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 I always assumed that everything would be excessively worn, outdated, or just, well, gross.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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My Favorite Children’s Books: Board Book Edition

I was a pretty anxious new mom. Was my daughter eating enough? Was she on a good sleep schedule? Should I be cutting her blueberries up any smaller, or was into quarters sufficient? (That’s a true story, btw.) Was I doing everything I could to help her grow and develop? Even now that she’s seven, I still have lots of questions about the best things I can do to raise her well.

From the beginning, though, I spent lots and lots of time reading to her. I knew the benefits of reading to babies and children were countless, and as someone who’s loved reading for as long as I can remember, this was one thing I felt completely confident doing for and with my daughter.

We had many, many board books in her room, and I enjoyed reading most of them. (I confess that I had a hard time with the Karen Katz books…) Now, several years removed from the board book stage, these stand out as some of my favorites:

Listen, Listen

Hands down, this is my favorite board book. There are so many things I love about it – the gorgeous illustrations, the rhythmic, rhyming text, the depiction of seasonal change and the beauty in every season. I also have an emotional attachment to this book, since my husband and I read it to our daughter quite a bit, and eventually realized that she had learned a lot of her early vocabulary from it.

I Love You, Stinkyface

I received this as a baby shower gift, and loved the cute title. But as we started reading it to our daughter, I also fell in love with the sweet way it shows a mother’s unconditional love for her child – without being too sappy. To this day, both my husband and I will occasionally call our daughter, “Stinkyface.”

Jamberry

This one was another shower gift, and I’ll admit that it took a little time to grow on me. My daughter loved the illustrations, though, and it’s written in rhythmic, rhyming text, which is very helpful for early language development. Plus, I’m a fan of berries, which are celebrated throughout this book.

My First Book of Girl Power

I’ve never been much of a superhero fan, but my daughter developed an early interest in them. Naturally, I was immediately drawn to the title of this book, but what I really like about it is the emphasis on a variety of positive traits, including teamwork, problem-solving, and, of course, strength.

The Hat

I’m a big Jan Brett fan, and this was my introduction to her work. I’m also a sucker for hedgehogs, and this book is about one who gets a sock stuck on his prickly head. What could be more endearing than that?? As someone who struggles a bit with winter’s cold barrenness, I appreciate that the illustrations in this book make it seem almost cozy, in a hygge sort of way.

The Going to Bed Book

I love  routines, and this adorable book walks the reader through a group of animals’ somewhat silly bedtime routine. It’s great for teaching this concept to toddlers, by combining the slightly ridiculous – exercising in the moonlight – with the more practical – brushing teeth.

What are some of your favorite board books?

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Blue Apron Review

One of my goals for 2017 is to find a way to make meal planning/cooking dinner less distasteful. I view both meal planning and cooking as necessary evils, and I almost always dread doing both of them. With my goal to at least partially overcome this in mind, I decided to give Blue Apron a try.

What is Blue Apron?

Blue Apron is an ingredient and recipe delivery service. Users select meals for their weekly delivery, and all necessary ingredients – plus illustrated, step-by-step directions – are shipped to them. (Shipping is free.) Although they still have to cook their meals, users don’t have to search for recipes or shop for the ingredients.

Blue Apron users choose either the 2-Person Plan or the Family Plan. The 2-Person Plan includes three, two-serving recipes per week, at a cost of $9.99 per serving. Family Plan users can choose to receive either two or four, four-serving recipes per week, at a cost of $8.74 per serving.

Even though my daughter rarely eats what my husband and I eat for dinner, I opted for the two-recipe Family Plan. Because I dislike cooking so much, leftovers nights are very important to me. Opting for four-serving recipes seemed like a good way to ensure that we had leftovers of each recipe.

Our Blue Apron Meals

I tried Blue Apron for three weeks, and these are the meals I chose to receive during that time period:

  • Cod and Tomato Stew with Garlic Croutons
  • Sicilian-Style Bucatini With Cesar-Style Salad
  • Shrimp Etouffee with Tomatoes and Arborio Rice (A very close second favorite meal)
  • Creamy Beef Ragu & Elicoidali Pasta (My least favorite meal)
  • Pork Chops & Miso Butter with Bok Choy & Marinated Apples (Both my and my husband’s favorite meal)
  • Salmon Piccata with Orzo & Broccoli (The salmon didn’t happen, but the orzo and broccoli were delicious)

What I Love About Blue Apron

  1. Minimizes my meal planning. Rather than having to rack my brain to come up with our weekly dinners, I simply log into my Blue Apron account, and choose from the recipe options available for each week.
  2. Fancy-ish meals. I like to keep my recipes nice and simple, to minimize the amount of time I have to spend cooking them. The Blue Apron meals are more “restaurant-style” than what I would usually make.
  3. The meals are delicious. I would describe all of the meals I received as good to very good. In fact, there was only one that I probably wouldn’t order or make again.
  4. Grocery shopping is done for me. All of the ingredients needed for each recipe are shipped directly to my doorstep each week.
  5. The recipes cards. The recipe cards are illustrated, and include clearly written, step-by-step instructions. I especially like that the ingredients are bolded within the instructions, making them easy to locate in context.
  6. Clear labeling. The ingredientpackaging is clearly labeled, and I never had to wonder what something was.
  7. Great customer service. I had a problem with the quality of the primary ingredient (salmon) in one of my meals. I sent an email about it to Blue Apron customer service and received a full credit for that meal the following day.

What I Don’t Love About Blue Apron

  1. Lack of recycling information in box. Each shipment contains a lot of packaging: every ingredient comes in a plastic bag or container, there are several plastic ice packs, and a foil liner contains everything. There’s no recycling information in the box, but it’s available online – with a little scrolling. Everything is recyclable, but not necessarily accepted by customers’ recycling providers. (For example, mine does not accept plastic bags.) Fortunately, users can request a USPS shipping label from Blue Apron to return all of the packaging to them for recycling.
  2. The fish arrives partially frozen. In all of my shipments, the fish was partially frozen when I removed it from the package. On my work days, I start cooking dinner soon after I get home, and I had to build in some time to thaw the fish before cooking it. Of course, I prefer that the fish arrive partially frozen, than warm.
  3. Cost. Is this the cheapest way to cook dinner? No. Users pay for the convenience of not having to plan and shop for their meals. I’m sure that some of the meals I make myself cost less than $8.74 per serving, but that’s probably not the case when they feature fish and/or better cuts of meat. So while I could make dinner more cheaply, Blue Apron is not particularly expensive.

Overall, I’ve been very happy with Blue Apron. Yes, I would prefer that each box contained a little genie to do the cooking for me, but short of that, it’s a great solution. Want to give it a try? Click below to save $30 on your first offer.

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My Organizing Favorites

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The more blogs I read and podcasts I listen to, the more excited I get about becoming more organized, in all aspects of my life. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a complete mess, but there’s definitely work to be done on many fronts. Fortunately, over the past few weeks, I’ve found some great tips, tools, and ideas that I’ve been able to implement, or at least give some serious thought to. Here are a few of my favorites – old and new – that are helping me take control in various areas of my life:

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My Day Designer Planner

Until fairly recently, the planner I carried with me was a tiny, monthly calendar that I got in the dollar bins at Target. (It’s a two-year calendar, so I actually got two years of planners for just $1!!) The daily squares are tiny, so I had trouble writing anything at all in them, let alone more than one thing on a given day. Then I read another blogger’s review of her Day Designer planner, and I knew I had found a great tool. I ordered the Midyear (because I bought it over the summer) Flagship Mini Edition, and I love it! Not only is it beautiful and high-quality, but it has so many of the things on my planner wish-list: daily pages, divided up by hour; space for a look at the week ahead; daily to-do lists, with top three daily priorities; a monthly overview; and even space for daily gratitude. It has helped me add more structure to my days, especially the ones when I’m not at my job.

Laura Vanderkam’s Time Tracker Documents

This summer, I heard the author, Laura Vanderkam, interviewed on at least two podcasts, and I really liked her message. She has written several books on time management, and I’m currently reading her most recent one, I Know How She Does It. The (greatly) simplified premise of this book is that we have a lot more time than most of think, and while we can’t always achieve perfect balance every day, we can come close to it on many days. She believes that the first step in managing our time more effectively is tracking how we’re currently spending it. To facilitate this process, she offers free tracking documents (in spreadsheet and PDF form), for tracking your time in 15- and/or 30-minute increments. I’ve found 30-minute increments to be more manageable, and today is my fifth tracking day. Stay tuned for an update on what I learn from this exercise…

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My FitBit Surge and the FitBit App

My husband surprised me with a FitBit Surge for our tenth anniversary last October. I started wearing it immediately, and it’s barely been off my wrist since then. (Seriously, I wear it in my sleep, which it measures.) However, I got pretty lazy over the summer, and stopped worrying about whether or not I was actually meeting the daily goals I set for myself in the app. Fast forward to my return to work this fall, when I realized that my work clothes, which had been hanging unworn in my closet for four months, had apparently shrunk. All of them. Clearly the ice cream and kettle corn I referenced here had taken their toll. As a result, I increased my daily and weekly activity goals, and started to track them religiously. I love all of the different metrics and screens available in the FitBit app, and I find myself checking in with it several times a day. (And eating a lot less ice cream.)

This Amazing Chore Chart

Getting my daughter to complete her daily tasks – especially on school day mornings – is an ongoing battle. I’ve tried both positive and negative reinforcement, and while she’s made some progress, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. I want the system to be easy, self-managed, and reward-driven. I’m not even remotely crafty, so I had basically settled on using a simple checklist on a clipboard, when I came across this idea. It meets all of my criteria, is pretty, and looks like something I could actually create myself. It’ll take a small investment of time and money, but I think I can handle it, and I think it’ll work well for my daughter.

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The Organizher School Memories Keeper

My mother kept very detailed baby books for me and my sister. She filled them with photographs and specific dates, milestones, and memories. I still get a kick out of looking through them. So when my daughter was born, I got myself a baby book, and started filling it out. But I was quickly swept up in the busyness of being a mom, and forgot to note the dates of pretty much all of my daughter’s milestones. Now that she’s in school and I’m better at managing my time and projects, I have a kind of second chance. I knew I had seen memory books that were organized by grade, so I hopped on Amazon and found the Mead Organizher School Memories Keeper. In addition to being organized by grade, it has a place to affix each year’s school picture, a large pocket for holding documents and other mementos from that school year, and spaces to fill in basic information about the year, like teacher’s name, friends, milestones, and current events. It’s a perfect way to capture all of this information.

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What are some of your favorite organizing tips, tools, and ideas?

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Stitch Fix Review

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I’m not a stylish gal. In fact, if you showed up at my house unexpectedly, you’d find me wearing yoga pants, a t-shirt that I’ve had for at least a decade, and probably a sweatshirt or fleece, depending on the season. As soon as I return home from the outside world, I race to my closet, put away my “real” clothes, and get back into my at-home uniform. As I type this, I’m wearing those yoga pants, a t-shirt from my college, and a zip-up sweatshirt that I purchased at Walmart, to wear in my post-partum days. (My daughter will be seven next month.) Needless to say, I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes, and some of the items I have were purchased during W’s administration.

A couple of years ago, as a not-so-subtle hint, my sister gave me a Stitch Fix gift card for my birthday. If you’re not familiar with Stitch Fix, it’s a clothing and accessories subscription service. You sign-up, complete a detailed “style profile”, and set the frequency with which you’d like to receive your “Fix”. For a $20 “styling fee”, Stitch Fix sends you a box of five items, chosen for you, based on your style profile. You can purchase the items you want to keep – minus your $20 styling fee – and return the items you don’t want, using a prepaid mailer. If you decide to purchase all five items that you received, you get a 25% discount on everything.

I love the concept of Stitch Fix– a personal stylist picking out clothing items just for me, and sending them right to my door. I love trying clothing on in the comfort of my home, being able to try items on with shoes and other coordinating items that are already in my closet, and being exposed to brands and pieces that I’m not familiar with. All of these are major pluses of Stitch Fix in my book.

So what don’t I love about it? I found that my stylist didn’t always “get”me. For example, I live in a place where it’s cold close to six months of the year. There were some winter months when I received items that were way too lightweight for upstate New York winters, and I found this very frustrating. Also, there were times when I received items that were directly contrary to my Style Profile. For example, I’m not a fan of lace, yet I’ve received more than one piece of clothing that featured lace.

At one point, I was so frustrated with a particular Fix, I sent an email to the Stitch Fix customer service department, and requested a refund of my styling fee. I received the refund, but was advised that I should start a Pinterest board to share with my stylist, so she could get a better feel for my taste. I despise Pinterest, and I’m certainly not going to join it just for my Stitch Fix stylist. Besides, I completed the detailed style profile when I joined, and I always provide feedback on every single item I return.

When these things happen, I usually adjust the frequency of my Fixes, or take a break from Stitch Fix for a few months. But I really like having stylish, affordable clothing items delivered right to me, and some of my favorite clothing items have come from them. So – despite our ups and downs – I’m sticking with Stitch Fix for now.

Have you tried Stitch Fix? What was your experience like?

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This post contains my Stitch Fix referral link. If you decide to give them a try, I’ll receive a small fee for referring you to them. Thank you!