Bargain Boutique


Thrifty Treasures – Published April 10, 2018

Often times we find ourselves either doing a closet purge, replacing furniture, or looking to change color scheme or décor style. What happens to the items being replaced? The golden rule in our home has always been, if it is in good shape, DONATE. What we are not using, someone else can! Could we sell items on Craig’s list, Next Door, or local town social media swaps? Yes! However, we have always felt inspired donating to a charity that aligns with a cause we are passionate about. This is a true win/win approach that benefits a worthy cause and offers a great opportunity to those looking for bargains.

5 Reasons To Donate To Thrift Stores  “Most thrift stores are created and run to benefit a specific cause. Many of them donate a portion or even all of their proceeds to a specific cause. From churches to, families to the homeless and many others, there are so many causes that you can be helping by donating to a thrift store. With the ability to donate to a good cause, give your clothing a second home and even finding some new pieces for yourself, it’s clear to see that thrift store shopping is a true win-win!”

Donating can be complicated because not all are organizations are non-profit. Some charities are for-profit and may not be clear about which charities they support, if any. This blog post shares information about how to choose items to donate, when to recycle, popular thrift stores and their profit or non-profit status along with charitable organizations supported.

Donating What You Are Not Using

Quality counts when donating to thrift store centers. Clothes, furniture and other household items (small appliances, vases, and home décor items) that are torn, stained or cracked most likely won’t lead to a successful sale. If a thrift store item(s) reflect a condition you wouldn’t purchase, then someone else probably won’t purchase it, either. Many years ago my husband and I donated a sofa to one of our favorite charities, Shepard’s Gate, a non-profit organization “Helping Women and Children Escaping Cycles of Addiction, Homelessness and Abuse”. When the truck came to pick up the sofa, which we had thoroughly cleaned, we were complimented on the new furniture we purchased and asked where to go for the sofa being donated. The men were shocked when we pointed to the sofa and said, “this one is for you.” We were surprised to hear that often donated sofas are stained, torn/holes, which are difficult to sell.

What happens to items received that are in poor condition? They get BULK sold and can end up in 3rd world countries, undermining domestic commerce thereby making it difficult for townspeople to become economically self-sufficient. Landfill is another destination for such donated items, which cannot be sold. Neither of these destinations are good options.

I rely on thrift stores to keep my family clothed and fed. What you donate matters By Melinda Selmys  “Getting rid of trash donations can cost thrift stores money in garbage fees and makes extra work for volunteers. Dumping your drawers out into a box and expecting someone else to deal with it is not generous or environmentally conscious; it’s just inconsiderate.”

Rags or riches? Why thrift stores sell some donations and toss others“Goodwill Industries of Denver, which operates the Fort Collins Goodwill and 28 others in the Denver area and Northern Colorado, discarded 1 in 3 donations in 2014. Call the store to double check that it can accept your donations.”

Often times the large bags we keep in the garage to collect clothing can collect unwanted visitors that squeeze through small spaces. Keep charitable giving bags inside the home, perhaps in a closet, to keep pests out.

9 Secrets of Thrift Store Employees “A former Goodwill employee who did a Reddit AMA once found a rat at the bottom of a bag of clothing. It made the entire back room smell, and we had to get rid of all the clothes.”

To fully support the charitable organization you are passionate about, donate items that are in fair shape, suitable for resale, so your contribution is a benefit and not a burden. Items that are not “donate suitable” can be recycled and eventually used for reproduction of fabrics, goods, and furniture. Check local recycle resources in your community. How to Recycle Clothing and Accessories Recycling Guide will lead you to recycle locations.

Thrift Stores and Charitable Organizations

The following is a list of popular thrift store organizations. Thrift stores can be unique to certain states and towns. The listing below contains national, state and local community organizations that might be available in your area. Check your own local thrift stores, determine if they are non-profit or for-profit and the supported charity/charities. This article offers an insightful summary… This is where your thrift store dollars are really going. The listing below includes some of the stores noted in the article.

Salvation Army Non-Profit 7,546 centers nationwide stocked with clothes, furniture, decorations and, of course, unlimited odds and ends. In addition to addiction rehabilitation and housing, Salvation Army offers Christmas assistance (dinners, gifts and community events for families in need), prison ministries, hunger and homeless relief and work against human trafficking.

Goodwill  Non-Profit  There are currently 3,000 stores nationwide stocked with everything from household goods to clothing. In addition, Goodwill offers community-building and job assistance for those who are underemployed, formerly incarcerated or disabled — though there has been controversy over how disabled employees are paid.

Housing Works  Non-Profit  There are currently 12 stores, all in New York City, offering antique furniture, high-end designer clothing, books and yes, even coffee. Additionally, Housing Works offers housing services, legal advocacy, medical and dental care, job training and rehabilitation.

ARC  Non- Profit ARC Thrift Stores distributes the proceeds to the ARC and ACL Chapters in your community. ARC Thrift Stores’ mission is to ensure that all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families have the opportunity to decide how they live, learn, work, and play. We work, with your support, to create opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be included in their communities.

Catholic Charities  Non-Profit  National Organization Catholic Charities extends the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to the poor and those in need. . Marisol Services, affordable housing, shelter services, early childhood education, family, kinship and senior services/home based counseling, emergency assistance, parish outreach, counseling

Habitat for Humanity  Non-Profit  Habitat for Humanity Stores (New Items), Habitat for Humanity ReStores (Donated Items) Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit housing organization working in nearly 1,400 communities across the United States and in approximately 70 countries around the world. Habitat’s vision is of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

Treasures DE Task Force Non-Profit Non-profit human service organization dedicated to providing assistance to people in Colorado’s Douglas and Elbert counties who are in serious economic need, at risk of homelessness, or in a similar crisis. In 2016, Treasures on Park Street generated $386,993 in revenues which are used to help our neighbors here in Douglas and Elbert counties who are in financial crisis. Through thrift store sales we are able to provide funds to buy food for the Food Bank as well as monies to get heat, electricity and water turned back on, the rent paid, or emergency lodging funded for clients in need.

Beacon’s Closet  For-Profit  Beacon’s donates clothing deemed unsellable to Garage Sales Against Violence as well as other charities.

Savers and Value Village  For-Profit  Small percentage goes to non-profit charities. Savers discloses how much it gives to various charities from sales of donated items.

Buffalo Exchange  For-Profit  Also supports various charities.

Silver candle holders, my thrift treasure find, $10/pair!

Internet search thrift stores in your local community. Call the organization if the website doesn’t clearly indicate whether it is for-profit or non-profit, or to know the charity/charities being supported. Take the time to prepare donated items to be a benefit to charitable organizations/people who depend on your generosity. Your effort today will make the lives of those experiencing difficult challenges, a bit easier tomorrow. If you know someone who wants what you don’t, and is willing to pay for it, consider donating the money received. When you can, visit the thrift stores you support to see what sells and what doesn’t, to help plan your future donations. You might also come upon an awesome find yourself, and someone else’s generosity is now your thrifty treasure!!





Frugal Florals – Published August 3, 2017

About a year ago, a friend of mine was thinking about enclosing her patio and adding a room to her home. Fast forward and the room is now complete. Once a home area is made new, it is easy to notice other parts of the home that could use refreshing. This amazing addition led to other changes like updating granite, backsplash, and adding home accessories, which includes faux floral.

Last week we braved through afternoon thunderstorm predictions and dark clouds to shop popular Denver home stores known for quality faux floral.

The arrangements were STUNNING and we were STUNNED by the price tags!! A scary twigged wreath with grape garland was priced at $135. A small vase with a few florals was priced at $95. Often I have seen faux floral in vases that appear as if water is in the container. Click HERE for an image. This is known as simulated water. These new floral looks along with popular succulents in distressed wood containers (blog photo) can be priced in the hundreds of dollars!!

Top row pics above show DIY results after deciding to make rather than buy anything already created. The store did carry the vase without the faux arrangement for $12, which my friend gratefully was able to purchase. The total cost to purchase supplies for the wreath around the glass cake server and the small vase florals came to just under $50.00 (including the vase) vs $187.

Below are a few DIY tips.

  • Simulated water kits are about $14.00. Although there may be other ways to make simulated water including clear jello mixed at home, you want to be sure it doesn’t yellow.
  • Best to use floral that is not plastic for a realistic look. Silks can be pricey. Hobby Lobby and Michaels carry realistic looking florals at good prices.
  • Internet search floral styles you like and be inspired by flower arrangements you can duplicate with faux options. Save the pictures on your cell phone so when you are ready to shop you can come close to the inspired look based on what is available at the store.
  • Succulents that look real are pricey. Hobby Lobby carries the most authentic looking at the best prices. Michaels carries decent succulents as well. Take your time and every week use the Hobby Lobby or Michaels one-item regular priced coupon to build your ideal arrangement. The wood boxes can be purchased at craft stores unless you are able to make your own. Succulents also look great in ceramic vases and metal containers. Using copper containers could be amazing! Succulent arrangements are a popular design this year and, WOW, prices are quite high if you purchase already made. How To Make The Perfect DIY Artificial Succulent Arrangement is a great resource!
  • Fall and holiday floral are on sale now as a pre-season purchase. You might be able to save between 40-50%. Just saw the sale at Michaels this week.

Suggested items for a faux floral arrangement:

  • Wire Cutters (so you don’t damage your household scissors)
  • Floral Foam Bricks 
  • Glue Gun
  • Photos of inspired designs
  • Simulated water resin kit, if going in this direction
  • Moss or rocks
  • Vase/container (interesting vases available as shown lower left blog picture)
  • Large working space protected with a plastic tablecloth
  • Garbage container close by, as this can get messy

You, too, can create your own faux floral arrangements customized to your style, colors, and size for the perfect home fit. All it takes is some time to identify what you want to design, purchasing the needed items, having a well-lit and spacious working area and a little patience. You can’t beat the price of DIY! Your result…a STUNNING frugal floral!

Natural Clean Glass Large CIrcle _edited-1

BEST Natural Clean! – Published July 18, 2017

Lately, when using store bought cleaning products, I feel the effect of chemicals. My nose becomes itchy and my throat, sore. Also, I notice an annoying film buildup on my counters and floors. This past February I decided to make my own natural cleaning product. It feels good to have the assurance that the product is truly chemical free and the ingredients won’t leave a residue. Discovered one solution can work for granite countertops, stainless steel, ceramic, porcelain, and wood!

Online research and experimenting with a few test products, I created an all-purpose cleaning solution. After using this product since February of 2017, I am ready to share it. The total cost for a 16 oz bottle is about $.70 not including the spray bottle container. AMAZING!

I call this product…Natural Clean. My stainless steel SHINES like no other product ever used! Glass (including car windows – the ultimate test) comes out STREAK-FREE. Granite countertops SPARKLE, as does porcelain and ceramic. Wood furniture and floors look INCREDIBLE and I find my floors no longer pick up dust on every pair of shoes that walk through the door. When products leave a residue, everything sticks either from the bottom of shoes to fingerprints on stainless steel appliances.

What You Should Know

  • Essential oils are natural but they can be toxic to children, adults and pets. So, even though this cleaning product is “natural” please keep it and the individual ingredients used to make the solution AWAY from children and pets. Click this LINK about the safety of using essential oils.
  • Citrus-based oils (sweet orange, blood orange, bitter orange, lemon, grapefruit, lime, lemongrass, bergamot, tangerine) and white vinegar are acidic. Ultimately, using these ingredients could affect the top coating of furniture, floors, ceramic, marble and granite, dulling the surface. BEST to keep the product acid free, even through you are using a minimal amount for each 16 oz bottle. For this reason, I don’t use citrus based oils or vinegar in the product.
  • Witch hazel and essential oils used provide a naturally mild antibacterial disinfectant. However, if I accidently spill raw chicken or meat juices on my counter or sink, I will use Clorox wipes or 1 part bleach and 10 parts water to fully disinfect the surface.
  • ALWAYS test in a small area for comparison to see if there is an undesirable result. Only you know about the floors, appliances, furniture, and counter-tops in your home. Find a small test area and use the product over 4 weeks to be sure the only result is a desirable one!!
  • If you already have build-up, especially on your counters and stainless steel, you will notice residue when you first use this cleaning product. It will take a few cleanings to no longer see that awful film. Get ready for some work!
  • A funnel works great to get Distilled water and Witch Hazel through narrow bottle openings.
  • Best to always use a clean cotton cloth. These cloths from, Galaxy Glass Cleaning Towels, 18-Pack GT18,  are the ones I use.

Natural Clean Recipe

  • 16 oz spray bottle
  • Distilled Water – 14 oz
  • ¼ cup (2 oz) Witch Hazel
  • 20 Drops of Essential Oil – Lavender
  • 15 Drops of Essential Oil – Cloves
  • Always shake well before using.

Essential Oil Combinations

Experiment and come up with your own favorites or Internet search and find combinations to try.

  • 20 drops of Peppermint, 15 drops of Eucalyptus
  • 20 drops Lavender, 15 drops Eucalyptus
  • 20 drops Lavender, 15 drops cloves
  • 15 drops Cinnamon, 15 drops Cloves, 5 drops Lavender


Can I use tap water? You can. I find distilled water is best. Tap water can leave residue. Where I live the water is HARD and it does streak and leave build-up over time. Distilled water is typically .99 cents/gallon jug at the grocery store.

What is Witch Hazel and where can it be purchased? Witch Hazel is a plant-based topical ingredient processed through steam distillation from the bark and leaves of the witchhazel plant. It can be found in the pharmacy section of most grocery stores, Walmart and Target. Click HERE to see it at Walmart online.

Where can I find essential oils? Local grocery stores carry essential oils in the pharmacy section. You can also purchase online. There are many levels of quality and organic oils are also available. This blog ONLY covers its use in cleaning products and therefore the oils do not need to be high quality or pricey.

Where can I find spray containers? Local grocery stores carry empty spray containers with soft spray nozzle heads and those that can easily adjust to a sharp spray for large area cleaning. Otherwise, take your favorite spray bottle, clean it well and use it. Remember to adjust the recipe to the size bottle you are using.

Should the container be glass to avoid plastic bottle deterioration? Since this blog only covers essential oil use in cleaning products and it is significantly diluted with distilled water and witch hazel, plastic and specifically PET bottles are fine. Essential oils are potent and typically when storing undiluted oils, glass or aluminum is recommended.

Can you use rubbing alcohol in place of Witch Hazel? To me, rubbing alcohol is toxic, so I don’t.

This product cleans well, has an awesome aroma, and I use it to clean my jewelry, too! Love the incredible feeling, knowing, I am protecting my home from unnecessary chemicals and the cleaning solution result is far better than any other cleaning product I have previously used!! Give it a try and enjoy a clean home with an aroma that will make you feel “naturally” good and leave your home NATURAL CLEAN!


Spray, Save & Chic! – Published June 24, 2017

On a windy summer day that began unseasonably cool at 44 degrees (while the rest of the country is in sweltering heat), I felt inspired to tackle an at-home project. The result – creative, functional, and $$$ saving!

If you have an old set of tired chargers in your cabinet, this blog could inspire you! Such a well-used set, in bright gold, has been in my cabinet for many years. Some of the gold has been peeling off, revealing dark patches and scratches. When preparing to entertain I always inspect the chargers so the one with the most scratches is designated to my place at the table :), for obvious reasons.

A few weeks ago, I purchased a very cool spray paint color, Hammered by Rust-Oleum. I spray painted my worn chargers and LOVE the look. The spray paint only cost $5.99, updated the look of my chargers, and they now appear like new!! Since my backyard deck is already covered with paint tarp and there is a nice cool breeze (great ventilation when spray painting), I decided to also spray paint an old picture frame, paint the frame’s glass with chalkboard paint, and spray paint a plastic platter from the Dollar Store, ideal to use as a charger. Imagine purchasing 12 Dollar Store platters plus $5.99 (cost of spray paint) and the total pre-tax cost is $17.99 for a set of 12, customized to your color preference. This is a bargain!! The blog photo above illustrates the before and after. After photo, the dollar store find is to your left and the traditional charger is shown on the right.

Here are some things to know.

  • Always cover your entire workspace with drop cloths and best to spray where the breeze won’t carry the paint towards you, other outdoor furniture or carpeting.
  • Wear gloves, a mask, and, cover your hair. (Sharing from experience!!)
  • Purchase two cans of spray paint. Better to have more paint than run dry in the middle of a project. You can always take back the second can if it isn’t used.
  • Lightly buff what you plan to spray paint with fine sandpaper, to hold the paint.
  • Follow spray paint safety instructions and hold the can 6 to 12 inches away to avoid dripping. Allow 2-3 hours to fully dry.
  • Most chargers already have a solid black underside, so only the front side needs painting.
  • Dollar Store plastic clear platters only need to be painted on the backside as the color shows nicely through. Suggest two coats of paint, drying in-between.
  • Never use spray painted chargers to serve food, hot or cold, because it is not safe. Spray painted chargers are only to be used for home décor purposes.
  • Best not to have children around when spray painting, protecting them from strong paint odor and flyaway particles.
  • When using chalkboard paint on glass, suggest two coats and allow drying in-between. Also, always paint in one direction. I prefer horizontal strokes.
  • Never store drop cloths that are still wet with spray paint. Let cloths fully dry and follow safety storage guidelines by calling your local paint store.

This project is so simple and quick. Get creative and customize a one-of-a-kind table setting. Consider a head start now, planning your holiday table décor, especially if you want to grab the Dollar Store clear round platters that are currently available! Join in on the inspiration and SPRAY, SAVE, and CHIC your dining décor to be as unique as you!!

Perfect Pouch For My Pooch! – Published June 12, 2017

Summer means outdoors and long walks. Often, these walks are with my dog, Marlee, who loves being out, sniffing the landscape and greeting every person who passes by! Walking gets complicated holding the leash with one hand, doggy potty bags in a Velcro container around the leash or the bag simply knotted on the leash, and of course, a cell phone in the other hand. Marlee does her business and suddenly sees a friend, pulling hard on the leash. Now I’m pulling back on the leash while trying to clean “the business” when the cell phone slips, and, in what appears to be slow motion it begins falling on to the walkway just off the grassy area!! This has happened to me so many times, with that inner voice begging for the screen to be intact and nothing cracked. And, as you might guess…the falling phone doesn’t always end well.

A year ago, determined to find a solution since not all my summer clothes have pockets, I found the perfect fix…leather pouches with a decent strap!! I purchased two different styles and both work great. The Big Dragon Fly Universal (brown one) has an extra pocket LINK and the Xhorizon TM FLK Leather Neck Pouch LINK comes in a variety of colors. Women or men can use both styles. I haven’t dropped my phone since. I have the Big Dragon Fly and it is perfect for my house keys, cell phone, and doggy bags. A friend of mine chose the Xhorizon TM FLK and loves it!! I have also used this pouch to go on a long walk alone, on a hike, and out with friends when I don’t want to bring my handbag. I’m able to fit my small coin pursue, drivers license, cell phone and lip-gloss! The price of these pouches is awesome at just below $10 each. The quality has been amazing since my pouch still looks like new and I use it often.

During summer months I want to have my necessities with me, ideally to strap around my shoulder and be hands free. I’m able to react quickly if needed, when walking my dog, Marlee, to keep her safe when my hands aren’t trying to juggle too many things at once. And, I am able to answer my cell phone, if waiting on a call. These pouches are a bargain; very reasonable purchase price and saves $$$ from having to replace a cracked cell phone screen that unfortunately met it’s demise when landing on pavement! This is the perfect pouch for my pooch, Marlee, and me

Rug to the Rescue – Published May 5, 2017

Recently, I decided to re-organize my mudroom. In the area of Colorado where I live, this winter has been mild. We haven’t had the typical average snowfall for our area or sudden storms blowing through the neighborhood. My mudroom not being in full use, began to look like a room that needed a facelift, going from functional necessity to…”What can I do to make this both functional and attractive?”

Within a week my plan and color scheme was chosen. Purchasing all the needed storage baskets was difficult because local stores don’t always carry items in quantity. Visiting a few store locations became necessary. Once the organization was complete, it became obvious… the small doormat didn’t work visually or functionally. Looking for an affordable replacement became a mission.

A 10ft by 2 ½ ft runner would be ideal. Local stores didn’t carry this size. Online searches brought me to runners typically 8’ length with a price range starting at $150+++, far above my budget for this room, which, in a normal winter will take a beating! came to my rescue! I’ve purchased a few rugs from this online merchant and have always been pleased with quality and pricing. After doing a brief search I found my gem: Ottomanson Ottohome Collection Chocolate Contemporary Bordered Non-skid Runner Rug (2’7 x 10′). Color on a computer screen can be tricky and I was somewhat worried about the gold tone, but, I took a chance and ordered. PERFECT! The cost…$47.44 delivered. WOW! The rug completes the mudroom, is non-skid and durable to take the beating that might come next winter. AND…it didn’t break the bank!! My mudroom is now both functional and attractive and it held up well with the surprise snowstorm we had this past weekend, too!