A Classic 4th of July + Trending Hair Accessories

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I’ve always loved the 4th of July. Every purchase I’ve ever made of red, white, or blue clothing has been partially justified by saying “Well, this could be my 4th of July outfit!” Don’t ask me where I got the notion that my 4th of July is going to consist of a week’s worth of appearances. I just can’t turn down anything with a classic, Americana style.

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I’ve been wearing my hair up most days this summer. Between being pregnant and the amount of rain we’ve had, I just can’t bring myself to put more than a few minutes into my hair each day. Luckily for me, this just so happens to be the summer of hair accessories. I got this hair wrap at Walmart and I’ve worn it so many different ways. Below I’ve linked some other affordable hair accessories. I always like to try out trend pieces, especially accessories, at places like Forever 21 and Walmart. Opting for a lower price point allows me to play with trends without wasting money I could have spent on more classic pieces.

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I’m also linking my Pinterest board for a classic 4th of July get-together. This year my mom and I are headed to Georgia to visit my grandma and I’m already excited about all the South Georgia watermelon we’re going to eat! What are your 4th of July plans? How do you feel about the hair accessory trend? Tell me in the comments!

Classic 4th of July Pinterest Board

Star barrettes

Bow ponytail holder

Marble hair clips

Leopard claw clip set

Floral head wrap

Goodwill Shopping Tips

If you’ve been around me for any time at all, you know I’m an avid Goodwill shopper. Half of my wardrobe is from Goodwill, and that’s not to mention all the home decor I’ve scored there. This week I’m coming in hot with every single thing I know about shopping at Goodwill. Over the years I’ve found so many good deals, and I finally have my tactics down to a science. Keep reading to learn how you can snag high-quality items at Goodwill prices!

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Sale schedule:

Yes, even Goodwill has sales. Every week they choose a “color of the week,” and clothing items tagged in that color are marked 50% off. On Sundays, items marked that color are 99 cents. In my experience, those items get bought up very quickly. Sometimes it can feel like there’s nothing in the store that color. I think you’re better off to shop as you normally would and then tally your haul up at the end to see if you have any markdown tags. Let that help you make your final decisions. If you select items solely because they’re marked down, you’re more likely to buy something you won’t actually wear.

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When to shop:

Given the sale schedule, Sundays are a great time to shop because you can get items for 99 cents. Spring and summer are the best seasons because everyone is spring cleaning and having yard sales. Every Saturday throughout that season, you will see vehicles lined up at the donation door dropping off whatever didn’t sell at their yard sales. You can often find great deals on furniture as a result.

What to shop for:

This is really the key to making Goodwill work for you, and it’s also the most subjective tip I have. What you look for depends entirely on what you will get the most use out of. For example, I used to look for work clothes at Goodwill and I consistently found items from The Limited, Talbots, LOFT, Ann Taylor, Gap, and Old Navy. In the future I will likely look for kid’s clothes since they are so cheap and kids constantly outgrow their clothes. Here are the categories I look for most consistently:

-Brand names: I honestly couldn’t care less about what brand I’m wearing, but I do care about quality. The whole point of Goodwill shopping is to score quality items for cheap. I wouldn’t waste time on items from Walmart or Forever 21, because those items are already so cheap it defeats the purpose. In addition to the brands I listed above, I’ve found Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfigher, and department store brands like Chaps when shopping for men’s clothing at Goodwill. I also frequently find items from local boutiques. Don’t buy something just because it’s a certain brand, but always be mindful of the quality.

-Vintage items: My Goodwill white whale is a vintage pair of Levi’s that I can wear high-waisted and cut off into shorts. I honestly started daydreaming just typing that. If you’re like me and have a more eclectic style, you can find some great vintage pieces at Goodwill. Now that the 90’s are back, I’ve found some super comfy 90’s midi/maxi dresses. I’ve even found vintage Lily Pulitzer dresses and then kicked myself later for not buying them. You can also find pretty vintage dishware. Look for brands like Pyrex as well as patterns and color schemes that go with your kitchen.

-Books: Goodwill books can serve so many different purposes. You can look for vintage books in a color scheme you want to decorate with, a la Joanna Gaines. You can look for hardback classics to build your home library. I’ve also gotten several paperbacks to take to my neighborhood pool. That way if when I get splashed, I’m not ruining a library book or a book I paid full price for. Goodwill is great for children’s books, too. I’ve already found some kids’ classics for our little one for 99 cents each.

-Leather goods: Leather can always be doctored up, and a little wear just gives it character. Digging through belts, shoes, and purses can yield some genuine leather treasures.

-Home decor: I have the most success finding vases and baskets at my local Goodwill, but some stores have a wide decor selection.

The most important thing to remember about shopping at Goodwill is that it’s going to require some digging. You can’t walk in looking for something specific and expect to find it. Approach it like a treasure hunt, and you just might find some treasure!

It’s also imperative not to fall into the trap of buying things just because they’re cheap. You’ll end up spending more than you save that way. Trust me, I speak from experience! Be super realistic about whether you will actually wear or use what you’re buying.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve now completed my course, Goodwill Shopping 101. Consider yourself a certified bargain hunter. If you score something great at Goodwill, post it and tag me on Instagram or Facebook!

Hobby Lobby Shopping Tips from a Former Employee

Did you know I used to have someone on the inside feeding me information? That’s right, my brother worked at every woman’s happy place: Hobby Lobby. Much to his chagrin, my mom and I would pry him for shopping tips. There are several things that make Hobby Lobby unique, one being that their store stays pretty consistent over the years. So even though it’s been a little while since he worked there, I recently sat down with my brother to get a refresher course.  Today I’m sharing the best way to score your most-wanted items and save money at everyone’s favorite place to accidentally spend two hours.

The Weekly Ad: Cue the angel chorus. Every savvy Hobby Lobby shopper knows that the Ad is everything. You should almost never have to pay full price for something at Hobby Lobby, and the Weekly Ad is your guide. Here’s how to use the ad to figure out when to shop:

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  • The main categories that go on sale (50% off) alternate every other week. As a general rule, the same categories will be included on a bi-weekly basis. So, if a category goes 50% off and it’s not on sale, it will be on sale the following week.
  • The sales are grouped by what material the item is made of, so make sure that’s what you’re paying attention to. For example, glass decor may be on sale a different week that wood decor. The weekly ad will list the categories in detail. With this in mind, it is SO important to put your items back where they belong, as putting them in the wrong place can make it very difficult for other customers to determine what is on sale.
  • The custom framing department has sales in the weekly ad. This is a great thing to keep an eye on if you have a framing project, as custom frame jobs can get expensive.
  • Wedding items are marked 50% off every other week, so if you need wedding stuff, don’t pay full price. However, note that if an item doesn’t have the “His & Hers” logo, it’s not included in the wedding sale.

 

The 40% off coupon: Hobby Lobby always has a coupon available for 40% off one single item. You can cut the coupon out of a paper ad, print the coupon off their website and bring it in, or use your smartphone to pull up the coupon at the register. Here are the best ways to utilize your coupon:

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  • Arts and Crafts items normally only go on sale for 30% off. If you need a single item from these categories, shop on a week they’re not on sale and use your coupon. If you need multiple items, it would be better to shop during the sale so that all items will be 30% off.
  • Fabric goes on sale by sub-category for a maximum 30% off. If you only need one item, it would be better to shop on a week fabric is not on sale and use your coupon for a better discount.
  • If you have any non-sale item in your transaction, you should use your coupon on it, no matter how small. 40% off a small-ticket item is still 40% off.
  • Note that the coupon is only good for non-sale items. Any item marked on sale can’t have the coupon applied. Picture frames and furniture are considered “always on sale,” so they are not eligible for the coupon.
  • The coupon can only be used once per person, per transaction. If you have multiple non-sale items, use the coupon on the highest-priced item.

Seasonal decor: How else would we mark the seasons if not for Hobby Lobby’s holiday decor section? From Valentine’s Day to Christmas (which they roll out in mid-summer), Hobby Lobby has enough decor to fill every square inch of your home. Be advised that seasonal sales are not the best in terms of savings. Most seasonal items are marked up because they will spend so long at a 50% markdown. Eventually, seasonal items will get marked down further. However, seasonal items do tend to get bought up quickly, so if there’s a particular piece you have your eye on, it may be best to go ahead and snag it at 50% off. If you’re on the fence about it, wait it out and see if you can score it at a better discount.

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Items that never go on sale: There are two categories at Hobby Lobby that never go on sale: party items and greeting cards. You can use your 40% off coupon, but note that it is only good for one single item. If you need party supplies, consider ordering from somewhere that sells in larger quantities.

Avoid the crowds: The store tends to be fairly quite in the mornings before 11:00 am and on weekday evenings. If you’re interested in Christmas decor, make your selections during the fall. November-January is Hobby Lobby’s busiest time, so if you shop there during those months, expect a crowded store and a long wait at checkout.

Be patient: Remember, please be kind to employees regarding sales and coupons. Hobby Lobby is one of the few stores that doesn’t have a UPC (bar-code) system. This means employees don’t have the ability to just scan an item and have it ring up automatically on sale. Employees have to manually enter every item and check their sale ad to verify discounts. Combine that with the fact that many of the items purchased at Hobby Lobby are breakable and have to be wrapped, and you can expect to spend a few minutes in line. Knowing that going in can help you avoid frustration if you aren’t able to pop in and out of the store quickly.

Regarding returns, keep your receipt! Employees will have to verify the date of your purchase to confirm whether your item was on sale and therefore how much money you get back. Also, Hobby Lobby receipts do not print item numbers due to the lack of bar-codes. So the employee processing your return has to wade through each item by department and price. In short, Hobby Lobby is not the place to buy it all and just decide at home. If you need to fill a certain space, take measurements. If you need to match a certain color, bring swatches to compare. Save yourself as much time as you can by avoiding impulse buys, knowing the return process is not as simple as scanning a receipt.

There you have it, folks! Everything you could ever want to know about Hobby Lobby shopping! Was this post helpful for you? Are there other stores you’d like to see tips for? Let me know in the comments!

 

My Favorite Thrift Finds

I’ve always been drawn to things that had a life before me. I’d much rather search for something secondhand than go buy it brand new. Thrift shopping is like a treasure hunt. I love the feeling when you happen upon something that you know is a major score! Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite thrift shopping finds in hopes that they will inspire you to go on your own treasure hunt!

Tooled leather handbag

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I quite literally dug this bag off the very back shelf of a junk shop in Paducah, KY-my hometown. It’s worn around the edges, but that just adds to the character! Tooled leather is often created by hand, so you may need to be willing to pay a little more for finds like this than other items.

Pink cowboy boots

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These rare petal-pink Laredo boots are one of my favorite finds ever! These came from a junk shop in Bowling Green, KY. I went to school at WKU and my friends and I spent so many weekends out perusing all the amazing thrift stores Bowling Green has to offer. Anything that reminds me of something I used to have for my Barbie dolls makes me happy, and pink cowboy boots definitely fall into that category.

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Wooden dresser

I technically can’t take credit for this find. My husband pulled this cutie out of our neighbor’s trash. (We are but humble rednecks, after all.) One of the drawers was broken, but with a little elbow grease from Andrew and a little paint from me, we converted it into our entertainment center. I found these knobs at Hobby Lobby and I based our living room on this color palette. You know what they say…one man’s trash is another man’s living room furniture.

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Blue and white dishware

I decorated our kitchen in blue, white, and copper. Almost all of our decorative dishware has been thrifted or handed down by family. Keep in mind that if you’re looking for something specific while thrifting, you will likely have to collect it little by little. There are so many patterns of blue and white dishware, and your collection will look more cohesive if you choose a few similar styles. I tend to like floral motifs and scenic patterns, like Courier & Ives. There are also Oriental styles and fine china patterns. Remember that your colors won’t match exactly unless you find a whole set, but you can get very close!

Gap denim jacket (and other brand-name clothes)

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This Gap denim jacket is just one of the brand-name staples I’ve found at Goodwill. The key to shopping smart at Goodwill (probably a whole separate post) is to only buy something if you know you’ll get lots of wear out of it. Otherwise, it’s not really a great find. I’ve found Gap, Old Navy, LOFT, and great vintage pieces by searching Goodwill.

I hope seeing some of the treasures in my thrifting trove has inspired you to get out there and find the potential in something secondhand. Let me know if you have any questions about anything I’ve mentioned! What are your favorite thrifting tips? Where do you have the best luck? Let me know in the comments!

The Best Books I Read in 2018

The Best Books I Read in 2018

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What’s the first thing I do when I move to a new city? Sign up for a library card! We live right across the street from one of the library branches here in Lexington, which is kind of a dream come true for me. Seriously. I’ve always loved reading, and I love wandering through the aisles searching for a new book to get lost in. These are the best books I read last year! Reading is good for your brain, it teaches you so much, and for me personally, it helps calm my anxiety before bed. I hope this list will encourage you to get to your local library and discover some new reads!

The Complete Sherlock Holmes

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I’ve loved mysteries since I was a third grader devouring Nancy Drew books. This year I realized I’d never read the Sherlock Holmes stories. So, in true Ashton fashion, I decided to read them all…in chronological order. I fell in love with these stories as so many thousands of readers have before me. The tales range from the strange to the macabre and everything in between. The real magic of these stories is, though, is in their warmth. Even though Sherlock works on problems that involve crime, there is something so comforting about his and Watson’s friendship. When I closed the page on the very last story, I felt sad that I was leaving the warm hearth of 221B Baker Street, and I know I’ll return to these stories for years to come.

Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox

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If you think you know Marilyn Monroe, think again. I first became interested in Marilyn when I watched a documentary about her in high school. This book dives deep into her background, her relationships, and the era in which she was living. She truly was a fascinating and, in many ways, tragic person who deserves to be remembered for her talent. If you’re interested in her at all, this book is definitely worth a read. It opened my eyes to the hardships she came from, the twisted world of the Hollywood studio system, and the undeniable “it” factor that Marilyn had in comparison to other actors. Also, before I read this book I didn’t believe any of the Kennedy conspiracy theories about her death. After reading it?? They totally did it.

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

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This story was so engrossing, and it was unlike anything I’ve read recently. The narrative unfolds little by little, eventually coming full circle to a poignant conclusion. A girl’s father goes missing and she tries to find him using the very little she knows about his background. I can’t really say much about the plot-line without giving away spoilers, but if you like suspense, reading about other places and cultures, or if you’re a sucker for a tragic love story, you’ll love this book.

And Then There Were None

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I read several Agatha Christie novels this year, and I loved them all. This one takes the cake for suspense. Her stories always have a twist ending and I never saw this one coming. It is a true suspense-thriller masterpiece, and I love that such stories were written by a woman who was living in an era where women having their own career pursuits was far from commonplace. If you love mysteries or suspense, you have to read Agatha Christie. I promise you’ll be hooked.

There you have it! My hot takes on my favorite reads of 2018. What were your fave books this year? What’s on your reading list for 2019? Let me know in the comments!