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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-

April 15, 2015

a new set of napkins and a blogiversary

this week marks the 2 year anniversary for the blog! I'd like to think that writing this blog over the past 24 months, I think a little more about what I buy and why I buy it.  that is after all the original reason for starting the blog.

as I've shared briefly over the past several months, we bought a foreclosed house and are in the process (still!) of renovating it. even after being here for eight months, there are still boxes to be unpacked and closets to be organized.  and we've already taken a load to goodwill to donate a bunch of unnecessary things.  my husband and I joke (hopefully!) that we should move every couple of years to simplify and prevent the build-up of "stuff".

with that said, I was going through my scraps of fabric box and decided it was time to carry out some project ideas, one of which is to make cloth napkins for the kitchen. and whether or not this is gross to you, i had some old pillow cases (whose sheets are stained and turned into drop cloths for painting) that would match our plates well. and now they are a lovely little set of napkins!

 ^^rough estimate of size comparing to a rather wrinkled napkin- clearly not aiming for exact size!^^

 ^^simple hem on all four sides^^

^^we aren't this formal, but they look pretty nice with our plates^^

^^put into action! here I am this afternoon enjoying some breastfeeding cookies and tea while Beatrice naps^^

<truth be told, the oatmeal is the only reason these are sort of breast milk producing cookies, otherwise, they are basic chocolate chip! and the tea is actually Earth Mama Angel Baby organic milkmaid tea (found here if you are interested)>

**do you have any fun repurposing projects going on?**

April 1, 2015

top 5 nursing apparel items you already own

These days sitting down at the computer to write feels like I am stealing a piece of my pre-motherhood self. Now my days are mostly filled with the tasks of the early weeks of motherhood- nursing, diapers, and constant worries of every sound my baby makes.  
We had our daughter on her due date, February 14- she was the best little valentine! Her name is Beatrice Rose. She is a sweet baby, slowly learning how things work around here, while slowly teaching us about who she is. I love that. God has created this very special person that we are getting to know!

Well, my thoughts today are on breastfeeding clothing- and I apologize to those of you who aren't mothers or don't care about breastfeeding apparel. Bare with me, my mind is consumed with Beatrice and any topic related to her.  Most of our time together is spent breastfeeding. And if you've done it, you understand that what you wear makes a big difference in your comfort while feeding, particularly in public.

In the vein of living secondhand and consuming less, what I've realized in the past 6 weeks is that pieces that I already own are convenient for nursing.  Not only does that mean I'm not spending money on new pieces, but I'll wear what I have long after I'm done breastfeeding.  You don't have to spend much (or anything!) on the tops specifically made for nursing that cost an arm and a leg.  And you can still feel good, which is essential to any woman postpartum.

Here are essentials that I already own that are staples in my nursing wardrobe:

1.  Spagetti strap tank tops. These are key for quick easy access- loosen the straps so you can quickly pull down the shirt for access.  (Note: this works specifically with nursing bras that can be unsnapped from the top.) I also recommend these tank tops from Target.

2.  Long sweaters or cardigans that open in the front. I can't tell you how wonderful they are for not only warmth and easy access, but they are a great source of added material to help conceal if you are in a crowd. Plus, they cover parts of your body that may be "softer" after pregnancy.

3. Scarves.  These are fabulous to wear for added coverage.  I do have a nursing cover that I absolutely love, but scarves are a fantastic way to add a little flash of color or pop to your outfit, and can also be used for additional coverage on the spot.

4.  Easy access dresses.  There are a few cotton dresses I have that are perfect for easy access, particularly v-neck styles. 

5. Cowl neck shirts.  I have 2 of these style shirts and they are absolutely wonderful in creating a dressy look with easy access due to excess stretch and material around the neck line.

Pregnancy and birth are probably the most drastic changes your body will go through! The last piece of advice I will leave with you is to wear anything that makes you feel good. Your body is doing amazing things.  Hopefully this list will inspire you to look at what you already own and not feel like you have to buy a completely new wardrobe or spend a lot to feel good postpartum, especially while breastfeeding.

*have a great day*

February 3, 2015

a kitchen reborn

In the pending birth of our first child, I am spending my evenings being large and slow on the couch, eating pretty much everything in sight, and cruising through Friends seasons on Netflix. 
I thought I'd finally share some photos of the house, namely my favorite room so far, the kitchen!! This remodel has been taking place since September, and our dear little kitchen has been reborn in 5 months!




I cannot say how thankful I am for my husband who has put countless hours into make this space so amazing! (Even as I am typing this, he is working on another project until dinner is ready!)  
It has been such a fun transformation to see an outdated and cramped kitchen turn into a modern, open, and functional space for cooking/eating! 
There are other fun projects happening right now, including redoing the addition with the fireplace, putting in baseboards, and adding french doors. 
Until those are projects get posted, I imagine we'll have a new little family member to take up just some of our time! 

Anyone else have some fun projects going on they'd like to share?

happy tuesday

January 16, 2015

the one with the onesies

My sisters and mom threw a great baby shower over the holidays in honor of the baby. I've actually been honored and very blessed to have three baby showers with various groups of people that mean so much to me! Each one was special and perfect in their own way and I couldn't feel more supported going into this parenthood thing.

In honor of this project that I call the blog, the hosts of this particular shower decided to have some craft time, making something for the baby. It was AWESOME! Various sizes of the much-needed (so I've heard) white onesies were spread across the kitchen table along with stencils, paints, and iron on patches. It will be so fun to see the baby wearing clothes hand-painted by some of my favorite people!

^one of my faves created by my 8-year-old niece^

^my sister, Jennie, and friend, Amanda^

^my cousin's baby, Molly, thought it was pretty cool^

Can't wait to see the baby sporting all these cool onesies!

January 15, 2015

4 weeks and counting

Hello all!
It has been such a long time since I've spent any time working on the blog. But while I've not been writing, life has been filled with many changes and times requiring much gumptious living!  We've gone from living in the basement apartment at my husband's parents' house, to remodeling (still!) a house with our bare hands, while growing a child, and preparing for life as parents.  It's been busy to say the least.
As the days are speeding past at neck-jarring speeds, I am finding myself  about 4 weeks away from holding my child in my arms, knowing if it's a son or a daughter, and probably learning how to keep a little one alive in a "baby-horse-standing-up-for-the-first-time" kind of way.  I can't wait and yet I'm terrified all at once. I'm sure (hoping) that these are normal feelings to be having at this point in the pregnancy.

Well, tonight I'd like to share some of my favorite moments of creativity or gumption over the past few months during this time of craziness.  I will of course make the blanket statement that the house has been one of my favorite transformations/projects that I have poured my energy into and there will be many pictures to come, I just need to sort through them.  But here are some of the other, smaller ways that some gumption has been in my life.

1. homemade forks.
Our first meal in the house was take out from a local Italian restaurant. After I was sure to ask for utensils, they of course did not come with our meals. So, Seth decided to create our own homemade utensils so we could eat our salads.

2. The hardwood floors!! 
Huck and Brody agree that they like the hardwoods better now that they are sanded and restained. We spent a long weekend sanding and sanding and sanding. These pictures don't do the floors total justice, but I promise, they make the entire upstairs floor of our house lovely (especially with Huck's fur pile for a rug).

3. the griddle
We have lived here about 4 months using a griddle and microwave- no stove, no oven, and no counter tops until recently.... This has forced some great creativity in the "kitchen" and truthfully I've surprised myself with some decent meals. anyway, this little kitchen device called a griddle has sparked some great culinary creativity for a very necessary part of life. 

4. rocking chair
call me old fashioned, but I love hand-me-downs and family heirlooms. We adopted this sweet little number from my grandmother's house and it is wonderful! I love that classic creaking sound it makes while rocking.  As we have unpacked our boxes of our belongings that we haven't seen in over a year, I am so thankful for the generous and amazing hand-me-downs that have been gifted to us over the years. Not only am I nostalgic, but it totally supports what I believe in and why I write this blog!

5. library for the baby
Lastly, I am in complete nesting phase. Even though we don't have a working washer and dryer, we don't have a stove, no pictures on the walls, no photographs in frames sitting around reflecting our lives, I am nesting in that little room that we call the baby's. It is painted. It has a few pieces of furniture. My mother and father-in-law got us an amazing gliding rocking chair in the corner.  As I sit in that chair and look around and picture being a mama, I look at the shelf on the opposite wall with a small row of books stacked up neatly against one another. They are collected from our childhoods, and a handful have been given by friends and family over the past few months.  I can't wait to read to this little one. This is one of my favorite parts of the baby's room. 

Hope you are all having a great week. 
thanks for stopping by!