Monthly Archives: July 2014

The source of my favorite outfits (and $20 for you to spend)

I’ve been posting about a lot of heavy stuff recently–and thanks to everyone for all the encouraging comments you’ve left. You guys are wonderful! And today the day has come to post about something just inane and fun. Clothes!

I’ve always been a thrifter. From Plato’s Closet to Salvation Army to the gigantic Rummage sale I’ve been volunteering for (and shopping at!) for a few years, I can barely abide spending full price on an item.

I’ve talked about ThredUp before, but I’m going to talk about it again–so brace yourselves! (part of the reason is because I just got a link that gives you $20 of free money to shop with, or a code that gets you 40% off if it’s your first order).

Basically, ThredUp is an online consignment store. You can use it to sell your old (like-new) clothes by ordering a free clean-out bag, filling it with stuff, and sending it to ThredUp (for free). They will pay you up front for all the “normal” items they accept (high end designer pieces are on a consignment structure instead). You can then cash that money out into your checking account and use it to buy two dozen lattes at Starbucks, or you can use it to shop on their site . . . which is normally the option I take.

You can also earn referral money–$10 for everyone you refer who places an order (so if you join by using my link you not only get $20 but you’re also basically giving me free clothes–thanks!! =)

Let me tell you why shopping on their site is so awesome.

You don’t just go on and randomly browse through random stuff while feeling frustrated that the awesome dress that made your heart go pitter pat is actually an XXS and you couldn’t fit in it to save your life: you can filter by size.

Or you can sort by wardrobe part: pants. Within pants, you can filter so you just get skinny leg denim for example. Or within jeans, so you just get jeggings–the level of detail at which you can break it down is quite impressive.

You can also add brand filters. So I can easily hop on and see all Banana Republic and Gap skinny leg jeans that are a size small or medium, (or 27 or 28, or 4 and 6–all options are available). Like dees:


If you already know your exact size for a given brand, this makes it really easy to find stuff that will probably look good.

Or you can browse their little boy clothes sizes 12m through 2T, and send a gift package of baby clothes to your friend who just had a baby (their smallest size is 12m–but babies grow!). Seriously–what a fun gift to send when you can’t make it to a baby shower in person!

They have maternity wear, too–next time I have a bun in the oven (Lord willing) I know where I’m headed for those extra long camis I wore day in and day out when I was pregnant with Alice.

My sister Erica and I even looked at cardigans together one time. She’s in Arizona, I’m in Chicago–but for a brief 10 minutes it was almost like we were on a shopping date together . . . almost. Ok, not really, because if we were actually together I’d be having a sugar crash in the Target dressing room and we’d be laughing uncontrollably, but it was still fun.

Another plus: ThredUp has awesome customer service. Once, they sent me a pair of leggings that the website said were Banana Republic, but instead were Rockin’ Republic. Hey, everyone makes mistakes. When I brought this to their attention, they immediately sent me a prepaid label to return the item (which I used to return a number of other things as well).

And one time, I placed an order. About an hour later got an email with a coupon from them for 20% off my purchase. “Ack!” I exclaimed while hitting my forehead on my desk repeatedly. The timing . . . the timing! So I emailed their Support Team saying “um . . . could you apply this 20% off to an order I just placed like an hour ago?”

They were like, “Yes! No problemo!”

and I was like, “Wow.”

I don’t know another company that would do that for you.

Which brings me to returns. Over half the things I order don’t fit right or I don’t end up liking. So being ready to make a return is a must if you’re going to have a happy experience. Returning things is easy: you have 30 days. You print a paper from their website showing what items from your order you’re sending back. If you order via their phone app, you get a prepaid (i.e., free) return label. If you don’t order via the phone app, you do have to return stuff the normal way and make a trip to the post office–but to me, that’s lost its intimidation.

Namely because I’ve come out of the whole shebang with outfits like this:

photo 2

It’s a loose-ish Gap dress that is perfect for the summer. It doesn’t cling, but it’s not quite a bag either.

photo 1

I also figured out I can hide my identity by placing the iphone camera over my eyes. Brilliant, eh?

This dress is a recent acquisition . . .

photo 1 copy

. . . and I just love the pattern:

photo 2 copyI was going to give more examples (I seriously wear something I’ve bought from them, like, every other day), but taking selfies is so . . . awkward.

Though here’s an adorable dress I got for Alice:


So even if you don’t plan on using this site all the time, for your $20 of free stuff you can at least treat yourself to a scarf for $7.49 or $6.99, like one of these:


Or a T-shirt for $4.99 or $6.99 like one of these:


Guys, I have become a shameless ThredUp apologist. And I don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

To get 40% off your first purchase (now through September 30th), use this code when you check out: BTX7Y9.

Hope you’re all having a great week!

The smell of onions


It’s Sunday evening and I’m cooking Brats and Peppers, a slightly greasy and very delicious meal that takes a while. You start by caramelizing the onions, then add the raw brats (cut in chunks), brown them, add some bell peppers and then let the whole thing simmer in beer for over an hour.

The onions were just starting to brown and my husband said, “I love the smell of onions cooking. It brings back so many memories.”

“Like what?” I asked, sprinkling liberal amounts of salt and pepper over the steaming pot.

He thought for a while. “It’s like the smell of marriage–the smell of you taking care of me joyfully.”

He’s smelled onions frying in olive oil since we’ve been together, the aroma rising from dishes that I’ve made over the years in Boomington, Indiana, when we were undergrads and then freshly married; in Newark, Delaware, in that small one-bedroom off of Main Street; here in Chicago during my experiments with Indian, Thai, Mexican–and to him, it’s become the smell of love.

Friday felt like a two-dimensional day to me. I worked from home and processed sales orders from customers. I took care of Alice–changing diapers, reading books, administering snacks of raisins and crackers. We went to the park, and I kept an eye on my phone. We ran errands. The whole day I felt like I was trying to rev my soul to get out of neutral and couldn’t quite do it. It was a fine day, but a bland day. I enjoyed parts of it, but it didn’t feel vibrant.

I know there will be many days like that in my future. For me (even though I’m reaching the point of really desiring to be a stay-at-home mom), days that I stay home with Alice can have the tendency to feel kind of . . . somnolent. Like I’m in a waking dream.

But that’s okay. Because through making countless dishes over the years, some cooked with joy and some cooked in a tired glaze, some cooked perhaps even in quiet frustration (but cooked after all), my husband now thinks of love when he smells onions.

If I am faithful to serve my daughter and take care of her in love even on those days when I feel like my vitality is drained and my creativity has died a slow death, I will be making her world more beautiful. I can help infuse her world with love and create beautiful associations that will stay with her–as subconscious or conscious impressions–the rest of her life. Just as a child can carry a fear of dogs with them into adulthood if they have a traumatic experience while they’re young, I can be an instrument in Alice’s life by tying love into every experience so that her world is (I pray) ringing with it.

Maybe as an adult she, too, will smell onions and remember how much I love her.

Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)