Category Archives: Thrifting

Be careful what you wish for

Not too long ago I suddenly realized Boo was growing out of most of his pants, and that he had very few pairs left that fit him – we were cycling through the same few pairs over and over again.

I happened to mention this shortage of pants to both grandmothers and I suspect the thought of their grandson going pant-less this Fall was unacceptable. They immediately got to work finding Boo some bottoms. They thrifted for pants. They bought pants for his birthday. I even got a few pairs of my brothers’ old pants, circa 1976.

And wouldn’t you know it? We’re now experiencing a pant surplus! There are jogging pants; track pants; cargo pants; jeans; corduroys; overalls; khakis; trousers…you name it, we’ve got it in abundance in red, blue, black, brown, grey and beige.

Pants

More pants

They are not, thankfully, all the exact same size. Both the labels and the physical sizes vary, so there are some that will fit Boo perfectly now, some later, and some of them much much later….or, another way to look at it, is that some will fit him well with a disposable diaper on, and others will fit with a cloth diaper on. It’s really amazing if you look just at the labels, and then compare the “same sizes” across brands, or even within brands how the variations in size are remarkable – my mother-in-law picked up a few 6-12 month pants which fit Boo Boo just fine. They’re HUGE!

Thanks ladies! (and please…no more pants for the next little while!)

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Sesame Street (Book) Jackpot

As mentioned before (here and here), I love Sesame Street. I don’t get tired of it (except maybe for the Noodle Story….I could do without hearing that one over and over again).

So I’m more than happy to force allow Boo to listen to their albums, watch the occasional clip on TV or my iPad, or to read him Sesame Street stories. In fact, he’s getting a whole pile of Sesame Street themed birthday presents….it kind of just worked out that way, so we’re going with it (and I now realize I have less than two weeks to craft my low frills, but still a Sesame Street themed, first birthday party decorations and bake either an Elmo or Cookie Monster cake….or maybe both….but I digress).

Last week while visiting my folks my mom and I went to the Shangri-La that is the Kemptville Salvation Army (I’ve mentioned them previously here). While their toy section seemed a little emptier than usual (all you parents…this is where your children’s daycares and schools are getting toys…it’s gotta be related to back to school), I spent some time perusing their several shelves of books and BEHOLD:

Sesame Street Books

…I hit the Sesame Street book jackpot!

Eleven books in all, including 8 from a series of very cool On my way with Sesame Street books that are still a little (okay, a lot) too old for Boo. But at 80¢ apiece I felt justified buying them now and throwing them on a shelf until later. I will most definitely be keeping my eyes open for more in this wonderful little series.

Monster Hall of Fame illustration

Each book is filled with stories, each illustrated in its own style.

Super Grover illustration

All of our favourite (classic) Sesame Street characters are featured.

Parent's Guide

At the beginning of each volume there’s a parents’ guide that elaborates on the theme of the book, and how you can delve deeper with your little one.

And just to prove that I’m not totally obsessed with just Sesame Street, I picked up two other gems:

Mary Had A Little Jam by Bruce Lansky

Mary Had A Little Jam takes classic nursery rhymes and either adds a modern twist, or just turns them on their head. Super cute!
I can’t wait until Boo is old enough to appreciate these.

Old Mother Hubbard by Bruce Lansky

How cute is that?

Caramba by Marie-Louise Gay

By the same author as Stella, this award winning book about a cat that can’t fly was given for free to first grader back in 2005 (by TD).

Detail from Caramba

Love love love the illustrations.

I realize, of course, that I should probably just be buying board books at this point, but I can’t help it. I want Boo to have a wonderful and varied library, which means I have to keep my eyes open now for any and all book-ish treasures that he can enjoy immediately, or eventually.

What books would you recommend as “must haves” for any well-rounded child’s library?

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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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Chair Challenge

Of all the household items I need to purchase for my house, I never thought that dining/kitchen chairs would be the most difficult. Without exaggerating, I’ve been searching for months. Why is it so very complicated? Here’s why:

1. The chairs must be aesthetically pleasing to me.
If this were the only criteria, I’d be done. But, alas, many of the chairs I think look beautiful, don’t necessarily feel beautiful once you actually sit on them. Or else they send shivers up my boys’ spine, making him feel like he’s been thrown back in time and is sitting in high school detention. I’m looking at YOU fiberglass shell chairs.

(I should note at this moment that I LOVE these chairs. As in, I abso-freaking-lutely ADORE them, and still harbour the hope that we’ll end up buying a mix of chairs for our dining room table, these included…though as a purist, I insist they be made of fiberglass and not plastic.)

2. The chairs must be well-constructed and sturdy.
We’ve sat in a lot of chairs over the last few months. And every single one of them has been subjected to the “wiggle test”…as in, sit down, and wiggle about. Does the chair feel solid? Does it feel like you might topple off it? Or that it might bust?

Alas, one of my most budget-friendly picks from IKEA failed the wiggle test.

(IKEA’s transparent Tobias chair was too wobbly and, according to the boy, too prone to scratches.)

It also means that the chair needs to look like it’s well-made. If we’re going to spend $300+ on a chair, it’s gotta look like it’s worth it. Though it was comfortable (and passed the wiggle test), the Calligaris Flair chair did not pass the “it looks like it’s worth it” test.

(Surprisingly, the Flair Chair‘s seat upholstery was rather cheap looking once we really examined it.)

3. The chairs must “fit” us.
In other words they need to be comfortable for both a 6-footer and a 5-footer…the length of our respective legs and bodies play a big role in how each chair “fits”. Unfortunately, what is comfortable for one of us can be pretty uncomfortable for the other. A chair back that reaches my shoulder can jab my boy in the middle of his back…or one that is deep enough to sit comfortably and support his thighs leaves my feet dangling like a kid.

(These vintage chairs from Antiquités Curiosités on Montreal’s Amherst street were beautiful….but just didn’t fit my boy’s long legs.)

Add all of these criteria up, and suddenly you’re rejecting chairs left, right, and centre….but not all of them. Our current front-runner is sohoConcept’s Patara chair:

It looks great; doesn’t look like a detention/school chair; passes the wiggle test; looks well-made; and mostly fits us both…it’s a touch tall for me, but as a shrimp I’m used to it and can totally live with it.

We’ve yet to pull the trigger, though, as they carry a pretty hefty price tag…here’s where my “mix and match” idea may come into play!

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