family (10) giveaway (4) gumption (28) home (10) June (3) Local (10) monday mashup (3) nurse (1) outside (1) Restoration (6) style (17)

April 22, 2016

Earth Day Projects

As a mom of a one-year-old, wife of a husband, nursing a full-time nursing career, and trying to keep up with the hair balls that roll away when I walk down the hallway (thanks dogs!), I am finding myself not spending much time writing on this blog (or shaving my legs, really). Time is such a precious thing.  Just yesterday I told my husband that our daughter is no longer a baby. She is a straight-up sassy toddler! She has perfected her fake cry, learned how to body slam herself on the floor when she’s upset, and jibber-jabbers like it’s no one’s business. Man, she is growing fast and I love her so much, my heart could just burst out of my chest!

Well, over the past several months, I’ve been thinking hard about unnecessary consumption and (almost always) this comes back to clothing for me. I feel like there are a hundred ways I can be more responsible in my consumption, but the area that interests me most is clothing.  That could be due to the fact that my closet seems to be quite full, and yet I am constantly wanting new.  And I think I may not be alone in this, as our culture is constantly trying to tell us to wear the newest trends and colors. This steady demand for new and lower cost clothing means that someone somewhere is paying a high cost (low wages, questionable work conditions, etc).  I want to clarify that there is always a balance (one of my mantra words for life right now).  I am not intending to put a guilt trip on anyone here.  So I say, find balance. Buy that new dress for the upcoming wedding, but see if you can find an accessory or shoes at a consignment shop.
With all that said, I have found a way to harness some of this energy on this subject into a fun hobby.  About 4 months ago, I purchased a screen, some ink, an x-acto knife, and a self-healing cutting board.  I started cutting out some of my doodles, and with the first print, was hooked.  And side note here, if you have a chance, read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.  This book was not only enjoyable to read, but also such a great encouragement to grasp any artistic inspiration and run with it! 

Here a few samples of some of the prints below. I am constantly thinking up new ‘messages’ or designs, and am open to suggestions.  And due to some mild interest, I am going to be selling these prints on a custom basis for $15.00 each, meaning I will find a secondhand shirt in good condition (or item of your choice), print using eco-friendly, solvent-free ink, in a color of your choosing. Please comment below if you are interested!

First project, 'mug of steaming liquid' on tea towel.

 A logo and shirt to support my sister's new personal training business, 'creative energy wellness'

'there is art in the earth'

'Micah 6:8'

 'downward dog recycle sign'

As always, thanks for stopping by my little world.
 I am hoping to spread some secondhand love on this earth day.


January 19, 2016

Christmas recap

Hello there! I hope this past Christmas season was a time of joyous celebration and peace with your loved ones.  I find it hard to believe it is already the start of another year, a time to reflect on the past and prepare and dream of what may come in this new year.  

I recently posted about alternatives to big box Black Friday Christmas shopping for gifting this season and was challenged by a friend to write about which, if any, of these I actually ended up using, so hence, a recap tonight.  And I want to be clear that I don't intend to write this recap in a "look at what I did" way, it is more an intention of personal accountability to the purpose of this blog. 

For starters, I didn't actually end up participating in small business Saturday this year. Truthfully, I didn't even go as far as looking at the local businesses participating. Later in the season, I did check out a local kids' consignment shop for some fun gifts for our nieces and nephews and a Christmas dress for Beatrice. 

Etsy is an amazing hub for hundreds of small businesses selling artsy, unique gifts.  This year, I found several gifts on Etsy, some that were able to be monogrammed for a personal touch. Just make sure gifts like this are thought out ahead of time, to account for personalization and shipping time. 

Pura Vida Bracelets were given to a few people this year. It is nice supporting a company that also gives proceeds to various charities. 

A few of my favorite gifts to give this year were paintings for two of my nieces.  Partly because their family is in the midst of moving, so they have been planning new colorful bedrooms, but also because painting is such a luxurious activity.  

Lastly, I bombed the original "experience" gift my hubby (story for another day), but we are hoping to get out on the slopes for a day this winter instead. Experience gifts are so fun, especially knowing it is something that will feed a relationship well. 

What fun gifts have you given or gotten this year?
Any from the list of alternative ideas?

November 25, 2015

black friday alternatives

 ^photo credit to pinterest^ 
The end of this week marks one of the heaviest shopping days of the year in this country. This week on Thursday night or Friday morning, stores will fill, credit cards will swipe, and Christmas shopping will be underway. Oddly enough, I don’t have a huge problem with Black Friday shopping.  I believe people can have a great time being off work, spending the day with loved ones, getting gifts for one another, and finding great deals doing it.  There is a lot of fun in the tradition of gift giving.  What is bothersome to me is the unnecessary spending, the violence that occurs when there are too many people going after a small amount of products, and the attitude of buying new just because it may be a good deal.  With that said, I want to offer alternative suggestions to you for your Black Friday and holiday shopping.
1.       Small Business Saturday.
This is fantastic! To follow the day of the big box store deals, this Saturday has turned in “small business Saturday” for the 6th year running (thanks for heading this up Amex)! If we can support our local businesses and industries, studies show that “with every $100 that is spent at a local retailer, $68 will return to the community in taxes and payroll”.  See more here. Some retailers even have a lot of incentives and deals going on as well.  Get out there and support the local economy!
 ^photo credit to pinterest^
2.       Secondhand, secondhand, secondhand.
Writing a blog about living secondhand and having/wearing used, I cannot encourage this enough.  I know that there are times when shopping secondhand is unpredictable, inconvenient, and you certainly don’t always know what you will find. But, it never hurts to look and see if there is the perfect gift to be thrifted of upcycled.  Disclaimer: this one is tough sometimes with giving a gift- see my thoughts on that more here 
3.       Serrv or other Fair Trade products
 Serrv is a company that sells all fair trade products from around the world. Their products range from jewelry to home decorations, and they feature a lot of products made by women, encouraging further education and sustainable income for their families and communities.  Check them out at
 4.       Etsy
Etsy is a huge resource for finding products made by small businesses around the world. This website offers links to a wide variety of products for almost anything you are searching for.  Check out for more.
5.       Heifer Project International
For a super alternative gift (but so meaningful to the world), try donating an animal in a loved one’s name. This company connects communities that need sustainable income or food with animals donated! I feel especially attached to this cause because my Grandfather helped work with this company when it started after WWII, delivering horses to help repair a destroyed Europe.
6.       Pura Vida Bracelets
 This past year, I came across PVB online and ended up buying a bracelet with some birthday money from my sisters. I can’t say enough about how fun it is to have colorful bracelets on my wrists that remind me that our world is small and I am a part of it.  This company sells bracelets that help support the economy in Costa Rica.  Many of their charity bracelets also give procedes to a specific cause.  Or check out Woman at Risk International that helps raise money to stop human trafficking and support women who have survived.  check them out here: or
7.         Make something!
Lastly, but certainly not least, try making something.  I know homemade isn’t always loved by everyone, but if time and your creativity allow, try it. Some of my favorite gifts in the world are homemade.  You may find you have more skill than you thought too! Another idea is thinking about an experience you can gift someone, such as tickets to a show, a day out at an amusement park, lessons of an activity they want to try, etc.
In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


November 1, 2015

being a working out of the house mama

I recently had an expectant friend ask me about what it is like to work full time and be a mom, as she is deliberating her options of work and soon-to-be motherhood.  I had a hard time answering her on the spot and articulating my thoughts, let alone turning anything into advice worth listening to. So, over the past several weeks, I thought hard about working full time as a mom and, in a cathartic way, have compiled a bit of advice that I follow to maybe make the expectations manageable and balance easier. And I want to stress that I think being a mom, whether working or staying at home requires an impossible amount of love, hard work, and organization. And one of my sisters is days away from returning to work after her beautiful son was born, and I also was thinking of her and any thoughts I’d have to offer her.

1. Make time with your child a priority during the evening hours.
One of the first steps I took to finding any type of balance in my work and home life was to make evening time with Beatrice an absolute priority. When I leave work at the end of the day, I leave work mentally. Once I’m home, I make no plans or huge ambitions other than to be with Beatrice. I try not to plan many activities, or more importantly, expect a lot of tasks to get done during that time, even if that means dust bunnies hang out longer than they should.  That is time to spend intentionally with her.  Some days we go for a walk or run, sometimes it’s prepping dinner, or other days we just hang out and play.  I want her to know that I value that time with her and want to spend time learning about what she learned that day, helping her develop new skills, and just enjoying her.

2. Have something for yourself- make it a priority.
I definitely struggle to find time make time to do something just for me, as many of us do. There are 101 other tasks to do before I spend time doing something fun for me, but when I don’t get time for myself, I have a hard time feeling like I have anything to offer the world, especially my family. When I'm an empty cup, what kind of mom does that make me?  Whether it’s working out, reading, doing something crafty, spending time with friends, do it. Make time for yourself, even if it happens only once a week and the only opportunity to be alone is at 5:00 am when the house is quiet and the coffee is fresh.

3. Sleep.
We’ve all read about the importance of getting sleep, so this is a no-brainer. Every single day is go-go-go from 5:30 am to about 10 or 11 pm. If I don’t sleep at least 6-7 hours a night, I turn into an angry bear. I am not willing to be a bear on a daily basis- it's not fair to my family- so I choose to sleep. Sometimes this looks like a good 8-9 hour night of sleep one night, and a shorter night of sleep another night to do some other things (see #2).

4. Be flexible, willing to compromise some expectations you may have had for yourself.
I had grand ambitions before I had Beatrice of making all of her food and using cloth diapers exclusively.  But as I went back to work and started to juggle it all, I felt unable to keep up and had to compromise. I beat myself up (see #5), feeling like I wasn't doing enough (see #6).  It helps to just recognize I can’t do it all, and go easy on myself for this, even if it means giving up on some expectations I may have had before going back to work.  Be realistic and stick to what is most important to you and what works for your family.

5. Talk to yourself as you would a good friend.
Cue Chris Farley in SNL’s skit when he interviews Paul McCartney, “Idiot”!  I heard a podcast recently on the ramifications of negative self- talk. Without sounding like a self-help book here, let me just say the advice given to combat negative self-talk is to speak to yourself as you would a very good friend.  I would never tell one of my sisters that because they didn't have time to workout, they are disgusting and lazy, so why in the world would I say that to myself?

6. Reassure yourself the grass may not be greener on the other side.
Lastly, I must say that almost every day I wish I could stay home with Beatrice.  Almost every day I feel a bit jealous of stay at home moms. But I need to remind myself that being a nurse is a big part of who I am. I get to be with people all day and continue to practice my nursing skills.  I am challenged intellectually.  The job gives me routine each day and helps shape who I am, so I can’t help but recognize I may be a different person if I were home every day.  To help me get in the car and drive to work every day, I remind myself that Beatrice is in a great situation with her caretaker and the other kids she watches. She is experiencing a lot of great things that I probably wouldn’t expose her to if I were home.  And she wouldn’t have the socialization that she has now.  I had a good friend remind me of that the day I started back to work and it is advice that has helped me EVERY day since.

I also want to recognize my husband in this parenting adventure we are on. He is incredibly hands-on and supportive of me as a working mom, from driving Beatrice to and from "school", to making dinner most evenings while I bathe and put Bea to bed.  I couldn't do this life or role without him, and want to recognize and thank him for that. 

Well, I know this has nothing to do with living or buying secondhand and being resourceful, but writing this has been really helpful to me these past few weeks and maybe can help someone else. 

Happy November!

September 22, 2015

thrifting for babies

Since Beatrice was born, life has become a bit busier and convenience is often the trump card in decision making and buying power.  However, in an effort to not only keep my bank account happy but also consume less and teach my daughter about secondhand living, I have found there are still ways where thrifting is totally possible and can be convenient.  To me, the key to avoid high costs and buying new is to plan ahead and strike while the iron is hot.  That is, stop at the thrift store when I have an extra 20 minutes without Beatrice, or plan a Saturday morning to hit up garage sales and stock up on clothes for the future.   And don’t get me wrong, I have had my (many!) times of frantically running to the store to buy a new pacifier, swaddler, sound machine or nightlight- anything to help her sleep through the night!  And of course I am certainly not advocating not providing well for your child’s needs, nor do I want anyone to feel judged by buying new, I am just offering areas where it is possible if you are into the secondhand thing.  So here goes! 

1.       Clothes!
Growing. Does. Not. Stop! My daughter has been swiftly moving up in sizes proving that clothing I have for her doesn’t fit for too long! This is the greatest area where thrifting has been relatively easy and successful, and after comparing price tags on new baby clothes, it is worth it to the bank account. Check local thrift stores or websites like  Check your local newspaper or Facebook page for events happening in your area too.  Westmoreland County is having a HUGE thrifting event for children’s items next weekend at our local fairground.  Clothes are easily washable and because kids grow out of them so quickly, thrifted clothes are often in good shape too. Secondhand stores often provide a rewards program as well that adds incentive to keep going back.
Tip: For the sake of saving time later and planning ahead, look through entire sections of kids’ clothing in thrift store. I’ve found a few outfits that we won’t need for 2 more years for 25 cents each!  This only works if you can predict the general size of your child during the season they’ll need the clothing.
2.       Toys
Much like clothing, kids’ interests and activities change so often.  We have been lucky enough to have friends and family gift us a lot of their old toys so we haven’t had to buy much for Beatrice.  She will eventually start to want specific toys, but for now, we are keeping her well entertained by rotating many of the toys that were handed down to us!  I’ve combed craigslist often for good toys/activities that she may be interested in as well, especially with the upcoming holidays and a first birthday around the corner.  The best thing about kids stuff: IT’S ALL WASHABLE! There has not been a toy yet that I haven’t been able to clean well.  With a little elbow grease, they’re as good as new!
3.       Furniture
Furniture is one of those things that everyone may disagree on. When you have a baby, you need a crib.  Newer cribs are obviously the most up-to-date on safety features.  Depending on how comfortable you are with having an older crib and mattress (assuming it still meets the safety recommendations), receiving/buying a used one is totally worth it.  We were fortunate to have been pregnant right when friends of ours were getting rid of their nursery furniture, so it worked out well.  But even if you don’t know someone getting rid of furniture, search garage sales, Craigslist, or newspaper ads for gently used ones.  You can also use or upcycle a dresser to be used as a changing table, or paint an old set of shelves for the nursery.  
4.       Books
This is one of my favorite things for Beatrice to have a full stock of! She loves books and reading with children is so important. We were given stacks of books from friends and family, and a local Goodwill is usually stocked with mounds of children’s books for 25 cents each. And those little teeth marks from strange children? Don’t worry- germs don’t live that long on the edges of books, and especially if they are board books, they can be wiped down pretty easily.  One of the other suggestions I can offer here is to check out the local library or used book store. Often there is a section of used books they are giving away for free.
5.       Pay it forward!
I know a lot of parents, and I bet many of you are already doing a lot of the above tips for the basic purpose of saving money! That is certainly enough motivation to buy secondhand, but cutting down on consumption is definitely an added bonus. So my last piece of advice today is to take care of the kids’ items you have and save what you can to give away to someone who needs it.  And really this goes for everything! Take care of your things so that if you find you don’t need it anymore, someone else may benefit. Use local secondhand shops. Sell on Craigslist. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure!
**thanks for stopping by**


September 12, 2015

thredUP: a review

A few weeks ago, while researching secondhand living options online, I stumbled across a company called thredUP.  It is an online consignment shop, featuring all secondhand items! It eliminates one of the greatest difficulties of shopping secondhand- finding what you need in your size, when you need it.  The website features easy to navigate categories, including shops for children and women, that can be narrowed down into sizes, brands, relevance, and newest listed. 

The shop works out of San Francisco, CA, accepting clothing and accessories from people all over the country. They send people who would like to clean out their closets a clean out kit, allowing you to send your gently used clothing and accessories to them to be listed and sold on the website. Best part is, they pay for the shipping!  If they can't list an item to sell, they will either donate it or send it back to you with a small shipping charge. You can receive payment for your items, based on the listed price once the item is processed, adding a great incentive. Your payout can be transferred to store credit, donated to a charity, or transferred to cash. Win win!

And buying? Well, that is the easiest part! I looked for an item that I really needed, jeans that are long  (I'm almost 6' tall!) and fit well.  I knew what brand I liked, what size, and was able to easily add the item to my cart and pay for it securely. The website is so easy to navigate! The jeans came in less than a week, were true to size, color, and the description of being very gently used (I truly cannot tell they are secondhand).  And the best part is, if they hadn't worked out, I still could have returned them within 30 days.  But they fit like a charm, so they are staying!

One of my favorite things is that the company also sent a little booklet along with the jeans that features the staff members and the company's vision and purpose. I loved some of the quotes, so I couldn't help but feature them on the blog today because they jive with exactly what I believe in and why I write this blog.

"I fear we are becoming a throwaway culture, where everything is disposable. I want my son to live in a more thoughtful, considerate world." 
-Kristy Atkins-Kirshtner, merchandising

"how do we want to live today?"

"We know shopping secondhand helps the world in some small way, 
and we're proud to be a part of that."

Guys, check this website out! 
It is an awesome way to live consciously buying secondhand, but still be able to shop for what you really need and brands that best represent you! 

Here is the link: thredUP.

enjoy your weekend and thanks for stopping by!

September 6, 2015

an old frame

A few years ago, I posted a review of a sweet secondhand shop in Winston Salem (see it here).  This place was one of my favorites!  Against a wall in the shop, a gold picture frame that was tucked away, between other frames and artwork, caught my eye. I can't describe exactly what it was that attracted me to it, but because I liked it and felt inspired, I bought it. 
I haven't touched the frame at all in about two years, except to pack it in a box for two moves (my husband loves that! Ha!) 
This spring I decided to unpack and dust the ol' gal off and finally do something with it. I found the project on pinterest, so I can't take any credit for the idea, but I love how it turned out.  I decided to transform it into a framed "clothes line" to hang pictures and cards from. The frame is in our kitchen and already has already been put to use. A can of glossy white spray paint, twine, nails, and a few small clothes pins created the finished project! 
I'm happy that in the name of secondhand living, something old that caught my eye a few years ago, turned out to be a great and useful accent in the house today.

 ^^Before, in 2013^^


^^the after photos- located in a corner of our kitchen^^

thank you for stopping by
-happy sunday-