Waldorf on a Budget (And the Fabulous Things I Find at Thrift Shops!)

We are a Waldorf family. Bunkers goes to a local Waldorf school and is part of the multi-age kindergarten there. At 3.5 years old he’s the youngest child; a role in which he really thrives. We have been using many Waldorf principles and philosophies since he was an infant and one of them has been to have our home be in a Waldorf ‘style’.

For us, this means that we choose warm, natural paint colors and soft, natural furniture.

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We also tend towards this philosophy with regards to toys and playthings. We are not plastic free in our house, though – we have a fair amount of Playmobil toys but they get played with the most! The group of 3-5 year old boys in our natural mamas group just adores them and will play with them for hours!

However, all of the kids love our playstands (which I bought on Craigslist for $150) and the nice wooden toys inside, as well as the wooden kitchen and playfood.

Buying lovely wooden Waldorf toys and play things can be very expensive. I love to support the artisans who craft these things when I can (and we have purchased many truly wonderful hand crafted toys!), but I do like to save money when I can and I have found that there is a treasure trove of Waldorf toys to be found at local thrift or charity shops such as Goodwill, Value Village, Salvation Army, St. Vincent’s, etc. I will share with you some of the things I have found!

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Some wonderful Waldorf finds!

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A gorgeous wooden sewing machine found at Value Village for $2.99. I added string and a small scrap of fabric for ‘sewing’. A basket of felt veggies, both items found separately at Goodwill.

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Bowls! Thrift shops are fabulous for wooden bowls, wooden trays (we use this one for snacks at playgroup, but it could be used for sorting), and even a wooden goblet. I found this little porcelain cooking pot and it’s used in the play kitchen. The lid went missing in our last move, though! Just out of frame here are a couple baskets I’ve found, as well. So.many.baskets to be found at thrift shops! The silks I made, but this gorgeous bowl is perfect to house them.

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Another find in the ‘wood stuff’ section was this wooden tool box. It could be used for a child’s tools, but Bunkers has a different set. Instead, I use it to keep our candles and incense together. Also, I got a set of three of these adorable clay candle holders at Value Village in Wisconsin! They are precious and we use them at our table for beeswax candles lit during mealtimes.

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This (well loved) rocking horse I found at Goodwill for $5. One of my best finds, I feel! Also, the little metal xylophone is a favorite and was just $1! I also found that sheepskin rug on the right of this picture at Goodwill for $7. I washed it and brushed it out and it’s fabulous! Better view of a couple baskets. The wooden ‘crate’ basket usually houses wooden animals.

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Another great find! This I found at a local children’s consignment shop and paid $7 for it. I decorated a few of the gnomes myself. Another big hit at playgroup.

I’ve had lots of people ask me how I find these things – and the answer is that I go to these shops often. These finds are after years of checking Goodwill and Value Village several times a month. It’s fun for me and I like hunting for awesome things. I do my best to be a mindful shopper and only buy things that I truly need or will actually use.

I don’t just go to thrift shops looking for toys, though – I buy about 90% of Bunkers’ clothes there. I have found it’s been such a great deal. Not only do babies and children grow out of clothes so quickly, but they often don’t get to wear something much before it’s too small. A very good percent of the clothing I have found for children at thrift stores is in like new condition – some still with tags! I’ve found Hannah Andersson, North Face, Gap, Gymboree, Mini Boden, and Land’s End for great prices at thrift shops. I buy almost all of my clothes there as well.

Another thing I find at thrift shops are woolen blankets. We keep a stash of them in our cedar chest for winter time. Each person in our family has one and we keep one extra on hand as well. Woolen blankets can be used for things other than blankets, too. You can use that wool for fabric for sewing. I also purposefully felted one wool blanket and we use it as a wet pad under the sheet on our bed. It’s never failed us!!

Yet another thing I keep a look out for a thrift shops is small silverware. Silverware is HUGE these days! I much prefer the dainty silverware of years past, and, obviously, so does Bunkers. I buy ‘small’ silverware (as in, what was considered ‘normal size’ in the 50s and 60s but is now about toddler/young child size) for him to use.

Art is another thing I buy at thrift shops. I have some really adorable and really fabulous pieces that I adore that were just a few dollars at the thrift store! Art is very expensive to buy new!

I also buy some kids books at the thrift store. I have to be very particular and I read them all from cover to cover before I buy them as there is a lot of really awful writing for children out there. But, I have found some great books. A perfect example was this Laura Ingalls picture book. It’s simply adorable.

Do you thrift shop? What awesome things have you found?

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The Decluttering Continues…

I have talked about minimalism and reducing ‘stuff’ on a few different occasions, and while I wouldn’t say we were ‘hoarders’ by any stretch before, it’s been a real wake up call the last few weeks around here. I read Organized Simplicity a couple years ago and have been slowly decluttering and minimizing since then. It was such a lightbulb moment for me. It was like a switch was flipped. I looked around and thought, “Oh. my. goodness. Why do I even HAVE all this stuff?!” I looked around and saw junk that we had moved TWICE and it was still just hanging around in boxes and it had honestly never occurred to me  before to just get rid of it.

So over the last two years I have gone through stuff and donated carload after carload to Goodwill (donated about 10 Volvo wagon loads in 2012/2013) and even had a FREE garage sale to get stuff gone. It felt great, but there was still a lot of stuff around… Stuff I thought I honestly needed.

Fast forward to now and we are selling our current house (the one in which we have been renovating) which is 2,000 sqft, three bed, living room AND family room AND full size den/playroom and two car garage. WAY too much space for our family of three. We are moving to a more desirable neighborhood (which is more central to my AP mama and baby group; currently we are the furthest south memeber and it’s quite a commute to playdates and such) and we want to downsize our finances, too, so we are buying a condo that is 950 sq ft : two bed one bath, open living area with a 15×20 living/dining open concept. I am SO excited! I can’t wait to say that we fit ourselves and our stuff in a two bed condo!

So, I feel like there has been a shift. I’m no longer getting rid of stuff because it’s just this useless junk I’ve lugged around – I am now getting rid of things that I once felt were useful and needed. But now that I have to downsize so much, I am trying to think how things can be multi purpose.

Example: In current house I have a craft room in the den. It consisted of

  • a full size desk with hutch for the sewing machines and storage of patterns, notions, books, etc.
  • cutting table with olfa mat
  • expedit bookshelf with boxes of misc craft supplies (jewelry making, knitting, doll making, clay stuff, painting, drawing, etc – a box for each craft)
  • two plastic bin drawer things of fabric
  • two cardboard boxes of fabric

That is SO much stuff!

Meanwhile, in the office I have a large antique teachers desk (a lot like this: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/572520171350212779/) that has my desktop computer and all of my office supplies in it (which I have already gone through). In the new condo we will be putting a desk shelf in the second bedroom closet for the office (so we can close the closet doors and keep the media out of sight when we want) and so my desk will be free for another use! I will be using it as both my cutting surface and where I will sit to sew and whatnot.

So I got rid of:

  • the sewing desk
  • the cutting table
  • the bookshelf

I also got rid of a bunch of the craft stuff I wasn’t using. The emotional rent on hanging on to a jewelry making kit when I don’t even wear jewelry wasn’t worth it to me. If, in the future, I ever want to do jewelry making I can just rebuy the stuff as it’s not very expensive. I don’t want to store it anymore, though. I want to really go through my fabric, too, and downsize there as well. That is much harder for me, though. Something to work on.

Anyway, this was long winded – but my point is that this push into a space that’s less than half the size of what we are in now has brought me to a whole new level of decluttering, minimizing and just general reducing our amount of STUFF and it’s AWESOME. I love it!

I’ve gotten rid of another several Volvo wagons full as well as we have done three runs to the dump, too (recalled crib, broken plastic compost barrel, broken yard supplies, old yucky dog beds, old cat box, etc – honestly stuff that couldn’t be recycled or donated. It’s really eye opening, though, and will make me think twice about stuff we buy in the future).

Plus, we’ve sold a ton of stuff on Craigslist and have made $1,500 in the last two weeks, so that doesn’t suck, either! :thumb

Goodwill Scores!

When I was a kid my mom shopped at Goodwill on occasion. She probably would have gone more often if I had let her. But, nooOOoo… I wasn’t going to wear ANYTHING from Goodwill! I would only wear NEW clothes and  they had to be well known brands. I was a brat, I freely admit that, now!

Anyone who knows me NOW would laugh. I shop at Goodwill sometimes as much as twice or three times a week, now! I LOVE Goodwill! I get awesome deals on my and Bunkers’ clothes. I get quality wooden toys, canning jars, cast iron, wool blankets, and shoes there. Sometimes brand new!

My local Goodwill is just amazing. Super high quality items and amazing prices. Sometimes Goodwill can get a bit expensive ($30 for jeans?! I’ve seen it!) but my Goodwill isn’t over the top.

Now, I do make a point to live a more minimalist lifestyle – although I am really not even close to what one would consider a minimalist. Far from it – but in the last 18 months we’ve purged from our house a lot of stuff. We weren’t hoarders before, but we had a surpluss of extra ‘stuff’. We are still working on it, but we have a lot less ‘stuff’ and more useful, quality items we use often.

So I thought I’d share some of my recent Goodwill scores here!

I have been on the look out for a new coat for myself for this winter and I found one this week! It’s pure wool and the lining is silk. Fancy! It was marked $5.99, but it was half off (thanks to the color sales)! Behold, my $3 fabulous wool peacoat!

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I also found some water shoes for Bunkers for next year. $2. New condition!

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I found a lovely sheepskin for $7! These are usually much, much more and it’s even stamped with a local farm/company on the back. Amazing!

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I also found this lovely piece of wood art… How beautiful, yes? It’s so touching, I think. Perfect for a nursery. It just needs a little sanding and refinishing (oiling) and then it will be gorgeous! I would love to keep it, but I may just gift it to someone. This was also $2!

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Have you had any awesome Goodwill finds, lately?