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Dollare Store Finds

I was listening to OPB in the car last night, waiting for David’s flight to arrive, when they mentioned Hauls. Basically, these are videos uploaded on Youtube by shoppers (aka haulers) to display their recent purchases. At first I found the whole notion ridiculous. But then I realized I’ve done sort of the same thing myself (albeit mostly in review format) on my blog. One listener posed a good question “Is this how we define ourselves, by what we buy and what we consume?” I think, in many ways, the answer is yes.

This made me think about my own recent purchase. Have you been to the dollar store lately? I don’t know why, but I never go there. I think of it as mostly a place full of unnecessary junk. However, I was looking for safety pins at the craft store the other day and ended up buying 100 asst. pins for $3.99. That seemed like a lot to me, but I bought them anyway, since the previous two places I looked were sold out. Then I got the idea in my head to check the dollar store. They carried 200 asst. pins for only $1. Much better! Sure, there is a lot of junk, but some true bargains, too. I think the trick is only buying what you actually think you’d use, and not get sucked into the but-it’s-only $1! trap.

So what did I buy? A box of colored staples, a package of Elmer’s glue, a roll of craft wrapping paper, and some safety pins, for the bargain price of $4. If only I could always be so successfully thrifty. 🙂


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A very good start to the New Year


Overlook on hwy 101, near Manzanita, Oregon

We decided to head to the coast today. It was dark, cloudy and pouring rain, but I didn’t care. I was just glad to begin the new year in one of my favorite places.

Luckily we timed the drive during Chloe’s first nap. David and I talked along the way, sang songs, made plans. We stopped at one of the overlooks to watch the churning, pounding waves below and I tried to snap a few photos while the wind whipped my hair in all directions. Unfortunately, I wasn’t watching when I got out and lost one of my cashmere wristwarmers made by my sister-in-law. I didn’t realize this until later, of course, and was pretty bummed, but determined to not let anything ruin the day.

In Manzanita we took it easy. Shared a mocha from Manzanita News & Espresso, and poked into a few of the cute little shops, including Unfurl, my favorite eco-clothing shop. They were having a fantastic sale, including 50% off Danskos, the brand of shoe I wear 98% of the time (I’m on my third pair of black professionals, plus I have a pair in brown). I eventually walked out with a pair of black Sallys that David talked me into. Looking down at them now I’m glad he did. I’m generally too practical to waste money on cute shoes, but these are a good blend of comfort and style to suit me (at half-price!).


Showing off my new danskos

Wild elk herd near Cannon Beach, Oregon

For lunch we shared a tasty clam chowder, halibut fish & chips, and hushpuppies at the charming Manzanita Seafood & Chowderhouse. Happy and full we braved exposure on the beach to let the dog loose  in the sand and surf. Too soon it was time to head home. On the way we saw a herd of wild elk by the highway near Cannon Beach. Can you imagine? Just minding their own business, munching on grass, and stopping traffic on the highway.

And remember my lost wrist-warmer? David decided we should check the overlook on the way back to see if we could find it. And guess what? He found it! Sodden and a little worse for wear, but it was FOUND! David is really amazing like that. He doesn’t just give up, instead he puts in that extra effort that so often ends in a rewarding outcome. And that, I would say, is a very good start to the New Year!


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Old Town Alexandria with Baby

One of the places I visited quite often while growing up was Old Town Alexandria, very close to Washington, DC. It was a colonial port town, and cobblestone streets and period homes still exist, except now it is mostly known for its many shops and restaurants.

A recent post on Delicious Baby about Alexandria, VA with Kids reminded me that it would be a nice place to visit with the baby and her grandparents. We borrowed a stroller for the outing, which worked fine, although a baby carrier would have been nice, since many of the shops are up several stairs off the street. The day was sunny and beautiful and the tree-lined main thoroughfare, King Street, was shady and perfect for walking. We stopped in the children’s boutique stores Pink and Brown, Monday’s Child and Why Not? (where we picked up the cutest pair of baby sunglasses for Chloe!), plus other shops like Ten Thousand Villages and Paper-Source.


Historic Alexandria Plaque

A very interesting wig boutique

Boats on the waterfront near the Torpedo Factory and food pavilion

And being the architecture buff that I am, I couldn’t miss 527 Queen Street. I had read about this tiny house somewhere but had never seen it before this visit. I had to ask at the visitor center to find it. It measures a mere 7 feet wide (!) and 36 feet deep – 350 square feet altogether. According to an article I found in the Washington Post:

“In the 1830s, brick maker John Hollensbury built the tiny place — 7 feet by 36 feet — for his daughters, Julia and Harriett. The “lot” on which it was built actually was a narrow alley between Hollensbury’s house and his neighbor’s. Local lore has it that Hollensbury bought the spot for $45.65 and built the house because he wanted to keep his neighbor’s oversized carriage out of the alley, where it scraped the walls of Hollensbury’s house. Thus, the construction earned the nickname “Spitehouse.””


The narrowest house in town – only 7 feet wide!


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The danger of online browsing

Somehow I fell into window shopping online tonight. So dangerous. I just love the fabrics and styles that are coming out right now for fall. Especially in dark or charcoal grey, one of my favorite colors to wear. Oh man. If I had a normal figure right now I would be spending so much money. First of all, check out the awesome dress below from Anthropologie. I hardly ever wear dresses, but I would find a reason to wear this one. Can you imagine? With some tall black boots? Oh boy, I’d feel like a million bucks. Love the shape and pleated asymmetrical details. If I was slightly less sane I would go wild and buy one now, with the hope that someday, after baby is born, I might have a defined waist again.


Echo, Echo Dress

Yes, some really nice things out there. And to be fair, there are some wearable and semi-reasonable maternity finds, too. Like this well-designed coat and sweaters from Old Navy. Quite a surprise to find them there, if you ask me.

From Old Navy Maternity: Wool-Blend Swing Coat, Cable-Knit Crossover Cardigan, Pleated Sweater Coat

I tried the coat on the other day, before David noticed the $88 price tag. Since I mostly work from home, I have no reason to buy a maternity coat that I’ll only wear for a few months. More likely, I’ll be wearing David’s jackets and coats, at least until I can fit into my own again. Sometimes I forget that my body won’t simply bounce back to its pre-pregnancy size the minute baby is born. Luckily I was reminded recently, that I will likely be wearing maternity clothes for at least a couple months after baby. So I guess that is a good enough reason to buy a few nice, warm pieces to supplement my borrowed goods, since there is only so much I can stand of looking like a sack of potatoes. 🙂


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Plain & Simple Maternity Swimwear

Okay, finding a swimsuit is hard, but finding a maternity swimsuit is ridiculously difficult. And it doesn’t help that I am as picky as they come on this topic. As a matter of fact, my favorite pre-pregnancy two-peice is a red halter-style bikini top with boy short bottoms. It is a few years old now, but back then I drove to three different Targets in order to finally find my size. So you can see, during the rare times that I find one I like, I am willing to go the distance.

After doing a fair amount of internet searching and perusing the racks at a couple nearby stores, I saw a lot of ugly maternity suits. I really wanted PLAIN – no polkadots, animal prints, plaids, ruffles or hardware. It is bad enough that my stomach is becoming an ornament in itself. I don’t want to be baring it to the world either, so I’ll just take a one-piece (or a two-peice with respectable belly coverage), thank you very much.

So. I finally found three acceptable options. Each one simple (some would say boring) and no frills. Budget-wise they can be described as:

The extra fancy pro: gorgeous, con: expensive
Middle of the road
pro: somewhat more affordable, con: two-piece
The big cheapster
pro: cheap, con: not a very good fit

I deliberated for quite a while, but knew with the summer months ahead and a pregnancy swim class starting soon, that I had to make a decision. I’m kind of embarrassed to even admit which one I prefer, but it might just end up being my one big splurge. Am I just being crazy?

The extra fancy

Middle of the road

The big cheapster


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Maternity Shopping 101

The morning after we shared our Big News with David’s family, Sandy (David’s mom) took me for my first foray into the world of maternity clothes. I had just reached my first trimester, and because I was still under my pre-pregnancy weight, I could still fit a couple of my largest pants with a rubber band through the button loop. However, even I agreed that it might be time to see what was out there.

The shop we ended up in was called Motherhood Maternity. It wasn’t a big place, but it had the kind of packed in feel that usually overwhelms me when shopping. I remember initially feeling lost without David there to help me “see” through the compact racks of clothes (I rarely shop without him). I shouldn’t have worried though, because Sandy stepped right in. She claimed us a dressing room and immediately began to sort through the possibilities.

In many ways, I’m not very fun to shop with because I tend to wear simple basics, and mostly stay away from prints or too much color. Sandy was great though. She didn’t get offended on the pieces I declined, yet continued to find me nice items I would have missed, like a good-looking pair of khaki twill pants, and a feminine printed top that I normally wouldn’t have tried, but ended up loving.

Each dressing room contained a cushion attached to a velcro strap that you could fasten around your waist to show what you’d look like 3 months down the road. Whoa! Seeing that pillow stuffed into my waistband really put things into perspective. My little pooch is downright petite compared to where I’ll be at the end of summer, and I’ll be getting even bigger throughout the fall. Knowing this helped me to decide that maybe the “secret fit belly” waist panel was not such a bad idea (even though I originally thought they looked weird). Turns out comfort and fit really does makes all the difference.

By the end I was pretty tired, but was rewarded with two simple tees, two nice looking and comfortable pants, and the printed tank top. All mix-and-matchable, nice enough to wear out, but comfortable enough to wear in. I am surprised to find how happy I am with each item. Thank you Sandy, for making it such a good experience!

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