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!

When the Plan Changes

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I met Andrew the summer before his senior year at Murray State. Before he would officially ask me to be his girlfriend, he sat me down to tell me about his future plans. He was applying to dental school and planning to enlist in the Navy for the Commissioned Officer program. I was impressed that he even had a plan, let alone a good one. He wanted to make sure that I knew what I was signing up for if I dated him. I was already head over heels for him by this time, and the Navy would allow me to travel the world like I had always dreamed. Needless to say, I said yes to being his girlfriend. Over the next several years, we began to build a life around serving in the Navy. Then, one day-as happens in so many lives that are going according to plan-the phone rang.

In the summer of 2018, we got a very abrupt call that Andrew would be receiving a medical discharge from the Navy. To make a long story short, a very minor medical issue was detected during one of Andrew’s Navy physicals. After doing everything we could to plead our case, it became very clear that a discharge was unavoidable. I’m leaving out a lot of detail, but suffice it to say it was a very stressful time in our lives. We were confident that we had made the right choice in joining the military, and it was so confusing when God closed that door. We also felt like we were scrambling, having received this news during Andrew’s fourth year with very little time to make alternate plans for after graduation.

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So, for those who are keeping up with The Cudes, Andrew is no longer in the Navy. He has been accepted into a residency program with the University of Kentucky, which means we will be living in Lexington for at least one more year. We both feel so much peace and gratitude about that now, but we didn’t feel that way when we first got that phone call. Serving in the military was not just a way to pay for dental school. For Andrew, serving in the military was his dream. We know there are much worse circumstances out there. We’re grateful for God’s re-direction. But this was the biggest curve-ball we had been thrown as a couple, and it represented the death of a dream we had for our life together.

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m a girl who likes a plan. In seasons of my life where that plan is taken away, I feel so lost. The years between graduating college and getting married were so tough for me, because there was no clear-cut path. Even though I “know” I am never in control, I tend to forget that fact until I am confronted with the reality all over again. I feel like God has been gently yet clearly reminding me of the truth that He alone is in control and knows what is best for my life. Even things that seem good from our human standpoint pale in comparison to the glory of His plan for us. I don’t know what circumstance you are in, and I know there are many circumstances FAR worse than what we have been through, but I hope it’s comforting to know you’re not alone. My prayer is that the Lord would continue teaching me to hold my plans with open hands, to find peace and rest in my lack of control rather than fear and strife, and to trust Him as a sovereign Lord and generous Father who gives good gifts. Maybe you need to pray that, too?

What wisdom has God given you in this area? What Bible verses have been helpful to you? Let me know in the comments here or on Instagram and I’ll share those verses on my Instagram story so we can all be encouraged!