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Who Should Shop At Thrift Stores?

It’s a question I hadn’t really pondered until it was mentioned in a Facebook discussion last week. Should only people struggling with making end’s meet shop at thrift stores? I immediately felt a little ill because in the last year I’ve started shopping for clothes and books at our local thrift store. Is this wrong for me to do?

I was going to my 2nd hand store days after reading this question and decided to walk in eyes wide open. I went solo, without kids, and once I could sit in the children’s book isle and pile up a stack of books I remembered why I’m so comfortable and why it feels good for me to shop this way. I like the fact when I look through the books I hear whisperings of where they’ve once lived. I remember when I went to look for Christmas books, I found a post-it note in the front of a book, hand-written from grandparents about why they thought the child would enjoy the book. It made me feel special that I was seeing the note and it reminded me that even these books had a story. They had already lived in multiple houses, been read to numerous children, they no longer smelled of fresh ink (which my sensitive nose appreciates), and I don’t have to worry about breaking the book in. I am recycling, I say in my head and feel proud.  I am taking something and making the decision to not purchase it new, rather to find it, contribute to a non-profit that helps other people, then when my children are finished we will donate it back to the store. A very good cycle of use I would say!

When it comes to the books, I would say I’m pleased to also see dollar savings. Because I’m donating these books back to the store after they’ve been well loved, it’s nice to pay $1, rather than the high cost of brand new books. But I would argue that point about purchasing clothes 2nd hand. I think you could probably find clothes for the same price that are brand new if you watch for deals at Walmart or other brand name shops.  But when it comes to clothes, I’m not there shopping for deals.  I simply LOVE used clothing.  I believe that new clothing can be toxic. Here are several reasons why:

~ plastic decals, appliques, and embellishments are everywhere on clothing. What do I mean? Check out your child’s t-shirt & PJ drawer and look at the front…you will find a graphic or character there. When I talk about making better choices with clothing and buying 100% cotton clothing over polyester, it’s crazy that the clothing is marked 100% cotton when there’s a huge plastic decal attached to the front of a t-shirt or PJ set. That is not 100% cotton and that decal will be subjected to high heat in the dryer, wash and is breaking down. In really cheap clothing, they are using clothing embellishments made from PVC that contain phthalates and off-gas. When you purchase clothing 2nd hand, these types of decals have been washed multiple times and there is less leaching of materials.

~ the toxic nature of producing cotton has been well documented. This is why organic clothing, especially for babies has been so popular over the last few years.  Organic options are readily available for babies and toddlers but difficult and expensive to source after these ages. I like to think that when clothing is washed over and over the pesticides are eliminated from clothing which is awesome when purchasing 2nd hand!

~ clothing that fits!  And won’t shrink!  I have really bad luck with pants and my 9 year old son. He’s on the above average size and we try on clothes at the store and everything fits him perfectly, after it’s washed they are instantly too small in the waist and leg for him. This has happened to me with every single pair of paints I’ve bought him in the last year. On my last shopping trip I got smart and visited the boy’s jeans section at the thrift store. I paid $5.99 for a pair of broken in jeans that will last him a long time. They fit awesome because they aren’t stiff and awkward, but the best part is I don’t have to worry about shrinkage!

~ if you are on a constant journey to only purchase locally manufactured clothing, it will be a difficult and expensive journey. I try really hard to source everything I can locally, especially for myself, but this is hard with 4 kids and a husband. I don’t shop at big box stores, especially Walmart and others where their business and purchasing methods are questionable…but by shopping at a Thrift store, I can say by recycling clothing, this is more earth friendly in my mind than even shopping locally because I’m not investing in anything ‘new’. Only new to us. And I’m lucky that I have 4 children that see clothing for what it is. Clothing.  There is not talk of brand labels yet which is a blessing, although I know even popular brands exist in thrift stores, you just need to invest the time to look.

~ in an article I wrote years ago, I featured a store determined to change clothing with using sustainable ink. I learned from this article how toxic ink can be and urge you to read the Little Inkers story. Whenever I can, I love to support screen printers that create prints with earth friendlier dye solutions that are free from phthalates and PVC. These designs on the clothing are also so much more original and safe! I also feel when purchasing clothes 2nd hand that many of the toxins in these dyes have been washed out, which reduces exposure. I know the focus is 2nd hand, but I love giving examples of stores doing things right so I want to introduce you to Wren Willow. This clothing store is dedicated to using environmentally friendly water based inks and no harsh chemicals AND the store owner sketches the design that is later screen printed onto the clothes ~ Wren Willow is a magical place to purchase special clothes. These clothes look different,  tell a great story, and what a better alternative to big box clothing? I’d much rather my girls wear this big strawberry than Dora any day!

So back to my visit to the thrift store, and by the time I finished sorting through the pile of books and feeling very comfortable and happy with my decisions to shop thrift, I decided that I’ll continue on the path of being proud of myself for shopping 2nd hand. It is a very earth friendly option with consumerism and when I purchase things for myself and children, I don’t feel the consumer guilt that normally follows shopping at a traditional store. I am recycling. I am reusing. And with spending over $4.99 on each piece I purchased (pair of jeans, 2 dresses for my twins) I realized it’s also not just about saving money. I see new clothes being blown-out on sales all the time for $5. It shows me the markups in these stores is beyond ridiculous and the price tag doesn’t dictate if a shopping trip was successful, it’s the feeling that comes with bringing something new into my home. And if the item has previously been worn, washed, and then donated, it makes me feel proud to have found it.

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Pip and Pin – A Chic Way To Support Local

I spent last weekend surrounded by handmade goodies at an artisan show so I was already a pretty happy camper… but then I met this magical sister team called Pip and Pin and I need to share their store.  When you meet incredibly talented upcoming artisans I already feel lucky, but Megan and Katie have personalities that can only be compared to beans of sunshine. They even laugh at the same time and you feel good in their company. I’m so happy to share the wonderful store & faces behind Pip and Pin!  The sisters came up with their company name after their two grandma’s that taught them how how to knit. Their funky fashion and fresh concepts using a classic art medium such a knitting produces an amazing combination.  I purchased a knit headband and  cowl scarf with buttons for myself and sister for Christmas – I cannot take off the scarf because it’s so stylish and cozy! With the reactions of everyone complimenting me every where I go – I’d say it’s a great idea for holiday gifts. Handmade is always the perfect gift for the person who has everything and could buy themselves anything. Check out some of the Pip and Pin magic (pictures taken for their site):

An interesting little side note from this weekend. My friend Rosie taught me how to knit. I must have done basic knitting when I was younger because it felt very comfortable right away. I literally went from iphone girl to knitting girl within a few hours. When I came home from the show, I put three of my kids on my lap and let them hold the needles while I showed them the steps and they all loved it. I had comments like “I like seeing you knit rather than working on your phone” or “What are you going to make me mom?” or “When can the scarf be finished..tomorrow?”  The questions that came from my children was amazing to hear and I especially liked them all commenting on the fact they like watching me knit. I think it’s good for our kids to see us practice what we’re always preaching with trying to reduce electronics and actually making something handmade.  I’m sure one day I could knit a cowl scarf, but once you learn the story and see the design style of a store like Pip and Pin – it feels good to shop and support these local girls and their unique craft.

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Eco-Friendly Dolls for Christmas

I’ve been asked this questions many times over the last few weeks with parents getting ready for Christmas: “What is an Eco-friendly doll?”  Greener dolls are often called Waldorf dolls because historically they didn’t contain facial expressions to further enhance imaginative play for children. I believe the definition of Eco-friendly dolls include ‘manufactured locally’, ‘stuffed and made with natural materials'; no plastic or polyfill preferably.  I prefer a face on the Waldorf dolls when I was searching for my twins because children become quickly accustomed to how ‘real’ many of the plastic dolls look.  But we know that plastic dolls are far from Eco-friendly. I have yet to find a plastic doll that’s make from a recyclable plastic or from ‘rubber tree’ design like the toy Sophie the Giraffe.  When I think of an Eco-friendly doll, my first thought are Bambolettas or Dragonfly’s Hallow dolls. I was lucky enough to purchase two Bamboletta dolls for my daughters but it took me close to a year. Why a year?  The demand for these hand-made dolls is so high, you are very lucky to actually get the opportunity to purchase one. Both doll makers handcraft these beautiful dolls, step by step, from dying the wool to create the magical hair, use wool stuffing, hand-embroidered faces, even the doll’s clothing is made the by the respective store. They are unique, one-of-a-kind, and like nothing you will find in a traditional store. They are truly Eco-friendly.  Follow either of the Facebook pages for a few days and you will get the feel of how much work and time goes into creating these dolls. Here is the link to my article on Bamboletta Dolls from last year. Here is one of my girls snuggling their Bambo.


By now you’ve fallen in love and your chances are low to purchase a doll in time for Christmas. That wasn’t my intention – honest! There is hope, with getting a doll. I’ve also just become a fan of Crazy Baby Accessories doll’s called Gumdrop Kids and asked her about her beautiful waldorf dolls. I wanted to know what the dolls were stuffed with and the dolls listed in the shop are a mix of wool and polyester, but can be custom ordered 100% organic for an extra $20.  I can’t believe there is actually a listing this time of year – walk don’t run mamas!

One of my favorite things about these dolls is the interchangeable clothing options that become available after you own a doll. There are many stores that make clothing for these dolls and the clothing is also mama-made and totally unique! One of my favorite waldorf doll clothing suppliers is Reggies Dolls. She is a very sweet person and the clothing she makes Waldorf Dolls is awesome. I purchased some mermaid tails for my daughter’s Bambos and it solved my dilemma of trying to find a Waldorf mermaid. It transformed the Bambo from a doll into a mermaid and was easy for my girls to pull onto their dolls. With different clothing options your children will play with these dolls longer. It’s kind of neat to add to the dolls wardrobe and see how adding PJs, bathing suits, mermaid tails, etc. keeps the dolls in more demand by the child. Also promotes reusing with the doll because instead of buying more dolls to change things up, you are just adding clothing.

I’ve also carried dolls stuffed with wool and bamboo at Green Planet Parties – trying to make an affordable option for Eco-friendly dolls.  Also for Christmas I love the Sweetie Petites that are fabric panels, ready to be sewed to create a little doll and yes, they come with carded wool stuffing! They are a completely different designs from the Waldorf dolls I’ve talked about, but also a very nice option for greener gifts.

 

I hope this explanation of an Eco-friendly dolls gives you some options. You will most likely not find these in a store – check online by using Google and the phrase ‘Waldorf Doll’, checking out winter markets, or checking out my above recommendations. I love the Bamboletta and Dragonsfly Hollow blogs so much because they are able to breakdown and educate us why these dolls are so special, why they cost what they do, and why it’s important to support how they are made…it’s mama powered and mama created!  That’s important.

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Canadian Made Yoga Apparel – Salts Clothing

One of my biggest pet peeves is when a company starts manufacturing their products locally, then without telling their customers, moves their manufacturing overseas.  We know why they do it…money. It costs way less to have stuff produced overseas and this is normally the case in the clothing industry. But it’s still something that bugs me and I’ve been keeping a secret for months about a West Coast yoga apparel company that is the same prices as traditional yoga apparel companies (we know who they are) BUT is designing and manufacturing their clothing on Canada’s West Coast. For the same price or maybe even less!  Oh – and also using organic cotton, hemp, soy, and bamboo fabrics too. Sorry to keep this company under wraps, but until only last week I haven’t been able to actually try out their clothing, but I found a lovely little boutique called Mint Your Health close to my home and purchased the yoga shorts I’ve been coveting from the Salts Clothing site. And they are awesome!  The materials that Salts uses are super high end, the clothes is well made, and designed to hold everything in place.  Am I a yoga gal and just never mentioned it?  No, but I’m a super busy mom that loves getting some help with keeping things tucked into the right places with clothing.  And isn’t that why we all love yoga gear? The comfort and style combined for a laid back and relaxed life style…while helping our ‘problem areas’ look a whole lot better than they actually are.

Salts Clothing is made on Vancouver Island. How has Salts managed to keep this formula for success since 2005? Only they can tell you, but for now, check out this eye candy of locally made goodness. My favs are the tank, screen printed hoodie and my awesome grey shorts are included in this photo round-up. All photos belong to Salts Clothing:

I’m slowly learning to always ask questions with my precious consumer dollars. It’s why I truly prefer to shop online rather than the Mall because I just can’t get my questions answered. When I ask my normal round-up of questions in this scenario with Salts Clothing, I’m a truly satisfied consumer “Where are your clothes made?” “What are they made from” “What is your company purpose”  And this last question I haven’t yet answered, but I’m going to quote this answer directly from the Salts site:  “The name Salts comes from a love of the ocean. Salts has long been used as preservatives, I hope our clothing will help preserve our Earth home as well. I am inspired to make clothing that is eco friendly in honor of my children and their future children.”  An awesome quote by Salts owner Jennifer – totally inspiring and clothing that makes you feel good to support.

Follow Salts Clothing’s latest designs via their Fanpage on Facebook – they are always turning out awesome new clothing designs: Salts Organic Clothing and Studio Boutique.

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Hosting A Harry Potter Party

We all know I’m a Potterhead correct?  I’m sure people think I’m a little mad being and adult and being so entranced with the Harry Potter series, but it’s a journey I took with both of my sons last summer (reading the novels) and it’s an adventure I will always treasure. It’s also very cool that so many of the Harry Potter story-lines and characters are very relate-able for kids in their everyday lives. So it was really not surprising when my 8 year old son announced he wanted to host a Harry Potter themed party for his 9th birthday party. I was up for the challenge of bringing some wizard magic to this very special celebration and with the Harry Potter movie franchise coming to an end this summer (Deathly Hallows Part 2) in July, I figure I’m not the only parent on the block having a child requesting this theme for a birthday party. I’ve been so excited to write the 2nd part of this article (Part 1: How To Play Muggle Quidditch) because it was the best party we’ve thrown for my oldest son to date and actually very low cost. The best part with hosting a kid’s party like this – my husband and I got to flex our imaginative muscle which is always fun!

We started the party with having the guest’s parents drop-off their children at a local park with a grass field. Here we played Muggle Quidditch (wizard sport similar to football) and I’ve written about setting up the Quidditch game here.

After Quidditch was finished, we started Part 1 & 3 of the Tri-wizard Tournament. This is a magical contest that takes place in the 4th novel “Goblet of Fire” and there are 3 tasks.  The first task of the tournament is for all the ‘champions’ to retrieve a specific golden dragon egg. We included the concept of ‘golden eggs’ into our own tri-wizard task by having a good old-fashioned egg toss. We painted the eggs with gold paint and the boys tossed raw eggs back and forth in the field. It was a fun game, but over pretty quick.

The 2nd task in the tri-wizard tournament is for each of the champions to rescue something valuable that had been taken from them in the Hogwarts lake. Having to breathe underwater for an hour, they rescue people in their life that are very important to them from merpeople. We didn’t incorporate this task into our party, but if you have a pool, pond, or large basin of water, you could get party guests to retrieve items.

The last task (3rd task) of the tri-wizard tournament in Harry Potter is for the champions to navigate through a maze of mystery and danger to find the tri-wizard tournament cup. As luck would have it, next to the field where our party guests played Quidditch, is a creek surrounded by a forest. I took 15 of the wizard looking goblets we’ve used during 7 Halloween parties (for potions) and hid these in the woods.  The goblets actually looked very similar to the one in the movie and the kids had a good time running around the forest looking for cups. Once a child found their own cup, they returned it to the field and started helping another child that hadn’t found a goblet yet.

After the Tri-wizard tournament, the kids walked back to our house and we started the first of two games: Pin The Sock On Dobby and Jelly Bean tasting. I can’t take credit for the Dobby game…my friend Bill on Facebook had just hosted a Harry Potter party and shared this great party idea. My dear friend Patti drew a life size Dobby for us to use as a cut-out – see the below picture and the amazing job she did. If you don’t have a poster or person that can draw, you might want to order a life size stand up Dobby that I found on this site. They also have a life size Snape character…older kids might think it’s funny to ‘pin the shampoo bottle’ on this beloved greasy character. You simply cut out some socks, shampoo bottles, etc. from paper and use tacky tape, grab a blindfold, spin the child around and send them towards the cutout.  Here is the beautiful Dobby that was hand drawn for our party:

The other indoor game planned for the party was a jelly bean testing contest. In the Harry Potter books, there are wizard jelly beans called Bertie Bott’s Flavor Beans and there are flavors such as vomit, rotton egg, earwax, dirt…you get the picture. Trust me, 9 year old boys love this stuff!  We actually found a brand called Bean Boozled and each box contains jelly bean flavors that look alike but taste different from each other. Example is 2 black jelly beans – 1 is skunk spray the other is licorice. You can’t tell which of the flavors you’ve gotten unless you taste them. They are have some of the funny flavors included in the Harry Potter jelly beans so this guessing game went with our theme.

For party decorations I reused Francesco’s cloth name banner that we’ve used every year from Green Planet Parties. The camouflage fabric of his reusable banner fit nicely with the subtle Deathly Hallows theme of the party. I would now like to talk about the loot bags. I’m very proud of myself with these bags and their contents because I actually helped created a bit of magic with my own little hands!! I originally thought the kids would decorate t-shirts at the party with the Deathly Hallows symbol, but after brush stroking this symbol to personalize the cloth goodie bags, I realized this just wasn’t a good idea for energetic 9 year old boys. I’m so happy with this decision. So instead I painted the sign of the Deathly Hallows onto the outside of the goodie bag and included a matching cotton t-shirt inside each bag as the main give-away. I thought they turned out pretty well but I learned it’s harder to paint a triangle onto cotton than I thought:

And what do you say are those AMAZING dark mark’s attached to the rolled up tees in the front of the above photo?  Those would be dark mark tattoos and I could not wait to see the reaction for guests and my sons when they arrived for the party. I included one in each child’s loot bag, but I’m sure kids would have loved to have them applied when they first arrived at the party. When I opened the package that contained these tattoos I was literally screeching with joy.  I immediately put one on myself and each of my boys and loved the result. Here is how it looked on Francesco’s arm.  Even Ronald Weasley would say these are “wicked”! You can purchase these at a shop called Electrik Pink Pirate and the shop owner is awesome to work with!

I also included wooden wizard wands and organic jelly beans in addition to the t-shirts and dark mark tattoos in the goodie bags.  I think any fellow Potterhead would approve! I was completely inspired by this party because it was so much fun to plan and enjoy. I created a new category on the Green Planet Parties site called Wizard Theme Party. I hope it helps to inspire parents with planning a wonderful wizard themed party that has the guests believing that magic and our childhood is always around us.

Related Posts:

How To Play Muggle Quidditch

 

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