7QT: Beginner Thrifting Tips

Coat from Goodwill

Months ago I was charmed to read Jen’s early forays into the world of thrifting. It was fun to see someone’s first foray into secondhand shopping, because I grew up that way. Glamorous as it sounds, taking people’s old used stuff home with me is in my blood. It’s a way to save money, sure, but also a way to help the planet and to avoid supporting unethical business practices. And don’t get me started on the thrill of the hunt!Read More »

Frugal Accomplishments for the First Couple Weeks of October

Recently I’ve been reading and enjoying the Prudent Homemaker’s recurring series, “Frugal Accomplishments,” in which she tracks her budget-saving measures over the course of each week. (I think I first discovered her through the also excellent blog, The Big White Farmhouse.)  I come from a frugal family so many of these steps come naturally, but J and I also are careless budgeters, so we still have a lot to learn. Here are some of our recent highlights, though, since I’ve enjoyed reading others’:Read More »

Shopping Secondhand as Spiritual Practice

A few weeks before Christmas, two of my party animal friends* and I met for a hot ladies’ night out: to the local Goodwill.

And let me say, we shut that joint down. (Seriously, though, we weren’t the last ones out: there was definitely a night owl Mennonite family in line behind us.)

The only rule was this: we could shop for clothes for ourselves BUT NOT FOR OUR KIDS. (Because everyone knows I love baby clothes.)Read More »

Homeschooling and the Bookshelf

A recent Goodwill haul

When I was getting ready to travel to East Africa as a newlywed, I re-read Heart of Darkness and The Poisonwood Bible(Optimistic choices, I know.) When we were expecting our firstborn, I pored over Natural Childbirth the Bradley WayI am a reader, first and foremost. It’s how I prepare, living out the future from the safety of the page.

The decision to homeschool Pip’s preschool next year has been different, because these sweet children already take up so much of my day that I can’t dive into a book as I once did. I want to read to prepare, but instead, I find myself reading Good Night, Good Night Construction Site or another Beverley Cleary instead of educational philosophy.

Although Virginia’s winter has been mild this year, it’s run roughshod on our family. One or more of us has been sick since we returned from Christmas weeks and weeks ago. Barred from playdates and parks, stir crazy in the house, overdosed on family movies, I find myself hauling the kids day after day from one thrift shop to another.

Right now, homeschooling feels so big, so nebulous, and as with first birth or expatriation, you can’t really know what it’s like until you’re already in the thick of it. I can be thinking about what I’d like to do, and talking to my many wise friends, and sneaking bits of The Well-Trained Mind on audiobook as I cook dinner, but for now, it’s mostly a matter of waiting.

I realized, though, there might be a method to my compulsion. I can’t read homeschooling manuals when I’m caring for my kids, but I sure as heck can wheel them around a thrift store, diving for literary treasures. With every chapter book I snag, I feel a little more prepared for the mostly unpreparable. I’ve got another book to read aloud to Pippin, another book of background reading I’ll get to one of these days (I’m looking at you, Last Child in the Woods). I can’t yet imagine what our homeschooling life will look like a year from now, but I rest assured I’ll be surrounded by old friends: Stuart Little, the Alden children, Mary Poppins, the Penderwick sisters.