Category Archives: Green living

Completely Honest Review: ThredUp online thrift store

ThredUp review, online thrift store, buy kids clothes online, buy womens clothes online, how to buy clothes from thrift store

This post is sponsored by ThredUp.

When I started my first job at a clothing store at the mall, I became responsible for my clothing budget. Wanting to stretch my money as far as possible, I decided to check out the local Goodwill. $20, an hour, and a few bags of clothes later, I was completely hooked on thrift store shopping.

The thing about thrift store shopping is the time investment. I developed a system to streamline my time looking through clothes and then trying them on.  Now that I’m a mom of two, one of whom is quite mobile, I can’t spend as much uninterrupted time meandering through the aisles of the thrift stores. The baby in the carrier also inhibits me gathering armloads of clothes. It’s okay though, I love them.

So when I found ThredUp, I was intrigued. An online thrift store? With all the brands I would snag at Goodwill, but all were previously evaluated for quality and organized by size, brand, and price? This might be too good to be true!

ThredUp Online Shopping Experience

I spent a long time perusing everything in my size on the website. I had to hold myself to a strict budget or else I would have ended up with 3 pairs of Banana Republic jeans, a Michael Kors vest, and a Coach diaper bag (but even all that was only around $150 total). I finally settled on a green tunic and pair of Banana Republic wool pants.

I also love shopping for my boys, so I looked around in their various sizes. I found a pair of Hugo Boss pants, a shirt that says “my big bro is my hero,” and a pair of overalls for Dean and I squealed with excitement when I found this perfect condition Spider-Man hoodie for Tristan. My excitement paled in comparison to his reaction when it arrived! He loves it and only answers to Spider-Man while wearing it.

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My total for all of this? $52.93! The Hugo Boss pants for Dean and Banana Republic pants for me were on sale for only $3.99. I couldn’t pass them up, even though I don’t actually have a “need” for office wear anymore. But, you know, if something business casual comes up at some point, now I have something to wear!

My favorite part was going through all my favorite name brands (at 2am). Before marriage and babies, my closet was stuffed with Banana Republic, J. Crew, Gap, and Express. Now that I’m getting back to being able to wear my pre-baby clothes, it’s so fun to spruce up my wardrobe with some new items in my favorite styles. I was especially tempted with all the Lululemon they have stocked right now!

Selling Through ThredUp

ThredUp makes it super easy to clean out your closet, too. Just request a “clean out kit” on their website, and the package will arrive in a couple days. The “kit” is just a big, polka dotted, postage-paid bag. Fill it, close it, and put it on your porch for your mailman to pick up. Since I tended to drive around for weeks with my car full of clothes to donate, this was especially handy. While the payout isn’t very high, it’s such a handy service, and I’m all about convenience right now.

I mean really, not only can you go thrift store shopping, but you can also send your items in for consignment, all without leaving your home? This secondhand-loving mama says, “yes, please!”

ThredUp has a special deal for you all that I’m so excited to pass on to you! The first 100 readers to use the code CRUNCHYHIPPIELIFE at checkout get 50% your first order, up to $50! This code is good through March 2018.

Be sure to share this post with your secondhand-loving friends!

Urban Gardening Wish List

I am a firm believer that “to grow your own food is to print your own money.” Imagine the amount of money that would immediately open up to you if your grocery budget was significantly decreased! Thanks to the Urban Gardening movement, it is now completely possible to grow your own food, even in small spaces.

I’ve been combing through Amazon, putting together my wish list of urban gardening supplies. We are renting, so even though we have a small front yard (no back yard), I doubt my landlord would be too thrilled if I tore up the grass to plant a garden. Some precious friends with a huge farm have graciously offered to let us use a portion of their land for a garden, and I am equal parts humbled and thrilled, which is a very difficult mix of emotions to convey through words. Picture me jumping up and down squealing but also flabbergasted, and that would probably be pretty accurate.

I know many people are in the same sort of renting living situation, so I wanted to share this list and show you how possible it is to have a garden in small spaces, or without the whole plowing and tilling process. Here are some great products that will help you create the urban farm of your dreams:

1. Envirocycle compact compost bin

These are created with small spaces in mind. It comes in two sizes, the 35-gallon (pictured) and the 16-gallon. They sit on the ground and spin easily. Every garden should have at least two (since you need one to fill while the other one “brews” for 6 weeks or so). These guys are even BPA-free! I think they look like snails.

2. Tower Garden

I can’t say enough about these powerhouse growing systems. They are aeroponic growing systems, self-watering, and grow tons of food in 5 weeks or less. No weeding. It’s planting and harvesting, and that’s about it. You can purchase one at a time or a family pack in sets of 3. These can even be brought inside and continue your harvest year-round! To grow in here: lettuce, kale, spinach, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, strawberries, and possibly a melon or two.

3. 20 gallon fabric growing pots

Sometimes, you just need dirt. These pots are made of a sturdy fabric to allow for better drainage and easier air flow to the roots. To grow in these: sweet potatoes (check out this post on growing sweet potatoes in buckets), beets, garlic, and raspberries.

Other items on my wish list for our garden:

Urban apple trees (they are a hybrid that can stay planted in pots!)

Kitchen compost bin.This particular bin is great for under the counter storage. I used to have a countertop storage system and even though I kept up with it, it had an odor. With this, I can lock the  container closed and keep it under a cabinet. Less odor = happier family.

Harvesting Bushel Tote bag – to bring in all your delicious fresh produce!

Miracle-Gro AeroGarden – Absolutely, positively cramped for space? This little guy can even fit anywhere!

I am so excited to get my garden this year!

Want even more tips for gardening and DIY? Get access to ebooks, webinars, printables, and more with the  Ultimate Herbs and Essential Oils

Thank you for reading! If this post has helped you, please share and download your free copy of my ebook, Dirt Cheap Nutrition!

Declutter your closet, declutter your life

how to declutter closets, declutter clothes, capsule wardrobe, yoga pants, mom fashion, fashion on a budget

I’ve mentioned recently that I’ve been going through a “mommy makeover,” making self-care a priority now that Tristan is a little older and can actually survive not being held for a minute or two. I’ve gotten contacts, new jeans that actually fit me, and even ditched my laziness-encouraging yoga pants. If you saw my Instagram, I even placed a large essential oils order with some self-care essentials: a bar of citrus bath soap, orange and rosemary shampoo, the most incredible skin care set you have ever used in your life, vanilla protein powder, and a blend called whisper, which I use as perfume. It’s been so delightful to use quality products that are good for me and make me feel pretty again.  And I’ve started wearing mascara and earrings on the regular. So basically I feel like I’m 14 and excited to look like a grown up.

Anyway, as part of the mommy makeover, I’ve been focusing on paring down my wardrobe. I have entirely too many clothes that together create entirely too few outfits and, like my hair, the ends needed to be trimmed. Since we are moving on Saturday this has suddenly become even more important!

I followed Crystal Paine’s 500 things decluttering challenge and was inspired! A quick tour of the closet/dresser revealed 15 things that were removed and either repurposed into rags or sent to ThredUp, an incredible online shift store, via their super convenient clean out program.

I love the idea of a French capsule wardrobe where everything goes together no matter how you choose to wear it. I tend to be attracted to solid colors in bold neutrals and simple jewelry. This knowledge helps me when choosing new clothes. I keep patterns to a minimum and prefer textural differences instead. It might be boring, but it’s simple and I do not like being fussy about clothes. I like to look nice and put-together but trendy is not a term most people would use to describe my style.

There are 3 big benefits to this kind of style and minimalistic strategy:

  1. Less laundry. We do laundry in a portable washing machine that we hook up to the kitchen sink every time we use it (but not for long! Our new house has hookups!!!). Then our clothes are air-dried on racks and hangers. Less clothes mean less laundry, which is very nice. We already feel like we do laundry all the time between our clothes and cloth diapers!
  2. I actually know what I have. Have you ever pulled something out of your closet that you had forgotten existed? I have. Now that I have a smaller wardrobe consisting mostly of my favorite pieces, this doesn’t happen. And I like what I wear!
  3. Everything goes together. Call me boring, but I like that I can basically reach in and grab a shirt and a pair of pants and know that it will go together. It really cuts down on my getting ready time in the morning.

Ive tried to be trendy. I really have. But I always end up feeling like I’m trying to be someone I’m not and it takes too long to decide how things work together. I much prefer this route of simple pieces working together for a classic look. I always did favor Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn anyway.

Do you have a system for keeping control of your closets?

3 Habits of Healthy Millennials

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I am a millennial, and I’m fairly stereotypical. We are fun creatures, at least I like to think so. We’re basically the same as everybody else, but we do things a little differently most of the time. If you happen to visit the house of one, here are three things you might expect to experience:

You can smell their diffuser going before you even open the door.

Millennials tend to be more naturally-minded, and avoid the toxic chemicals found in most commercial air fresheners. The maintenance man at our apartment complex told us once that he enjoyed walking past our door because it always smelled good. We almost always have an essential oil diffuser going! Essential oils play a huge role in our home from our homemade cleaning solutions to our hygiene products to our air freshener.

They don’t wear their shoes inside the house.

Studies show that not wearing shoes in the house helps with overall cleanliness. I would prefer no shoes at all, but  we wear house shoes to keep our feet from getting dirty. Tristan hates shoes in general so he wanders around in just socks, and I am jealous (my socks wear out too quickly if I do that).

Their kitchen looks like a laboratory.

Millennials are more health-conscious, but heaps of student loans and other bills have forced us to save money whenever possible. One of the ways we do this is DIY-ing our favorite health foods.

Fermented foods and drinks are so nutritious, but they take up so much counter space! Once you get going with one ferment it’s hard to stop. Kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, sourdough, and even salsa and ketsup are all popular homemade ferments that you might find on a hippie’s counter top. And don’t forget the bone broth in the crockpot or Instant Pot!

What else would you add to this list?

The Basics of Cloth Diapers

cloth diaper basics, how to use cloth diapers, cloth diapering tips, cloth diaper pros and cons

We were graciously given a two-week supply of disposable diapers from some very generous friends, and so for the past week we have been using them. After months and months of cloth diaper laundry, it’s been very eye-opening for us to take a break and use disposables!

As a self-proclaimed hippie, it is to be expected that I am all about cloth diapering. As a new mom who is still sometimes having difficulty believing that this little person is truly mine and I’m not just babysitting for a really long time, I wanted to talk some brutal honesty about the differences in diapers.

First, the pros:

  1. The cost. I LOVE that I can use these diapers for any future children we might have. You definitely can’t say that about a disposable!
  2. The cute. Guys, cloth diapers are absolutely adorable. And on Etsy, they are even cuter. Like all the Harry Potter ones. I can’t help myself. I need them all.
  3. You always have them. You don’t have to run out in the middle of the night after realizing that you just used the last diaper.

Now the cons:

  1. It’s a lot of laundry. We do laundry 2-3 times a week, and you have to do a short cycle  first to clean off all the gross before adding in the other clothes (unless you have enough cloth diapers to fill an entire full load, we have about a half load’s worth).
  2. Sometimes it takes awhile to find a brand that fits your child’s specific build properly, and the process can be frustrating. When we first started cloth diapering, we were lent a bunch of cloth diapers by some friends, but they didn’t fit Tristan’s long skinny  legs very well. He was always leaking and we almost gave up on cloth diapering altogether until we tried a different style that was more customizable to thinner babies.
  3. If you’re easily grossed out, cloth diapers probably aren’t for you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to scoop mess out of diapers before I could put them in the wash. The pro for the disposable diapers is definitely that you only see that once.

Every once in awhile, it is very nice to have a break from tons of laundry. In general for our family, the pros of cloth diapering outweigh the cons. Though the investment seems like a lot, once you do the math and realize how much money you save by not having to purchase diapers regularly (especially if you have more than one in diapers at once!), the cost per diaper goes down drastically. Even for the Harry Potter diapers.

3 Tips for Living Large in a Small Space

3 tips for how to live large in a small space
We live in a 660 square foot apartment on the outskirts of a hip little neighborhood. We can walk to my favorite coffee shop and yes, in case you’re wondering, that was a requirement for our apartment hunt. Our apartment consists of two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen with the largest pantry I’ve ever seen and a living room.

This is our third winter here (which is really crazy to think about!) and we have really gotten everything how we want it. It’s been quite a journey because while Peter moved in with only 9 bankers boxes and a suitcase of clothes (for real – he’s such a minimalist), I moved in with WAAAAAY more than we needed to fill the place.

Here are 3 tips I have learned along the way to live well in a small apartment (which, by the way, now I think is the perfect size and most houses seem entirely too large for me):

“Have nothing in your life that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris

We follow this as the main principle for our home. We also have a “one in, one out” rule that is basically meant to keep me from collecting too many pairs of shoes.

Make sacrifices and choices strategically.

There was a lot of furniture that we sold because it either didn’t fit the space well or it just didn’t look good. But does my portable washing machine look particularly beautiful sitting in the corner of the kitchen? Not to most people. But cloth diapering and getting to do laundry in the comfort of my own home is beautiful to me, so take that, Better Homes and Gardens expectations.

Remember that many generations of people have lived with less.

I sold my KitchenAid mixer last summer. If you’ve known me for any length of time, I’ve always loved KitchenAid mixers. I think they are one of the prettiest pieces of kitchen machinery ever made. But I rarely used it, it was big, it was heavy, and it took up space. Plus, the sale of it ended up funding this little fiasco adventure. Any time I see things that “make life better/easier” I remind myself that I’ve survived 26 good years without it, so I can in fact live a full life without it.

Like I said, I can’t imagine living in a larger space. I’ve actually really come to enjoy our small space!

6 Ways To Cut Your Heating Bills This Winter

how to stay warm this winter, save money on heating bills

We are coming up on our third winter in this apartment. The first year, we kept the heater on as much as we wanted, despite the costs (which were almost double). But last year we were barely scraping by financially after multiple job changes, so we avoided turning on the heat in the apartment for as long as we could. Basically, we didn’t turn the heater on until Tristan was born on December 19th.

This year, while technically we can afford to run the heater as much as we want again, we are also about to go into 2016 having met our 2015 savings goal by 150%, so we want to maximize our savings! Here are 5 tips we learned last year that will help us this year:

Wear layers

It might seem like common sense, but wearing layers doesn’t come naturally to this happily barefoot hippie. Wearing house shoes is a new habit I’m getting used to, but I don’t like socks.  However, it’s winter, and my toes don’t like winter. So socks and house shoes it is.

Get a reliable space heater

Rather than turn on the heater for the whole apartment, use a portable heater for wherever you are. Some portable heaters can be fire hazards, so be careful when choosing one. We have two electric fireplaces for this winter that are quite warm and add such a homey feel to our home. Opt for an energy-efficient heater if you can find one.


Curl up with a good book and a blanket

People with Seasonal Affective Disorder, great news! I was just reading about a Danish practice called “hyggye,” which basically is intentional relaxation and “in-the-momentness.”  It’s a time to mindfully indulge in something that makes you feel good, which can be anything from a long soak in the tub to a cozy homemade meal with friends. Apparently this is how the Danish combat long winters.

Drink coffee/hot cocoa/tea

Going along with the good book and blanket, drinking a hot drink is a great way to warm up. It’s common knowledge that I love coffee, but I recognize that there are other options.

Bake something

This morning the apartment was the kind of cold where you don’t want to get out of bed. So rather than turn on the heater, I turned on the oven instead. Sunday is typically my baking day, so I enjoyed the warmth of the oven – and the delicious aroma of bran muffins (I use this recipe, but I use almond milk and coconut oil instead of buttermilk and vegetable oil).

 Winter-proof your home

Approximately 11% of heat escapes through your front door.  Last year Peter noticed a large draft coming through our front door, so our maintenance man installed some new weatherstrips on the inside.  It was a simple fix and now there isn’t a draft! We also have blackout thermal curtains that help cut the draft around the windows with an A/C unit.

By implementing these 6 simple steps, we estimate that we will only need to turn on the heater on the coldest of cold days, and then only for a few hours as our home is appropriately weather-proofed. I hope they help you save too!

5 things I’m loving right now

My my, it’s been quite awhile since my last visit with you all!  I have to admit that I have missed blogging something awful and am anxious to get back to it.  So as a return, here’s what I haven’t been blogging about recently:

1) Doing my own laundry.  

We purchased a portable washing machine a few months back and I realized how much I enjoy doing laundry.  Especially cloth diapers. It’s oddly satisfying to have a clean and dry load of diapers.  My fellow cloth diaper moms understand me though, so maybe (hopefully?) it’s not just me.

Tristan is fascinated by the spin cycle.
Tristan is fascinated by the spin cycle.

2) A budget that works.

After a year and a half of marriage, we (actually it was totally Mr. Crunchy) finally settled on a budgeting system that works for us! We are so excited that it works for both of us, and thanks to his forethought, we came in significantly under budget this week!

3) Watching our baby grow!

Baby Crunchy is now scoot-crawling, saying “mama” (which currently means “I need something,” “I want something,” or “someone please pay attention to me right this instant!”). Still teething, though not at all miserable about it.  Working on sitting and can manage for a bit on his own.  He has his own little scooter chair that he rolls around the house in and he feels like such a grown up.  We have given him some mashed up blueberry and banana so far and both times he has acted thoroughly insulted so solid foods aren’t really a thing for him yet.  I can’t believe he will be 7 months old on Sunday!  Father Time, please slow down.

Our sweet big boy!
Our sweet big boy!

4) A new routine.

I worked my way through Money Saving Mom’s Makeover Your Mornings course {affiliate link} and LOVED it.  I can’t recommend it enough.  For one, I learned that I actually enjoy waking up at 6am.  Whodathunk?? I get more accomplished and my household has been running better now that I am not waiting for the last minute to do things like dishes, laundry, and baking.  I downloaded a free app called Wunderlist and now have a running “to-do” list of things – organized by day for necessary tasks and then another master list of things I would like to do eventually for when I have spare time.  Download it, use it, thank me later.

5) Personal development.

I just started Chalene Johnson’s free 30 Day Push, and though I’m only on day 3 I’m really enjoying it!  I’m excited to work through the rest of it and see how implementing what she says influences my life.

Bonus! (because I can’t stop)

6) My morning shake.

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This morning I made a vanilla chai shake for breakfast and I can’t get enough.  And now I get to experiment with different flavors.

How we are Saving $312 a Year on Laundry

How to save $312 a year on laundry

Laundry. An unfortunate reality of apartment-dwellers, “laundry day” often means walking around outside with a basket full of your delicates, no matter what the weather. It also means a never-ending search for quarters. Every time you need quarters, you have to go to an ATM or write a check to have something to trade at customer service at the grocery store  for a roll of quarters.

Peter and I recently  started doing laundry at our apartment complex.  After a few all-day laundry affairs where we felt tied to the apartment and scouring the car for extra quarters because the jeans didn’t finish drying in one round, we started hanging our laundry to dry over the shower.

This idea may seem really simple to you, and perhaps a little inconvenient, but Peter calculated that it costs about $1.50-2 to dry each load.  We typically do a few loads twice a week, so now we only dry one load with the smaller items. We also bought a few drying racks for the laundry that needs to lat flat (like sweaters). We are also looking into possibly installing a couple retractable clothes lines.

Peter estimates that this one small adjustment saves us around $6 a week, which adds up to $312 a year!  With all of our other budget cuts, this helps that much more. It’s exciting to be able to see so much difference with our budget!

For more money-saving tips, download a free copy of my ebook, Dirt Cheap Nutrition!

4/2016 UPDATE: We are now able to do laundry completely at home, without hookups! We bought a portable washing machine that hooks up to the kitchen sink, and a dryer with a 120V plug, so it hooks into any outlet! Vent it inside using this nifty lint trap.