Thrifty Mama: Finds of the Week

After a very long and tiring work week, I stopped by Goodwill before picking up Greta on Friday.  I went in with the express purpose of finding her a few items in 2T.  I know, where has my baby gone?  I only wanted a few things to tide us over so that when she finally does bump up a size we are not left trying to be those parents squeezing her into something too short and tall small.  Not that it has stopped me in the past – especially with the really cute outfits.  I got this whole stack for her (and yes, not a thing for me).  You can check out a previous post on thrift shopping here for tips and suggestions.

I know some people for whatever reason are against Goodwill, I am sure there are reasons.  However, for me, I love to seek out the oddball finds, the this-is-brand-new-with-tags finds, and the it-was-how-much-new?! is my favorite find.  I figure when you work with permanent materials as often as I do and send a child to daycare to be messy, cheap clothing isn’t all that bad.

Plus it is a lot easier to own more clothing when you have paid less for it.  🙂

These first two outfits are two of Greta’s favorite things – dogs and cats.  The cat one is just hilarious since she likes to almost smash the cats.  Both are from Crazy 8 and were anywhere from $8 – $13 new.   The purple pants are generic and we will say, conservatively, $7 – $10 new.   Ok, so if we total the top end of those estimates, we are at a total of $36 so far.  Let’s keep going!

 Janie and Jack jeans – super cute dark wash and a San Francisco label.  You know that means the $$ signs!  These are anywhere from $30 – $40 new.  So now we are at a total of $76.

Since summer will be here before I know it, and Greta tends to stick with sizes for an extended time, I couldn’t pass up the shorts and tee shirt.  The two tops are also Crazy 8, so again, $8 – $13 new.  The Guess velour pants are $25 – $30 new and the Puma shorts are about $20 new.  So now we are at a total of $152.

I threw in these pink organic cotton pants from et toi, even though I did not make a matched outfit.  She has clothing at home that will go with these pants.  Normally, when I buy for Greta from consignment or thrift, I try to always buy sets.  That way, I am not sifting through her drawer trying to match oddball things together.  It is also more sensible to shop this way for her, it keeps me from buying too much at one time.  These pants would be about $20 new.  Now we are at a total of $172.

This was the diamond of this trip though.  I saw this on the hanger and knew it was a good find – the drape, the fabric (modal), the style, the little bow, and the tag.  Jacadi Paris.  Usually if I have time I whip out the smart phone and search for labels to keep a running total of $$ in my head, but this time I was running late and just trusted my gut.  

 Sure enough, $70 – $100 new.  Sigh, if only it would fit me.  Ah well, it could always become doll clothing later on.  Or maybe some family members or friends of ours will inherit it someday.  Ok so the Jacadi dress brings us to a total of $272 new.  But how much did I really pay?

$19.  That’s right, $19 versus the $272 I could have paid for these 11 pieces of clothing. I could have paid a teensy bit less, but I let them round up the price to an even dollar as a donation.

What keeps you from shopping at thrift stores OR what has been your best thrift store find?  Leave me a comment below!

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Goodwill find of the week plus easy weeknight dinner

We swung by Goodwill this afternoon after work.  We had planned to go for a walk due to our awesome crock pot planning yesterday afternoon, however the rainy weather had other plans for us.  So Goodwill it was.  I perused through the kids’ section and on the way out,  up on a rack above some women’s blouses, I spied this lone shoe.

I grabbed it as fast as I could, looking frantically for its pair.  Eric, my voice of reason, said, “I’m sure they have the mate in the back.”  Sure enough.

So, with a few baby clothing items, a pair of Coach Espadrilles, and a pair of men’s Polo jeans we were only out $30.  Not a bad afternoon of thrift picking.

Dinner was easy, tasty, vegetarian, and ready!  The curry was weak, but Greta was able to eat this meal no problem, so it was nice of us to keep it on the mild side for her sake.

 Curried Vegetables & Rice

3 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks (3 cups)
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices (2 cups)
1 large red onion, cut into strips (1 cup)
1-1/4 cups apple juice
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1 cup uncooked regular brown rice
1  12.3 oz package extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup golden raisins

1. In a 4-quart slow-cooker combine potatoes, carrots, red onion, apple juice, tapioca, curry powder, ginger, salt, and cardamon.

2.  Cove; cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.

3.  Cook rice according to package directions.  We put the rice into the slow cooker and added 1-1/2 water with the veggies to make this a one-pot meal.  This worked really well!

4.  If using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting.  Add tofu, zucchini, peas, and raisins to cooker.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes more.  Serve with chutney.

From Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes, 2002.

Spring Break Goodwill Trip #2

A friend of mine asked me to take her thrift store shopping, using words like pro, guru, and genius after my name.  I however, believe these are silly terms to describe my life-long habit of thrifty shopping and insider knowledge from having worked at Goodwill for a couple years.  However, once I stopped to really think about it, I do have a method to my thrift shopping.  So after much debate, I decided to share these (sometimes ridiculous) methods with you.  
1. Have a plan.  Plan how long, what stores, what time of day, and what items you need/want.  It is so easy to become overwhelmed in large thrift stores and if you are hungry, tired, thirsty, towing a tired child, or in the midst of the thrift store rush hour (around dinner time), you will have the most unpleasant time.  Set a budget and bring cash.  Some thrift stores do not accept plastic.  Bring a friend for an even better time.  Two sets of eyes are better than one and you have someone to be realistic with you while trying on outfits.  That dress is so last season.  
2. Know what you need/want.  Check your closet before leaving home.  Make a list, if need be.  If you have at least an idea of what you are looking for, you will better be able to hunt through the vast amount of items available.  
3. Quality.  Look for quality brands and quality pieces.  For example, something from a big box store (Target, Walmart, K-mart) is not worth buying used when you can spend a couple bucks more on a new item.  Quality pieces are also important – avoid stains, wear, and tear.  It is not worth your time or energy to try and revive worn out pieces.  
Ask yourself, the following questions: 
  • Will I wear this more than once?
  • Where will I wear this?
  • Will this be something I still love in 1 season…1 year…5 years?  

4. Never underestimate the power of tailoring.  If you find the perfect quality pair of pants but they are on the long side, by all means hem those babies.  This is relatively inexpensive to have done.  The same goes for jackets, skirts, and dresses.  Taking in the bodice of a dress or dress shirt can be done, however, be realistic.  
5. Avoid pressure to buy.  It’s ok to walk out empty-handed.  The last thing you want to do is crowd your closet with unnecessary items.  
6. Frequency.  If you dont find what you are looking for the first time, don’t be discouraged.  Donations come in all the time, so it pays to keep looking.  
7. Try on the clothing!  This seems obvious, but trying on is a must.  Even if you normally wear that size, put it on.  Someone before you may have altered it.  It helps to bring along items you may normally wear under outfits: slips, camisoles, leggings, pantyhose.  It also may be helpful to already be wearing something slim fitting just in case a fitting room isn’t available, that way you can try your items on over your clothing.  
8. Always inspect before buying.  Look over items carefully before purchasing.  Many thrift shops do not allow returns.  
9. Post shopping.  Wash everything.  Check again for spots, tears, rips, etc.  Bring items to dry cleaners and tailors immediately.  If you wait too long, your items may end up back where they came from.  Do a closet clean-out.  Post thrift shopping is a great time to clear out some of the older, unworn items filling your closet.
Some of the finds from this week:
J. Crew cotton dress…
with pockets!
Banana republic capris. 
New York & Company tank. 
Jones New York tank. 
Ann Taylor blouse.
Red capris. 
Chanel top. 
All of these, and more, were under $50!  

Good Goodwill Hunting

Today was a day filled with: running in preparation for my May run, shoveling gravel, moving bricks, sitting outside enjoying spring, biking, Target, dinner at Sticks & Stones, and Goodwill.

My irises are blooming. 
Leather Thinsulate-lined jacket from Goodwill. 
Cute baby clothing from Goodwill. 
Hanging out during dinner at Sticks & Stones. 
PERFECT Chanel top from Goodwill.  
Yummy at Sticks & Stones. 
Sleeve detail from Chanel top. 
Enjoying the spring weather.