Category Archives: Shopping

Newbie Thrifting

My mother-in-law is a thrifting and garage sale goddess. She’s been doing it so long it’s become a way of life for her. And she’s really (really!) good at it.

I, on the other hand, have never really been much of a thrifter. I guess I never had the motivation to sift through all of the junk to find the gems. Until we had a baby. Because, well….babies are expensive. Crazy expensive. And let’s be honest: my maternity benefits (which have just run out! eep!) were nothing like what I was making as a consultant. So it has become obvious that if I don’t want to go broke and if I want to stay home with Boo after my mat leave ends…well, I need to save some money.

But as a thrifting newbie the many many thrift shops in Montreal are daunting. Sure, I’ve ventured out and discovered that some are much better than others for kids’ stuff. But it seems to me that there are just so many places for people to donate their used items, that it’s all kind of spread out.

I like concentrated good stuff. Which is why I love to visit the Salvation Army in Kemptville when I’m visiting my folks. It’s the only obvious place in town to donate used goods….which means they get ALL the stuff. And because Kemptville is not a big city (it’s getting bigger, but is by no means a “city”), they have lower prices….and if they want to clear their stock? Ridiculous prices.

Boo playing with toys from Salvation Army

Boo Boo playing with my thrifty finds!

When they were preparing for a recent move, they were selling clothes by the bag – anything you could fit into a grocery bag for 5$. I managed to cram 20 pieces of clothes for Boo into that bag! Granted, their prices aren’t usually quite so low. But they’re still a steal. Baby and toddler clothes are generally priced from 0.50$ to 2$ apiece (compared to Montreal’s 1.99$ to 4.99$).

And their toys? The most I’ve ever paid was 4$ – for a huge music activity table that’d normally retail for about 40-50$ here in Canada.

So….yeah. I’m hooked.

The downside, of course, is that when I see regular prices, I suffer from total sticker shock.

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Friday I’m in Love: “Casual” Pants

Okay, so let’s get one thing straight right from the start….casual pants, yoga pants, track pants, leisurewear, drapey pants, whatever you want to call them….more often than not they’re just jogging pants. They’re comfy and I love them. They are my first instinct when I get dressed and, should I be obliged to “dress up” (i.e. wear something other than jogging pants) to leave the house, they’re what I change into immediately upon returning home. They’re my uniform.

So this whole high-end, “wear them outside the house” jogging pant trend that started last year is totally my thing. The problem, of course, is that as a jogging pant wearing aficionado, I already owned a bunch of regular jogging pants, and haven’t been able to really justify buying more. Especially since these new fashionable ones are far more expensive than the traditional 12$ old-school joggers.

I can only hope they’ll eventually need replacing (and with the sheer quantity of baby food, snot, drool, what-have-you that gets wiped on them these days…it’s gotta be soon). Here’s what I’m liking right now:

1. Colorblock zip-pocket track pants | Gap
There aren’t too many colours on these colourblock joggers – but that’s ok. I like the grey, the different coloured waistband, the zipper detail, and the elasticized ankle. That they come in petites is just icing on the cake.

2. Leighanna Smocked Pant | Free People
I’m not sure if these are actually jogging pants…but they are casual and as far as I’m concerned, they seem to embrace the spirit of ultra comfy leisure pants. So I’m counting them. I like the pocket detailing, and the slight I Dream of Jeannie poof at the ankles.

3. Indigo Dye Relaxed Trouser | Splendid
So these are basically jeggings that aren’t quite legging tight. They definitely look like something you could wear out of the house. I like the slight ombre effect going on towards the bottom.

Jogging Pants 1

4. Bobi Harem Pant | Revolve Clothing
I’ve always been intrigued by harem pants. I have no idea if they’d look any good on me, or if they’d just look like I was wearing a diaper. But they do look pretty comfortable, and the drapey-ness could be pretty forgiving.

5. Cottage Check Lounge Jogger Pant | Simons
These are pretty much pajama bottoms, but the pattern makes me reminisce on my grunge days, and I like the black elasticized ankles. They’d be perfect for the fall/winter.

6. Women’s Drapey Cinched Pants | Old Navy
This is the most affordable pair of the bunch, which makes them highly attractive to me right now. They’re simple jogging pants, but the black just might make them out-of-the-house appropriate.

Jogging Pants 2

And what about you? Do you wear joggers? Has this new trend changed your opinion of the traditionally un-cool jogging pant? Do/would you wear them out of the house?

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Friday I’m in Love: Maxis

Being only 5’2″ I never used to think i could pull off wearing maxi skirts or dresses. Until this summer when I stumbled upon a petite sized maxi dress from the Gap and fell in love. I bought it, and it looks great. So I bought another one. It looks less great, but is so comfortable that I don’t care.

Turns out I was wrong all those years, and have been denying myself the perfect compromise between dressing in a slightly more feminine way, but maintaining my hatred of shaving regularly (don’t get me wrong…I do shave my legs….I just can’t keep them perfectly smooth). Since then, I’ve been trolling the Internet for maxis.

Here are a few I currently have my eye on:

Current favourite maxis

1. Waltzing Matilda Ball Skirt | Shabby Apple
I love the cut of this skirt….with the fitted upper, the pleats, the POLKA DOTS!! This is so so nice. Though I worry it might be a tad fancy for wearing around the house (in my book dry clean = fancy ≠ something to wear while feeding the baby)

2. LAmade Faux Wrap | Nordstrom
You can’t go wrong with black. The wrap and drawstring add just enough detail to make it interesting and not blah. This is almost perfect, except for the fact it is hand wash.

3. Chic Draped Wrap-Front Jumpsuit | Simons
Okay, so this isn’t a maxi, but it was in the maxi product listings and…..just look at it. I love everything about this outfit: the jumpsuit, the jacket, the accessories. But the million dollar question is – can I pull off a jumpsuit?!

4. Splendid Maxi Dress | Nordstrom
This is my most colourful pick – the blue is just stunning. I also love how relaxed and casual this dress looks, and the drawstring waist is perfect for my body shape (I need a waist in my dresses).

So what’s your take on maxis? Love ’em or hate ’em?

(And what do you think about this jumpsuit trend? I think they look awesome…but am always skeptical about anything that has to almost come completely off just to have a tinkle.)

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Minted & Julep

I’ve been dreaming about making the little one’s birth announcements for…oh…nearing 5 months now. As it’s obviously not happening, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to seriously look at alternatives where I can (very) easily use a template and have done with it before the child can announce his own birth.

Which is how I recently ended up on Minted where I almost immediately got distracted, and never actually ordered any birth announcements. Seriously. All it takes is a shiny object or new content that I can peruse while feeding my voraciously hungry little one for the umpteenth time, and you can consider me distracted.

Enter Julep – Minted’s blog – which describes itself as providing design and DIY inspiration for home, weddings and parties. Which immediately got me interested because, of course, I’m always in the mood for some design and DIY inspiration (even if I have zero time to do anything about it because I have a small human attached to me half of the time).

What I found interesting about Julep was that, even though there are some plugs for Minted’s products scattered in here and there, they don’t hit you over the head with them. The emphasis of the posts is on the inspiration and ideas, and not on the sales pitch. For example, in a recent post on Nursery Inspiration they created a mood board inspired by one of their art prints:

Nikkols-Nursery-Picks-For-Minted-good-day-for-a-walk-print

The post is short and sweet: find some little thing that inspires you (like a cute print), and then pull colours, patterns, and themes from it to design the rest of the room (which, of course, isn’t what I did when decorating Boo’s nursery, but whatever). There’s no “buy now” – just a discreet link to the print, and its inclusion in the list of items pictured.

Of course, once I clicked through to the print, I got started looking at their art print offerings (the next “shiny object”) and, much to my surprise, my work brain kicked in…I really like how user-friendly their art selection process is.

Though not all pieces have the same features, many of them – just like Minted’s stationery – are available in multiple colour schemes:

Minted-Art1

To help get your head around each sizing option available, they provide this handy dandy comparison (and can I just mention I love that the model is mostly invisible in the 44″x44″ shot?):

Minted-Art2

And then, if the print has been included in an art wall inspiration board – showing what other pieces of art go well with it – well then, that’s there too, providing inspiration for your very own art wall:

Minted-Art3

All of which is just generally helpful, and a pretty cool way to integrate their inspiration boards into the shopping experience.

Well done Minted.

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How I resemble my dad (or why customer service is important)

Last week was the first time in our new house that we had several major and consecutive snowfalls. There was so much snow that we were a bit at a loss where to put it all. I quickly discovered that my boots just weren’t cutting it…my feet were warm, but my ankles were freezing (and my pants soaked) as the tall snow drifts just drifted right in. My mission was clear: get taller boots.

I did some research, narrowed it down to a few brands, and found a store that carried them all. At my first opportunity, I made my way there….only to wait. And wait. And wait for someone to serve me. When I finally did get served, the service was lousy. Of the two pairs of boots I’d asked to try on, the salesgirl brought me one completely random pair, and the other I wanted, well…the colours didn’t match…I tried them on anyway. I liked the fit, and if she’d have just come to see how I was doing, I was ready to buy them…provided she got me a matching pair.

So I put my own boots back on, and waited…Where was my salesgirl? She’d completely disappeared. After a few minutes of wondering and looking for her, I said “f**k it” and walked out of the store.

And right there is how I resemble my dad: not only by concluding that my time is important and that I deserve to be well-served as a customer, but by insisting on it….and (this is key) by walking out when the store didn’t deliver.

I went two doors down to another store, walked in and was immediately served by a friendly, smiling and attentive salesgirl. She was helpful, full of suggestions on fit, comfort and function…and (you know where this is going) I bought my boots from her!

Here’s what I got:

Sorel’s Cate the Great

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