Friday Favorites

Hey, hey, it’s Friday! Cue the Judy Andrews, as I share some of my favorite things…

Summer Weather

I’m a little surprised that I’m saying this, but I’ve been enjoying the heat and humidity we’ve been having lately. Don’t get me wrong, my preferred summer weather is sunny, low humidity, and temps around 80. But we had such a cold and rainy spring and early summer, that it’s nice to be experiencing true summer weather, warts and all.

Simple and Free Fun

My daughter is currently in her second, two-week session of theater camp at a local school. (Not the free part.) Camp finishes at 3:00, and even though she’s had a full day of rehearsals, games, and friends, she’s always looking for something to do after I pick her up. Since it’s ridiculously easy to spend money during the summer, I’m grateful that some of her favorite things to do after camp are free. We spend 30 minutes to an hour on the school’s playground every day, then hit the library, sprinklers, or farmers’ market. As long as I get all of the books and DVDs she borrows back to the library on-time, all of these activities don’t cost me a dime. (Psst… I share more photos of these and other things on Facebook and Instagram.)

Fresh Veggies

We’ve only harvested two Sun Gold tomatoes from our own garden, so far, but the farmers’ market is bursting with fresh, summer veggies. My daughter and I picked up a pint of cherry tomatoes at last week’s market, and ate them like candy on the way to the car. Halfway there, we turned around and went back for a second pint! There is NOTHING like summer tomatoes, peppers, corn!!

Baby cucumber!

Good Fiction

I’ve typically read more nonfiction than fiction, but over the last few weeks I’ve read two fiction books that I enjoyed: Saints For All Occasions, and Every Little Lie. Have you ever loved a book so much that you were sad to finish it? That’s how I felt about Saints For All Occasions. And Every Little Lie was a real page-turner for me, but I was very disappointed with the ending. (You can see all of the books I’ve read in 2017 here.)

I LOVED this book!

Podcasts About Religion

I’m completely non-religious. (Sometimes I refer to myself as a recovering Catholic.) Religion simply doesn’t play any part in my life. I loosely associate myself with general Christian values, but that’s as far as it goes. But in spite of my complete lack of religious beliefs or affiliation, I find it interesting to hear about other people’s faith and beliefs. So I was very excited to listen to the Religion series of the podcast, The Smartest Person in the Room. I enjoyed all of the episodes, but my favorites  were Mormons vs. Evangelicals: Can Woman Bridge the Divide? (I know very little about Mormonism and had no idea there was a divide with evangelicals), Judaism as a Cultural Identity (I was particularly intrigued by the concept of religion without believing in God), and When God Goes Silent (Interesting to me, since I don’t really think I believe in a God). There are also episodes about Hinduism, Islam, and religious journalism.

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Monday Meal Plan #39

Happy Monday Tuesday! I hope you had a lovely weekend!

Weekend Recap

With the exception of me having a bad migraine on Friday, we enjoyed a great family weekend at home. My husband took Friday off from work, so he could attend our daughter’s camp play performances with me. We went out for a celebratory dinner after the second show, at one of my least favorite places in Saratoga. (It was the actress’s choice.)

On Saturday, we visited a local lake, drove around a new-to-us area, and tried a local (but new-to-us) restaurant for lunch. My daughter and I did a quick Target run after lunch, and after relaxing at home for a couple of hours, my husband took our daughter to see Despicable Me 3.

We made our first trip of the year to the pool on Sunday. I grew up with a pool, and hated all of the worked involved in maintaining it. So when my husband and I were house-shopping, I ruled out any house with a pool. The season is too short here! They’re so much work! They take up too much yard space and are ugly in the winter! While I still believe all of these arguments against pools are true, now that I’m a parent, I wish we had a pool. Go figure.

On the reading front, I finished Saints For All Occassions, which I absolutely loved, and started reading a mystery, Every Last Lie. (You can find a list of all the books I’ve read so far this year here.)

The Week Ahead

It’s going to be a relatively quiet week here. My daughter starts a new session of camp, and she has gymnastics on Tuesday evening. She and my husband are joining friends for the Kidzbop concert at SPAC Friday evening. I have a couple of random things scheduled, including a doctor’s appointment and the monthly exterminator visit. I’ve completely fallen off the exercise wagon, so I’ll be attempting to get moving again, too.

On Saturday, our good friends are coming to visit from about two hours southeast of us. We take turns packing up kids and making the trip to visit each other several times a year. It’s been a few months since we’ve seen them, and we’re looking forward to their visit.

This Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s what’s on this week’s dinner meal plan at my house:

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

7280 x 90

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Online Consignment: ThredUp Review

Buying from ThredUp

I’m late to the buying secondhand game. I always assumed that everything would be excessively worn, outdated, or just, well, gross. What I finally realized was that consignment stores and websites are not going to accept/offer items that they can’t sell, so the quality is generally much better than I imagined. There’s even often a good number of new-with-tags items!

There are lots of online consignment sites to shop from, and I’ve recently tried three of them: ThredUp, Schoola, and swap.com. Overall, I’ve been most impressed with the items available from ThredUp. They carry higher-end mall brands (Ann Tayor, J. Crew, etc.), as well as boutique and designer brands. You don’t have to sift through lower-end brands on their site, as you do on the other sites.

This spring, I ordered several items from ThredUp during a sale. I don’t remember the specific discount I took advantage of, but I’m usually not swayed by discounts of under 40%. I purchased items that were all in “like new” condition, and mainly from J. Crew. I was very happy with the quality and condition of the items, but decided to return a couple because of the fit or style. ThredUp offers several return options, and I chose to receive a prepaid shipping label from them, and a store credit for my items. (You can also choose to receive a shipping label and have $8.99 deducted from your return credit amount, or ship the item(s) yourself and receive your refund in the form of the original payment.)

Free shipping lovers will be pleased to know that ThredUp always provides free shipping on purchases of $79 or more. They also periodically run free shipping deals, and I typically do my buying then.

There are a good number of complaints about ThredUp’s customer service online, but I had no such issues. I received the correct items in my order, was charged for them appropriately, and had no problem with the processing of my return. I will definitely purchase clothing from ThredUp again, and highly recommend it as a source for secondhand clothing.

Related post: Stitch Fix Review

Selling on ThredUp

I’ve been selling my daughter’s outgrown clothing at consignment sales and stores for years, and online consignment seemed like another good option. ThredUp’s process is pretty simply: select apprpriate items using the criteria on their website, order a “clean out kit” bag, and wait to hear from them about whether your items will be purchased up-front, sold on cosignment, or were rejected.

I wish I had read reviews of selling on ThredUp, before I sent some items to them. It would be difficult to find a seller who was happy with the payout they received for their items from ThredUp. Universally, people are disappointed with the amount of money they received, and I am no different. I carefully followed their selling guidelines, sent in items from brands like Gymboree, Gap Kids, and Hanna Andersson, and received what amounted to pennies for them. As a result, I do not recommend selling via ThredUp, and I certainly will not doing so again myself.

Have you bought or sold clothing via ThredUp? What was your experience like?

If you haven’t tried shopping at ThredUp, yet and would like to, use this link to get a $10 credit on your first order.

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Monday Meal Plan #38

Happy Monday! I hope you had a fantastic weekend!

Weekend Recap

We’ve been so lucky with summer weather this year. Although it’s rained a lot, temps have rarely gone above 82, and humidity has been pretty low. With the exception of a quick thunderstorm Saturday morning, this weekend was no exception.

My husband got home from a work trip a little early on Friday, so after we picked up our daughter at camp, we went out for an early dinner at one of our favorite Saratoga restaurants. My daughter and I may or may not have gotten some frozen yogurt after dinner, too…

On Saturday we went to a local carnival/fair. Our daughter rode some rides, we saw some petting zoo animals, and overpaid for lemonade. It was pretty typical. Afterwards, my in-laws arrived from New Jersey. Their grandson is in Cooperstown for a baseball tournament, and they’re going up to watch his team play for a few days. We had a late lunch at home with them, and hung out on deck, enjoying the weather.

I spent much of yesterday home alone, while my husband and daughter went to Cooperstown with my in-laws for the day. I read the paper, went for a walk, did a few chores, and baked some muffins.

The Week Ahead

This should be a pretty low-key week. One highlight is my visit to the spa today. My husband and daughter gave me a massage and facial package for Mother’s Day, and I’m redeeming it this morning. My daughter has gymnastics after camp on Tuesday, and on Friday we’ll be attending her camp play performance. As of now, our weekend is blissfully unscheduled. We’ll probably incorporate a trip to the pool or a playground for our daughter.

This Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s what’s for dinner at my house this week:

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

My Goals for 2017: Check-In #6

Some people are motivated by rewards. Some people are motivated by fear. Others are internally motivated. Me? I’m motivated by public shame. I do not want to be embarrassed, and that’s what typically gives me the push I need complete things. (I’m what the author Gretchen Rubin would call “an obliger”, based on her personality framework.)

It helped keep me focused when I trained for two marathons in my younger years. I joined Team in Training, which, in exchange for participants raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, provides coaching, support, and organized, group training runs. Those group runs were critical for me – in particular the weekly “long runs.” Knowing that I would be running 16 miles with a group on Saturday, helped keep me motivated to train on my own throughout the week. I knew I’d never be the first, but I really did not want to be the last person to finish the long runs.

What does this have to do with my 2017 goals? I’m using this motivation to help keep me on track with my goals. I’m sharing monthly check-ins on my progress to keep me focused, and as a form of accountability.

2017 Goals Check-In #6

(You can read more detailed descriptions of each of my goals here.)

Goal #1: Read at least 24 books that I truly want to read.

I spent much of June catching up on my huge pile of magazines. I read The New Yorker, O, Money, Vanity Fair, Kiplinger, Real Simple, Beekman 1802 Almanac, and Martha Stewart Living, plus the New York Times Magazine and the Sunday NY Times. I love all of them, but easily fall behind and acquire a towering stack of to-be-read magazines. I dedicated much of my reading time in June to paring down the stack.

I did read one book in June, though: The Perpetual Now: A Story of Amnesia, Memory, and Love. Not surprisingly, it was about people with (severe) amnesia, and what neuroscientists have learned and are learning from them. This is brings my total number of books read in 2017 to eleven. You can see all of my 2017 reads – current, past, and future – here.

Goal #2: Try at least three new (to me) activities, preferably active ones.

No progress here this month – not surprising, given my comfort with and preference for the familiar… 🙂

Goal #3: Run at least three 5K races.

I ran my first 5K in June! I have no idea what my time was, since I forgot the start and stop my watch at the appropriate times, and didn’t check the clock as I crossed the finish line. But I know I ran it faster than I had been running this distance on my own, probably in large part because the course was extremely flat.

I’ll confess that I fell off the running wagon after that race, but with two more races to, I’ll be getting back at it soon.

Goal #4: Find a way to dread meal planning/cooking less.

Grilling season is here! I don’t know why, but I find dinner much more manageable this time of year. Grilling feels much less complicated: few ingredients are required, many things can be grilled, and clean-up is fairly minimal. It also helps that I’m out-and-about more during the warmer months, and great, fresh food is easy to come by.

How are you doing with your 2017 goals or resolutions?

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