Rescued Linens...Stray Papers...Inspiring Fragments


More Illuminated Fragments


Re~Inventing the Ordinary !

I have long been a collector and re~inventor of old things...

in fact, in my first book, Frugal Luxuries (Bantam, 1997)

I wrote much about my passion for...

Old Linens

I have a passion for vintage linens, handkerchiefs, aprons, tablecloths, curtains, and any pieces of quality handwork, like lace crocheting, and embroidery. I scour tag sales and flew markets for beautiful vintage pieces, then recycle in practical and lovely ways.

  • Fabric scraps or samples from discontinued fabrics can easily be transformed into small throw pillows or simple sachets to scent lingerie drawers. All that is needed is simple stitch or, even a glue gun or fabric glue!

And... in it's companion volume,

Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons
(Bantam, 2000)

I write about the many ways

I have re~purposed stray papers...

  • Create dust jackets for tattered yet beloved books...or simply to unify the look of your book shelf
  • Use larger pieces to line the walls behind bookshelves and china cabinets, or to line the walls of ordinary closets to make the extraordinary. You needn't apply it in the traditional manner when using it in this fashion. Simply purchase double stick tape at your hardware store, applying it only to the edges of the cut~to~shape paper. You may also find it's pretty when used as shelf and drawer liners. [Or simply use a glue stick.]
  • Use vintage~looking pieces of paper to use for covering hatboxes or recycling shoe boxes, cigar boxes and the like. Use these for storage or save them in your gift pantry to use as whimsical packaging for gifts.

But what I'd really like to know is...

How do YOU re~invent the ordinary??

As always, I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to hear YOUR IDEAS!!


Tracey xox


Dana and Daisy said...

I would love to see you publish a book with beautiful photos of your collections Tracey!

This is not a pretty re-invention, but boy is it clever and works too! (I saw it on MS quite a few years ago). Take a plastic jug, such as milk or juice comes in, wash it, cut the bottom of the jug off, at an angle if possible. Use it as both a scoop and a funnel for things like filling bird feeders! Using the lid on the bottom will let you take an ample amount from garage to outdoors and then just pop the lid off and the jug becomes a funnel! Having the handle is really nice, too!

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

Thank you Dana!! I never thought to do a book like that, something to think about! :)

I loved your post on the art gallery and the 52 things. I think I'm going to borrow your idea but adapt it to become 12 things. Once a month instead of once a week is probably more realistic for me! LOL


P.S. I love your idea of making a feeder / garden scoop from re~purposed plastic milk cartons!! When I taught pre~school (years and years ago, before I had children) we made similar scoops and the children used them as toys in the sand box and the water table1 They loved them!!

Cinnamon said...

I use baskets, a lot of dark colored baskets to hide and hold things. They look uniform and neat and tidy but can hold anything depending on the size. It makes clutter and ugly ordinary things you use everyday (like the tv remote, magazines, books, bathroom products etc) organized and neat and tidy looking. It works for me!

I think I might use dust covers for all of my books by covering them all with brown paper from grocery store bags? It would be just like when I was in school! Good idea.

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

Cinnamon, I love, love, love the idea of unifying all your books by re~purposing brown paper grocery bags!! I've been wanting to cover my extensive, very diverse, collection of books for a while now, but just haven't gotten the motivation to do so. Maybe I'll borrow your grocery bag idea and begin! When I run out of paper I'll stop...knowing that there will always be more brown bags arriving shortly!! That will help me to break the job into smaller bites (not so overwhelming).
Thanks so much for sharing.

P.S. Also LOVE the basket ideas!! Especially for the remotes...we're always losing ours inside the couch cushions.

Dana and Daisy said...

oh yes, the scoops also work nicely for the potting shed!

Thank you for reading and complimenting my post. It was fun to see my friend's art.

now I have no supernatural powers about the 52 things. I simply expect that not all new ideas will "stick". But I intend to change as many habits as I can, and not all are dietary, so that helps. My health, while still good, is becoming a concern to me. I need to take better care of myself. I have never been focused on that! good luck on your 12!

Dana and Daisy said...

oh and Tracey and Cinnamon, (i love that name) I have used rolls of wrapping paper to cover books. Look for manly patterns like leather for a sophisticated library look or even just white glossy if you like a light and breezy look to your rooms. And you can use labels through your ink-jet printer to put the titles and authors on the spines. Look for ones with red outlines for a librarian style look!

Of course brown paper works too!

Oh that reminds me, a gardener I know who sells flowers at farmer's market told me he plants all his flowers in raised beds, and there is no digging required. You simply cover the earth with several sheets of newspaper or brown paper bags, and put your new topsoil over that and plant. The paper will keep the grass and weeds from coming up through the new soil! how's that for recylcing papermand saving your back muscles too!

Christy said...

Though not my idea, I do benefit from this one... My Dad is a serious coffee drinker. The plastic cannisters that his brand come in are stackable, stury and have handles. Once empty, he cleans them out and removes the labels. When my little toddler goes to Papa's for a visit, he can't get enough of the big "block" with handles! Such a simple thing, but it gives my boy oodles of fun!!

PS Love your post! Glad I found your blog. :)

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

My pleasure Dana, they were really lovely works. I know what you mean about shifting the focus onto health. For years I baked and ate all that I baked and my figure paid the price. The other side effects were that I felt uncomfortable and tired all the time. I decided to cut all bread and sugar out of my diet completely (it took a few years to get un~addicted) and I started to focus on eating real foods, not fast foods. Once I started researching about what was in a lot of those foods it just really made them unappetizing in my mind, so that helped. I just abandoned the concept that I would lose weight, but did it for health only. The bonus was that the weight slowly has been sliding off and I've lost about 15 pounds over the past two years by just eating healthy. I am thinking once you really begin to focus on your health everything will just fall into place. I truly believe that shifting my focus from being "skinny" to being healthy was pivotal. Today I eat a LOT of vegetables (someone once told me no one ever got fat eating vegetables and it stuck with me :) and eggs are my primary protein. Mike still likes his beef so I've switched to a local supplier where the beef is locally grown, grass fed and humanely treated. It's more expensive but he gets less of it (about once or twice a week). I always try to give us something fresh/alive with each meal, even if it's just sliced cucumbers, carrots, celery, tomatoes, orange slices, apples and the like. Now that my eating habits are under control I will focus more on exercise!!! (The E word.) Sorry this is so long, just thought I'd give you some food for thought!! (Pun intended.) I do digress. :) Thanks so much for the notes and the tips on the habit changing!! I like your thinking...playing the odds! LOL so smart. Have a nice night!!

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

Fantastic ideas Dana, using wrapping paper to cover books! There's probably still a lot of after Christmas bargains out there now too!! Maybe I'll mix it up a little bit.

Wow! Fantastic suggestions for the raised bed!!! We are pulling out all of our flowers and the like from our raised beds in the back and now I know how to keep the little roots we will inevitably miss from interfering with our vegetables!!

I really appreciate all the great useful!!

Tracey x0x

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

Christy, what a great idea! Those plastic coffee canisters are useful in so many ways! Like you, I have my dad save his Folger's coffee canisters but my kids are almost all grown, so I use them to hold extra wall paint for easy access when I need to touch up walls. (I just pour the paint into them from straight from the pans.) The canister seals nicely and this keeps the paint from drying out.

Thanks so much for the great ideas!


Storybook Woods said...

Well nobody does is better then you sweetie, you are the brilliant queen of it all. I would answer your question, but you already know my answer xoxoxox Clarice

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

Well, I don't know Clarice, I just came from your enchanted blog and now I want to make vanilla sugar...and I don't even eat much sugar!! Plus, your little beverage center is such a lovely frugal luxury!!

Bettyann said...

I am going to be a new grandma in May and hve been repurposing sweaters from Salvation Army for blocks, and even made a baby pink cashmere on the hunt for old wool relatives are locking their doors as I write your ideas and you should do another were ahead of your time with your previous books..time is right for more frugal luxuries for the 21 century..

Loui said...

I have three feline furbabies who love curling up in my robe, sweats etc..
I use my old Tees and sweatshirts for their bedding pillow cases..
easy to keep clean.
When I'm ready to toss my old fleece robe, I wash it, cut it up to make a new cover for their bedding mattresses..
They are familiar with the feel as I've had to reclaim it many times over.. But they know MaMa rules!!
warm hugs, laughing smiles..

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

Bettyann, you just paid me a most wonderful compliment, thank you so very much. I appreciate the good words and kind thoughts behind behind them. Changing the subject, I have to tell you I adore your pink cashmere sweater idea and the blocks are simply clever...I never thought to make soft blocks from old sweaters...I bet they are adorable. Thank you again for the encouraging and supportive note.

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

Hi Loui,
Your furbabies sound as if they have a wonderful life! What a clever idea to recycle your old tees and fleece~y robes for their pillows and bedding. What a great way to re purpose items you would normally have thrown out...and the bonus is your furbabies derive extra comfort from items they know once belonged to you.
Thanks so much for sharing this great idea with us!

Pondside said...

Hi Tracey
I'm not very creative at all, so I love to read about your ideas for repurposing. I like old bits of china, so my pen holder is an old blue willow chocolate pot - I use tool boxes as planters, as well as a coal scuttle and any other old thing that would add interest to the garden.

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

Good Morning Pondy!

Perhaps you are more creative than you believe, because these ideas are all so very clever as well as useful! I can almost see the old blue willow chocolate pot on your desk, holding favorite pens for easy access. As for your garden, you've inspired me to add tool boxes and the like to my yard sale/thrifting list!! Thank you so very much for sharing.


P.S. What a wonderful post regarding your Parallel Universe(s)~~so thought provoking as always.

The original "FRUGAL LUXURIES" ~ Based on the books by Tracey McBride ~ Established 1993

A warm Thank You to all kind souls and kindred spirits who generously take the time to leave a comment...your encouragement, trust and support are deeply appreciated...please know that we read each and every message and will respond as time allows.


Frugal Luxuries
is a registered trademark.


"FRUGAL LUXURIES: Simple Pleasures to Enhance Your Life and Comfort Your Soul" was written by Tracey McBride and published by Bantam Books, NY, in 1997. It was the first of its genre to synergize the elements of simplicity, frugality and gracious living.

After more than a decade, FRUGAL LUXURIES has never been out of print and is now more relevant than ever.

"It's our hope that a new generation, faced with a teetering economy, will also find this information helpful and enlightening."

Sending Good Thought to Our Special Band of Kind and Kindred Souls!

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