Saturday, August 31, 2013


Total Money Spent for this look: about $125.00.

Many items in our living room are family heirlooms, like the console table, the ceramic bowl and the tapestry in the foreground.

The lovely basket was a gift from a family member. The candle holders were a gift from a friend.
The candles were purchased inexpensively at Big Lots. 

The lamps were $20 each from Marshalls.  The lovely pottery vase is from a local pottery store. The greenery inside the pottery (and the white ceramic fruit inside the bowl) is from Pier 1 - on sale and I used a coupon.  

But the heavy, large mirror was garbage picked! I painted it and added a mirror.  When we found it in our neighbor's trash, it had singe marks on it (probably survived a fire) and was just an empty, gold colored frame. It was very heavy even without the mirror. I painted it chocolate brown and had a mirror put in by our local glass company for $20.00.

The round, ivory, plaster relief pieces below the mirror are from a moving sale and we paid $20 for each.  I saw the same ones online which retail for $120 each!  Cha-ching!

More photos of the plaster relief plaques

Here is my twist for autumn with the same console and mirror.
Above: changed out the greenery in the pottery vase and added sticks purchased from Pier 1.  Beneath are more family heirlooms: the wooden box and the aluminum water container (actually was used by my father-in-law and his family when he was growing up in Greece). The ice tongs are from my husband's ice carving days, years ago.  The woven basket tray in the background was purchased for $25 at a boutique shop in the middle of nowhere, Michigan.

The plaster reliefs were too heavy to hang on the wall, so I bought stands for them from Tuesday morning for $9.99 each.  They now sit on the console table with a new window frame/mirror purchased from the same moving sale for $15.  (The chocolate brown mirror was moved near our dining table).  I think I like it better the other way, but it's fun to change things up.
Here's one way I had it:

In this look, we used many of the same items.  We added more family heirlooms: Socrates statue and the piano bench under the console table, the antique Japanese vase and the wooden box at the bottom right corner.  Again, the faux flowers are from Pier 1.  The brown, worry beads on the mirror are from Greece.

Here's how it looks now for autumn:

In this look: we used many of the same items described above in other photos.  Here we added a brand new, huge wool area rug purchased on for $100 (and got free shipping).  The fall foliage is from Pier 1, purchased on sale with a coupon, yet again!

Here is the window frame mirror up close which we purchased at the moving sale for $15.00

Here is a photo of the plaques from last Christmas.

In this look: we used almost all of the formerly described elements but added a table runner purchased at Marshalls, some garland purchased in an AFTER CHRISTMAS SALE at Ace Hardware as well as a ceramic Christmas tree (bottom) which I purchased for $3 at a garage sale. 


Everyone loves a bargain.  And we all want to look our best.  

A year ago I discovered GoodWill stores. I thought only the financially disadvantaged shopped there.  I didn’t realize what gems were hidden behind those doors.  And I didn’t know that I was supporting a good cause by purchasing items, not just donating them.

Over the past year I have built a brand-name wardrobe from shopping at Goodwill.  It includes brand names such as J.Crew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Michael Kors, White House Black Market, Kenneth Cole, Kate Spade and more.  I scored a Kate Spade purse which retails new for $298 and paid only $4.99.  I paid $3.99 for a brand new Ann Taylor skirt still carrying the original tags and retail price of $99.00.  My most recent find was a brand new, Kenneth Cole leather purse which retails for $300, and I paid $15.00 using a 25% coupon at Goodwill. I own 6 beautiful cashmere sweaters and paid $4.99 or less for each at GoodWill.  

Are you ready to build a gorgeous wardrobe for incredibly low prices? Follow my tips:

Check the GoodWill store’s website for the following:
  • Store locations;
  • Calendar events, promotions & deals;
  • a Rewards program for which you can sign up (not in every State)
  • Outlet stores (which sell by the pound);
  • Their Return Policy (typically 10 days to return an item with tags for store credit).
Intentionally shop the stores in highly affluent neighborhoods where wealthy people will be donating their expensive items.

Shop on a weekday morning or afternoon when most people are at work; avoid shopping on Saturdays & Sundays.

Shop multiple locations and shop several times a week!  Try to go to at least 2 different stores 2 times a week.  New merchandise is being put out every day.  The more frequently you go, the better your chances are to find a great deal.

Shop when you have time to “dig” through bins & racks and try on clothes.

Don’t be afraid of the heaps of clothes in the “bins.”  There could be a hidden gem!

Become familiar with where things are located in each store:
  • Many stores have brand name handbags locked up away from the regular handbag section.
  • Many stores have valuable jewelry locked up separately from cosmetic jewelry.

LEARN what makes a good deal before buying numerous items.  Finding a Target brand T-shirt for $3.99 in good, used condition is not a bargain when you can find it brand new on the Target clearance racks for a similar price.  But digging and re-visiting the thrift store time and again to find that quality J.Crew or Ann Taylor cashmere sweater in like-new condition for $3.99 is a savings of hundreds of dollars off the retail price!

Shop year-round for all-season clothing.  
  • Shop the sweaters and coats in summer and the shorts & tanks in winter. While everyone else is looking for tanks and shorts in summer and the sweaters are hardly touched, you can pick up that gorgeous sweater no one else noticed.  You’ll be glad to have those garments when the seasons change.
  • Shop coats & outerwear for all seasons & weather: the denim jacket, windbreakers, puffy coats, wool coats, trench coats, even fur coats.
Grab deals at the time they come, not just when you need them.  Slowly build your wardrobe by periodically buying deals as you find them over a long period of time. Don’t just shop for an item at the time you need it, because it may not be there. Check the coat racks year round and look for that formal dress months ahead of time.

Check each garment for 5 “GOOD THINGS” -  (think 5 OUT OF 5 STARS):
GOOD CONDITION (new or gently used);
Look at the entire garment, front & back  (don’t forget the armpits) and Check for:
  • STAINS.  If there’s a small stain, consider whether or not you can remove the stain by washing or gently rubbing it
  • TEARS or RIPS.
  • PULLS in the weave or FLAWS in the fabric
  • SWEATER PILLS. If there are not too many, consider investing in a fine sweater comb (or a flea comb at your local Pet store works just fine) to remove them (caution: sweater shavers aren’t recommended as they usually leave holes in the fabric);
  • BONUS POINTS for items which still have the original store’s tag!
  • Quality material (look for cashmere, silk, wool, linen, etc.)
  • Will this require frequent, costly dry-cleaning?  Consider dry cleaning alternatives like dry-el or fine laundry soap to clean for less money.
GOOD FIT.  The right color, size and flattering fit - try it on!
GOOD PRICE.  Most items should be $4.99 or less.  Some new items or brand name items have higher prices at Goodwill.  For example, a Michael Kors sweater might be $7.99, and a Kenneth Cole New York handbag might be $19.99.  But considering those same items would cost much more even at discount stores like Marshall’s or TJ Maxx, then they may be worth getting.  Those are also good opportunities to use a GoodWill coupon or your rewards card savings deal.
Brand new yellow  JCrew purse I purchased at Goodwill for $4.99; Brand new Calvin Klein scarf with original tags on it - I purchased at Goodwill for $1!

Inside of the yellow JCrew purse

  • This is not a “must” but certainly a better value for your money when Goodwill often charges the same prices for brands like Ann Taylor or Banana Republic as they charge for brands like Target or Kohl’s.
  • Familiarize yourself with brand names and their corresponding prices.  Check your favorite department store’s website for their list of brand names (such as Nieman Marcus, Nordstroms or Macy’s).  Then when you find that brand name item at Goodwill, you’ll know exactly how much money you are saving and what kind of bargain you scored!


Your local GoodWill store has inexpensive items for giving gifts on a budget.

Baskets from Goodwill for Gift baskets & Easter baskets
Vases from Goodwill for gifting Flowers
Pretty Platters or Bowls from GoodWill for gifting Christmas cookies
Kitchen Towels from GoodWill for wrapping wine bottles
Bowls or Containers from GoodWill for Gift baskets
Small dishes or saucers from GoodWill for soap dishesTea saucers made into soap dishes.
Cloth napkins from GoodWill for lining baskets or wrapping breads

Tea or coffee cup from GoodWill for giving tea bags, hot cocoa, or a candle