Thrift Store Finds

“Thrift is not an affair of the pocket, but an affair of character.” ~ S. W. Strauss

Photo by Tim Mossholder on

I was raised on thrift stores, I’m raising my kids on thrift stores. Thrift stores. Consignment shops. Garage sales. Craigslist. Freecycle.

Not that we don’t also shop off-the-rack for new items, but there are some awesome deals to be found at a fraction of the price. The saying, ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’? Couldn’t be more true.

While I fail epically at having success in shopping garage sales, one daughter is a whiz bang at finding things. Another daughter always scores big at consignment shops for name brand clothing for her boys. I’m more of a thrift shop success story. Antique shops – especially if they are full of things and needing to move items out — have been a success for me as well.

I don’t go in blindly. In the back of my mind, I always have an idea of certain items for which I’m looking, or inspiration I want to create whether with my clothing or in my home decor.

Here are a few of the finds from yesterday’s outing:

A plate with brightly colored flowers, a resting place for a potted plant.

A book on organic gardening published in 1961. Fifty-nine years of knowledge, wisdom and interesting reading.

A trunk just perfect for creating the base of a TV stand. A nice change from the empty Keurig box that had been serving that purpose.

An old suitcase from the 50’s which will also contribute to the eclectic TV stand.

In the past I’ve found:

  • a replacement pot and lid for my 5 quart crockpot (after inadvertently setting it on a hot stove burner and cracking it) – $3.00
  • a small dish to replace the broken top to a wax burner – $0.25
  • a book on investing – $0.50
  • a full-size cast iron bed frame – $129
  • an antique wooden chest of drawers – $35
  • a treadle sewing machine in excellent shape with attachments and the original instructions (delivered to my home) – $50
  • a fireplace surround, mantel, and gas insert – $35
  • a 5-panel wooden door – $30
  • a handmade wooden table with folding legs – $50
  • enough ceramic floor tile to do four bathrooms – $35
  • a complete underfloor heating system – $200
  • an apartment size stacking washer/dryer – $300

Growing up, we didn’t have much money, and I remember there were two thrift shops we frequented with our mother. One was rather clean, the other was dingy and dirty and quite honestly, you wanted to bathe when you got home. At that time there was an upscale store called ‘Chasnoff’s’ and we laughingly referred to that dingy thrift shop as our own Chasnoff’s because my mother would buy dresses, undo the seams and flatten out the material to make dresses for my sister and (eventually) myself when they were handed down.

Thrift shopping is like a treasure hunt – and who doesn’t like a treasure hunt?

The Book of What I Want to Know

“I’m unpredictable, I never know where I’m going until I get there, I’m so random, I’m always growing, learning, changing, I’m never the same person twice. But one thing you can be sure of about me; is I will always do exactly what I want to do.” ~ C. JoyBell C.

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In my last post I mentioned that there are so many books and so little time to explore them all. I have a notebook and a set of pens by my bed. Inisde, I jot down ideas and thoughts that warrant a bit of research to develop them more fully.

It may range from frivolous to serious, fanciful to practical and includes:

  • specific books I want to read
  • authors whose work I’ve enjoyed reading
  • directions to somewhere
  • ideas for gardening
  • how-to tips for DIY projects
  • medical procedures
  • work-related searches
  • gift ideas for specific someones
  • decorating ideas
  • sewing ideas, fabrics or plans
  • quotes from books being read or having been read that I enjoyed
  • Song lyrics
  • doodles and drawings
  • angles and planes of architecture
  • recipes
  • diffuser recipes for essential oils

The Title Page of my Notebook says simply, “Things I Want to Know.” While it may seem simplistic, it is actually the absolute truth. It is a hodgepodge of ideas and thoughts that complement the mental mash-up that is my brain and anyone looking through it would have a better understanding of who I am.

Maybe it the sociology and psychology-loving part of me that finds people so interesting, but I wish everyone had such a book. It is rather odd that as infants and young children, we are encouraged (usually) to explore the world around us. Once we reach school age tho, it seems to change – we are told to be quiet, hush up, focus, pay attention and the desire to explore and learn is squashed.

As adults we make excuses. I’m too busy, too tired, too hungry, too . . .anything. Most would rather plop in front of the television and stare slack-jawed into the screen than pick up a hobby or read a book. I will say, this whole pandemic thing has caused more people to get outside and exercise. And sewing . . .it took me three stops at three different stores to find a sewing machine for the Missouri home.

The Book of What I Want to Know is a wonderful addition to any home library. Create yours today.

Creating Doesn’t Have To Be Big

“There is something in this world that every individual can do.  God has created all of us with something unique to contribute.” ~ Linus Pauling

person sewing a fabric

Photo by cottonbro on

As an all-or-nothing, go-BIG-or-go-home personality who HATES to start anything she cannot finish in the same sitting . . . . I am learning that letting my creativity flow does not mean the project has to be big.  It doesn’t even have to be finished that same day.  This is almost mind-blowing for me.

Last year, before I moved, Sam had expressed an interest in sewing.  We went together and he picked out a pattern and fabric to make a shirt.  But then . . . I started planning the move, and then actually performing the move.  While the pattern and material did come with me, Sam and I never really had much of an opportunity to sit down and talk about sewing.

He mentioned the other night that he still wanted to make his shirt and I assured him that the makings of it were right here. . .in this house!  Tonight we began.  I taught him the machine from plugging in the power cord and the foot feed to how the wheel works, how to rise and lower the presser foot.  After learning some of the basic function of my sewing machine, he was ready to practice stitching along straight lines.  Granted, there was no thread in the machine, not even a bobbin.  But his cackles of glee made me smile.

This is going to be fun! A little bit of straight line stitching led to him sharing dreams about designing clothes which led to a conversation about how many of the most famous clothing designers are men.  This in turn led to a promise to look at the latest issue of Vogue magazine so I can point out which outfits were designed by men.  During this endeavor, Sam’s big sister called and on finding out our plans for this evening, she encouraged him to design clothes for her.  This brought out a huge grin as well as some jumping up and down.

Afterwards, he went to bed, and I stayed up for a bit to start a baby afghan.  Just two rows, but it’s a start.  And then I put it aside.  Which was one of the hardest things for me to do.

Baby steps, Karen.  Baby steps.

Directionally Challenged

“Blessed is she who saves furniture from dumpsters, for she shall embarrass her husband and children but have AMAZING projects.” ~ Unknown

This desk did not come from a dumpster.  It was actually given to me by a friend almost 20 years ago — oh my gosh, has it been that long?!?!?!  For most of those years, I was mentally and emotionally in a place where I just did not have the energy or creative juices to give a whit what this piece of furniture looked like. At that time, my focus was on survival and keeping my kids safe.

However . . . the past year has given me an opportunity to embrace my creative side again, and this desk is one of my projects.

Structurally , the desk is in good shape.  It is sturdy and currently is sitting in the crafting/sewing room awaiting it’s fate.  The plan is for it to hold the sewing machine as it will allow plenty of space for fabric to rest while sewing.

The dilemma is:  What type of design element do I want to go with when I refinish it?

I could go the shabby chic route with chalk paint or a few layers sanded down to reveal the layers of color.

Perhaps like this:

shabby chic

But then again, the details, such as the sections of the drawer, and the turns on the legs present the possibility to lend it a little more personality.

I could go the whimsical route, a la Mary Engelbreit, and do a bang up job something like this:

So there we have it — the quandary that has been keeping me awake at night. (Not really, but it sounds good.)  Do I go for a sewing room of understated elegance and chic or do I go the route of colorful whimsy and creativity.

Decision and choices . . . oh my!


So Much To Do, So Little Time

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem.  We all have twenty-four hour days.” ~ Zig Ziglar

assorted silver colored pocket watch lot selective focus photo

Photo by Giallo on

If I had a penny for every time I’ve been told, “I don’t know how you get so much done!” — I’d be a very rich woman!  It’s really not rocket science, it’s just planning.

One of my favorite sayings is: Plan your work and work your plan.

I start every day by reading my devotional verses from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  These are emailed to me and appear on my phone about the time I awaken.  My entire days seems to go better when I start with my Scripture reading and prayer.

I plan my meals by using a printed menu template that I created.  From there I plan the grocery list which is planned around my paydays.  Everyone gets to make suggestions as to what goes on the menu.  If a suggestion doesn’t get included in the present menu, it is added to the next one.

Cleaning the refrigerator is done on Sunday evenings as the trash goes out Monday morning.  Scrubbing the sink happens every evening after the dishes are done.  I absolutely hate coming downstairs first thing in the morning to a sink full of dishes and gunk.  Setting up the Keurig at night is also a staple event — when I’m stumbling to the kitchen each morning, all I have to do is push the buttons to get my wake-up Java.

I plan the housework by the day of the week or around the activities taking place.  Each of us has specific days to do our laundry.  Sheets and towels are done at the weeks end.

I plan my blog posts *gasp* – they are written on Sundays and scheduled to post on various days.  UNLESS . . . something comes up that would make a compelling post, then I may add it in and delay the next scheduled one.

Each week I focus on renovating a certain room of the house.  There is so much to do — some of it major tasks such as painting, some of it not so major such as deep cleaning and scrubbing, but when you toss it all together, it becomes a mish-mash of confusion and utter wonder at what to tackle next.  Each room has a “to-do list” of needs and if I can only spend 15 minutes a day it eventually gets done.  Some days I may spend more than 15 minutes, but that is the minimum and you’d be amazed at what you can accomplish in that amount of time. By portioning it out to one room per week, the work never gets old or  relentlessly mundane (such as pulling carpet staples out of wood floors).  Besides, I have found that taking a break from a certain area leaves me free to brainstorm and consider ideas for those spaces that I may not have considered were I to get boxed in and develop tunnel-vision.

I schedule time to read.  I am an avid reader but it goes in waves, either I want to sit and read and let everything else go by the wayside, or I get busy and end up having books gathering dust.

I plan time to create.  Whether it is sewing, or crocheting or photography or looking at paint colors, or simply wandering through Lowe’s to get ideas . . . that creative outlet is fed on a regular basis.

I plan major purchases.  I do my research and cost analysis and then plan for the purchase and set the savings goal in place.

I plan time to be silly and relax and play with my kids.  Whether it’s going to the movies, or thrifting, or staying home and playing card games or board games, family time is very important to staying connected and in tune with what’s going on in the kids lives.  One of my favorite times of day is when we do the dishes together — it gives me some 1:1 time with each one to listen to their thoughts and ideas.

I plan time for myself.  Going for a walk alone, exercising, taking a hot bath, pedicures or just applying a foot mask at bedtime — all these things contribute to a sense of well-being for myself.  I cannot be a good Mom, employee or friend if I am running out of steam.  Self-care is just as important as taking care of everyone else.

I plan time with my sister.  Every Monday evening we talk on the phone.  These calls are full of laughter, anecdotes, and prayer requests.  There is no bond quite like the one between siblings, and being 700+ miles away, this is our time to stay connected.

If you were not gifted with planning genetics, start small.  Plan a week’s worth of meals.  Then two weeks.  Then add something else.  Anticipation is the key.  Review what is going on so you can adjust your schedule accordingly.  This requires being able to stay on top of kids school schedules and work schedules.  Above all, remain fluid.  Do not get so locked into your plans that you become rigid and unbending.

For example: Our menu is set, but if we don’t feel like having X for dinner, we can switch it to another evening and substitute Y.  Why?  Because I have all the ingredients to make any meal on the menu at any given day during that two-week period.  Occasionally, about once in a two-week period, we plan an evening out.  Sometimes we know where we’re going, other times we’ll take a vote to see what we’re doing.

Every one one of us gets twenty-four hours in our day, it’s up to you to decide how it gets spent.

Sewing Lessons

“There is no end to education.  It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education.  The whole of life, from the moment you are born until the moment you die, is a process of learning.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

assorted color button pin on brown surface

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

I don’t know everything and I’ll be the first to admit it.  I also quite frequently say that when it comes to skills and knowledge, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

I was taught to sew at a young age.  I took home-ec classes in junior high and high school.  I sewed most of my children’s clothes when the oldest three were 10 years old and younger.  I sewed many of my own clothes.  I made shirts for my husband.

And then life got in the way.

I didn’t get to sew as often or as much.

I have a stash of fabric and patterns galore.  But for some reason I am hesitant to sew.  For the longest time I didn’t have a clue what was going on.  And then suddenly this week, it hit me!

I have lost faith in my sewing skills.  It’s been so long since I’ve sewn on a regular basis that I feel rusty and I fear that I will make a mess of whatever I attempt and end up scrapping it all into the waste bin.

I recently made a dress — I made a muslin first as it was a rather fitted dress and the muslin fit perfectly.  I cut out the dress, sewed it together and for some reason it was too loose at the top.  I was undergoing some stress at the time and assumed that it was due to weight loss, but after listening to some podcasts and doing some reading, I believe that the problem was due to the fabric being stretched and misshapen as I sewed.  I was frustrated.  I’ve been sewing for years!! How did I not catch this!!  UUUGGGGGHHHHH.

So, I’ve started sewing lessons again – via online.  Basic stuff to refresh my memory as well as moving to the advanced lessons as I am able and have time.  Something that I enjoy and provides a creative outlet should not be avoided due to frustration and angst at having lost skills due to inactivity.  I’m excited to start sewing again and being able to wear my handiwork.

If you’re a beginner and you’d like to try sewing, or if you have experience but you’ve let it fall by the wayside and you’d like to start again, you can check out Sew It Academy and follow MimiG Style on Instagram.

Rotisserie Chicken in Your Crockpot

“I always think if you have to cook once, it should feed you twice.” ~ Curtis Stone

cooked chicken dish

Photo by Engin Akyurt on

I like to be thrifty.  I like to cook thrifty.  Much like Mr. Stone’s assessment above, I like to make meals that are available to be used in leftovers.

So without further ado, we’ll move on to the recipes: this post is a two-fer.

One recipe for the Rotisserie Chicken and the next recipe is for the leftovers in Chicken and Noodles — both created in the crockpot.

Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 stewing hen, neck and giblets removed

1 T. smoked paprika

2 t. salt

1 t. ground black pepper

1/2 t. garlic powder

1/4 t. onion powder

3 medium sized balls of aluminum foil


Rinse the stewing hen and pat dry.  Set aside.  Place the balls of aluminum foil in the bottom of the slow cooker or crockpot.  This will keep the chicken up out of the juices allowing the skin to crisp.  Mix all other ingredients together and rub generously over the skin of the chicken.  Place the chicken in the crockpot breast side up and cover.  Cook on LOW 7-8 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours.  Reserve the juice for later use.

** Disclaimer — some people like to include 2 T. light brown sugar with their spices.  I do not like the sweet taste on my chicken, but it is an option.  Also, the lid to the slow cooker cannot rest on top of the chicken, there must be some space between the chicken and the lid to allow the skin to crisp.

Now, moving on to the next recipe which is actually one of my favorite comfort foods.

Crockpot Chicken and Noodles

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Leftover chicken from Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken (above), shredded

1 package egg noodles, 16 oz.

6 – 8 cups water, depending on how juicy you like your noodles

1 chicken bouillon cube (optional)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Leftover broth and pan juices from Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken (above)


Place the leftover broth and pan juices in the crockpot.  Stir in the water and add the bouillon cube if desired.  Set the crockpot on HIGH and bring to a steaming temperature, usually does not take more than 20-30 minutes.  Stir in the egg noodles and cook, stirring often until done – usually about 10-15 minutes.  Stir in the shredded chicken and heat through.  Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.  Serve in bowls alone or over mashed potatoes.

There you have it.

Two of the easiest, tastiest comfort foods ever!

Bon appetit!!!