Sunday, April 1, 2012

Health Kick

So, I've been on a health kick lately. Gareth and I are sick of being tired and sluggish and lazy. I made up my mind after the first of the year that I want to get healthy-- not especially to lose weight or look good in a bikini, but to be able to be active with my kids. My specific goal is to hike on our favorite trail at Mt. Rainier this summer-- a 7 mile, hilly, high-altitude trail. I'm sure that with repetetive exercise and healthier eating I can do it.

So anyway, we did join the YMCA-- we go about 5 times a week-- but sometimes I like to exercise at home. Have you looked at workout clothes/equipment at retail stores lately? Wowza, is it expensive! Who wants to spend 30 plus dollars on a sports bra? I've also noticed that hand weights and other supplies are really expensive. So naturally, I knew where I had to look-- the thrift store! I had some light hand weights in the closet but I really wanted some heavier ones-- they are going for about $10 a piece at Target. At Goodwill, they were $1.99 each. I didn't need one, but I saw a new-in-the-box yoga mat for 4.99. Kettleballs, resistance bands, and roller blades were also in the sporting goods section. Most of the equipment is like new-- most likely at this time of year because people make new year's resolutions and then don't follow through, and around March-April it ends up at the thrift store!

Workout clothes can also be found in abundance at the thrift store. You have to be pretty picky in your scavenging, because no one wants sweat-stained or stretched out workout clothes. But, much like the equipment situation, many people give away new or barely used workout clothes. You know those newer trendy yoga clothes made by Lucy or Lululemon? I found a new-with-tags Lucy yoga top-- which stated that it was MARKED DOWN to 39.99 at the retail store-- for 4.50. Score! I've also found new sports bras by Nike and Athletica for 2.99 each.

To be honest, I never browsed the sporting goods or athletic wear sections at the thrift store before 2012. But now, with every visit to the YMCA or run around my neighborhood, I am glad that I finally did!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Goodwill Outlet

Last week, I ventured to one of my regular places-- the Seattle Goodwill Outlet. I almost wrote "favorite" instead of "regular", but let's be honest-- it's not one of my favorite places. It smells funny, there is a possibility of touching really gross things, and those that hang out there can be creepy sometimes. But oh, the payoff that comes with the ick factor! They charge by the pound for clothing and textiles-- $1.49 to be exact. Books are 10 cents each, and shoes are $1.99 a pound. Check out what I found on my last visit...

A "See By Chloe" silk dress! Too bad I'm not a UW graduate-- the colors would be perfect. When I looked on the Nordstrom website, I saw that these retail for between $200 and $400. Wow!  Here are a few other things I found:

A lovely floral Ann Taylor dress-- will be perfect this spring with a cardigan and cute flats!

A brand new with tags Gap sweater for Gareth

A cashmere blend sweater from Banana Republic--also for Gareth

Here's Gareth modeling the Banana Republic cashmere-blend scarf I found for him

I spent a grand total of 20 dollars and some odd cents. And that doesn't only include what is pictured above-- it includes what is pictured below as well.

In that pile are a number of cute skirts and tops, some exercise wear, a pirate hat, and a Jelly Cat for Georgia.

If you are feeling brave-- and up to the challenge that is the Goodwill Outlet-- I encourage you to look online and see if your city has one. You never know what thrifty treasures you may find!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kitchen Kitsch

I adore vintage kitchen style from the 1950's. The combo of colors like red and minty green-- the appliances-- the formica diner style tables-- I love it all.  We have a very tiny kitchen in our very tiny house, so I try to find retro kitchen touches that don't take up much room. Below are my recent finds from the Burien Goodwill.

The perfect size for a steaming cup of soup

Love these diner coffee cups

Found this on half-off day for $2.50-- now I just have to find the matching metal milkshape cups.

Vintage pie cover! The lady who rang me up said, "I like this lampshade you found."

My little friend who sits above the kitchen sink. Opens up to hold toothpicks or what not.

I am running out of counter space for my kitschy kitchen finds!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thrift Store Tips for the TOY Section


 My kids' favorite section at the thrift store, naturally, is the toy section! To them, a search through the toy bin is "treaure hunting." They have found vintage toys, hard-to-find toys, originally expensive toys... you name it. However, it's easy for kids (and mom or dad) to get caught up in the thrill of new toys, so here are a few tips for reigning in your toy purchase.

--Have kids come up with a wish list before heading to the store. When my kids accompany me on a thrifting expedition, they don't wander through the toy aisle and grab whatever catches their eye. They have a list of 2 or 3 dream items that they look for-- if they see one on a particular shopping day, great-- if not, we wait until next time. This intensifies their excitement for finding that "special item" and also makes them a bit more eager to join mom on her trip to the thrift store. :)

--Anything broken, damaged, or missing pieces is an automatic "no." Otherwise, it ends up being fun for an hour or two and then ends up under the bed or junked in the closet.

--If they want to claim a toy, they must give a toy. Before our trip, they search their rooms to find something to donate. They are ALWAYS able to find something, and it teaches them a lesson in reusing: when we are done with something, we give it to someone else who can use it, and perhaps we can use something that someone else is done with.

--Old vintage toys can be just as fun as modern ones. Georgia plays with her thrifted vintage Effanbee doll more than any other. She also got a big thrill of finding a Raggedy Ann doll-- she talked for weeks about wanting to find one, and when she happened across one at the bottom of a toy bin, you'd have thought she won the lottery! Mine and Mason's current vintage toy quest: that game called "Crossbows and Catapults." Remember it? My neighbor friends and I had so much fun playing that game as kids!

--Don't be afraid to shop thrift stores for birthdays or Christmas. Some people worry about giving their kids used items for gifts... why? Most items look as good as new with a magic eraser and a bit of elbow grease! Plus, when my kids find unwrapped, unboxed gifts on Christmas morning, they think
those are the ones that came from Santa's official workshop at the North Pole!

I hope these tips help you and your kids out on your next thrifting adventure. Oh, one more tip for all you thrifters trying to stay sane at the thrift store with your kids-- BRIBE THEM and save the toy aisle for last!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Holiday Hunting

Once upon a time, I only decorated at Christmas. I loved the Christmas decorations-- I'd get them out immediately after Thanksgiving and then sadly take them down at New Year's. And the first few weeks after that were so sad-- my house went from looking lively and festive to plain-jane again. Then, a couple of years ago, I thought-- why not decorate for every possible holiday? The kids are a good excuse-- they love decorations. And taking down decorations at Christmas won't be so bad if I think that Valentine's decorations will be soon to follow! The only issue was that decorations can be expensive... so once again, I turned to the thrift stores for help. They have decorations for every holiday you can think of! They even have their own aisle (or two) at most thrift stores around Seattle. Now, I've stocked up on decorations for Valentine's Day, St. Patty's Day, Easter, 4th of July, harvest, Halloween, and Thanksgiving! Oh, and Christmas, of course. :) Check out my fun decorations below-- all from my favorite thrift stores!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thrift Store Tips for the BOOK section

As promised, I am beginning my series of highlighting different sections of the thrift store and giving tips specific to that section or department. I will begin with the book department-- one of my favorites! If I have the kids with me, they are occupied with hunting through the kids' books while I wander over to the adult fiction.

I love to read--for the past 9 years, I've slacked off on reading because being a mommy to little kids was exhausting and I couldn't read more than 2 pages before falling asleep! Now that they are a bit older, I've rediscovered my love of the written word, and it is so much fun to research different books and authors to see what I've been missing. Barnes and Noble and Borders send me recommended reading lists, and I also discover interesting books on Pinterest. However, $10-$14 for one book is not in my budget, so I make a list of authors and books that I'd like to read and look for them at the thrift stores, where trade paperbacks are $1.99 each. Many people think that only old books are to be found at thrift stores, but that's not the case at all. Avid readers go through newer books very quickly and donate them soon after. I recently found Water for Elephants, The Help, and The Hunger Games at the local Goodwill and paid a total of 6 bucks for all 3, when I easily could have spent $30 at the bookstore for the same 3 books.

So, that is tip #1 for books...

--Make a list of popular books or authors and search for them at the thrift store. Most thrift shops alphabetize books and sort them by genre, which will simplify your search.

More tips...

--Books make great gifts! If a book is in good condition, one can't tell if it was purchased new at the book store or used at a thrift shop.
--Look for coffee table books. They can be very expensive at the book stores-- very interesting coffee table books can be found at thrift shops for reasonable prices. Gareth (my hubby) recently found a huge bright orange hardback coffee table book about Neland Stadium, home of the Tennessee Volunteers. Yipee for me. (SARCASM)
--Interested in sewing? Adopting a new pet? Need an instruction book for your new iphone? Many how-to, craft, hobby, and reference sections are jammed full at the thrift store.
--Encourage your kids to grow their personal libraries! I never mind buying my kids a book or two at the thrift shop-- they are usually between 50 cents and a dollar each, and the stores frequently have specials where you can buy 4 and get 1 free. I love seeing my kids eagerly searching the shelves for that latest Magic Tree House book they haven't yet read, or finding an undiscovered series they think they'd enjoy.

Aren't you in the mood to pick up a few new-to-you books? I really am... time to spend a few bucks, have some new reading material, and get cozy on the couch for an evening of reading!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More Thrift Store Shopping Tips

Ready for 5 more tips, fellow thrift store shoppers? OK--here they are!

1. Take a set amount of cash with you to spend. Practically speaking, some stores just don't take credit or debit cards. But the most important reason for taking cash is that you are not tempted to overspend! You will be amazed how quickly items begin to stack up in your cart, especially if you don't have a predetermined limit for spending in mind.

2.  Wear clothes that are conducive to trying on other clothes. In the summertime, I wear a slim-fitting t-shirt or tank top, and in the winter I wear a tank top with a cardigan over it. Sometimes the dressing rooms (if you are at a store that even has them) are crowded, and sometimes you just feel freaked out by the flimsy curtain "protecting" you while creepy people with wandering eyes pass by right outside. It's often easier to find a mirror in the furniture area and try on over your existing outfit. Also, wearing flip flops or ballet flats makes it easier to try on shoes.

3. If you are bringing your kids, give them a task. I love going to the thrift store when my husband is home to watch the kids, but if you remember reading my previous list of tips, the best day to go is on Thursday. And my husband is not around on random Thursday mornings or afternoons to watch the kids, so I often have them in tow. To occupy them, I give them specific tasks-- they are assigned with duties like looking through the tags in whatever section we are in to find the sale color. I also tell them what I am looking for so they can help me find it. And we ALWAYS save the toy and book aisles for last so that I can bribe good behavior out of them. :)

4. Ask for additional discounts on damaged items. Sometimes I see an amazing piece of clothing that is missing a button or has a little tear. Or I see a kid's clothing item with a smudge on it. Not that hard to fix those things, but I'm often able to get an extra dollar or two off if I nicely point out the defect at the register. One time I didn't notice a defect and the cashier did, and she offered up the discount without my asking!

5. Check out the sections that are off-season. When it is 30 degrees and threatening to snow outside, always visit the tank tops/shorts/swimsuit sections. When it's a sweltering 90 degrees outside, venture to the sweater and coat department. It never fails-- you will always find the best selection in the section of clothing that is out-of-season.

Hope these are helpful! Get ready for some specifics... I'm planning a series where I highlight a different section of the thrift store in each post. But first, I think a little in-person research is in order, don't you? After all, tomorrow IS Thursday-- the prime thrift store shopping day!