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.

How Do You Shoe?

It is a rare day for me when I can walk into a Goodwill and find shoes that both A) fit me and my size 10 feet and B) are stylish.  Heck, it’s a rare day for me to walk into most stores and find shoes that fit those criteria.  It’s like all the people who share my foot size keep their shoes until they are worn to pieces.  Honestly, I don’t blame them.  Good looking size 10 shoes are hard to come by at a good price.  I wear mine until I just cannot wear them anymore.

But that rare day occurred!  It did!  It really did!  I was stopping by Goodwill to drop off my second load of stuff in our “we’re moving so we need to go through everything to purge when we don’t need” apartment cleaning.  Of course, I had to go in to see if they had a whiteboard for a craft project I am making for B, which of course led me to the shoe department.

Holy mecca of shoes day.  I think I tried on around 8 pairs of shoes, all of which could have been contenders (except for the first pair of Bass shoes I tried on… someone put a pair of 8.5s in the 9.5 section), but money and space are both issues.  I ended up picking two pairs that will look great as my new “school” shoes.  It wouldn’t be a new school year without having something I could point to and say, “These are my new shoes for school!”  You know what I am talking about.

So what are my new school shoes?  Check them out.

These are my soft, purpley-brown Bass shoes.  Bass, like the company that asks you to pay $90 a pair.  Many of their women’s shoe choices are at least $99 each.  My price?  $4.99… that’s it.  And check out the soles.  They are barely worn!

The second pair was a double score.  If you have heard anything about the upcoming fall footwear trends, you may have heard that loafers are making a casual comeback.  To get into the spirit with a cheap pair, I snatched up these AK Anne Klein babies.  They had a gray tag on them, so even though they were marked at a mere $2.99 originally, I scooped them up for $1.50!  Not bad for costing around $79 at a retail store.Look at that little tassel!  So cute!

The shoes I left behind would have been nice, especially those tall black boots made for the snow, but to be fair, we’re moving.  I need to be realistic (and remember that my shoe bin has zero room as it is!).

Have you found any shoes lately?

Back on Track

Right, where were we?  Ah, right before my birthday with a pre-birthday Goodwill haul.  B is so good at planning birthday dates, and that one was an excellent one to be sure.  My actual birthday was a bit chilly, and, dare I say, a bit less fun.  Thanks to hormones and some untimely not-so-kind words, I was upset, and nothing seemed to go right.  People were too cold at the baseball game.  The restaurant I picked didn’t suit everyone.  I ended up crying in front of everyone and feeling stupid.  It was not the best birthday.  There were, however, some excellent highlights, like seeing these people:

and getting my new baby, a sewing machine!  B and my parents had pooled their birthday funds and purchased an AWESOME sewing machine for me!  I need to take a class to get myself started, but I cannot wait to start creating!

I also made a stop by Goodwill to use my birthday 25% discount with my Goodwill card.  I only ended up picking up a few necklaces because we were in a time crunch to get to the baseball game, but it was kind of fun to tell the cashier it was my birthday.  Yes, I am one of those people who loves to tell others that it’s her birthday.  I have a countdown starting April 1.  B is well aware of when my birthday is, and there is little opportunity for him to forget when my birthday is because I refuse to stop reminding him.  I wouldn’t say I nag, per se, I just like to get excited about events.  I had a day-by-day countdown for our wedding.  I keep countdowns for trips or when people come to visit (and I also post them on those people’s Facebook walls for good measure).  I just like getting enthusiastic!  All of you Debbie Downers can exit here.

But fear not!  Even with my blah birthday, I am bound and determined to make year 26 pretty darn great.  And you know what?  So far, it hasn’t treated me too badly.  I have, after all, done a bit of traveling…

But those are all stories for another day!

Have a wonderful (hopefully less humid) week, everyone!

Pre-Birthday Date Goodwilling

My husband is ridiculously adorable.  For the past two years, he has taken it upon himself to plan a special date day for me right before my birthday (April 28, for those of you who are counting).  My birthday is two days after my younger sister’s, so we have to share our birthdays typically.  My actual birthday is either a weekday, so no real time to go out and celebrate, or taken over with family plans because of the double birthday.  I certainly don’t mind celebrating double birthdays with my family, but it’s so nice to have a great day out with B.

This year, B surprised me with a day out in Portland.  We started off by going to the Goodwill Buy the Pound location, which really says something about how much B loves me.  He detests thrifting because it takes so much time and it’s not organized.  But for me, he made an exception.

For some reason, the bins seemed to be filled with only children’s clothing.  Good for people with kids, but people, I’m only turning 26.  Is this some sort of cosmic sign from our mothers?  Erin, see?  Look at all of the little clothing at Goodwill.  You know you want to create a person to go into them!  Um, not now, universal messages.  I’ve got some clothing to dig through.  This is what I found after some major digging:

Dexter bronze ballet flats: Retail: $22.99

Brand new with tags still on them!  Who says you can’t find new stuff at Goodwill?

Nine West cross-body white leather with gold chain purse: Retail : $69

Nine West chestnut brown satchel: Retail: $89

Nine West chocolate brown tote bag: Retail: $109

Nine West purple purse: Retail:  $69

Estee Lauder camel colored large tote:  Retail: ~$30

Belts! (Two colorful random ones and a Banana Republic leather red one):  Retail: ~$15 + $50 + ~$15 = ~$80

Bonjour colorblocking in that last one!  Love it!

Scarves! Dark purple pashmina, brown printed pashmina, mint green linen infinity scarf, Apt. 9 box blocked scarf:  Retail: ~$15 + ~$15 + ~$15 + ~$20 = ~$65

Mint green!  I found something in that color!  Weeeeee!  The last scarf is super soft and for B.  He’s a very dapper gentleman.

Express navy blue cable knit V-neck sweater:  Retail: $59

I know it seems kind of silly to be getting sweaters right now, but the three that I got were too good to pass up.  You never know, I could still face sweater weather here in Maine before summer actually begins.

Soffe baby blue sports skirt: Retail: $8.99

No brand magenta summer cover-up dress: Retail: ~$20

The tags were all cut out, but with a belt, this dress will be great for summer.  Without a belt, it kind of does a tent number off from my chest.  I’m wondering if I should make the neckline into a V neck.

GAP cream crew neck sweater: Retail: $59

Express red silk mix V-neck sweater: Retail: $59

All told, I think we made out brilliantly.  B also picked up a copy of the Bible to do some reading as he prepares for graduate work.  I suppose some spiritual work may come out of it, too.  So what was the damage?  Well, check this out:

What I would have paid shopping retail:  ~$749.98      What we paid at Goodwill:  $15

DIFFERENCE:  ~$734.98

Beck also got me this awesome blue NAS clutch/purse for Easter.

NAS cobalt blue clutch (style number 370GY):  Paid: $2.49 / Retail: ~$30

PEOPLE!  Why isn’t everyone thrift shopping?  I get to be a name brand snot AND not pay much at all.  You can be really picky about clothing and purse conditions and still get great stuff.

After our Goodwill run, B whisked me away to the Portland Art Museum.  They currently have some great exhibits, my favorite being one where a woman went into the homes of every person she’s friends with on Facebook to photograph them in real life.  The concept between real friends and online friends and how they seem to have replaced each other is fascinating (that may be my psychology minor talking).  The photos were intense.  And, like every single time I go into an art museum, I got yelled at.  What did I do wrong this time?  I wasn’t carrying my purse far enough forward on my body.  Yep.  I get yelled at for dumb stuff in art museums.  Some gelato after totally made up for it.

We also decided that we had enough time to run by the Maine Mall (yes, that really is its name.  Maine doesn’t have a ton of malls.  Live with it.) and I browsed Forever 21 because I had a gift card from a birthday probably three years ago.  I was determined not to spend more than what the card had on it ($10), so I got these two pieces:

Price: $6.80

Price: $1.50

Seriously, who can resist a little neon yellow locket?  I thought it was too cute to pass up – especially after the bracelets ended up being far too big for my gumby hands.

Overall verdict?  Birthday date 2012 was a complete success!  B can plan dates with the best of them.  I plan on going to Goodwill on my birthday this week because I get 25% off on the actual day of my birthday, and I know what I’ll be looking for:  jewelry.  I am on an accessories kick right now.

Have you gone thrifting lately?  What did you find?  If you don’t thrift, what are you waiting for?!  Go, go, go!

Off From Lent!

When Easter rolled around, I was SO READY to be done with Lent.  I had given up shopping for clothing, and after watching so many haul videos on YouTube (why do I watch those?!  They are so addicting!), I was ready to see what I could find with some of the current trends.

I went to Goodwill with a gift card I had, and I ended up making out pretty well!  And, because I wanted to try it again (and look dorky), I decided to give the whole YouTube haul video a try again.  Egads.  Good luck watching it!

What have you purchased lately?

The Search Is On!

With Easter finally hopping in tomorrow, Lent is coming to a close.  Thank goodness!  I gave up thrift shopping for Lent because it was something that I loved to do, and to me, I find it important to give up something you really like or love in order to show your sacrifice.  For me, that was thrifting.  But now that it’s over, I feel like I have put thrifting back into perspective.  I can’t afford to shop all the time, and when I do shop, I need to keep it within certain restrictions.

That being said, I do have some trends and pieces that I want to try and find in my next Goodwill excursions.

1.  Mint and coral

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Mint and coral colors are very very in right now, and I would love to jump onto the bandwagon.  I could very easily turn these colors into work appropriate pieces, summer pieces, and generally great-for-any-time pieces.  Sounds like a win!

2.  Handbags

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I have such a craving for different handbags.  I am the type of person who gets stuck in a rut with handbags because I almost never change the one I have every day.  Shame on me…  I really need to get better about that.  I am on the hunt for handbags with color, structure, and just all around appeal.

3.  Dresses

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I want some spring and summer dresses because, well, I want the warm weather we got a little taste of back.  Now, please!  I love the feminine touches dresses bring to a season, and I want some that aren’t incredibly dressy.  I mean, I’m not going to cocktail parties all summer, and even if I was, a girl needs some variety, am I right?

4.  Jewelry

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Like handbags, I am craving some bracelets and necklaces.  I want different pieces that bring a little bit more intrigue to an outfit.  I tend to get compliments on my jewelry the most at work, and I can tell you that most of my collection is super cheap costume jewelry.  Why not see what else I can add to it?

5.  Sunglasses

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It’s getting brighter.  A girl needs glasses.  Enough said.

6.  Sandals

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This, of course, means I need to give myself a pedicure, STAT.  But who doesn’t want to have colorful feet that are cool and comfy?

I guess the longer I stay away from shopping, the more time I have for window shopping.  That may not have been a good thing… Time to go clean out my closet!

What are you on the hunt for lately?

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!

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?

The Clothes that Broke My Goal

You all are bad influences!  Look what happens with a little peer encouragement pressure!  Remember how I had this grand plan on only spending $10 a month for the year on clothing?  Yeah, well, I’ve kissed that goodbye.  Because of the responses I got on Twitter and Facebook, I decided to have a little more freedom in what I find thrifting (well, I did, but now I am completely cut off for a little bit… but that’s for another post).  So these are the purchases that started out so innocently, but they were the budget plan killers.  Granted, these shopping trips were rather spaced out throughout the month, but still!  Look!  (Oh, and enjoy!)

TARGET

Merona tan faux-fur boots with tassel:  ORIGINAL PRICE: $35 / PAID: $14.38 (no longer available online)

The first piece (or pieces) were from Target.  Now, I was fully willing to let these eat up my monthly budget until April because I really did need new winter fashion boots (sorry, L.L. Bean, your boots just don’t look good with anything but snow pants).  These babies were totally worth it.  I call them my “grown-up Uggs.”  The tops are faux fur with a suede boot body.  The lining is quite thick and the shafts of the boots stay up on their own.  And how cute are those tassels?  I found them on clearance, so they were quite a bit off from what they originally were.  I snatched them up and resigned myself to no more purchases until my birthday in April.

But then.  Then there was…

GOODWILL

Ralph Lauren black wool coat with faux-fur collar:  PRICE ON TAG: $9.99 / PAID: $9.00 / RETAIL: ~$130

It’s always Goodwill, isn’t it?  I should have seen it coming.  Well, I guess I kind of did.  When I found this jacket, though, uggghhhh.  I knew it was a great steal.  I KNEW IT.  I put it back the first time I saw it and tried to stay strong.  That didn’t work.  It was Ralph freakin’ Lauren!  Hi, my name is Erin and I am a label snob.  (Hi, Erin.)  If I kept going with my budget plans, this would have thrown me into no purchases until May.  May.  And it was January.  No bueno.  So I decided to give it up.  I wanted that jacket.  Yes, it’s gluttony.  I fully admit my problem.  But the fur collar sold me.  It’s in pristine condition and looks so great on.  Sold and sold.  Sorry, budget plans.  Check you later.

So thus my budget died.  Oh well.  It just makes way for a more interesting closet and some excellent hauls!  You know you love it more now that I could spend more… you know it.

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?