Tag Archive | thrifting

Accidentally Promoting a Different Kind of Materialism

It’s no secret that my family loves to thrift. My husband and I look upon thrift stores and garage sales as a kind of entertainment; when we travel to a new town, one of our favorite activities is to seek out a local thrift store and browse for a while.

I’ve never looked upon this activity as harmful; after all, we save a lot of money by buying almost everything secondhand. From our car to our clothes to our household décor, we enjoy the pursuit of things that are unusual, special, and inexpensive. It’s kind of a rush to find a treasure hidden under a pile of trash on a charity shop shelf.

But lately I’ve begun to wonder if this pursuit isn’t also a form of materialism, as insidious in its way as maxing out a credit card at the mall every weekend. I’ve begun to wonder this, because I’ve seen the effect this shopping has on my daughter. She’s six, and she’s obsessed with stuffed animals. When her teacher took her on a trip to the mall to ride the carousel, Liv fell in love with Build-a-Bear Workshop, and for weeks we heard nothing but “When I Get to Build My Cat.” But this interest fizzled, replaced by nearly a dozen stuffed animals picked up at yard sales or while thrifting. And then her nanny gifted her an entire trash bag (an ENTIRE TRASH BAG) full of stuffed bunny rabbits last night.

The thing is, even though I am trying to make my daughter understand the difference in price between the stuffed kitty at Build a Bear and the forlorn Aflac duckie sitting in a pile of unwanted toys at the Salvation Army, she doesn’t get it. A toy is a toy is a toy. And she only seems to want more, the more she gets. Stuffed animals of every size and species are wedged into every conceivable space in her room and her playroom. Even with frequent donation purges, Liv’s collection continues to grow.

In desperation, my husband and I tried turning to a Pinterest-inspired hack of Velcro-ing each animal to the wall. The theory was that Liv would finally be able to see all the animals she has, and start playing with them all again. This plan failed miserably, as the stuffed animals merely peeled away from their Velcro moorings and landed in a heap on the floor.

I’ve wondered now if the question isn’t one of storage, but of lessons learned from parents. Every time we hit a thrift store, I will usually find something to buy. I’ve consoled myself with the knowledge that I am buying for several people–Christmas and birthday gifts are usually thrifted to people who enjoy or respect thrifting, plus I buy clothes for us all, plus I buy things for our household. But even if I am buying something for someone else, Liv only sees one thing: Mommy just bought something. And since stuffed animals are plentiful in thrift shops and cheap too, it’s easy for her to ask for more (to be just like Mommy) and easy for me to give in.

Plus, to be perfectly frank, it can buy me much needed quiet time in the thrift store to browse if Liv has a new toy to play with in the cart.

In the meantime, my husband and I have agreed on a thrift moratorium. Our gift closet is well-stocked and we all are doing quite well with clothes, furniture, and the like. So we’re not shopping again for three months. Taking a break for a few months will allow us to really see and appreciate all we’ve got.

Other than the moratorium, I’m not sure how to solve this problem. I’d love to hear suggestions from my readers on how they deal with similar issues. I do want Olivia to learn that good things can come from thrift stores, and I want her to enjoy shopping. But I also want her to learn moderation and simplicity.

How do you encourage and promote these values in your home?


Frugal Friday: Buying Less in 2013

I’ve been frugal by necessity my whole life. I learned the art of thrifting at an early age because without thirft stores, I wouldn’t have had clothes. Seriously.

But over time, thrifting has moved beyond the place of necessity in my life. It’s become a lifestyle and a form of entertainment. My husband and I have talked it over, and if we became millionaires, we would still shop the thrift stores. In fact, we’d go on a thrifting odyssey across all 50 states, using an RV for transportation.

Ahem. Yes, we are *that* serious about thrifting.

But there is a downside to thrifting, and that is this: the accumulation of too much stuff.

Take Disney VHS movies, for example. We decided, when our daughter was 2, that we would begin buying all the Disney movies we could find on VHS. After all, they go “back to the vault” after so many years, and our kid might miss out!

And we did get a lot of them. But here’s what we found. Our daughter only likes to watch a few movies over and over again. We were hoarding a ton of VHS movies that she didn’t care about. “Alice in Wonderland”–too freaky. “Sword in the Stone”–a boy’s movie. “Pete’s Dragon”–too long and talky, talkier than we remembered from our own childhoods. So I ended up clearing out the stash and gave away a garbage bag FULL of VHS movies on Freecycle. We kept the favorites and anything that we hadn’t watched in two years we gave away.

Granted, the total cost of that garbage bag of movies was probably less than $20. But we moved most of them from North Carolina to Texas. We kept them in a drawer for 4 years. They were taking up way more than $20 worth of room.

So while I will never stop thrifting, my goal for Frugal Fridays is to buy less stuff. Even if I spend more money to have a higher quality but fewer quantities of items. Let’s separate the wheat from the chaff in 2013–whaddya say?

Writing Wednesday: How I Chose Inspirational Fiction…Or How It Chose Me

I don’t like to write a lot about CRAFT, because it makes me feel self-conscious and like I’m taking myself way too seriously. But a lot of people have written to me or asked me questions about writing, and I realize that there are a lot of questions about the industry that maybe I can answer. Or at least contribute to the conversation. I’ll try to address some of these questions by posting on Writing Wednesdays. Monday is now my weight loss blogging day, and Friday is still my frugal day. Are we good with the change-up? Great. Away we go…

Big Question #1: What is Inspirational Romance and Why Do You Write It?

Inspirational romance is a subgenre of romance fiction, in which the spiritual journey of the hero and heroine is as important to the development of the story as their romantic attraction. Inspirational romance can be contemporary, historical, suspenseful, or any combination of the above. Inspirational romance does not have overt sexual scenes, drinking, gambling, or anything else that might be considered offensive. Think of it as PG-rated, but also remember that there are some truly awesome films that are rated PG.

I started trying to write romantic fiction when I was at my local library and I saw just how much room was devoted to the romance novels. I always loved reading historical romance but never thought I could write it. I started researching he industry on a lark and thought I’d give it a whirl. I joined a critique group and they were amazing at helping me to improve my writing skills, which were woefully underdone at that point.

I realized that I simply wasn’t comfortable writing secular romance and felt stuck on what to do with my career. At the time, we were living in eastern North Carolina, and to clear my mind, I went for a drive. I stopped at a Salvation Army thrift store in Bayboro. If you read this blog, you know I cannot resist a thrift store, and this one always yielded treasures.

As I strolled around, I felt something calling out to me. I wandered around, and the feeling of being pulled grew ever stronger. I finally whirled around and spied what had been calling out to me–a shelf full of Grace Livingston Hill and Janette Oke books. The Hill books were beautifully bound in hardcover; the Oke books were the same trade paperbacks I had read so carefully as a girl in my mother’s bookstore. They were only 10 cents each, so I bought 2 shelves’ full. And that’s when I had my career epiphany–to write inspirational historical fiction.

These books and these authors brought me so much joy as a young girl–I wanted to perpetuate that joy and share that feeling with others.

And that’s why Lily George writes inspy romance–it all stems from a chance encounter with some dusty books at a Salvation Army thrift store.


Manic Monday: What I Wore–Floral Shirt & Jeans (Cute kid alert!)

I haven’t posted a What I Wore post in a while, for a few reasons:

a.) my husband was out of town for a week, and he’s my photographer;

b.) in the mornings, when I am kitted out as a paralegal, I am in too much of a rush to worry about photos;

c.) it’s HOT here. Even if you wear makeup, it melts & sweats away in a few moments.

BUT–my husband is back, and he took the time to work on a new braid for my hair while we watched the Equestrian events on the Olympics (my favorite sport).You may think it odd that my husband does my hair, but he really only tackles the braids, which I don’t have the patience or the coordination to handle. And since he’s an engineer and also knows how to tie knots for sailing, he’s very precise when it comes to braids. So…there you have it.

I wanted to show off my hairstyle, and my daughter wanted to show her outfit, which she put together herself:

On me: Thrifted Calvin Klein Jeans, garage sale-d Gap jacket, Jones New York floral shirt from $7 Dillard’s, and flip-flops from a fellow Freecycler. The whole outfit cost about $13.

Frankly, my daughter’s outfit is cuter.

This photo reminds me that I need to get back on the proper eating train. I’ve been stressed at school lately and the bloat is proof of that. Also, forgive the lack of makeup…like I said, it’s hot! My hair is styled in the Boho Nape Knot, which I learned from Franny’s Blog–an invaluable resource for any woman with long hair.

I don’t usually wear prints of any kind, so this floral shirt was a departure. I loved the feel of the fabric and decided to give it a go. But now…I’m not so sure. I think I am more of a solid girl. What do you think?

I promise I will post pictures of me in my workday attire soon…but on the weekends, the last thing I want to do is tug on a pair of hose. In the meantime, it’s casual all the way, baby!

Frugal Friday: Shop Goodwill for Art

Hi everyone!

I don’t know if anyone saw this article, but I just had to share:  http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/goodwill-art-worth-thousands-16854821

I have found so many cool pieces of art at thrift stores and garage sales over the years. Nothing that compares to this, more’s the pity, but I have found some really amazing pieces over the years. My latest find was on shopgoodwill, which is an online auction site made up of several different Goodwills that band together to showcase their most interesting treasures.

I love the 1920s and the sheer Art Deco goodness of this woman’s dress caught my fancy. I ended up placing the winning bid at $20. The shipping, because it was already framed, cost as much as the item itself!

But for $40, I have an original, framed drawing of a flapper. On the reverse, there is a stamp for L. Mc Chesney, 940 25th Street SE, Auburn, Washington. There’s also a stamp for Auburn Custom Framing, and the drawing is signed by Lam. I’m putting this information out there just in case anyone knows anything about this drawing. The lady in the picture definitely inspires me. I may use her as a heroine in one of my novels some day!

If you’ve never scoured your local thrift stores, junk stores, or garage sales for art work, you might want to give it a try. There are some real treasures out there.

The picture goes quite well over our mantel, don’t you agree? And those are some other thrifted treasures I’ve picked up over the years.

Thrifty Thursday: The Case of the Broken Coffeemaker

This has been a hectic week, y’all. I started the last quarter of my paralegal studies this past Monday, and the schedule change has been brutal. But you know what made it OK? Even though I was exhausted and running on adrenaline, everything was OK as soon as my coffee-maker switched on in the morning. Just that familiar smell of coffee brewing wakes me up and helps me to face down the day.

As Peggy Hill would say, “Nothing wakes me up in the morning like a cup of coffee.”

I agree, Captain Obvious.

Except…on Tuesday morning, the coffee maker broke.


Now, there is never a good time for a coffee maker to break. And usually, you don’t know it’s broken until you try to use it…which is first thing in the morning…which is when you need coffee most.

My husband ran hot water through our coffee grounds. It turned out about as well as you think it might. Zach had class that night and I had a ton of homework, so neither of us thought to buy another coffee maker until…the next morning, when we needed coffee AGAIN.

Trying to avoid Starbucks, which is a particular vice of mine (and which Dave Ramsey refers to as “FiveBucks”), we tried instant coffee, which we happened to have in the house. It was worse than the previous day’s attempt.

No es bueno.

The major problem was that I didn’t want a new coffee maker. I wanted my old one, only fixed. You see, I bought this Cuisinart coffee maker three years ago at a Salvation Army thrift store in New Bern, NC, for $3. It was the perfect coffee maker–sturdy and reliable, easy to program. It had just enough bells and whistles to keep us happy, but not enough to break down often.

So I realized, as each day passed and I stubbornly resisted coffee-maker shopping, that there are no longer any small appliance fix-it shops. When I was a kid, there was a fix-it shop in my hometown. It was a tangle of wires and switches, and almost impossible to turn around in, but you could take a toaster or a blender or a coffee maker in there, and they would repair it.

Does anyone else remember this?

Nowadays, we’re supposed to throw it away and buy new. I don’t like that way of thinking. There’s nothing wrong with my old machine that can’t be fixed. So why not fix it, instead of buying new?

I found a tutorial for fixing coffee makers at howstuffworks.com. My husband, who is an engineer, has promised to take a look at it this weekend and will try to fix the machine himself. In the meantime, we went to Thrift Town and got a Sunbeam model for $6. We had to. Until Zach has time to fix it, we had to have real coffee. We were like zombies around here.

So–for less than the price of two lattes at Starbucks, we were able to buy a new (to us) coffee maker. Not bad, huh? The Sunbeam is in good shape, too. Looks almost new. Maybe someone donated it after getting one of those schmancy new coffee pod things.

When we fix the old machine, we’ll keep the newer one as backup. The hope is that we will never have another morning without coffee. And I will keep you posted on how the repair goes. It just seems so weird that, in thirty years, we’ve really moved from a fix-it society to a throwaway society.

I love you, coffee. Let’s never fight again.

What I Wore: The First Post Ev-ah

I really like looking at other people’s What I Wore (WIW) posts. I follow a number of fashion bloggers, some geared towards modest fashion and some not, and this is always my favorite kind of post. I love seeing how real women put outfits together. I mean, any model in a fashion magazine can look awesome. They have everything to their advantage–airbrushing, designer clothing, perfect lighting, a professional photographer. Who wouldn’t look great?

But what really inspires me is seeing how ordinary women create extraordinary outfits out of what they have in their closets. Especially women who love to thrift like me. But I have always avoided doing these posts on my own because…gasp…I hate having my picture taken.

Full disclosure: I gained a lot of weight last year following a miscarriage. But I have been on Medifast for the past few months and I’ve lost 25 pounds. I still have a lot to go, but I am finally at a stage where seeing my own picture doesn’t make me gasp in horror. Plus, this is a good way to document my weight loss progress.

And so, I give you my very first WIW posting–the Sunday edition. This is what I wore to church today.

Dress: DKNY (From the Dillard’s Clearance Center at Six Flags Mall)

Leggings: Motherhood Maternity (Left over from pregnancy days, so comfy I hate to give them up)

Flats: Gianni Binni (from Dillard’s Clearance Center)

Belt: NY & CO. (Thrifted)

LOL–my daughter raced in front of the camera, and that made me laugh just as my husband snapped the shot.

I love this dress. It has pockets, an elastic waist band, and pretty sleeves. It’s also below the knee length, so I feel comfortable wearing it without tights. But since our church is usually ice-cold during the summer, I needed the extra warmth leggings provide. Plus, you can machine wash this dress–no dry cleaning needed. The Dillard’s Clearance Center is a great place for scooping up new clothes at a huge discount. I bought this dress there for $13 a few years ago. It had no belt so I added my own for definition. We call it the “Seven Dollar Dillard’s” because a friend of mine bought a prom dress for her daughter for $7. Some people call it “Dirty Dillard’s” and given its location–it’s an apt description. But I am more concerned with prices than ambiance, so I love shopping there.

So…there you have it. My first WIW post. I love modest fashion and will get used to posting pics of my outfits. LOL Be kind as I develop my tough skin!