Cheap household decor and toys. Thriving on a smaller budget.

I’m at it again with rearranging, purging, and finding ways to charm up the place. For those of you who are new I had gotten rid of almost all my old living room furniture. It was too big and bulky for this smaller living room. I was able to pass it along to other families and therefore repurpose. Then I found that flowery chair for free. It was clean and gently used besides a cat that had it’s way with it in the back so I received a $1,200 chair for free. The couch (you can’t see but the back of it) is an almost new pillow top couch for $125. It was a $450 couch on Wayfair. The people had it in their guest cabin. All Craigslist.

I dragged the garden bench back inside and put all my weak looking plants on it in the window. I call it sick bay. This house is a bit dark and some of my plants are struggling. I noticed the same plants at the Chiropractors office and they were huge and lush. They were all near the window.

We pick up ideas everywhere; the doctors office, a magazine, a visit to someone’s house that has a touch with making things charming.

Now all I need is a red couch cover and we are in business.

Little Miss and I were talking as I hung clothes on the line and she wanted to play with my dollhouse. I had it out at one time but she and Sam were destroying all of my precious dollhouse toys. I packed it up. I realized she needed her own dollhouse. Every girl needs a dollhouse. I began searching on Craigslist and found, what looked like in the photo, to be a small dollhouse for $25. Bali picked it up after a trip to the hardware store. I choked when he put it on the porch.

It’s huge! She can live in it! Kid Kraft dollhouses are over $200 new. Over time we can collect and create furniture and decor for her casa. She loves it and it’s the first thing she sees in the morning.

I have spent $150 total to redecorate my living room and Little Miss’s room. And the free things we have been finding! It seems everyone, including me, are putting out free items on the streets these days. When I walk with the kids we find fun things. One day Arjan and I found books for all of us. I have 3 little children’s books, a romance novel for me, and Guiness Records for Arjan. Then when all of us were strolling we found two pink, cotton pillow cases almost new and two nice linen Halloween napkins with embroidered pumpkins and cats.

Bali found a simple pergola for shade in the back yard and a long, sturdy, plastic table for the front porch. I threw a checkered cloth on it and we have candle light pizza dinners out there with the neighbors on Saturday night. I’ll share a photo of that soon.

The budget is different. I don’t know that it’s smaller. I lost a few sources of income but it’s made up for in other areas.

With more time freed up I can search for fun things on Craigslist and the kids and I love, love, love walking all over our charming village and the trails are just amazing.

I was able to get Little Miss in Head Start preschool. I’m excited for her to make new little friends and all the learning and playing. Her mother can go to her school and be with her as well. The boys school is not opening up for classes at this time so I enrolled them in their forest school two days a week. I’m excited for all of them and for myself, of course!

Our social life is flourishing here. Molly and I meet middle aged women with small dogs on our walks and chat and sniff (she sniffs, I chat…if that wasn’t clear). The neighbor up the road brings her small mutts and joins us on the porch Saturday nights for pizza and singing by candlelight (she sings, I make strange sounds). The boys have friends we meet with to go on long walks (I’ve put these off for a bit with the heat, I melt even in the forest shade). I talk with my neighbors and we share personal issues already. Even a quarantine couldn’t prevent the bonding we have over our fences. The lady in the back tied a blue bucket to the fence post for throwing over the fence when she or I had produce or goods to share. She fills it with eggplant since mine never produced and I put green beans or homemade oat milk.

The more we get off the computer and into our lives and the people around us, the more delightful life becomes.

And one more thing. I took Molly for our walk tonight before finishing this blog. We took a different street and passed an old victorian house. I think a single woman lives there and has her grandchildren at times because there was a little pink bike. Anyway, the place is a bit run down and peeling paint, but she has planted so many little vegetable patches, flowers, plants, trees, and such that it looks loved. She uses old buckets and boxes. I saw in her home as it was dark and her lights let me peek in. She had so many full, green plants.

It comes down to how to love what you have and make do. You can be piss ant poor (saying my mother had, never totally got it) and still have charm, coziness, happiness. It is truly amazing at how much is truly free in this life. Even living where you want. Say you live in a city and want the country. You can do it. You can find a farm or forest. You may have to move out of state or wait for a market crash…but it can happen.

I made so many plants from one plant I’ve had 20 some years. I’m making more plants now! You can learn to make rag rugs from all the clothes you’d normally give away. You could furnish your whole house from things off the street, out of the trash, on Craigslist. Ugly stuff can be scrubbed, painted, sanded down. Pinterest is great for getting ideas. You can make furniture out of pallets, paint old office furniture bright colors and repurpose. The sky is the limit.

Alright, I must get some sleep. I am always eager for the mornings, my first fresh cup of coffee and a little writing time before anyone wakes up.

Also, my ebook on Amazon The Homemade Housewife is free for a few days!!


  1. Absolutely love Little Miss bedding. When I went to Cali last year I saw so much on the curbs for free. So happy for you and your family. I can feel the happiness in your writing. If everyone would just slow down and enjoy each other instead of the craziness. Have a blessed day.


  2. Your living room and Little Miss’s room look cozy. You did a good job with decorating. I had a doll house when I was little. It was in the early 1960s. It came with one battery-operated lamp that you could turn on and off. I played with that house all the time, it was one of my most favorite toys. I’m sure Little Miss is lovin’ hers.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh wow! I love the way your living room looks. That white bench with plants by the iwndow is perfect. Little Miss will have loads of fun with that doll house, it is every girls dream. . I can just imagine Sam and her cooking together. You are all so fortunate to find treasures on your walks, I have lived in the same house for 20 years and never “found” a single thing. LOL!!! No one does it, but we do put out items that we do not need any more and it is gone by the morning. Anyway, stay cool, have fun, take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your home looks so pretty and colorful! I love the dollhouse. You find the best deals. You are doing a wonderful job with Little Miss. Thank you for the book!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh wow! I love the way your living room looks. That white bench with plants by the window is perfect. Little Miss will have loads of fun with that doll house, it is every girls dream. . I can just imagine Sam and her cooking together. You are all so fortunate to find treasures on your walks, I have lived in the same house for 20 years and never “found” a single thing. LOL!!! No one does it, but we do put out items that we do not need any more and it is gone by the morning. Anyway, stay cool, have fun, take care.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you for the free book read, but I went ahead and purchased the paperback. I am so thrilled that you continued writing and sharing. Your writing is insightful and flows smoothly. Also, I am digging your humor. This was so funny “Molly and I meet middle-aged women with small dogs on our walks and chat and sniff (she sniffs, I chat…if that wasn’t clear).” It’s the same experience that I have walking my Chihuahua mix. Yes, girls love dollhouses and that’s a nice house. Great job, Bali. Your home is so lovely and cheerful. It sounds like you are in a more peaceful place. You made the right move. A pox on social media. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, Kate, I just love your cozy living room and Little Miss has such a cute bedroom! That flower afghan on her bed and her quilt are beautiful! What an awesome doll house, great find! It makes my heart happy that you are so happy. You truly are an inspiration. I’m glad you were able to get all of the kiddos enrolled in some type of schooling so they can have some interaction with other kids and Mama can get a little break! Thank you for sharing little pieces of your life with us! Peace and God bless! πŸ’œπŸŒΌπŸ’œ

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  8. I have happy memories of making doll furniture with my mom out of popsicle sticks, cardboard and toothpicks. We used whatever paint we had (now you can get nice paint and other supplies at the dollar store). We made people from the old round clothespins with yarn for hair, cloth scraps for clothes, and painting faces with markers. I still find myself always imagining things I can make for a dollhouse from everyday items – bottle caps, scraps of fabric, pieces of yarn, etc. I think even the boys would like it because once you start the ideas are endless. Just google ‘homemade doll house furniture” and get so many ideas. Your home looks so cozy like a happy family lives there. I like that you put the darker curtains in the livingroom to frame the window. It makes me want to sit there and look outside at nature.

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  9. I watched Peaceful Warrior today after reading how much you enjoyed it. I don’t think I will ever make an excuse for not getting in shape or losing weight again. I’m grateful that you mentioned it and how powerful you found it.

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  10. Kate, I just love being able to open one of your posts again with pictures of your lovely home, and seeing how you decorate and re-arrange.

    That doll house is something that Little Miss will always remember and treasure ! She may even keep it for her own little girl. You are giving her not only security but wonderful memories for life. Her bedroom decor, with all the pink, and pretty flowers is just how I would create a little girl’s bedroom.

    I think all the children will flourish at school, and really enjoy their home life because of you and Bali.

    Thank you again for welcoming us back into your interesting and peaceful life !

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Your living room looks great! Little Miss is so lucky to have you and your family. That dollhouse is so cute! She will spend hours playing with it. Seeing pictures of your house always makes me happy. Sounds like you are making friends in your new neighborhood which is a good thing. The kiddos going back to school a few days a week will be good for you and them. I’m glad things are going so well. Woo hoo! Peace and blessings!

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  12. Thank you so much for the book Kate, I don’t really get much chance of buying a treat for myself as I feed twenty feral cats everyday. ❀️❀️❀️

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I really love how your living room looks . You were so right to get rid of all that huge furniture that did not fit. It looks so warm and inviting now. Such a pretty room !!! You really have a knack for putting things you find together and making a lovely space.
    David and I are talking of where we want to move once we get this house done and his surgery and healing behind us. Your move has really inspired me to find a place that is our bliss. Rent this house out and find where we plan to retire. Your move is a real wake up call to find where we want to be. We are going to really be looking around and thinking about it !!
    Good lord, that doll house is amazing !!! What a find !! Any little girls dream for sure !! Lucky girl !!! Our youngest grandaughter turns 3 tomorrow, such a precious age.
    Your life sounds quite dreamy and I am so very happy for you !! New neighbors, friends, confidants and even sharing your harvest back and forth. That is awesome !!
    You dreamed it, you did it !! Pretty cool !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow what a great find on that dollhouse, what little girl wouldn’t love to play with that? I’m sure that will give her hours of fun times!! Also Thank You for the free book off Amazon, going to dig into it tonight!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love the dollhouse! I know this is not a ‘politically correct” thing to say, but isn’t it fun doing some little girl stuff?


  16. Thank you Kate for the Generous Gift of your writing , and for giving us one of your books! I downloaded it and I can not wait to read it

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Me too. I helped my d-i-l decorate my granddaughter’s room and we used so much pink that when the sun was shining in her windows there was a pink glow way into the hallway.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. When I get a chance sometime I will need to email you pictures of my house. All our furniture was acquired for free off of either Craigslist or our local Buy Nothing Project group. I got all the paint for my house for free also because one of my clients owns a cleaning and painting biz and she gave me all of her old partially used buckets! Yay! So yes. I need to do that. I think it would be fun πŸ™‚


  19. Wasn’t sure this was ‘you’ then I saw the living room colors and said “That’s my girl!” Glad to find you once more and to hear about the boys. I’ve missed you all but fully support what you’re doing and why.


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