second hand

My First Clothing Swap

Have you ever looked at your closet exasperated and just said “UGHHHHHH!!”

Have you ever tried closing your dresser drawers only to have to shove a bunch of stuff down to get them closed?

This happens to me in cycles. I clean out my clothes, donate, and organize, only for several months later having to do it all over again. It is exhausting!

When I saw that the Sugar Beet Food Co-op was hosting a clothing swap, I was immediately on board.

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I tore apart my closet and dresser, pulling out everything that barely got worn, or no longer fit right. I had already had a pile of clothes that still were at my parents’ house, including multiple pairs of jeans I will never fit into again (sad day).  With the bags of clothes piled into the back of my car and I headed to Sugar Beet.

Upon arrival, we were instructed to sort our clothing by category onto tables.

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After everyone had laid out their pieces, we were then able to browse and pick anything that caught our eye (and was our size). My intention of attending the swap was not to get new clothes, it was more to offload what I had accumulated over the years.

The whole experience was neat because I was able to see other people pick up my articles of clothing and be excited about them. That was much more fulfilling than dropping off a bag of clothes at a donation center. I loved knowing that my pieces were exactly what someone else was looking for. Even so, not everything was picked up, so what was left was donated.

I did leave with one article of clothing though. It was a knit vest and it is so cozy warm that I have worn it for the last two days.

 

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The only thing I allowed myself to take home from the swap! 

With my resolution of reducing my clothing purchases this year, hopefully, I won’t need to be attending too many more swaps!

 

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Buying vs. Renting Wedding Stuff

There comes a time in the wedding planning process where you realize how much all that fancy, cute stuff costs from the rental company.

This is a very contradictory situation for me. I want to save money, but I also don’t want to be wasteful.

There were two main pieces I wanted for the reception: cake stands and lanterns.

I checked around at some vintage rental companies and found that renting a single cake stand can range from $15-$50.

For one cake stand!

 

Nimble Well at Indie Wed

Nimble Well vintage jadeite, gold, and pink milk glass cake stands and vases, photo by Amanda Megan Miller.

 

Overall, it is cheaper to buy a couple cake stands, and then re-sell them as a set to another bride, all while keeping my favorite(s) for myself.

So, that’s what we did. We scoured garage sales and Homegoods to come up with our own set of vintage looking cake stands.

We did the same thing for the lanterns. The perfect lanterns happened to be at Target and all on sale as outdoor summer items were moved off the shelves to make way for fall. These lanterns were only on sale in stores and in small quantities, so there were plenty of trips to Targets all over the Chicagoland area. (Sorry you got roped into that dad!)

Once the wedding is over, I plan to keep these items in the wedding rotation by re-selling them to another frugal bride. There are a couple options for that:

Here is more information on where to buy and sell used wedding materials online.

The whole thing definitely is more work on our part, but I am okay with that. I know my purchases will be put to good use.

 

Wearing Thrift for A Black Tie Wedding

We went to a wedding this weekend and it reminded me of the time I previously wore a thrift store dress to a black tie wedding.

Intrigued? Read on.


Before last summer, I had never been to a black tie wedding before. Fancy cocktail dress, long gown, what does one wear?

After some soul searching on the internet and perusing Rent the Runway, I figured I was just going to wear one of the five bridesmaids dresses I had acquired over the last few years.

The problem was most of those dresses looked very much like bridesmaid dresses and I usually don’t want to look like a bridesmaid in a wedding where I am not one (But that’s just me).

Not having any idea what I was going to wear, I walked into a second-hand shop near home to look around. Lo, and behold, on the mannequin at the front of the store was a hot pink Kate Spade beauty!

WITH THE

TAGS STILL ON! 

Before I got all excited, I had to remember the real drawback of shopping at second-hand stores. The item you find is only in that one size. Unfortunately, you cannot ask an employee to go find you a size small in the back, because there is not one.

I asked for the size of the dress and held my breath. It was a size that I could wear! I tried it on and it was love at first sight.

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K insisted on being cropped out of the picture

Everyone loved the dress and I felt super cool telling people I got it at a resale shop that supports a charity. 🙂

 

 

How I Bought 1 New Piece of Clothing in 6 Months

I hadn’t even realized it had been that long.

Back in September, I made a vow not to buy new clothing for the rest of 2016. I slipped up in November, but by December I did not falter again.

Now we are cruising through February and I came to the realization that I still have not made any new clothing purchases.

Do I live under a rock? No, but I have made some conscious decisions on how to keep my credit card inside my wallet. Here are my top 3 tips on how to not be tempted into buying new clothes.

1. Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe!

I said goodbye to the constant emails that tempted me with sales and deals. Now I no longer get sucked into going to the retailer’s site to see what I can get for up to 75% off.

A side benefit is that my inbox is much less crowded.

 

2. Don’t Go Shopping Just Because

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Bored? Go ride your bike. 

In many worlds, it works like this:

Bored? Let’s go shopping!

You are not shopping out of need, but instead out of pure boredom and for the thrill of finding a deal. Most likely anything you come home with is not something you needed.

Instead, fill your boredom up with something more productive. Read a book, knit a scarf, go for a walk. Think of all the money you’ll save! (That is unless you decide to pick up an expensive hobby, good yarn can get pricey!)

 

 

3. Save Your Wanted Items For Later

There are definitely times where I come across a piece of clothing that I may not have a legitimate need for. Instead of making an impulse decision, I save the link to the product in a bookmarked folder on my browser called “Things I Want To Buy.”

Usually, if I save an item in there, I forget about it later and it never gets purchased. Or I go back to see what is on the list and realize I definitely do not need it. If I still remember it’s there weeks later, I will consider it more. I personally find it to be a good system.

It also makes a really good go-to for gift ideas!

What do you think?

The Beauty in the Handmade, Secondhand, and Hand-me-downs

Originally, I had zero intentions of doing a post specifically on how I decorated for the holidays. I am not an interior designer.

But, the below picture changed my mind.

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Yesterday, some family got together to bake our traditional Christmas dessert, linzer torte. I was so proud of my work that I wanted to document its beauty.  Looking at this picture reminded me of all the beauty of the decorations I have found secondhand, made with my own hands, or were handed down to me from loved ones.

The Dining Room*

*It’s not really a dining room, I just don’t know what else to call it

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I scored this beautiful glass jar from a garage sale long ago and knew it would come in handy. My original plan was to fill it with seashells from K’s hometown in Massachusetts, but I have yet to acquire more than one. So now the jar gets to be seasonal! It currently holds my collection of cookie cutters. They are too pretty to hide away in a drawer.

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Christmas M&M’s were a staple in my house growing up. After picking some up, I realized I had nothing to put them in! Luckily, I took home a bunch of these mason jar mugs that were wedding favors at a friend’s big day. I couldn’t bare to see any left behind!

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Yes, there is a pumpkin in this picture. He didn’t make it into last month’s compost pick up, so I have been holding on to him until the next. I figured I would have some fun with it and have him wear an elf hat. Why not?!

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This enamel tray was found at an antique market in Northern Illinois and I knew it would be perfect for my kitchen table. The pinecones have stuck around since the fall, and all I had to do was add some festive ornaments.

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Over our closet is a vintage paddle we hung up to pay homage to K’s love of fishing and boating. Since I had an extra string of garland, the paddle got to be decorated too! Next year, I am thinking of wrapping it in lights.

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On our door hangs the newest edition in handmade decorations. You can read all about it here.

Living Room

 

Christkindlmarket is a big deal in Chicago. It is a traditional open-aired German Christmas market right in the middle of downtown. If you are brave enough to battle the crowds, you can get a delicious pretzel and some hot mulled wine, called glühwein, in a souvenir boot mug! I have gone many times with friends and family and displaying the mugs on our bar makes perfect sense.

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Bet you don’t realize our thermostat is in the middle of that picture right? It is usually a blank space on the wall, but now it is home to our Christmas card collection. The delightfully tacky Christmas banner was my parents and I have fallen in love with it over the years and ended up claiming it as my own.

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Last fall, my friends and I spent an evening crafting blanket ladders in a garage. It was such a blast, and I am so glad this piece provides me with memories that one bought from a store could not.

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K had this awful red IKEA pillow that he brought with him when we moved in together. It’s obnoxiously crinkly so it had been banned to the giveaway box in the basement. That was until I decided to give it some new life by turning it into a Christmas pillow. I already had the green and brown felt, so I stitched us a whole new decoration.

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This is the first year I have actually had my own Christmas tree, so that means I had nothing for it. A tree skirt is often common practice, but I saw no reason to waste any money on such an item. We had a red and black plaid blanket that works perfectly wrapped around the tree.

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Knit bunting is now my new favorite decoration. I made one for fall and now one for Christmas!

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No vintage Christmas collection is complete without a creepy Santa Claus! I found him at a garage sale and just couldn’t pass him up. You better watch out! He’s watching you!

Needed Jeans, Headed to Goodwill

So I have a new job. I am really excited to be the Nature Communications Coordinator for Conserve Lake County. On my very first day on the job, I planted this little Oak tree pictured below.

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When I got the email that morning to dress for outside, I had to completely change what I had planned to wear that day. Having previously worked in the Federal Government, pretty much all of my work clothes were business casual to business formal.

Pencil skirts do not fall into the category of clothes you should wear while planting a tree. So after my first week of work was over, I figured I would need to acquire some work jeans. These would be jeans meant for getting dirty and ones I could easily bend and move around in. Skinny jeans do not fall into this category either.

Since I can’t buy any new clothes for the rest of the year, and I really wouldn’t want to spend a lot of money on such a pair of pants anyway, I headed to Goodwill.

Finding jeans that fit is hard enough, so I was skeptical that I would find something that day. I tried on a handful of pairs, hoping for a miracle. Lo and behold, I found a pair of Levi’s that I could bend and squat in.

And they were $7.99. 🙂

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Doing Good on No New Clothes – Kinda?

Letting people know what you are doing really helps. I have been telling my mom and my friends so they know my goal is to not purchase any new clothes for the rest of this year.

Friends can be helpful and not helpful in this situation. Luckily, I have a helpful friend. Before going on a recent camping trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, I considered investing in some Keen sandals for our planned kayak down the Platte River. As I was asking a friend about her pair of Keens, she reminded me that I was not supposed to be buying anything.

I tried some excuses on her such as:

  • these are shoes, not clothes
  • they are a necessity (they aren’t, I don’t kayak that often)
  • they are a good deal
  • it is an investment
  • and so on and so forth

In the end, I knew she was right. So I did not buy them and I didn’t end up needing them for kayaking.

 

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – didn’t need new shoes for this! 

 

This situation reminded me of the time I gave up dessert for Lent. Since I could not have cookies, I ended up eating a bunch of donuts and pop tarts because I declared that they weren’t dessert, but breakfast items.

Anyway, while I have not been buying new clothes, I have noticed a slight uptick in buying things. Mostly it is stuff we needed, or replacing items with a more durable option. I am recycling our plastic soap dispensers and purchasing stainless steel pumps and bulk hand soap instead. To avoid any temptation, I try to peruse Craigslist and stay off of store websites.

At the moment, I myself have not purchased any new clothing or shoes. To be fair, I do have to mention that it is my birthday this month, so I have received some new clothing as gifts. Since I did not make the transaction, I am leaving that out for now.

Any suggestions for keeping friends and family on your side when you are trying not to spend?

Garage Sale Scores

Over the weekend, I spent the day with my mom and my aunt at a subdivision garage sale out in the suburbs. I love garage sales. There are so many treasures to be found!

This highly organized event was like a garage sale on steroids.

I am not talking about an itty bitty neighborhood sale. There were 200+ participating houses, and a church served as a station for restrooms, food, and maps!

We had gone a couple of years ago, so I was excited to go again and see what second hand finds I could get for our apartment. I was on the look out for a big wall clock, a coffee table, and a bench.

Of course I left with none of those things…

Instead I found some other great finds!

4 fruity cloth napkins for 25 cents

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K does not know it yet, but I am about to try and phase out paper napkins! I did not buy any more than the 4 because I had just taken an old set of napkins from my mom. So I probably have 16 now. Got to build that stock up over time!

10 produce bags for $3

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I only had 2 before so that was very limiting, and I pretty much always forgot to bring them with me. I ended up finding these at a sale that had a lot of kiddie stuff, and it turned out the mom had been using the bags to store puzzle pieces and small toys.

1 Crate & Barrel rug for $10

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Since we are trying to put together an entryway/mudroom type thing by our front door, I was on the lookout for a bench. No such luck. Instead I found this great never-used Crate & Barrel rug!

Unfortunately, the serious garage sale goers must have gotten all the good stuff on the first day of the sale. Sellers kept saying they were swamped and wiped out by the second day, so that meant we left with not has many treasures as we had hoped for.

Either way, it was a beautiful day and still fun!