Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Let's Discuss: Is Thrifting an Alternative to a Materialistic Mindset? Are We Filling Emotional Voids with Objects?

Last month I wrote 12 Reason to Buy Nothing New. Style, Environmentalism, and Deep Introspection. Reader Raffaella left a question in a comments that beat me to my planned follow-up:

While thrifting is very interesting (I only wish we had thrift stores here!) and I agree with your points, I've always wondered if it really is an alternative to the consumeristic mindset. I mean that buying secondhand is still buying, so still a way to fill an emotional void with material things. What do you think? 
I agree with Raffia. Buying second-hand IS still buying and a way to continue to fill emotional voids with material objects. I took a long break from ALL buying, including second-hand buying, even buying for my business, to examine what I tend to buy and why I buy. These are my thoughts a few months in:

1) We Need to Be Careful About Every Object We Bring Into Our Lives. Free, Thrifted, and Otherwise: Thrifting is environmentally friendly; reducing landfill mass and provides an alternative to products made in sweatshops. Hell, it's fun. But once you're in the lifestyle it becomes too easy to obtain wares for free or close to it. You get to know all the best stops, your eyes are glued to curbsides. You can easily pick up too much, leaving you with an unorganized hoarder-mess.

2) You Need a System: These free and low-cost supplies are necessary from indie business owners on a budget, but you need a strict set of rules on what comes in and out and a detailed organization system. Example: Keep all plywood organized by size, texture, and color in your workshop and remnants for jewelry creating neatly organized in a (thrifted) tackle box. Donate one thing for every item you bring in.

3) Think of the Legacy You Want to Leave: I often think about the legacy we'll leave behind on a macro and micro level. Let's think about what people would say about our homes and our work after we pass. I want them to see a thoughtful, helpful creator who collected with a good eye; not piles of junk.

4) Human's Innately Crave Constant Novelty: In Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping I read about 19th century economist/sociologist Thorstein Velben and his "aesthetic nausea" theory. It's when you get bored with the latest fashion, the novelty's gone and it's chucked for the next trend. This has been going on since our first civilization in The Fertile Crescent and in caves before that. The human-best constantly examines and collects, seeking new resources and better chances for survival. It's natural, but we can overcome and do this in a more organized fashion.

5) It's okay to examine the world, collect from it, and re-arrange. Thoughtfully. Make a plan: We choose what to bring in and how to reconstruct it into something new. Think about where you choose to spend your money or what to bring in. Do it wisely and with care.

Also, note: I've happened upon comments on past posts asking detailed questions. I don't often read comments on past posts after that week (you can see the dates at the top left of each post). Please e-mail me and I'll get back to you.

What are your thoughts on thrifting and materialism? Is it still a bad thing?
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

100% Upcycled Project #1: Cacti and Succulent Still Life: Kitschy Planter DIY


I'm starting a new project. Determined to stretch anti-consumerism and art muscles, I'm challenging myself to make something new out of objects and supplies I already own every day.  Using what I already have or can obtain from friends is a fun and money-saving way to make life colorful and creative. Today I unveil Project #1: My my first (and not last) 100% Upcycled Cacti and Succulent mix Planter.

[Photo above is from Instagram. Follow me there to see my creative projects in real-time. ]

Supplies, Pre-Owned: white aquarium gravel, homemade cacti soil mix, purple succulent, grey vintage planter, toy
Supplies, Gifted: Cacti and succulent babies from my mom's grown plants.

The Supply's Previous Sad Lives ]

1) I had perfectly good previous mixed cacti soil mix in a planter covered with gravel on kitchen windowsill! It once housed a plant but after I moved it I just used it to hold up my incense sticks while they burned.
2) More dirt was in a big green planter on the windowsill in my office, holding just one sad little purple succulent! All by himself save for his "plant-type" Pokemon toy-friends (gifts from my friend, Birdie). 3) I noticed the succulents and cacti outgrowing tiny pots/jars they were being rooted in at my mom's house.
4) The gray planter was a $1 (or less) flea market score, sat empty in a merchandise box.

Cacti and Succulent Note ] Cacti and succulents  like sandy, well-draining soil and full sunlight. They're hard to kill and grow slowly, making them good starter plants. They're an interior design favorite because you can even fit them in quirky non-planters, like teacups. Their simple, sculptural shapes are inspiring to a designer's eye. I have a post on how to plant your vintage planters with succulents/cacti without killing your precious plant-children here.

My diminutive still life sits on my computer desk and makes me happy when I glance at it throughout the work day. I'm excited to make more plant compositions in the house- somehow without paying a dime along the way. I adore plants, this casa needs to feel like a jungle since I can't get my ass back to gorgeous Puerto Rico (oh Waterfall, Private Island, and Colorful Neighborhoods, muses, all) I'll make one here. It's so satisfying to use what I have for creative solutions versus rushing to the nearest store for a quick-and-generic fix! As a bonus, my cat no longer tries to dig out my succulents with the sharp cacti there to "protect" them.

Join the 100% Upcycled Project:Let's make amazing transformations out of what we already own. Simply:

1) Use items/supplies you already have in your possession to OR
2) Use what your friends/families have. This is all about avoiding retail and realizing and utilizing the abundant resources and community around us. Curbsides/dived finds work, but no buying from Thrifts.
3) Set a schedule. I'm trying for daily (for now!) Yours can be weekly or monthly.
4) Keep it simple. It can be daily drawings using paper and art supplies you already now or something more ambitious. It can be as easy as making a gallery wall out of dusty framed art in the garage.
5) Have Fun! Share the photos with me via e-mail or social media, or link your posts about the products in the blog posts. I may even blog about your creations, anyone interested in me making a Flickr group or other social media group where we can share projects?

Creativity needs limitations to thrive, otherwise the daunting array of selections keeps you from making. Using what we have is the perfect creative constraint; environment and wallet friendly.

Would you prefer weekly updates on my daily DIY projects? How about just spotlights? Or Both? How about a social media group where we can share our upcycled projects? Let me know!
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, August 25, 2014

I Can't Stop What I've Started! Cleaning Out, Feeling Inspired, Vintage Sale Continues!

Right now I'm sitting on the floor pricing every single piece of merchandise in this apartment. (Drinking all the tea. Energy, come to mama.)  I've been dying to get everything I own in front of eyes in my antique mall booth, now I'm determined to defy physics and give it a try again! Ha!

Yep, this is what I'll be working on for the next hour. Real Reseller life isn't very photogenic.

I'm the closest I've ever been to having the organized home and business of my dreams, the one where you have a spreadsheet that tells you where the extra pair of scissors and glue sticks are hiding. One where you open the closet and there's almost nothing in it (versus the fear of an avalanche of wares falling on your head). I'm excited to make new plans with my streamlined business and workspace, help others get themselves the same way (with business planning, organizing, and designing services- e-mail me if you need help) and create like crazy!

If you're local please check out my Southern Crossing Antique Mall booth (Ask for "Thrift Core" or "Booth #4504") where I'm adding all of my wares (or as much as possible) at low prices. I'm clearing out for a new vision! If you're not local my Etsy Shop -- GO TO IT, I SAY! -- continues to mark down wares! I'm excited to work on and share new projects...and even hit some thrifts again eventually, very gingerly. By the by, I'm heading to Orlando this upcoming 3-day weekend if anyone has any kitschy sights I must see to share (or thrifts I can't miss) please e-mail them to me! Of course my evil IKEA stop will be a must. For shame. Now back to work with me, listening to delightful happy retro music like this.

Oh, and I can estimate lower and group shipping deals for you on items in my Etsy Shop, I just have to overestimate there. Thanks!

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mid Century Muse: Contract Magazine Vintage Furniture Advertisement Inspiration

One morning after making a post office delivery I decided to swing into a nearby Goodwill as soon as it opened. I was rewarded by a stack of Contract vintage magazines and a few other retro interior design and office furniture catalogs from the late 60s and early 70s. I like to pretend came from a 1970s interior design firm.

 I've been enjoying flipping through these for inspiration. They recently sold so I took some time to photograph my favorite pages before shipping them out to the next creative they'll inspire. Let's look at the groovy goodness!

Love thus hippie chick on a bike to advertise...rugs? That is actually an incredible rug in the background, would love that for my living room.

Too clinical and clean for me but felt a twinge of inspiration from this ad, had to include it!

Woah this collage is a whole lot of want. I adore the colorful chairs, the lamps, even the couch is kind of nice. Funny how this furniture includes a lot of the neo-modern look that crept into early 1980s stuff...absolutely hate that stuff! Glass tables with metal legs = my childhood cleaning the smudges off with windex. Noooo! 

Sexy tulip chairs. A lot of the design in these rooms remind me of 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange and it's definitely been cyclical, being fully desirable now. I love Kubrik's incredible ability to predict the future, life post 2000 looks a bit like he envisioned, doesn't it?

Woooah, love! Love the primaries, love the rectangles everywhere, love how a lot of my childhood schools still had this look from the 1970s due to lack of updating fixtures to save money. It's a little too cold, could use some details to break  it up but overall, just love this look. You could tempt me to go back to the office world if my cubicle looked like this...maybe.

Love the orange chairs and lamp. Bright orange and red orange are my favorites colors followed by blue.

Oh, I was born 1986 but man this look stayed in style in households for a long ass time, my mom had furniture like this! Ew! Sorry mom, hate it, haha! Likewise she loathes my taste for the tacky plastic furniture in primaries and secondaries.

The signage, the interior, wow! Gorgeous restaurant, very groovy.

Lovely office again. A bit clinical with the harsh metal but the colors! So much happier than offices today.

I'll be back to share more of my favorite spaces from these magazines soon but let's leave off with my favorite. Wow. Love the colors and styling in this photo and the girl, too. Reminds you of Megan Draper, neh? You wouldn't think a lot of these pieces, like the ornate tiffany lamp, would go together but everything wrks beautifully in this photo. Can I live here?

Any wants in these ads for you? I'd love some of these rugs, office storage units and chairs/couches in particular. I'm inspired to get thrifitng for more pieces soon, the house and inventory is getting empty (as desired!) It's all on sale by the way, get it!
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

5 Craving Resistance Tactics For Healthy Eating. For When You Could Eat a Whole F*cking Cow. Made of Cheese.

A week or so ago I was bustling about in Shakti Life Kitchen working on a huge batch of chips when I got a call, the woman on the line asked if she could meet me to ask questions on veganism. The voice was urgent. When we met 10 minutes (!) later face-to-face she asked if I was vegan and for how long, I told her 3ish years. Wide-eyed, she blurted:

"When will the cravings stop? Will the cravings stop!? ... I crave cheese. I could eat a whole fucking cow made of cheese."

I know how she feels. Five years ago I was eating fast food and working an office job where I barely moved. I was 30+ pounds heavier and much unhealthier for it, I'd have never guessed the direction my life would take. The change was gradual, first switching to eating all whole foods, then to vegetarian, vegan and finally raw vegan. These tips may help you with any diet switch you're trying to make, whether it's vegan, paleo, or just a little less cheese and meat. Whatever you're trying to accomplish.

1. You Have to Really Want the Change.

A short detox of processed food may help inspire you to make a cold-turkey change. I did this with my skin-clearing detox years ago (it really worked in just 3 days!) and it helped see a quick visible change. I'd wanted to and made gradual changes for years but the snap decision to change and cut all processed food from my life was quick and strongly desired. I haven't looked back.

2. Change Your Mindset. It's About Addition, Not Deprivation. 

Browse vegan/healthy websites, books, blogs, and YouTube channels. Google recipes and vegan options in your city. There's so much to try, it's really all about seeing the positive. It's not above all the stuff you're depriving yourself of but rather all the yummy new options. This was my #1 motivation- I get to eat ample goodness and get healthier for it? Sign. Me. Up.

3. Start with substitutions for your favorites to satisfy, not deny, cravings.

I offered the lady asking for help a sample of our scrumptious aged cheddar cheese and she was ecstatic, it hit the spot. There are healthy substitutes for everything you could imagine, I enjoy the challenge of making former "unhealthy" favs from nutritious whole ingredients. When I first started my journey I switched my beloved hamburgers for frozen veggie burgers. Still not ideal, but a step in the right direction. Now I don't need or crave either.

4.  Plan Ahead: Keep Your House Stuffed Full of Food and Cook Ahead of Time.

Plan your grocery list, meals, and snacks and keep your kitchen stuffed with healthy options so you're full and happy and you won't want to go off the rails. I love having nuts and dried fruit for on-the-go and I'll even make smoothies ahead of time and pour them into bottles with a funnel to enjoy in the mornings when I spend the night at my boyfriend's house.

5. EAT. Never Deprive Nutrients or Calories.

Ah ha, the fun part! I suspected my cheese-craving visitor may not be eating enough as a busy mom. When you have a nutritional deficit your body makes up for it by screaming for a high calorie food source like cheese. Get in the "good" calories guilt-free and eat a nutritionally balanced diet to help calm the screaming food beast within.

Cravings can be crushed with good planning and the right mindset. I know you can do it! I'll continue to share many healthy alternatives to your old favorites. (The much requested salad dressings and deserts are 'a comin'!) Food is not the enemy, it's our fuel. Just try to get in more of the "real" stuff that nourishes, energizes and heals you from a cellular level inside and out.

Got any tips for staying on track I've left out? Let me know in the comments. I have a beginner's fitness journey to share in the coming months, too. Let's help each other get healthy!

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Graphic Designer Team's Refined, Budget Home: Modern Thrifter's Mid Century Casa

Trish & Patrick are a graphic designer team with an adorable family and an amazing eye. They blog about organizing and refining their mid century modern home with low-cost and creative projects over at Modern Thrifter. Having peeked at glimpses of their gorgeous home for years,  I had to see if they were game for a home feature. Luckily, they let us in and shared some helpful tips along the way:

Occupants: Trish & Patrick, our two kids ages 9 and 7, and our dog Tooey.
Professions: Graphic Designers
Location: Seattle
Square Feet: 1800 sf
Space Type: House
Years Occupied: 5

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 
I'm a part-time designer and thrifter and a full-time mom living in Seattle with my husband (also a designer), my two quirky and amazing kids, and our new rescue dog. We bought our 1970s house five years ago, and are in the slow process of restoring and updating it after about 20 years of neglect. 

Love this still life. Can I have those monsters? Please? + Dear god, aren't they a pretty couple?

What type of creative work do you do? 
My profession is graphic design and illustration ( but I also enjoy interior design, party planning, making costumes, and all sorts of other crafty things. I only wish there was more time in the day! (Van's Note: Black and white illustration earlier in the post is done by their studio! I may need to hire this team someday, incredible style!)

Define your Style: Simple and modern. I love mid-century modern, but I also love new design. My default is white space, but I'm working on finding a balance between empty and cozy. I think it will be an ongoing process.

I'm trying to find the same balance, it's tricky. But I love the challenge. How about a favorite thrifted find? 
Not exactly thrifted, but I'd say our George Mulhauser chair that we picked up on craigslist. I've always been a fan of the Eames lounge chair, but I'd never really heard of Mulhauser. While his designs are heavily influenced by the Eames', he added a lot of unique details that I've fallen in love with. I especially like his tufted Mr. Chair, and the bentwood bases that most of his chairs have. 

If you can get past the adorable animal...see the awesome fireplace described below?

Favorite House Feature: The fireplace. The roof was in bad shape when we bought the house and our realtor told us that when we replaced it, it would be a good time to tear out the fireplace. We looked at him like he was crazy! We love it and would never dream of getting rid of it.

Biggest Challenge: Lighting. We have so many windows, but they almost all face north so we don't get any direct sunlight. With wood tongue and groove ceilings and our gloomy Seattle winters, it is pretty dark in here. After our first winter in the house, I made the brave decision to paint the almost black wood floors white, and I have no regrets!

Love the organization tips an ideas for a family with kids. 

Visitor's Reactions: People are amazed at how many trees we have surrounding us. Even though our house is on a busy street, it's set down on a hillside and is almost completely encompassed by huge douglas fir trees. When you come in through the front door you see out all of the windows on the other side of the living room and it is green in every direction.

Biggest Embarrassment: The carpet downstairs. It is super low-end beige carpet that was here when we bought the house, and it is in pretty bad shape. We have a room that we intended to be our office that now functions more as a mudroom/project room/storage area and the carpet is particularly bad in there due to some art mishaps. Also, we just got a dog, so yeah, I think I need to rip it all out and set fire to it.

Proudest DIY: Probably my white floors. Painting them was such a pain, but it was really worth it. They've been white for four years now, and they are just now starting to show wear (mostly scuffs and scratches in the high traffic spots) so I know they could use another coat to freshen them up. We are also working on building a fence outside, so when that's finished, it might take the top spot on my proudest DIY list.

Biggest Indulgence: Our Blu Dot Stilt Lamp. I love all of Blu Dot's furniture, but most is out of my budget. Patrick and I both fell in love with the stilt floor lamp so it was our Christmas gift to each other a few years ago.

Best Money-Saving Move: Eat at home. It's amazing how quickly money flies out of my wallet when I start to feel too busy to cook a good dinner. I try to plan a week's worth of meals at a time and limit my grocery shopping to once or twice each week (ideally, once, but I always forget a few things).

Best Advice: Be patient. People are often amazed at how much of our household comes from the thrift store, but it has taken us years of thrifting and craigslist scouring. 

Top Three Thrifting Tips:

1.) Don't be afraid to walk out empty-handed. This is a hard one for me because I love the thrill of a good find. Sometimes, there's just nothing there for me, and if I try to fill that emotional high I come home with something I don't need.

2.) Go often - I go to my favorite thrift store once a week and I usually block off an hour or two to comb through the goods. I also donate items there and every few times I get a 30% coupon. I save those for bigger items.

3.) Examine things thoroughly* - I’ve learned this the hard way. After bringing home tables with wobbly legs that refuse to tighten, kitchen items with broken handles, and an enameled tea kettle with a burnt bottom, I’ve had my share of disappointments. Make sure you plug in appliances and lamps at the store, check clothing items for holes, and examine the sturdiness of furniture pieces. Know what your skill level is for fixing items, as well as how much time you’ll have to commit to projects. Sometimes things get purchased with the best intentions only to sit in a corner collecting dust, awaiting that coat of paint or those new knobs.

*Van's Note: YES! Good advice I keep learning the hard way. I leave so  much more behind now that I did several years back. Even if it's free, no point getting something you can't use or feasibly fix it.

Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful home and awesome tips with us, Trish! I'm envious of those mod scores you nabbed and your stunning home.

What's your favorite element of the Modern Thrifter Casa? I can't pick...seriously.. too much to like here
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Let Me Take You to Paradise. Caracoles in Puerto Rico, A Tiny Island Fantasy

Another favorite stop on my recent Puerto Rican adventure was Caracoles (literally, coral.) It ties with my swim in a giant waterfall as favorite life adventures. Caracoles (literally, coral) is a tiny "island" group you can reach by boat. It's off the coast from the La Paguera nature preserve; where you can see one of the wonders of the world, a bioluminescent bay where the water illuminated on moonless nights by dinoflagellate plankton. It's one of the three most famous bays to see this anomaly. All three bays  are in Puerto Rico. We didn't get to see the bio-bay as planned but I thoroughly enjoyed the tiny island Fantasy that was Caracoles regardless. (See the bay here, though. Amazing!)

The boat guided us through natural mangrove habitats. Entering this particular canopied spot was incredible, I'd never seen anything like it.

There was a school for Marine Biology and dozens of charming, colorful houses situated right on the water. There were boats parked in their...driveways? Waterways? Could you imagine living like this? Surrounded by crystal clear, blue water, scenic mountains behind you? Blissful. The mountains are looking a bit dry here, reflecting a recent drought. I'll share the houses in a future post, they were gorgeous.

Several iguana were chilling in front of the Marine Biology school, I had to snap some shots.

Our guide used a net to catch a couple of giant starfish for us to hold along the way, too. Such beautiful beasties. I can't resist photographing nearly every animal I see like a crazy creature stalker.

Here we are arriving at Caracoles, the island paradise! A Dream come true. I had to "take you with me" even if my filming skills are shoddy. Looking up cameras for filming, open to recommendations. (E-mail me if you have any.) If you are reading this post via e-mail, click through to see the videos.

There is no true "shore" at Caracoles, there are two tiny Mangrove islands with a tiny bank where you can set your things. There are no bathrooms or amenities. The boat leaves, and it's just you, fellow adventurers, the tiny tree-covered islands, and the crystal-clear water to enjoy. Bring water shoes to avoid being cut by rocks or coral as you explore.

Salsa and regeaton music was in the air. I love this guy carrying sound equipment to the island to get the party started in style. Uh..what is that? Where did he plug it in if it has a cord? Ha!

A swift, bad video above (click through to the post if you're reading this post via e-mail) to give you an idea of what it was like on the little island. It's worse than Cloverfield, sorry, guys, I need practice with video. I desperately want to do more. 

They say the Southern part of Puerto Rico (where my family lives) gives you a taste of the real culture, locals, and sights. Random drives can take you to dozens of completely undisturbed, empty beaches to enjoy. I want to see Old San Juan again in the North and other more touristy spots but I'm grateful to always enjoy the"real" Puerto Rico with every visit. Give La Paguera a visit if you ever find yourself plotting a trip to The Island of Enchantment. Experiencing Caracoles was like something from a movie, it reminded me of Gilligan's Island (ironically, there's a Gilligan's Island in Puerto Rico) or Castaway.

The boat came to pick us up and take us back to the shore, and reality, too soon!

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