Monday, April 16, 2012

A Tribute to Earth Week... And a Serial Thrifter's Guide to Shopping

I have an unrelenting passion for thrift stores. And a recent cleaning of my room (or Archaeological dig, whichever one might call it) led me to the creation of this blog post.

If you see me on any given day, chances that I'm wearing a piece of thrifted clothing are 98%. In fact, I can only think of four days in March where I wore an entire outfit free of 'thrift'.

In honor of Earth Week, I am going to show you how I shop green as an extremely frugal (and college attending) lady who loves clothes.

Welcome to my thrift closet.

To start we have dresses (deepest apologies, but a lack of AA batteries for my digital camera contributed to these cell phone pictures.) (Percentages are definitely total guesstimations... I did not count all the clothes in my room, I just eyeballed it... I'm a History major, cut me a break.)

Thirteen in total, 85% of dresses I own
Least expensive: Blue and white striped with front ruffle (originally a men's shirt), $0.25
Most expensive: Olive Green hippie dress, yet to be worn, $5.00 
Favorite Find: The blue and white navy stripes (Actually a cut up men's polo worn backwards), $0.25

Then we have the skirts:
Seventeen in total, 98% of the skirts I own (I own one from Walmart)
Least expensive: Yellow Floral (once a sheet), $0.50
Most expensive skirt: Brown Floral, $4.00
Favorite Find: The green patterned skirt's past life was as an old man sweater, $0.47

Now we have blouses/shirts in general:
Eighteen in total, 75% of the shirts I own
Least expensive: Fringe tank, $0.25
Most expensive: Floral Tank, $5.00
Favorite Find: One of my favorite summer tanks, with an Native American design and fringe,was once a XXL Women's Tee)

The Sweaters
Nine in total, 90% of sweaters
Least expensive: Red and White striped pullover, $0.99
Most expensive: Purple cardigan, $4.00
Favorite Find: The red and white striped pullover came from a store Lewistown, Montana where they had a $0.99 Aisle! Needless to say, I was a big fan of this... 

How about some jackets?
Eight in total, 95% of the jackets I own
Least expensive: Brown Corduroy, $1.69
Most expensive: Leather Jacket: $10.00 
Favorite Find: $10.00 for a real leather jacket? I'll take it.
Accessories, Etc.
Scarves: Four (Only about 25% of my scarves. I'm an addict...); Belts: Eight (75% of belts owned) Clutches:Three (98%) Purse: One, but it is the only one I use, so 100%? Shoes (Only right shoes shown): Seven (About 25% as well, as I am also addicted to shoes. Who isn't? They're so magical!) 
Most expensive item in this group: The far right pair of shoes, $8.00
Least expensive item: Second scarf in from right, $0.65
Favorite Find: The second scarf in from the right is a Liberty Scarf that I bought for 65 cents, and I would never have grasped the seriousness of this situation if my extremely fashionable friend Kat had not seen the label, gasped, and then explained the fanciness of Liberty scarves to me. I had no idea. I just thought it was pretty... Later, looked it up and found out it's selling price online is $95.00. Must be some scarf...

Jewelry? Sure thing!
Nine in total, Perhaps 15% of necklaces (Again, addicted)
Least expensive and most expensive: Honestly, I'm fairly sure I paid around a dollar for each of these...
Favorite Find: Found the skeleton keyhole in a home improvement parts bin at a thrift store. 

Eight in Total, 65% of rings
Least expensive: The far left and third one in from the right were clip on earrings without matches that came in a junk jar I bought on a whim. Some friendly advice: Don't do that. Don't buy that jar of junk jewelry. There is a reason they put all of those things in there you can't quite see through the layers of packing tape. The air of mystery is quite misleading, once opened, one is bound to realize that they are now the proud owner of a large amount of rejected kid jewelry. 
Favorite Find: Marie Antoinette ring, $3.00 (I could not live without it once I laid eyes upon it's uniqueness!)

Whew! Well, if you've made it clear down here: Firstly, I'm awfully flattered; and secondly, I'm going to tell you what the point of all this was.


In college, it's easy to shop when one is sad. Or when one is lonely. Or angry. Or hungry. But mostly when one is bored.... I know that one well. But in college, it is also easy to run out of money faster than you can say: "Debit." Thus, I propose a different option for days when one is sad, lonely, hungry, angry, bored, and has the itch to shop.

Thrift stores! Guys, about 85% of my entire wardrobe is from thrift stores (this actually surprised me... I feel so frugal!) and the most I have ever spent on an item was $10.00. Thrift stores are overflowing with lovely items waiting to be bought. I won't lie, it takes some sifting and some definite disappointment, but mostly, my travels have been rewarded by an item or two that I will want to wear every day for an entire week (I haven't done this yet, tempting as it is). 

Despite the patience it might take, thrift storing is worth it. So worth it. And even if frugality is not an issue, it is also extremely eco-friendly! (Earth Week plug) The clothes you don't buy brand new, although they may be lightly used, are that many less that might end up in a landfill.

This goes for donating clothes as well. Do it! If something doesn't quite suit your tastes anymore, but you're still hanging on for that moment when you 'might' wear it (this definitely used to be my thing) think of this: Someone else might love that shirt/skirt/jacket/scarf/etc. And they may not be able to afford the real thing in stores. Donating gives people an opportunity to enjoy the nice things we hold on to out of, well, greed.

Some tips for thrift storing: I look at patterns above all else, but this is definitely a result of having a sewing machine at my disposal (I will alter anything and everything to my tastes); I also check the 'discount aisle' if a store has one. Oftentimes, something of great uniqueness or possibility gets place back here; I don't often go looking for something specific and always keep and open mind. Thrift stores are abound with possibilities, but they are definitely not your average department store. And mostly, I act like a kid on a treasure hunt. I go in with the idea that I will scour every clothes rack and shelf until I find "The Item". Don't know what it is, haven't found it yet, but I've found some neato things in the process!

Ramble Ramble Ramble. Sorry about that! This is just something I get so excited about. In summation, I suppose it sounds like a lot of work, but truly, I hope this has convinced you to give thrift storing a try!

And if you are already a thrift store adventurer, I applaud thee.

Coming to you from a room that never really got cleaned thanks to this extensive tangent, 


PS: Just to show how much I really, really do not like spending money, here is a picture of a pincushion I made out of a tea cup for fifty cents:
And here is the link for the tutorial by Sincerely, Kinsey:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

In a Poetic Sense

It takes a lot of faith to wake up in the morning these days.

Faith that despite not being in charge, everything is going to turn out alright. It's also interesting how difficult it can be to embrace that sunlight I have been dreaming of for so long.

I've turned to reading Emily Dickinson lately.

I swear that woman and I were meant to be. In the literary sense, of course.

A love of poetry.(The size of the hair adds a nice dramatic touch)

But truly, her words are beauty. Some say they are dark or sad, but I disagree entirely. Anything that has that much soul poured into it cannot contain anything but beauty.

I like to believe that her words contained so much wild, unkempt beauty that when they welled up in her completely, she could not leave her home, because the words would be far too much for the pale, shallow world in which she dwelt. She had to hide them, contain them, so that no one would come to harm by exposure to such great literary wilderness.

It makes sense in my head.

I'd like to write like her, but alas, I cannot. So I content myself with pouring over her wild words again and again.

I'll leave you with one of them that chills me:

A great Hope fell
You heard no noise
The Ruin was within
Oh cunning wreck that told no tale
And let no Witness in

The mind was build for mighty Freight
For dread occasion planned
How often foundering at Sea
Ostensibly, on Land

A not admitting of the wound
Until it grew so wide
That all my Life had entered it
And there were troughs beside

A closing of the simple lid
That opened to the sun
Until the tender Carpenter
Perpetual nail it down --

c. 1868




Monday, April 9, 2012


Brighter than the...sun (failed comparison), the sunlight woke me up this morning.

I wished I could hug it.

Like most people, perhaps, I feel as though this day has been taking it's sweet time to show up. And I'm grateful that it did. Vitamin D levels were dangerously low.

Yesterday was Easter. Best day of the year. What better to celebrate than the death of sin and the resurrection of the only Son of God? I'm having trouble thinking of anything better.

Except maybe the invention of cheesecake.

I jest.

But truly, it was a wonderful day. I was blessed enough to go home and celebrate with my eccentric and beautiful family. I am convinced that I will never laugh as hard anywhere else than I do with my family. Getting to watch my brother own at running in his meet on Saturday was the bow on top.

Then, on Easter Sunday, I had the opportunity to take Kim, a man from Burma (Myanmar) whom I teach English to on Tuesdays, to church. Although he might not have understood every word, he knew two of the songs from when he went to church in Myanmar and enjoyed the delightful sermon that our pastor Keith gave. He'll be coming back again next week, which makes my heart sing!

I am thankful for this last three days, more than I can say. It's good to get outside of myself and experience what life is like outside of this dense university town.

And the sunlight makes it all the more worthwhile.



Monday, April 2, 2012

A Skirt, A Dress, Another Skirt, Three More Dresses...

Oh, fabric.

Be still my beating heart. I have nine new yards of fabric waiting at my fingertips. Dear Blue and White Stripes, and Army Green, I can't wait for you to meet my sewing machine!

That's more than enough for three skirts and two dresses. I already have an order put in by Suz for a summer dress in the striped material. And I have definite plans for the army green material. It involves a skirt, suspenders, and possibly a suede fox applique. And gold buttons.

Oh boy. Buttons.

I can't even describe the love I have for buttons. It is my firm belief that they should be placed on everything. Well, nearly everything. Fimm might be put off if I tried to decorate his cave. He has it just the way he wants, I think. Full of water? I'm not sure what interior decorating methods fit his personality just yet.

It's a relationship in progress, me and my beta.

Some days we are best friends. Other days he forgets his name.

You understand.

But back to the fabric. Oh, do I have plans for it! And did I mention how much I spent on it? ...$9.00, at a dollar a yard.

Oh happy, thrifty day!

The fact that I found it at Walmart does not bother me in the least.