Sunday, November 16, 2014

Adventures in Jewelry Rental

(NOT a sponsored post. I'm not big-time enough for those).

My friend Lindsi sent me a link to try Rocksbox for free for a month — it's basically a jewelry rental place that sends you curated (?) boxes of jewelry that you can try out, return if you want to exchange, but if you like it. Each box comes with 3 pieces designed to be worn together, and since I don't wear rings, mine has a bracelet, earrings, and necklace.

It's kind of fun to get the boxes, because they are super cute:

At first I was not bowled away by any of the pieces, but I liked stretching my usual, rather conservative, jewelry choices. Patrick has especially liked me wearing bigger earrings.

I really liked the statement necklace they just sent, and I have gotten a lot of compliments on it. But, even at the "member discounted" rate of $40, it's more than I could justify spending right now.

So yesterday, I had some Herberger's coupons, and managed this knock-off basically for free (I had a $35 coupon, this was $33.20, so I added a pair of socks to get both for a grand total of $2.18).

It's not perfect, but I am pretty proud of both my bargain abilities and of my pushing the envelope a little stylewise.

Rocksbox has some deal good through today (November 16) only, where you can get a free month if you use my code. It's I think I get a $25 purchase credit if you become a member, though I'm not sure I'll stick around that long.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


(I hadn't originally planned a post on frugality on the day after the election. But it just came out this morning. Hmmm….)

The other thing that has been making me happy lately is re-using things. The other day my awesome friend Sarah gave us several bags of her daughter's hand-me-downs, and Beatrix looks awesome right now in a new-to-her outfit. Last night, I hung "new" curtains in the guest room, also passed down, that make it look 100x more polished an put together.

I have also become part of several neighborhood Buy/Sell/Trade boards on Facebook (including starting one in our neighborhood, which you should join if that's where you live!) Through those boards, I have managed to sell many things I no longer need, like a one piece at a time garage sale. It amazes me the things that people are crazy about, and the ones they pass up. But my "magic milk box" usually yields a few dollars a day when I put things out for people to pick up, and it adds up fast!

At the same time, I have been able to get great things off of those boards — a skirt I get compliments on, a lovely small table, some free eggplant — all while building community. Each board has its own characteristics and people, who you get to "know." Some want a deal, some want the challenge of the hunt, some are truly dedicated to a zero-waste lifestyle.

It's been a year where I have become much more dedicated to re-use, and our lives all the better for it as well!

Sunday, November 2, 2014


I'm feeling intensely grateful today. For a hot minute I thought about doing a post-a-day kind of thing in November to highlight all the things I am grateful about, but who am I kidding that I would keep that schedule up. So here, in no particular order, are just a few things I am grateful for:

-  My friend Tracy, who offered to carpool to ballet yesterday. We brought her daughter there, and then she brought Beatrix home, but not before taking her out to Bread & Chocolate for a treat. Beatrix now things that Tracy is the best mom in the world, but hey, she is probably right. And thanks to that carpooling, I for several small paint touch-up projects completed.

-  Soup. My friends Erica and Joe host a Soup Swap every year. Everyone brings six quarts of soup, and collects and trades with others. So now our freezer is full of delicious soup. Honestly, anything that can make dinner less of a chore in our household is welcome (and even more so to Patrick the usual chef).

-  Cleaning teamwork. Today we spent hours and hours cleaning Summit to within an inch of its life, the kind of deep clean it really needed and has not had in forever. I mentioned that cleaning that house made me a little sad, because it also reminded me of All The Things we need to do over there. But at least this was one big step to making it better, and we were a fantastic team. (And over here we also got a lot of Beatrix's clothes cleaned through, finished the paint touch-ups, cleaned up her playroom, listed — and sold — several things on neighborhood Buy/Sell/Trade boards, and did laundry.) That extra hours is golden.

-  My pack-rat tendencies. Tonight we relaxed by watching some Rehab Addict, and Patrick always laughs and says the reason that Nicole and I get along so well is that we are always saving and re-using things. But recently, we pulled some of my old toys out of the attic at Summit, and Beatrix has LOVED playing with them. It makes me really happy.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Discovering Neighborhoods

As a born and bred Saint Paulite (with some time away to appreciate it!), I would say that I know the city pretty well. And I am pretty solid on most Minneapolis neighborhoods as well, aseptically after my time working for the Neighborhood Revitalization Project. (now, if you get into Maple Grove or something I'm lots, don't even ask me to go there).

But lately, I've been getting more familiar with neighborhoods I knew only fleetingly before, and it has been fascinating.

This summer, I started to get involved with several neighborhood Facebook groups. Hamline-Midway, just to the north of us, has several interesting groups — a neighborhood one, a Buy/Sell/Trade Group, a craft group, a foodie group, and even a preservation one devoted to saving the historic homes around Hamline University. As such, I have gotten to know several people in that neighborhood, and driven around it a lot picking things up, and also checking out such gems as Burning Brothers Brewing. It's a really charming area, full of cute in-the-process-of-renovating houses, funky/fun people, and lots or urban amenities like parks and bikeways. Hamline-Midway, I'm sorry if I discounted you before!

A similar kind of vibe exists in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis. We have spent a lot of time this fall at Junket, which is a great store that we love as much as Beatrix does (and they have had some greta craft nights!). There are several secondhand stores near there that are a lot of fun to go to. Today, Beatrix and I headed over to Off-Leash Area's "Garage Tour" in that neighborhood, and had so much fun. Plus, I have notices that there is a preponderance of Little Free Libraries there, so they are doing something right.

My heart still belongs to "my" core neighborhoods of Summit-University and Mac-Groevland, but it sure is nice to be getting much more familiar with some new ground!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Restock

One of the things I love so much to see if people restocking Little Free Libraries. Today, as I was coming home from taking Beatrix to school, I saw a man with a backpack restocking the one at the end of our street. Someone just filled ours up with some great novels, too, so head on over!

I have a small stack of books here at home from people who have given me library items. i also have, thanks to my friend Katherine's generosity, a new kindle, plus a back-up.

People who love books are awesome!

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Beatrix has taken violin for a little over a year, but this year she added piano through weekly "Project Cheer" lessons near us. So it seemed time to get a piano, and so yesterday we got this. It was given to us, and seems to fit our space perfectly. I am reminded that the original owner of our home, Sarah Chapin, had a daughter who also lived in the house and taught piano.

After it was delivered, we headed off the the Art Crawl, which included taking in a performance at Nautilus Music Theater, going through many studios in the Northern Warehouse, and seeing a few minutes of "Arrivals and Departures" projected on the Union Depot by Motionpoems. Wonderful, art-filled night!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Real vs. Virtual

We may think that much of our life can get handled in a global way, with online resources. But a couple of things in the last day have proved that wrong, at least for me.

On September 30, thanks to a coupon code from a friend, I decided to try out Gwynnie Bee (basically, a clothing rental place, you pay a monthly fee and they send you outfits which you can either wear and return or buy). I have to say, I am not impressed. The selection is not great; what's more, I am on the low end of the size range, and often things I want are unavailable. Clothes that are in banner pics are not actually available. It took over a week (or a 4 week trial period) to get my first outfit — and what a disappointment that was! It reeked of dry cleaning fluids, I put it on and immediately took it off — it looked terrible. (I replaced it with a maxi skirt, tee shirt, and cardigan for a much-more-casual-than-planned outfit, and still looked 100x better). I have another couple of weeks on the membership and things are "in my closet" so I will give it another chance, but I am not thrilled.

So, as a much better alternative, may I suggest Poppy? It's a great locally owned place on St. Clair and Snelling. The owner, Jill, has a fantastic sense of style and will always work with you to find the best possible alternative, all at reasonable prices. Head to her sale tomorrow (10/10) and not only are all sweaters 15% off, but there is a fun atmosphere with a bar and snacks at night. And tell her I sent you (and that I should have gone there instead of trying some dumb online thing).

Then, as I went up to finish my book yesterday, I realized that my Kindle was dead (I am pretty sure Beatrix stepped on it, but it's my first electronic breakage casualty so far, so I can't be too annoyed, and hey, it's DARK in the mornings!)

Amazon was nice enough, and offered me a slight discount on a new one, but there was not much they could do really, and with property taxes due next week and the unsuccessful dog vet bills still lingering on the credit card, I just could not pay for a new one anyway. But then Patrick connected in with his (virtual) Twitter network — to find a real-life solution where someone is giving him their old one. So once again, a person could do what a company cannot.

1)  2nd shipment from Gwynnie Bee equally disappointing — fir a little better but still not well, and the dress was in bad shape (pilling and stretched out). Plus their website is glitchy. Not impressed.
2)  Patrick has some leads, but still no Kindle. Went out to our Little Free Library last night to see if anyone had left anything interesting, but the only one I had not read was "How to Build Decks." I won't ruin the cliffhanger ending for you.