a thrift haul, & 1-in-1-out

I have been paring down and donating so much this year, so it feels weird to bring much back IN to our house. But my shopping habits, even when thrifting, have changed a lot. Everything has to be functional and plastic-free. I keep a second-hand wishlist where I write down anything I want to shop for. I always refer to it before shopping. Some of these items weren’t on the list, but they are still pretty and functional (and plastic free/zero waste).

I love a good thrift haul, so I am going to start sharing them here. This week’s latest haul was a big one – $71 – which is a LOT for thrifting. But I brought home lots of good stuff:


On the list:

  • 15 dinner plates & 20 dessert plates – all mismatched, yes! However, I decided that rather than buy disposable dishes for entertaining (when we need more dishes than the 12 place settings of Fiestaware that I have) I would keep a collection of funky, mismatched dishware to use for this purpose to mix in with my existing dishes. I just picked all neutrals, blues, and greens and I think they are so beautiful. I have a couple of parties in the works, so I’ll put these to use soon!


  • Two pairs of pants to replace my work pairs that looked just horrible (they were once secondhand as well and have seen way better days).
  • A pair of flannel PJ pants I am going to cut up for a project/gift..
  • A dress to wear to an upcoming wedding (my original Ebay’d dress didn’t work out. Always a risk to order clothes online that you can’t return – oops!).

Not on the list:


  • A big basket – because who doesn’t need another basket? This wasn’t on my list, but I liked the size and handles. I will probably stain it with a slightly darker stain. (If I can’t find an immediate use for it, I may use it to hold a gift for Christmas or something. The thing about thrifted baskets is they are cheaper than a new paper gift bag – and obviously way more reusable!)
  • A big wooden bowl and a small wooden pillar holder. These weren’t on the list either. These are just for year-round seasonal decorating purposes. I thought I’d put mini pumpkins from my garden in/on them this fall, then possibly plant succulents in them later. I’ve gotten rid of SO many decorative items. Now I just want to rotate a few seasonal items from nature (compostable) or plants.
  • A wooden bird house. Total impulse buy, but a fun one (for $2). Hannah and I love looking at the bird houses at the Nature Center, so I thought she’d like working on our own. We will paint it together and maybe glue on some random costume jewelry I wanted to upcycle rather than donate, then we will donate the finished bird house to the Nature Center next spring!
  • A cute silky kimono. I’ve been wanting a kimono since the trend started, but they are always sweatshop made (or I can’t afford them). I was stoked to find one secondhand. It’s be favorite new item (even if I do need to fix a seam first..).

I keep a “1-in-1-out” list on my computer. Whenever I bring in a new item, I add it to the left. Items going out are on the right. My “out”list is MUCH longer, currently. But I do still try to get rid of one item for each new item anyway – I am still wanting to pare down our items, not just maintain the number of items we have.

However, I am not going to try to get rid of 35 items to make up for the dishware! They are solving wastefulness of disposable items, so I’ll just count it all as one item. I am also not counting the PJ pants, since they are just to use as the materials for a gift. So, I have 9 items to part with after this trip. Those are:

  • My two pairs of old work pants I was replacing (2)
  • A dress I originally bought for the wedding (reselling on Ebay) (1)
  • Two clothing items of Hannah’s (not in great shape, but donating anyway..) (2)
  • 1 plant pots I haven’t used (1)
  • 2 picture frames (2)
  • A decorative item (1)

I keep a box or bag in my office to accumulate these items, and make a monthly donation run (except items I am selling or giving to people I know, which I try to deal with within a week if possible). So far I’m loving this method for controlling clutter. It keeps my impulse-buying in check, as I have to think about what I want to get rid of at home in place of a new item. I also rather love that I am getting rid of more than I accumulate overall, and want to keep it that way for a while! I still have some areas of the house yet to tackle so my “out” list will be growing again soon; my eventual goal is to only have what I use and love in my home.:)



keeping a second-hand wishlist

Thrift stuff

One of the best things I’ve done since trying to live zero waste is to keep a running second-hand wishlist in my Filofax. As I replace plastic items in my household, wear holes through my favorite hoodie, or think of any random thing I need, I write it on the list to look for a used option (or remember to ask around to borrow).

Today I had a donation run to make to my local charity thrift shop. After we dropped off a good SUV trunk full of stuff, we went in to look for a few things on my running list. Today was a great haul! – I found most everything on there (above), including:

  • Two laptop sleeves (for my personal laptop and work laptop)
  • A simple black leather cross body purse (trying to achieve that small and efficient capsule wardrobe..)
  • A basic black hoodie (to replace the one I parted with that was in terrible shape)
  • PJs for my growing girl
  • Wooden cooking utensils
  • A glass half gallon water pitcher (I just need to find a cork lid)
  • A ceramic sugar bowl

The total for my haul was a whopping $12.50. Man I love thrift shopping. I am trying to only buy things that will last for the long haul, so it’s taken a bit of willpower to not just buy any/all second hand stuff I like (like I used to do) just because it’s cheap. My 1-in-1-out rule definitely helps.

Another great thing about my running list is that by delaying purchasing things, I will many times come up with an alternative and not need to buy it in the first place. Or the desire for whatever it is will pass. I kind of love it when that happens; it feels like putting money back in my pocket somehow.

31 Day No Spending Challenge – Challenge Recap

Wow – what a long month! The No Spending Challenge is officially over tonight and I am so glad. I will admit now that I was so far from perfect – it wasn’t the success I’d quite hoped for. But it was definitely a good exercise nonetheless. Being hyper-aware of all those little expenses and impulse buys is a good thing for the budget, even when I justified some of them. I still could not justify many, many little things I wanted to purchase, so lots of items went back on the shelf. Also, I realized I use shopping as entertainment sometimes. I never really realized that was something I could say about myself – I think of myself as someone who dislikes shopping because I avoid malls. But this month made me realize my bargain thrift shopping scores and home improvement project purchases still add up, even though they are much easier for me to justify than dropping $100 on shoes at the mall.

Disclosure time. I spent. I mean, I actually brought quite a few items into my house (and camping trailer) this month. I already disclosed the canning jar purchase, but justified it as part of grocery expense and I FILLED THEM this month. So, totally justified. But I also made THREE separate thrift store trips, spending $39 total. What did I haul home for $39? You know I’m going to list it for you 🙂thrift

  • A really great, perfectly-sized Sakroots crossbody bag for $1 (def. in my top 10 scores ever).
  • 12-15 clothing items for Hannah for fall/winter (shirts, tunics, cardigans, hat, shoes, sunglasses).
  • A few camping and road trip toys to keep Hannah busy for our Yellowstone trip (a toy car, a new baby doll, a ball, a cookie sheet for magnets and 4 books).
  • A few divided toddler plates to keep in the trailer (so I don’t have to keep bringing Hannah’s dishes back and forth between trips- not that big of a deal but for $.25 it makes a lot of sense!).
  • A few misc. baskets and bins to organize the trailer cabinets.
  • 2 tiny pieces of pottery and one pretty plant pot I absolutely did not need, but could not leave without. (I will be planting succulents in them).
  • 2 big baskets for produce-picking in the garden (these have made life so much easier!) plus a plastic basket I can rinse veggies in right over the dirt in the garden.

Continue reading “31 Day No Spending Challenge – Challenge Recap”

decorating with scarves and pashminas

headwrapOne of the perks, or hazards, of my job, is I am gifted with an excess of souvenirs. I work with – and do lots of paperwork for – people who travel overseas. Many of them bring me back pretty scarves and pashminas, which is so thoughtful! I also am frequently gifted with scarves for holidays and I pick up pretty ones at thrift stores. And as a result I have a LOT of scarves. Somehow I’ve amassed a pretty ridiculous (-ly awesome) collection.

I wear scarves pretty often, and I use them as head wraps. But I have so many pretty scarves and so few places to go these days that I hate seeing them tucked away. The fabrics and colors are so pretty! So I’ve rounded up a few ideas (some that require cutting and sewing for the thrifted ones, but most that leave them in tact) for using and displaying a scarf collection more frequently.

how to tie a scarfMy friend Cassie actually got me a cute book, How to Tie a Scarf, for Christmas. It’s full of fun ideas. There are also tons of tutorials on Pinterest, including how to tie and knot scarves stealthily to turn them into kimonos and vests. Really awesome! There are plenty of head wrap ideas or tutorials on braiding scarves into your hair, too, though I don’t have enough hair or swagger to pull off many of them. I just go for the super simple wrap-styles.

But the ideas I’ve been collecting are more for decor purposes. I love the casual vibe that different patterns and fabrics give off when layered around the house. I suppose you could use any textile for most of these, which makes them even more awesome. I like scouting textiles. They are so versatile. So.. here we go:

I LOVE these huge pillows made from big scarves {plus the link has tons of other ideas I love for scarf-upcycling}.

big pillows - dishfunctional designsSmaller pillows wouldn’t require sewing; you can wrap the scarf and twist/knot the back. The link for this one didn’t work (found on Pinterest), but it directed me to All You.

all youI like the idea of using scarves to cover poufs and ottomans, like these ones: (left from from Urban Outfitters, now sold out; right from Plumo). The Urban Outfitters version is something I’ve wanted to make for a while now. A less pretty “collection” I’ve got going on is 5 gallon buckets (I know, random), and I think with a little creativity I could make a similar ottoman with some patchwork scarves/other fabric.

UO Pouf   Plumo pouf

I use one pashmina as a runner on our dresser top to keep the surface from getting scratched. They are nice for table runners over a table cloth to keep them from sliding.

table runnerThere are lots of images out there for patchwork curtains made from scarves and handkerchiefs, but just hanging one in a window is really pretty and will allow it to be worn later.

windowI loved framed scarves like these, because you can see the entire design. It would be simple enough to switch out, too. (I wish I owned both of the ones below):

framed scarvesYou can hang a scarf on a wall without framing or doing anything special, like below. No cutting into the fabric for the special scarves I’ve got. I love this for the huge silk pashminas I’ve got from the Middle East.

wall hangingStoring scarves in plain view lets them be part of the decor and still keeps them usable. I’ve done this before in the bedroom, but it’s a great idea for an entryway.

hanging scarvesAny other ideas I’ve missed?

thrift shopping is my fave.


You guys.

Hannah’s finally old enough that 1) she enjothrifting3ys getting out of the house, even for shopping. In fact, some days, she really really needs to get out. And 2) she’s had all her vaccinations and I’m much more confident about bringing her to public places. Even though I go through many-a disinfecting wipe on shopping carts. {yeah. She’s trying to escape because I have my phone out to take a picture and she wants it. :)}
I haven’t done a lot of real thrift shopping since Hannah was born, except a few pop-ins to browse baby stuff. But actual pawing through the racks for stuff for myself.. it’d been a minute. And I have been jonesin’ to go for months. This week we hit up two in my quest to update my spring wardrobe a bit. I’ve got the Frumpy Momdoms going on. And while I am trying not beating myself up for that lingering extra belly squish, I’m not exactly wanting to show it off in my still-too-small pre-pregnancy clothes. Sigh. thrifting2
I scored a few new tops, a purse (I didn’t need one, buuuuuut) and some like-new TOMS (!!). They are these hippie rainbow ones. They are the perfect thing to wear around the house because they are comfy and warm. This might be in my top-ten best thrift scores evah’.
I know it’s easy to want to skip the shoes, but sometimes there are some real gems. I will only buy secondhand shoes if they look like they’ve barely been worn. I’m not above buying used and Lysoling the crap out of them, but even I have standards.
I know there are some expert thrift shoppers out there, and I am not one of those people by any means. I don’t have a great strategy, I don’t haggle. I mean, if there’s a defect I have been known to point it out in hopes I’ll score a discount, but otherwise I am content to pay the already tiny price tag for something I like. But one tip I have, is to avoid getting overwhelmed by hitting only certain areas or looking for (kind of) specific things, rather than browse the whole store (unless you have the time!). It’s easy to get sucked in to certain departments and then leave with nothing you went in for because you lost track of time. These are the items I always look for because I *almost* am always guaranteed to find something good:
my favorite things to find at thrift stores
On my list:
  1. Cool tee-shirts in the little boys section.
  2. Frilly, silky camisoles.
  3. Work-appropriate basic skirts and pants (you’ll find a million pencil skirts).
  4. Basic sweat shirts and sweats.
  5. Pajama pants. My local thrift shops always have tons of Old Navy and Victoria’s Secret pajama bottoms.
  6. Baskets for organizing the house. I have a LOT of baskets and almost all came from thrift shops. This is one of those things I don’t feel like I have to have an immediate need in for in mind to justify buying. I will ALWAYS use another basket.
  7. Tiny plates and dishes. I use these for spoon rests, soap dishes, under plants, to organize jewelry and other small stuff, under candles, etc. I’ve found them for as low as $.10.
  8. Teacups. I don’t have a collection, but I’ve picked up cute ones for organizing. Or you could make fun candles or bird feeders.
  9. Plant pots and pottery. I like to give little potted plants away for gifts in cool pots I find at thrift stores and yard sales. If we exchange gifts and I haven’t given you one as a gift yet, it’s only because I haven’t known you long enough. 🙂
  10. Books. I buy cookbooks and reference-type books, but not many paperbacks, as I would rather borrow and return to the library.
  11. Pyrex. I just recently started to collect and though it’s not super easy to find in thrift stores anymore (people sell on Ebay instead) I’ve found a couple pieces.
  12. Frames for projects. It’s not easy to find perfect as-is frames, but there are a ton of paintable ones or nice frames without glass you can do something with.

Are you into thrift shopping? What are your favorite scores and tips? After writing this post I am anxious to go again!

practically free friday #17 – make an inexpensive gallery wall

See? Told you I’d post two projects this week to make up for missing one last week. 😉 One of my July project goals was to spruce up our master bathroom a bit and I decided it would be a good place to start a gallery wall. I love me some gallery walls, and this isn’t the first one in my house. The best part is they can be a really rotating/evolving space. So while I like the impact our new gallery wall makes to the space above our tub, I also know I’ll be tweaking it from now til eternity as I find things to swap out and add. But for now, this project cost me nearly nothing and it’s a big improvement from the previously blank wall.

Here’s the breakdown of materials:

  • Frames/mats: The teal frame was purchased for $.50 during my thrift haul a couple weeks ago. I painted it with leftover paint (from our bedroom walls). The rest of the frames, I scored during the stuff swap I hosted at my house in June of this year. They held lots of random prints I cut away from the existing mats and I spray-painted them with leftover ORB spray paint from this project. That means all six frames cost a total of $.50.

Here’s the collection of frames pre-decontruction (I didn’t use the canvases or the three on the far right.. I will be doing something with them soon!).

  • Prints: The botanical prints in the frames were all cut from a book I picked up at a flea market last summer. I liked that the prints were a little mod and had planned to do some decoupage with them, but found it again when I was deciding what to fill frames with for this gallery wall. There are still plenty of prints left for another project. I couldn’t have spent more than $5 on the book – I’m guessing less.

Total of $5.50? Yeah, that’s practically free, right?

In real life the gallery wall looks bolder- I just can’t seem to capture that! But this is only a start.

I do plan to add more framed art in larger frames, maybe a mirror, and some other non-framed objects to this wall, all of which I will move around the corner to span the entire space above the tub. But since the hardest part is getting started I’m happy to make some progress on this little project.

Happy Friday, everyone!

practically free friday #15 – find pretty thrifted things

I’m a day late on my post because I spent Friday evening thrift shopping, and Friday night working on projects with a friend.

It was a stressful week and I needed a little shopping therapy so I hit my local thrift store to browse for pretty little things to scrub up and give some love to. Other people’s junk always makes me happy. (I dropped off a box to donate in the process).

Here’s my $12.50 haul. These pretty silk pj pants are my favorite find in a long time!

These pretty tea cups will be used to organize jewelry in my dresser drawer. I always look for colored glass.  The tray was $1 and I’m going to paint it and use it to corral remotes in the living room. The blue pot was another favorite find. I want to plant a small succulent garden in it.

These baskets were $.50 and there were oodles to pick from. I grabbed a few with nice shapes and I plan to spray paint them with a metallic paint.

I also grabbed a couple tiny frames to paint. Never buy frames 8×10 or smaller without hitting a thrift store first – they are practically a dime a dozen!

There you have it! These items will probably serve as some of my future Free Friday projects as a spruce them up.

buy nothing new for 60 days.. one month down!

We are over half way! How’s everyone doing.. or those of you who committed to 30, how did it go? I hope it’s been a fun experiment. As for me, I’m doing ok-ish. April started off strong! My first April paycheck went so far, I was able to throw some extra money on my student loans. I was saintly!

The second half of the month, however, things got a little crazy. Some (pretty minimal) travel expenses for my grandma’s funeral, some going-away parties for friends, a few gifts to buy.. life just happened.  I still didn’t spend on anything material for myself and that really softened the blow on those expenses. But there was more going out to eat and that really adds up. It’s been a great exercise in paying close attention to where that money really goes.

Sometimes, do you feel like you haven’t done ANYTHING for yourself lately yet still haven’t got much extra money? I sometimes do. This buy-nothing challenge makes every transaction a glaring neon event – $9 at a deli for lunch because you forget yours at home? Chipping in $20 for beer you didn’t even partake of for your buddies send-off? $50 gift cards for last-minute birthday gifts? Ouch ouch ouch. Keeping a really detailed budget is so good for me.

Monday night I hit my favorite thrift store and dropped $30 on a big bag of fun stuff. I want to actually do a post on some of the awesome stuff I bought, which I think I may do tomorrow if I get the time. I believe the haul was four shirts (two for work as-is and two for deconstruction purposes), a cardigan, one pair of pants, and two skirts. After I brought that stuff home I did a quick closet-cull, getting rid of about 30 things.

“Getting rid of” just means it was taken to the basement for later sorting. Later this month I am having a clothing swap! I think it will be a great way to end two months of frugality – by gathering up a few gals to swap unwanted clothing. Anything no one claims gets donated. Totally green and frugal and fun. Can’t wait to put the details together!

Hope everyone’s having fun with the challenge!


…sometimes, I just feel like sharing bad ass things I find. This is one of those times.

♥ Elsie’s Thrift Tips. You know how people used to camp out for concert tix to go on sale? Once I sidewalk-camped for a Savers half-off sale. Not because it’s necessary like.at.all.. more because I wanted the funny/stupid story. But also because I totally heart thrift shopping that much. I get really eager to switch up my wardrobe in the fall {back-to-school nostalgia?} and this post was well-timed and well-done.

Mari Kasurinen’s sculpting. I’m a child of the 80s and had a boatload of My Little Ponies. How fabulous is this pop-culture-y take on repurposed art? Omlikealot.  This one of Pan is my fav {Frida Kahlo is my close second}!

Veganomicon {the cookbook}. Written by the same gals who run Post Punk Kitchen, this is my fav cookbook lately. Maybe I’ll review it after I really splatter it up with red wine and unrefined coconut oil. I’ve had crazy-good success {ie, husband feedback} on lots of recipes from this cookbook. The chickpea cutlets with mushroom gravy are kick-ass and the recipes are online and linked for ya. Yer welcome.

Mod Podge Rocks {blog}. First, the name “Mod Podge Rocks Blog” happily reminds me of this Arrested Development gag. Good times. Second, this is the best website evah! I hosted a Craft-and-Bitch, mod podge style, last Friday night, and beforehand was searching for inspiration to pass on to those attending. This blog is all you need to get serious ideas flowing. {who still mod podges?}

Capsule Wardrobes. Have you heard of this concept? Essentially it’s a shopping//style concept in which you focus on building a super-versatile wardrobe on astonishingly few crucial pieces. It’s different for everyone {depending on your work wardrobe needs, budget, etc} but it’s built on the idea that we often buy things we don’t wear, and wear to death the things we love. This may kinda-sorta conflict with my thrifting habits, but the minimalist in me totally love this idea and am putting some thought into it now that I’m pushing 30 and feeling the need to sharpen up my style just a little.

That’s what I’m diggin lately – how about you??