Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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Make a Cute Wardrobe for $5 a Month

I have heard women say time and again, “I can’t dress cute because I don’t have any money for clothes.”

Hogwash!

No woman should ever lack cute outfits because of a tight budget—at least not in the USA.

There was a time when I never dreamed of shopping thrift.  I don’t know why—I guess in my mind that is where poor people shopped.  So I would cripple along on my frugal clearance outfit or feel guilty for paying full price out of desperation.

Thrifting changed all of that.  I’ll never be a fashionista, but I am happy with my wardrobe most of the time.

Here’s another thing I hear about clothes.  “I don’t want to spend money on clothes until I lose weight.”

Don’t ever go there!  You can look beautiful and put together no matter what your size!  Don’t let extra pounds discourage you from taking care of yourself and dressing nicely.

Sometimes when I go to the thrift store they have nothing I can use, and other days I totally score. 

I’m careful about thrift shopping because it does take a little more time, time I don’t have.  My favorite tiny thrift store is on a main street where I pass at least weekly, so I try to give myself an extra few minutes to pop in and look around.

The other day was totally a “score” day.

I found 4 pairs of never-worn, tags still on Bermuda shorts in my size, from Target, Sears, JC Penney, and Eddie Bauer.

Never mind that size is not the one I wish I was in.

And I don’t even know if Bermuda shorts are still in style.

But.  They looked good on me, and at 75 cents each, how could I pass them up?

Think about this.  What if you had only $5 a month to spend on clothes?

One month you score like this.  Or a piece here and there.  $3 total.

The next month, maybe you find four cute shirts for a similar price.

That is not a big wardrobe, but if they are clothes you love, you could wash them regularly and have a minimal everyday wardrobe for the whole season—for literally less than $10.

Not all thrift stores are created equal.  Where I live, the biggest and most popular one in town has higher prices, it’s dirty, the employees are rude, and they never have sales.  Occasionally I brave it because their selection is huge, but not often.  My little store is in a quieter part of town, it’s small, and a lot of people don’t even know it’s there.  But it’s also clean, well run, and inexpensive, and that keeps me coming back several times a month.

Another thing I love to thrift are housewares. 

My house doesn’t look like it came from the pages of Flea Market Style, but it does look a lot cuter than it did before I started shopping thrift.  I could never bring myself to spend bookoodles of cash on brand new housewares when there were more important things to buy.

Here’s a recent find.  The cute stripey plates are Ralph Lauren and the complete set came with a platter too.  Everything else in the photo is thrifted as well, except the candles that I got for 90% off clearance after Christmas one year.

Just a few bucks for a whole lot of pretty.

I know this post has been rambly, but I just want to encourage you—if you don’t normally thrift, it’s a great way to save huge amounts of money.  Just give it a try!

If you’re a thriftier, what is your favorite-ever find?  What items do you look for on a regular basis?

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall.

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Thrift Store Bargains and Frugal Valentine Decorating

I didn’t set out to talk about thrifting today but the pictures I took and the fun I had kind of ended up leading to that.

{Clock: Big Lots.  Mirror: Thrifted, $10.  It was gaudy gold, but a can of spray paint fixed that!  Antique sewing machine: family heirloom.  Candlestick: Hobby Lobby 90% off clearance.  Bird: Dollar General 80% off clearance.  Heart place mat: Dillards 70% off clearance.   Vintage books: used book sale. I am sure the candle was clearance or overstock too.}

After years of not decorating and years of not knowing what to do in my house, I studied and studied what other people did–mainly on their blogs.  I got adventurous and started visiting thrift stores and picking up inexpensive little bits of this and that.

I learned that it was OK to experiment.  My first experiments were kind of bad and cluttery.  That is OK.  They are easy to change.

I used to have my favorite scrolly white pitcher and basin here.  I paid $3 at the thrift store for it.  I knew it was just a matter of time but I hoped against hope because I enjoyed it so very much!…and sure enough it got knocked off and broken this week.  Oh well.  I enjoyed it while it lasted.

I realized that my house is not going to look like other peoples’ houses and that is not just OK–that is good!  That is what makes my house mine, and what makes it a pretty and comfortable place for my family!  It doesn’t have to look like a magazine.

{Heart place mat: Dillard’s 70% off clearance.  Platter: thrifted.  Votive holders: thrift store clearance.}

I actually don’t look for too much housey stuff right now.  I’ve come to a place where I am content with what I have.  If I find something amazing, I will pick it up, but…Right now I am happy with what I own.

{Heart plate: wedding gift.  Frames: thrifted and spray painted.  Window: salvage.}

I do still stop by the thrift store.  Excuse the terrible picture, but I just had to share.  Today I found 2 similar skirts that looked like fancy boutique items.  They were $1. (Correction.  They were 50 cents.)  When I put them in the washing machine tonight, this is what I found on one of them.  Just a little gift from God!  I am glad someone else paid $90 for a skirt they never wore so I could benefit!  I find that amusing!

Have you found a bargain lately?

{linking up}


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31 Days to a Kitchen You Love Day 10: Making Nontoxic Cleaners

 

Making non-toxic cleaning products has been on my list of things to do for a very long time.  I finally made it to a health food store to buy some essential oils–lemon and peppermint to start with.  I used the lemon to make an all-purpose cleaner which I’m using as I scrub the counters (water, a squirt of unscented soap and 20 drops of essential oil), and I added the peppermint to my mop water.  I love the smell of peppermint, so when the house smelled like a candy cane after I mopped, that was totally fine with me.

Here is a great post about making your own cleaning supplies.  It is so very wonderful to be able to clean without the chemical headache I get after using commercial cleaners!


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Thrifting

{image source unknown}

I wrote here that I really needed to come out of the thrifting closet.

 Then my friend Chasity wrote this inspiring post about her adorable thrifted outfit.  LOVE!

 And when I hit my favorite thrift store yesterday, I knew I HAD to post.  I have found great items at thrift stores, and yesterday was a perfect example.  Silk blouse from Dillard’s, tags still on—original price $59.  For less than $1.  And then I found its twin in a different color on the other side of the rack.  Yes, please!

 Thrift stores once had a stigma as the places where poor people shopped.  Not any longer.  I read an article recently (can’t find it now, darn!) about a new book which explains that the movers and shakers in the fashion community are no longer designers.  They are fashion bloggers, many (most?) of whom create their own styles from vintage and thrifted finds.

 The Sartorialist took street-style blogging to an art form.  Bluebird Vintage is another good example of this, I think.  I love Jen’s Frugal Fashionista posts, which are really more realistic (and not as cutting-edge trendy) for the average girl. There are thousands of these blogs, and as people have learned what amazing finds are waiting to be discovered at the thrift store, it’s become mainstream, even trendy, to thrift.  The shaky economy contributed, I think.  Seriously, why spend $60 (or $100…or more) when you only have to spend a buck?

 I hardly ever set foot inside a retail clothing store any more.  The other day I went to New York and Company, which has historically been one of my favorite brands—their clothes have always fit me well.  But I’ll tell you a little secret, I’ve never bought anything from the store.  I’ve gotten it all at thrift stores.  I looked at all the pretty clothes, even the clearance racks and thought, why should I pay retail prices when I can thrift this brand for next to nothing?  When I set aside time to shop thrift, I almost always find brand new things with tags still on.  Beautiful, beautiful clothes, one time expensive European shoes for my daughter, even house wares.

 So if you haven’t tried thrift store shopping, don’t be afraid!  It’s addictive.  I’m no fashion diva (which is why I’ll never be a fashion blogger), but I have had such fun putting together cute outfits on the cheap.  Thrifting has been a fun and creative way to be the best possible steward of my family’s clothing needs.

 What about you?  Do you thrift?  What are your favorite finds?


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Thrifty Curtains


Excuse the horrible picture quality.  I’m such a novice with my camera.  But I wanted to talk a little bit about thrifty decorating.  DISCLAIMER: I’m no decorator, as anyone who has been to my house can tell you.

I’m learning.

I have never been good at decorating, first because I just didn’t know how, and secondly because I didn’t feel I could justify the cost.  I wrote once about how I spent a lot on some bedroom drapes once and vowed never again.  I have read a lot of blogs by women who have created beautiful homes on the cheap for their entire lives (one of my favorites is The Cultivated Nest).  They encouraged me that I could do it too, so I started trying to think outside the retail box.   At Christmas I created some pretty window treatments with clearance curtains and ring clips and I was happy with the change but it was a lot of red.  For $9 I could live with it, though.

The other day I was at the thrift store.  Yes, I shop there.  I will have to write a post one day about coming out of the thrift store closet.  I have found so many treasures (often new with tags) for pennies on the dollar.  Anyway, Tuesday the ladies were putting out their new stock and one of them asked me “Are you looking for curtains?  These just came in.  They’re $12.”

Well, I wasn’t sure but I grabbed them anyway.  Nice curtains and drapes go quickly at the thrift store and I wanted to have them in my hands in case anyone else was looking too!  In the end I decided that since these curtains would go well in our room and they were clean and in perfect condition, I’d shell out the $12.

I’m SO glad I did!  I washed them and hung them the next day.  They were too thin and filmy to block out as much light as I needed, so I did sew a double lining on the back, using flat sheets I had.  (My kids hate sleeping with flat sheets, so yay me, when I buy a sheet set I have extras for projects like this.)

There’s no real profound purpose to this post except to encourage you all that we can make pretty changes in our homes that don’t cost a lot.  I constantly hear women say “I can’t decorate because I don’t have much money.”  I am realizing that is not true!



While I was at it I gave the rest of my room a mini makeover, mostly just decluttering and changing a few items from darks to light, neutral colors.  Let me tell you about this rocking chair.  When my oldest was born, a friend gave it to me.  She had used it in her son’s nursery.  (He is in high school now!)  My babies and I have logged MANY hours in this chair!  The denim upholstery had become faded and worn and didn’t match anything else I had, and I thought about replacing it.  But since this little one is our last, I wanted to use it for sentimental reasons.  It’s sweet to rock my littlest fella in the same chair I’ve used to rock all my other babies.

Throwing a (wrinkled) sheet over the chair works and extended the life of my favorite rocker.  So again–cheap and easy.  I like it and that’s what matters.  I’m no designer, but I’m trying to keep open eyes for inexpensive ways to make home a pretty, comfortable place for my little family.  To me, that’s the fun of homemaking!



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10 on Tuesday


1. I love hydrangeas. They are my favorite flower of all time. I almost lost my beloved hydrangea bush to drought this week. Caught it just in time!

2. Then it rained. YAY!!!

3. I’m so happy that school is out. This is going to be a short summer break for us, but I am savoring every moment. During the summer I feel like I actually get to have fun with my kids and be a real homemaker, instead of drilling their little heads full of knowledge all day.

4. I’m not teaching VBS this year—again. Baby is too small and still nurses too often for me to commit to whole mornings. I hope I can work in preschool VBS next year. I *heart* preschoolers!!!

5. In church Sunday, we were challenged to think about what we worship. I was thinking…It’s so easy to worship our callings instead of the one who called us. It’s easy for being a wife, mom, and homemaker to become The Most Important Thing when Jesus should be The Most Important Thing.

6. I liked this post from Parisienne Farmgirl about how expensive it’s getting to feed a family. Couldn’t agree more. When I first got married, over 11 years ago, I could buy a full buggy of groceries for about $100 (and moan and groan about how expensive it was). Now I might be able to get 1/3 of a buggy full for $100. MAYBE.  (At least at the regular store.  At Sam’s I do somewhat better.) What are you doing to save on your grocery budget?

7. My sweet friend Jen reminds us to remember the poor. Yes, groceries are expensive but I’m pretty sure most of us aren’t truly going without.

8. Today I got a beautiful set of drapes (4 panels) for $12. I also got a really nice dress for my daughter for $1. I’ll have to write a post about this sometime. A lot of smart ladies inspired me to be creative in how I buy these kinds of items, and I get a big thrill out of amazing bargains.

9. As I write about frugality, I hope it never seems that I come across as complaining. I’m insanely blessed, my husband is an excellent provider, and his employer is generous and great to work for. Nevertheless, we are a large, one-income family and these little gremlins require a certain amount of carefulness in order to cover the costs of things like swimming lessons, socks, and food for their adult-sized appetites. To me, it’s about stewardship, not some kind of poverty mentality. And bargains make me happy. I think it I were a millionaire I’d still love a good bargain.

10. My baby is huge. My arms are stronger than they have been in years just from hauling him around. But he’s oh so sweet. He “talks” to me so earnestly! I wish I knew what he was saying!

Happy Tuesday, friends!


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Simple Summer Eating

After doing a lot of research, we recently decided to eat differently—focusing on healthy proteins, fruits, and veggies, giving sugar the boot (for real), and reducing grains, especially refined grains (moderate amounts of oatmeal and brown rice get to stay).

 {Just to clarify, this is just how we are eating at home.  I never want to be the family that is a pain to see socially because they are always on some special eating plan.  When we are out, we eat whatever is put before us.  But at home, we try to stick to our plan.}   

 I was positive that this would be SUCH a pain, but to my surprise, it has been really easy.  Seriously, how simple is it to grill meat, steam veggies, make a huge salad, and finish with fruit?  In learning to eat healthfully, it seems that baking, soaking grains to make them more digestible, and coming up with all kinds of recipes really is the most time consuming part of eating healthfully.  On the flip side, dealing with carb cravings has been the hardest part.  I think I would have just about killed for a chocolate chip cookie for a few days after we started.

 Anyway, I’ve also been pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to shop, and how much I get for my money.  At Sam’s I can get a LARGE quantity of fresh (and some frozen) fruits and veggies, plus some meat and eggs, for around $100, as compared to about 1/3 of a buggy full of packaged foods from Wal-mart.

 I made a master menu (worked on it for several weeks), and a grocery list to go along with it.  Fingers crossed—so far that part is going well, too.

 I’m excited.  This is a great start for us.  Summer was a great time to change our eating, because produce is plentiful and cheaper.  As the months progress, I hope to add other healthful foods to our diet (such as more homemade bone broths and fermented probiotic foods).  But…Baby steps!

Now if my missing blender bottom would turn up, we’ll be set!

 What about you?  Any words of wisdom?  Have you made any healthy changes lately? 


This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday.


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Quick Creativity: Pillows

For years I created daily.  Then my life got busy and I didn’t create at all.  I didn’t think I had time.  But part of me withered.

Lately I’ve decided to make time.  Even if it’s just 10 minute snatches, which it usually is.

I’ve started looking for very quick projects, with shortcuts, straight lines, pre-finished details, like hems.   I love upcycling items like cloth napkins and old clothes so I can take advantage of the hems and selvages that are already there.

I wanted to lighten up my living room for spring and summer.  What better place to start than with pillow covers?

I made this one from an old Lands’ End shirt.  Yes, I cut up a perfectly good shirt to make a pillow cover.  It was a maternity shirt, though, which I will hopefully never need again.  The fabric is SO thick and a soft, cozy jersey.  I just laid my existing pillow on top, lined up the bottom with the hemmed edges, traced, and cut around it.  Then sewed up the three raw edges and added buttons.  I really love this one!

I saw a pillow like this on someone else’s blog.  I don’t remember where.  It’s not perfect but I still love it.  I made the ruffle from scraps of the shirt, so it kinda…matches?  Coordinates?  The jersey doesn’t ravel so I didn’t finish the edges (probably wouldn’t have finished the edges anyway).  The white fabric is 2 cloth napkins that I bought inexpensively and will never use.

This one is also not an original idea.  Do you know that the S is just colored on with sharpie?  How tacky and brilliant is that?  There are people who are even selling sharpie pillows!  I made this one out of fabric I already had.  I didn’t hem it.  I just left selvages on the open end.

This one took longer.  I was scrounging for some more fabric from my stash and found this thick, oatmeal flannel that I love.  I don’t know how it will hold up though.  It’s a loose weave and I noticed that the seams are already looking strained.

I only spent a few minutes at a time working on these, and I hardly measured anything.  I just took a risk and hoped for the best.  I kept remembering that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.  Afterward I was so satisfied!  There was one that didn’t turn out so well (not pictured) but I’m going to work on it a little and see if it can be salvaged.  If not, oh well, I’m out zero dollars and only a few minutes of time.

How about you?  How do you manage to fit creativity into your days?

 

Linking to White Wednesday.


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Bargain Shopping: Holiday Clearance Edition

One of my favorite times to get bargains is post-holiday clearance sales!  Holiday items quickly go down to 75-90% off and you can get amazing deals.  Sometimes I buy holiday items to use the following year.  But truthfully, my favorite post-holiday shopping is when I find items that can be re-purposed to use all year long.

A few recent examples:

A fuzzy white throw for the living room–$5.  It came with a snowman pillow which I didn’t like, but I’ve been on the hunt for a white throw for awhile.  I recovered the pillow and used it in another room.

Bedroom curtains. They weren’t really curtains.  They were cranberry-colored Christmas tablecloths.  But with ring clips and tie-backs, they are now curtains.  $2.99 a panel.

Gift bags and wrapping paper. Valentine’s Day sales are great for these, especially if you have little girls who get invited to birthday parties.  Hearts are just for Valentine’s Day, seriously?  I got some adorable pink heart bags with pink polka dots for 50 cents at Target.  (I would post a pic but I don’t know how to load pictures from my new camera yet.)  Actually, anything hearts is on clearance after Valentine’s Day–so cute with so many uses!

 

The applications are truly endless!  What are your favorite post-holiday bargains?


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Cheap, Easy, Creative

I kind of cringe whenever I hear someone say that they can’t have a cute/decorated house or dress themselves or their children nicely because “I can’t afford it.”  I’ll add, don’t look at my house or clothes as an example, I’m in decorating and fashion preschool.  But I’m learning.  Between frugal decorating and clothing blogs, and my creative friends, I’m getting lots of good ideas.  Here are a couple I ran across yesterday.

Creative Juices Decor. Wow, this chick has made some amazing Pottery Barn knock-offs!  She guest posted here about how to make an adorable vintagey clock face. I love it!

One of my favorite crafty/housey blogs ever, Pleasant View Schoolhouse, posts an idea for the most frugal, cute, fast and easy little girl skirt.  With nothing more than a few thrifted t-shirtsand the most rudimentary sewing skills, your little girl can have a whole rainbow of soft, adorable skirts.  I’ll definitely be trying this one.

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