had a goal in mind. I'm creating "Toys Behaving Badly".

My deranged ideas brings my Father great fear and distress.

I'll never "Grow up". I've been making retro "toy art" for years, an eclectic mix of paintings, collages, photography, comics and evil plush creations. I'm excited to exhibit some of them with two other amazing artists next month at Art Walk and a Childhood Nostalgia themed show.

 Art Jam!

Last night I Art Jammed with my buddy Jim of fame, he's an immensely talented and hilarious artist. It was a big motivator, he had many amusing ideas for my haul of toys.

 The Stacked Dinosaurs are from Jim's sexy imagination!

A couple nights before I met with friends at a café and many strangers approached and played with toys at our table with us! As a result, I finally got a lot of progress done with these pieces.

From Chaos comes Creation!
The best part about making these toy shadow boxes is playing with the toys- you can't come up with a good arrangement unless you tap into your inner child and get incredibly goofy. It's been bringing back memories of playing with toys with my older brothers (twins, 5 years older than me) in my childhood home in Italy.

 I wish this circus was real!

These art pieces make me feel young; they reignite a tiny bit of that long-lost childhood innocence I lose more and more every morning when I clock in at work. I know anyone who buys one of the Toys Behaving Badly will remember their carefree childhood days every day they see it hung in their homes.

Today's Van's Story Time: Mom's Curse Words Love

Other Art Jams:
- Murder City Thrift Adventure with Birdie
- I Learned to Knit. I Can Do Anything- I am BATMAN!
- Artist Interview with Brian Boles
- An Inspirational Installation
- This Weekend's Art Market Booth

Triceratop Circus!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Garden Planning on a Warm Gray Day


It's gray outside the office window this morning, but it's also warm. There's hope that this long unusually cold winter will end. Being stuck in the office most of the day I forgot what warm air and sunshine feels like, so I took a break yesterday to gather some spring inspiration. Here's a few pictures I took, hopefully they'll inspire you, too.

This picture doesn't do justice to the magnificent koi pond at this nursery. There was a sleepy white giant at the bottom of the pond and a unique large canary yellow koi with with heavily frayed fins. I could have watched them all day.

The same nursery had a couple of sample raised vegetable beds that made me feel guilty for not having anything started in mine yet. Soon my pretties, soon!

 This is my favorite picture from nursery hopping that day. I like the fun cacti sign "Fun to collect, easy to grow!" I like anything that advertises a plant like it's a toy, so misleading and amusing! I also like the highly faded pinata they felt included to include in the cacti section. Cacti doesn't grow anywhere but in Mexico, land of the pinatas!

This weekend I'm going to finish off my raised bed at the community garden, start more seeds, and plant some organic transplants. I like growing from seed better, but a short cut is needed to lift my spirits after this long, cold winter.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Win the Thrift Toy Lottery- I am the Toy King

 A Captain Planet Action Figure from Captain Planet and the Planeteers

I feel like I won the Thrift Toy Lottery at the Bargain House of Fleas Flea Market this weekend. I found this ancient relic from my childhood years, a Captain Planet Action Figure, for 50 cents

This vendor had the biggest toy collection I've ever seen outside of a museum. Many of these toys were 90s vintage toys of character I remember from childhood like "Kid Vid" from those stupid "Burger King Kid's Club" commercials and various power rangers.

I also visited with the usual toy vendor. (He gave me a toy last week, I wrote about it Here.) This time he had a huge haul of star wars toys and a friend with him who specialized in G.I Joe toys. Apparently this guy makes his living buying and reselling toys, waking up early to check Ebay for interesting new toys and deals. I wish I could have that much geekish dedication.

I admire people who's fundamental likes and dislikes haven't changed since childhood- they stay true to themselves. Hardcore toy collectors definitely fall into that category.

Here's a shot of an impressive Star Wars toy collection, some of these are from the 80s and still in their original packaging.

Spent from toy collecting, I recouped with a friend and discussed all the possibilities for these toys. Each one will be used in a special upcoming project. It was amusing to accumulate many stares and questions with a table full of toys.

Tonight I'll continue to work with these toys, and perhaps play with them, just a little bit...

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Thrifty Date and Women: Maxim's Unauthorized Guide

 Yes men, you too could be owners of this lovely lifelike blow up doll. Ur, we mean, a real lady. With a soul and a pulse and EVERYTHING. 

Would you like to:
•    Meet and seduce the women most men only fantasize about?
•    Make the woman of your dreams forget every other man she's met?
•    Understand her secret desires and learn how to fulfill them?
•    Turn your relationship into the most exciting adventure of your life?

This is what Women: Maxim's Unauthorized Guide promises the reader. I recently found this book while packing and I like it. It's unintentional comedy.

As a quick, funny background on this book, my friend Sam purchased it for his friend. His friend was terrified of Women so the book was a gag gift. I wanted to deliver it to him but he was scared of me, so I didn't.

The book contains common sense tips like "Take showers and wear deodorant, hygiene is important," and "We know she talks a lot but actually listen to what the bitch says occasionally, it will greatly increase you chances to sex her." (My words, not theirs) But I'm certain a lot of this doesn't apply to the thrifty female population. It's my duty to quickly debunk some of the common myths perpetuated by this kind of publication.

1.    A good date involves a chick flick and vanilla scented candles.
That sounds like an endurance test, not a date. I actually hate watching chick flicks. I'd prefer beer, cartoons, and horror movies.

2.    All females like a romantic dinner.
A thrifty female balks at the unnecessary expense that comes with an implied "romantic dinner". Also, doesn't this type of dinner make dating awkward for "first dates"? Thrift females are casual.

3.    Females like "Chick Shows" and "Chick Music".
The book goes into a "Chick Pop Culture Crash Course". I'm actually not familiar with anything listed. I've never seen "When Harry Met Sally", "Friends", "Pretty in Pink", "Ally McBeal", or even heard of "Lilith Fair". Can’t we just watch Batman: The Animated Series or Ren & Stimpy?

4.    All females like sparkly things.
A thrift female doesn't like fancy jewelry. Some females would prefer something you made as a gift, or even some batman comic books. Most of all, a thrift female merely desires your company. Really.

5.    All women are subconsciously planning their weddings.
Huge elaborate weddings are an obscene waste of money in the eyes of a thrift female. Even as someone who's worked as a wedding photographer I can't see myself having a wedding. It's money better spent elsewhere and I honestly think weddings are boring. I can't be the only one!

I hope I've never unintentionally looked this flirtatiously at any man alive. If I have, I apologize.

It's not quite fair for me to judge this book as I'm not only a thrifty female but I not a "woman". I do not mentally think of myself as a woman, female certainly, but definitely not a "woman"! What do my fellow thrift females think about the general perception of females in books like Women: Maxim's Unauthorized Guide?

I also ranted about this fun little book over on my personal blog Van's Story Time.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Whale of a Sale Thrift Event

Despite being painfully ill with a cold this weekend, I impulsively drove downtown to take a look at the Whale of a Sale charity "Thrift" event.

Due to mulling over whether I should brave downtown alone (I loathe driving downtown) on a cold and rainy day, I didn't arrive until about noon. I'm sure "the good stuff" was picked over. But I did go home with three good books at $1.50 total.

I didn't find much, but the fun whale signs and thrifty discovery had me driving toward the next thrift destination with a smile on my face.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Thrift hunt for Comics and Toys

These pictures are from February 20, 2010. I really wanted to go back to the "Bargain House of Fleas" Flea Market again this weekend but my cold just wouldn't allow me. Quite disappointing, because the regular Toy Vendor promised me some good "Rare" and "Funny" toys for some art pieces I'm making.

Look at all of these gorgeous toys, I wonder what this guy's house looks like! He's got to have the biggest toy collection in Jacksonville, he has new toys every time I visit the flea market!
This was set up by another vendor. Remember these? The bright orange car looks like my favorite hot wheels car from childhood.

This fun vintage game set up among cartons and cartons of comic books.
The toy vendor let me have this Crash Dummies brand toy for free! The back encourages you to run over dogs and cats? It's a very strange toy, still in its packaging!
The sign on this van promises me Adult Material. The interior was "groovy" with shag carpet. I didn't ask about the "Adult Material". I don't think I want to know, I really don't...
More toys inside a cloudy old case.

Comics! Flea Markets have some of the best comics at the best price.

I like the dynamic poses here, fun and exagerated with loads of primary colors.

In the end I came home with a few toys, three rare comics and a book of Aztec art. I'll hopefully make it back this upcoming weekend to peer through more toys, comics, and random goodies.

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