Monthly Archives: March 2015

Shopping anyone?…

When I was a teenager – many, many moons ago, my mother owned and ran a clothing consignment store.  Now, I grew up in the small town of Austin, MN.  This consignment store was in operation in the early 1960s – long before consignment stores were in vogue, so to speak (at least in southern Minnesota).  In truth, the fact that my mom was selling used clothing was a source of embarrassment to me.  Nevermind, that I was often the recipient of some special garment, still stylish and in good shape, from clothing someone dropped off to be consigned.  I would never divulge to my friends where that particular piece of clothing came from.  Back in the day, we referred to garage sales as “rummage” sales – not exactly a positive reference.  This store of my mom’s seemed like a huge rummage sale to me!

Fast forward to the 1990s and present day – consignment stores abound; and, now I purchase about 75% of my clothing from such stores and am proud to brag to my friends about the bargains I find.

Wow, my mom was way ahead of her time in her thinking to have a consignment store.  I, as an insecure teenager, did not appreciate that at the time.

The consignment stores of today are very selective in what brands of clothing they will accept – some even going so far as to only taking high-end designer brands.  All of them require the clothing to be in excellent condition and in current style.  My mom operated more like a thrift store of today where as long as the clothing was in good shape she hung it on the racks for sale.  In-style fashion wasn’t necessarily as important a requirement.  (I must add though, you can find some surprisingly great pieces at thrift stores these days if you are willing to plow through the racks.)

So, here’s what I love about consignment shopping -

  • Like items are grouped together (e.g., all the sweaters are in one place) as opposed to other retail stores where you might find skirts or pants in four different locations or departments of the store, depending on their brand.  I don’t have to run to different parts of the store to compare similar garments…much more convenient.
  • Often items are arranged by color.  If I have a particular color in mind and/or just want to look at colors I know I can wear, I can go right to that color grouping and save time.
  • Clothing prices are substantially lower than what I find in department/specialty stores.  I can get more outfits for my clothing budget dollars!
  • Though the clothing is used, occasionally, an item still has original price tags indicating it has not been worn by anyone else (someone didn’t like it when they got it home, size/color was wrong or whatever).  These are my favorite finds!

Now, granted over the years, I have purchased an item here and there that hasn’t worked out once I got it home – like, what was I thinking!?  (A bargain is not always a bargain!) The good news is, I can take the garment back to the consignment store and consign it in my name, therefore earning cash towards future purchases; or, I can donate the mistake to charity for someone else to use.  I’m not out a huge sum of money for my error.

More often, I come home with items that I wear to their death.  Some of my favorite standbys have been purchased at consignment stores.

Sweater and necklace I wear over and over - consignment store finds
A favorite tunic sweater and necklace I wear frequently – consignment store finds

And, don’t forget handbags and jewelry.  In a previous post, I indicated I am going to try and shake up my conservative wardrobe and jazz up my style.  I said my first step in that process is to start wearing dangly earrings (as opposed to boring posts).  Upon deciding to make this style change, I immediately went to my favorite consignment store and purchased a pair of flashy silver dangle earrings – at a substantially lower price than I would have paid at a regular retail store.

Likewise, I satisfy my handbag fetish by regularly shopping for a different bag at the consignment store.  I can only switch purses as often as I do because I purchase used ones.  I could not afford to do this if I paid retail prices.

Two of my favorite handbags and a scarf - all consignment store finds
Two of my favorite handbags and a scarf – all consignment store finds

If you are into consignment shopping or get into it after reading this (hooray, if I’m that persuasive), a really fun thing to do is shop a second-hand store you find while traveling to a different part of the country.  Styles in other locales might be different than you’re used to and can provide some new interest to your wardrobe.

A few years ago on a girls weekend trip to San Diego, my friends and I shopped a couple of consignment stores in the area.  I believe all of us that were comfortable with this type of shopping made purchases that day.  My “find” was a denim jean jacket which I am still wearing today.

Denim jacket found in CA consignment store
Denim jacket found in CA consignment store

Just a quick mention – shopping home consignment stores is great fun also.  Take a look at the table setting I recently scored.  The table runner, candle holder centerpiece, napkins, glasses and plates were all purchased second-hand for under $40 in total!

Dinner, anyone?
Dinner, anyone?

So, my advice today is to shop consignment.  What do you have to lose? 

Let me know how it works for you.         


Don’t Worry, Be Happy…

Remember those lyrics from 1988?  They were from a song of the same name written and performed a cappella by Bobby McFerrin.  You might remember the song from the movie, Cocktail, which starred Tom Cruise.

I’m thinking of that famous (is it famous?) phrase today, because March 20 is International Day of Happiness - who knew?  I must have read of its existence somewhere because I added it to my list of potential blog topics.  I don’t remember the magazine or website where it was mentioned.  (I really need to start noting from where I get my inspiration snippets so I don’t have to wonder when I come upon the ideas on my list at a later date!)

At any rate, I Googled International Day of Happiness and learned it has been celebrated throughout the world (really?) since it was established by the UN General Assembly in 2012.  I won’t bore you with the entire UN resolution, but basically it recognizes the human pursuit of happiness and wants the day to promote the well-being of people around the world.  Therefore, the UN is inviting people everywhere to observe this special day.

So, how do we find happiness and ease worry?  A worthy endeavor, I think.

Here are some ideas –

This is happiness!
Ice Cream is Happiness!

Set your cares aside for awhile and go out for ice cream.

The second verse of the Don’t Worry Be Happy song says –

“In every life we have some trouble, but when you worry, you make it double!”

I think I’ve shared with you somewhere on this blog site that my husband has nominated me (or maybe appointed me) to the all-world worry team.  I admit, I have earned that distinction.  But, I do know that diversions are good to get my mind off of whatever the worry-of-the-day might be; so, I’m all for going out for ice cream!  It makes me happy.

I’ve also written about my love for watching movies – another activity that makes me happy, and which is a great escape.    Last night I found the movie, In Her Shoes, on Direct TV.  Yes, I have watched it before at least a couple of times, but it has been awhile, so I watched it again…a great diversion from balancing my check book which has a way of causing me worry.  (Is there ever enough money?)

This is happiness!
Tulips are Happiness!

The beginning indications of spring arriving here in Minnesota bring happiness to me.  Tulips appearing for sale at the flower stands, snow melting and warmer temps all cause me to smile; hopefully, some of you have that same reaction.  Oh, and more hours of daylight are a huge relief to me!

It really goes back to just recognizing that small, everyday “good” things occurring in life can provide happiness.  (Remember the gratitude journal from my last post?)

Here are some simple activities that are making me happy today –

  • enjoying a clean house (sometimes mine is clean)
  • getting an “all’s well” check up at the dentist
  • watching a very content cat lazing in the sunshine
  • spending an evening with book club friends
  • anticipating a meal at a restaurant touting authentic New Orleans cuisine
  • diving into a new issue of Oprah magazine

I’m sure you get the idea.  Finding happiness is really all about approaching life with a good attitude.  And, surrounding yourself with happy people doesn’t hurt either.

On Wikipedia (who doesn’t love Wikipedia?), I found a list of several organizations supporting the recognition of International Day of Happiness, and offering various activities for celebrating the day.  If you’re interested check it out.

So, celebrate on March 20.

BUT, I think we should CREATE HAPPINESS in our lives every day!  Are you with me?


Life gets in the way…

My instructor and some of my classmates from the recent class I took on blogging think I should be posting a piece on this site once a week.

But sometimes, life gets in the way of that goal – as it has recently; and, then, 3, 4 or 5 weeks pass and I have had neither the time nor the inspiration for writing a blog post!

There was hospital time in January for hubby who had a couple of stents put in his heart. Though I wasn’t the one being hospitalized, I did have to spend time worrying, and visiting him.  Then, there was work, appointments, errands, cold/ugly winter weather and various other distractions that either affected my time or mental state to keep me from writing.

Fortunately, not all of life that got in the way was negative stuff.  There were a lot of fun activities that occupied my time also – like making Valentine cookies with my two grandsons…IMG_0431

taking in Gopher basketball games with my husband, attending the grandsons’ basketball games, having dinner with friends, etc. etc. etc.  Not bad stuff, but still, accounting for some of the life that got in the way.

I consider my blog a fun hobby or pastime; so, thinking I don’t have the time to take for it, can get in my way of writing.

BUT, life was made up of the good stuff as I wrote this piece.  I was sitting in sunny southern California, feeling relaxed. IMG_0676 Plus, since I was on a vacation and away from home, I had the gift of time – no distractions of work or every day living.  I begin writing my posts by doing a very rough draft long-hand, then, do my editing as I type it into this blog site.  Since I had my trusty red notebook with me, I was able to take advantage of my free time in CA to write this.

It’s amazing to me how revitalizing it is to “get away from it all” as they say.  (Who is “they”, by the way?)  A day before we left home on this trip, my body seemed to be aching all over – especially in my neck and shoulders where I tend to carry stress/tension.  A half day after arriving at our destination, all those aches disappeared.  Granted, sitting in a hot tub might have helped ease the situation; but, just clearing my brain of worry and scurry removed the effects of stress.

The trick now, and I know it is not easy, is to find at least some blocks of stress-free time in everyday life.  Vacations are not always possible; and, Roger and I are not fortunate enough to be able to spend extended periods of time away from the Minnesota winter.  (However, we do have  the extreme good fortune of having wonderful friends who invite us to share part of their away time during the winter months.)

As I pondered ways I could take the good vacation feelings home with me and escape now and then from the negative aspects of life, I came up with some ideas that may help me.  See if any appeal to you.

MAKE time to: (notice the word – make)

  • meditate (yoga, contemplative prayer)
  • immerse myself in a great novel
  • exercise – doing something I like to do (like walking outside), not something I think I should be doing (like the elliptical machine)
  • get together with friends for a cup of tea, a meal, or a nice long walk
  • take in a movie
  • keep a gratitude journal – regularly noting 3-5 things for which I am grateful.  (Psychologists say you cannot be anxious if you think of the things for which you are grateful.)
  • get a massage or other spa/salon treatment
  • work a crossword puzzle, put together a jigsaw puzzle, or play a new game with family or friends
  • try a new recipe

And, my favorite:

  • ignore the to-do list for a day and just do whatever comes to mind and go wherever the wind blows me!

Oh, and be thankful for the fun activities already in my life which I mentioned above!

As I said, I was on a vacation as I wrote the list above.  It remains to be seen, now that I am home, just how many of these ideas I’ll put into play to create feel-good, vacation-like scenarios.  But, I have good intentions.

Do you have any ideas to add to my list?  I’d welcome your input.  You can leave comments below.