Celebrating in Edited Style

A couple days after my dad’s birthday, there was another birthday to celebrate.  My grandmother was turning the big 8-0, and we knew as a family that we needed to do something more than just a cake and a big happy birthday.  We had started planning months before the big day; we had people involved, we had a location secured, and we had a food plan.  What we hadn’t planned on was my uncle losing the lower half of his left leg in a motorcycle accident on June 10.

It was around 9 PM, and my uncle decided to ride into town on his motorcycle, just two or three miles down the road.  My dad said that if he could have foreseen what would happen, he would have driven to his house and slashed his tires.  On his way back, my uncle’s motorcycle was clipped by a woman in an SUV who apparently didn’t see him (how do you not see an on-coming headlight?!).  I won’t get graphic with the rest of the details, but his lower left leg was severed on scene and everyone considered it a miracle he’s still with us.  After numerous surgeries and a month and a half in the hospital, he was finally able to go home at the beginning of August.  His struggle is anything but over, but going home is at least one little start.

Needless to say, this whole situation put a damper on our family, and as a secondary thought, the party planning.  It certainly took an emotional toll on everyone, so instead of pushing everything along and acting like we’re all in the mood for a large room of people, we decided to have a smaller party, one that would involve my uncle in his new rehab hospital he was in at that point.

So what is a girl to wear to a surprise party at a hospital?  I thought something festive but casual.  Something like this:The tank top is from Gap Outlet for $5 (on sale at the time), and the skirt was from Goodwill for $4.99.  The hair flower was something I had already made for our wedding rehearsal dinner back in 2010.  The colors would work well with the party attitude, and the skirt made it a little more formal.  I paired it with navy blue flip flops to round out the casual vibe.  The party was pretty successful.  Tons of Chinese food and cake were eaten, presents were opened, and my grandmother was surprised.  Was it the party we wanted to give her?  No.  Definitely not when compared to what we originally had planned.  But sometimes life needs to be edited in order to celebrate what you have.  Sometimes you just never know.  So we celebrated a big birthday and celebrated being a family. 

That’s what’s important.

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Castle Out of Boxes

The vagabond lifestyle is not for me.  Traveling?  Yes.  Constantly moving and having your belongings not in their places where you can reach for them time after time because everything you want to make seems to call for those pesky measuring cups you stupidly packed away two days too early?  Not having it.

This is currently our living situation.

All of our stuff is crammed into boxes, bags, and the random hampers that lived behind our living room door.  It will probably be like this for a day or two.  Today, though, is the day it all makes a journey.

Today, we move to Massachusetts!

It’s taken me a while to come around to the idea of moving, not because I hate the idea, but because I love the people around me.  My coworkers spoiled me in the past couple days, not to mention how wonderful they have been for the past two or three years.  We have laughed, we have cried, and we have determined that we are not necessarily all going to heaven.  Our family lives here.  Our pets (who all live with our parents) live here.  One of my best friends lives two doors down the hall from our apartment.  I love the outdoors.  Why on earth would I want to leave?

Well, for the adventure.  This is a time where we are married, but we don’t have the extra responsibility of dragging kids along with us.  We also need to do it for B.  This is a time for him to play with his professional dreams and succeed in his own endeavors.  Moving back to Maine wasn’t something he thought he would be doing, but he did it for me to be successful in teaching (and paying back some loans).  It’s time.

So, with our parents’ trucks, our two cars, and a moving van loaded down, we bid Maine adieu for now.  Of course we’ll be back for visits (though everyone keeps talking about Massachusetts as this super far off place where no one ever returns).  Here’s to adventure!  See you again from a place a little bit more southern!

Swap With Friends

Have you caught it yet?  Spring cleaning?  You know it will get you as the weather starts to get a little warmer.  I think we all go through times, maybe not even in the spring, when we just have to get rid of the stuff we don’t use anymore.  We have the urge to purge clutter and get something newer and fresher in.  Maybe it’s from staring at it too long during the winter.  Maybe you have changed weight over the winter and need something new.  Maybe you’re moving.  Maybe you are just incredibly bored.  Maybe your students have made your clothing choices into a game to see how many times you wear the same type of pants in a month… oh… that’s just me?

Getting a whole new wardrobe seems out of the question, though.  I mean, with everything I just had to pay for with taxes, there is no way I could ever afford to buy a bunch of new clothing, even at Goodwill and thrift store prices.  A few pieces here or there would be cool, but a full new wardrobe?  My husband would have my head.  So what is a bored girl to do?  Clothing swap!

For those of you who are new to swaps, they are when you bring a bunch of clothing you wish to be rid of and have others do the same.  You then swap your old clothing for new-to-you pieces that others have brought with them.  It’s pretty simple in concept and pretty awesome in execution.  I went to the SwapMaine event last October (can’t wait for their spring event!), and it ROCKED.  I was hooked on swaps from there.

Then, when I was still on that misguided adventure of only spending $10 a month on clothing, my friend Amy sent me a giant box of clothing she didn’t wear anymore.  Amy lives in Texas, and I guess their thrift shops down there just aren’t as great as here, so she thought her clothing would do more good with me here in Maine.  And when I say it was a giant box, I mean giant.  Look, I fit into it!Within that box was a treasure trove of clothing, some of which I have made good use of and some of which will be going to the SwapMaine event for the spring.

New York and Company Streetwear Gray Linen Skirt:  Paid: $0 / Retail: $29.95, on sale right now for $8.98

Verdict?  Keep for now.  I think I can rock this when it gets warmer at work because of its length.  The waistline is a little on the big side, though, so I might pass it on if I reach my lower weight goal.

Gap Tan Bermuda Shorts: Paid: $0 / Retail: $39.95

Gap Black Bermuda Shorts: Paid $0 / Retail: $39.95

Verdict?  Both are keepers.  Again, these are pieces that fit and I can wear to work when it gets warmer.  They are also incredibly soft and in great shape.

Gap Tan Shorts: Paid: $0 / Retail: $39.95

Gap Brown Shorts: Paid: $0 / Retail: $39.95

Gap Teal Shorts: Paid: $0 / Retail: $39.95

Verdict?  Keep, keep, keep!  I am always in need of different shorts that fit, and these fit the bill.  The teal is also super on trend for the summer, which will add some lovely color to my wardrobe.

Gap Tan Pants: Paid: $0 / Retail: $49.95

Verdict?  Well, originally, it was keep, but now that I have worn them once, they need to go.  I could button them all the way up and then pull them off without undoing anything.  I don’t think that means they fit.  They are great pants, but they could be great pants on someone else.

H&M Gray Wide-Leg Pants: Paid: $0 / Retail: $34.95

Verdict?  These will be leaving me as well, only because the legs are way too wide for my taste.  I like pants with slimmer profiles, and these don’t fit into that category.  They fit okay, but if I don’t like the style, I am sure someone else will get better use of them.

Old Navy Black Side-Zip Trousers: Paid: $0 / Retail: $29.94

Verdict?  Super cute, and they will be staying.  They fill a niche that my other black pants don’t fill, so they add a little bit of variety to my black pants menagerie.  Well… as much as black pants possibly can…

Old Navy Red Terry Cloth Skirt: Paid: $0 / Retail: $26.94

Yuva Wide-Leg Trouser Jeans: Paid: $0 / Retail: $35.00

Verdict?  They’re going.  Both of them are waaayyy too big for me, and with my weight goals, I don’t want to keep any clothes in my wardrobe “in case” I get larger.  No thanks.  I was really hoping that they would both fit, but sadly, they didn’t.  Someone else can rock them!

WWF “Green Chic” T-shirt: Paid: $0 / Retail: $31.00

Verdict?  It’s pretty cute, but the fit isn’t totally what I want.  I’m keeping it for now, but it may end up in the swap pile last minute.  We’ll see.

Iz Black Dress with Studded Belt: Paid: $0 / Retail: $48.00

Verdict?  Keeper!  I know how many black dresses I have, but this (yet again) is a different style.  I like it, and the belt is awesome!  Worst case scenario, I keep the belt and get rid of the dress at some point.

So I got some great pieces for spring and summer just by encouraging people to donate clothing.  Sounds pretty awesome, right?  Well, you can do it too!  Get some friends together and swap!  You can start small with accessories or you can just go for it all at once.  Try it out!  It’s totally worth the effort.

If you would like tips for hosting your own swap party, check out this post on Goodwill New England’s blog (nope, I didn’t write this one!).

So, thanks Amy!  I love the clothes, and the ones I’m not keeping will be loved by someone else as soon as SwapMaine hosts their spring event.

Have you ever gone to a swap event?  What do you do when you get tired of your clothing?

Wow… What Was That?

Holy.  Cats.  Did I even just have a weekend?  I don’t think so.

This past weekend, I took my drama llamas to our regional One Act Drama Festival, and while we didn’t win, all of my kids seemed to have a lot of fun meeting other drama kids of other schools.  The two schools who did win deserved it, hands down, but it did hurt a little not to hear our school’s name called for the awards. I am so proud of my kids and the great job they did in the play.  They were funny, they were polite to other schools, and they represented all of us well.

Another part I am very proud of is the costuming.  The judges were very positive about our costuming, and since the majority of it was made by yours truly, I felt honored.  And you know where I got most of the clothing?  Go on, take a guess…

That’s right!  Who says you can’t get theater costumes on the cheap?  The most expensive outfit was Sleeping Beauty’s blue prom dress, which ran about $9.99.  It was in great shape, and all I had to do was hem it for our actress.  I hand-sewed beads (also from Goodwill in the craft section) into Cinderella’s dress, made three no-sew petticoats, and painted five of my students brown or green.  I plan on taking pictures to show you all of the costumes when my kids perform next week for our school so you can see all of our hard work for costuming!

Now it’s time to catch up on correcting and… oh yeah… sleep.  We got home at 1:00 AM each night, and then Saturday night was daylight savings time.  Who came up with that?  It really needs to stop.  Or change weekends.  Really.

Have you checked out Goodwill for costuming?  Give it a try for your next play or for Halloween!

Salivating Over Salvation Army Finds

Once my goal of only spending $10 a month on clothing was over, I kind of went a little nuts at Salvation Army.  I mean, when the typical person thinks of going nuts while shopping, he or she might think about spending hundreds of dollars.  I think of spending $20.  Yeah… there is a little bit of a difference…

I ended up finding some great pieces for my wardrobe and a couple of pieces to try some Pinterest clothing projects I had tagged for some DIY posts.

Brown faux-snake skin belt:  PRICE ON TAG: $0.99 / PAID: $0.50 / RETAIL: ~$15

Liz Claiborne navy linen button-up:  PRICE ON TAG: $3.99 / PAID: $2 / RETAIL: $74.25

Banana Republic plum button-up: PRICE ON TAG: $4.99 / PAID: $0.99 / RETAIL: $59.50

Faded Glory gray and blue polo for Pinterest project: PRICE ON TAG: $1.99 / PAID: $0.99 / RETAIL: $8.87

Vintage San Moire pink pleated skirt: PRICE ON TAG: $3.49 / PAID: $0.99 / RETAIL: ~$30.00

Old Navy men’s red t-shirt for t-shirt scarf necklace for my cousin Jess:  PRICE ON TAG: $1.99 / PAID: $0.99 / RETAIL: $9.94

Jos A. Bank red with blue pinstripes silk tie for B:  PRICE ON TAG: $0.99 / PAID: $0.99 / RETAIL: $69.50

OTHER COOL ITEMS FROM THE SALVATION ARMY

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot for my classroom library: PAID: $0.50 / RETAIL: $13.85

Imitation cut glass vase (not heavy enough to be real):  PRICE ON TAG: $3.99 / PAID: $0.99 / RETAIL: ~$20.00

TOTAL:  PRICE ON TAG:  $22.92 / PAID: $8.94 / RETAIL:  $300.91

Savings?  $291.97 without taxes on anything.  You know what?  I’ll take it!  Most of these items have already been worn and loved quite a few times!

Forty Days and Forty Nights

Start the clocks and mark your calendars.  If you happen to be a Christian who observes Lent, you may be giving something up right now.  If you aren’t, that’s okay.  Maybe you don’t know what Lent is.  Simply put, Lent is a period of 40 days and 40 nights where one gives something up to show commitment to God and Jesus.  It begins the day after Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday.  It’s super common in the Catholic church- they even have stricter rules like you can’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent – but we Protestants can observe it as well.  I grew up giving up different things here and there, sometimes chocolate or soda three years in a row (now I can’t drink it at all because the bubbles hurt too much).  Most of the time, it was something like junk food that I shouldn’t eat a lot of anyway.

This year, though, I am giving up something of a different variety.  Lent officially started on February 22, and I hemmed and hawed over what I should do this year.  Chocolate?  No, I’m not that crazy this year.  Junk food?  I don’t eat that much of it to begin with, so that’s kind of cheating.  And then it hit me.  This year, I am giving up shopping for clothing.

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Now, I know what you are probably thinking.  Yeah, you say you can get through 40 days without clothing shopping now… You couldn’t even stick to $10 a month!  Fair.  Totally fair.  However, there is a difference:  Lent has a much shorter time span, whereas a year is too long for an unclear goal.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I also hold myself to my short term goals much more strictly than I do for long term ones (who knows why).  Also, I take Lent pretty seriously.

So what does that mean?  Well, you won’t be seeing tons of hauls on here for now.  Oh, you will see a couple of hauls on things I have picked up from Goodwill and Salvation Army before Lent started, but I won’t be buying anything else until after April 8.  I have plenty of ideas and clothing to work with to keep my blogging somewhat interesting for all of you.  It means shopping from my closet, using creativity and limited resources to create great looks for no money.  New clothing isn’t required to make me look good; creating new outfits with what I have and not spending money for it makes me look good.  Oh, and you can do plenty of projects to revamp clothing without buying anything new!

35.  The number of days I have left.  Not so bad.  So here is to celebrating what you think you need to do.  If you celebrate Lent, keep up your strength.  Let’s be creative together!

What are you giving up?

Good-Ness

When I was little, I can remember wanting the writing portion of our day to last forever.  My third grade teacher threatened the class that if someone spoke during silent writing time, we would have to write longer.  I used to wish someone would talk through the whole time so I could have that much longer to craft my stories.  They probably weren’t any good, but I loved that writing time.

That’s probably why I like blogging so much.  It’s my chance to write about something I love (fashion, home decor, Goodwill hauls, etc.) and I get the chance to be the writer I want to be.  Thanks, blog creators!  My third-grade self rejoices in your creation (and maybe some of my readers like it, too… maybe).

So why all of this romancing over the art of writing?  Well, it’s because I have been honored through my writing.  I have been posting my blog posts on Twitter to expand my readership (hey, a girl can dream), and it turns out that someone did read it.  That someone turned out to be the communications manager for Goodwill Northern New England.  Goodwill.  The place I love shopping at.  Great!  I have some official readership!  Hooray!

Wait!  It gets better!  It turns out that Michelle, the lovely communications manager, liked the post I wrote on visiting the Buy the Pound Goodwill warehouse and emailed me about writing for the Goodwill blog!  I am now going to be writing pieces here and there, probably once a month, on how to redecorate, find great clothing, anything using Goodwill items.  I am so excited!  I will be posting little sneak peeks here on this blog so you can pop over and see what I’m writing for Goodwill, if you like.

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What are you proud of lately?

The Countdown Begins: 30 Days to Hunger

Only 30 more days until “The Hunger Games” comes out in theaters!  Excellent!  To celebrate sliding into the one month range, I thought I would show you one of the coolest makeup tutorials for Effie Trinket, one of the main characters in the series.  And yes, you may not want to wear this every single day, but when you go to the movies, go for it!

Happy Wednesday!  May the odds be ever in your favor!

Sightful Sunday: Blazing the Trail

I don’t know about you, but I love the whole put together look a blazer can create.  You can throw one on over a plain t-shirt and a pair of jeans, and BAM!  You look complete, relatively sophisticated, and ready to go.  Maybe it’s my east coast prepster?

Any which way, here are some of the great blazer looks I have been digging lately:

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Don’t they look so easy? And I’ll tell you what… the best place to find inexpensive blazers?  Goodwill!  Love them!

Have a great week!  I’m sure mine will be filled with some fashion experimenting because I’m on vacation!  Hooray for vacay!

Floating an Idea

I’m going to throw an idea out there; feel free to throw it right back.

The idea came to me from my amazing friend Amy who lives in the far away land of Texas.  We used to work together, and then she decided to up and move to where things are always bigger.  Their Goodwills, however, don’t seem to be any bigger or better than the Northeast’s, so as she was cleaning out her closet, she decided to make a pile and be different.  Instead of donating them to Goodwill or a thrift store that wouldn’t truly benefit from them (I guess they’re not so great in her area), she put them in a big box and shipped them to me!  I was uber excited to receive them, and just look for a post that’s coming soon to see some of the great stuff I now get to incorporate into my wardrobe!

Now is the part where you all come in.  With all of this sharing and spring cleaning coming up around the corner, it makes me think about having a blogswap!  All of you who are readers, bloggers, etc. could participate, and we could be incredibly green by sharing our clothes amongst ourselves.  We can post pictures of what we have available to swap, and each person can swap a piece for another.  It can be open for clothing, accessories, shoes, whatever you like!  You could get brand new to you items that someone else is tried of for only the price of having to ship your own stuff to someone else.  Sound like a deal?

If you are interested, comment below and let me know.  The more people we have participate, the better stuff we can all share!  Who’s with me?