Sooooo….about that “no spend February”…

I’ve actually been doing well with it and have said “no” or “later” to many things I wanted to buy in the moment.

But, I made the mistake of browsing on craigslist.  Even as I was doing it, I knew it wasn’t smart.  But, we’re working on my office and I needed a storage piece.  I just couldn’t help myself!  Well, I could, but I didn’t.

And, of course, I found something that was perfect.  So, the “no spend February” became a “low spend February.”

What I found was an antique bookcase with original glass doors.  The size was right and it’s just the sort of thing I’ve been looking for.  I forwarded the link to Jeff and asked if we could go pick it up.  To his credit, he did not point out my no-spend pledge.  He said it was a great piece and we should get it.

When we picked it up, the gentleman who owned it told us all about the piece.  It was from the Wilder School in Wilder, MN.  The school was built in the 1920’s and this bookcase was actually one of three hutch tops that were in the library.  This is piece is over 5′ tall!  Can you imagine it just as the top of a larger piece?!  That would’ve been massive.  The owner went to first grade at the school and was able to acquire this bookcase when the school fell into disrepair.

He even showed us a book he put together on the history of the school.  Jeff took some pictures of it, so we could print it and keep the information with the shelf.  The gentleman was pleased that it was going to someone who appreciated the story of where it came from and I assured him it would be well loved and cared for.

The piece was painted at one point and it was stripped.  There were still some remnants of paint and stripper on it, so I sanded it in the garage before we loaded it into the room.  (I’ll share more about the room and wall color in the office later.)

While it does need some cosmetic work, it’s in great shape and the previous owners have done a lot of the hard work for me.  I am going to just hydrate the exterior of the cabinet with MMS Milk Paint Hemp Oil.  I’ve already started rubbing it on and it makes that old oak look beautiful!  I’m then going to paint the interior white, to break up the wood and keep the piece from looking too heavy.

I was inspired by this cabinet posted by @le.beau.chateau on Instagram…



The shelves are currently painted caution cone orange, so I will be stripping them down to the natural wood before I install them.

I’ve already started applying the hemp oil and it’s looking gorgeous…

See…I don’t paint everything!

More on this piece and the office coming soon…


  1. Kari

    I adore your bookshelf! I have a special affinity for antique/vintage school things. I have a much smaller bookshelf with the same notched adjustable shelving inside, and I painted it a number of years ago. Like you, I intended to strip the shelves. My dad convinced me to plane them instead and it turned out to be MUCH faster and I got a smooth finish. Have you considered planing rather that stripping yours?

  2. Alison

    I wonder if the Wilder Mn town has any connection to Laura Ingalls Wilder that wrote the Little House books? She was from Minnesota I think… any way that is a very cool piece and well worth breaking the no spend pledge 🙂

    • angela

      yes, that is the town she wrote about.

  3. Heidi

    That’s a lovely thought!

  4. Linda

    A beautiful addition to your office for sure! Great find. 🙂

  5. Cindy

    How in the world do you find such treasures on Craigslist? I occasionally cruise through there looking for furniture, but I’ve never seen ANYTHING on there with the same quality/uniqueness of the things you find. What search words are you using??? Do you have a secret you can share with this poor girl? 🙂

    • Kim

      I can concur, the stuff in our area is total crap. Some parts of the country have all the gold.

      • Sandra

        I agree. I’m in Central Texas and the stuff listed on Craigs List for the local area is crap — and expensive crap at that. Even the local Goodwill stores will price a beat up/falling apart chest of drawers for $100. I saw a wing chair in the Goodwill store that looked like a bio hazard and the store wanted $125. There are no thrift stores in the area — just a few “antique” stores with prices that would melt the corners off of your credit card.

        • Kelly


          I love your expression “prices that would melt the corners off of your credit card”. You are a riot.

          I also agree that I find nothing on Craig’s List here in Northern Arizona. Regular old yard sales seem to yield the best prices and pieces here.

          Thanks for the chuckle! Happy hunting!

    • Helen

      Marian wrote about her favorite shopping terms on Craigslist. If you click on Antiques and then shopping tips you will see the post Marian wrote about her Craigslist shopping tips.

  6. Mary in VA

    What a gorgeous piece, great score on Craigslist!

  7. Finch Furnishings

    I’m not mad about it at all. I am mad I don’t live close enough to have snatched up that Ironstone at Goodwill though! Ha!

  8. Betsy

    That’s it! I need some of your good karma. I never find anything worth purchasing on Craigslist. Great piece and worthy of low spend February!

  9. Bethany Wiskow

    Beautiful find! I too would have broken the “no spend” promise for that one. Too good to pass up. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Deborah Raney

    What a GORGEOUS piece! And it’s perfect for your office (which I’m already loving!) I can’t wait to see it all painted and spiffed up and styled by you. I have a feeling I’ll have a hard time deciding which space I love more, the office or your art studio.

  11. Dianne

    That is a beautiful find! I’m so glad you were the one who got it, someone who is interested in the history of the piece. I love that you are keeping the wood tone.

  12. Sheila

    Oh I am so green with envy! Love old pieces with stories behind them. Congratulations on a wonderful find.

  13. debbie

    I am truly convinced the Antiquing Gods humor themselves by making “too good to pass deals” available when our budgets are saying, “Cut Back!” Looking back, I was never sorry to not pass up a piece because of budget and have been sorry that I did pass on a treasure. Besides, you have the rest of the month to be good.

  14. Janet Squire

    WOW is about all I can say….and ‘wish it was mine!’

  15. sally

    This piece is gorgeous….it was worth breaking the no spending, especially with the history attached to this piece.

  16. mary m

    Beautiful piece. I bought a barristers book case that belonged to a Civil War general from Vt.
    I have been trying to find out who he was. It has only had one other (non related) owner. My husband isn’t fond of it but it is a great place to put special things. The top glass front is leaded glass with
    one panel cracked. I don’t even see the crack anymore.

    My daughter in law finds some amazing pieces on Craig’s List as you do. You really do have an
    eye for the finer things in life that have to be brought back to their prime.

  17. Chris Moore of Seattle

    I had to laugh! I can’t tell you how many times I have said I am not going to buy anything more on Ebay, and then BOOM! The exact piece that I’ve been looking for at less than I wanted to pay becomes available. Sigh! The universe has a way…

  18. sarajane

    I just drooled all over my monitor. That is a GREAT find and totally worth breaking the no-spend pledge!

  19. Carolyn

    What a great piece! I agree with a few other comments, please do a post on The Art of Finding Great Pieces on Craigslist. Thanks for the inspiration!

  20. Diane

    how lucky you are to have craigslist…..we have olx but its nothing like craigslist..not so big but then Portugal is not so big either! A beautiful piece that I am sure you will fill up in no time!

  21. Patti Whitford

    You do find the best stuff on Craig’s list. Maybe write us a “how-to Craig’s List.” I have never found anything on Craig’s list worth the drive to pick it up. Today at lunch time a co-worker and I went to a cool multi-dealer antique shop (Yes, we were late getting back.). I bought a beautiful nesting bowl set of the dishes I collect for $45 which was a steal. I collect Franciscan Apple (England) dishes. Also bought a sweet berry picking pal and two vintage coffee cans – Chock Full O’Nuts and Maxwell Coffee….all good prices. Can’t wait to get home to rearrange a few things. Happy dance!

    • Marian Parsons

      I’ve actually written a few posts on shopping craigslist. If you search “craigslist search terms”, you’ll find them!

  22. Carol

    Be still, my heart!

  23. PJ

    I love the history of this piece. That library must have has some might high ceilings!

  24. Cheryl Licht

    So glad you broke your no spend February! Those are amazing!!! What a tremendous find!

  25. Janice

    So glad you are not painting the exterior. I is a lovely piece.

  26. Marlene Stephenson

    It is a great piece, so very lovely and loved. Glad you found it.

  27. Leslie

    Wonderful find. Having the history makes it a treasure.
    Sometimes a girl’s just gotta do, what a girl’s gotta do (shop). Wink Wink!

  28. Donna Doble-Brown

    This piece is STUNNING Marian! 💗

  29. Rebecca Neustel

    What a gorgeous piece! I second the suggestion for a blog post about finding things on Craigslist. I can’t seem to find much on the York, PA list. Maybe I should be willing to go to Gettysburg, Lancaster and Baltimore.

  30. Anne

    That piece is gorgeous! All I ever find on Craigslist is made of plastic or MDF…

    I’m pretty sure one of Murphy’s Laws says if you pledge you will not spend money, you will find the exact thing you need and will spend money…LOL! Take an extra week of “no spend” in March!

    I sooo enjoy seeing your blog posts and the creation of your new home!

  31. Barb K

    There’s always NEXT February.

  32. Donna

    This piece is gorgeous!

  33. Elizabeth St.

    You (and Jeff) did the right thing. That unit is gorgeous and unique, especially the doors. Once you learned about the piece, it would’ve been negligent not to buy it. Good rescue.

  34. Susan

    Don’t feel bad about falling off the spending wagon. You found a beautiful piece! I fell off the dieting wagon for Valentine’s chocolate and have nothing to show for it (except around my waistline). Life is short and we aren’t perfect! 😁

  35. Michele (Finch Rest)

    You find the most amazing treasures!!!!

    For me, I wouldn’t even paint the interior – I love all that wood – looks excellent against that wall – the perfect size and look. Love love love that piece.

    Well done, Marian!


    That antique cabinet is just beautiful! So happy you found it — even if you did buy it in February! Enjoy! Blessings!

  37. Sarah

    I don’t think you said how much it cost??

    • Marian Parsons

      It was $250

  38. Tracy

    Wow!!! It’s gorgeous! Definitely worth breaking the no spend rule! I can’t wait to see it finished!

  39. Sara

    Hi, Sandra. What part of Central Texas? I’m in Waco am doing we have a few good places.

  40. Sara

    I was going to ask the same thing.

  41. Tracy

    Marian, is there a problem with odor or fumes when using the hemp oil indoors? I love the cabinet!

  42. Debra Ponte

    I agree w/cindy. My sister in Oregon like u always finds stuff. I look on Cape Cod and the Islands areas Nothing! U my dear have found amazing things on Craigs list.I may start going to yard sales,but I am attached to older.Now i’d love this bookcase-wow what a great find natural or redone-congrats pretty talented lady!

  43. Wendy Y

    Ha ha! Love your honesty 😄. Looks like that was the right thing to do though. And in the meantime you did inspire your readers to rethink our spending this month. I know ever time I thought of shopping this month I thought, “Oh no I can’t! I promised Marian I was in on accepting her challenge!” 😂 So thanks for the challenge because it has been helpful 😊. And enjoy your new piece! 😉

  44. Tina

    Whoa, that is gorgeous!! It’s great that you know the history of the piece and that you took pictures of the book to keep that history with the cabinet. It’s so lovely in its natural wood state. >3

  45. Rae

    S C O R E !
    I’ve seen some things I want lately….I need to get rid of some stuff :~D

  46. Kelly

    I love those bookshelves! My mom has a piece in her kitchen that originally came out of a bank. It is a beautiful, very large bookcase that originally had glass doors. Her neighbor had two of them in his basement with tools stacked on them! He gave one to her and the other to another neighbor (who probably has junk stacked on it!) She just cleaned it really well, and went over it with tung oil. It has been in her kitchen for many years.

  47. Lynn

    Love it! I just love the history of it, too! It needed to go home with someone (you!) who appreciates its perfect imperfection. Look at it this way: by NOT spending money on other smaller things during the month, you could buy this one wonderful thing and not feel guilty!


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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