Change of Seasons Calls for a Change of Wardrobe

Posted on March 14, 2019

A bit of good news: Spring is almost here!

It’s hard to believe, I know–this Winter has been so wet and dreary that my husband and I started talking about building an ark in the backyard–but temperatures are about to rise, the birds are about to return, and that means it’s time to give some thought to your Spring wardrobe.

Like every year, page after page of women’s magazines will be devoted to Spring fashion. But–spoiler alert–a lot of Spring clothing is timeless. Look, I just saved you $5.99 on a magazine at the supermarket checkout.

* Rainbow City, AL location.

You don’t have to break the bank to find excellent new fashions. Shop smart and thrifty, and you’re likely to find a great combination of classic and trendy pieces with the chance to incorporate your own personal style.

Finding the right wardrobe for you

I live in the deep South, so bold florals are almost always a winner. With the wide range of temperatures on any given spring day, you should look for items that can transition from cool mornings to warm days and back to chilly evenings. Maxi skirts and dresses are always a good choice, and it’s easy to layer over them with a light sweater or a cute blazer.

Another fun thing you can do? Accessorize.

A light Spring scarf, a floppy, oversized hat, or a chunky necklace can take you from basic to stunning with very little effort. Shoes are another great option for pumping up your spring style — look for cute wedges, espadrilles and strappy sandals, plus flats or basic tennis shoes for a more dressed-down look.

Shop for the rest of the family, too

You don’t have to limit your inner fashionista to your own clothes: Pick up a few new items for the husband and kids, too.

Pastel polo shirts and comfortable chinos (long pants and shorts) will be a hit for the men and boys in your life. If your dudes are a little more adventurous, scope out seersucker items for a refined Southern look. Looking for your men to be a little more formal? Find a good quality blazer or light sports coat.

For your little girls, look for sundresses, smocked dresses and bubbles. Or if you have a tomboy, Bermuda shorts and T-shirts can be a good option!

Make thrifting a family activity

Thrifting for a new wardrobe can be a fun activity for the whole family; you can treat every trip as a ‘dress-up’ day and find what works best for each of you. And don’t forget what “building a wardrobe” can really mean for you and your family members: it’s about putting multiple pieces of clothing together that can be mixed and matched in a way that seems as fresh as the season.

And while you should be building a wardrobe with basics that can last for a few years–depending on how often you wear them–the nice thing is that you’re not going to spend a small fortune on an item you’ll only wear once or twice.

If you’re looking for a piece that’s trendy right now, well, you might not want to pay full price in case that trend is over quickly. Why pay retail when you don’t have to? Shop THRIFT! The key is to look for quality items with the seams in good shape and made from quality materials that last longer.

P.S. It’s highly likely that you’ve got something in your closet that might be perfect for someone else this Spring season. Donate your old or outgrown spring apparel to make room for new!

 

Written by Misty Matthews 

5 Tips to Save Money On Kids Fall/Winter Clothing

Posted on November 2, 2018

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t stomach paying $30 for a pair of jeans or a t-shirt my child will wear for maybe three months before they outgrow it.

And even the items my rough-and-tumble boys don’t outgrow may end up with holes or stains, and even though they might still wear these clothes from time to time (especially for playing in the backyard)— I hate the thought of throwing down a good chunk of change for something that they will basically destroy in less than five wears.

It’s also actually pretty amazing how fast kids grow (hello, three shoe sizes in four months!), but it’s not so amazing for our family’s budget. I look for ways to cut corners wherever I can without skimping too much on quality. Here are my top five tips for saving money on kids’ clothes.

  • Go to the thrift store. OK, yes, this is a thrift store blog, but I’m almost always impressed at the variety and quality of clothing at America’s Thrift Stores. At a recent trip to the Huffman store, I picked up a North Face fleece jacket for my older son for $2.99 (TWO NINETY-NINE! Do you have any idea how outrageously great that is?!) and a Columbia half-zip fleece for my younger son for $3.99. I also got them jeans, button-down shirts and T-shirts from name brands like Children’s Place, Old Navy, Gymboree and Wrangler. All total, for two jackets, a fleece, four pairs of jeans and four shirts, I spent about $30 — which is less than the retail price of the North Face jacket alone.

 

  • Shop off-season. This one’s a little trickier, because you have to be pretty good at predicting what size your child will be in the following year. Many retail stores discount their clothes heavily at the end of the season; this is actually one of my favorite ways to buy more expensive brands. Pro Tip: The thrift store even discounts items on a rotating basis, so be sure to look for which color tags get an extra percentage discount. 

 

  • Learn the sale cycle. Retailers often put items on sales in a specific cycle, so if you pay attention, you will rarely have to shell out the full retail price for most items. This is also where it pays to plan ahead. If your child waits until the last minute to tell you they need a very specific item for their school dress-up day (we just finished Red Ribbon Week and Halloween, so there have been a lot of themed days lately for us), you are at the mercy of the store and whatever price that item happens to be. On the other hand, if you’re able to wait a week or two for it to go on sale, you’ll definitely get a better bargain. Also, don’t assume the most heavily advertised sales mean the best prices. Sometimes you can find items cheaper on a random Tuesday than you can on a holiday weekend or back-to-school time.

 

  • Shop online. Even if you are going to pick up items locally, use the Internet to comparison shop, especially for bigger-ticket items (like shoes or jackets). It takes a lot of time to drive from store to store, but you can find the information you need in a few minutes with the power of Google. Pro Tip: Avoid paying for shipping when possible. Many retailers give you the option to ship to the store for free, and some even offer free shipping with no minimum purchase.

 

 

  • Embrace the power of hand-me-downs. With two boys, I take advantage of hand-me-downs as often as I can, and it saves us a lot of money. This also is my best argument for seeking out high-quality items whenever possible, because they are more durable and actually last through two kids.

Altogether, like so many things, it’s all about balance — knowing what you’re comfortable spending and what you need and figuring out how to get the best items for that price.

Written by Misty Mathews

Score on Spooktacular Decor

Posted on October 29, 2018

One of the things I love about my neighborhood is that everyone decorates for Halloween. 

We’re not just talking a wreath and some pumpkins here. There are inflatables, skeletons, gigantic homemade spiderwebs and even a full-blown haunted house–literally inside someone’s house.

I’ve always loved Christmas decorations, but it had never occurred to me that I could have the same amount of fun with my Halloween decor until I moved to Bluff Park. We had just moved into our new home last Halloween,so there wasn’t much time,  but this year I was ready to jump in with some SPOOKY spirit.

I suspect it will take me years to get to the level of some of the folks in our neighborhood, because unfortunately I can’t spend 100’s of dollars on inflatables and lights. But I have started a nice collection of items that I really like and that I can build on!

One of my favorite ways to find funky (and sometimes unexpected) items is hitting up the thrift store. This year, I spent about 30 minutes at a America’s Thrift Store’s Huffman location and I found a couple of sparkly skull tealight holders, jingly spider bells to decorate a wreath, a cute new basket to hold candy for our trick-or-treaters, a spooky cat-and-bat wind chime, some sparkly pumpkins, and a wooden jack-o-lantern statue all for just $15!

Another great way to save on seasonal items is to hit the thrift store or local retailers the day after the holiday. I’ve found a lot of items (including the great black wreath pictured) for up to 90% off the original price. With a little planning ahead, you can be better prepared for next year!

I bought several items last year after Halloween including a few festive pumpkins, so when I combined those with my thrift store treasures it made for a pretty cute little front stoop display that wasn’t overly expensive and didn’t take tons of time to put together!

Halloween decorations are fun, they make me happy, and my kids love them, and they let me tap into my creative side! What fun things is your family doing to celebrate this Halloween?

Written by Misty Mathews

 

Incredibly Awesome Costume Idea

Posted on October 1, 2018

When I was a kid, my family didn’t celebrate Halloween for religious reasons, but we did participate in church and school ‘fall festivals.’ I remember my mom making me my own costumes every year. I

actually thought it was super cool, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the amazing Disney Princess costume she made when I was an elementary student.

Now that I have kids of my own, we do celebrate Halloween, and it’s a lot of fun to think about costumes for our whole family. Since I didn’t trick or treat as a kid, it’s something I look forward to e

very year now. 

At the same time, I have a hard time justifying paying $25-35 per costume for something we’ll all probably only wear once or twice! Sadly, I’m not nearly as creative and cr

afty as my mom, so extravagant homemade costumes are out of the question. But I knew I could come up with something that would be fun for the family, less expensive than full-price costumes and not too difficult or time-intensive for me.

We saw Pixar’s The Incredibles earlier this year and loved it, so I thought the Incredibles would be a fun and pretty easy option. I was able to find some red shirts for all fou

r of us at America’s Thrift Stores, plus some black pants for the kids (Bobby and I already had some). I was also able to find some black costume masks at the thrift store!

From there, all I needed was a few pieces of felt and some craft glue. I grabbed these at a local craft store and used a mobile coupon. All total, I spent less than $20 for four costumes, and we’ll all have a costume for trick-or-treating, and it only took me a couple of hours to put them all together.

 

Here’s a quick tutorial in case you’re interested in making your own Incredibles costumes.

Materials (for 1 costume):

Red T-shirt

1 sheet of red or orange felt

1 sheet of black felt

1 sheet of yellow felt

1 sheet of white felt

Black maker or ink pen

Scissors

 

Instructions:

Fold the black felt in half and cut out a large circle (it’s OK if it’s slightly oval shaped). Cut the black circle in half. Trace the shape of an ‘i’ on the yellow felt and cut it out, then trace and cut a smaller circle for the center of the dot from the white felt. Glue the black pieces to the red or orange felt, with one piece about 1 inch lower than the other (see photos). Glue the yellow ‘i’ on top of the black pieces, slightly overlapping, and glue the white circle onto the dot of the ‘i.’ Once you have this part together, cut out an oval out of the red felt, around the pieces you’ve glued on. Once you’ve done this, use a sufficient amount of glue to paste the logo to your shirt.

If you decide to make your own costume, whether it’s Incredibles or something even more fun, we’d love to see it during the month of October!

Written by Misty Mathews

Thrifty Tailgate Fun

Posted on September 19, 2018

For some people, fall means pumpkin spice, leggings, or maybe just a lot of raking. For our family? It means it’s time for college football!

One of the most fun parts of football season is having people over to watch the game. But tailgating, even in your own backyard and home, can easily get expensive and overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be!

I recently took a trip to the America’s Thrift Store location in Gardendale to find some items I could jazz up for a tailgate party without breaking the bank. As a working mom, I don’t have a lot of spare time, and I am not one of those super-crafty moms (who are amazing, by the way!), so I was looking for stuff I knew I could handle.

I found a couple of food containers that would be awesome for a party. A chip-and-dip is a great go-to for a variety of small food items, and a red one is perfect for us Crimson Tide fans. I also picked up some Mason jars (because who doesn’t love a good Mason jar?) and some coordinating table cloths.

I think my favorite piece was a plain, white ceramic serving bowl. I had some ideas for how to liven it up, including adding some decorative ribbon or painting it. I ran by a nearby craft store and grabbed some paint, paintbrushes and stencils (and used a mobile coupon for 40% off!).

It only took me about 20 minutes total to use the stencils to paint elephants on the jars and the serving bowl, but that short time took them from plain to festive. One of the great things is that it doesn’t matter which team you root for — you can take this same concept and create something fun, easy and inexpensive!

Of course, if you’re having a tailgate party, you gotta have food. My favorite way to handle food is potluck, because then you don’t have to have the burden

of hosting and preparing a multi-course meal for your guests. 

Here’s a go-to recipe that my family loves and that’s always a big hit with a crowd, without a lot of fuss or prep time:

Bacon Cheddar Ranch Dip

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes at 400F

Ingredients:

1 package of real bacon bits

8 oz. of cream cheese, at room temperature

16 oz. of sour cream

2 cups of shredded cheddar

⅓ cup of sliced, green onions

1 package of ranch seasoning mix

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together until they are well combined. Put the mixture into an oven-safe dish and heat at 400F until the mixture is bubbly and beginning to brown on top. Remove from the oven and serve with chips, veggies or crackers.

Of course, you’ll need to plan a quick grocery run to grab all the ingredients, but you can find just about everything else you’ll need (including awesome team gear, — I grabbed four new-to-us Bama shirts for my husband, my sons and me) all at the thrift store.

Hope you all enjoy this recipe and that you’re able to spend some time with your friends and family this football season!

Written by Misty Mathews