Thrift-writing is ALIVE!

LLAA Thrift storeThis week started my first official posts as a Thrift writer again and I couldn’t be MORE EXCITED!

I’ve been working with Lifelong Aids Alliance for years and was lucky enough to start administrating their new Thrift Facebook page  showcasing their awesome wares, YAHOO!

So come visit me over at Lifelong Thrift Facebook page and check out all our great treasures, say “hi” and meet the staff, volunteers and customers!

And my yearly-challenge blogs continue in 2013 by ONLY eating/drinking Starbucks!  You can see this and all future years adventures over at 1 Year Of my Life.

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A New LIFE!

Yes, you heard right my trusty Living the Goodwill Life followers… this challenge-blog is living ON!

Well, not exactly as you might think.  No, my year of “living” from just Goodwill is over but my challenge continues in my 2012 blog Parents Tested Mommy Approved (PTMA)!

-AND- there are discussions underway to keep a thrifting blog going as well!

So, follow my current adventures over on PTMA and see how I take on Parents magazine’s contributors, advertisers, suggestions and ideas with my own family and I will keep you posted about my thrift-adventures as they develop.

-Beautiful Existence

One Year, One Woman, ONE Adventure every 12 months!

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This is the end…. my friend.

Okay, I know the title sounds a bit morbid but I had that Doors song in my head, but reading this title begs me to wonder… is this REALLY the END for Living the Goodwill Life?

I have been in discussion with Goodwill for the Living the Goodwill Life to live on past 2011 so that all of us thrifters feel we have a place to continue our conversations with each other about our thrift finds, the things we would like to see, all that’s going on in our thrift-worlds, etc.  I dream that one day we too will have our own reality TV show and Las Vegas-style Convention where we all could meet in person and talk about American Thrifting!  I know these dreams could be a reality because I have been lucky enough to be at the helm of an entire year of American Thrift and boy, let me tell you… our community is HUGE!

I’ve been able to connect with people like Patrice J. Williams over in NYC with the blog “Looking Fly on a Dime” that is doing great ground work taking groups of people to thrift stores to score deals on designer-inspired looks!

I had the pleasure of getting to know Jenna Isaacson who did the thrift-store tour of America this last summer over at “All Thrifty States” and looks like she is doing another round of states and stores this year!  We are all anxiously awaiting your documentary film Jenna!

I have met the staff at Goodwill stores that are direct recipients of the dollars we spend in the stores finding our goodies.  Recipients where our dollars have quite literally changed their LIVES and the lives of their children!

I have gotten to know Goodwill stores and their missions to help in their communities from NYC to Portlandia and all the goodies in-between!

I have gotten to know the local Goodwill personalities like the wonderful Gary Foy over at the Bellevue Goodwill… the man with a thrift-shopping plan!

I have been lucky enough to share Thrifters wedding dresses and receptions… all built from 2nd hand treasures like this beautiful wedding dress found by Courtney… here is her story.

“I was casually looking at the dresses, when i saw it: the perfect wedding dress for me! It was hung up at the very end of a rack. Just waiting for me! It was antique lace, strapless, just the right look. I took a look at the price tag, and to my suprise it said $8.00!! I couldnt believe it. did I really just find my wedding dress for $8 at a thrift store? without even looking?! It felt too good to be true. so i took it into the dressing room, and would you believe it, it fit me like a glove! No alterations needed. It was as if the stars had aligned and I was granted a wish by my fairy godmother! I took it up to the register after shopping a bit and finding several other things that i couldnt live without (though none of them as spactacular as my dress) and there was a sale going on! all i had to do was to draw a paper fish out of a box and on the back of the fish was written “60% off”. So, in a nutshell, i found my dream wedding dress for $3.00!!
Immediately i got into my car and called all my friends and both of my sisters, unable to contain my excitement!! I love it so much, its exactly what i was looking for!”

Or how about this post I did in the spring on Kelli Kirk (and hubby) who furnished their reception with Goodwill pieces!

I have had the honor of being a national spokesperson for all of us Thrifters trying to not only show the rest of America the value of saving some money but being environmental and purposeful with our shopping choices as well!

My Northwest spot…

Komo 4 News spot this spring…

Komo 4 News spot at end of the year…

King 5 News spot (that ended up all over the country on various TV stations)…

I have gotten my family and friends to THINK THRIFT and step foot into a store after years (or never) thinking about this shopping option!

I have found treasures beyond even my wildest dreams that have stories of their own to still share.

I was lucky enough to not only model in the Glitter Gala fashion show (that was amazing!)

But spent the entire night in line to be 1st at the Glitter Sale just to break the Seattle urban legend about who gets in line and at what time!  (It’s about 3-4am that most thrifters start getting there BTW…)

I have spent some of the best parts of my life this year shopping at Goodwill stores with my boys and showing another generation how important it is to think about where your money goes!

And I’ve had the pleasure of meeting other multi-generation Thrifters who are out there teaching the value of Thrift too!

And I couldn’t have done all of this… I couldn’t of been LIVING the GOODWILL LIFE for all of 2011 without YOU!  The Thrift-Public of America!

Thank you for being a part of my first year of challenges.  Thank you for participating in my year of living Thrift.  Thank you for taking part and sharing your joy and love of Thrifting with us all!

Only 2012 will tell if the Living the Goodwill Life lives on but one thing is for certain…my curiosity to explore and report out on life, from a suburban-mom’s perspective is certainly living on in 2012.  If you are a parent, know parents or have any children around join me in my adventures of taking Parent’s magazine to task and exploring everything from their advertised products to their recommendations on relationships to the latest dinner recipes over at Parents Tested, Mommy Approved.

With much LOVE I close out my year of Living the Goodwill Life

Beautiful and her boys

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The Last Living the Goodwill Life shopping trip

This week I’ve been holding off on shopping at Goodwill for a couple of reasons…

1.) I already added up my total savings of over $13k this year

2.) I’m trying to conserve money because my temping assignment ended and I don’t have another job yet

3.) I’m starting to get SAD that this year is almost over, and all that I have learned and everybody that I have met could be ending very soon.

But because I’ve taught my boys well, my oldest wanted to make one last trip this week to a Goodwill, so we ventured over to the biggest Goodwill in America, the Seattle Dearborn Goodwill.

I stood back and let my oldest shop for deals with his newly aquired holiday money… and boy what proud mommy I was as I watched him weight the value of an item and ask for my opinion on the cost and then decide if it was really something that he wanted.  Of course we hit the toy area first, but because he is a Tween the clothing area has been a recent discovery for him.  As we were walking back I found a nice little glass container set that I never can seem to find for $2.99 so I picked it up.

Just look at this awesome brand-new winter hat (he lives in Colorado part of the year after all, so this baby will come in really handy!) that he scored for only $8.99!

And this sweater that only cost $4.99 that he described as “SWEET”…

So there you go.  My final buy of my Living the Goodwill Life challenge is a simple (but very useful) glass container and most of this trip was for my son’s joy.

I appreciate all the people that have been subscribing to this blog in the last couple of weeks and all the comments and ideas coming in from readers… it makes it bitter-sweet to me that this challenge is ending in less than 48 hours but even more inspired to keep up this outlet of communications for all thrifters in America… hopefully that will transpire in 2012 in one way or another!

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The BUY of the YEAR!

So the recent media have covered the topic a little and I’ve given hints in the last week but here is the moment of truth about the BEST purchase during my Living the Goodwill Life 2011 challenge year.  In fact… I think this purchase is possibly the BEST of all my thrift purchases in my 20 years of thrifting!

So, with all “great finds” there is usually a story.  You see them on Antique Roadshow about how somebody found the $30k vase in Grandma’s attic or you’ve heard those stories at the dinner parties about the person that found an original Picasso ashtray at a 2nd hand store in the 60′s.  But how many “fish tales” do you know personally?  I know in all my years and those of my parents… there have been some good ones, but even I received kuddos from my parents for my find this year.

So here’s my fish tale (which is real).

I had already visited the Seattle Dearborn Goodwill once earlier in the summer to start the outfit selection for my modeling in the Glitter Gala so this day I walked into the store with both of my boys ready to be in and out quickly.  We went to the back and I tried on my dresses, the coordinators made their selections and took pictures and we were done.  Well, not really… my oldest wanted to look around a bit so we headed towards the back.  That’s when i saw the book, laying on the floor, all by itself.  It definitely caught my eye immediately because of the uniqueness of the cover.  Knowing rare books myself I could tell it was hand-bound and had care given to it’s creation so I dusted off the back that was all dusty from the floor and carefully opened the pages.  They were immaculate!  The pages looked to have no finger prints, no bending or damage… amazingly kept!  Then I moved to the back pages where I knew a signature would be and there it was!

This book, that the store charged me .97 cents for, is a gem to an art or rare books lover!  Rough estimates from two dealers (an art and a rare books dealer) put this piece into the thousands, possibly $8,000!  And one spoke about possibly putting it on display at their collection next year!

I will add that my 2nd place winner this year for the BUY of the YEAR was for this $350 retail watch that I picked up at the new Lynnwood Goodwill for less than $50!  This too has a great story… one of last-minute desperation to get the one item I was asked to find, the one item that I could not seem to locate even though I looked at different Goodwill‘s for weeks… a quality men’s watch.  But low and behold, one of the lessons I learned this year was to attend new store openings when possible because they stock the stores with quality items and that is indeed the case because one week to the day that the Lynnwood Goodwill opened, I found this beauty in the jewelry case!  Boy, when it was opened this last week was the recipient suprised!  And what a beautiful addition it makes to his collection!

So as I end out this last week of my 2011 Living the Goodwill Life challenge I want to challenge YOU about the BEST purchase you’ve ever received.  Was it worth thousands?  Was it something you once owned a long time ago?  Was it even your find?  Please… leave your comments on what you found (or heard somebody found) and where!

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Merry, Merry, Ho-ho-ho!

Merry Christmas to all our readers that celebrate today and Happy Channukha to all those others celebrating today too!

Just look at this awesome Melissa & Doug wooden train that our wonderful Aunt, Uncle and cousins gave us last night, the BEST PART?  Purchased at the Lynnwood Goodwill!  Oh YEAH!  Thanks Brianna, Jeremy, Kyla, Ian and Jett!

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Last Minute Gifting Tips and Tricks

With only 4 days to go till Christmas… here are a couple of my gift ideas for those last minute shoppers out there that might want to snazzy-up their holiday gifting while helping the environment and making your purchases go further.

As a mommy that values finding ways to help our earth with every little bit I can (which Goodwill is also aligned with saving millions of tons of items from the garbage dumps every year in this country!) I like to be creative with my gift giving, including the wrapping it’s in.  So here are some of those items you can buy at your local Goodwill to use as the boxes and/or wrapping that will add something special to your gifting this holiday season while helping out our environment…

For those guys in your life… grab a car washing-mitt (like this one I picked up at the Seattle Dearborn Goodwill for $4.99) and put a tool in it (like this Craftsman level I picked up at the Seattle Dearborn Goodwill for only $19.99) add a bow (or not) and your set!

For girls on your list grab a holiday kitchen towel (like this brand new one picked up at the Bellevue Goodwill for $1.29) and wrap it up into a roll and put a bracelet or belt around it and then finish it off with a scarf! (also from the Bellevue Goodwill for $4.99)

And the finished look with a bow and a gift tag (made from repurposed wrapping paper)…

Or you can give an entire “Accessorize package” and wrap a handbag (like this beautiful brand new Tignello handbag I picked up at the Seattle Glitter Sale for only $39.99) in a scarf (also from the Seattle Goodwill for $3.99) with some bracelets (all from the Seattle Glitter Sale for various prices ranging from $9.99 to $12.99)!

And wrapped in the scarf as wrapping paper…

For those kids on your list… purchase a nice, cozy winter hat (like this GAP kids hat purchased from the Seattle Dearborn Goodwill for  just $1.99) and put some presents in it (wrapped or not)…

And here are a couple of more ideas for items to use as boxes or wrapping paper instead of using more materials that cut down trees…

How about a planter for a gardener’s gift to store items in

Or a Coffee Canister (or kitchen canister of some kind) to put trinkets for that food-lover on your list

Or a storage container for that kid or parent on your list to store all those toys they often get during the holidays!

Or how about using a men’s tie as a bow on a gift (even better if it’s a “bow tie”!)

There are many different ways that you can package your Goodwill items in repurposed goodies that will not only cut down on your environmental footprint, but give your gift a little added PIZZAZ when viewed against the typical wrapped gifts under the tree.

But no matter how you wrap your gifts… I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and I will see you soon to wrap up this year of Living the Goodwill Life for 2011!

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Little media hints…

This holiday week started off with the KIROradio interview with Linda Thomas which you can read about more here.

Linda was a delight to speak with and I gave her a couple of hints of posts coming up next week that you can hear in the interview… namely the limited edition book from Harold Keeler that I picked up this summer (and found on the floor!) at the Seattle Dearborn Goodwill location for .97 cents but could be worth thousands!  Yep, this purchase could by far be one of the best I’ve ever scored in all my years of thrift shopping… and I want to share it all with you.

So watch next week for images of the book and for news of the gallery that might be showing it next summer!

Also, Linda reported out on the many, many receipts that I’ve been keeping for everything I’ve purchased this year.  So once I’m truly done spending money at the Goodwill (which literally could be up until December 31st!) I will tally them all up and show you what the final retail & Goodwill prices were and how much I SAVED this year!

Third, is my 2012 challenge where I will be taking Parents magazine, their articles, suggestions and yes… even their advertisers products, to task for a typical American family and blogging back to you how they worked (or didn’t) for us.  I will be sharing the link and my goals for the 2012 challenge “Parents Tested, Mommy Approved” in the post next week as well.

But for now… look for my last post on Goodwill holiday gift ideas this week for those last minute holiday shoppers and the other media interviews coming up in Seattle Met magazine and Seattle Times!

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People, Parties and Polaroids!

So friday night was our holiday party and we have been preparing for months to host 20 of our friends with an amazing (if I do say so myself) dinner, drinks and good holiday cheer!

First of all… I’ll start with how we prepared our home with items from Goodwill

So, besides the typical organizing items that I’ve picked up for the last month (shelves, file cabinet, bar, etc.) I also picked up a bunch of holiday items to decorate the tree (or Chanukha bush, however you want to look at it).  So I took the yarn from the Yelm Goodwill and made it into a yarn-ball garland.  You can see a video of how to make them HERE.

I paired the yarn garland with a bunch of blue decorations…

and VOILA!  Look at that beautiful final tree with presents and even sporting a plush-dreidel that I picked up at the Edmonds Goodwill last weekend (brand new!) originally marked retail price of $45.00 and picked up for only $.99 cents!

Of course, once we had all the items up in the house and were doing our final run-through I came up with some last-minute things we needed.  So a quick Goodwill run to the Seattle Dearborn location got us set up with holiday napkins, wrapping paper, a stocking, some MUCH NEEDED serving utensils and I ended up finding some cute outfit items (JCrew skirt for $1.99 and red leg-warmers for $2.99) to make the last bits festive!

During my last minute Goodwill run I wanted to decorate our entry area so guests knew which place to ring the doorbell.   I found full-size Christmas trees, tons of holiday decorations… I mean look at the rows upon rows of holiday items at the Seattle Dearborn Goodwill!

I mean all of this AND a back room just chalked full of Christmas, Chanukah items and toys!!!  But still, nothing was hitting the spot for me until I went through the back sporting goods area and found this pair of old ski poles, PERFECT!  I mean these babies have hand-stiched leather handles and looked great wrapped in lights and topped off with a snowman rug!

Our home was finally ready!  And soon our guests started to arrive, we served hours of dinner and drinks and even one of our Polaroid cameras came out for some fun!

We have a couple more parties to attend in the final weeks of 2011 but as I’ve shown here, you can decorate your home, your tree, yourself and your dinner with items all found at your local Goodwill!

The second of the holiday gift posts is coming up this week were I show you how I’ve taken everyday objects and turned them into the wrapping paper and boxes for the holiday gifts we are giving…helping you to not only save money with your purchases but also helping the environment!

Only 2 more weeks of my challenge are left but check back soon because we might have some exciting news about how the Living the Goodwill Life might continue on after 2011!

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Holiday Gift ideas anyone?

With the holidays literally around the corner, I’m posting a couple articles in the next two weeks with ideas for your holiday party decorating and your gift-giving with items found at your local Goodwill.

Today is the first of two posts about gift-giving…

I have a number of birthday’s at the begining of 2012 that I’ve also started to collect for and here is one example for a female family member who loves pink. I call this gift set the “Pretty in New Year’s Pink” with a new years kitchen towel, brand new with tags that I picked up at the Seattle Dearborn location this summer for 1/2 off $2.99. I wrapped it in a roll and wound a cute little bracelet also picked up at the Dearborn location for $3.99 and topped it off with a local artist’s pink glitter pin.

These next couple of gifts are for some co-workers that I want to respect their religious diversity, so I am calling these gift sets the “Season’s Gift-ings”. I found this beautiful silver and gemstone pin at the Port Townsend Goodwill on my first shopping trip of the challenge way back in January for less than $5 and it even comes with it’s own little satchel for safe-keeping! When I met this co-worker I immediately knew her jewelry taste was perfect for this beauty and I can’t wait to gift it to her! I matched this pin with a cute little Winter bag and some wonderful mints.

This next co-worker gift I picked up during my Glitter Sale shopping trip for $5.99 and I paired it with a cute Winter gift bag picked up at the Seattle Dearborn location for .99 cents and a card from a set of hand-designed Channukha cards that I picked up at the Centralia Goodwill for $1.99 for a set of 10 and to top the present off I included some mints as well.

This next gift is for a gift-drive at my little one’s school. So if your thinking that gift items at the Goodwill are only for certain people, think again! You can even get brand-new items like this child’s glove/hat set for only $3.49 that I purchased at the Bellevue Goodwill last weekend for those holiday present drives for local nonprofits as well!

We are quickly coming up on our holiday party this Friday night! And I’ve been working at finishing the decorating for it all week. Check back this weekend for more holiday party ideas from the Goodwill for your own holiday celebrations!

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