Friday, February 21, 2014

Finding Fine China at Goodwill

Did you know that fine china is making a comeback? It seems that setting a welcoming table with fine china has a sweet appeal for the American family that is used to eating meals in front of the TV.  Goodwill is often the recipient of kindly donated fine china, in pieces or in sets, and we are sharing a couple tips for discovering this treasure at your local store.
China is the term loosely applied to porcelain ware pieces. But not all porcelain is fine.
You can look for the makers mark, but also use your senses to judge and appreciate whether it is fine china or dinnerware.

Pick up the piece. It should feel delicate, actually feel "fine". If it has a heavy, or big and clunky feel, then it would not be fine china.
Milham Store Treasure Chest Dept.
Look at the piece for details such as the manufacturer. China and European countries are producers of fine china, verses the U.S. or Japan. But not all fine china will have a mark. The details on the china are important too. Fine china will have high details. Compare the piece to dinnerware, and you will see the difference in the details of the artwork. Fine china will also have a high gloss.
Milham Store Treasure Chest Dept.
The best way to learn about fine china pieces and discover them at Goodwill is to enjoy the treasure hunt! When you shop at your Goodwill, there is a treasure chest dept. and a wares dept. You can find special pieces and sets in both departments, but this is a great way to compare pieces and look for those details.
Milham Wares Dept.

Milham Wares Dept.
Learn more by visiting antique shops and check out books about fine china at the library. And talk to your older relatives! They will remember the days when you would select china for your wedding, and have memories of special family gatherings when you got out the "good" china!
Happy Treasure Hunting!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Wardrobe Development

"Help! I have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear!"

Treasure Chest has a great solution to this problem: Wardrobe Development. We interviewed Sandra Douglas, a well dressed and thrifty shopper, about her strategy for shopping for clothes and managing her closet.
Treasure Chest: What is Wardrobe Development?
Sandra: This is a concept to manage your closet, your budget and your style. Your clothes have a basic function, to cover yourself, and to be appropriate for the situation. You don't have to own a lot of clothes, and you don't need to spend a lot money to dress well and be comfortable. It's about having basic, classic pieces and then adding pieces that fit your lifestyle and your personal style.

Treasure Chest: Where do you suggest starting with that "closet full of nothing to wear"?
Sandra: You've got to clean it out!
  • Give away clothes that don't fit. I follow the 10 pound rule. If you have to lose ten pounds or more to fit a piece, then give it away. Free yourself of having clothes that you will fit "someday", and then you will have a closet that works for you. If you have one piece that you truly love and hope to wear in the future, and can't let go, that's OK, but not ten! The point is to have clothes that you know work for you now.
  • Give away clothes that don't make you feel good. These pieces are just taking up space.
  • My best tip. Think about your life. I work 40 hours a week, and dress business casual. That means half or more of my wardrobe should be business casual.  

Treasure Chest: Okay, closet cleaned, and unwanted clothes bagged for donation. What is the next step?
Sandra: There are basic, classic pieces that I suggest for developing a quality wardrobe. These are items where you shouldn't skimp on quality. You may have to pay more, or look longer at thrift stores or sale racks, but only buy quality.
  • Pencil Skirt - Black skirt, or other neutral color. Look for quality fabric and stitching. Also look at the fabric material. I suggest choosing a piece with some spandex. Spandex gives added comfort and ease and are usually figure flattering since they nicely drape over the body.

  • Dress Pants  - Black or gray. Flat front - no pleats! My tip - if you are plus size, don't skip shopping the petite sections!

  • Long Sleeve Dress Shirt - Some people suggest a white dress shirt, but I suggest a solid color that looks best on you, like a classic blue. Again, look for a material with a spandex blend.

  • Solid Color Dress - Black/Blue/Neutral.

  • Jeans - A good pair of jeans. You will probably have to try several pairs, but when you find a brand that fits and flatters, stay with that brand.

  • Classic Shoes - I am over wearing shoes that are not comfortable. Shoes that don't fit or hurt your feet after wearing them are not good for you! I prefer to get my pop of fashion elsewhere, like jewelry, and stick to comfortable shoes. Your feet swell during the day, so wait and try on shoes after 3pm to get the best fit. Find a brand that works for you, and stick with them! I found a brand that works for me, and I have even found that brand at a thrift store!

Treasure Chest: Once I have my basic pieces, how do I add my style?
Sandra: I plan my shopping. I have a mental list of basic pieces that I need to fill in. I work five days a week, so I develop my wardrobe to have two weeks of outfits.  I choose about four colors each season that I like and focus on those colors. That way when I shop, everything will coordinate. If I found a orange blouse, it would work with both my gray pencil skirt, and my black dress pants. I spend my money on my classic pieces, and very little on trendy pieces. I bought this cute top for $6. It may or not be in style next year, so why spend a lot of money?

A fashion tip: Jewelry sets are a girls best friend!  I shop after season clearance for jewelry sets. This is a great way to add a trendy look to your classic pieces.


Treasure Chest: How do I keep my closet and my shopping budget under control?
Sandra: Keep a mental list or actual list of your wardrobe. That way you will focus on what you need. Don't be a hoarder! Have a box or bag for donations in or near your closet. When something comes in, something goes out. And think about the purpose of your wardrobe. An example is buying a purse. Your purse should not cost more than you have money saved that you don't need. Don't wear your wealth! 
Treasure Chest: Any more tips?
Sandra: Yes, you don't need to spend a lot to have a quality wardrobe.  I found a 100% Cashmere winter coat at Goodwill. It had a classic look and fine craftsmanship. It cost $14 and I spent $17 having it dry cleaned. This coat looks great, feels awesome, and the total cost was $31.00! 

My tips for shopping at thrift stores are to shop regularly, don't feel you have to buy something each time you go, and only bring friends that appreciate thrift store shopping! A final tip: Spend the time and money to have your haircut and have get a bra fitting! Both of these things will make you look and feel great!

Sandra Douglas works at Guardian Finance and Advocacy Services and is a Deacon at Westwood United Methodist Church. Sandra has a fan following on Facebook for her tips and style ideas!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Dreaming of Spring

Here is today's weather: "Clouds and a little sun, very cold, and breezy with some snow showers." Doesn't that describe this whole winter in Southwestern Michigan? 

Well we thought it would be fun to round up some fresh ideas for mixing two favorite hobbies - thrift store shopping and gardening- and dream of spring!

This piece won a crafty challenge contest. Check out this link to see more winners.

Little Tea Pot Gardens - A favorite item to hunt for at the thrift store!
Teapots and mugs make fun recycled garden containers.  (Photo: Flickr, Vilseskogen)
Start your seeds indoors in collected thrift store containers.

A garden reading nook? We say yes! Visit to see this blogger put it all together. Cute and super imaginative!
Ideas abound for garden art from thrift store finds. Head over to House of Hawthornes to see how she turned a bowling ball into a unique garden piece.
How sweet! Love the bits and pieces hanging from the bottom of the sign.
Cardinal Cafe DIY garden sign project
For more garden ideas to fill your dreams take a look back out our Fresh Ideas for Garden Baskets Post and be sure to check out  your local Goodwill Store for books on gardening at a great price.
Happy Treasure Hunting!