Showing posts from January, 2012

Shoestring Spotlight: Artist Ivy Dever of Signs that Ivy Makes

The path of the artist is always rough --and a rotten economy doesn't make it any easier! So, naturally, artists that keep on doing their thing, even when cash flow ain't exactly flowin' truly inspire me, and, one artist that I think is just terrific is Ivy Dever of Somerville, MA. Dever is the fun, free spirit behind Signs that Ivy Makesand she specializes in --you guessed it!-- signs. But her work is far more than just words on wood: beautiful, quizzical, often mysterious, Dever's art truly says something. I recently chatted with Ivy about her work and it was a true delight. Read on and be...inspired!

Free Fun: Still Playing Around with Polyvore!

Hi all! Shoestring Sally here with a heads up to check out the latest sets I've created on Polyvore (just scroll down past the Top Ten posts list). I'm addicted to this site! Many people use it to make magazine-style fashion lay-outs, which is the main concept behind Polyvore, but you can also use it to create collages for the "artistic expression" category. I love it because it's like virtual art class, digital crafts! Of course it is an advertising tool: the materials you use to make your collages are all linked to product-pricing info --but who cares! Polyvore is just plain fun --free fun! And at Shoestring News we love FREE!

Shoestring Review: Kristen Ford Band's "The Grindstone"

Last week I blogged about singer-songwriter Kirsten Opstad's brilliant January 14 appearance at Club Passim in Cambridge, MA, and in that post, I promised to give readers a closer look at Opstad's phenomenal opening act: Kristen Ford, Kara Kulpa and Kirsten Lamb of the Kristen Ford Band. Indeed, the entire Kristen Ford Band is the subject of this post as I give you my two cents on their new CD The Grindstone.
Kristen Ford Band: (Top row, L-R) Kristen Ford - Guitar and vocals, writer/producer; Ariel Bernstien - Drums and vocals; Kirsten Lamb - Upright Bass and vocals. (Bottom row, L-R) Kara Kulpa - Violin and vocals; Curtis Killian - Lead guitar and vocals. (all photos reproduced here courtesy of Kristen Ford)
Lead singer Kristen Ford's iron-strong voice & guitar playing both fuse with and diverge from the band's complex, multi-layered instrumentals in ways that both conform to and thwart one's notions of rock. Kara Kulpa's violin and Kirsten Lamb's uprigh…

BE FASHION...Just My Latest Polyvore Set!


A Few Cents Well Spent: The Worth of Writing Letters

Sure email is free...or is it? You're paying for the phone or the wireless computer. But what about letters? Postcards? I know a few of you out there might be scratching your head at these strange words, but do bear with me. Here at Shoestring News we believe it's okay to pine for that Gucci bag you can't afford, to devote whole posts to clothes and throw pillows and other gew-gaws, and indulge and not judge that which is "superficial" in you --in short to let yourself off the hook for dreaming big and wanting, wanting, wanting! But Shoestring Sally also knows all too well the pain so many of us feel as "Have-nots" forever being inundated by what our culture deems as "Must-Haves" and I urge you, Dearest Shoestringers, to join me on my journey to that land of luxury that is to be found in the simple, the inexpensive, the SUBSTANTIAL. Like, writing letters...a few cents for the stamp, some paper, an envelope...and a heart.

I have other thoughts o…

The Lighter Side of "Re-use Decor"

My regular readers can attest that I always have my eye out for opportunities to give an object new life by turning it into something totally different and I especially love it when people use unconventional materials and techniques to create something distinct and perhaps a little unusual..thus I think these light bulb vases are electric! I'm so in love with this idea, and I wish I could properly attribute the craftsmanship but I found this picture via StumbleUpon and the only info I could unearth was that it came from some anonymous Tumblr. Oh well. They are still fab.

I simply must do this one day. The question is how? For they do look a little like something that you'd pay an arm and a leg for at Anthropologie, rather than whip up yourself at home with a few spare unfrosted bulbs. But either way, I say go for it DIY-ers. Just proceed with caution: you'll need some serious snippety-snips & pliers to manipulate metal and wire. So do your research and safety first!


Inexpensive Inspirations: Embrace Your Inner SSSSSSSSSS: Strength, Sensuality, Sarandon!

Today I salute a woman who excites, inspires, empowers me: The glorious and gorgeous Susan Sarandon. Or rather, I should say I excite, inspire, empower me...for as I always say, "Whenever you put someone else on a pedestal, it's really you trying to climb on up." We are attracted far less to who we think we aren't and far more to who we already are but rarely give ourselves permission to recognize. We just won't give ourselves the credit! And the celebs I love the most  remind me to do that; they make me feel more like me, by making me more aware about my need to get in touch with certain aspects of myself that I wish to cultivate, bring more to the surface, take greater command of: like my own strength, my own sensuality! And Susan Sarandon oozes both in spades --and she always has! She is as alluring now as she was 30 years ago and I think it comes from confidence, and a sense of feeling happy with who she is. One can't help but feel she goes through life t…

Shoestring Review: Singer Kirsten Opstad Conquers Club Passim...Next Stop, the World

I recently ventured to Cambridge, MA to attend the release show of Kirsten Opstad's CD Fear of Swimming at the legendary Club Passim, and it was a performance that kept this usually shy and retiring author swaying, stomping and bopping in her seat. It wasn't on my agenda to write a review of this show but I love to write about the things I love --and I am besotted by Opstad's energetic, original and just straight up damn good music.

Kirsten Opstad's a singer-songwriter with attitude. Disarmingly adorable with wide baby blues, a girlish speaking voice and bouncy blonde curls to round out the picture, Opstad is nevertheless no Pollyanna. Put a guitar in her hand and she's the musical equivalent of Huck Finn with a slingshot: a wild child whose words smack you right between the eyes. Her lyrics aren't exactly your typical take on life, love and the whole damn thing: unexpected turns of phrase, deliciously discordant flourishes and a razor's edge wit make for a…

Vivien Leigh: Silver Dust & Celluloid

Vivien Leigh: Silver Dust & Celluloid by shabbychicstyle on

Here is my latest Polyvore experiment! I think it is my best set to date: a tribute to one of my most beloved fashion & beauty icons, actress Vivien Leigh. You can check out the rest of my Polyvore sets on this blog's sidebar gadget and you can view more of Miss Leigh (plus some of my other favorite stylistas) in my post Inexpensive Inspirations: Find Your Inner Fashion Icon!

"Serenity" for the Shopaholic: A Prayer

The Frugality Prayer ~By Our Sister of Savings, Shoestring Sally~
God grant me the Frugality  to reject the things I do not need,

Coupons to buy the things I do,

and the Wisdom to know the difference.


Home Decor Emergency: Bye-bye Roommate, Bye-Bye Furniture

Scenario: One roommate moves out, taking with her the dining room furniture and the following from the living room: one love seat, 2 end tables and a coffee table.

Challenge 1: Find some way to fill up the empty space in the living room ASAP to balance out the room and make it a more inviting atmosphere for when prospective roommates view the apartment --forget the dining room, balancing the living room a bit is key!

Challenge 2: Find a surface area for my beloved blue hurricane lamp, a keepsake from my grandmother.

Challenge 3: Find a coffee table or reasonable facsimile.

Solution 1 & 2:Dug out a really old, rather beat up wooden table & chair I had stored in the pantry and my bedroom, respectively, slapped some wide scarves on the table for the lamp and slapped a skinny scarf (the very one profiled in my post Inexpensive Inspirations: Pattern Scavenger!) plus a fancy pillow on  the chair (I confess I did splurge on the pillow - Pier 1, $29.95).

       And once again, I find a ne…

Coming Soon Down the Shoestring...

How I dealt with myCODE RED!!!interior decorating emergency!
A peak at some foot-stompin' musicians making it on a shoestring budget!

A chat with super cool artist Ivy Dever!
A look at luxe cosmetics that I think are worth finding room in your budget for and...
what store brands are just as good as their pricier counterparts!
PLUS! My library adventures continue with more Shoestring Reads book reviews!

Another New Year's Resolution: Cook More, Buy Less

Every finance guru under the sun will tell you eating out is one of our greatest economic downfalls --and not necessarily big, fancy dinners, either. Nope, it's all those sandwiches grabbed at the shop by your work, the fast food stops, the take outs, etc. So since my vacation, I have been endeavoring to cook more & buy less take-outs, coffees & other miscellaneous nibbles. I started the week cooking my old standby of roast chicken with carrots and potatoes, which I got several meals out of. But tonight I decided to mix things up a little & try throwing together something new, sans recipe, and it tasted great!

My first "Shoestring Culinary Experiment": strips of skinless chicken thighs (3) in a pesto-based marinade (with a lil of this & a lil of that from my spice rack added in) served with veggie pasta, and, for added color and a tangy kick,  grape tomatoes and coarsely chopped baby spinach & arugula (tomatoes & greens thrown in last minute so as…

Soul Spending: I've always had the power???

I am a firm believer that when an item calls to you, I mean really shouts, "You are meant to have this!" to follow that call and buy it. Of course I mean this in good reason; if you're on food stamps you have no business buying a Gucci purse or putting that yacht down payment on Visa! But those little luxuries you can fit into your budget, YES. And this past week, I could not help myself from nabbing this sparkly red cuff bracelet:

It was cheap at less than $8 on a 50% off table of unsold Christmas-themed merchandise & is only little red crystals (probably plastic) set into a plastic cuff but oh how it glimmers and twinkles! The above photographs don't do it justice. This is not something I would normally buy. I have big hands that I'm rather self-conscious of and rarely find slide-on bracelets that fit. I would also normally pick a more neutral color and, indeed, I instinctively grabbed the silver & gold varieties at first to try on --but there was this b…

The Spectres of Ossie Clark

The Spectres of Ossie Clark by shabbychicstyle on

I'm also a member of the fashion/creative art site Polyvore, where I go by the moniker shabbychicstyle - this is the first set I made. You can see more of Clark's work in my recent postFashion Bucket List: Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell. And you can also preview my Polyvore sets on this blog's sidebar slideshow. 

Style Alert: Project Runway All Stars Kicks Off Tonight!

Thus far, this day has been a total zero: been at home with the sniffles & a surly mood. So I'm super-psyched that Project Runway All Stars starts tonight --9pm EST on Lifetime for my US readers, not sure about international broadcasts (sorry). Anyway, this special all-star season should be majorly exciting as some of my fave designers from seasons past will be duking it out & make no mistake about it I am on Team Mondo all the way! I love Project Runway because it is a reality show where people actually are expected to accomplish something and I find it inspires my own creativity...well, sometimes. Ok, better run and as always, Shoestringers, make it work!

Update! Show was good but here are my 2 strongest reactions to this season:
Boring Heidi Klum no longer hosting - YAY!
No Tim Gunn either - BOO!

Fashion Bucket List: Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell

Ah, from clipping coupons to fashion fantasies! High up on my "fashion bucket list" is to one day own a vintage Ossie Clark gown, featuring the beautiful textile design of Celia Birtwell. Clark and Birtwell collaborated on both a marriage and a design brand, and their ethereal creations helped to define the whimsy and romance of 1960s & 70s high fashion. Fellow fans of vintage Clark-Birtwell include British beauties Rachel Weisz and Emma Watson. (Heavy Sigh) Perhaps one day Shoestring Sally will also get the chance to don such a frock. Until then, a girl can dream!

New Year's Resolution: Couponing!

Here's to 2012, all! Boy, you sure know times are tough when there's a reality show called Extreme Couponing, and while I do not aspire to "extreme", I have definitely vowed to put a little more effort into finding and using coupons when I shop. And my retail resolve is already paying off! Today at CVS, between store sales, CVS Extra Bucks --which I earn by always scanning my CVS shopper's card when I buy things-- and manufacturers' coupons that I clipped from the newspaper (paper swiped from my mom so it cost me nothing, hee hee) I managed to bag $16.79 worth of goods (before tax!) for, get ready, a whopping $1.51!!! That's right baby, we'll be washing clothes with Tide at my house this winter --forget Brand X!

And now a word about laundry soap. I grew up in a staunchly Tide household, but that was a luxury I quickly discarded once I got out on my own. So I used to be one of those people who mocked shoppers who bought expensive laundry soap. I proudly…