Pretty Thrifty

mid July bouquet: gracing the top of my "new" fruit cart
{mid July bouquet: gracing the top of my "new" fruit cart}

I don't like shopping. Shopping is not recreation, it's a chore. I think I partly feel this way because I like to spend money in keeping with my values. When you stop to analyze purchases*; where it was made, the conditions of the people who produced it, the pollution it caused, etc... shopping loses it's casual, recreation type pleasure.

Except when it comes to the farmer's market, purchasing an item from a local artisan, paying for our farm share - all of those give me great pleasure and the satisfaction of living my values.

Maybe it's my disdain of general shopping or the overall business of our weekends but I hardly visit yard sales either. I'm sure I'm missing out on scads of good deals but most Saturday mornings I can't be bothered to leave the comforts of home to peruse the streets in search of treasure.

But then I read how my friend Nicola uncovers all kinds of good finds and re-purposes old shirts and has an amazing knack for thriftiness. And I read how my other friend Karen, aka Kirwin, is finding her sense of style and putting together outfits that she feels pretty and comfortable in. I put the two together and I feel a little left out of the loop but more importantly inspired.

So when the neighbors had a yard sale this morning that I could simply walk down the street to, coffee cup in hand, I couldn't resist.

I've been saving money for a couple months to purchase, when I finally found them used and for a good deal, a few household items I want. Having a limited budget and not wanting to buy cheaply made new items means we often wait for things we want and need. Not always, but often.

Today I found one of those items that has been on my to-buy list for a couple years. I'm calling it our fruit cart and having this will clear off a significant amount of baskets, bowls and dishes from our kitchen cupboard. Reduced clutter, ahh....

Of course it didn't come all neat and tidy like this. It was a little rusty and dusty with some loose screws, nothing that elbow grease couldn't take care of.

But not only did I find a long desired household item I picked up a couple pieces of clothing, in my favorite summer colors. Blue & green, pink & red, accents with purple or orange, sometimes a base of brown or black. That kind of describes my wardrobe.

I happily paid a few dollars for these treasures and although I don't know where they were produced, the conditions of their manufacture etc... at least I am re-purposing them and preventing further waste.

And if that's not enough today's finds made me feel pretty. I'm a very practical girl but even no-nonsense chicks need to feel feminine from time to time. So today while I worked in the kitchen, did laundry, cleaned up the fruit cart and paid our bills I was twirling in my new skirt and that alone made the day feel lighter, happier and beautiful.

Oh, and if you're wondering what's on my toenails, that's Gorgeous Green, non-toxic, water based and child-friendly nail polish from SunCoat. I didn't actually buy it for me, I bought it for my beauty conscious girls who wanted painted nails. This though, my dear friends is not thrifty. But sometimes that's a trade off you have to make.

*I can't stop and think this way about every single item we buy, I'd be paralyzed, but as our consciousness increases and we learn more we stop to evaluate more of our spending decisions.


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  • Kika

    Kika on July 12, 2009, 4:36 a.m.

    Sounds like a fabulous day. I appreciate this post so much at this moment b/c as I attempt to make healthy changes in our life (re: food, spending, etc.) I can feel on overload. We do need balance - the alternative could be to quit/give up our pursuit. Anyways, I'm enjoying following your posts, and loved seeing your "new" skirt and painted toenails:)


    • Kika

      Kika on July 15, 2009, 12:49 a.m.

      I ordered two bottles of this nail polish for my daughter! The shipping was a little expensive and brought each bottle to $13 cnd but I'll pack'em away for a little Christmas gift or stocking stuffer. She'll be thrilled - as I am :)


  • Kate

    Kate on July 12, 2009, 11:39 a.m.

    Oh my gosh! For ages, I've had my eye out for a more natural nail polish for my little girl who loves to be fancy. Thanks for helping me find it!


  • Becca

    Becca on July 12, 2009, 1:11 p.m.

    What excellent finds! I need something like that fruit cart so much now that my boys are getting older. Our little fruit basket overflows after a trip to the store!

    And I buy almost everything secondhand. It keeps things out of landfills and reduces the demand for more cheap consumer goods made under questionable conditions--regardless of its origin. I have really been enjoying your blog!

    Becca's last blog post... The real reason I need a job


  • steadymom

    steadymom on July 12, 2009, 1:51 p.m.

    I've never enjoyed shopping either, or yard sales. I like to know what I'm going for, get it, and come home.

    I do have a friend who LOVES yard sales, though, and she would sometimes call me if she found something she knew I wanted. Then I would go over and buy it - this was my ideal shopping experience! Good deals and no browsing required!


    steadymom's last blog post... Inspiration for Your Weekend


    • renee

      renee on July 13, 2009, 12:13 a.m.

      Me too! Damien sometimes scouts out the sales on his early morning weekend walks and will report back to me. That's how I found out about the one our neighbors were having!


  • nicola

    nicola on July 12, 2009, 2:28 p.m.

    EXCELLENT finds! that cart is a "score!" and the clothes are beautiful, as are you! i feel honored to be mentioned, renee, thank you! nicola ps. since i am roused from my bed at some ungodly ours by my otherwise completely adorable sun, i feel the thrifting itch come on by the time most yard sales start. and i agree about not knowing where the items are produced, but i feel very good about giving them more life, rather than being part of the chain that sends them to the landfill as cast-offs.


  • Kika

    Kika on July 12, 2009, 9:22 p.m.

    Hi again, I was wondering if you might post, some time, on information you've gleaned about reputable clothing companies. I'm not sure where to start in learning about which companies I should/shouldn't be supporting. I'm canadian and my husband told me that even companies like Roots Canada have some of their goods produced in India (don't know if this is fact, though). Anyways, I'm sure there are others, like myself, who'd love to hear more on this topic.


    • renee

      renee on July 13, 2009, 12:12 a.m.

      Kika, I don't know much about a variety of companies but I do know a fair amount about Patagonia. In fact I wrote a post about that over on our family blog ADVENTUREinPROGRESS. We live close to an outlet so we buy a lot of our new clothes there during their quarterly sales. The clothes aren't cheap but the outlet prices on sale makes them more affordable for our family. I support so much of the ideals of this company they are an organization I feel good "voting" for with my dollars. The rest of our clothes, except for undies and such, are mostly goodwill and hand me downs. We also shop at LL. Bean, a Maine company with good quality but iffy production standards.


  • Laura

    Laura on July 13, 2009, 12:47 a.m.

    That little cart is an excellent find, I love when you just happen across something you've been wanting/needing! And I love that last photo - so cute!

    Laura's last blog post... :: photo friday :: preparing


  • Ellen

    Ellen on July 13, 2009, 3:36 a.m.

    Thank you! I've been on the lookout for some nailpolish I would feel ok about putting on my little one, who loves nothing more than being girly. And I totally can relate to retail shopping not being much of a pleasure, sometimes it can be downright stressful.


  • Jenn

    Jenn on July 13, 2009, 3:27 p.m.

    well, i have to admit that i am FINALLY having a revelation of sorts about spending and money in general. it only took opening my own shops on etsy to realize how much i appreciate that hard-earned money. isn't that sad? unfortunately, i have had no ability to with-hold my spending most of my adult life...we aren't deeply in debt, though, we always paid it off quite well.'s now that i am beginning to understand...and with the help of movies like "the story of stuff", "the high cost of low price" and others...i feel so much sadness. i cannot go in a walmart. i feel sick every time i walk through that door!

    so now i am clearing out, constantly. we have given so much to families in need, goodwill and other places that can use it. our home is more "empty" and this feels good. i have been able to find our clothes at goodwill, flea markets and garage sales for several years now... so it's a small start...but it's a start. and i don't buy ANYTHING anymore without serious consideration.... and that feels good too.



  • kirwin

    kirwin on July 13, 2009, 3:53 p.m.

    Thanks for the link love, Love! : )

    I love your yard sale finds. The fruit cart looks brand new and very clean (clean lines...) Love your skirt and painted toenails, too. I'm not a nailpolish-kinda-girl either, but I will go that route for my daughter! I need to look into that nail varnish brand. Of course, it would have to be pink or purple for my little one.


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