Find of the Week – August 6, 2013…Designer Finds, Cynthia Rowley & Sigrid Olsen

Another great week at the thrift store…Cynthia Rowley & Sigrid Olsen!

I did my weekly foray at my favorite Goodwill yesterday. After an hour+ of shopping, I hadn’t found anything. I was about to give up for the day when they started rolling racks of women’s clothes out of the back room. I LOVE it when that happens! There’s nothing better than getting first dibs on the new stuff. (Running to the new racks is one of my big Thrifting Tips). What did I find? A pretty 100% silk two-piece embellished tank and skirt from Sigrid Olsen, I love the pattern! (cost $10.99, retail about $250), and my favorite find so far this Summer, a Cynthia Rowley designer dress that will be perfect for fall! (cost $9.99, retail $350+) Can’t wait to sport this one with some cute ankle boots come September…both items are in perfect condition. I had a $10 gift card (thank you Goodwill Club Blue!) so my total was only $11! Viva la Thrifting!

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What are your great thrift store finds? I want to hear ! Tell me in the Leave a Reply/Comment section.

Find(s) of the Week…Tiffany! (and some Cute Hype Shoes)

It’s Time For…FIND OF THE WEEK!

Another great week for thrifting. I ran out in the rain for a run to my fav Goodwill this afternoon, and what did I find? A FABULOUS Tiffany and Co. Silver Necklace! I paid $50 for it, a serious bargain. I’ll be honest, I already have a nice silver Tiffany & Co. necklace, so I’ll be selling this one on Ebay to help pay for the other goodies I find for my closet* (actually no I won’t, see the Follow Up below)

And…2 adorable pairs of near new Hype wedges, $11.99 for the leather with red bits ones and $6.40 for the green ones.

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So go thrifting and find your treasures! What did YOU find out there this week? Please share your finds in the comments section.

FOLLOW UP: OK, it turns out the Tiffany necklace was a fake reproduction. Sigh. Yes, even yours truly can be fooled! It IS solid silver, but not Tiffany. Ebay has great guides to identify fakes and repros, the one for Tiffany is here:
http://www.ebay.com/gds/how-to-spot-fake-tiffany-jewelry/10000000001241859/g.html
  Thankfully I bought it at Goodwill so I can return it. Lesson learned! Now I know how to tell fake Tiffany jewelry.

Happy Cinco De Mayo! It’s Fresh PALOMA Time! Here is my Own Personal Recipe…

Did you know the most popular tequila drink in Mexico is NOT the Margarita but the Paloma? The Paloma (Spanish for “dove”, thank you Wikipedia) is a tequila-based cocktail, usually prepared by mixing tequila with a grapefruit-flavored soda and served on the rocks with a lime wedge. Well, I’m not a soda gal, but I do love fresh grapefruit juice. I was first sold on this cocktail at Pinche Taqueria here in Denver on York & Colfax (they have a killer Happy Hour 3-6pm, and their fresh delicious Palomas are only $3!) and loved it so much I played with the drink at home and came up with my own version (sans soda). I call it La Paloma Fantasía. (the Fancy Paloma)

Note: To Salt or not to SaltSalt is always optional, but if you’re a salty-type, just rub a grapefruit wedge around the rim of your glass and dip the damp rim in margarita or kosher salt. Also, I don’t believe in exact measurements for cocktails, you should always adjust to your taste…

La Paloma Fantasía

A LARGE chilled glass (I don’t fool around with tiny cocktails)

1/3 cup FRESH-squeezed grapefruit juice (this is crucial in my book)

1-2 Tablespoons FRESH Lime juice

1 Tablespoon Agave

2-3 Ounces Quality Tequila*

A splash-1/2 Ounce Grand Mariner (my secret weapon)

1/4-1/2 Cup Club Soda (or your favorite sparkling water to top off the glass)

Combine all the ingredients except the club soda in a cocktail shaker about half full of ice, shake it up, and pour over a little ice in your large chilled glass, and top with the club soda or sparkling water of your choice. Garnish if you like with a lime wedge, a grapefruit wedge, a sprig of mint or cilantro, whatever tickles your fancy. This refreshing, delicious summer cocktail will become one of your favorites! Use caution, this cocktail is so tasty it’s waaay to easy to drink too many of these 😉

*The quality of your tequila matters. Choose a pure agave tequila for the best taste. If Patron (my favorite) is out of your budget, try Sauza. It’s a good one for the price.

Enjoy your Cinco De Mayo! I’m off to make home-made tortillas to go along with my Paloma Fantasía…

 My Fantasy Cocktail Shaker from Nambe’…

Find(s) of the Week

It’s time for Find of the Week!

It seemed to be Shoe Week for me on my usual Thrift Store foray…two thrift shop stops yielded these 3 cute pairs of designer shoes in my size. I love it when that happens. Yes, they are not perfect, but they look good, I dig them all and they have lots of wear left in them.

#1 Best Score: Dolce & Gabbana gold & vinyl pumps, Goodwill, $4.79 ($5.99 plus 20% Goodwill Club Blue discount)

#2 Stuart Weitzman Lucite-heeled pumps with crystals, ARC, $6.99

#3 Donald J. Pliner leopard pony hair slides, Goodwill, $3.19 ($3.99 plus 20% Goodwill Club Blue discount)

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Find of the Week, May 3, 2013

So get out there, have fun, and do some treasure hunting! (if you need some tips on Thrifting check out my “Thrifting It: the Thrift Store Shopper’s guide to finding the Good Stuff 2-part series)

I’d love to hear about your great treasure-hunting finds! Please share them in the comments section below.

It’s almost First Friday! What’s happening in Denver Art this Weekend…

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Carol Browning and Karen Roehl
Ice Cube Gallery
May 2 – 25, 2013
Opening Reception: Friday May 3, 5 – 9pm
Artist’s Reception: Friday May 24, 5 – 9pm

It’s almost First Friday!

May is shaping up to be a big one here in Denver. I know I’ll be out for my favorite FREE Night on the Town! Also, Saturday is FREE DAY at the Denver Art Museum! Another fun Saturday high-light is the new Eron Johnson Antiques Urban Outdoor Market (https://www.facebook.com/events/473982252674173/?fref=ts) I’ll be there for sure.

Courtesy of denverarts.org (be sure and sign up for this great art newsletter!), here is the line-up of arts events over the next few days: (remember some of the museum exhibits do charge admission, but all the galleries are F.R.E.E.! Click the exhibit links for more information)

[Upcoming Events from the DenverArts.org Calendar]

May 02, 2013
May 03, 2013
May 04, 2013
May 05, 2013
May 08, 2013

Thrifting It, the Thrift Store Shopper’s Starter Kit, How to find the Good Stuff, Part 2

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Thrifting It, A Thrift Store Shopper’s Starter Kit, How to find the Good stuff, Part 2

In Part 1, we started out with 9 Thrift Store Shopping Tips (read Part 1 HERE) Today we’ll cover: How to get the “hidden” discounts you probably don’t know about, How being nice can pay big dividends, the in’s and outs of some of the bigger thrift chains, and more. Here are the next 5 tips:
Part 2 (#1-9 in PART 1)

#10. Before you go, Make a list. (Yes, I know. This tip should have been in Part 1… ) I keep a little notebook in my purse of all the things I’m looking for. Believe me, you’ll forget. For example if I’m in my closet and see my favorite black t-shirt has a hole in it, I toss it and I write “black t-shirt” in my little book. Looking for a new dresser? Table? Lamp? Write it in the book, with the dimensions of where it goes. It’s heartbreaking when you find a great piece and bring it home only to discover it’s too big. Review your list of needs before you walk in the store. What’s on my list right now? 2 84″ curtain rods , a 10″ black or gray lampshade, long sleeve black T-shirt (I wasn’t kidding about that one), comfy black flats, and 2 nightstands.

#11. Navigating the store: How to save time. Every store is a little bit different. Some are well organized, and some are, well, a cluster-you-know-what. The organized ones are obviously easier to get through, but the sheer volume of stuff can be daunting. Have a plan. If you want to look at everything, pick one area to start in, roll through that area, then on to the next. I’ll usually start in one corner and work methodically, scanning down each aisle in order from front to back or side to side. Scanning the shelves with your eyes is the key. If you try to look at each individual item you’ll be there for days. For clothing, know your size, but be prepared to look further. Most stores are pretty good about organizing sizes, but I find mixed up sizes all the time. The biggest time saver in scanning the racks is knowing your colors. All of us have our signature colors we look great in, and colors that just look plain crappy on us. I know it’s considered an “old-fashioned” term,  but I know I am a true “winter”. I only look good in deep jewel tones, black, white and true reds. Put ivory or yellow on me and I look kind of, um, deathly. There are many tools on line that can help you find what colors look best on you if you don’t already know what “season” you are. Then when you do know,  just scan the racks for your colors. Major time-savor!  Want to find out what your colors are? A professional color analysis is best, but this link is a good place to start: http://www.colormebeautiful.com/seasons/index.html  And finally, if you’re like me, you’re looking for the good stuff. Go straight to the label. My method is, scan the rack starting at one end, when I see my color, I look at the label. If it’s a “good” label, spend a minute on further examination. If I like it, it goes in the cart. And then…

#12. OK, you’ve got a cart full of stuff. Now what? In Part 1 we told you to get a cart, and throw anything you’re interested in said cart. Now you’re done shopping and ready to check out. It’s time to look over your stuff. Find a quiet corner or table and go over every item in your cart carefully. Check hard goods for chips, scratches, dents and breaks. Go over every inch of your clothing items looking for stains, rips, and faded spots. Check any elastic for good stretch. Check all zippers, buttons and clasps to be sure they function properly. And lastly, be sure you really want it and can use it. Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean you need it. Don’t buy anything just because it’s a good deal (unless of course you can resell it, and we’ll talk about that in a future blog post. Be sure and subscribe to this blog!)

#13. Be nice. As we said in part 1, always be nice. While nice is in itself just a great way to be, it can pay off in a material sense, too. People really appreciate it when you’re nice and personable, and often respond in-kind. Some employees may tell you when the next big sale is, let you know when the next batch of new stuff is coming out on the floor, and, especially in the smaller, independent stores, they may even let you know when something you’ve been looking for comes in (the larger store just have too high of a turnover to be able to do this.) I’m on a first-name basis with most of the employees at my favorite thrift store. If nothing else, it just makes the experience more pleasant, and makes everyone’s day a little brighter.

#14. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; My impressions of the different thrift store chains. Here in Colorado, the big thrift store chains are Goodwill, ARC and Savers. (there are many smaller and independent thrift stores in Denver, many of which I’ll be covering in future blog posts) GOODWILL is the best, hands down. Here’s why: they’ve undergone a big re-do in resent years, and are endeavoring to run like a proper retail store. They have cleaner stores, better organization, nicer and more knowledgeable staff, & helpful floor managers. Unlike other chains, they take returns, not just exchanges. You can return anything you purchase at a Goodwill within ten days as long as you have the receipt and the original tag is still attached. (Everyone makes mistakes: I bought a pair of “Dior” shoes last week only to discover upon closer inspection at home that they were fakes. I’ll be returning them for a full refund on Monday.) This just makes life so much easier. (And, Goodwill now has a great discount program, which I’ll tell you about in #15.) They also have great hours and are open 7 days a week. ARC. The ARC is hit and miss, and usually more “miss” in my experience. Generally the stores are very overcrowded with merchandise, only half-heartedly organized, and for the most part I’m sorry to say, an uncaring staff. They will only exchange for store credit within 10 days (with receipt and tags attached). That being said, I still go, but not as often as to Goodwill. I just check my purchases over very very carefully. They do have good hours and are open 7 days a week. Because of the lack of organization and overcrowding, be prepared to spend more time hunting here. SAVERS. Savers is hit and miss as well (though my man says they are better for men’s wear) but at least they are well organized. The staff is pretty hit and miss, too, sometimes very helpful and sometimes uncaring. They will only exchange within 7 days (with receipt and tags) BUT you have to take your exchange The day you bring it back. They should really change this policy, as it is a deterrent to shopping there. That being said,  of course I’ll still go, shopping even more carefully.

#15. Where are those “hidden” discounts? Here again, Goodwill takes the thrifty cake. They recently started a Goodwill Club Card which gives you 20% any and all purchases over $25, AND they give you a $10 gift card when you have accumulated over $200 in spending over time. You just have to sign up for the card. You can sign up online at http://www.goodwill.com or at the register of any Goodwill store. Also, they have a 55 and over Senior discount of 25% off any purchase on Mondays, (Come on Mom, it’s time to go shopping!) and about one Saturday a month is 50% day. (more on half-off days below) Check out Goodwill’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/GoodwillDenver?ref=ts&fref=ts on Mondays, as they usually post a 25% off coupon that can be used that week. ARC also offers a Senior discount (55 and over), and has 50% off Saturdays, however “current” color tags are NOT included in the sale, which means all the new stuff that came in that week will not be on sale, unlike Goodwill where everything but “blue” tags is 50% off on their Saturday sales (blue tags are usually new, special high-end, vintage or collectable items) A word about 50% off days. They are pure unadulterated bedlam. Be prepared for an anxious crowd, grab your cart and watch it, (I’ve had items pilfered out of my cart before) Get there when they open (usually 8am, check the websites) for the best shot at the good stuff. It’s a challenging adventure, but it can be very rewarding.

I hope these tips get you fired up to go out and hunt for some treasures. I’ll continue talking about thirifting in the future, including new tips, local thrift store reviews, and showing off my “Finds of the Week”.  Subscribe using the link to the right, and you won’t miss a thing.
What are your best Thrift Store Finds? I want to know! Post them in the comments section below. Happy Thrifting!

By the way, I do not receive any sort of compensation for any products, stores or websites mentioned in these blogs. My recommendations are all based purely on my personal experience.

Best FREE Night on the Town Ever…

DenverArtFirstFriday1-1024x680Photo: Steve Crecelius for Visit Denver.SantaFePhoto Karen Barnhart Culturemob.com

April 5th is First Friday, which means First Friday Art Walks are happening all over Denver (and most larger cities nationwide). April is one of the busiest Art Walks of the year and is sure to be a fun night for looking at art and people watching. Art walks are my favorite free Night on the Town, great for dates, girl’s night, or just get out and wander on your own. Below are some Denver First Friday Art Walks, but if you’re not in Denver, just Google the name of your city and “First Friday Art Walks”.  Art Walk hours are usually 5-9pm.

A fun way to start out the evening is with a great Happy Hour cocktail (I’ll be talking about Denver’s Best Happy Hours in future blogs) or wine tasting. In the spirit of keeping it a FREE night on the town, Marczyk’s at 770 East 17th Ave has a great FREE wine tasting from 4-7pm every Friday. (BTW Marczyk’s a is a great place to discover your new favorite wine as most are only $10-$15 a bottle.) http://www.marczykfinefoods.com/wine-store/marczyk-fine-wines/
Note: Many galleries offer wine and/or snacks on First Friday. If you partake, be sure and toss a tip in the jar. It’s just good manners, and believe me, the galleries really appreciate it. Oh, and wear your walking shoes…

Denver’s First Friday Art Walks
1. Santa Fe Arts District – Mostly between 5th and 10th on Santa Fe Drive. This is the big one. It gets VERY crowded down there, and parking can be a challenge, so I recommend going early if you actually want to look at the art. Be adventurous! Don’t just go into the main galleries. There are all sorts of fascinating nooks and crannies and odd little artist’s studios to be discovered. You might even find a fabulous new piece of original art for your walls. (there are great art bargains to be had on Santa Fe) www.artdistrictonsantafe.com
2. River North Arts District (Rino)
I love Rino. This is my new favorite Art Walk. It’s a bit more spread out than Santa Fe so you may need to do some driving, but it’s well worth it. Some of my favorite spots are Plus, Hinterland, Ironton, Weilworks, Plinth, and Dry Ice, though there lots of great galleries and studios. There’s a map of the district at www.rivernortharts.com. Note: While Rino is alive and kicking on First Friday, their big night is Second Saturday (April 13th), with over 50 open studios, food trucks, and music.
3. Golden Triangle Arts District
If your art tastes are a little more high-end, this is the district for you. This one even has a Free art bus shuttle. (www.gtmd.org) There’s more here than you think. Lots of great galleries and studios, and of course the Denver Art Museum, the Kirkland, and the Clifford Still Museum are all located here (though they are not free, they are well worth a visit) This area is growing fast, with new galleries and studios popping up all the time. Some highlights are Walker Fine Art, William Havu Gallery, Gallery 1261, and Sandra Phillips Gallery.
4. Tennyson Street Cultural District
Located between 38th and 44th Avenues on Tennyson. This is a quaint and funky area, filled with cute shops, art galleries, studios and restaurants, as well as the Historic Oriental Theater. Quieter than the bigger art districts, it’s a good one for a romantic date night. www.tscd.org
5. Navajo Street Arts District
This is one of the original Denver Arts Districts, located between 35th and 37th Streets. (www.navajostreetartdistrict.com) Home to the venerable Pirate Contemporary Art, a Denver Art Scene fixture for over 30 years. There are many other fun and eclectic galleries and studios here. It’s always an adventure.

If you happen to miss First Friday, have no fear. Many areas now have Second Saturday Art Walks, including a big one in Rino and the up-and-coming East Colfax Bluebird District. There’s also the Third Friday Collector’s Night on Santa Fe.

Have I missed something? Tell me in the comments section below. Have a fun Friday Night!