Saturday, June 30, 2012

penny collecting

some people hate coins and having change around in their pockets, purse or other money-carrying contraption. in the past few years when money's been tighter than ever and I've been on my own, i've started saving every piece of coinage that comes my way. it definitely pays off, though does require a hit of patience. it's also something Trevor and I do together, making it special for us and contributes to something fun for us to do together. just another way to save your pennies!! literally. as you can see, we even throw dollar bills in the jar to help it accrue funds quicker.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

storing herbs for optimal use

if you're anything like me, you hate having to do it but have to throw out food or herbs that have gone bad (also why we built a compost bin). to avoid having to do this with herbs, be sure to properly store them. after washing the herbs in cool water, dampen a paper towel and wrap it around the herbs. you can just use this method and stick them in the fridge like so, but I prefer to also use a large ziplock baggy to ensure freshness. now your herbs can last longer in your fridge! happy cooking!

Friday, June 22, 2012

shopping in your pretty panties

as i'm sure you already know (unless you've been living in a cave deep in a faraway jungle), this here fancy internet is a haven for online shoppers. if you read the how-to guide i wrote for vintge, thrift and consignment shopping (if you didn't - go here and follow the archives to see all 3 parts) and you are realizing you're not the type to dig through racks and racks of clothes, maybe online boutiques are more up your alley. i am willing to share a few of my prized websites for affordable and stylish clothes.

it can be hard to control your impulses when presented with the ease of the internet, but remember a few things so you don't have to live with any guilt for overspending. 
  • head to the sale section first - if you find enough cute things on sale or clearance, you may be able to steer clear of regular-priced merchandise altogether. i've found AMAZING designer pieces for $100 or less, which were originally $300-500. 

  • check a few different websites - often times, different sites and online boutiques carry the same or very similar items. browse a few sites and see if you can find a better deal!

  • know your measurements - it can be hard to gauge the sizes of different designers and brands. with a little investigating, you can find the size charts and specifics somewhere on the site. this can save you the effort of returning anything.

my faves!

Shopbop : be sure to give yourself a LOT of time to get started on this site. based out of Madison, Wisconsin, shopbop carries a wide range of designers, price ranges and styles. if you're searching for an amazing Alexander Wang dress and can spend 6 hundo, you can find it here. great features like the Wishlist and My Designers allow you to track not only your purchases, but things you've browsed and your little heart desires. also great for sharing with friends and family around the holidays and your birthday!

a page from the 2012 Threadsence summer lookbook. cute!
Threadsence : this super-cute online shop features amazing styles for reasonable prices and inspirational lookbooks to give you ideas. i also follow threadsence on facebook and Instagram, which gives me instant access to new items and looks on the daily (follow me @sakioto). the ladies of threadsence will even run "shop or drop?" campaigns to allow us as the consumers to decide what's listed in the shop or not. it's awesome! 

Nasty Gal : another LA-based online boutique in the realm of Threadsence, with just a teensy bit more edge and punk. i also follow these gals on Instagram, where i can see behind-the-scenes shots and pics of the ladies at happy hour. personally i like seeing the faces behind the computer screen where i buy my cute stuff. there's no denying that with a name like "nasty gal," this website is  sure to fulfill some of my retail needs. 

Zappos : what started as a shoe website has grown into a massive online warehouse of high-end and bargain shoes, clothing, accessories and even beauty products. 24-hour free shipping (both ways, should you need to return anything) and an insanely friendly customer service staff makes Zappos a favorite for millions. if you go in without anything to look for, be careful: you may end up spending way more than you bargained for!
currently coveting these boots from
Zappos. under $100!

and with this, i send you off into the great wide world of online boutiques and shopping. look for good deals and check back often!! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012

a new how-to: vintage, thrift and consignment shopping

part 3: at last, the finish line

by this point we've disclosed a whole lot of shopping secrets and you can now use these last few tips to finalize your purchases, and most likely, learn to improve your methods even further. 

1. try EVERYTHING on

no matter how many other things in your closet are from the same brand, or how "true to size" you think you might be, you MUST try everything on. since the clothing is used, it's probably been washed and worn enough so the item does not fit like new. vintage sizes are very different from our sizes today and look different on the hanger than on your body, so it must ALL be tried on. many vintage shop owners know their merchandise well enough to give you some advice on the different sizes and what may fit your body type. don't be afraid to ask for help or advice - these people have devoted a lot of time to vintage clothing and style, and have a wealth of knowledge about what's in their store. 

2. always check the Sale rack

vintage hand-knit sequined dolman
sweater - $28 at Amsterdam flea market, 2007
most people think it's pointless to check any thrift, vintage or consignment sale racks, but they are sorely mistaken. i've found some of my favorite pieces on the Sale or Clearance rack. i have to admit that the satisfaction of getting an even better deal on an already discounted item is pretty amazing. i've been to a few consignment stores that mark the date each item came to the store, and discount that price even further after 2 dates; if it doesn't sell by the first of those 2 dates it's marked down 20%, and after another period of time it goes all the way down to 50% off. these are great deals and important to your consignment success!

3. don't forget the accessories!

it's easy to lose track of what's fully available when you are perusing rack after rack of clothes. before you do your final scan, edit and decision-making, check out the accessories available. sometimes they are mixed in with the clothing and displayed to flow with your shopping, and at thrift stores they are generally categorized by item and are sometimes in a different part of the store. 
clockwise from left: vintage gold/black chain mail shoulder
purse, vintage black envelope shoulder purse, vintage blue
oversized clutch, vintage red snakeskin clutch and
vintage blush Miu Miu hobo bag

4. if at first you don't succeed, try, try again

the merchandise at thrift, vintage and consignment stores is constantly changing. one trip you might only find one small shirt you like but the next time, you could walk out with an armful of good bargains. they key to finding the good stuff is to go to your favorite shops often. once you get good at this kind of shopping, you'll figure out which stores carry the brands you like and which thrift stores have the good stuff. i live within walking distance of 3 thrift and consignment shops in my small little mountain town; the number of recycled clothing stores in any city is quickly rising.

below i've listed some thrift and consignment shops to get you started or give you more ideas as to what's available in your city.

Buffalo Exchange - Buffalo has been a steady shopping spot for me since i first discovered them in Chicago in 2004. a national chain consignment store, their policies are fair for all and the staff is always fabulous and stylish. ask them for advice if you're unsure about something!

Crossroads - this is another great consignment store in the realm of Buffalo Exchange. hip, trendy and high quality items abound.

Plato's Closet - again, a trusted source for up-to-date fashions and lots of it. Clothes Mentor is owned by the same people but caters to more mature customers.

Savers - this thrift store chain does good by donating profits to local charities and organizations, and can also be a gold mine for bargains. each store is dependent on the merchandise that comes through, so its important to be patient and try a few times before counting it out. my favorite Savers is the one on Kietzke in Reno. i never leave empty-handed!

Out of the Closet - this San Francisco-based thrift store benefits many organizations just like Savers, but also offers free HIV testing to the public. the merchandise can be overwhelming, but with a little time and know-how, you can find some real gems.

Wasteland - this California-based consignment company has a wide array of designer and vintage merchandise, with locations in both LA and San Francisco. i've sold many items to Wasteland and walked out with plenty as a trade.

do you have any favorite stores or locations to add? please share!!

with this, i send you off into the great world of recycled fashion shopping. you are armed and ready to find great bargains that fit your style. let us know how it turns out! follow @sakioto on Instagram and/or use the tag #resourcefulbetty to show us the goods.
happy bargain hunting!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

a new how-to: vintage, thrift and consignment shopping

part 2: the search begins

now that you've studied your designers, know your style and what's around, you can really get into your groove to find some good duds and bargains. i've got some more helpful info for you in part 2, so you can make the most of your shopping trips.

1. clean out your closet

with consignment shopping, part of the idea is to trade with the shop. this way, you will not spend as much money as without the trade, and they will in turn get some new merchandise from you. a few things to remember:

  • consignment stores will only accept clothing that is still in good to mint condition (new is best), so be sure to inspect your items before taking them to consign; remember that everything can be donated if its not sold
  • know the different types of consignment stores; some will pay you cash up front for your items (Buffalo Exchange and Plato's Closet will both use this process), whereas other consignment stores will pay you for the items once they have been sold (usually true of smaller, locally owned shops)
  • don't be offended if they don't take any of your items; consignment stores purchase clothing that's not only well-kept, but also stylish and on-trend (or a classic item, like a Chanel jacket)
Marc Jacobs butterfly sleeve blouse - $26 at Buffalo
Exchange in 2008; sold $15 of clothing, actual price paid: $11

2. prepare yourself mentally

with any of this resourceful shopping, its important to be patient and be prepared to dig. and dig, and dig, and dig. to find the really good stuff requires a lot of scouring and looking through racks of clothes. this is especially true of thrift stores, where things are not categorized much further beyond the type of garment. at consignment stores, they've done half the work for you already, by buying higher quality used clothing. vintage boutiques also do a lot of the work for you, hence the higher price tag than if you were to find the item yourself at a thrift store.

3. be patient

from part 1, you should already know what kinds of things you are looking for, so as not to feel overwhelmed. you might be going through racks and racks of long-sleeved shirts, for instance if that's one thing you need, and are not finding anything you like. rather than pick up the first thing that catches your eye that does not fill your requirement of being long-sleeved (unless it is so absolutely fabulous you can't live without it), try to pass it over. my routine, once in the store, is to grab anything that might fit my body and my style, and filter through everything before purchasing. just remember to be patient and maybe that special item you're looking for is at a different store. it's best not to force it!

studded Blank NYC shorts $13,
Genetic Denim dark skinnies,
$13, both from Plato's Closet, 2012

armed with this information, i suggest you take some time to do even more research as to what's available in your area (i will give region-specific recommendations in part 3) and what items might be needed in your closet. remember that when you're cleaning out your closet to trade and consign clothes, the store will be looking for season-appropriate items. save your winter consignment for the fall, and right now in the early summer, aim to trade summer and light fall clothing. this should help you make the most of what you've already got! 

part 3 will complete the series on Friday, with more tips for hunting and making the right purchases. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

a new how-to: vintage, thrift and consignment shopping

part 1: educate thyself

for years now i've been very fond of this resourceful kind of shopping. i find that i get the most complements on outfits and pieces than are unique, and usually not brand new. after talking to some of my friends and realizing just how much used clothing is in my closet, i decided to share this wealth of knowledge (along with some tips from trusted, fellow vintage-loving ladies).  the most important thing before a thrift or vintage mission is to be educated and knowledgeable about a few things.

1. know your style

sometimes i feel like i might spend a little too much time reading and keeping up with fashion; then i remind myself there is no such thing as too much fashion. when opting for recycled fashion, know what is in style, what the classics are, and what defines your personal style. i read a variety of websites and follow others on Instagram to keep up with trends and what trends suit my own style. check out style.comwhowhatweardaily, and Song of Style for ideas, photos, designer info and more. not only is it important to know your trends, but knowing about designers and the different values of their clothes is equally important.

2. know your designers and brands

vintage DVF shirtdress; paid $20
in 2006
the whole point of buying recycled and used clothing is for the bargain, right? so finding an item by a cheaper brand really isn't worth the search or has the same thrill as finding a Prada blouse. it takes time to learn about designers and their styles are constantly evolving, just like our own. if the item you are looking doesn't require high quality then some inexpensive brands will do the job. for example, recently i wanted a few things to wear at festivals but since it's a fairly dirty place, i don't want to buy anything new or expensive. i went to my favorite Savers in Reno and found 2 long, comfy, inexpensive skirts. 
lightly used Jil Stuart floral dress;
paid $13 in 2011

3. know your needs

there is nothing worse than feeling guilty about spending too much money on things you don't really need (OK, there are worse things but let's stick with this context). after studying up on your designers and trends, think about what you already have that could be used in a different way to suit a trend, and only then think about what you could add to your wardrobe. this is an important factor to have a successful vintage or thrift shopping trip, so as to make the most of what's offered at the store. 

4. know your stores

it's helpful to do some research about which and what type of used clothing stores are in your area. this could mean asking your girlfriends who shop vintage, checking yelp for different reviews or starting at your local thrift store to get in the mood for searching and scouring racks. different consignment and vintage stores will cater to different customers, so it's good to know ahead of time what you're looking for. it's also helpful to know the different types of consignment, but i'll get into that more later.

important terms

vintage - generally refers to crafted, quality pieces that are 20-25+ years old
consignment - the store buys, sells and trades more current fashions; some vintage, sometimes more items by higher-end designers 
thrift - used, non-categorized items, usually sold to benefit different organizations rather than a small business
damask - tag is sewn properly onto item; the threads and stitches can be seen on the outside of garment

Saturday, June 9, 2012

for the love of leeks

some of you may still be wondering what exactly leeks are, since reading my post about the breakfast scramble I made with leftover sauteed leeks. part of the onion family, leeks are kind of like a giant, mild-flavored green onion. I prefer mine sliced and sautéed with olive oil, salt and pepper. before slicing and dicing those leeks up though, be sure to let the stalks soak in cold water so as to clean them properly. since the leeks are ultimately made up of many thin layers, sand and dirt can live in there well past harvest. it should look like the photo here. once cleaned and cut, the leeks will only take about 5 to 7 minutes to cook, until almost transparent. et voila! there you have a yummy and very healthy vegetable for any meal. Bon appetit!

efficient errands

two days ago, Trevor and i desperately needed groceries and other supplies, so we made the 30 mile trip to Reno from Truckee to stock up and save. living in the mountains is spectacular in many ways, but is not at all cost-effective. its really expensive to live in this area, but the trade-off makes it worthwhile (usually). to be most efficient during our errands, we made the trip around Reno and all of our stops without going out of our way at all. we also made sure to get our groceries from WinCo, an employee-owned grocery chain, where everything is half the price it is at the Truckee Safeway. we even got to see our good friends Kristyn and Barrett, on our way out of town. though these trips require dropping a little more cash at one time than normal, the payoff and savings are huge. when running errands, being efficient saves time, energy and gas. all good things!

coming soon: a How-To guide to cosignment, thrift and vintage shopping. any ideas or comments for the multi-post series are appreciated!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

big sister b-day

today i MUST post in honor of my beautiful, amazing big sister Erin, as she has been a great influence on me that i am so grateful for, in countless ways. Erin has always been a super resourceful Betty; i remember her teaching herself to make brownies from scratch while still in high school. today, Erin is a mother to my nephews Emmett and Abel and a wife to her hubby Dwight. on top of her domestic duties and resourcefulness, my sister is an attorney in Minneapolis (the good kind of attorney). i couldn't be more proud to call Erin my big sister, among other positive things: yogini, mother, wife, daughter, lawyer, writer and friend. happy birthday Erin, i love you and can't wait to be home with you again. 

Emmett and Abel, ages 2 and 2 days
Erin and I in Tahoe, 2010

Monday, June 4, 2012

a garden surprise

a few weeks ago, before i left for the festival in SoCal, i came across a few sprouted plants, between the bed of pine needles, that resembled a rhubarb patch. a few days ago, Trevor came across the same patch of plants and was very clear about his excitement for the rhubarb (for those of you unfamiliar with the plant, Google search "rhubarb" and you can find the Wikipedia as well as Google info). both Trevor and i have memories of the rhubarb growing in our backyards as kids in the Midwest. the patch has already doubled in size since i first came across it!

although i remember eating some rhubarb sauce or pie as a kid, i haven't eaten it in years (my mom makes some of the best sweet rhubarb sauce - reserved now mostly for my stepdad's sweet tooth). now that i have a rhubarb patch right in my backyard, i guess i will have to put it to use and be resourceful. it only makes sense. 

after doing some research and recipe-searching on these here Interwebs, i think i've found a jam recipe worth of trying, made with rhubarb, sugar, candied ginger and lemon juice. personally, i prefer jam recipes that are all natural and do not contain pectin. i love ginger and its health benefits seem endless, so i will be giving this one a shot: Rhubarb Jam with Ginger. Trevor also wants to make a strawberry-rhubarb pie, which we will do together and use his family's old recipe. should be pretty special.

once i harvest this rhubarb and make a batch of jam, i will be sure to update you, my dear readers, with progress and results. until then, sayonara!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

being resourceful with food leftovers

i remember being a kid and telling my mom, "there is NOTHING in the fridge to eat!" and she would always tell me, "oh kari there are SO many leftovers!" and indeed there was. never a day went by when we didn't have leftovers or frozen soups and sauces that my mom would make way in advance. i realize now how much of a money-saver this can be, not to mention delicious!!

one of my favorite ways to use leftovers is in my breakfast scramble. since adopting a near-gluten-free diet i have become very fond of incorporating vegetables, protein and sometimes goat's cheese into scrambled eggs. it is pretty much the most satisfying breakfast ever. last night i made some delicious carne asada tacos, and this morning used leftover grilled beef with some previously sauteed leeks and mushrooms. i cooked the veggies first this past Tuesday night (today is Saturday), which makes them still good to use and a great way to eat my veggies first thing in the morning. mushrooms contain Vitamin D and leeks are cleansing for the body.

next, i made sure to cut the already-cooked carne asada meat into smaller pieces, better for sauteeing and bite-sized for an egg scramble. i cooked the meat first for about 2 minutes, with a dab of butter in the pan, then added the vegetables to cook for another few minutes. finally, i added the scrambled egg mixture (we used 3 eggs for 2 people and it was a lot of food for each of us!). here's an idea of what the process looked like:

to complete the breakfast dish, i put a bit of salsa verde next to the scramble on the plate, in addition to a few slices of organic heirloom tomato and a warm corn tortilla. this is only one example of the countless ways to make an egg scramble and use what's already in your fridge. thanks mom, for teaching me the importance of leftovers and to be resourceful with them. 

other scramble combination ideas:

scallions, ham, goat cheese
bacon, mushrooms, kale or chard
spinach, feta cheese, artichoke hearts (a few small pieces only)
pancetta, goat cheese, sun dried tomato or roasted red pepper
breakfast sausage, cheese of your choice and sweet potato

the possibilities are endless!! happy scrambling!

Friday, June 1, 2012

a home practice

as a devout yogini, i make an effort to practice with my teacher at her studio at least twice a week. i pay about $10 for each class, which is actually a really good price for a class with Ann Marie (check out her studio website, although the price is right, i felt the need to continue my yoga practice at home at least one more time a week. last week i discovered that our large kitchen was a great spot, though i then had some foot traffic from my roommates while i was practicing (hard to avoid). yesterday when i woke up at 9am i knew it would already be too hot to go for a run so i found a spot in our backyard where i could set up my yoga mat for a one-hour home practice. we have a spot in the yard with a few chairs and flat space, like so:
this way, i had no distractions and was able to practice yoga outside among the sequoia and pine trees. if you have the space outside or inside your home, even if a temporary setup, i highly recommend finding the time for a home practice. yoga and meditation have been invaluable to my well-being and if you have any interest in starting a home practice, i suggest checking out for helpful tips and poses to practice at home. i'd like to especially thank my big sister Erin for introducing me to yoga almost a decade ago. through this shared love we have grown even closer and physically and emotionally healthier. thank you Erin, i love you!!!