Frequenting the Thrift Store

Lately I’ve been reading Myquillyn Smith’s book and blog, and one of her recommendations for hitting gold at the thrift store is to actually go on a regular basis.

With the holidays approaching, I thought it might be good to see what low-cost treasures I could find, and since I’ve been working on decluttering my garage, I thought making a weekly trip to drop off a box (or five) of goods and then scour the store for some new ones might be a good experiment.

The ladies who work at the store have teased me for leaving with new stuff when I just dropped off a box or two of old stuff. And I admit: It might seem counter-intuitive to talk about thrift store shopping on a blog about minimalism—but even though there’s a lot of stuff I aim to get rid of, there are some things I want to acquire and replace too. And searching for those items in the thrift store is one of (at least I think) the most ethical ways to go about doing that.

Anyway, I’ve been really happy with some of the stuff I’ve found, including:

  • baskets for holiday gift baskets
  • cloth napkins (I’d been wanting more of these for months!)
  • bathroom scale (our old one broke, and this “new”—very old school—one doesn’t require batteries)
  • clothes for my ever-growing toddler
  • chalk (for our chalkboard fridge; we were mostly down to chalk nubs)
  • prenatal yoga DVD (I’d been considering taking a $20/session class, but then found this DVD for about $1—win!)
  • classical music CDs (something I’ve been wanting for YEARS)

Another good thing about going to the thrift store frequently is that you start to get a sense of what they carry. I’ve learned that there is no reason I should ever buy a brand new vase or woven basket again because the thrift store has an abundance of these items. I went to another thrift store near my house yesterday and discovered they even carry fabric remnants—cool! But I never would have guessed it.

What are some lucky, unexpected finds you’ve had while thrift store-shopping?

Sweet Imperfectionism

I had always thought of myself as a perfectionist but realized this weekend that I’m actually not. I was reading a recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (If these sound tantalizing to you, please make them: you won’t be disappointed!), which suggested that perfectionists ought to pipe the dough into circular molds for “picture perfect” cookies.

I chuckled to myself. What a hassle! Piping?? Did I want to make the cookies, or did I want to daydream about how beautiful my cookies might be if I could ever summon the willpower to

  1. purchase piping supplies, and then
  2. bother learning how to use them?

This was an easy decision, and my very picture-imperfect (but totally delicious) cookies are featured at the top of this post.

Anyway, the experience led me to think some about why I’d considered myself a perfectionist to begin with. I think it has to do with fear—fear of the judgement of others, as well as the fear of having to face the hard truth that I might not be as good at some things as I’ve imagined myself to be.

I’ve never struggled with perfectionism in baking because it’s never something I’ve professed myself to be good at—even though it’s something I’ve enjoyed doing since I was a teenager. I’ve always managed to laugh at my cakes that crumble straight out of the pan, my too-flat cookies, and my muffins that adhere to their wrappings. My baking philosophy: If it tastes good, no big deal, right? That’s the POINT of baking.

But with other things—improving my house, releasing a song into the world, working on a novel—I get so hung up on my idea of how good it “ought to” turn out (because I have professed myself to be a “creative” person), that I rarely get around doing to those things. Even though they’re supposed to (so says imagination) be the things I’m “good at.”

I’m not going to make any declarations today about how I’m going to translate the picture-imperfect cookies lesson to other areas of my life, but it’s something I plan on letting simmer in my brain. And when I notice perfectionism rearing her shrill-voiced head, I hope to start asking myself, “What is it that you’re afraid of here?”

Today I decluttered my desktop.

And I don’t mean the top of my desk. I mean the one that sits on my computer monitor when I log in at work each morning.

Last night I had logged into my work computer from home, and when I got in this morning my zillions of desktop icons were all rearranged alphabetically into three unfriendly columns—so I spent some time setting them a-right.

After I was done I realized that every time I use a VPN connection I’ll have to do the same thing over again.

Not my idea of Good Morning.

I got started deleting. Goodbye shortcuts I never use! Goodbye folders full of documents I never open! If you are pinned to my taskbar, you really don’t need to take up space on my desktop too.

I got rid of 18–20 icons.

Not a radical change, but next time I’ll need to do that much less reorganizing. Small victories.

(Image by Taduuda)