Reuse, Recycle, reclaim, repurpose.

I grew up poor, like government cheese and free lunches kind of poor.  When you grow up with next to nothing, you really learn the value of everything you do have and also learn how to make the most of what is around you.  So basically, I’ve been reusing items and conserving in general WAY before it became hip.

My life is all about thrift store shopping.  Many people are put off by used clothing but I am not.  I even get bathing suits and some bras there. Don’t freak out!!!!  I bring everything home and wash it immediately, air out coats and check them carefully, and take things to the dry cleaner when needed, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with thrift store finds.  In fact, just this morning I watched a segment on the Today show about how thrifting and reselling is the NEW THING. (Oh really?) Now, it can all be done online, but to me, the thrill of the hunt in person in the store is GREAT fun!

Every place I visit, I find great thrift stores.  Even in the Napa Valley amongst all the expensive real estate and fine wine, there are little used boutiques filled with awesome finds for a few bucks.  I LOVE thrifting!  I have my favorite places and take 15 or 30 minutes when in the area to do a sweep of housewares, clothing, linens and more.

It is always surprising to see what people send off to Goodwill and the Red, White & Blue on Route 65.  THAT store is actually a for-profit store which I GUARANTEE is making MILLIONS of dollars each year CASH.  The massive parking lot is ALWAYS full and they move their inventory constantly.  They have quite an impressive organization but only a SMALL percentage of the proceeds benefits the veterans.   

I have actually found beeswax blocks, antique honey drippers, amazing designer clothing, winter camo and thousands of other items that I use and use and use!  One of my favorite items of all time is a pot I specifically use for lollipop making. It is the perfect size for confections.

Some people who I have tried to convince about thrifting have told me that I am lucky that I am a small person and can fit into a lot of different sizes, so there is much more variety for me. I’m sure that is true.  I can wear small, medium and large sizes if I want something roomy.  I am grateful for that. I love picking up new gym clothes. Gray gray gray is my favorite color and there is never a shortage of cool t-shirts, sports bras, thin hoodies and stretchy pants for my workouts in shades of gray. The ladies in my gym comment on this and that and I always say, GOODWILL……

My husband is 6 foot 3 and has a 34 inch inseam so I am always on the lookout for 34/34 pants and I have managed to find a few good pairs over the years.  He is always impressed when I bring something home for us both that is in excellent shape, fits well and looks cool!  😊

Until last year, his company always had a massive Christmas party for probably 1000 people.  EVERY fancy dress I own is from the thrift store.  I never pay anymore than $9.99 for something like that, sequins or not.  Both of my wedding dresses (yes, I have been married twice) were used and vintage.  I am not interested in looking like anyone else but ME.  If I like something and it fits, I buy it.  I actually prefer not to be in fashion with whatever the malls are selling.  The vintage clothing lasts way longer than modern clothes anyway and my staple supply of “Little Black Dresses” and the like, including handbags most definitely are used and have been hanging in my closet for 10 years or more.

You really just have to go often to see what is new and find the treasures that fit YOU and you WILL.  Trust me… just give it a try. I usually keep a list of things I would like to find so when I get there, I can review and start the hunt.  This marionette was such an unusual find that I just had to buy it.  It is just SO charming to me and what a conversation piece! The fact two women actually stole him and Dr. Frued from my cart while I was in the changing room, makes it even a more entertaining story. I was definitely the victor in that encounter!

I have decorated every home I have ever had with finds in the thrift store or from the side of the road.  People throw out the most amazing things.  Call me a garbage picker and that is no insult to me.  If I showed you the things in my home and cabin that I have pulled off the side of the road you would be amazed.  My dad doesn’t have many skills but he is an amazing furniture refinisher.  He can remove 10 coats of paint from a cool table, and make it perfect for me.  EVERY PIECE of furniture in both our house and cabin has some touch of his. 

Besides the thrift store shopping, reclaiming water from rain to water my greenhouse and the chickens, repurposing an old straw hat to grow plants in and scrapping metal are all part of my life.  I even save the water that comes from the dehumidifier for plants and animal use. I have a really hard time wasting.  Perhaps it is a little OCD, but that is ok.  As grateful as I am to have more resources now as an adult, I will never be far removed from that girl that HAD to get a job at 16 to help out at home. I learned how to work hard early and that has never left me.

I record CBS Sunday morning to watch when I have time and this summer they did a feature on Brandi Carlile, a popular country and folk artist.  She talked about growing up poor and despite her success, she said something that struck me.  She said,  “I don’t know how to be anything but poor.” She was talking about how she lives on this compound that she created with her wife, her band (her guitar player is married to her sister) and they live close to the land.  She did splurge on a backhoe and operates it herself.  I just loved that. 

It feels REAL to me to be a conserver of seeds, grower of food, mother of animals, maker of natural medicinal remedies and picker up of litter!  I try every day to be my authentic self and look for opportunities to reuse, recycle, repurpose and reclaim. I guarantee you when I walk the dogs today, I will inevitably see beer cans strewn about and laying on the sides of the road. I will pick those up and add them to my stash of cans and other aluminum that I will haul to the scrapyard. There is shopping there too. They always have an unusual collection of metal items. Last week I picked up horse shoes to set up a game here at the farm. $2 for 6! Fun fun FUN!