Mom Hack Secret: How We Save Big On Clothes (psst: filters aren’t just for selfies)

thredup 12

 This post is sponsored by thredUP.

One of the rules of being a grown-up woman is that you have to share your secrets with your friends. I mean, not all of them, but at least the ones that can help a sister out. Like, “For Pete’s sake, Mary. It’s called dry shampoo–get some.” Okay, perhaps a gentler approach would be better. (“You’re beautiful, I love you, but Mary, you have your hands full and I noticed you don’t have time for showers. Here, I bought you something I thought you could use.”) All my best life hacks–the money savers, time savers, sanity savers–came from friends who have passed on their secrets. There’s that 2-minute eggroll-in-a-bowl recipe from Heidi, grocery shopping pick-up service tip from Lindsey, introduction to herb scissors from Nici, and the link to the best smoothie protein powder from my sister. Before I tell you one of my favorite money-saving life hacks, let me tell you that some tips can seem overwhelming at first. Like when my friend texted me a recipe for corn with Cotija cheese, and I got bent out of shape thinking it must be too complex a recipe because I can’t pronounce the cheese. Turns out, it was easy–and the corn recipe has been added to our favorite meal repertoire.

Which brings me to thredUP, the largest online consignment and thrift store–and we’re talking good stuff, our favorite brands and designers–for up to 90% off retail price. Corn with Cotija’s got nothin’ on it. I’ve blogged about thredUP before and am excited to have them back for a fall closet makeover. Have you shopped there? If you haven’t and don’t know where to start (stick around–there’s a 40% off code at the end for thredUP newbies!) or have but haven’t yet figured out how to find the good stuff, I’m going to dig in a little today on how I shop and find the best treasures for our family. Because thredUP has so many choices, it can feel overwhelming at first, but when you get the hang of how to use their filters, you’ll be hooked and so happy with how much money you save. I find great stuff for both me and the kids every time I shop thredUP, and several times I’ve found things I had actually been eyeing a year earlier in Anthropologie or in the Hanna Andersson catalogue.

Look at all these beauties I got from thredUP for fall! Anthropologie brands like Elevenses and Maeve, J Crew, Zara, Banana Republic, Vince jeans and more. If I paid full retail, this clothes line would have maybe two thion it, for what I paid for all of them. And I can mix and match all of them to create 20 different outfits from 7 items.

 photo print 130_zpscqmcvbe2.jpg

 photo print 133_zpsmdforjov.jpg

There’s a couple different ways to use thredUP. I usually start with a few minutes of “fun shopping” like I would if I walked in to one of my favorite stores. thredUP’s home page is super engaging with categories that usually lead me to great things (boho chic trends, pops of color dresses, etc.) just by browsing. Plus, if you shop there regularly, the site gets to know you better, saving your sizes and styles so that top picks for you pop up on the home screen–and they’re always spot on. Which is why those gorgeous vintage-looking Coach ankle boots popped up yesterday and I was all, “Damn you, thredUP!” (size 9, someone take them so they quit tempting me).

 photo print 135_zpsacohsr5v.jpg

After a few minutes of fun clicking around, I use their magic filters to find more specific things I want–styles (wide leg jeans, maxi skirt, kids’ overalls, booties), brands (J.Crew, Anthropologie, Free People, Milly, Hanna Andersson, Mini Boden, etc.), sizes, colors and even specific things like 3/4 length sleeves, leg width, STRIPES!, etc. Once I set the magic filters, I get a nice curated selection of beautiful things to choose from. And the best part? Secondhand prices! Every item thredUP sells is triple-inspected by hand to ensure the highest quality and styles, and very often you’ll find brand new, never-worn items, tags still attached.

Once you make your selections and order, the real magic happens. Your items are neatly folded, packaged in thredUP’s signature polka-dot packaging, and shipped (free shipping on qualified orders) to where you wait, patiently, for the mail worker to ring your doorbell and make your day a little happier (are package days not the best?!).

 photo thredup1_zpsc7mmxy5i.jpg

 photo thredup2_zpstefyb3mx.jpg

Let’s talk about what I found this fall because that’s where I get all excited.

First, these Anthro Elevenses wide-leg jeans. The buttons! I love them so much. Retail: $119. thredUP price? $27.99, baby. That’s 75% savings–$90 in my pocket. The black high-neck shirt is also thredUP–H&M–and thredUP price: $4.99.

 photo print 147_zpsw8jstzau.jpg

Same shirt here with this gorgeous Maeve skirt (another Anthropologie brand) which is the perfect color to bridge the summer/fall gap. Retail price, $89. thredUP price: $18.99

 photo print 159_zpsjys9zcpn.jpg

But wait, the Kelsi Dagger Brooklyn boots. These babies couldn’t have been worn but once (if that?). Saved $82 buying them thredUP. That’s definitely worth reporting to the husband because husbands love hearing about how much you didn’t spend.

 photo print 156_zpswvrmcuqi.jpg

I hate spending retail on sweaters and cold-weather items because we don’t get a whole lot of wear in Florida, but we do get our cold fronts and with a little bit of cooler-temp travel, I need a few pieces. Plus, you know I love my seasons and come late October, I will play the part to satisfy my heart even if I’m sweltering. This Banana Republic sweater will do the trick–retail, $78; thredUP, $22.99. And the Vince skinny jeans! They’re perfect and retail for $195, but I got them on thredUP for $38.99.

 photo thredup4_zpsfptyisnm.jpg

Kids’ shopping on thredUP is equally fun (stretch your Back to School budget!), and I never fail to find our favorite brands. I fell in love with this Hanna Andersson dress for Nella (saved $22) and these adorable H&M overalls for $11.99.

 photo thredup 14_zpsvtw9uk9y.jpg

 photo thredup 13_zpsx2hrckpm.jpg

So here’s what I have for you: If you’ve never shopped thredUP, they’re offering our readers a special discount! The first 100 people to use my code KELLE40 will get an extra 40% off their first order! (Applies to new US customers only. Redeemable online only. Discount up to $50). 

 photo print 140_zpsoouyozdr.jpg

There, I’ve shared a life hack. I won’t tell you now about the fitted sheet folding trick I finally mastered because I can’t let all the good tips out at once.

 photo print 142_zps55be3dqi.jpg

Summer in Chicago

print 22

Happy Friday! We start school next week, and as much as I’ll miss these slow mornings, I’m ready to get back into a more productive schedule. This is the first year that I’ll have every weekday morning to myself, and I’m excited about what I’ll get done during that time. I know. You’re laughing, right? Those of you who also once thought that everyday morning preschool would suddenly mean you’ll have time to work out, paint a room, organize your pantry, clean up your e-mail box, write two chapters and throw together a crock-pot meal? You’re on the floor, right? I’m going to drop them off at school, run to the grocery store, look at the clock and realize it’s pick-up time already, aren’t I? Wait, don’t tell me.

Whatever the case, here are our last bits of adventures away this summer. We weren’t planning on visiting Chicago, but when it was getting closer to leave, we were all craving a good dose of big city excitement after a month long hibernation in a small town.

 photo print 2_zps5jpkxqcz.jpg

 photo print 21_zpsdpbukovq.jpg

Plus, we have cousins there, and Lainey was hoping to get some time with her bud. A little out of our way, but so worth it. Chicago at Christmastime is still my favorite, but there isn’t a bad time for this city, and summer delivered some of the best adventures Chicago has to offer kids–Maggie Daley park, Navy Pier, a symphony in Grant Park and the splash pad at Crown Fountain.

 photo print 37_zpsbege0uyz.jpg

But first, the most important attraction…revolving doors.

 photo print 79_zps74luqo2l.jpg

My lord, the little ones were obsessed. I mean, it became a problem. Like every time we passed a revolving door (which is pretty much every door in Chicago), they’d dart to spin through them before I could stop them. Around and around and around. Which is fine if around lands them back outside where I was with the stroller. But then there was that one time they went in the 4-story Forever 21 revolving doors and then took off on the inside. And I couldn’t chase them because my stroller wouldn’t go in the door (the attempt was funny). And the handicap access door wasn’t working. And I set Lainey loose to chase them, but she came back to the entrance (after 6 people helped me get in the door) and reported she couldn’t find them. And I started to hyperventilate until I heard giggling and saw feet sticking out of a rack of festival dresses.

Moral of the story: NO MORE REVOLVING DOORS.

 photo print 80_zpsgpoyhbpp.jpg

But Magnolia cupcakes and Garrett popcorn…a big resounding YES.

 photo print 27_zpsskqmeiyf.jpg

 photo print 10_zpsoikvqnzt.jpg

Nella loved how the city provided the perfect stage for her wand act.

 photo print 16_zpsp8ntnwxc.jpg

And we could not get over the fabulousness of Maggie Daley Park. It was like an entire village of play buried in the heart of the city.

 photo print 52_zps4vvqzc2y.jpg

Every time we thought we had seen it all, we turned a corner and there was another attraction. Oh, a lighthouse slide. Oh, a magical forest of mirrors. A climbing rock wall, a skate rink, a giant city of bridges and slides.

 photo print 50_zpsk3uae2pc.jpg

 photo print 44_zpsgcstfbhj.jpg

 photo print 53_zpsrdrq0sf4.jpg

We also got lucky and happened to be in the park just as an orchestra performance was beginning.

 photo print 55_zps7ho1pnjq.jpg

 photo print 54_zpsexcnai6d.jpg

And while we had planned to visit the Museum of Science and Industry (one of my favorites as a kid), it was just too beautiful a weekend to be spending time inside. So we did all the outdoor things…

 photo print 32_zps6uczfhsz.jpg

 photo print 34_zps0ntnlagt.jpg

 photo print 28_zpsfuxuebfv.jpg

…and were lucky to meet up with cousins, friends and Brett’s sister, not to mention discover that half of the people we know just happened to be in the city at the same time. We actually bumped in to our babysitter at Pizano’s, I got a text from my niece that she was at a hotel a few blocks away, and received messages on Instagram from three different friends that they were in the city too. Which just proves what I already knew: Chicago is awesome.

 photo print 19_zps4ymohuyr.jpg photo print 5_zpsoy7juell.jpg

 photo print 6_zpsefuxdvf5.jpg

That lady behind Nella thinks so too.

 photo print 14_zpsugviwlnz.jpg

 photo print 24_zpszdvl58he.jpg

Ice cream street vendors came in handy for the hot day. So did Aunt Trish who had cash when Mom didn’t.

 photo print 39_zpsgx7uithu.jpg

 photo print 41_zpsz9y1d0oe.jpg

 photo print 56_zpsb5a6akex.jpg

 photo print 57_zpsmiqk7kvv.jpg

We snagged my cousin’s little girl for our last day there and spent most of it at Navy Pier which was the cherry on our summer sundae after already experiencing lake life and cabin sleepovers.

 photo print 59_zpsejy8kizf.jpg

 photo print 60_zpsym8tzmas.jpg

 photo print 61_zpscna5qsrk.jpg

 photo print 62_zpsfiat0cm2.jpg

Nella made some huge milestones this summer. She’s been terrified of ferris wheels and wanted nothing to do with them but decided to give it a shot this time. LOVED it.

 photo print 66_zpsshgwcyoq.jpg

 photo print 68_zpszdpdk04y.jpg

 photo print 69_zpsnmzn7buu.jpg

She got off and went right for another ride she had yelled “NO!” to when we first arrived. Loved that one too.

 photo print 71_zpswcxvvwup.jpg

Even put her arms up.

 photo print 73_zpsbbdlfvbn.jpg

 photo print 75_zpsc5pp47lc.jpg

 photo print 70_zpsc4qfrmii.jpg

And just when we were ready to fold up all this summer and get ready for school next week, Nella surprised us again yesterday. She learned how to swim, thanks to her sister and friend who stayed in the pool with her over an hour, coaxing her through her fears. She swam like a confident little fish.

 photo print 76_zps8gos8tml.jpg

Happy Weekend, friends!  Let the games begin.

About That Summer Bucket List

print 30

We rolled in from Michigan late last week, and by rolled, I mean after seven days on the road and four stops, I pulled in to the driveway with three obnoxious honks, pushed the magic minivan door button, and the entire contents of the Earth spilled out.

It feels good to be home. The intersection of post-summer-adventuring and pre-back-to-school always ignites a mad burst of nesting for me, aroused by being away from home for so long and scraping up all these little “living” inspirations we’ve collected on our travels–the way my sister’s cozy bathroom makes me feel at home, the way my dad’s entertaining makes me want to beef up my cheese plate game, the way the little home shops on Mackinac Island give me new ideas for my kids’ rooms or enjoying a big family dinner around my friend Tali’s table in Nashville makes me want to pour more nurturing and togetherness into our dinner routine.

While we’ve said our goodbyes to our beloved Michigan and transitioned back into our home routine, there’s one summer treasure I’ve committed to keeping around though…the Summer Bucket List.

It started as an enthusiastic attempt to celebrate the last day of school. While speakers blared Alice Cooper screaming “School’s Out for Summer!” and kids ran to get their bathing suits, I smoothed out a white paper roll, grabbed a fistful of markers and started to create the list I had no idea would inspire our summer fun as much as it did. Any simple summer pleasure I could think of–“twirl in a sundress,” “walk through a corn field,” “buy a tourist t-shirt,” “paint nails a summery pink”–I added to the list, sketching fun corresponding pictures next to the check-off box. A couple pieces of tape later, and it was hanging in the main area of our home where we’d see it every day, reminded on all the stir-crazy summer days when we’re running out of ideas that there’s a whole world of little pleasures just waiting to make us happy.

 photo print 122_zpsy2ed86yo.jpg

When we left for Michigan, we took the list with us. It had gained significance as we realized those first few weeks of summer the role it was playing in guiding our adventures, so we referred to it as “The Holy Grail” and protected it with utmost care during the transfer to Michigan. “Put this in the ark of the covenant,” I instructed my cousin as I wrapped the roll in protective paper and handed it over for safe keeping on the road trip up. Once there, we found the perfect spot to display it–on a wall in my dad’s garden bunk house–and returned frequently to check off adventures we had “accomplished” and scan the list for more inspiration.

Because we took the time to write it on the list, we were a little more inspired to do spontaneous things like…

…pull over in the middle of nowhere to walk inside a corn field. Also known as “expose the kids to their first misdemeanor, trespassing.”

 photo print 41_zpstjag188j.jpg

 photo print 46_zpsw6i5nbwm.jpg

…or hit up a small town ice cream parlor for evening double-dip cones.

 photo print 39_zpsetjsfdgg.jpg

While the list wasn’t at all about creating pressure to check things off (Rule #1 of list-making–keep things simple!) and I made it a point to leave some things unchecked in the spirit of “the beauty of incomplete imperfection,” it did inspire us to enjoy some meaningful moments we might not have enjoyed otherwise. I had “lake swim at dusk” on the list and hadn’t checked it off near the end of our trip. I was going to let it go, but on one of the very last evenings in Michigan after the kids had fallen asleep (past dusk but I counted it), I thought “Do it, check it off”–grabbed a towel and flashlight and hollered to my dad, “I’m going for a swim.”

“At this time of night?” he asked.

“The most magical time to swim–it’s on the list, I’m checking it off.”

I’m so glad I did it because out there in the dark lake, floating alone on my back in the still water, I saw the stars like I’ve never seen them. I heard my heart as loud as it’s ever beat this year, and I felt the pulse of summer beating in perfect rhythm with my own. I memorized that feeling along with the pattern in the sky that night, the feeling of weightlessness, the intersection of complete peace in nature with the thrill of uncertainty–of not being able to see what’s around me. I swam underwater for as long as I could to make the satisfaction of coming up for deep breaths of summer night air even better, and when I had my fill, I climbed back on the dock, dried off and walked back to the cabin under the moon, stopping before climbing into bed only to pick up a marker and check that box off the summer bucket list.

The entire family had fun with the list:

“Mom, look! I caught this with my hand! This counts, right? We can cross it off the list!”

 photo print 9_zpsnpd3g1la.jpg

…and there were many a slow day that prompted Lainey running to see if there was something on the list we could attempt–heading to the movie theater on a rainy afternoon (loved it, check.), completing a large puzzle (so much fun! check.), writing vacation post cards to friends and sending them off (keep snail mail alive! check.).

But really, the list was for me–another living reminder that, in every place and in every season, there are invitations to find, create and love all that life has to offer.

 photo print 57_zps4wflfbbm.jpg

Find the hidden bookstores nestled in Main Streets across the country.

 photo print 49_zpsmrbmswjc.jpg

Stop at wildflower fields for pictures you’ll treasure later.

 photo print 36_zpsgkbzgolm.jpg

Buy pretty handkerchiefs. Hang them to dry.

 photo print 60_zpsuordnv2r.jpg

Walk to the dock in your pajamas; sip coffee until it’s cold.

 photo print 8_zps73gosnan.jpg

This summer brought a few moments of sad nostalgia, watching my kids growing and changing against a summer landscape I’ve always associated with their littleness…

 photo print 85_zpsftirowp5.jpg

 photo print 61_zpsqhbzfphm.jpg

…the dunes they were once too little to climb, so I carried them in a backpack…

 photo print 75_zpsairxryu0.jpg

 photo print 64_zpscy72o4q7.jpg

 photo print 68_zpsb8uowkax.jpg

…the tree stump they used to have to hold my hand to climb.

 photo print 11_zpsyvuanela.jpg

On one of the last days of our trip, it hit me that next year, our return to our summer Narnia and the petri dish where the most wonderful moments in the young golden period of motherhood for me have lived so favorably would be in a new season–with an official middle school student and my baby prepped for kindergarten. The spirit of this bucket list reminds me that it isn’t their littleness that makes me happy. It isn’t Michigan or summer or having a kid who still totes stuffed animals on our adventures (although, that’s perfectly lovely and heck yes, I get joy out of it)…

 photo print 58_zpsywfckqqq.jpg

It’s ME that makes me happy. It’s loving the season I’m in. It’s realizing that joy and all the simple pleasures of life that inspire me are not confined to specific seasons.

 photo print 70_zpsj9esytea.jpg

Which is why the Summer Bucket List lives on this year, now taking the form of “Weekly Bucket”–a list of simple pleasures that will inspire our week.

 photo print 83_zpsykoqgisk.jpg
(You can find our hanging paper roll here)

And before we completely transition into a new season, a little more from our summer…

 photo print 10_zpsgjstzzdv.jpg

On our last week in Michigan, my dad told me about a place he had heard of–some Wild West town a man had created, inspired by his love of John Wayne. “I bet Dash would love it,” he said. I put the address in my GPS, packed up the kids and drove out to find it–like 2-tracked in the middle of nowhere. The result? Such a fun adventure.

 photo print 18_zpsjuuc0ibb.jpg

It’s called Coopersville–completely free (donation-based), and there wasn’t a soul there on our visit–just me and the kids, walking through the saloon…

(I taught her how to do the dramatic Wild West bust-through-saloon-door move, sans gun) photo print 20_zpsj3zd2ilw.jpg

 photo print 23_zpsaemg8xex.jpg

…playing Cops & Robbers in the jail…

 photo print 17_zpsyq9fjbt8.jpg

 photo print 21_zpsqqdmld0w.jpg

…and hoppin’ on the stage coach for a quick getaway.

 photo print 15_zpssqm2gorq.jpg

 photo print 16_zps7bxiuysh.jpg

Everywhere we turned, there was another building to explore, completely set up like John Wayne just stepped out for a moment.

 photo print 12_zpsetd5ubqx.jpg

 photo print 13_zps5i1hkuz4.jpg

Dash loved the handcuffs.

 photo print 25_zpsylhy8a9h.jpg

(she’s skeptical of the gun shots we heard in the distance…hunters, I’m guessing…or the ghosts of cowboys.)

 photo print 27_zpsblzcu6ci.jpg

 photo print 28_zpsazhpp21o.jpg

 photo print 30_zps9u2w73wt.jpg

And we couldn’t leave Michigan without a visit to our favorite little town, Glen Arbor and Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Watching the kids spit cherries from the wine tasting deck:

 photo print 51_zpswcn867vj.jpg

 photo print 54_zpswqij2tuq.jpg

Bay Lavender Trading Company gardens:

 photo print 56_zpswpdrbzy0.jpg

From a Glen Arbor beach (this dog introduced himself by grabbing one of my kids’ stuffed animals and BOOKING across the beach with it):

 photo print 63_zpsg2nojt55.jpg

Those dunes though. We came later than we usually do and discovered that’s the way to do it–with the sun setting across the lake. It was breathtaking.

 photo print 76_zps3bnsumn0.jpg

We stayed for over four hours. I even offered for us all to go get ice cream, but the kids didn’t want to leave. They did nothing but climb and jump, climb and jump, climb and jump.

 photo print 66_zpslyxxnpel.jpg

 photo print 67_zpsjsdufwj3.jpg

And the amount of sand we collected stayed with us for days.

 photo print 74_zpseudawge4.jpg

 photo print 80_zpszs2ohkjr.jpg

 photo print 81_zpso6itahvr.jpg

Dash wiped out once, rolling down the hill, thought it was the funniest thing ever and then repeated the move about a hundred more times.

 photo print 84_zpsrr6o3mb8.jpg

 photo print 87_zpsi6yjudl4.jpg

 photo print 89_zpsbxtqpxcs.jpg

We ended our trip with a pontoon breakfast ride–a full pancake breakfast buffet with orange juice and coffee. Almost skipped it, but it was on the list and we went for it.

 photo print 90_zpskvafkknf.jpg

So glad we did.

 photo print 92_zpscmweck3p.jpg

 photo print 93_zpszsrsxkiw.jpg

Honorable mention for the unchecked items this year:

__  Buy corn from a Midwest farm stand.

__  Go Tubing (can’t do it all, and that’s fine).

__  Cracker Barrel Breakfast (needed some fun to take home–we’ll hopefully do it this week before school starts)

__  Family Slide Show with Old Pictures (still time–we’ve got this)

Everything we’ve loved about summer? It won’t end. Because all those joys are buried in other places throughout the year, waiting for us to discover it.

“August has passed, and yet summer continues by force to grow days. They sprout secretly between the chapters of the year, covertly included between its pages.” ―Jonathan Safran Foer

A knotty-pine lodge bar Cheers! to that.

 photo print 33_zps6a450l12.jpg