Thursday, September 24, 2015

Thrifty Thursday: Mary's Thrift Store and My Polka Dot Obsession

I've only visited Mary's Thrift Store twice, but I have a love-hate relationship with it.

Located in a rundown shopping center next to a Dollar Tree on Auburn Boulevard in Citrus Heights, it's the epitome of a hole-in-the-wall store.

Whoever runs it puts little effort into promotion, decor, customer service, organization and modernization. The employees barely acknowledge your existence until it's time to check out or you have a question. You won't find any social media for the store outside of a handful of mostly outdated Yelp reviews. The store doesn't offer much in the way of men's, children's, electronics or housewares.

Despite all its lacking, the store has a great women's clothing selection.

You just have to devote time to browsing.

The clothes are somewhat organized by color, but good luck finding sizes. The store staples its prices onto the size tags of the clothes. Sometimes I'm able to read the sizes, sometimes not. It's a guessing game.

The prices and sale days vary, but Wednesdays are where it's at. Half-off all used items. The store has a small selection of new clothes from stores such as Ross; prices are slightly discounted.

On the hunt for my Halloween costume, I made my second stop at Mary's on a Wednesday. Walking the aisle of Mary's extensive formal and semi-formal dress collection, I found a couple of Halloween maybes, but only walked away with an everyday dress.

It was a "guess at the size dress" that turned out to fit perfectly once zipped up in the crappy dressing room.

(I really wish the owner of this store would just invest a small bit of money to install hanging hardware in the dressing rooms. Carrying heavy, floor length gowns into a dressing room with no place to hang them is a pain. I'm not revealing my Halloween costume yet, but it gives me a chance to buy a pretty dress.)

When I stepped out from behind the curtain to show Aaron the dress, his response did not surprise me.

"It looks good, but don't you already have a dress like that?"

"Well, yeah, but this is one is still different; it's perfect for all weather, and it's only A DOLLAR FIFTY on sale!!"

Is there such thing as too many polka dot dresses? I don't think so.

Buying this dress reminded me of an article I read recently.
Researchers concluded that buying stuff doesn't make us happy. And I agree becoming more materialistic isn't going to make you happy. But I don't think the researchers considered thrift chicks such as myself.

You better believe that buying this navy, polka dot, All That Jazz swing dress for $1.50 absolutely made my week! And it's not a short-term happiness. Every time I wear it, I will remember I paid $1.50 for it and was able to reuse something someone else had discarded.

Not to get all soap-boxy, but ethical reasons motivate me to shop second-hand. I try to do my best not to contribute to the fast-fashion industry, which has numerous social, economic, environmental and health consequences around the world.

Plus, shopping second-hand is fun. I find thrifting to be a bit of an adventure. To borrow from the sage words of Forrest Gump's momma, "You never know what you're gonna get." 

I'll probably be back to Mary's Thrift Store for my Halloween costume. I just wasn't ready to commit so early in my search; crafting the perfect Halloween costume is serious business.

I recommend checking out Mary's on a Wednesday. Just prepare yourself for a little size-searching frustrating.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Sacramento Bands and Art at Chalk It Up 2015

Chalk It Up is one of my favorite Sacramento festivals. The Labor Day weekend festival brings together local artists and musicians for a free three-day event that raises money for arts education grants in the Sacramento area. This year, Chalk It Up celebrated its 25th anniversary. It's been really cool to watch it grow bigger and better every year.

This year I caught the last two bands performing on Labor Day, Honyock and Drop Dead Red.

Check out the 2015 Chalk It Up pics below. 

For more chalk pics, see my favorite selections from Chalk It Up 2014.
Drop Dead Red

(Click to enlarge and flip through the Chalk It Up 2015 gallery.)


Monday, August 31, 2015

5 Clothing Hacks: Simple Solutions to Common Clothing Problems

Problem: White deodorant marks on clothes. 
Solution: Foam from a clothes hanger.

This is such a simple trick I wish I would have known years ago. Even though I saw this clothing hack demonstrated on TV, I still had my doubts about its effectiveness. But when I got "invisible solid" deodorant (does such a thing really exist??) on my Mr. T Experience tee, I remembered the hack and put it to the test.

I used the foam from inside a dry cleaner's hanger. You can cut the foam off the hanger, but I really like this hanger, so I kept it on. To remove the deodorant marks, rub the hanger foam directly onto the deodorant marks. The foam acts as a magic eraser, and the deodorant marks really do just disappear.

Problem: Pull tab of the zipper fly won't stay up.
Solution: Ring from a keychain.

Since most of my wardrobe is thrifted or from Ross, I occasionally run into problems with difficult zippers that refuse to stay up. Or maybe it's not the clothes, and it's my belly. Either way, I'm not down with walking around with an open fly. 

To keep the pull tab of the pants zipper up in its proper upright position, simply thread a thin keychain ring through that little hole on the zipper tab. When you zip yup, simply fit the keychain ring around your fly button. (Thick keychain rings work, but they tend to add a bulge.)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

DIY Craft: Cardboard EAT Sign for Your Kitchen

After making fun word art and punny song graphics for my kitchen upgrade, I realized the space was still lacking something. There was a void above the top frame.

I toyed with the idea of buying word decals, but then that would bust my zero dollar kitchen upgrade budget. Then it hit me, I could make an EAT sign with the cardboard I keep on hand for crafty projects and all the white shelf paper we have.

No Cost Kitchen Upgrade with Free Kitchen Printables

Decorating my kitchen has been a challenge. Just about every inch of wall space under the cabinets is filled with small appliances and kitchen doohickeys, leaving no room for adornment.

Opposite the cramped counters lies one big, uneven wall with outlets right in the middle. When this house was first built, that wall had cupboards and counters, so it made sense to have outlets there. But when everything was gutted from the wall to create a dining space, the outlets remained. And not only are the two outlets smack in the middle of this blank space, but they are not even level with each other. Staring at the wall is a bit of a trip because from the ceiling line to the outlets, everything is just a bit askew.

Since those outlets are the only sources of power on that side of the kitchen, the outlets are actually used quite a lot, so covering them up is not an option.

When I first decorated that wall, I pinned up three red Ikea mirrors my mom had given me. I was never really crazy about this decor, but it helped fill in all that space until I figured out something better.

 Looking at kitchen decor online, I found a number of retro diner and kitchen signs I just loved, but splurging on them wouldn't have been very thrifty of me. Instead, I revamped the space without spending any money.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

An Ode to My New Teal Sofa

Oh new Macys sofa, how I love thee. Let me count thy ways. 

Comfort is your name with cushions so thick and full.
You brighten up the room, adding contrast to the red, black, white and grey.
Pet hair barely shows on your light Tiffany Blue shade.
And when it's time to remove the hair, a quick vacuum or sticky roll does the trick.
Your pillows stay in place with Velcro so strong the dog can never climb atop.
Your smaller arms bring more nap space to sprawl across your smooth, micro-suede seats.
And even though you arrived with spots and dirt, I didn't mind the scrubbing work.
Best of all, you cost just $40 and I sold my old, worn, pet-hair covered sofa for the same. 

Like this? You might also like:
Craigslist Furniture: Family Room Update. 
Mid-Century Craigslist Scores

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cragislist Furniture: Family Room Upgrade

My obsessive need to match everything and have decor look just right is a blessing and a curse. I have a sharp eye for color and can detect slight variations in shades most people cannot. I excel at buying second-hand furniture and clothes because I can quickly spot imperfections in products, and I'm also able to easily diagnose how much work it would take to fix said flaws.

For these reasons, I'm able to help others decorate, select furniture and clothes. But I also go a little nutso when things in my own home don't coordinate, are off balance or are otherwise just not right. A picture askew can cause me anxiety. I spend days rearranging ornaments on the Christmas tree.

So imagine how I've felt having a cheap, brown cabinet in my red, black, white, tan and silver family room.

When we moved in nearly two years ago, the cabinet was supposed to be a temporary solution to our smaller kitchen. We used the cabinet to hold the pantry food that didn't fit in the kitchen.

Although the pantry cabinet clashed with everything, was made from flimsy pressed wood and one of the doors was wonky, it did the job while I searched for a replacement. It was convenient and functional, just not pretty.
But as I searched Craigslist here and there, I discovered that most people ask a lot of money for their cabinets, if they're any good. Even if the cabinet is essentially the same version of my crappy brown one, just in white, sellers still wanted $30 or more. 

As we generally don't pay for cheaply made furniture, I had a hard time justifying spending the money on anything that wasn't a significant upgrade. We like solid furniture that has good resell value. Our brown cabinet was a freebie from a friend, and we knew once we had a replacement, we'd pass on the cabinet for free.

As time passed, I became less irritated by the brown cabinet, but nonetheless resolved to one day upgrade.

That day finally came.

Following my general rule that I only upgrade my furniture with profits from a Craigslist sell, I sold our old washing machine for $75 after receiving a front-load washing machine for free. (Goodbye agitator; I don't miss you at all.)

With that money I bought a gorgeous sofa (more on that later) and two solid, stylish cabinets for $40 to serve as the family room pantry.

Not only do these cabinets replace the flimsy pantry, but they also replace my husband's junk and medicine shelf next to the sofa. (That area started off organized, evidenced by this post, but as this is my husband's domain, it did not stay that way. And yes, the picture below represents how my husband prefers his loveseat.)

Together, the two cabinets are a little longer in length and a little shallower in depth when compared to the previous cabinet. As a result, we were able to ditch the extra black stand next to the loveseat, while at the same time opening up the room more.

This is a low-on-groceries-day, thus the empty shelves.

We used to keep the Rock Band drums next to the entertainment center, which was a pretty terrible spot. Moving them next to the loveseat also helped free up needed space. Additionally, we added the wire magazine rack (which I've had since I was a kid!), next to the loveseat so Aaron's music books are handy and organized.

Now, the room feels bigger, and I no longer have to groan when I look at our food pantry. It also looks great across from my China Cabinet.

I really love Craigslist.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Ataris at The Blue Lamp in Sacramento

So let me tell you a little story that may or may not be entirely factually accurate, depending on how well my memory has held up.

I was 17 (I think) and in love with a band called The Ataris. The band's pop-punk tunes of crushes, heartache and life's complications just like so totally resonated with my teenage soul. The band was coming to Sacramento and my then boyfriend, or possibly "ex-boyfriend, but still friends," John and I were so stoked. I had saved up my money and then I got grounded, per usual.

John went without me. Cue crushing of my teenage soul. I don't remember how I dealt, but I probably blasted The Ataris in my room and ranted to my friends on AOL Instant Messenger, in typical teenage protest.

Whether from lack of funds, lack of ride or permission, missing any show sent in me a ranting Livejournal rage at that age, but this one especially stung.

Fast forward in time and I kept missing opportunities to see The Ataris. I was devastated again when in 2003 they were the main band I wanted to see at Warped Tour, having seen just about everyone else I cared to before, and they ended up playing first. I was late and only caught the last few songs.

I did see the singer (and driving force of the band) solo once at The Boardwalk in Orangevale. I don't remember what year it was or a whole lot about the show, but I do recall Mel, formally of Luckie Strike, opening the show. Fun (and not at all embarrassing), mini, uber specific to the Sac scene history lesson: Mel used to give Teenage Laura love and life advice, which inspired her to start the Mel, the Punk Rock Love Doc website. But I digress.

Last year, The Ataris announced a reunion tour, playing the mainstream album, "So Long, Astoria" in its entirety, but that album just isn't my jam, at least not in the way the earlier albums are. My response was basically, "No one cares. Play Blue Skies or End is Forever!"

Well that's what the band -- and really, that means lead singer Kris Roe -- decided to do in 2015.

So on a Monday night, I found myself up front at The Blue Lamp, singing along at the top of my lungs to "Blue Skies, Broken Hearts ... Next 12 Exits." And it was glorious.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

DIY Makeup, Hair Accessory and Nail Care Organization

Generally, I like to say I'm thrifty, not cheap. I am a thrifty shopper, but I don't like to buy cheap quality clothes or furniture, for example. Sometimes, when it really doesn't matter, I am just plain cheap.

When it comes to organizing my makeup, I'm cheap. I don't need my makeup organization to look nice; I just need it to be functional and portable. I don't own a lot of makeup, and I wear even less on a regular basis. My makeup organization goal was to create a simple system that would allow me to quickly grab what I needed from lightweight, portable containers.

I've always kept my makeup in a narrow, plastic drawer from an organizational desk caddy I used in elementary school. The caddy fell apart ages ago, but I've put the surviving drawers to use for the past 20 years. I used to just toss all my makeup in this little drawer, but I got sick of digging around to find what I needed. To organize my makeup, I repurposed prescription pill bottles, Crystal Light containers and my instant coffee containers. I also use coffee containers and tea boxes to organize my art supplies.

Makeup Organization:
  • Wash and dry all containers before use. 
  • Cut Crystal Light containers down to size to hold eyeliners, sharpener and eyelash curler in one container and organize makeup brushes in the second container.
  • Toss lipsticks into an instant coffee container.
  • Sort mineral powders, mascaras and tweezers into separate prescription pill bottle containers. 

I followed the same, simple organizational system for my small, hair accessories, with the addition of a small jewelry box to hold my bobby pins. (I keep my many headbands with my brushes in my bathroom vanity drawers.)

Yes, that is a Bump-It set. When I spotted it at the 99 Cent Store, I couldn't resist.

For my nail care bin (from the 99 Cent Store), I used one pill bottle to hold nail clippers and cuticle clippers and a second pill bottle to keep all the attachments and accessories to my electric nail sander/buffer in one place.

Except for the nail dryer, I don't really use my electric nail care kit that often as it doesn't work too well, but it has sentimental value as the last present my Grampa gave me for Christmas. Plus, there's a great story behind it that involves my Grampa randomly showing up at my door early in the morning and his dog peeing on my carpet.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Beach Boys at Sonoma-Marin Fair on June 25, 2015

I don't really have a bucket list. I guess I'm not a bucket list person. But I do have a concert list. I've been lucky enough to see most of the musicians from that list, but one band at the top of the list seemed out of reach.

Until, in insomniac daze, in a quest to find an inexpensive adventure for our eighth wedding anniversary, I Googled "county fairs Northern California" and discovered THE BEACH BOYS were scheduled to play two Bay Area county fairs, and the Sonoma-Marin Fair included the concert and all rides for the price of $15 admission.

I was so excited I nearly cried. I nearly woke up my sleeping husband.