The Ultimate Guide to Thrifting For Your Home & Wardrobe

I am a big proponent of thrifting. I know there will always be people that are opposed to it for a variety or reasons, but I am a big fan of it. It has really changed my home for the better. I have a home that looks complete and fully furnished with quality furniture that I couldn’t have otherwise afforded. It has done the same for my wardrobe too, allowing me to find really special unique pieces that have taken my style game to another level. If you aren’t turned off by secondhand goods, give this guide and thrifting a chance. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

Don’t Buy Things Just Because They are Cheap
This is one of my biggest rules when it comes to thrifting. When people see the prices at thrift stores, they are naturally very excited and their first instinct may be to go a little crazy and buy anything they think is remotely appealing. I always ask myself if I would still like the item even if it were at its original retail price. If the answer is yes, and I think I can genuinely get a lot of use out it, then I will actually consider purchasing it.

Make Sure That You Check the Items for Defects
Always look over your potential purchases thoroughly with a critical eye. If you are buying clothing, check the zippers and look over all the material closely for stains and holes. Check for missing buttons, check the lining to make sure it is still in tact, etc. Try to check the fabric in as bright of natural light as possible. Sometimes you won’t notice stains until you see the garment in natural light. If you are buying electronics that plug into the wall, most places will let you you plug them in and test them before you buy them.

Find Out Your Local Store’s Schedule For Sales
Most thrift stores run sales such as dollar days, half off days, and holiday sales, etc. Ask your local thrift stores when they run their sales. For example, where I live every other Saturday Goodwill has a sale where everything is half off. I usually wait until those days to go shopping. On sale days, try to go early in the morning. Avid thrifters know all the sales and will show up early to get the best goods. If you go in the afternoon it will likely already be picked over.

Thrift Stores are a Surprisingly Good Place to Find Trendy Items
Many trends from the past come back around again and become the trends of the present. This is especially true with clothing. This makes thrift stores an incredible place to find trendy things for a lot less money than the mall. As I write this, acid wash jeans, 90s crop tops, and combat boots are back in style. All these trends are extremely easy to find at thrift stores and are usually much better quality then the fast fashion versions you’d find at the mall. I frequently see in-style items that look new from stores like Ann Taylor, Gap, Forever 21, H&M, Nordstrom, and much more. I have even found designer items from brands like Christian Dior, St. John, Citizens of Humanity, Paige Denim, Diane Von Furstenburg, Betsey Johnson, and more.

Look for Statement Items
If you are looking for unique statement pieces, thrift stores are also great for that. Thrift stores get items from around the world, or from stores that you don’t necessarily have in your city. They also get a lot of great finds from people that shop online. I have seen trendy clothes from popular sites like Asos.com and Tobi.com. You can find great accent pieces for home decor or cool vintage items to add a unique flair to your home or wardrobe.

Look Out for DIY Opportunities
If you are crafty then thrift stores are perfect for you. Be imaginative and try to see the potential in the items there. If you like the form of a table or chair, can you simply slap a coat of paint on it and make it look brand new? Look out for those types of opportunities, because they are everywhere at the thrift store.

When it comes to home decor there are so many things that I see at thrift stores frequently that I think most people would love. Here are some common items I would recommend searching for at thrift stores.

Lamps and chandeliers
Picture frames
Small tables
Glassware
Organizational supplies and baskets
Office supplies
Crating supplies
Baking pans
Serving trays and bowls
Wooden chairs
Wall hangings

If you decide to give thrifting a shot, let us know. We’d love to hear your thoughts and find out what you got! Take a friend with you, and you can help each other find things and give each other second opinions. It is a fun and unique thing to do on the weekends when you have some spare time.

My Favorite Easy Cajun Chicken Pasta Recipe

I love a good bowl of pasta when I am craving comfort food. This cajun chicken pasta recipe is one of my favorite, go-to recipes. Every time I make it, I get lots of compliments and it seems to be a real crowd pleaser. Since the pasta itself is pretty filling, I usually pair it with a light salad and that is plenty to complete the meal. This recipe does require several ingredients, but trust me it is worth it!

4 ounces of linguine pasta

2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning

2 tablespoons of butter

1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

4 mushrooms

1 green onion

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon of dried basil

1/4 teaspoon of lemon pepper

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

Boil a pot of water and cook the pasta per the instructions on the box.

Next you will cook the chicken breasts. Cover them in the Cajun seasoning. Saute them in a frying pan in butter on medium heat. When the chicken is just starting to get tender mix in the red and green sliced bell peppers, sliced mushrooms, and chopped green onions. Saute for two to three minutes.

Lastly, add in the cream, basil, lemon pepper, salt, garlic powder, and ground black pepper. Then you can add in the linguine pasta. Mix everything together thoroughly. Top it with the parmesan cheese and you are ready to serve it!

When I made this cajun chicken pasta recipe I made it for myself and two other people. There was plenty of pasta to feed all three of us. We even had enough for us all to go back for seconds. I also topped mine with some crushed red pepper to give it a little extra kick. I hope you will give this recipe a try. If you do, let us know what you think!

This recipe was originally from AllRecipes.com.

How to Organize Your Closet In 6 Easy Steps

I am one of those rare people that love to organize, but I know that organizing isn’t most people’s idea of a fun time. Even though I enjoy it, I had been putting off organizing my bedroom walk in closet. This week i finally got around to it, and now that it is done I feel so accomplished. In fact, it feels so great that I decided to share my process with you. Here are the 6 steps I would recommend for how to organize your closet and transform it into a de-cluttered, stress-free zone.

1. Get Rid of Stuff
This was the the hardest part for me, but it needs to be done. Let’s face it, we all have items that are sitting around that we never wear. Maybe you have an old ratty shirt with holes and a ketchup stain. Today is the day to finally get rid of it. A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t worn it in the past year it is safe to say you probably never will. So be strict with yourself, and if you know deep down you aren’t going to wear it, give yourself permission to part ways with it.

2. Sort the Items You are Getting Rid of Into Categories
There are a couple things I like to do with the items I am getting rid of. I donate them to Goodwill or if they are still in good shape and are in style I sell them to local second hand clothing stores. That way I can earn some cash from my closet organizing efforts. Sort your items into a giveaway pile and a pile of your better items that you think you can sell.

3. Come Up With Your Game Plan
Ponder your closet’s layout and strategize what types of items you’d like to place in each area. Make sure that the items you use the most are the most accessible. This planning phase allows you to see what kind of storage space you are missing that you need to supplement with organizers from the store.

4. Go Shopping
When I say go shopping, I don’t mean go buy more clothes. You are supposed to be decluttering remember! However, this is the time to purchase additional organizers and whatever you need to complete your closet makeover. Try to use every bit of space that your closet has to your advantage. For example, to make the most of my closet’s bars and make up for my lack of shelf space, I purchased hanging fabric shelves. They have velcro straps that allow them to hang from the closet’s bars. I use them to organize shoe boxes. I also realized that I can use the back of my door to store even more shoes. I purchased a long organizer that hangs from the door. I use it to store less bulky shoes like flip flops and flats.

When it comes to finding organizational items, there are lots of places to find great deals and save money. The dollar store is a magnificent place to find plastic storage bins. Yard sales are also a fabulous resource. At yard sales I’ve received bags of hangers for free, and I’ve found plastic bins for cents a piece.

My other tip for how to organize your closet while saving money is conserve your hangers. Consider double hanging tanks and camisoles 2 per hanger. You could also purchase handy tank top hangers like the one found here at Bed Bath and Beyond that allow you to hang many tanks on one hanger. They also make hangers like that for belts, scarves, and pants.

5. Put Everything Back In Its New Place
Bring in your new organizational items and start putting everything back in its place. I like to have all my pants, dresses and skirts hanging on the same bar. Then I use my other bar to hang tops and jackets. I like to take it a step further and organize the clothes by color. I even put my sleeveless and short sleeve items in the front and the long sleeved items in the back.

6. Consider Labeling Things
If you have a hard time remembering where you put things, you might find good old fashioned labels helpful. Michaels and other craft stores sell really cute stick on labels that you can put on your bins and shoe boxes to remind you what is inside each one. Some people even take pictures of what is inside each of their boxes and bins and they tape that to the front of the bin.

You can apply a lot of these same tips to organizing other parts of your home. I go through much of the same process when I clean out my pantry and cabinets. One of things I found enjoyable about this process is that it helped me rediscover items I’d forgotten about that I am excited to use again. The hard part is making sure that I put things back where they’re supposed to go after using them. It’s so easy to get in the habit of throwing things around especially when I’m in a hurry, but I find that it is worth the extra bit of time to put things back. That is all my tips for how to organize your closet. Do you have any good tips for me? I’d love to hear your advice!

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How to Make Your Own Pair of Distressed Jeans

Distressed jeans, especially denim ripped at the knees, are super popular right now. I love the look of them, but it can be pricey to buy a good pair of ripped jeans at the mall. I figured, why not just do it myself for way less money. I purchased a pair of really nice J Crew boyfriend jeans at Goodwill for only $3.99! They were in mint condition and appeared to be virtually brand new. However they were very preppy, and I wanted to add a little edge to them by distressing them. I made sure to select a pair that were pretty firm without a lot of stretch. Stretchy jeans are a little harder to distress. After about an hour of work, I was able to turn them into a really cool pair of distressed jeans!

The first step was to gather several supplies that I already had laying around the house including the following:

An exacto knife

A shaving razor

Tweezers

Tailor’s chalk

I wanted my jeans to be distressed at the knees, so I put on the jeans and marked the top of my knees with the tailors chalk’s. In my experience, the jeans turn out better when you start your first cut towards the top of your knees and work your way down. Then I removed the jeans and laid them out flat on the floor. I found the line I marked with the chalk and then I pinched it pulling up the front of the jean. I made the initial cut there using the exacto knife cutting a horizontal hole. Make sure when you make your hole to not make any accidental tears in the back of the jeans. Also make sure to not cut too large of a hole keeping in mind that with natural wear and tear the hole will expand over time. Be conservative to start, because you can always make the hole bigger. Then I tried the jeans on again to see where I wanted to continue to cut. I marked those spots with the tailor’s chalk, and then removed them and continued to make cuts with the exacto knife. When you make your cuts try to keep them about an inch apart.

Once you have your cuts you want to start to expose the horizontal white threads in the denim. That is where the tweezers come in handy. When you look closely at the ripped denim you will see there are blue threads that run through the denim vertically. You want to use the tweezers to gently pull out those blue threads while leaving the white threads in tact. The first couple blue threads may be a bit difficult or tedious to pull out, but once you get out the first few the rest will come out quickly and easily. After you are done pulling the blue threads you are pretty much done. I used the shaving razor at the top of the pockets to soften them up and give them a little bit of an aged feel, but this step is completely optional. After you are done distressing, go ahead and throw your jeans in the wash. They will look even better once they are washed!

That is really all there is to it. Distressed jeans are super easy to make and look great without spending a lot of money. Given that I already had the supplies, the only cost I incurred was the $3.99 for the thrifted pair of jeans. What a steal!

A Delicious and Simple Midcentury Pecan Pie Recipe

I absolutely love a good pecan pie. It is a special treat that is good any time of year, and it is surprisingly easy to make. I recently found an old cookbook from the 1960’s while shopping at an estate sale. This cookbook is all about baking and is full of amazing recipes. The first one I tried is their pecan pie recipe. It turned out to be exceptionally delicious, so I figured I would share it with all our readers. If you are craving pecan pie, you don’t want to miss out on this recipe!

Filling

1 cup soft butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 cups chopped pecans

Crust

I purchase the crust at the grocery store. I personally use Marie Callender crust, because I think it i tastes good and it comes pre-formed and ready to use. You can find it in the freezer aisle at the grocery store. However, feel free to select your favorite brand or make your own.

Mix the butter, sugar, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla and blend it until the batter becomes smooth. Add the eggs and continue mixing it until it becomes smooth and blended. Mix in the chopped pecans until they are blended in throughout the batter. Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Fill it until the batter falls slightly below the rim of the crust. The Pie will rise a little bit, so you don’t want to overfill it. I usually take some of the chopped pecans, and I place them on the top of the pie so the top has a nice layer of pecans. Then I bake it in the oven at 375 degrees F. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes until the filling is set and the top is golden. I use a toothpick to test the center of the pie and see how done it is keeping in mind that like cookies, the pie will set a little bit more after it sits for awhile outside the oven.

Let the pie cool for a little bit and then it is ready to serve on its own or with some vanilla ice cream. Let us know if you try this pecan pie recipe out. I think you will be very pleased with the results!

*This recipe is originally found in the following cookbook.
Casella, Dolores. “White House Pecan Pie” A World of Baking. Ed. David White. New York: David White, INC., 1968. 247. Print.

A Restaurant Treat: Making Artichokes at Home

Artichokes can often seem daunting to the home cook, steaming is a pain, multi-step cooking processes that take a long are annoying, the results if you just try to grill them are a disaster. So many of us resort to eating these tasty and healthy treats only in a restaurant environment where in many cases they’ve been salted and buttered to the point of being pretty unhealthy. Well I have an answer, what follows below is a no-nonsense recipe for cooking tasty artichokes at home.

What You’ll Need:
– A large stock pot of boiling water.
– Kosher Salt.
– Fresh ground pepper.
– 2 Cloves of garlic chopped.
– Half a red onion sliced.
– 1 Artichoke.

What You’ll Do:
– Fill the large pot with water to within a couple inches of the top, cover it and turn the stove on high (it takes a while to boil this much water).
– Peel and rough chop the garlic.
– Peel and slice the onion (nothing to fine on either these just get it done).
– Add the garlic and onion to the pot 9before it boils is fine).
– Once the water is boiling at several generous pinches of kosher salt like you would if you were making pasta.
– Grind in some fresh pepper to the water.
– For the Artichoke cut the stem off about 3/4th of an inch from the fruit and cut the top off as pictured above, paying some attention to remove any spikes.
– Drop the artichoke into the boiling water for about 45 minutes, or until the leaves pull off and the flesh removes easily from the leaves.
– Once cooked remove and let cool for 5-10 minutes.

There you have it not the shortest recipe because of the cook time, but this is something you do not need to tend to, it can simply boil away while you go about your evening. We’d suggest enjoying it with our Greek Yogurt Dip.

Try it Tonight: No Fuss Greek Yogurt Dip

Need a simple dip for vegetables? Try this Greek Yogurt Dip.

What You’ll need:
– One 7oz Plain Greek yogurt container for every 2 people.
– 3 Table Spoons of Herbs de Provence.
– 1 Table Spoon fresh ground pepper.
– 1 Minced garlic clove.
– 1 Table Spoon Kosher Salt.

What You’ll Do:
– Open the container of Greek Yogurt
– Stir in all of the ingredients
– Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour up to 4 hours (the flavor of the garlic and herbs will intensify over time).

Presto – you have a simple Greek Yogurt Dip.

Serve Cold with your vegetables of choice, or try this easy Artichoke recipe.

Nestle USA Recall- Limited Numbers: DiGiorno®, Lean Cuisine® & Stouffer’s®

Nestle USA Recall. Another food recall hit the news today with Nestle USA recalling a small number of the following items:

DiGiorno Thin & Crispy Spinach and Garlic Pizza.
DiGiorno Rising Crust Spinach and Mushroom Pizza.
DiGiorno pizzeria Thin Crust Spinach and Mushroom Pizza.
DiGiorno pizzeria Tuscan-style Chicken Pizza.
Lean Cuisine Spinach and Mushroom Pizza.
Lean Cuisine Spinach Artichoke Ravioli.
Lean Cuisine Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli.
Lean Cuisine Spinach, Artichoke & Chicken Panini.
Lean Cuisine Mushroom Mezzaluna Ravioli.
Stouffer’s Vegetable Lasagna (10 oz., 37 oz. and 96 oz. sizes).
Stouffer’s Spinach Soufflé.
Stouffer’s Chicken Lasagna.

The reason for the recall is as Nestle USA put it “consumers reporting foreign material” in the food. More succinctly people have found glass in some of these items. Much like the recall we covered yesterday people in possession of these items should not consume them and should reach out directly to Nestle Consumer Services at 1-800-681-1676. Please note this is a voluntary recall and does not effect every single unit of the items mentioned above. For a specific list of product codes see the full press-release here.

5 Things You Need to Know About Your Kitchen Sponge

We use kitchen sponges all the time to clean our dishes, but we don’t realize just how dirty these sponges really are! Unless you are cleaning or changing out your kitchen sponges frequently, you may be inadvertently spreading germs around your kitchen. But fear not, we’ve got the facts you need to know, plus tips on how to keep your sponge safe to use. Here are 5 important facts that I learned about kitchen sponges.

1. A kitchen sponge has more germs than the average toilet seat!
Say what?! This fact just seemed totally counterintuitive to me, but according to the DailyMail.co.uk it is true. However, considering how many substances in the kitchen that your sponge comes across it does make sense. Add to that the fact that sponges are porous and they sit wet for hours. It’s no wonder that they are the perfect breeding ground for germs to flourish.

2. A sponge that has been in use for just a couple days already has millions of bacteria!
Germs develop very quickly, so be sure to sanitize your sponges often. Every 2 days tops is recommended.

3. Microwaving a cellulose sponge kills the bacteria.
Take your sponge and put it in a microwave safe bowl full of water. Put it in the microwave and heat it up allowing the water to bubble and boil so that it is hot enough to disinfect the sponge. This usually takes about 2 minutes in the microwave.

4. You shouldn’t use your sponge to clean countertops or kitchen surfaces
Using your sponge on countertops is a recipe for potential food poisoning. You are introducing your sponge to E. coli and other potentially dangerous germs. Instead clean your counters with disposable items such as paper towels or antibacterial wipes.

5. Running your sponge through the dishwasher is another good way to sanitize it.
Experts suggest having 2 sponges that you use in rotation. That way you can run one through the dishwasher while having your second sponge available for use when you need it. Put your sponge in an area of the dishwasher where it will have plenty of space around it to for the water to circulate.

These facts certainly opened up my eyes about kitchen sponges. Rest assure that I will be sanitizing my sponges often now going forward, and that I will be swapping them out regularly. Researchers also mentioned that cutting boards and kitchen towels can also be breeding grounds for lots of bacteria. Yikes! Let’s be sure to remember to sanitize these frequently used items often.