Monday, March 2, 2015


The ladies at Fine Linen and Purple sent me this little interview about thrifting a looooooong time ago. I obviously never got around to sending it back to them, but I thought I would still share this very important knowledge about thrifting!


When did you get into thrifting, and what or who influenced your decision?

You would think that I would have more of a recollection of when I started thrifting since it’s such a major life event, but I honestly can’t remember! It was a few years ago. I had gone to thrift stores before, but I never really got into it. Then I discovered some great thrift stores in the DC area, and started thrifting all the time! I think a big influence on me was that around this time, I was majorly underemployed. It was nice to be able to still go shopping and find some great things, but not have to spend a lot of money. It was also great to be able to stock up on work appropriate attire as I was constantly changing jobs at the time, without having to spend a lot of money on new clothes each time I changed jobs (and consequently, proper work attire codes).

Describe a typical thrifting adventure for you. (Do you go solo? What time/day? Multiple stores? Quick browsing or carefully combing through racks?)

I usually go alone, but also enjoy introducing friends and family to the world of thrifting. I usually go off on my own for a bit, though, even if I am with people. I like to go in the middle of the day, as I find morning and evenings to be more crowded. I usually just do one store, because my favorite thrift store (Unique) is quite large, and I can easily spend more than a few hours in there. I usually only go thrifting when I am in the mood to carefully comb through the racks - I won’t always look at all of the racks (I often skip pants and blazers/jackets), but I do comb through because that is when you find the best steals.

Do you thrift as a primary way of shopping, or for certain types of items only? Do you find that certain items are easier or harder to thrift?

I would say that my clothing wardrobe is pretty 50-50 between being thrifted and being from “regular” stores. I don’t typically go to thrift stores in search for a specific item; if I’m looking for a specific item, I usually just go to a department store as they have a variety of styles and sizes. For non-clothing items, again, I don’t usually go to the thrift store seeking a particular item; I am more likely to be browsing the home goods or books section and find something I can use for a great deal.

I don’t think that there are items that are necessarily harder to thrift than others, but some take more patience to find (i.e. it may take longer to find a pair of red pants, if that’s what your heart is set on, but you can find them eventually). I don't often find shoes at the thrift store, partly because who knows whose feet they've been on and mostly because shoes have to fit just right - so I would say that for me it is harder to find shoes, but that isn't the case for everyone. I will say that kitchen items are always able to be found thrifting. ALWAYS. If you don’t care to have your kitchen items match or be brand new, always check the thrift store first.

Have you tried out thrifting online, such as through ebay or an online secondhand shop? If you have, how does it compare to shopping in person?

I do shop through eBay and online sites, like Threadflip. I’ve found some great items through both, at great prices. It is a little bit harder than shopping in person because you can’t try the clothes on (if that’s what you are buying), and often the hassle of returning an item to these sites is just not worth the time/money. Especially if you are the kind of person that has specific fit requirements, it’s much easier to shop in person so you can try clothes on. On the other hand, you can shop eBay in your pajamas at midnight, which is always a perk!

What types of items do you avoid buying while thrifting? What criteria do you use to sort out the “duds”?

For whatever reason, the thought of buying linens or towels at the thrift store just grosses me out. You will probably never find me buying pillows or blankets from the thrift store!

For the "duds", since I mostly buy clothes at the thrift store, I’m going to keep my answer specific to clothing. I’ve gotten pretty good at having a good eye for spotting whether or not something is good quality. I can comb through the racks and pretty quickly know if an item I like is from one of those high quality name brands (Loft, J. Crew, New York and Company, Macy's brands, etc). I try to only buy better quality brands at the thrift store, because I know that they will hold up over time. I also sometimes look for items that are high quality, but are not in my size/not my style, because these items have great re-sale value (and I can make a profit selling it on eBay).

It’s important to ask yourself a few questions when buying, to make sure you are not getting a “dud”:

  1. If I saw this at a regular store, either full price or on sale, would I consider buying it? (This keeps you from getting pulled in by a stellar price tag alone.)
  2. Is the quality of this item worth the thrift store price? (This has kept me from buying some items that I would have bought in the store, but the price was too much for the quality - i.e. a dress from Target being marked at $15 at the thrift store. No thanks.)
  3. Does the item look new or like new? (There is no point in buying an item - even if it is super cheap - if you are only going to be able to wear it a few times before it can’t be worn anymore - look for pilling, small stains, tears, moth holes, etc. If it has any of the above, no matter how small, it’s not worth a buy for me.)
  4. Does the item require special washing (i.e. dry clean only)? If so, is it worth the money you will have to pay to clean it? (To me, it is not worth it to buy a shirt that is dry clean only. However, I have bought a couple of coats and a dress that are dry clean only, and those are still worth it to me because they don’t need washed as much as a shirt would, for example.)

Share with us what you consider the greatest deal you ever got thrifting on a single item (picture please if at all possible!)

My winter coat! It is from Style & Co., which is a Macy’s brand, so I knew that it would hold up well. It is red - my favorite color - and I love the style. The coat looked like it was fairly new when I bought it. I believe I paid $10-12 for it - I can’t remember exactly, but I do know that I spent more to have it dry cleaned ($14) than I paid for the coat itself! So far, it has held up for two winters, and is still going strong!
Can't ever lose me in a crowd!
Last winter, I also found a Land’s End long black winter coat with down filling. It fits me beautifully and is great for the super cold winter days. When I bought this coat, I looked it up online to get a comparison price - this coat sells for over $200 brand new at Land’s End. I paid $18 for it (and again spent more for the dry cleaning - $20 - than I did on the coat)!


Share with us a complete outfit, or nearly complete outfit, entirely secondhand/thrifted (picture please if at all possible!) If you are willing and able to, you can share what this outfit cost.

I don't remember specific prices anymore, but I paid anywhere from $2 to $10 for the thrifted items!

Green sweater (Loft) - consignment store in KY; Jean skirt (unknown brand) - Unique Thrift;
Necklace (Premier Designs); Boots (A2) - Kohl's
Blue dress (Land's End) - Unique Thrift; Jean jacket (Old Navy) - Unique Thrift;
Sandals (Croft & Borrow) - Kohl's
Skirt with pockets (Ann Taylor) - Unique Thrift; Magenta blouse (Fashion Bug) - Unique Thrift;
Boots (Bare Traps) - DSW
Black and white dress (Mossimo for Target) - Unique Thrift;
Boots (Merona for Target) - Target
As you can see, I tend to find quality, versatile pieces at the thrift store, and then I buy my shoes where I can find just-the-right fit!

Are you a thrift-a-holic? I'd love to hear about your thrifting experiences, including any big tips!

*This post contains an affiliate link for Threadflip. If you sign up through my link, we both get money credit to use!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Travel Bug (Not Alone Series)

Linking up with Morgan and Jen! Thanks ladies!

It's been a long time since I linked up with the Not Alone Series, but I just couldn't resist this topic - travel!

I’ve always loved to travel, and my family always found interesting places to vacation when I was growing up, even just for long weekends. However, I found that when I moved out to DC on my own, most of my traveling was back home to visit family, and while that’s fun, I’ve seen Ohio quite a bit. 

I remember lamenting this fact to a friend a few years ago, and we talked about becoming travel buddies and taking a trip just for the sake of traveling together. While this never happened (because she met a handsome lad and got married!), it did get me thinking about how much I would like to actually travel, especially during my single years. 

This all made me realize a few things: (1) It’s ok to travel alone (to some places), (2) I have other travel buddies (more on that in a second), (3) this is a prime time in my life to do a lot of traveling, and (4) I can travel to places to meet up with friends. 

Y'all. These realizations made me catch the travel bug - and I've barely stopped since!

In the past couple of years, this bug has mostly consisted of long weekends flying or driving to visit family and friends in various locales, but it's also led to some big trips.

My most recent big trip came about when my sister, K, and I were randomly talking about international travel one day. She had just gotten back from doing her third whirlwind tour of Spain. Our other sister, M, was studying abroad in Spain, so they both went over a week before M’s program started, just to travel together. At the end of the week, K dropped M off at “school” and flew back to the US! K mentioned how it was like she was M’s tour guide, since she had shown her around where K had previously studied abroad. 

I made the off-hand comment that sometime we should go to England and I could act as her tour guide, since I had studied abroad there. She responded with, “YEAH, I WOULD LOVE TO GO TO ENGLAND!! LET’S GO!” I asked if she was serious, and she said she was. And just like that, we were going to England! 

We had some “Are we really doing this?!” moments along the way, but once we booked flights, there was no turning back! We came up with a list of must-sees, a calendar of where to go when with a tentative schedule, and then booked rail passes and hotel rooms. The next thing I knew, we were off to England!
NOT London Bridge... Tower Bridge!
Glastonbury Abbey
On our way to the Globe (my favorite place, where I used to write
my English papers!), we stopped to take a picture of Millennium Bridge
and the Tate Modern at the Thames.
Getting goofy at Warwick Castle
Obligatory red phone booth picture
Stonehenge Bus Tour
A beach weekend in Bournemouth

Photo op in the hometown of my boyfriend, aka Stratford-Upon-Avon
It was such a great trip - it was exactly what I needed at that time in my life. My mom was worried that we would hate each other by the end of the trip, but I think we would both say that we got along great, and we grew even closer during our two weeks abroad.
Travel buddies made in Heaven (or the same womb)
The travel bug hasn't really stopped since - I've got a lot of travel this year that includes both visiting family and taking trips for myself!

Liesl’s 2015 Travel Schedule


- PA to visit Julie
- Waynesboro, PA to help lead a high school retreat

Coming Up

- K comes to DC for Easter!
- Home to Ohio for M’s college graduation
- Flying to FL to meet up with my family - Disney World and HP World for a week, and then a long weekend trip to the beach with K (rest of family goes home - their loss!)
- Either DC or Philly to see the Pope (and Julie again!)
- Denver, CO to visit Amanda followed by the #CathSorority retreat!
- Home for Thanksgiving and Christmas

I also hope to throw in a day trip to King’s Dominion, as well as another visit with Elizabeth! There’s also some great small towns and vineyards about an hour away from me, and I love to take day trips out there with friends to explore - Baltimore, MD is tentatively in the books for this spring! My cousin is also tentatively coming to visit for the 4th of July - she has been to visit a number of times, and I always love “traveling” to DC and exploring VA with her!

My long-term travel goals (in the next few years and beyond) include going to visit my cousin in Lexington (she’s been here so much, it’s time to go to her!), another international trip or two (possibly to Spain with my sisters, and Italy, the Mediterranean, and Australia are all on my to-travel list) and more long weekend trips to different parts of the country (I would love to go out west to explore, to see Alaska, and maybe do a cruise).

I've learned so much from my travel bug! Let me share my wealth of knowledge with you...

Liesl’s Tips and Tricks for Single Life Travel

  • Don’t be afraid of traveling alone (or of traveling alone to meet up with someone). I’ve become a pro at driving and flying alone. As an introvert, I actually some time alone with traveling very relaxing. If you’re taking a long road/plane trip, go to the used bookstore and treat yourself to a new book you’ve been wanting to read, or borrow an audiobook from the library (my fav? Ella Enchanted)
  • If you’re not ready to travel big, do day trips. Every town has exciting things to explore! I remember growing up, my mom would find fun summer tours for us to do that were within an hour of our town - the Longaberger Basket plant, the US Post Office, and the Anthony Thomas chocolate factory. Our hometown also had a wealth of new malls to explore, odd museums (the Anti-Saloon League museum, to be exact), and random events throughout the year to check out. Traveling doesn’t have to be Go Big, or Stay Home. Be a tourist in your area for a day!
  • Plan trips to visit friends in different parts of the country. Not only do you get to meet up with a friend, but you also can hopefully save some money because you will most likely have a place to stay. This is a great option if money is tight or you are saving your dough for a bigger trip.
  • Lump your travel plans with work holidays. I work for the federal government, so I am very lucky to get a number of paid holidays, as well as my accrued leave. I try to lump my travel with holidays so I end up using less vacation. It’s also a plus that my vacation rolls over (to a certain point), so I can save up my vacation for bigger trips. If your work allows flexibility, you can also work comp time before a trip or work longer hours and flex off in order to travel - without having to use any leave! I took off 2.5 weeks to go to England, and ended up only using 40 hours of vacation leave, because I had saved up 32 hours of comp time and lumped our trip with a federal holiday. You can bet I used all that leave I saved for other smaller trips!
  • If you are flying, sign up for price alerts. When I know that I am flying somewhere, I immediately sign up for a price alert for that trip, so once I see a drop in price, I can buy. Oftentimes, airlines will drastically lower prices for only a few hours or a day, so if you get the alerts, you can jump on those savings! I usually use Kayak, but there are a lot of great sites.
  • Use travel sites to your advantage. You can find some great deals if you look for them. When we were planning our trip to England, I ended up discovering Priceline’s Express Bids, and we snagged some stellar deals through that! For the Express Bids, you can select a region of town and the hotel rating - we selected the Westminster area for one leg, which had a 4-star hotel option available for something like $100 a night - which is just unheard of in that area. Even though we didn’t know the exact hotel or location, we jumped on it... and did we get a deal! We found out that our hotel was a brand new luxury hotel - we were greeted by a porter who took our bags up to our room, which was huge for English standards. Our bathroom was like a spa (I even soaked in the tub one night!), and we were only a few blocks away from the tube station, which was only a few stops away from all the tourist spots. We could walk to a number of delicious taverns and restaurants, and were right on the Thames to see all the London sites. Priceline and Trip Advisor also allowed us to snag some other great deals - our hotel in Stratford was adorable and the bed and breakfast in Bournemouth was perfect for us - and we saved a ton of money. Don’t be afraid to shop around on multiple sites to find what you're looking for!
Leave your best travel tips in the comments!

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