Instant Pot Sale!

Did you miss out on the Amazon Prime Day Instant Pot sale because of those glitches and now the IP is back at full price? Well, here is a second chance to get a great deal on the Instant Pot. Sur La Table is having a three day Instant Pot sale!

Okay, yes, there are affiliate links here which means NQSH gets a small portion of the sale but really this is a great deal and if you have been reading the blog for a while you know I love my Instant Pot. I was so exhausted after work the other night that I just threw some frozen sausage in the IP and in minutes had Sausage with Red Sauce with Penne. No defrosting, no heating up the house in the Summer with the oven.

Get the 6qt InstantPot Ultra for $99.96 (Valued at $300) at Sur La Table! Offer valid 7/20-7/22.Amazon currently has the Instant Pot Ultra 6qt on sale for $159 which is still better than the $300 MSRP, but you can snag this same IP from Sur La Table for almost $50 less! Plus there is free shipping since your order will be over $59. The one on sale is not the exact model I have, in fact, it is better! There are so many options with the Ultra that the Duo doesn’t have, like a cake setting…hmmm…possibilities…

Sur La Table

This sale is only lasting the weekend, so if you are interested, you need to check it out by Sunday, July 22. Let me know in the comments if you were able to get one.

Sur La Table

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Thrifting Haul: a ThredUP Review

I have been experimenting with ThredUP and admit that I have a slight addiction. I had checked out the site a year ago and was not impressed. But recently, I thought I would try it again…especially because I found myself needing to buy new pants. So here is my thrifting haul from the past two months.

That Tahari dress and Chico’s black & white jacket are my two favorite finds. Also that skort is simply amazing! So comfortable and I can style it up to wear to work because it looks like a skirt. Who knew? I am expanding my style repertoire here.

One of the nice things about the site is that you can return items if you decide you don’t really like it or the fit is not quite right. I had a lot of back and forth with packages. Some of the things I ordered said like new, but then had stains or holes when I received them. I think I exchange the same $60 like three times before I finally kept an order. See what is so nice about the returns is that as soon as the preprinted label gets scanned at the post office, your money is credited back to your account. So you can place another order before it even gets back to ThredUP. I had to return boots at Dick’s yesterday for my husband and I am still waiting for those funds to be recredited. You have to be careful though because final sale items like the shirts I ordered are items that you can’t return, so you need to make sure you really love it and that the size will be okay. I got lucky that everything fit, but I did change my mind of somethings in my cart that I was just not sure about.

It looks like I have a lot of clothes and money here, doesn’t it? Well, one of the ways I saved in addition to buying secondhand was to sign up for the site Honey which saved me extra money by automatically checking for discount codes before placing my order. I admit it feels really good to see emails like these:

…and know that you only actually spent like a total of $200 out of pocket. So checkout those discount sites. If you are new to ThredUP, you can also get $10 off by using my code to signup (full disclosure, I also get $10), then share your code with a friend and you both save money too.

I also sent in a clean out bag

…now this is where it gets a little controversial. If you search the Internet, you will find that people have plenty to say about ThredUP when it comes to selling. Honestly, they do not pay much. I sent in 24 items and four still had tags. Eleven were accepted. They bought ten items outright and gave me the credit. One item was listed as consignment which means that they weren’t sure how it would sell, I would also have control over the pricing of that item if it didn’t sell. I didn’t have to worry though because it sold within a week. So how much did I make from my bag? About $15. There was probably about $200 worth of items that still had tags. So lesson here is that you are not going to make money off of selling to ThredUP. If that is you plan, just take your items to a consignment shop. However, if you are just going to donate to one of those clothes bins (which actually just sell your clothes wholesale anyway), then why not try ThredUP and see what you get? I already have another bag ready to go. The tip is to check out their blog and see what they are in need of. I sent in 8 pairs of shorts that were in good condition that just didn’t fit me anymore. They accepted all 8 because that was listed as one of their current needs. If it is summer and you send sweaters, you are unlikely to get such a high acceptance rate.

Buying secondhand can be a great experience. I have had so many compliments on the items I have worn so far. I also feel like I have upgraded my wardrobe a bit better than my Target and Old Navy budget can afford. If you decide to give ThredUP a try, here are some tips to make your experience successful:

  1. Items only stay in your cart for 24 hours. So if you love an item, buy it as soon as possible. Items sell quickly. I had a pair of shoes that I was debating about and missed out when my cart expired. I only missed it by five minutes, but they sold that quickly.
  2. Make sure to check for discount codes before you checkout. If you are new to the site, there is also first time buyer codes as well as first time app user codes. They also had a special sale for Earth Day, so watch for special events like that too.
  3. If you are not buying right away, make sure to favorite the items you are adding to your cart. I missed a cart expiring, but was able to quickly find my items because they were listed on my favorited items page. I currently have another group of items I like, but won’t be devastated if they sell to someone else. This way, when my second clean out bag is processed, I have a list of items waiting for that account credit.
  4. Use the filters for searching. You can search for items by brand like Ann Taylor Loft or by item like dresses. You can also set a filter for your size. Remember though that brands differ in their sizes. I might be a large with one brand, but a extra large with another. I wish you could search by prints, but the closest the keywords work is for colors. So if you are looking for a blue blouse with dragonflies, no luck. However, if you are looking for any blue blouse, you can filter for it. The filter still needs a little work though. Now that I have discovered the magic of skorts, I have tried searching for them. No luck, but scrolling through the all items category there are several listed in my size…and they go quick!
  5. Check out the descriptions. All items, except for purses and final sale items can be returned. So if you unsure, just remember that you can return items, but even the description might be inaccurate. I was buying like new items only at first and one sweater had a big hole and a blouse a paint stain on the sleeve. I sent them back for the credit to my account. Buying only like new was going to be my deciding factor, but then I had that experience. Once my clean out bag was processed, I also saw that one of the new with tags dresses was listed as showing wear and no mention of the tags. So now I am a little more open about my selections…as long as it is returnable.
  6. Wash items carefully. Once you receive the item and are sure you are going to keep it, make sure to wash it. These are secondhand items after all. I urge you to be careful though. I turned a load of laundry splotchy pink because of a scarf I bought. Thankfully, I caught it before it went in the dryer. A second wash with a scoop of Oxyclean saved the day.
  7. Do some sleuthing before buying. A lot of the retail prices are guesstimates based on the market. So if you are not familiar with the brand, check out the prices on their site first. For example, a lot of the Old Navy stuff can typically be purchased for similar prices brand new on clearance on the Old Navy site. Though I have purchased items if I really liked them and knew it was no longer being sold. ThredUP tries to carry only items in style within the past five years.
  8. If you are planning on selling, make sure your items are clean and something you would buy yourself. i.e. don’t sent items with stains or holes. Check out the blog for what is selling. Pants right now are a no. My first item to sell actually was a pair of khakis, but there are so many dress pants on the site, that they are unlikely to take them. Also suits will be listed as separates.

Happy Thrifting!

Thrifting Haul

Saturday was our 17th wedding anniversary. My husband asked me what I wanted to do and I said thrifting. So we went to two locations of our local thrift store. I love going after Christmas because you can find the treasure that people cleared out of their houses prior to the holidays as well as the stuff they donated to make room for the new stuff. Sometimes you even find stuff with price tags still attached. Here are some of my haul from this trip:

This is our senior dog, Ruby, photobombing here.

Total, I spent $31 on everything. I am not sure on individual prices for some of them because the one location we went to gave me a discount on the holiday stuff and the receipt just totals up how many were $1 or $2, etc. Maybe because I am a librarian, I like researching things. I looked up some of the items. Those iron script words “live laugh love” are available online for about $18 and I got them for $1.00. The red glass candle jars had the original price tags on them of $16.99 each; they were two for $3. The ceramic owls dish has a price sticker from one of those designer discount stores for $16.99 which means original price was probably more than that. Those yarns are discontinued, but can still be purchased places for $6.50 each. They cost $1.00 each. Total I estimate that my thrifting haul has a value over $125 if I had purchased them new. Maybe more since I could not find exact matches and that is a bit of a guesstimate, but the value is not why I like thrifting. (BTW those mysterious green things were my husband’s pick. They are Christmas light storage wheels.)

Yes, it is cool to find out that the item you bought for $1 is actually worth 20x what you paid, but it is more about getting stuff you like and not spending a lot for it. Some of my favorite furniture finds came from our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I have a pair of wicker chairs I purchased for $75 total and a pretty nice red dresser in my foyer that I picked up for $50…sorry, no pictures of those. We took down the holiday decorations and the elves still need to clean up after the fake pine needles and melted sow.

Back in high school, I spent a lot of my paycheck at my local Goodwill on clothes. I had a fascination with men’s wool sports coats and then vests during warmer months. That was my signature style to the point where our underclass-mates put on a skit when we were graduating and the girl playing me had a men’s vest over her T-shirt to show who she was playing. Then when my son was a baby, I once again turned to Goodwill for my professional attire as the paychecks were a little tight. These days, I mainly purchase from the clearance sections at Target, Old Navy, and Kohl’s. Oh, and can’t forget about Ross. I make an annual trip on my birthday to Ross to purchase new wardrobe additions.

I no longer buy my clothes from thrifting mainly because our local thrift stores do not have the level of organization of color, style, and size that Goodwill has, which is too far away. I don’t have the patience for it anymore. But I love looking through the artwork and jewelry to see what I can find. Thrifting can be overwhelming, but it is fun.

Have you scored any treasure thrifting? Tell us about it in the comments.

Browsing the Shelves

This has been a slow couple of days for me in terms of creativity. We didn’t go anywhere for Thanksgiving and dinner was pretty much an open the box or bag and dump it in kind of meal. I wasn’t really feeling the inspiration. Then my husband ended up getting sick. My son didn’t feel good the next day, so I threw out our Turkey leftovers thinking it could be the possible culprit. Yesterday, I found out that there is a stomach bug going around the county, so maybe not a fowl culprit after all. Though I still wasn’t feeling the spirit to get much done. I did my shopping online as part of early-bird sales for cardholders for two stores. My son needed new sneakers, so we did brave one store during the late mornings on Thursday. The lines were still pretty long even at 11am.

Shopping this year has had me thinking about what shopping used to be like, not just for Black Friday, but in general. Where I live now does not have a major chain bookstore. We have a small independent shop that has some new books, but mostly they are used books. Today, I received a newsletter email from a learning professional discussing his recent trip to a bookstore in NYC. It was one of those brick and mortar stores that Amazon has been opening in major cities. The books on the shelf are determined by the popular items sold in the online store and then a group of very similar curated titles that the algorithm thinks the reader might also be interested in. Pretty cool idea, but it had me thinking back to bookstores when I was a kid.

When I was much much younger, it used to be a thrill to take my allowance, then later my paycheck, to the bookstore at the two malls I frequented: Waldens and Barnes & Noble. As a teenager, the only reason I went to malls was either for the movies or for the bookstore. Many times it was both. I could usually convince my dad to go with me to the movies if it included a stop at the bookstore. He was my partner in crime and would usually give extra money for books.

While the bookstores of my youth were chain bookstores, they held just as much magic for me as the independent stores that people still mourn today. So many choices and so many worlds to explore. My go-to sections were always the Historical Romances and the Sci-Fi/Fantasy sections. I never left the store without at least four paperbacks in hand. Many of my favorite authors were discovered through browsing the shelves for hours before I decided how my money would be spent that day. There were no smartphones to allow for “showrooming” by adding books to a virtual cart for purchase later (or at a cheaper price) while browsing a physical space. If I really wanted something, I had to get it there. One of my favorite authors today is Tamora Pierce and I happened on her books by chance because one had been misshelved and I saw it while looking for something else.

I have several booklists now of to-be-read items both on Amazon and through my local library’s website, but browsing through a virtual list is not the same as browsing the physical shelves. It is not the same at the used bookstores or the library either because while there are plenty of treasures, these are not always new books. Plus, today we read reviews from other readers or blog posts before we purchase. There are even media campaigns against certain authors even before their books are published. Our choices are shaped by the input of others. Our discovery has been hampered by the information available to us.

I think this year, I might take my son to one of the malls a couple of hours away just so he can browse the shelves at the bookstore and find a treasure of his own. No starred reviews, no comments from teachers about what is on his reading level, no feedback from strangers about why no one should read the book or why everyone should read the book. Just discovery and enjoyment.

Blogger…there’s an app for that

I made a decision over the weekend and ditched the Blackberry in favor of the LG Vortex. So far I have not been disappointed. It sychs with all my google stuff, I can even get blogger. Though I have to say that my all time favorite app is GroceryIQ which is a free app provided by coupon.com. This app is available for both android and apple which means I can make a list on my iPad and have the list at hand on the phone while cruising the aisles at Wal-Mart.

What makes this app better than any others that I have tried is that it will list the items according to grocery aisle and I can input the price of an item so that next time I add it to my list it will keep a running total of what my grocery trip is going to cost me. I can also specify more that one grocery or warehouse club store and either designate items specifically to a certain store or list it as available for any store.

Yes, I am of the school that technology makes life better. What apps are your favorites?