What is Ethical Fashion?

Let’s answer a few burning questions: “what is ethical fashion?” and tomorrow, “If you’re only wearing ten things, what ARE you wearing?”

What Is Ethical Fashion?

Ethical fashion includes clothes whose makers seek to address at least one (but usually more) of the issues involved in fashion today.- Stop Traffick Fashion

Ethical Fashion aims to address the problems it sees with the way the fashion industry currently operates, such as exploitative labor, environmental damage, the use of hazardous chemicals, waste, and animal cruelty. – Victoria and Albert Museum

The museum expanded on some of the issues involved with fashion today:

Serious concerns are often raised about exploitative working conditions in the factories that make cheap clothes for the high street.
Child workers, alongside exploited adults, can be subjected to violence and abuse such as forced overtime, as well as cramped and unhygienic surroundings, bad food, and very poor pay. The low cost of clothes on the high street means that less and less money goes to the people who actually make them.
Cotton provides much of the world’s fabric, but growing it uses 22.5% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of the world’s pesticides, chemicals which can be dangerous for the environment and harmful to the farmers who grow it. (Ethical Fashion Forum)
The low costs and disposable nature of high street fashion means that much of it is destined for incinerators or landfill sites. The UK alone throws away 1 million tones of clothing every year. (Waste Online)
Many animals are farmed to supply fur for the fashion industry, and many people feel that their welfare is an important part of the Ethical Fashion debate.

Some companies choose to focus on one aspect, such as environmental concerns, while others focus on providing a fair wage, but most of the issues are connected. For example, using certain chemicals may be bad for the environment, but they might also create a hazardous and unsafe workplace in the factory.

There are several types of ethically made clothing to address those specific issues:

  • Vegan: not made with any animal products, such as leather
  • Ethically produced: includes fair trade and organic certifications, clothing made with respect for people and the environment
  • Craft/Artisan: skillfully handmade products
  • Custom: made-to-order, “slow” fashion
  • Recycled: made from existing materials, often former garments reworked into new ones
  • Vintage/Second hand: using what’s already in the system, and supporting local communities and businesses

In this series, we’ll talk about several of those types of ethical clothing, especially focusing on ethically produced, craft/artisan, recycled, and vintage/second hand. Not that I don’t care about animals, because I am an animal lover, but for the purposes of this series, I’m focusing on people.

So, what am I wearing this month? Come back tomorrow to find out!

Are you already buying any of the types of ethically produced clothes mentioned above? Tell us if and why you do in the comments! 

Thrifting, Iowa Style

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen sneak peaks of my thrift store finds while I’ve been in Iowa. Here’s the full story.  While I’m in my home town in Iowa for my best friend’s wedding, I wanted to do a little thrift store shopping. My mother-in-law, some friends from church, and I visited two thrift stores in our area, and WOW. I can’t believe all the cool stuff I found, and the low prices!
I took pictures of all the awesome stuff that I would love to buy, but knew I couldn’t fit in my suitcase. 
I saw this beauty right when I walked through the door, for all of $2. 

This green leather pouf was going for $7.

These would be perfect for my painted mugs, especially at 25 cents each!

Check this out! It’s a bowl and nut crackers! There was no price on it. I put it in my bag to ask about at the front. 

How cute are these canisters?

A little spray paint, and this mirror would be fabulous, especially for $3.

This is a big Van Gogh style painting, for a couple bucks.

This set of four midcentury modern-ish chairs were in great condition.

This like-new hair curler set was $2.

I thought about buying this skirt, since I liked the pattern and it had an elastic waist. It was several sizes too big though, and I decided against taking on another sewing project.

I love this vintage suitcase.

I happen to know insect jewelry is big right now, and this bumble bee necklace is right on trend.

A beautiful coffee table…

And another one….plus I love the lamp!

This rocking chair was going for $25.

This beautiful chair was only $10.

These matching mirrors were $25 each.

This jacket was under $5.

In the end, my mother-in-law bought me the jacket and another tunic top for my birthday.

I bought a black pencil skirt, some mustard yellow velvet ribbon for 50 cents, and the nut cracker set.

It was only $1!!!

I’m linking up today at Simple Design, check out the other thrift store finds there and get inspired to check out your neighborhood shops! 

Got it at Goodwill: Steve Madden Shoes

As I mentioned Friday, I decided to walk to Goodwill so that I wouldn’t be tempted to buy too much. I could only take home what I could carry, although I was reminded on Twitter that you can carry a lot if you really want to! Several items did tempt me, like this awesome chair.

I know the fabric is dated, but it was super comfortable and in great shape, and only $30.
I’m not sure what this thing is, but it’s definitely cool! 
At first I thought it was a plant stand, but now I wonder if it’s a stand for a gigantic globe? It looks too fancy for plants!

I almost carried this home for $4. It’s a vintage diagram of helicopter systems. I sent Brian a picture of it and asked him if he wanted it. He asked me how big it was, and we decided it was too big to carry home. Besides, we’re hesitant to get too much more stuff, since we plan to move in September. 

But the shoes I could not resist. 

 I tried on a black pencil skirt and three pairs of black heels. One pair of heels were too big, one was too high, and one was just right!

This sunny floral dress caught my eye.

I decided against it, since it was a few sizes too big. At the time, I didn’t feel up to another dress re-make, especially trying to navigate making the fitted bodice fit. Once I got home and looked at this picture of it, I kicked myself for not getting it. The fabric is awesome! It would have made a great skirt, or at least some really darling pillows!

Since I’m the “puppet master” for our church’s summer Bible program, I bought some assorted toddler clothes for the puppets. Those clothes and the shoes were all I had to carry home.

Kopek approves. 

I paid $5.99 for these. I’m pleased!

What’s the latest greatest thing you’ve found from thrifting? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Check out other thrifting sprees at Simple Design. 

My Thrifty Dress Re-Make

I’m famous! Well, at least, I feel like it!

Saturday, the lovely Marisa from New Dress A Day featured my dress re-model. I took it from this $5 Goodwill dress:

To this summery frock:

Check out the full post for how I did it, and while you’re there, check out all of Marisa’s amazing creations! With $365, she creates 365 outfits. You’ll love her thrifty finds and her sense of humor!

Hmm, this might just be the perfect dress to wear to a Memorial Day barbecue this evening! Brian and I  are planning to spend the evening with some friends of ours, so the guys can talk and we ladies can scrapbook.

While I’m all for enjoying the day off, remember that Memorial Day is more than sales and good food. Take time today to thank those who have served, remember those that have given their lives, and pray for those who are in harms way.

pleated poppy

Treasure Hunt: Goodwill Shopping Haul

I went to find three skirts and two pairs of jeans; four hours later, I almost left with Kenneth Cole shoes and a chandelier. And I did leave with $342.96 in estimated savings. 
This was my most epic Goodwill trip yet. You might remember my other posts about Goodwill shopping when we lived in an apartment with a Goodwill just down the street. I was really sad when we moved away, but last November, a brand-new Goodwill opened just down the street from our house! Saturday was the first time I’d had a chance to check it out. 
I was looking for three skirts in denim or khaki to wear on the missions trip to Mexico I’m planning to go on in March. They have a dress code, and my only denim skirt isn’t long enough, and skinny jeans aren’t allowed, hence the two pairs of jeans. 

Once I filled my cart with skirts, I headed to the dressing room. On the way, a few shirts and shoes caught my eye, so I took them along with me.

None of the skirts really worked for me, unfortunately. But check out these nude heels!

I looked online, and Kenneth Cole leather heels range around $178 new. These were in excellent condition, no scuffs or scratches, but used, and were $5. Unfortunately, they didn’t fit me. So I put them back. 

These actually did fit me, and they were very comfortable. They looked unworn, and I recognized the brand, ecco, but I didn’t know how much they were worth. I kinda wish I’d bought them, because I looked them up online, and ecco tennis shoes are around $120 new. 

On my way back to the skirt aisle, I spotted the chandelier. It was metal, no crystals, but a beautiful elegant leaf design. It just needed a coat of white paint and some distressing, and it would be good to go. For $12, I almost bought it. But, I decided that since we live in a rental house with no where to put it, it probably wasn’t the best idea. Brian agreed.

But enough about what I didn’t buy. After I filled my cart for the second time, I was more successful. Here’s what I did get:

This scarf first caught my attention because it felt higher quality than many of the others. Then I noticed the signature.
I hadn’t heard of “Ralfeaux” before, but a little sticker left on the scarf from a garage sale said “Designer.” 

For 99 cents, it was definitely worth it. I looked up Ralfeaux, and found out that this scarf is probably a vintage designer scarf worth around $15. 

I finally found a skirt! I looked it up and found an identical one at Target for $24.99. I paid $4.99.

If you know me, you might have notice how much I love stripes. I caught a glimpse of this tee in passing, and when I saw it was my size and since yellow tags were half off, it was in my cart before you could blink.
Similar Old Navy Tee, $14. Price for this Old Navy tee, $2.50
At first I thought these would make good work jeans for our projects during the mission trip. But now I’m not so sure. 
These army green pants were SO comfortable, they’re flared and a little loose fitting. And, they are New York and Company brand, and while I couldn’t find any similar pants online, New York and Company sale jeans go for around $30. These were half off, so I paid about $3.50.
Ok, here’s the REALLY exciting part. Speaking of New York and Company, I also bought this blazer.

 It’s in excellent condition, and fit me well. I’ve been looking for a well-fitting blazer for quite some time.

It is a New York and Company blazer, and I actually found the identical one online, for $69.95. I paid $7.99!

I couldn’t decide between that blazer and this one, so I bought them both. It’s a little wrinkled in this picture.

I first noticed the unique stitching and buttons, and then I noticed that the sizes were in European and American. I knew that was a good sign.

And then I saw the brand. It’s a Zara blazer. I was first introduced to this brand by Wendy’s Lookbook fashion blog, and when I looked online, Zara’s black blazers cost between $89 and $99. This one had a yellow tag, so it was half off. I got it for $4.

I also scored a pair of GAP 1969 “Essential” jeans. I looked them up online too, and they sell for $69.99. I paid $7.99. 

And then, THEN. I spotted this little basket!

Blogger still likes to randomly put my pictures sideways

 So cute! I knew it would be perfect for my friend’s wedding next summer. She liked the idea of a little suitcase type box for the wedding cards.

It’s a picnic basket!
The dishes are white plastic, and they’re cute too. I found a similar one on Etsy, with green plaid inside, for $65.95.  I paid $10 for this one.
So let’s summarize all this goodness. 
Vintage Designer Scarf, paid $0.99                Valued: $15
Denim Skirt from Target, paid $4.99              Valued at $24.99
Old Navy Tee, paid $2.50                             Valued at $14
New York and Company pants, paid $3.50   Valued at $30
New York and Company blazer, paid $7.99  Valued at $69.99
Zara blazer, paid $4.00                                  Valued at $95
GAP jeans, paid $7.99                                   Valued at $69.99
Picnic basket, paid $10.00                              Valued at $65.95
Total spent: $41.96     Total value: $384.92

Now, that’s what I call epic!!! 

I told Brian after I finally checked out, “I think I could make a nice income finding designer and high quality items at Goodwill and selling them for more on ebay.”

“Well, why don’t you then?” He asked.

What do you think? If I sold the Zara blazer for even half of a comparable Zara blazer, for maybe $50, I’d still make quite a bit from it, considering that I bought it for $4. What do you think? Should I go into business? If anything, maybe it could fund my penchant for shoe collecting!

A penny for your thoughts? To leave a comment, click on “Links to this Post” below.

I’m Back! Highlights from My Trip

I’m back from my vacation in the Midwest, and consequently, I’m back to blogging! Here’s the highlights from my one and a half weeks away.

Phase 1: The Parties

Iowa at last!

This was the second time I’ve flown alone, and I’m still pretty new to flying even with someone. Thankfully, everything went well, I didn’t loose a bag this time, and I survived the turbulence on the little plane that took me from Minneapolis to my home town.

Right away, I had a few graduation parties for kids from my home church, my niece’s first birthday party, and my younger sister’s graduation party. I guess as a result of my somewhat solitary life in Arizona, my immune system wasn’t prepared for the large crowds of people. I came down with a sore throat that weekend, which rapidly progressed to a sinus infection that made me miserable for the rest of my vacation, even though I got antibiotics early on.

This is my niece’s first birthday party! As you can see, there’s quite a crowd. Around 30 people came. 

They had cookies, cake pops, cupcakes, AND a birthday cake!

I’m not sure what she enjoyed more, the balloon or the wrapping paper from her gifts.

Happy first birthday! I can’t believe it’s already been a YEAR!
Unfortunately, I was too busy talking to people at my sister’s graduation party to take any pictures. I don’t have any pictures of the scrapbook I made for her either, but it did turn out well and she really appreciated it. I was very impressed by how well everything came together for her party, and as far as I could tell, people really enjoyed it. 
After all the weekend craziness, I hung out with my BFF for an afternoon. She and I checked out the new bookstore in the mall, went to dinner at Applebees, and scoured the Goodwill. I scored this sheer red and white ruffled top for $3, and a pair of Clarks heels in new condition, also for $3! We also watched Tangled (My verdict- adorable! Go see it if you haven’t!). We had a great time catching up, and I’m really glad it worked out with her busy work schedule and summer classes. I miss her already.

This is the shirt, and I’ll show you the heels next week. 
I brought this project dress that I found at Goodwill awhile back to work on with my MIL. She was very skeptical about my plan to turn it into something cute. 
But we did! However, I’m saving that for a later post! Stay tuned for the tutorial!
Also during the week, I spent a few hours learning from my brother-in-law how to use the software for my church’s website. He was extremely helpful! 
I had lunch with my older sister and helped her find a gift for the upcoming wedding, and I got to spend some one on one time with my younger sister over coffee, followed by shopping. And, we sisters had a girl’s night at my older sister’s house and watched Ever After and ate popcorn and leftover birthday cake. That was fun!
I went to the promotion ceremony for the Christian school my youngest brother attends. The teachers say something nice about each student and give them character awards. Eric was awarded for humility and excellence in science.  
The boy in the light blue shirt is him. I was too far to get any good pictures.
Overall, I really enjoyed this phase of the trip. I’m grateful that I got to spend quality time with friends and immediate family members, and see my old church family and extended family members too.
Phase 2: The Wedding
After Eric’s ceremony on Friday, I rode with my in-laws to Des Moines to the rehearsal dinner for Brian’s cousin’s wedding. We were quite a bit late, so we missed the boring part and were just in time for the dinner! Brian flew in to Des Moines a few hours earlier, so we were finally reunited! 
After the dinner and talking with the relatives, we arranged to meet Brian’s best friend at Village Inn to hang out. We talked until late, which probably wasn’t the best thing for my health, because I took a turn for the worse the next day. But, it was totally worth it to see Jay and catch up on each other’s lives. 
Saturday was the wedding!
Bride and Groom

The ceremony was beautiful. I’m so glad Brian and I could attend.

I can’t believe we’ve been married almost a year!
Phase 3: The Retirement Ceremony
The morning after the wedding, we began the 13 hour drive to Dayton, Ohio for Brian’s uncle’s retirement ceremony. His uncle was a colonel and had been in the air force for 30 years after graduating from the Air Force Academy. 
I was excited for this phase of the trip, because I hadn’t met many of Brian’s relatives on his dad’s side. They live all over the place, and I’d only meet some of them the night before our wedding, and didn’t have time to really talk to them much then. 
Getting down there was quite the deal. It poured most of the way, and at some point, the van broke down. We had to pull to the side of the interstate, rocked by every passing semi. My FIL proceeded to work on the problem in the driving rain, but a large gust of wind from a semi truck passing by blew the hood off of it’s prop and smashed it down, latching it, with his hand inside! Brian jumped over the seat and popped the hood, and dashed out to lift it up. Miraculously, my FIL’s hand wasn’t broken. It’s possible that his wedding ring saved his fingers. 
After that ordeal, with Brian holding up the hood, my FIL fixed the issue. Unfortunately, he’d left the headlights on, and the battery was dead. We figured out where we were, and my MIL called Triple A to jump start us. They arrived in 15 minutes, and we were on our way!
We crashed at the hotel when we made it to Dayton, but the next morning I went over to Brian’s uncle’s house and got to meet the family. Brian and I and my in-laws spent most of the day at the Air Force Museum. I didn’t bring my camera, so you’ll have to take my word for it that it’s really, REALLY awesome! 
That evening, Brian’s uncle had a casual open house, so I got to meet the rest of the family and spend the evening getting to know them. 
The next morning I spent alone in the hotel, writing and recharging. I enjoy people, but it can be really draining for me to meet and talk to so many at once. I enjoyed some alone time after all the busyness. 
Then it was time for the ceremony! We got all dressed up, and got there early. The ceremony was very well done and emotional, but the four star general who spoke and Brian’s uncle focused on keeping it light and positive. It was clear that Uncle Lansen was a respected and admired leader. I loved that they took the time to honor his family, especially his wife and his mother. 
This is us, “hob-nobbing with the big shots” as my dad would say

Lansen’s medals

Traveling with Brian is so much more enjoyable! We had two uneventful flights and arrived home in good time to get some groceries before sleeping in our own beds.

I read A Cowboy’s Touch in it’s entirety on just the flights to Iowa; I didn’t even read it during the hour of layover I had. Then I read Something Borrowed on the way home and during maybe 2 hours of our layover, with fifteen minutes to spare before we landed! Yeah, romantic fiction doesn’t take me too long! Brian was impressed with my reading speed. I tried reading some solid classical literature, but I got about four chapters into Uncle Tom’s Cabin and realized I wasn’t in the mood. Light, predictable, fun reading was what I craved, and while I don’t recommend either of these books if you are a literature snob like me, they fit the bill perfectly this time. 
I miss our family and friends, but while we were in Ohio, I remembered just how miserable summers are in the Midwest. The temperature was in the 90’s, but the humidity! Unbelievable! You’d walk outside, instantly start sweating, and it would just stay on your skin. Sticky and miserable! I definitely prefer 100 degrees in Arizona!  Interestingly, I was sick the whole time I was there, but almost right away after getting back, I’m greatly improved. I’m convinced it has to do with our drier air!
So, there you have it! It’s good to be back!

How To Shop Savvy

In a poll on the Scribbles From Emily facebook page, the majority of you said that your biggest hangup when it comes to fashion is that it’s too expensive. Agreed. When I saw that this sweet little silk dress costs a whopping $1,169, I almost choked. But that’s the sale price, it’s 65% off the original $3,340.

Floral-print plissé silk-chiffon dress by Luisa Beccaria
Luisa Beccaria Floral Print Dress on The Outnet

So yes, fashion can be very, very, VERY expensive. But it doesn’t have to be.

You just have to be a savvy shopper.

Today I’m going to share with you my top tips for shopping savvy, both online and in store. 
1EbayI just recently discovered the addicting joys of eBay shopping! After a few attempts, I won an auction of 12 new with tags or new without tags Old Navy tops for $30. Through Groupon, I got a $15 eBay gift card for $7 a week or so earlier, so with the shipping included, the final price came to $24, $2 per shirt! There is SO MUCH on there that it can be overwhelming, so here’s a couple excellent how to posts that will get you started. 

    • How to Shop on eBay from Already Pretty. I read this post before I got started, and it helped tremendously. Especially the tip about making sure you don’t bid more than you can pay, especially if you’re bidding on more than one item at a time!
    • How to Bid, Win, and Save on Ebay from Haute Lunch. I read this post after I’d started eBay shopping, and Tara shares some great reasons to use eBay, as well as some new tips that I’ve found to be very helpful. 

2. Ebates. I first heard of ebates through the Frugal Living blog community. When you navigate to stores through the links on the ebates site, you can earn “cash back” on your purchases. If you’re going to buy something online anyway, it makes sense! It’s easy to sign up, and almost every store imaginable is on there, including eBay! I haven’t used it much, and so far I only have 9 cents coming to me. But I’ve heard from a lot of other bloggers who have saved big time using it. In addition to cash back, ebates also lets you know of sales and special coupon offers for around 1,200 stores.

3. Store Websites. I have found that sometimes stores put merchandise on sale that you won’t find in the the store. Also, many times they offer special discounts and web exclusive sales. So if there’s a store I really enjoy going to, I always visit their website.

4. Email Lists. If I really like a store, I sign up for their emails. Yes, it’s one more thing cluttering up my inbox, but some stores offer exclusive email coupons, such as 50% off at Modcloth, or 40% off your entire order at LOFT. And my favorite, free jewelry with any purchase from Charlotte Russe. I love the emails from Francesca’s Collections, not only because they always have big coupon discounts, but because they’re so pretty! They’re almost like scrapbook pages.

5. Amazon. Did you know there’s actually a lot of clothing for sale on Amazon.com? I didn’t until I started reading fashion blogs, and over and over, people mentioned getting items on Amazon. The bonus of shopping here over eBay is that you don’t have to bid (even though on eBay you sometimes have a “Buy it Now” option too). Since there’s a lot to sort through, make your search as specific as you can. I’ve used Amazon to find a particular color of tank that I just can’t find in stores. Plus, if you use Swagbucks, you can earn $5 Amazon gift cards just by searching with the swagbuck search bar. 

In Store
1. Goodwill. Ok, so you all know that I’m a big fan of Goodwill. Sometimes I approach Goodwill as a hunter: I look for specific things, such as a ladle or spice rack. But other times I go as a gatherer: I browse the housewares looking for unique objects, I browse accessories and shoes, and I dig through jewelry looking for vintage finds. Now I always look through the dresses, and sometimes other clothing items catch my eye. I do not walk each row and sort through all the tops and bottoms. That’s just overwhelming to me. I only venture in there if I’m hunting for a specific top or bottom. Many Goodwills have weekly sales on a certain color of tag or a certain week number, and sometimes everything in the store is 50% off on Saturdays. Keep an open mind when you go, and you’ll be amazed at what you find. 

2. Consignment stores. Sometimes these are similar to Goodwills, but usually they sell nicer items, and sometimes they sell brand names only. To find shops in your area, look through your phone book, or try local.com. One of the benefits to shopping at consignment stores is that you can also sell your clothes there. That way you can make a little shopping money.

Here’s a great post on shopping at thrift stores: 
Rebecca Van Ommen/Lifesize/Getty Images
3. Estate sales/Garage Sales. Here in Arizona it seems that garage sales run year round, except when it’s really hot in the summer. I have yet to go to a garage or estate sale when I actually have money to spend, but I hope to soon. I’ve heard so many stories from other bloggers about the amazing vintage finds they get at estate sales. Garage sales often run cheaper than Goodwill, and many times they are a great place to buy children’s clothes or maternity clothes. 

4. End of season sales. When the first daffodils are finally blooming, who really feels like shopping for sweaters? Not me. But, that’s when I find the lowest prices!  Each season, stores come out with their new lines, and the old ones go on sale. The longer you wait, the lower the price. I watch the store emails I get, since they always announce their new seasons, and then I know it’s time. Sometimes I might not get to wear it until next year, but then it’s always a nice surprise to get it out and wear it for the first time. I’ve bought a few Anthropologie sweaters this way; I’ve paid $20 for sweaters that would otherwise cost upwards of $80. While it can be hard to feel in the mood for buying off season clothes, get in the mindset of gathering, not hunting, and I think you’ll be very pleased with the prices you’ll find. 

I know this is just scratching the surface of being a thrifty shopper, so feel free to share your best tips in the comments, or even share links to posts on the subject. How do you save money on your shopping? What’s the best bargain you’ve bought recently?

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Dresses from Shabby Apple

Before and After: Re-decorating My Apartment

When I said re-decorate, I thought we could maybe hang a few more pictures. I had the living room at a happier, more matching place than it had been in for a while. But, deep down I knew I didn’t like it. The colors in our couches are navy, green, gold, and a purple-ish burgundy. Deep in my soul, I craved serene and calming colors, like blue.

When my mom and sister visited, they didn’t stop at hanging a few pictures. They overhauled the living room, dining room, and the bedrooms. And, they re-decorated my living room with blue and white! 

Way Before
This is how I had my fireplace decorated originally, after we first moved in. 
Then I got this trike at Goodwill, the blue pot from Anthropologie, and the stems from the Dollar store.
This is one side of the fireplace. Both of those picture frames were empty for a long, long time.

This is the fireplace decorated for Christmas.
Mom used the wooden letters I bought at Goodwill, and a picture collage I hadn’t found a place for and replaced the butterfly. 
Then we took down the Valentine’s Day banner, the things in the corners, and got rid of the old bottle I was using for my green twigs. Then we took down the Christmas lights and replaced the twigs. We moved some flowers from the guest room to the trike, and got some plate stands. This is how it looked after we were done: 
The light-up orchid branches make up the Christmas lights!
Every time I took at it, it makes me so happy! I love those branches, and the vase. The branches came from a decor store just down the street, and the vase came from Pier 1. 
This was before we took down the Christmas lights, so pretend they aren’t there. 
I’d like to add some greenery to the corners, something like these topiaries from Simply Designing.
Simply Designing
This is our coffee table. The glass decanter is from Pier 1, the red beads inside are from the dollar store, the marble bust is a Christmas present from my parents, and the rose was a Valentine’s Day present from Brian. I used a recycled bottle for a vase. The candle and candle holder are both from the dollar store.
These blue and white balls came from Pier 1 and were $3 each. The tray was a wedding present, and the pebbles were leftover from wedding decorations. I picked out the reed diffuser for Mom and Evi because they needed something to reach $30 at Pier 1 so they could use a $10 off coupon. I picked it because it was blue and on clearance for $3 and mom decided it looked good on my coffee table. The scent is Bombay Blue, and it fits so well!
This is one of the desks we got off Craig’s List. I eventually moved that picture closer to the one from my in-laws, like the picture of the couch below shows. 
Guess where we found this blue toile slipcover? Goodwill! 
We also got a pillow there for $1 and slid it underneath to make the seat more comfortable. 
This is an old picture actually, because I moved the picture thats on top of the black bookshelf to the guest room, and put the simplicity cement saying there instead. And I had finally put pictures in the frames. 
This is how it looked after we moved some things from the fireplace over and added a little greenery. Much better!
Here’s our couch, with matching purple lamps. Above the couch is our Wedding/Graduation present from my in-laws, a beautiful painting of a couple by the ISU campanile, and then two wedding photos. 

This was perfect, because the butterfly got to stay in the living room. It looks nice with the couch too. 
The blue jay painting was painted by Brian’s great-grandmother.

This painting is of an amusement park in Iowa, Arnold’s Park. It’s by the same artist as the campanile painting that was in the living room, P. Buckley Moss. 
Adding three things to this wall has a lot more impact and looks more put together than one lone picture. 

Now both pictures by the same artist are together! And, the big campanile picture fills the wall better. The green mat looks nice with our bedspread and curtains too.

Great-gram’s painting is above the dresser now, as is the brown clock I got at Goodwill. And yes, there are two clocks, because the brown one matches, but it runs half and hour behind no matter what. This still needs some work, but it’s getting there. 
I think mom and Evi did a fantastic job. We actually didn’t buy a lot of new stuff, just the things from Pier 1. Mostly we decorated with what I already had. If you’d like to do the same, I wrote a post with 12 ways to decorate with what you already have!
Have you ever majorly re-decorated? Have you ever asked for help with decorating? How did that turn out?

Got it at Goodwill: Three Thrifty Outfits for $10 Each

I was window shopping online, and completely captivated by the lovely vintage and oh-so feminine dresses at Modcloth. It’s one of my favorite places to window shop. Now, their dresses are reasonably priced, especially when they’re on sale, and I had $30 of my spending money saved up. I debated between dresses, and suddenly, inspiration struck.

Why not go to Goodwill, pick out a real vintage dress there, and modernize and remodel it to fit me, New Dress A Day style? If you’re not familiar with Marissa’s site, you should go take a look. You’ll get addicted to browsing all the hideous before and adorable after pictures, and her sense of humor! The best part is that she shows you how she makes the transformations. With 365+ tutorials to follow along with, it can’t be too hard for me to do the same, right?

So I took my $30 to Goodwill to see what I could get.

Outfit #1
I found my first outfit almost right away. A coral colored skirt caught my eye. It was the high waisted type that you wear above your belly button with a big belt, so I looked for a suitable top. I found a beautiful pink flowered one and a plain white shirt. I threw both in my cart, but after I tried them on, I decided on the plain white one because it was half off.

As I passed the shoes, these turquoise pumps jumped out at me. Turquoise and coral are one of my favorite combinations. I found a matching belt in new condition, AND a matching silk scarf.

I’m just not quite sure how to wear the scarf, hence the cheesy model pose. 
The white shirt needs to be sewn up the sides to make it a couple sizes smaller, but otherwise, this outfit is good to go. 
  • Shoes-$3.99
  • Belt-$5.99
  • Scarf- $4.99
  • Shirt-$2
  • Skirt-$2.50

Outfit #2
I remembered the real reason I’d come: finding dresses. So I left the separates and headed to the dress racks in the back of the store.

I tried really hard to stay away from the nice dresses. I loaded my cart with some of the most hideous and frumpy dresses you can image, because I was looking through New Dress A Day rose colored glasses. Unfortunately, dresses here are $10 each, not $1 like Marissa’s. $10 is really overpriced when you look at some of these dresses. Seriously.

I only had $30, and with the cost of my accessories, I couldn’t afford to get the dresses that weren’t half off. By the time I went to the dressing room, my cart was heaped high with options. It was really, really, hard to narrow them down, but finally I decided on two. 

There were two yellow dresses I liked, but this one doesn’t really require any remodeling, so it’s the one I chose. I’m wearing it with the turquoise accessories, but I think it would look good with white too for a more Easter-y look. 
Here’s a close up, so you can see the fabric. It’s got a really cute texture. If you have any ideas for dressing it up or adding something to it, let me know! What do you think about adding a few little buttons on the front, right under the high waist? Or maybe a bow, like this dress?
Canary Islands Dress

My price:

  • Yellow Dress-$5.00
I saved $90 by shopping at Goodwill! 

Outfit #3

Project dress. Keep that in mind. 
Drum roll please…
It looks even worse in real life than it does in this picture, trust me. 
The skirt almost touches the ground, but it’s very full and has a nice swing to it. There’s no zipper, which makes it a perfect candidate for me to remodel since I don’t remember how to sew zippers. Get this: It has massive shoulder pads! And large puff sleeves. It’s size huge. 
But the fabric is really cute, it’s got little white hearts on it! 
Here you can see the buttons on the shoulder, and the weird tie thing on the side. The top of the dress has a layer of fabric that ties at the side. It’s kind of interesting, but it’s something to work with. 
I’m going to chop off the skirt and bring in the sides, and cut out the shoulder pads, but I’m torn about what else I should do. Should I cut off the sleeves? Should I keep the tie thingy? Should I cut more of a neckline?
  • Navy Dress -$5.00
Final price for all three outfits: 
  • $24.44
Less than I would have spent on one Modcloth dress! That works for me! My tip is:

Check your neighborhood thrift store first! It could save you a lot!

What do YOU think I should do to the yellow or navy dress? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

works for me wednesday at we are that family

I’m A Cheap Valentine: How we celebrated with $17

Many people don’t like Valentine’s Day because it’s pricey- gifts often include perfumes, jewelry, and bouquets of roses. Prices for everything romantically related, especially roses, skyrockets. With a little creativity, it doesn’t have to be expensive at all; in fact, you could do Valentine’s Day for almost free! 

I started off Valentine’s Day with a doctor appointment:  not my idea of fun! But thanks to some wonderful blogs, websites, and my friendly neighborhood Goodwill, I’d already prepared for our celebration.

The Decorations
You might have already seen my “Easy Valentine’s Day Banner” that I posted about earlier this month.

This didn’t cost me anything, since I used scrapbooking paper I already had and the free hearts printable from At Second Street
I also printed the Valentine subway art from the blog eighteen25, and put it on the bookshelf in the dining room.

I used the print I made, of the adorable owl. You can download it for free, just go to my “Free Stuff” link in the top left corner of the blog. 
Owl image from The Graphics Fairy.
I was going to make these, also from eighteen25, but I never got around to it. It would have also been “free” since I already have all the things I’d need to make them. 
I think I still will make them, because really, that’s a message that can stay up for longer than just February!

What’s Valentine’s Day without roses?

When I was too sick to go to church Sunday, and had to stay in bed and work on school work, Brian bought me the most gorgeous rose! I put it in a recycled bottle and arranged it on our coffee table.

I found these wooden letters at Goodwill! They were 99 cents each, and they’ll look wonderful year round! (In the background is an art easel I also bought, but I didn’t use it for anything related to Valentine’s Day, in case you’re wondering.)

 The Presents
I printed these free valentine’s from Peptogirl, gave some away, and hid some around the apartment for Brian to find. My favorites are “Just My Type,” “Sew in Love,” and “Owl be yours.” Too cute! I snuck some into his lunch box, I taped one to his computer, and one to his shaving cream.

I also printed this adorable valentine and wrote a message to him inside. This valentine was also free, and I got it from mmmcrafts.

{What can I say? I love puns!}

For Brian’s main gift, I was inspired by “How To Make A Marriage Bed” from A Holy Experience. I shared the link to this post before, so if you’ve read it, you’ll remember the letter to Ann Landers. Ann Voskamp shared a letter to Ann Landers from a daughter writing about her very-much-in-love parents. Every time they made love  they put a dollar into a box, saving for their dream trip. On their 50th anniversary they went on a second honeymoon to Hawaii.

I found the perfect box at Goodwill for $2.99.

The quilted top had to go. With a screwdriver, it was easy to bend back the metal prongs holding it in the back, and take out the top. I replaced it with scrapbooking paper, a wedding picture of us, and a sticker, all of which I already had.
I wanted to protect the picture, so I used a clear scrapbooking protective sleeve, slipped the wooden top with the paper and picture on it inside, and cut off the edges. 
I copied and pasted the letter from Ann’s post into a Word document and printed it out. I slipped it in the inside of the lid. 
The Plan
I really wanted to go on a picnic, so I  thought about going up to Canyon Lake again, but remembered we’d have to buy a pass, and I didn’t want to mess with that. So I did some research and found a nice park not to far away with nice picnic areas, grassy slopes, and a lake. Perfect! 
I wrote the directions from Google maps on pink sticky notes and placed them inside an envelope. I added a leaf that happened to fall off of the rose; it was supposed to be a clue, signifying that we were going somewhere outside. 
I decorated the outside with a number one, and I incorporated the “bon appetit” scroll from these free printables for a picnic at home from Eat, Drink, Chic. There’s two of them, and you’re supposed to attach them to your silverware, but I liked how it looked on the envelope. Plus, it was another clue for Brian!

 After our picnic, Brian was supposed to open the second envelope. In this one, I had this sticky note:

Unfortunately, by the time we got to the park, it was dark. It was really too bad, because I had outfits picked out and ideas for the pictures, and it would have been so cute! Next time, I guess!

 So Brian opened the third card. In this card, I put the rest of the free printables for the picnic at home: the heart and movie tickets.

Eat Drink Chic
We didn’t have take-out or champagne, but it was close enough!
Eat Drink Chic
I‘d been awhile since I got a musical/Disney movie fix… Enchanted fit the bill perfectly. Plus, we watched that movie the evening after Brian proposed to me, and Brian gave it to me on our first Valentine’s Day together as a dating couple. 
Unfortunately, Brian isn’t as musical and Disney crazy or sentimental as I am, and he didn’t want to watch it. Instead, we lit candles, cuddled, and read books and magazines together, which was still nice!

I’m really proud of the numbers… I drew them free-hand. 
This is what Brian saw when he came home from work.

 The Food
When he walked through the door, The kitchen was covered in powdered sugar, and I was wearing an apron, mixing frosting, looking a little flustered. In my mind, I had the ideal cupcake: tall, soft confetti cake, topped with fluffy pale pink frosting and adorable paper toppers, TomKat Studio style.

TomKat, Ice Cream Shoppe Party
I suppose that was a bit unrealistic. 
First, I only had three cupcake liners. Second, I was short one egg. Third, the cupcakes turned out really…flat. Like, maybe two inches tall. Fourth, I had to cut the frosting recipe in half, because I didn’t have enough butter. Fifth, the frosting turned out so runny, I literally dipped the cupcakes in it, because it was impossible to spread, and it was a bright, Peptobismol pink. When it actually dripped off the cupcakes, I scraped it all off and added almost the entire bag of powdered sugar to thicken it, and re-frosted them. 
It was STILL runny, as you can see. But it made a nice glaze. 
I finished the cupcakes with free paper cupcake toppers from the blog Free Pretty Things For You. I printed the circles, cut them out, taped toothpicks to the back of each one, and inserted into the cupcake.

the sugar sign is from Eat Drink Chic

On the cupcake to the left, you can see how runny the frosting was, and the remains of the first batch. Notice how flat they are? I substituted 150 ml of milk for the missing egg. Someone online said it would work, and I believed them.

Even in their imperfection, they’re still kinda cute.
For our picnic, I made jello and egg salad sandwiches, and used pink plastic plates and cups that I had left-over from my bachelorette party last spring. 

The day after Valentine’s Day, we went to Walgreens to pick up my prescription from the day before. Of course, all the Valentine’s stuff was 50% off, so Brian picked out a classic gift for me: a heart shaped box of chocolates, complete with a picture of a puppy, for $1.50. I bought myself this little rose plant for $2. 
So, the total price for Valentine’s Day: $16.50. The most expensive and least useful cost was the rose, which cost $6. Compare that to my plant, which will last longer, for $2. 
Moral of the story: 
  • As far as gifts go, it is the thought that counts! It doesn’t have to be expensive to be perfect.
  • As far as decorations go, you can find great stuff online for free! 
  • And, you’ll never have to buy Valentine’s again; there are SO many blogs and sites that offer them for free!
  • After Valentine’s Day, get ready for next year! 
  • When you look at the stuff that’s 50% off, think about how you could re-purpose it for Mother’s Day or a birthday coming up.  

How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Did you use any free stuff or thrifty finds? Tell us about it!