The Average Girl's "How To" Guide

Advice on how to live a well-balanced lifestyle

Category: Being Thrifty

How To: Display Instagram Photos

by Rachel

I LOVE Instagram. I have recently been printing a lot of my Instagram photos because they look so great and I want to show them off. I got on trusty Pinterest, found an idea and had incredible Pinterest success with it.


Its a 12×12 canvas that I glued 9 Instagram photos (4×4) so they fit perfectly. Be sure you have a canvas with dimensions that are multiples of 4, layout your photos first and use Mod Podge glue (or something similar).

An Instagram photo is worth a thousand words

How To: Get Rid Of Stale Bread

by Shannon

Dude, just make garlic bread with that shit!

Just cut up your delicious loaf of stale baguette, throw some butter on there, cover in cheese and garlic powder, stick it in the oven on broil, and go to town.

You won’t be sorry.

How To: Dirty Less Dishes

by Rachel

One bowl, 3 meals.

Cereal for breakfast.
Rinse bowl.
Cereal bowl becomes lunch soup bowl.
Rinse bowl.
Soup bowl becomes dinner stir fry/pasta bowl.

Also works with plates.

Less dishes, less dishwashing, more energy saved.

How To: Fix Bulbs on Ceramic Christmas Trees

by Rachel

This is a pretty specific how to. I mostly just want to talk about this amazing ceramic Christmas tree I found at Value Village. As you can see below, there’s a few bulbs missing:


I almost didn’t buy it because of this. One of my rules, of course, is to not buy broken crap at thrift stores. But my brain exercises seem to be working because as I put it back on the shelf I figured out the solution:

Marbles! This is like, my husbands level of problem solving that I have only now reached for the first time.
I hot glued marbles where the missing bulbs were and it is virtually unnoticeable.


What up!

How To: Decorate for the Holidays…

by Rachel

Without spending a lot of money and collecting more STUFF!

During the holidays, it is sooooo hard not to buy a bunch of crap for ourselves. We are already spending enough money on gifts and getting enough stuff as gifts, so why spend more money and get more stuff just to decorate the house?
Here are a few ways I have added some holiday decorations from nature, garbage and a few things I already had.

Things you need:
-an old pallet (often found on curbs and near dumpsters)
-paint and stencils (unless you are a master painter you can freehand)
-a handy person to build the base
And you get this awesome, pretty much free tree. Quote optional. Inspiration from


Things you need:
-green books
This is a pinterest find. You can pile green books and put pinecones or a star topper for a book tree. Or just pile green and red books together with a pinecone topper.


Things you need:
-soup tins of various sizes
-metallic spray paints (and primer!)
-piece of barn board as base
-dogwood and greenery from nature
Another pinterest gem. Prime and paint the cans and stick them on the board. Once we get a tree I will add greenery to the dogwood and a few more Christmas ornaments and I have a holiday centerpiece!


Things you need:
-existing vases
No explanation needed.


Things you need:
-old jar
-fake tree
-fabric scraps
-glitter that doesn’t float
This is a craft from Shannon’s wedding, a homemade snow globe! Glue the tree onto the lid, put water and glitter in the jar, glue and screw the lid and add your fabric. So easy and cheap.


Things you need:
-old and new Christmas cards
-photo holders (wooden ones are from Shannon’s wedding!)
Just put ’em on display.
Easy as pie… And ginger cookies, and Christmas pudding, and fruitcake…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

How To: Make Old Shoes Feel New Again

by Rachel

I am a terrible DIY’er in the sense that I ALWAYS forget to take a before picture.
Imagine a pair of gold metallic heels. They were great the first time I wore them, still good for going to the bar, but have since gotten so scuffed up I didn’t like to wear them anymore. So, I bedazzled with a bit of glue, glitter and glaze: the 3 gl’s.
Step 1: Use a paint brush to spread your glue
Step 2: Pour copious amounts of glitter on. Make sure you have a large piece of paper or magazine under so its easy cleanup. Lightly tap stray glitter so it sticks.
Step 3: Get a brush on glaze to put a shiny coat over top and to help prevent a glitter trail everywhere you go.

Just in time for holidays I have some new beautiful glittered heels!


Glitter is my favourite colour

How To: Make That Thrift Store Furniture Look Good!

by Rachel

I have a couple of examples of how I’ve made ugly outdated stuff look pretty good!


The Green Desk:

In college I traded an old crappy Ikea desk for this one. Now the legs were wobbly and it had been stained (over glossy veneer so it was very streaky and globby). When we moved to our house it was in the garage for almost a year when I realized I need a make up table! I stripped the paint (easy to do with paint stripper and scraper). The legs had been lost but I got new ones and some mounts at Home Depot and screwed them on. I bought glossy paint with primer in it so that eliminates a step and works well! Then, I just used a craft glaze for the surface which makes it nice and hard and gets rid of the tackiness. And Voila! I have a stellar new make up table.

The Blue Media Centre:

I went through a similar process with this one. No stripping involved but I just gave it a good wash (since I found it on the side of the road!) and a light sanding. I got the same glossy primer and paint in one paint and painted away! My husband cut a shelf to fit flat in place of the top drawer for out pvr and dvd player and I just had to buy new hardware, which is extremely easy to replace. This was my first major furniture project and It is one of my favourite pieces!

Blue Chair:

With a simple chair like this it is very easy to update. The seat just popped out of the frame. With a seat like this you just wrap it like a present with new fabric and staple the heck out of it. I put some baking soda and lavender linen spray just to help get rid of any thrift store smell before wrapping. This one I did need some help from my husband because it was a bit wobbly. Just needed some extra glue and screws. I gave it a good sand, then used spray primer and spray paint since it wasn’t such a big project.

As long as you have some time and motivation, you can customize any old piece of furniture for a one of a kind piece to suit your style!

I like smiling… smiling’s my favourite

How To: Thrift Shop – Furniture Edition

by Rachel

Last one! I think with this last post on thrifting, it should cover everything.

Furniture. It’s expensive as heck, and when you are buying a new house and starting fresh (as I did just over a year ago), you can’t really afford to go to a furniture store and buy all your stuff. 60% of the furniture in my house has been thrifted, and the rest has been given to me by family members. I have never bought and paid for something brand new (not too shabby!) but I think my house looks pretty darn good! So, when I am shopping for furniture, this is what I look for,

  • Things made solidly out of wood. Not plywood covered in a veneer. If it’s real wood it will be good and sturdy.
  • If it is real wood, and covered in veneer but it looks pretty good, look around the feet of the furniture, and there is usually a lot of chips, just make sure it’s nothing that’s going to bother you in future. Sometimes, keep in mind, you can take the veneer off then finish the wood underneath
  • There’s a lot of ugly stuff out there, but with a little imagination you can turn it into something awesome. Similar to chotchkies, if it has a cool shape but hideous colour or finish, you can refurbish it. All you might need is some paint/stain stripper and some new paint or stain! I often paint my furniture bright colours, always use a high gloss paint and try to find a nice glaze finish so it isn’t tacky. I also like to paint the inside of some furniture pieces too, so if it looks like crap on the inside, keep that in mind!
  • Knobs and pulls are REEEAAAALLLLY easy to switch out, and affordable. Always keep this in mind.
  • Don’t buy IKEA furniture second hand… its just not good enough quality.
  • Remember that Home Depot and stores like it sell legs and mounts for furniture and castors among other things. If you find something but it doesn’t have legs like you want, or the legs/castors are broken, you can buy them separately and add them yourself. Totally worth it.

It also helps if you’re husband used to work for his brothers furniture shop and knows a nice piece of furniture when he see’s one… but it’s not necessary.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s around to hear it… cut it up, take it home, and make some furniture!

How To: Thrift Shop – Clothing Edition

by Rachel

With clothes shopping at the thrift store, you don’t have as much of a risk getting too much crap like chotchkies. Clothes have to fit and still look good before buying them, which plenty of the clothes at thrift stores don’t. This does make it a bit trickier to find good stuff because you have to be patient and really dig deep sometimes. Here’s some things that help me out with clothes and accessory thrifting:

  • You gotta be in the mood. Wait until that day where you don’t have much to do and a whole bunch of time on your hands. When the phrase “I feel like thrift shopping” enters your head, then you know it’s time.
  • You MUST try things on. These clothes have been used and washed and dried many times… a 32 length might not be a 32 length anymore.
  • When looking at pants, check the area’s that are commonly worn out. Namely, the hems at the bottom, knee’s and between the thighs (ladies you know what I’m talking about).
  • Make sure zippers work/stay up/stay closed! Same with buttons.
  • For shirts, I go straight for the armpits.. nothing worse than pit stains that aren’t even yours!
  • Generally, in all pieces, look for pilling, thinning, rips, tears, and stains. If you are lucky, you might be able to get a stain out, but don’t always count on it.
  • For the love of Peter, Paul and Mary… stay away from the underwear! Ultimately it’s up to you, but that’s nasty!
  • If you find an amazing pair of pants where your butt looks good, but the length isn’t right, either get them hemmed if too long or roll them up for summer if they are too short. I have a short pair that I roll up and wear with heels or sandals in summer, or wear them only with high boots in the winter. They are one of my fave pairs!
  • Have an open mind… if there’s a sweet blazer, but it has huge shoulder pads, be willing to take them out and sew it back up. Ugly buttons can easily be replaced. Seemingly ugly skirts and dresses can be saved by a cool modern belt or cardigan. You just need a little imagination.
  • When you get home, wash your thrifty finds in hot water. After they are dried, smell them to make sure the thrift store smell is GONE! I tried wearing a dress from a thrift store that I had washed already, but kept getting thrift store whiffs… gross.
  • And ultimately, If it doesn’t fit, don’t buy it, even if it is only $2.99.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant

How To: Thrift shop – Chotchkie/Home Decor Edition

by Rachel

I love to decorate. I love to style pretty much all surfaces (vertical and horizontal) of my home. I do not have a lot of money (I do not love that), but I get by with my well developed thrifting skills. It took me some time, and a lot of patience, but it has now come to be a bi-weekly, if not weekly, occurrence for me. It’s cheap, and it’s great for the environment because you aren’t buying new crap, just reusing someone else’s old crap.

However, everything is so cheap that it is reallllllly hard not to go overboard. Here are a few ways that I avoid buying too much shit.

  • If you see something you think you might like but aren’t sure, leave it on the shelf. Let fate decide! And sometimes, by the end of your shopping trip you will have forgotten about it, meaning you probably didn’t want it that bad anyways.
  • Look for chips, cracks or any unnatural imperfections that will definitely annoy you. Some people have a hard time throwing stuff out, so they just give broken stuff to thrift stores. If I see any of that, it goes right back on the shelf (same goes if you are looking for dishes). Would you buy something broken at a regular store? No. My only personal exception is unless it is absolutely the coolest, one of a kind thing and you don’t think you will ever find another.
  • Try to picture where you will put the piece. This may help you decide if you want to buy it. Another option, buy it regardless because it is probably pretty cheap! If you can’t find a spot, gift it to a friend so you can enjoy it at their place. Or, just send it back to the store on your next drop off!
  • Similar to the above, try to give anything you buy a purpose. If it’s just a random little dish that strikes your fancy, use it as a soapdish or ashtray. If you find a cool pitcher but don’t even use pitchers, use it as a vase! Found an awesome bowl that’s too small for baking, but too oddly shaped for soup? Use it as a catchall at the front door. That really rad plant pot can be used as a garbage bin if you don’t have a green thumb. If you can’t think of a use… leave it. It’s a good tactic to avoid getting too much junk.
  • Lastly, perhaps the most important and most freeing is if you bring something in, take something out. This allows you to buy as much as you want… as long as you get rid of an equal amount of other things in your house to make room!

Another issue is not finding ENOUGH cool things, so here are some tips for the opposite problem

  • Go in knowing that you MIGHT not find anything at all… it’s just a risk you have to take when thrifting.
  • If you like the shape of something but hate the colours, I have two words for you: SPRAY PAINT! Don’t give up on a cool piece just because it’s ugly. You can paint almost anything black or white and it will look tres chic.
  • Brass and silver is very easy to polish.. there are tons of cool trays and figurines in these materials.
  • When it comes to art and picture frames, try to look at them separately instead of together. Sometimes, there is a really great art piece hidden by a hideous frame, or a really great frame that looks like crap because of the art… And again, if you love the shape but hate the colour or texture… SPRAY PAINT!
  • Same goes for lamps… found a cool lamp but not sure about the shade? Picture it with a cool modern shade.

General Thrifting Tips

  • Always take a basket. If you see something you really like, GRAB IT! If it’s so cool it stood out for you, it will for someone else too and it might be gone before you are even done at the store.
  • Think to yourself, “if I leave this, am I going to think about it later and then come back tomorrow for it?”. If the answer is probably yes, just go for it!
  • If you do miss out on something you really like it, always remember that of all the thrift stores in all of your town (and maybe surrounding towns) + the incredible turnover of items you will either find it again or find something you like even better!
  • Find out what days your store gets shipments, and when they put out new merchandise… first dibs!

It’s important to remember you want your home to look nicely decorated, not like your opening up your own thrift store.

It’s not a good deal if you don’t need it -Harvey’s Mom

(sometimes I disagree… most of the time I disagree…)

%d bloggers like this: